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.

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.

Friday, December 28, 2018

The 2018 Pro Wrestling Year-End Awards

Welcome to'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.....

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

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

by Dan Moore

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.

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 CafĂ©, alas, it has gone the way of my sobriety, dead & gone forever…to be replaced by another Chinese restaurant. How novel.

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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Thursday, December 20, 2018

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

by Dan Moore

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. 


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


Top Ten Things: Third Albums

Welcome to another edition of Top Ten Things here at, 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:

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).

Monday, December 17, 2018

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

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!  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
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, 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.

PPV Showdown: NJPW WrestleKingdom 9 vs. WrestleKingdom 10

Welcome to another edition of PPV Showdown, where I'll take two editions of a given wrestling show and compare the shit outta them to determine which one is better.  

Today I'm looking at the two best WrestleKingdom shows from New Japan, both of which rank very highly among the greatest PPVs I've ever seen.  From top to bottom each of these shows delivered a spectacular cross-section of the NJPW product and yielded multiple MOTY candidates.  WWE (or anyone else) will be hard-pressed to come up with anything nearly this good anytime soon.

But there's a question that's been bugging me for a while now: which was better, WrestleKingdom 9 or 10?  Both editions were universally praised, and trying to pick one over the other is like trying to choose your favorite child.  Structurally the two shows were pretty similar and thus should be easy to compare.  Yet they were both so outstanding, how does one choose?  Well let's take this one step at a time and go down the card.  Hopefully when this is over we'll be able to determine once and for all which show was superior....

4-Way Jr. Tag Match

Both WKs opened with a 4-way match for the Jr. Tag Titles (as did WK8) to energize the crowd.  In both cases this match featured insane tandem offense and nearly non-stop action.  2015's match pitted Jr. Tag Champs reDRagon against The Young Bucks, Forever Hooligans, and Time Splitters.  There wasn't a wasted moment here and all four teams went basically balls-to-the-wall for 13 minutes before reDRagon retained.

By comparison WK10's version also saw reDRagon defending the straps, this time against The Young Bucks, Roppongi Vice, and hot new team Matt Sydal & Ricochet.  It was a similarly contested lightning paced battle, but this time The Young Bucks captured the belts after nearly 17 minutes.

So these matches were both roughly ***1/2 star spotfest-type affairs, but I'll give a slight edge to the WK10 version since it had a bit more time to breathe, plus Ricochet's mindboggling offense was a difference maker.

Point: WrestleKingdom 10

Monday, December 10, 2018

Dan's Top 9: Die Hard Characters


by Dan Moore

Today, the world lost one of the great actors, Alan Rickman. He succumbed to cancer at age 69. I’ve watched him in many films throughout the years, but of course, his role in Die Hard comes to the front of my dumb brain. And what better time to discuss the best Die Hard characters ever than today as a sort of memorial to Mr. Rickman’s work? Here we go.

9. The "No More Table" Guy

We all know him. He's the shiny, hairy, gold chain-wearing, greasy German-but-sounds-Greek gunman that shows up about halfway through John McClane's first adventure.

He's got some real terrorist hubris, asking our hero "Where are you going, pal?" as McClane evades him while running out of table. It leads beautifully into one of John's most sternly delivered action hero quips.

Wild N' Crazy Guy: Next time you have the chance to kill someone, don't hesitate!
McClane (all sweaty-lipped and serious): Thanks for the advice...

8. Richard Thornburg 

The prototypical scumbag reporter beautifully played by ginger hammer William Atherton (That he didn't play that worm Roger Goodell in Concussion is a travesty). He not only invades the privacy of the McClanes' children but he also singlehandedly causes outright panic by broadcasting about plane hijackings on Christmas Eve! Throughout the two flicks he's in, he spreads beautiful lies and propaganda. In other words, he's got a job waiting for him at Fox News.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Parents' Night In #15: Rocky (1976)

Welcome to another episode of Parents' Night In, here at!

This week Kelly and Justin pop open some wine and watch one of their favorite Thanksgiving-time films, the movie that launched the most unlikely blockbuster franchise of all time, ROCKY!  We'll talk about the series as a whole, why it still resonates over forty years later, why Stallone is so lovable, and why Rocky and Adrian's first kiss could never be done the same way in 2018.  Tune in and laugh as we discuss the most beloved underdog story ever, Rocky! 

