Someone in Congress has been reading wrestling websites lately.
In Memoriam: Doctor William Scholl, who taught us all that our feet should be happy.
It’s Draft Day Plus One here at 411, and I’m Mel Kiper, here to parse the selections and go bombs away on the choices as I break down Vince’s Plan 9 From Outer Space on improving the WWF’s ratings. But first, some business to take care of…
THE PIMP SECTION
You know, Flea, thanks to you, I’ve been humming “I Love Trash” all day. Damn your eyes. However, that’s balanced out on your fantastic observations on addiction. At least you’re willing to say that everyone’s addicted to something and it isn’t a stones/glass houses situation. I’m just not sure which of my three addictions is strongest: caffeine, nicotine, or negative reaction to me.
I’m loving Daniels more and more with each passing day, in a completely masculine manner, of course. Remember, folks, we don’t hate Stephanie because she’s a strong woman who might intimidate us, we hate her because she’s a talentless egotist who insists that we all love her.
Nason and the indies: a match made in heaven.
THE LAW IS AN ASS, OR SUCKS ASS, TAKE YOUR PICK
The most important news out of Washington last week, especially for anyone using a computer (and this means you), is that the CBDTPA cleared committee hearings and is headed to the Senate for a vote. So what’s this and why should I care about it, you ask? “This” is the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act, and you should care about it because this may be the worst, most repressive legislation introduced in the history of technology. “This” is what happens when Senators allow themselves to get bought and sold by mega-corporations instead of representing the interests of the people. Longtime readers have heard me bitch about something called the SSSCA in the past; “this” is the mature, final version of that bill. So let’s go into a few more details.
The senator in question is Fritz Hollings, who used to be a Democrat from South Carolina but now represents no one but a certain corporation with a round-eared symbol recognized and beloved around the world. This is a guy I used to respect, until he allowed himself to become the whore of the Walt Disney Company. He allowed Disney to use him as a shill to get this piece of shit law written. Essentially, what this bill mandates is that everything digital in nature will require some type of standardized copy protection scheme. Everything. According to the way the law is written, your digital alarm clock, digital answering machine, and microwave oven, plus granddad’s hearing aid, among other things, would have to have a copy protection chip installed in them. Moronic? Yep, and it gets worse.
The law prevents any type of software to reproduce “copyrighted works” from being sold in the United States. To me, that includes programs like Windows Commander, the file manager I can’t run my system without. Also, any Usenet news reader is also “eligible” for coverage under this proscription (I use Agent, in case you’re curious). And how about the clipboard on any operating system? This report you’re reading is covered under a declared copyright by Widro and Ashish. If you want to clip and save it to your system, you’ve just reproduced it.
Are you running Linux right now and are living in the United States? Then you’re really screwed, because development of open source software of all sorts will be heavily curtailed by effectively blocking the US contributors from making changes and alterations without implementing this “security system”, which will actually violate the laws of a number of countries. Think about the Dmitry Sklyarov case for a second. What Elcomsoft did with their Adobe e-book reader, as a side effect, was help Adobe comply with Russian fair-use laws. Those same effects just happened to be against the DMCA, the horrendous piece of legislation enacted by voice vote because lawmakers, by and large, are technologically illiterate. If anything, this should get me another memo from Don Becker about Elcomsoft producing spamming software as well as the e-book reader. Yes, Don, I know, and I don’t approve of that, but it’s still the principle of the thing. Go after Elcomsoft for the spamming software then.
(Speaking of the DMCA, there were two major DMCA mentions in the media last week. The Church of Scientology used DMCA threats to deemphasize certain anti-Scientology websites on Google, yet DMCA threats didn’t work for Harlan Ellison when he went after AOL to remove some of his copyrighted works from some forums there. As much as I like to see pain caused to the Eight-Hundred Pound Walking Ego That Is Ellison, there’s a certain unfairness in the application of the law viz. individuals and corporations.)
(Another aside, and my apologies, but another computer-related piece of crap legislation, the Children’s Internet Protection Act, came up in court today for challenge in Philly. This is the law that mandates that libraries get censorware if they want to keep federal funding, despite the fact that it’s been shown time and time again that censorware not only doesn’t block a determined pubescent horndog from his digiporn, but also erroneously blocks innocuous sites at alarming rates. Don’t let the ACLU being involved scare you away, conservatives. This is a good cause; even the librarians think so, and one of the challengers is an Oregon conservative Republican whose website during Campaign 2000 was blocked (which caused him to change his mind about censorware PDQ). The ACLU has the info you need on this one here. If you’re too right-wing to believe the ACLU about anything, including whether the sun will rise tomorrow, you can go to the American Library Association here for your info. In related news, one of the biggest makers of censorware, N2H2, got delisted from NASDAQ yesterday; score one for the good guys and the recession. Just wanted to bring you up to date on that. Now back to the main thrust of this.)
Wired has a pretty good article on the subject by Declan McCullough, one of the most savvy tech writers around. In case you want to read the whole bill and can understand legalese, Cryptome has the whole thing for you. Of course, the EFF is getting strident about this as well, natural considering that the first F does stand for “Freedom”, and this curtails it even more than the post-September 11th nonsense that was passed.
To wit, this law will affect all of us who use electronic devices in some way or another. I know that kids today have nothing to get worked up over vis-a-vis politics (hell, when I was in college, all we had was South Africa, but it was at least something), but this is your future. Dammit, be concerned about this one, because it does affect your life.
And in case you’re wondering, four of the five sponsors of this bill are Demos (Hollings, Inouye, Breaux (well, he’s not really a Demo, but he still has to count), and Feinstein (gee, what a surprise, a California senator sponsoring a bill that helps the movie and music industries)), with only Ted Stevens, the walking case of braindeath from Alaska, being the only GOPer. So those of you who say I can’t be bipartisan, shove it.
FLEX GOT SCREWED
Yes, he might have won the Stinker for Worst Performance By A Supporting Actor (thank you, BFM, for pointing that out), but he couldn’t follow it up with a win at the Razzies (in fact, he wasn’t even nominated, a great shock). Even so, his achievement in horrendous film acting was not going to outshine Tom Green, who took home five Razzies, tying the all-time record, for Freddy Got Fingered. Remember, next year, Flex will be eligible for Worst Actor In A Leading Role, and should be a strong contender.
AS FOR THOSE OTHER AWARDS SUNDAY, ERIC, HOW DID YOU DO THIS YEAR?
Okay, as I admitted, I went three for six last year in my predictions in the major categories (Picture, Director, and the performances), getting Picture, Actor, and Actress correct. This year, I went…oops, two for six, getting Picture and Director (I only have the solace of the fact that nobody in their right mind picked Jim Broadbent to comfort me). Nothing to see here, folks, just pass by the carnage of his picks and his brackets (one Final Four team, Kansas) and await the comments…
Okay, now that I’ve stopped crying, let me give congrats to Denzel for joining the Double Club, getting a Lead to go with his 1989 Supporting. Well deserved, which is more than I can say for Halle Berry. I just can’t take her seriously, especially after the Pepsi Twist commercials. It’s also scary to think that X-Men was thisclose to having three Academy Award winners in its cast after last night instead of only two (and should have, if not for the inexplicable Jim Broadbent pick…McKellen’s snub reminds me of the 1977 situation when everyone thought that Alec Guinness had Supporting sewn up because the Academy had to honor Star Wars in some way, just like everyone thought that this was the nod to Lord of the Rings). I just have this weird feeling that, considering Sidney Poitier’s lifetime achievement award, that the Academy membership decided it was time to fill that nasty little gap of an African-American woman never having won Best Actress, and Berry was there in what admittedly was a weak field (okay, she’s half African-American, which is appropriate given her half performance in Monster’s Ball). The Academy tends to do things like that. Now have them give a woman Best Director, and I’ll be impressed.
For more on Halle Berry, I think I’ll turn it over to my pal Kurt Dieckmann, he of the beautiful, pregnant wife: Somewhere, Sally Field is now saying “Thank GOD I’m off the hook for the most insane acceptance speech ever.” She should read the fine print – the award actually went for “Best Actress (In A Completely Unwatchable, Horrible Film).” And exactly what “door” got opened last night – the one for beautiful interracial actresses who get $500K for doing nudie shots in Travolta movies? Or the one for women willing to be back-doored on film by Billy Bob Thornton? Or the door marked “You won because we decided to screw the Australians?” (Hey, they got two Winter Olympic gold medals this year – on our home turf – in sports we were supposed to win. You think that kinda shit gets glossed over?) My opinion: Halle Berry = Marisa Tomei 2002. Right place, right time. She oughta count her blessings. Just remember, Kurt, Marisa Tomei was nominated this year, so we can expect another Halle Berry nomination in about 2013, which should be the next time she turns in an adequate performance in a film.
I’m pissed about Russell Crowe, because now I can’t use all of the good Luise Rainer comparisons I thought of. I really, really hate having to drop material for any reason.
Seventies nostalgia was in full bloom as well, as Opie scored two (the same ones that I did) and Randy Newman finally won his first on his sixteenth nomination. Speaking of Opie, isn’t it strange that the only people still working steadily in the industry from Happy Days are the guys turned producers/directors rather than the people who stuck to being performers? I mean, how long has it been since Suzi Quatro had a hit?
How about Woody Allen showing up? Well, the ceremony wasn’t on Monday, and the Knicks suck this year, so I guess he was free. I’m glad he was brought in to do the Noo Yawk tribute, though, since there’s no other filmmaker who’s more identified with that city. I would have accepted Scorsese, though, since he’s at least still relevant to movies. Raise your hand if you’ve seen a Woody Allen film since Bullets over Broadway…hmmmm, distinct lack of hands there.
Craig Stadler is always entertaining to watch (mostly because he proves that fat guys can be considered athletes too), but that little stretch on the back nine on Saturday…sheesh. Birdie, birdie, then hole-in-one. Then follow that up with bogey, double-bogey, triple-bogey. Sybil has a walrus mustache.
And who the hell is Craig Perks, the winner of the PGA’s equivalent of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire”? I’ve gotta give him his props, though; that birdie putt on the island green was sweet (as was the near-disaster and chip-in eagle on 16; Jesus, I’ve only had one chip-in birdie in my life, and I can’t even imagine a chip-in eagle). So congrats to him. First guy since Hal Sutton to beat Sawgrass (which played like the golf equivalent of an anal probe on Sunday) on his first try, first player ever to make it his first victory on tour. That’s something. However, he’ll get a nice dose of reality when he hits Augusta. That’s a real major, not the Fifth Major.
FEAR, UNCERTAINTY, AND DOUBT IN ARLINGTON
Let’s see. The Rangers picked up a malcontent who says he doesn’t believe in dinosaurs. They picked up a guy whose xenophobia comes right out of the era of the dinosaurs. So what could make their clubhouse complete? A klepto, naturally. It’s no surprise that John Hart brought Ruben Rivera in for a tryout (and he’ll be sure to show the team some of what he’s made of as soon as he can break himself away from his computer, checking how much A-Rod merchandise is going for on ebay). There had to be some side effect to living in Cleveland all those years and being exposed to Albert Belle to boot, and it’s all coming out now that Hart’s with the Strangers. It’s going to be a fun summer down in the Metroplex, believe you me.
Okay, so 3DO supposedly has Heroes of Might and Magic IV and Might and Magic IX scheduled for release on Thursday as part of the end-of-Q1 push. Let’s hope that this happens. I’m getting bored with Civ3, and I need something to carry me over to the end of June, which is now a firm release date for Neverwinter Nights. I’m telling you, it doesn’t matter how long I’ve been a software pirate (going on twenty years now, in fact), I still get excited when companies flood the channel at end of quarter. He who dies with the most toys, no matter if he shoplifted them, wins.
THE SHORT FORM
So let’s break down what happened on Raw. This show, unlike so many others the last year, actually has fans interested. A little change in format given the change in focus, so let’s rock…
“Contractual clause”, huh? Translation: Austin didn’t show.
Frankly, “draft” was very appropriate, since this show had more “asshole”s than a hemmorhoid check at a MEPS during Vietnam.
1) