Friday, August 31, 2018

WWE 2018: Welcome to the "F*ck the Fans" Era!

Man, it takes some serious pigheadedness to look at the top two babyfaces on your flagship show and then turn heel the one who ISN'T getting booed.  But that's what Vince has done.  For nearly the past year Braun Strowman has been getting better babyface reactions than anyone on RAW not named Seth Rollins (How Seth still isn't Vince's pick for the top star is beyond me), and now that he's been positioned to feud with Roman Reigns for the Universal Title, they decided he, and not Roman, should be the heel.  And to protect Roman from getting skewered by the fans they've reunited The Shield, the only proven formula to guarantee he gets the reaction they want.  Man, if you have to trick your audience into not booing your top babyface, what the hell does that tell you?  Like, how manipulative was that SummerSlam main event?  They put Strowman out there at the beginning to prevent the crowd from showering the match with "We want Strowman" chants, they had him announce that he would cash in after the match to keep the fans glued until the finish, and then when the cash-in didn't happen they quickly went off the air so the home audience wouldn't see the crowd turn on the result.  Has any other wrestling company needed this kind of Machiavellian maneuvering to make it look like their guy is the fans' favorite?

I do not understand Vince's over-the-top spitefulness with this Roman experiment.  This shit's been going on for four years and the fans by and large have shown little indication they'll ever accept Reigns as their top guy.  No matter how many alternatives the fans have provided to Vince - Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Braun Strowman - he refuses to simply admit he was wrong and go with the flow.

And yet turning Roman heel and making him a murdering asshole would get exactly the kind of crowd reaction Vince wants for Roman.  Turning The Rock heel worked in this way, turning Tetsuya Naito heel worked for New Japan, turning Hogan heel worked in WCW when his Hulkamania shtick got old, it's basic wrestling logic.  When the babyface is getting booed, you turn him heel.  If the crowd continues to hate him, good, that's his job.  If the crowd starts to love him, perfect, you have yourself a hot new top star.  But no, let's turn Braun.  Because if anything'll change people's minds about Roman it's encouraging them to boo the guy they actually like.  When did Vince McMahon's brain and logic become so separated?

Sadly there's basically zero chance any of this will change until Vince is gone.  Fox is paying WWE obscene amounts of money starting next year, and as long as WWE delivers acceptable ratings they have no incentive to ever listen to their audience again.  It is so baffling to me that any entertainment company would have such a flagrant disregard for what its fans want.  No other company would be able to exhibit this kind of behavior and still expect to be profitable.  In ten years when they make documentaries about this era in WWE they should dub it the Fuck the Fans Era.

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Monday, August 27, 2018

Brewery Reviewery: Throwback Brewery (North Hampton, NH)

Welcome to another edition of Brewery Reviewery here at!  This past weekend we ventured up to North Hampton, NH to check out Throwback Brewery for some libations and good eats.

Throwback Brewery
7 Hobbs Rd
North Hampton, NH

Located at historic Hobbs Farm, the all-women-owned Throwback makes use of all local ingredients to brew their beer and create a tasty menu of comfort foods.  The tasting room/restaurant is inside the old farmhouse and has a welcoming rustic feel.  There's also an outside seating area for those warm summer nights.  Visitors can seat themselves, fill out an order form for both food and drinks, and submit it at the bar for quick service.  Orders are named after whatever bobblehead toy the bartender gives you (in my case it was Superman).  Plus the background music consisted of a classic rock playlist featuring The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Elton John, among others.  Hard to go wrong there.

The food menu includes starter plates, sandwiches, rice bowls and salads, all reasonably priced.  Not wanting to gorge myself on food that day I went with the maple-braised carnitas tacos, stuffed with shredded beef, goat cheese yogurt, pickled shallots, cabbage, cilantro, and jack cheese.  These were deeply flavorful and textured, and hit the spot nicely.

My wife had the grilled cheese (made adult-sized from the kids' menu) with a side of sweet potato fries and honey mustard.  I only had a bite of that but it was buttery and delicious.  And terrible for me I'm sure.

I love me some tacos

For drinks we each had a 4-beer sampler with three common choices.

Mine consisted of Rhubarb Wit (a Belgian White ale), Oma's Tribute (black lager), Stout #3, and Hobbs Farmhouse Saison.  Kelly had the Wit, Stout and Farmhouse but also went with Oh Snap, a ginger molasses porter.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Beer Brawl: Slumbrew vs. Aeronaut (plus Downeast Cider and Cambridge Brewing Company)

Welcome to another edition of Beer Brawl, here at!  

This past weekend my wife Kelly and I visited not one, not two, not three, but FOUR breweries in and around Somerville, MA, and thought we'd share something of our experience.  You may recall that last year we hit up Night Shift and Idle Hands, formerly in Everett.  In that showdown we overwhelmingly favored one over the other, but this time the winner wasn't quite as decisive.  So let's get to bidness....

200 Terminal St. Charlestown, MA

Our first stop was the strangely situated Downeast Cider House, located literally under the Tobin Bridge.  Downeast offers tours of their facility but we arrived during a rush and were informed there was a 1-2 hour wait.  So instead we enjoyed the outdoor drinking area, featuring several lawn chairs, high tables and a game of cornhole.  We first sampled the four available varieties and then settled on a full pour of our respective favorite.

I've only recently begun venturing into the hard cider realm, and a year ago I wouldn't have given it a second look.  But as someone who suffers from mild gluten intolerance I've been attempting to expand my alcohol options.  While many ciders are too sweet for me, I have managed to find a few I enjoy.

Original - Downeast's flagship cider is exactly what you'd expect; a mixture of sweetness and tartness with a refreshing bite.

Cranberry - This was my least favorite of the four since I'm not much of a cranberry guy.  But the cranberry was fairly understated.  I wouldn't go out of my way for this one but I wouldn't refuse it either.

Maple Pecan - My favorite of the four, much to my surprise.  The maple flavor doesn't kick in until about a second after you take a sip, and it doesn't bash you in the face either.  Really interesting combination.  We bought a growler of this one and I also had a full pour of it.

Lemonade Ginger - I had mixed feelings about this one.  I love lemony things, and I enjoy a bit of ginger.  I found the ginger flavor maybe a tad too prevalent.  This seems like a cider I could only drink in small doses.

Kelly's Take: I loved them all.

The Lemon Ginger was one of my faves, but even better when combined with the Cranberry as suggested by the barkeep.  (Yes, I said barkeep).

Cool atmosphere, worth going under the Tobin for.

I liked how fresh each one tasted, and how simple each one was.  Did not at all seem overprocessed, or tinny tasting like some ciders can be.

Parents' Night In #11: The Princess Bride (1987)

Kelly & Justin are back with another classic film to talk about.  If you don't like The Princess Bride you just may be a joyless bastard.....

Watch, enjoy and SUBSCRIBE!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Brewery Reviewery: John Harvard's Brewery & Ale House (Framingham, MA)

Welcome to another edition of Brewery Reviewery, here at! Today I'll be talking about a place I hadn't frequented since a lifetime ago.....

John Harvard's Brewery & Ale House
1 Worcester Rd.
Framingham, MA

Welp, it had been a good fifteen years since I last visited John Harvard's Brewery & Ale House, and back in 2003 I wasn't a drinker of real beer.  Thus the only JH microbrew I enjoyed at the time was their American Lager (I think that was the name), which was essentially a glorified Budweiser clone.  Now that I actually understand what good beer tastes like, it seemed time to revisit this chain establishment.  And goddamn if John Harvard doesn't have some hella good stuff on tap....

The old-timey decor fits right into the colonial theme.....

First off, the food.  Their menu is loaded with comfort choices, from burgers to pizza to chicken pot pie to meatloaf (my wife's choice on this particular occasion - deliciously grilled no less).  After enjoying their homemade beer bread and soft pretzels with spicy mustard and beer cheese (How do you type out the "Oh my sweet lord this food is delicious" kiss gesture?  MMMWAH!!!)  I went with the pastrami panini, topped with cheese and served on a grilled bun with fries.  This was a spectacular sandwich, complete with French au jus for dipping.  The lean pastrami was tender and flavorful, and the portion size was just enough to get satisfyingly full.  I'd order this meal again in a heartbeat.

Well, hello delicious.....

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The History of NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn IV

Unsurprisingly NXT upstaged the main roster yet again, with a strong TakeOver special the night before SummerSlam.  While probably not the best Brooklyn special (The original is still at the top of the pile for me, on the strength of its double main event), number 4 delivered five decent-to-excellent bouts with scarcely an ounce of fat (aside from perhaps the overly long main event).

The show opened with a blazing tag team battle, as Roderick Strong and Kyle O'Reilly faced Moustache Mountain.  This had almost nonstop action throughout its 18 minute running time, with nearfalls galore.  Undisputed Era had the superior technical acumen, but Tyler Bate and Trent Seven showed off deceptively overwhelming power.  The two teams traded potentially match-ending moves until the champs outmaneuvered the challengers and hit Total Elimination for the win.  Splendid opening contest.  ***3/4

The weakest match for me was Velveteen Dream vs. EC3.  I like Dream quite a lot and feel like he already has the complete package - loads of charisma and crazy athleticism; he just needs a little more seasoning.  I don't feel the same way about EC3.  His overly muscular build makes him clumsy and stiff, like John Cena circa 2004.  He looks great and has some charisma I guess, though it doesn't seem effortless like Dream's.  But he just doesn't move all that well.  Dream going over here was the right move.  **1/2

For me the match of the night was Adam Cole vs. Ricochet.  Cole for me has been a little underwhelming in-ring.  While he's compelling from a character standpoint there wasn't anything about him mechanically that stood out to me.  In this match though his big thing was counterwrestling.  He played the crafty ring general, always aware of where he was and what his opponent was about to do.  Ricochet meanwhile got to show off his insane aerial offense.  The spot of the entire night was Ric going for a springboard moonsault and meeting a kick to the face - just mindboggling and perfectly timed.  After 15 minutes Ricochet won the match and the North American title with a 630 senton (I dunno how you even practice a move like that - one bad landing and you'll never do the move, or potentially walk, again).  Super match.  ****

Monday, August 20, 2018

Brewery Reviewery: Liquid Riot (Portland, ME)

Liquid Riot
250 Commercial St.
Portland, ME 04101

Last week my family and I ventured up to Portland, Maine for a Sea Dogs game (They're the Red Sox AA team - go up for a game if you get a chance) and to check out some local breweries.  We did the obligatory stop-off at Shipyard but also did a tasting and a light lunch at Liquid Riot, a brewery/distillery and resto-bar right on the water, with indoor and outdoor seating (we opted for the latter).

Inside the venue has kind of a utilitiarian, industrial feel, with visible HVAC and bare cement floors, complete with a full view of the brewery floor behind the bar.  There is very ample seating both at the bar and around the room, plus pool tables in case you fancy a game of billiards.  The outside seating consists of a back deck overlooking the docks - nothing fancy out there and the view is a bit obstructed by other seaside businesses, but on a nice day you could do worse.

Our lunch consisted of two shared apps.  The first was house cut fries, which come with two sauces - we went with ketchup and beer cheese.  The cheese wasn't the most flavorful - it was inoffensive but fairly bland; I've had better in this department.  The fries however were quite good, freshly made and seasoned with sea salt.  The other app was the veggie nachos, which seemed rather phoned in to me - they were topped with black beans, avacado, cherry tomatoes (whole ones, which I found odd), cheese sauce (never a proper substitute for freshly grated cheddar) and a few other things, but the toppings were a bit skimpy and the dish didn't have much personality.  I'm not sure how their various sandwiches, sliders and fish tacos are, but the apps left something to be desired for me.

Fortunately the beer was the main attraction (I don't drink whiskey), and Liquid Riot has some fine craft libations to offer.  Below are the five beers I tried, followed by my take on each:

WWE SummerSlam 2018: Was This PPV on Shuffle?

Well.....that was certainly anticlimactic.  We have a new Universal Champion folks.  And after three-and-a-half years of buildup to get here, his coronation match lasted....six minutes. 

This SummerSlam was frustratingly inconsistent and suffered from repetitive booking and a nonsensical match order, despite a few of the bouts being quite good.  It oddly peaked in the middle of the show, and although it never dragged like the last two SummerSlams, by the end I walked away mildly unsatisfied.

In the predictions piece I said Brock vs. Roman should be kept short to prevent the crowd from shitting all over it, and that was probably still the right move.  But what a nothing match this was.  First off, Braun Strowman interrupted the ring introductions to announce that unlike other MITB holders, he wasn't a coward who would cash in when the champ's back is turned.  "Cool" I thought, "he's adding himself to the match like a monster babyface realistically would."  Nope.  He just stated that he's cashing in after the match.  So how's that really any different than cashing in when the guy's back is turned?  You're still a fresh challenger facing an exhasuted champion.  How is that not cowardly?  It turned out to be a moot point anyway, but really think about this for a second.  This is why Money in the Bank needs to go away.

Anyway, Brock vs. Goldberg in 2017 proved you can have a red-hot sub-five-minute match that is memorable and that the crowd will eat up.  But after the first thirty seconds of Punch-Spear, this match was a buncha fluff.  Brock got a guillotine choke, hit a few suplexes, attacked Braun Strowman with a chair to prevent him from cashing in, and then got speared out of nowhere to lose the belt.  The indestructible Brock Lesnar, who earlier had taken three SuperPunches and two spears but still had it in him to counter with a guillotine choke, got pinned from one spear after controlling the second half of the match.  This was the most anticlimactic title change since Cena beat JBL in 2005, and nowhere near as good as either WrestleMania match between these two.  Strowman was clearly put out there to prevent "We Want Strowman" chants and get the crowd hyped for a possible cash-in, but what does it say about your main event when you have to trick your audience into not booing it?  This more or less sucked.  *1/2

Friday, August 17, 2018

NXT TakeOver Brooklyn IV Preview & Predictions

Hard to believe we're already at the fourth annual Brooklyn TakeOver event.  The 2015 edition, the first-ever NXT special to emanate from a full-size arena, raised the bar very high for the upstart developmental brand and began a nearly unbroken tradition of NXT specials overshadowing their main roster counterparts a day later.  NXT continues to be the one aspect of WWE programming that consistently works, and they just keep chuggin' along despite very high turnover (as the main roster raids their talent only to bury most of it).

Anyway, this Saturday's Brooklyn special promises to be potentially the best one yet, with five big matches that look great on paper.

Velveteen Dream vs. EC3

The uber-charismatic, high-flying Velveteen Dream is this year's surprise hit in NXT - an over-the-top personality who can actually back it up once the bell rings.  Ethan Carter has oddly not been featured much on TakeOver specials thus far, I wonder if he's being quickly groomed for a call-up, given his jacked physique.  This match will be a clash of styles but should be a quite entertaining undercard attraction.

Justin: I think EC3 gets a win on his way to a near-future main roster debut
Landon: EC3

NXT Tag Team Championship: Undisputed Era vs. Moustache Mountain

This'll be a great technical tag showcase.  All four of these guys have impeccable grappling credentials and they've traded the belts back and forth once already.  I'm looking for non-stop action amid dazzling European-style mat wrestling.

Justin: I think the champs retain this time
Landon: Undisputed Era

Thursday, August 16, 2018

WWE SummerSlam 2018 Preview & Predictions

We're back with everyone's (EEEVERYYYYONNNNE'SSSS!) favorite wrestling predictions column, talkin' about WWE's latest bloated six-hour show, SummerSlam!

That's right, this goddamn show is gonna run six hours, two for the pre-show and four for the actual PPV.  Thirteen matches, two of which I'm actually excited about!  To be fair, this show is pretty heavily stacked, I just don't care much about any of it.  The product is so flat and devoid of urgency it's all the energy I have to even register a reaction to it.  But maybe that means I'll actually like the show.  Who knows?  All I know is, coming off four incredible weeks of NJPW shows and going straight to a WWE PPV oughta require a decompression chamber.

So let's get to the picks.  But first, the standings...

***Dan Moore with a miraculous comeback, has taken the lead with 64% (34/53), Landon's in second with 60% (32/53), and Dave and I are tied for last place with 58% (31/53).  Those last two PPVs really killed us.***

Pre-Show Mixed Tag Team Match: Rusev & Lana vs. Andrade Almas & Zelina Vega

Almas is great and apparently the company is pretty high on him, so that bodes well for his initial push.  Rusev went from challenging for the WWE Title at Extreme Rules to jerking the pre-show curtain.  Is there some reason they can't find a middle ground for this guy?

Justin: Almas & Vega obviously win this
Dan: Team Rusev
Landon: Almas & Vega
Dave: Almas & Vega

Pre-Show RAW Tag Team Championship: The B-Team vs. The Revival

What a joke this division is now.  The Revival are the only legit team on RAW and they're presented as glorified jobbers.  The B-Team are a comedy duo, yet they're the tag team champions.  This match and the belts are so unimportant they're on the pre-show.  It's just sad.

Justin: B-Team retains
Dan: The Revival
Landon: B-Team
Dave: B-Team

Pre-Show Cruiserweight Championship: Cedric Alexander vs. Drew Gulak

Another CW match I don't care about.  I actually had to look up who was in this.  I'm sure the match will be fine but this division needs a central figure desperately so we have a reason to give a shit.

Justin: Cedric retains
Dan: Cedric
Landon: Drew Gulak, so that my main Cruiserwieght Danny Garcia can get a rematch for that belt
Dave: The Champ retains (I have no idea who these guys are)

Finn Balor vs. Baron Corbin

I can't believe we have to sit through this again.  Two years ago Finn Balor became the first-ever Universal Champion at SummerSlam.  Now he's stuck trying to carry Corbin, deep in the undercard.  Dude, Corbin is straight-up awful.  Why in the world was he ever called up, except for "tall?"  Finn should be way further up the card than this.

Justin: Give Finn the win and do something good with him.
Dan: Balor
Landon: Finn
Dave: Finn but I could see Baron winning too.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Brewery Reviewery: Barrel House Z (Weymouth, MA)

Whassup kids?  Welcome to another edition of's Brewery Reviewery!  

Today I'll be talking about a fantastic brewery in the ol' hometown of Weymouth, MA, an establishment that brews small-batch beer and then ages it in liquor barrels, creating complex mashups and some strong-ass libations.  It's called Barrel House Z, and its become quite a Weymouth hotspot in just half a year.  Started by former Harpoon master brewer Russ Heissner, BHZ is all about innovation and adventurousness, creating a new Pilot Pour every week.  He's also got a revolving door or brewers to keep the menu fresh and dynamic.

Barrel House Z
95 Woodrock Rd
Weymouth, MA 02189

My wife and I, and two of our friends, finally made it to the tasting room last week and we were not disappointed.  First off, this place was so hopping on a Saturday evening we had to wait 5-10 minutes just to get in.  Once inside though we loved the atmosphere and look of the place; the walls, outside fences, and the front of the bar are all constructed out of (or adorned with) barrel staves, giving the room a rustic/industrial crossover feel.  Scattered around the room are full-size barrels to be used as lounge tables, with plenty of seating and a full view of the brewery floor.  There was also an acoustic duo supplying some solid background tunes (Side note: I'm available for Saturday evening gigs!) and lending some laid-back ambience.  I could easily see myself making this room a regular haunt (And seriously, I'm totally available to provid some musical entertainment).  Outside there's a patio with a fireplace and ample seating, which I anticipate being pretty crowded in the summer.

How do they remember which tap is which?

But all that would be irrelevant if the beer itself didn't deliver.  Fortunately it did, in spades.  Of the 10-12 available brews, we sampled six.  Here we go.....

My Lil' Helper: American wheat ale aged in Chardonnay barrels.  For me this actually resembles an IPA more than a wheat, but with a very balanced flavor.  The hops are tempered by the sweetness of the wine, making for an extremely refreshing beer that would be clutch on a summer afternoon.

Vorlauf: Imperial Vienna lager aged in Bully Boy Whiskey barrels.  A very complex tasting beer with some sweet and sour notes, and just a hint of the whiskey.  Probably my least favorite but still good.

"Are we done taking pictures, can I drink this now??"

Monday, August 13, 2018

NJPW G1 Climax 28 Recap

Another superb G1 Climax has come to a close, culminating in what was for me a very unexpected result.  The short n' skinny of it is that the company's former Ace has once again punched his ticket to the main event of WrestleKingdom.  Hiroshi Tanahashi led the A Block throughout the tournament and outlasted his archrival Kazuchika Okada, going to a time limit draw for the third time in their feud.  Since Tanahashi was two points ahead of Okada he got the Finals slot.  In the B Block it was Kota Ibushi upsetting his best friend Kenny Omega and going on to face his idol for the briefcase.

As usual the final matches of each block, and the overall final itself, were three of the highlights of the entire four-week tour.  But this tourney was rife with 4 and 5-star matches, ongoing themes and stories, and some absolutely stellar performances.  Relative G1 newcomers Michael Elgin and Juice Robinson each delivered multiple excellent matches, while newbies Hangman Page and Jay White put themselves on the map.  Page finished with only six points but looked right at home with the top dogs in the block, while Jay White scored major upset wins over both Okada and Tanahashi (who went undefeated otherwise), and was in the running to win the block up until the last night.  If there were any doubts about White's legitimacy as a major rising star, his showing here erased them.  The man is 25 years old and has a very bright future ahead.

One of the running angles over these four weeks was the constant cockblockery of Tama Tonga and his Firing Squad; both Tonga and Bad Luck Fale either took disqualification losses or won with lots of outside interference.  These shenanigans didn't do their match quality any favors but it did make clear their mission - to sabotage one of the perennial highlights of the New Japan calendar.  I'm not sure if that'll get them over in a good way, or where they go from here, but for a couple of lower-tier heels trying to elevate their profile, this was certainly a different approach.

Also of note was Zack Sabre Jr., who followed up his starmaking New Japan Cup run with a very strong showing (Sabre was part of a four-way tie at the end with Ibushi, Omega and Naito) and scored wins over NEVER Champion Hirooki Goto and US Champion Juice Robinson, plus Naito and Ishii.  Sabre should pick up some gold by year's end and I'd love to see him win both of those titles in succession.  Sabre as a heel double champion would be pretty cool.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Top Ten Things: Overrated Wrestling PPVs

Welcome to another edition of Top Ten Things, here at, where I count down ten best or worst of whatever I happen to be wasting energy thinking about that day.

Today's edition is about wrestling PPVs I consider to be overrated.  Certain shows just resonate with large numbers of people for some reason, and while I understand some of them, there are PPVs where I'm baffled by how much people love them.  Either from an in-ring standpoint, a booking standpoint, or a time management standpoint each of these shows disappointed in some way that prevented them from being truly great (or even good in some cases).  Here we go....

10. Great American Bash '89

Before you cry foul, just hear me out.  I really enjoyed GAB'89.  It had star power, a stacked lineup, and a great main event.  But it had nine matches when it should've had six, and therefore multiple bouts got horribly shortchanged.  1989 was the first full calendar year for the NWA under Ted Turner's ownership, and while overall it was probably the best year in the company's history, management stripped away a bit of the NWA's personality in an effort to make the product more WWF-like.  One such tactic was to load PPVs and Clash of the Champions specials with more matches than they had room for, something the WWF had been doing for years.  Thus with GAB'89 we started off with a Battle Royal, a pointless Brian Pillman-Bill Irwin match, an elongated Skyscrapers-Dynamic Dudes squash, and an unwatchable Tuxedo Match between Paul Ellering and Teddy Long.  So entertaining bouts like The Steiners vs. The Varsity Club and Sting vs. Great Muta were criminally short (Seriously, Pillman-Irwin and the Skyscrapers match both got more time than the TV Title match??).  Don't get me wrong, the last five matches were all good-to-great, and after the first hour GAB'89 was still one of the best shows of the year.  But imagine how much better this could've been had they trimmed off the fat and presented a streamlined PPV a la Clash of the Champions I.

9. WrestleMania 24

Another case of a very good show being held up as a truly great one, WrestleMania 24 was for me an unexpectedly strong night of wrestling.  Going into this I had little interest in any of it, as the main event scene had been stagnant for the last three years and no one new was being heavily featured.  Plus the most-hyped match pitted the 400-pound Big Show against a boxer one-third his size.  But the show ended up being pretty darn good, thanks to a pair of near-4-star Title matches, a fun Money in the Bank match, and an emotional Shawn Michaels-Ric Flair retirement match.  So yeah, this show had a lot to like.  But that doesn't make it one of the best 'Manias of all time, as many people call it.  Aside from the aforementioned four bouts, this show was weighed down by a ton of mediocrity.  JBL vs. Finlay, Batista vs. Umaga, Kane vs. Chavo, the Divas tag match, and the Show-Mayweather fiasco were all middling at best.  'Mania 24 is one of many cases of people fondly remembering the good stuff but forgetting how much crap we had to wade through to get to it.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Top Ten Things: Lady Gaga Songs

Welcome to, and another edition of Top Ten Things!  I got ten things I wanna talk about.  The TOP ten things.  There's ten of 'em....

Today's topic is the musical stylings of one Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, better known to the entire world as Lady Gaga.  Gaga began flooding radio stations everywhere in 2008, with her offbeat, anthemic dance-pop tunes and outlandish fashion sense.  Her appearance and songwriting were so bizarre she seemed to have arrived from outer space, and my first impression was "What a weirdo."  But after more of her radio singles emerged I began to realize she was much more than just a gimmick.  It seemed each new song revealed more and more of her unique compositional and vocal ability, and by 2009 I found myself almost reluctantly becoming a fan.  Her second album Born This Way had a decidedly 80s pop feel and showed a more spiritual, sociopolitical side to her music, while her third, Artpop was a rather satirical look at her own megastardom.  In 2016 though, Gaga stripped away most of her eccentric theatricality and released an understated set of 70s-infused pop-rock songs with a more personal flavor.  Joanne was a major departure, and a refreshingly restrained album that demonstrated Gaga's versatility and willingness to reinvent herself.  Stylistically she can go anywhere she wants from here, and I'll be very interested to see where that leads her.

But enough pontificatin'.  Here are my ten favorite Lady Gaga songs....

10. Venus

Our first entry is the midtempo, 70s disco-influenced song that draws parallels between sex, mythology and astronomy.  What could easily have been a silly throwaway track is made fascinating by a fairly dark timbre, playful lyrics, and a wonderfully hooky chorus rife with layered vocal harmonies.  "Venus" helped set the tone for Gaga's third album Artpop by suggesting a self awareness and injecting a bit of pop star satire.

9. A-Yo

Co-written by (and featuring) guitar whiz Mark Ronson, "A-Yo" is one of several songs on Gaga's latest album Joanne that serves as a major stylistic departure for Lady Gaga.  Gone are the over-the-top dance beats and synth trappings; in their place is a pop-rockabilly feel with a Shania Twain swagger and bombastic guitar licks.  "A-Yo" might be the most purely fun song on the album but it also shows a songwriting maturity and eagerness to evolve.

8. Paparazzi

"Paparazzi" was the first Gaga song I begrudgingly liked.  After "Just Dance," "Poker Face," and "Lovegame," (none of which are favorites of mine to this day), "Paparazzi" was the one song that made me go, "Huh...okay, this is pretty good."  This super-hooky midtempo number features vocals reminiscent of Gwen Stefani, and takes a sardonic look at the media's obsession with celebrities.  It also marked the first Gaga video to feature a story (and a pretty messed-up one at that): Gaga is pushed off a balcony by her boyfriend and spends much of the video wheelchair-bound before making a full recovery.  I wouldn't become a real Lady Gaga fan until after "Bad Romance" was released, but this song at least left me open to the idea, and it's still my favorite track from The Fame.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Dan's Top 9: Great Movies with Dumb Endings

Welcome back to another edition of Dan's Top 9, because I’m not good enough to come up with a top 10. Today I’m talking about movies which are otherwise awesome except for their lame-o endings. In some cases, it’s the actual climax and not the true ending, but this is my list with my rules, so eat me. Here we go.



9. The Thing

Possibly John Carpenter’s finest film. One of my favorite movies to watch over and over again (along with Weekend at Bernie’s DON’T JUDGE ME). Outrageous practical special effects, awesome Kurt Russell, killer supporting cast and perfect minimalistic score makes this a personal fave. But what the fuck with that ending? Chasing a demon alien monster through a cave for a final showdown and then…it just blows up essentially? What an awful way to end the pursuit of the bad guy after he fucked up two different camps of folk (the actual ending, with Kurt and Keith David sitting in the cold as the fire blazes and neither of them trusting the other, is awesome)

8. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

This drug fueled comedy is goddamn HILARIOUS for about 100 minutes. Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro go all in on their insane performances and really do some fucked up, funny shit. And then they go to a diner. For what feels like 3 hours. And have some downer conversation with a waitress. It’s painful to watch. I get what they were doing, showing the comedown after the high of all those drugs but…I was still high when I was watching it, and I wanted more crazy shit. This totally killed my buzz. Thankfully I had more drugs.

7. No Country For Old Men

No clue what happens at the end of this movie. Josh Brolin is getting chased around by Javier Bardem for about 90 minutes of this movie...and then he’s just not. He’s gone. Evidently killed in some gunfight that took place off-screen. Oh. Good. Then we’re shown two old codgers talking about…God knows what. I really liked this flick til the last 20 mins when it just stopped being the movie I was watching and became something else.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Brewery Reviewery: 10th District Brewing Company (Abington, MA)

Welcome to another Brewery Reviewery, here at, where I visit a local purveyor craft beer and let you all know what I think of it.  This past weekend we took a gander at 10th District Brewing Company, in Abington, MA! 

10th District Brewing Company
491 Washington St.
Abington, MA

This modest-sized taproom opened in 2014 and has a layout similar to that of a takeout pizzeria, with just a few tables and most of the space occupied by the brewing floor.  It's fairly no-frills, but there are some board games and a couple TVs to keep you entertained as you enjoy some beverages.  The two-man staff (at least on the day I was there) is friendly and happy to have your business as you sample the beer roster.  If you need some sustenance they often partner with a food truck which parks outside for the day.

Currently there are eight offerings on the menu (see below), and I was able to try four of them (including one not shown on the menu).

Tripel - I started with an old reliable; as a diehard Belgian beer fan I was overjoyed to see this on the menu.  This tripel was a pretty excellent take on the traditional style, with robust body, strong wyeast flavor and a slightly bitter finish.  At 8.75% ABV this'll get you feelin' good in no time.  This was my favorite of the day, and I picked up a growler of it to enjoy at home.

Extra Special Bitter - This English style ale, not on the paper menu, was a welcome surprise.  For those not familiar with ESB, they actually aren't very bitter at all and in fact have more of a malt-forward taste.  This was very smooth and easy to drink, and superior to Shipyard's version.  I'd order this again in a heartbeat.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Brewery Reviewery: Widowmaker Brewing (Braintree, MA)

It's that time again.  Time to sample some locally brewed suds and craft another Brewery Reviewery!

Last weekend my friends and I took a gander at the South Shore's newest purveyor of craft beer, Widowmaker Brewing in Braintree, MA.  Being local residents we'd heard about this place for months (They finally opened in October), so it was a highly anticipated visit.

Widowmaker is located at 220 Wood Road in Braintree, and their simple, no-frills approach to brewing is reflected in the taproom space.  The venue has an industrial warehouse feel, with long wooden tables and benches scattered about the room, and seating both at the bar and against the walls.  Dispensers at one corner give out Cheezits and pretzels for a palate cleanser in between tastings, and in the evening they'll sometimes have pizza, plus you'll often see food trucks outside.  The table seating includes little games and puzzles for an icebreaker, or to keep your brain occupied when drinking alone.  There's also plenty of merch available if you're a fanatic and need a T-shirt or a glass (I'm partial to the goblet-style tulip glasses myself).

Overall the space is fairly barebones, but still comfortable and inviting.  They could use a few more tables, as the seating is a bit scarce for a room that big.  Fortunately it wasn't mobbed on a Saturday afternoon, so we had plenty of room to sit.

But how's the beer you ask?  Well, let's dive in and drink our way out, shall we?

I tasted six of the eight available beers (not sure how often they rotate flavors), and enjoyed most of them quite well.

Ecstasy of Gold, American IPA, 7.2% ABV: Hazy, light-copper coloring and a pungent fruit aroma when poured.  Balanced fruit taste with a sweet, malty backbone.

This one is just as it sounds - hops-forward with a bit of a floral, fruity taste/aroma.  I'm not an IPA lover but this is pretty enjoyable.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

You Used to Be Sooooo Good: Saturday Morning Cartoons

Welcome to another edition of You Used to Be Soooo Good, where Justin and I, Dan Moore, discuss things used to be awesome but now, eh, not so much. This week we discuss what may have been the greatest event our youth, and it happened WEEKLY. That’s right…

Saturday Morning Cartoons:  You Used to Be Soooo Good

Dan: Let me throw the old man pants on here…BACK IN MYYYYYY DAY…all right, so when I was a kid, you got woken up by parents every day for school at 7AM Mon-Fri for the first bell at 8:10 AM. Getting out of that little twin bed during the week was damn near impossible. Just could not do it. Around 7:50 I’d finally peel myself from the Empire Strikes Back bed sheets, and make my way to the dreaded school house. It was horrible.

But then, Saturday morning would come around. I’d be up earlier than a long shore fisherman when the shad have arrived. Around 6 AM every Saturday morning, the three kids in the house would be up and down like goddamn Mexican jumping beans. Saturday morning cartoons started at 6 AM and we watched them all morning, every week til noon, when the news came on and ruined fun. It was an institution. It was immeasurably awesome. It was literally the only reason to get up that early every Saturday.

Justin: That was the highlight of the week, every week.  Event television every seven days, when for some reason you were never too tired to get out of bed early and watch some silly animated programs.

The earliest years are fuzzy for me, but looking back on the network Saturday morning lineups (which you can find broken down by year on Wikipedia) I can definitely say starting at the end of 1982 (I was in second grade) I fully remember each of my Saturday morning viewing schedules.  For four years I was exclusively glued to the cartoons, until 1986 when I added WWF wrestling to the agenda. 

So what would you say are the five best cartoons you watched over the years?