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Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Top Ten Things: Essential NJPW PPVs

Welcome to another edition of Top Ten Things, here at, where I count down Ten Things that are at the Top of my list.  Pretty simple really.  Not sure why I have to explain it.

Today I present the ten (or more accurately, fifteen - narrowing this list down to ten is nigh impossible now) best NJPW PPVs I've seen thus far in my relatively young New Japan fandom (New JaFandom?).  I started watching NJPW in January 2015, when they launched, a subscription streaming service not unlike The WWE Network (If you haven't subscribed you should do so - it's cheaper than WWE's version and you'll get access to forty-plus years of New Japan).  Basically from day one I was hooked, and I started poring through the archives to absorb as much New Japan awesomeness as I could find.  So here are fifteen essential NJPW PPVs you need to watch (and if you've already seen 'em, watch 'em again!).  Here we go:

15. WrestleKingdom IV

The WrestleKingdom series evolved from New Japan's 25-year tradition of holding a huge Tokyo Dome show every January 4th.  Regardless what weekday that falls on, the Tokyo Dome show is always on the fourth day of the year (weird, right?).  The name has changed several times, and starting in 2007 they turned the event into a PPV and called it WrestleKingdom.  In my opinion he first WK show to really deliver on all fronts was the fourth edition.  The undercard was a bit cluttered with tag matches (as was customary at the time), but once Intermission was over this show really took off.  Besides the couple of standout tags (Prince Devitt & Ryuske Taiguchi vs. Averno & Ultimo Guerrero; No Limit vs. Team 3-D vs. Bad Intentions), WK4 featured four good-to-great singles matches in a row to close out the PPV.  Tiger Mask IV vs. Naomichi Marufuji holds up as one of the best Jr. Heavyweight matches I've seen, which was then amazingly topped by a superb Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Go Shiozaki heavyweight match, which was followed by the surprisingly awesome Takashi Suguira vs. Hirooki Goto for the GHC Championship.  The main event, for the IWGP Heavyweight Title, saw Shinsuke Nakamura (pre-rock star persona) defend against the bruiser veteran Yoshihiro Takayama, in a slow but intense brawl.  This show started out slow but escalated to a fever pitch in the final 90 minutes, making it the best of the early WrestleKingdom events.

Key Matches: Takashi Suguira vs. Hirooki Goto; Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Go Shiozaki; Tiger Mask IV vs. Naomichi Marufuji

14. Power Struggle 2013

Often seen as something of a transitory PPV due to its place on the calendar so soon before WrestleKingdom, the annual November show Power Struggle generally features little in the way of important angles or title changes.  But that didn't stop NJPW from presenting a very strong edition in 2013.  Undercard standouts included the Young Bucks vs. Suzuki-Gun tag match and a short-but-intense Shibata-Honma slugfest, but once again the final four bouts were where business really picked up.  Hiroshi Tanahashi and Tomohiro Ishii stole the show with a 17-minute war, Tetsuya Naito settled his months-long feud with Masato Tanaka, Shinsuke Nakamura narrowly retained the I-C Title against Minoru Suzuki, and Kazuchika Okada defended the IWGP Title against Karl Anderson in a main event that far exceeded my expectations.  The last three Power Struggle shows have essentially just been a collection of good matches without major consequences, and the 2013 edition was the best of the series.

Key Matches: Kazuchika Okada vs. Karl Anderson; Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Minoru Suzuki; Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Tomohiro Ishii

13. WrestleKingdom 8

The 2014 edition of WrestleKingdom has the unfortunate distinction of being sandwiched between two of the all-time best WKs, but that doesn't stop it from being a helluva good show in and of itself.  The show started out strong with two good Tag Title matches - The Young Bucks defended the Jr. Heavyweight straps against Time Splitters, Forever Hooligans and Suzuki-Gun in a blistering spotfest, while Lance Archer and Davey Boy Smith jr. faced the new Bullet Club combination of Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows for the Heavyweight belts.  The middle of the show featured several okay matches before the final third once again took things to the next level.  Hirooki Goto and Katsuyori Shibata delivered a brutal war, Kota Ibushi dethroned Prince Devitt for the Jr. Heavyweight Title in a great piece of storytelling, Okada and Naito had a marathon IWGP Title match, and in a first for WrestleKingdom the Intercontinental Title took the main event slot, as Nakamura faced Tanahashi in the clear Match of the Night.  While WK8 lacked a true MOTY candidate, it still stacks up as one of the better editions of NJPW's flagship event. 

Key Matches: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi; Prince Devitt vs. Kota Ibushi; Hirooki Goto vs. Katsuyori Shibata

12. WrestleKingdom 12

The 2018 edition of the Tokyo Dome spectacular was a loaded, rock-solid show capped off by two epic main events and drew the biggest NJPW crowd in 20 years.  Aided hugely by the involvement of former WWE mainstay Chris Jericho, WK12 drew 35,000 paid and garnered a ton of industry buzz.  While the show wasn't quite on the level of the tippy-top editions, WK12 was nonetheless an excellent, satisfying PPV with a very strong undercard and the first Match of the Year candidate in Omega vs. Jericho, a wildy violent contest that ranged all over ringside.  The main event of Okada vs. Naito took a shockingly unexpected turn when Naito, overwhelmingly favored to capture the IWGP Title, failed to do so in a 34-minute war.  Elsewhere on the card, Jay White made his post-excursion return in a somewhat underwhelming Intercontinental Title challenge against Tanahashi, while Kushida, Will Ospreay, Marty Scurll and Hiromu Takahashi nearly stole the show in a blazing 4-way Jr. Heavyweight Title match.  WK12 continued the still-ongoing trend of excellent Tokyo Dome supercards, becoming in my estimation the sixth consecutive WrestleKingdom to score a 9/10 or better.

Key Matches: Kazuchika Okada vs. Tetsuya Naito; Kenny Omega vs. Chris Jericho; Marty Scurll vs. Kushida vs. Will Ospreay vs. Hiromu Takahashi

11. King of Pro-Wrestling 2012

Voted the Best Major Show of 2012 by the readers of Wrestling Observer, King of Pro-Wrestling was the first PPV to use that moniker, and was a streamlined, loaded lineup.  Both Jr. Heavyweight Titles were defended in top-flight matches - Forever Hooligans defended the tag belts against Time Splitters, and Low-Ki defeated Kota Ibushi for the singles championship in a 17-minute showstopper.  After a few good but largely inconsequential bouts, the show kicked into overdrive with a trio of excellent matches.  Okada defended his WK7 #1 Contender's slot against Karl Anderson, Shinsuke Nakamura and Hirooki Goto had a blazing I-C Title match, and in the main event Hiroshi Tanahashi faced Minoru Suzuki in an epic 29-minute match with loads of psychology and nary a pin attempt until the very end.  Incidentally this bout was named Match of the Year by the Observer.  KoPW was a tremendous PPV that outshined every other NJPW show in 2012, and amazingly it would be outdone by its 2013 sequel.

Key Matches: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Minoru Suzuki; Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Hirooki Goto; Kazuchika Okada vs. Karl Anderson

Monday, December 3, 2018

Music Review: Haken - The Mountain (2013)

I just became aware of acclaimed English prog-metal outfit Haken about a month ago, having researched them upon seeing their new album Vector in a Newbury Comics weekly "new releases" email.  I consider myself a fairly casual prog fan.  For me the genre is like horror films; I tend to ignore most of them but when someone does something really special with the form it's spectacular.  Being desperate for some new music, I went right over to YouTube to check out Haken's latest singles, "The Good Doctor" and "Puzzle Box, and was instantly blown away, not only by their musicianship, but more importantly by the band's uncanny songwriting ability.  Haken use their incredible technical acumen in service of crafting the best possible songs, something I find many prog bands seem to forget.  Instead of just being a showcase for blazing chops, Haken's music consists of great songs that just happen to include the bells & whistles of prog music.  I pretty quickly digested Vector (its 45-minute running time positively scant for a progressive rock album) and its predecessor Affinity, before settling on their third album, 2013's The Mountain.

It's this conceptual masterwork I'm here today to talk about.  The Mountain is a loose concept record about overcoming life's struggles, rising and falling, etc.  Hardly novel subject matter, but the music on this album is simply fantastic.  Listening to Haken's first two records - impressive in their own right but stylistically similar to Dream Theater and other bands of that ilk - gave me a full appreciation for how much the band stretched their legs on The Mountain.  This record has many of the usual prog-metal hallmarks but also jazz influences and choral arrangements, plus far more mood swings than you'll find on most albums.

The Mountain begins gently with "The Path," a piano/vocal introduction centering on the start of a daunting journey, which then gives way to the soaring, hopeful "Atlas Stone," a lofty 7-plus-minute piece about rising to the challenge.  Things get quirky on "Cockroach King," with its seeming nod to the music of Danny Elfman, before a pair of excellent 4-minute tracks.  "In Memoriam" is a powerful dirge in 7/8 time with one of many brilliantly infective chorus hooks found on this record, while "Because It's There" begins with a haunting jazz a capella intro before settling into a saccharin acoustic ballad.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Awesomely Shitty Movies: Rocky IV

Welcome to another edition of Awesomely Shitty Movies, here at!  Today I'll be talking about one of the most popular installments in the Rocky franchise, the one that probably most evokes 80s nostalgia, and certainly the most dialed-up of all the films.  It's east vs. west.  It's America vs. Russia.  That's right, it's Rocky IV!

After regaining the world boxing championship from Clubber Lang at the end of Rocky III, Mr. Balboa settles into semi-retirement, content to enjoy his life as a wealthy family man.  But when a monstrous Russian boxer named Ivan Drago throws his hat into the US boxing ring, Rocky's best friend Apollo Creed will not stand for it.  No sir.  Creed challenges the young powerhouse to an exhibition fight, things go horribly wrong, and Rocky finds himself in enemy territory, face-to-face with his most intimidating opponent yet.

Like the previous three installments, Rocky IV was a major box office success and everyone remembers it fondly.  Everyone except me apparently.  There's a lot, repeat, A LOT wrong with this film, and for me it doesn't hold up very well at all compared to the first three.  Sooo, let's break this sumbitch down and see what went wrong....

The Awesome

Rocky Nostalgia

I'm a big fan of the Rocky series (particularly the first three films and Rocky Balboa), so even despite all its flaws it's hard to not want to watch this movie when I get done with III.  I also have fond childhood memories of seeing this one in the theater with my parents.  We were on vacation in Newport, RI and it was a snowy November evening.  We were looking for something to do and my sister and I both lobbied intensely to see Rocky IV.  My parents reluctantly obliged, and at the time my sister and I loved this stupid movie.

The Fight

As absurdly over-the-top as the big Rocky-Drago fight sequence is, it's shot and edited with Stallone's usual slick sensibilities and for the time it made for a pretty epic climax.  Drago beats the shit outta Rocky for 15 rounds but can't put him away, Rocky's iron jaw keeps him in the fight and he manages to score the knockout right at the end.  It's basically a one-dimensional version of the second Apollo fight but it's well photographed and choreographed.

I'm thinking he didn't actually connect with that one.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Movie Review: Creed II (2018)

Like its original hero, the Rocky franchise simply will not stay down.  And that, as it turns out, is a good thing.  After 2006's Rocky Balboa shockingly proved a wonderful return to form (Rocky IV and V are both terrible films, let's be honest), and then 2015's Creed spinoff took the franchise in a whole new direction, I learned to never again bet against this film series.

Creed II picks up three years after Creed; Apollo's son Adonis has recovered from his split-decision loss in the first film and become a top contender, ousting over-the-hill Danny Wheeler for the Heavyweight Title, and proposing to his girlfriend Bianca.  Halfway across the world Ivan Drago (an uncannily compelling Dolph Lundgren) has been training his son Viktor to be the same type of in-ring killing machine he himself was 30 years ago.  Viktor challenges Creed for a shot at the title and the battle lines are drawn for a sequel to the first tragic Drago-Creed fight from Rocky IV.  I won't go into plot specifics beyond that, but suffice it to say this film is predictable in that same good way all the other Rocky films are, while further developing these well-drawn characters.  Director Steve Caple Jr. and screenwriters Juel Taylor and Sylvester Stallone have crafted yet another moving, highly entertaining chapter in the Rocky saga that hits all the familiar notes while throwing in some nice new passages.

This film amazingly adds depth to the silly, one-dimensional romp that was Rocky IV by exploring the consequences of Ivan Drago's two fights in that film.  Set off by a television appearance of Viktor, Adonis becomes haunted by his father's death going unrevenged, while Drago's loss to Rocky in 1985 has left him disgraced and divorced; his obsession with Viktor finishing what he started has all but eaten him alive since.  The script gives father and son Drago a conflicted relationship - Ivan's brutal training borders on torture, while Viktor can't fathom seeking admiration from people he doesn't respect.  The intervening years have somehow made Dolph Lundgren an absolutely fascinating figure; I found myself unable to take my eyes off his weathered face that wordlessly conveyed shame, longing for esteem, and a buried affection for his son.  That Creed II lends Rocky IV so much purpose has to be considered a triumph in itself.

On Adonis's side of things, the film examines his increasingly complicated home life (Bianca finds out she is pregnant and fears the baby will inherit her hearing issues) and his relationship with Rocky, who urges him not to get in the ring with the son of his father's killer.  Michael B. Jordan is once again a sympathetic and at times misguided hero, while Stallone continues to find new corners to explore in the lovable Philly street fighter he created 40+ years ago (the running theme this time around is strained father-son relationships).  Rocky's training regimen here involves teaching Creed how to adapt to the most unforgiving conditions and absorb more punishment than he ever thought possible, making the climactic showdown a punishing war of attrition.

Creed II incorporates story elements from Rocky II, III and IV, while continuing to forge its own path in developing the the two lead characters.  It may tread some familiar ground as its predecessors have all done, but in the end it's a very worthy entry in a series that seems determined to go the distance.

I give the film *** out of ****.

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Mass Music Review #3: The Modern Lovers

Welcome to another Mass Music Review here at, where our friend Chris Gillespie looks back at a seminal Massachusetts-based band of yesteryear.....

The brainchild of Natick native Jonathan Richman, The Modern Lovers ironically was born of his failure to make it as a professional musician in New York City while living on the couch of Steve Sesnick, the manager of the band with whom he was infatuated: The Velvet Underground. Richman spent nine months in New York and would go on to live in the infamously poorly kept Hotel Albert, but would later return to his home state and settle in Boston following a trip to Europe and Israel.

The "classic" lineup from left to right: David Robinson, Jerry Harrison, Ernie Brooks, and Jonathan Richman

Deciding to organize a band modelled after the Underground, Richman recruited his childhood neighbor and friend John Felice on guitar. Following this, the duo quickly recruited drummer David Robinson and bass player Rolfe Anderson to the newly christened Modern Lovers. In September of 1970, the group played their first date with another local band called the Sidewinders only a month after Richman had returned home. From the beginning, it was clear that Richman had a unique manner about him during performances: he had short hair while wearing a tie and jacket and would often improvise new lyrics and monologues for different shows.

Young Jonathan Richman during the band's heyday

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The History of NXT TakeOver: WarGames II

Well WWE's third brand outdid themselves this past weekend, presenting an absolutely fantastic TakeOver special headlined by an EPIC WarGames main event. 

The show opened, unexpectedly, with the originally planned Matt Riddle-Kassius Ohno match, which Triple H admitted publicly was never off the table; rather he didn't want to advertise it and have people pissed off that it only went six seconds.  Thus it was "pulled" from the show so when it did end after one move, the crowd would see it as a bonus match instead of a ripoff.  Riddle cut a promo and challenged Ohno to meet him in the ring for a match, Ohno acquiesed and then ate a running knee, followed by the three count.  This was literally the first Riddle match I'd ever seen, so I'm looking forward to watching him in a full-length match.  NR

The first proper bout was the 2/3 Falls match between Shayna Baszler and Kairi Sane.  This was, shall we say, underwhelming.  The action was intense and nonstop, but for a 2/3 Falls match to only go eleven minutes is criminal.  Sane got attacked on the outside by Baszler's two pals Jessamin Duke and Marina Shafir, and fell victim to Baszler's rear naked choke at the two-minute mark.  Sane evened the score only minutes later following an Insane Elbow, but after a ringside brawl involving Duke, Shafir and Io Shirai and Dakota Kai, Sane went for another elbow but got rolled up for the third fall.  Baszler retained and it looks like we'll get a six-woman tag in the near future.  Baszler and Sane work wonderfully together, but for a blowoff of sorts this match deserved to be twice as long.  ***

The rest of the matches on this show were all above ****.

Aleister Black and Johnny Gargano put together an incredible, fast-paced war that went 18 minutes and had nary an ounce of fat.  The strikes on display were crisp and stiff, and both guys looked amazing.  Gargano played the role of the babyface who's lost his way and let his obsession destroy him.  The feud with Tomasso Ciampa poisoned his soul and now he is a violent maniac.  Gargano is fantastic in this persona.  Black was out for revenge and made Gargano pay for his transgressions without coming off as sadistic.  The finish involved Black hitting a Black Mass and holding Gargano upright for a moment just so he could hit a second.  An excellently worked match, and I wonder if we'll see a triple threat with these two and Ciampa in January.  ****1/4

Monday, November 19, 2018

WWE Survivor Series 2018: This. Was. Awesome.

Well I'll be goddammned.  WWE actually pulled off a really great Survivor Series PPV that for me even exceeded the miraculously good show from 2016.  Including the pre-show match (which has to be one of the two or three best pre-show matches of all time), this had three very good elimination matches, four excellent singles bouts and only one throwaway tag match.  In 2018 this is about as good a main roster WWE show as you could ever hope for.  Let's get into it.

I pretty much always skip the pre-shows for these PPVs but since this particular pre-show included my beloved 10-team elimination match I made it a point to watch, and I was glad I did.  While this was obviously no Powers of Pain-Demolition epic from 1988, these ten teams worked their asses off to do something memorable.  The first half felt a bit rushed as teams were getting eliminated pretty quickly, but once it boiled down to New Day & Usos vs. Revival & Gable/Roode, this kicked into high gear.  Loads of crazy offense and dives over/off the top rope (including an absolutely nuts spot where Jimmy Uso German suplexed Gable off the top, onto the pile of guys on the floor).  It boiled down to The Usos vs. The Revival - nice to see Dash & Dawson make it to the end - and Jimmy & Jey hit their superkicks followed by a top-rope splash to win the whole thing.  Just a damn fun opener that won the crowd over (WWE should hold every PPV at the Staples Center, by the way; this crowd was awesome).  ***1/2

The proper PPV opened with the women's elimination match, and this was roughly on par with the 2016 edition.  Some last minute changes improved the match, as Nattie and Ruby Riott were subbed out after a locker room fight in favor of Sasha and Bayley (nothing against Nattie and Ruby, but you can't omit Sasha and Bayley in one of these things).  Mandy Rose disappointingly ended up being the mystery partner for Smackdown, but she at least earned her keep in this match.  Of course the match started with two "shocking" quick eliminations.  WWE has to stop doing this - both main card elimination matches had them and they never get the desired reaction.  They seemingly set up dissension between Rose and Sonya Deville, as Rose stole a pin on Mickie James after Deville leveled her with a sliding knee.  Sasha tapped out Mandy with a Bank Statement and Bayley and Sonya got double counted out.  This paved the way for a super engaging exchange between Sasha and Asuka that lasted a good four minutes.  I'm hoping Sasha gets moved to Smackdown so we can actually see this feud.  More on that later.  Sasha gained the upper hand and climbed to the top rope only for Nia Jax to push her off into a waiting Asuka, who slapped on the Asuka Lock for the tap out.  Nia then pounced on Asuka with three legdrops, followed by a Samoan Drop for the win.  Nia had nuclear heel heat coming off her injury of Becky Lynch.  I'm torn on the idea of exploiting a real-life injury to get someone else over, but I guess that's kinda the nature of the biz, and I have to commend Nia for running with it so well.  She came off like a total asshole here.  Very enjoyable match to open the main card.  ***1/2

Next up was a top contender for Match of the Night, as Seth Rollins faced Shinsuke Nakamura.  I daresay this was Nak's best main roster match to date.  He looked a lot like his old NJPW self here, pulling out every move in his arsenal and played the antagonist to the hilt.  The first half of the match was a little slow in spots and they struggled to keep the crowd into it, but in the second half everything picked up tremendously.  They built to a furious pace by the end, trading finisher attempts and counters, and finally Nak went for a Kinshasa but missed, allowing Seth to hit the Curb Stomp for the win after 22 minutes.  I was very happy to see this get the time it deserved and even happier to see Nakamura look really motivated again.  This was pretty excellent.  ****1/4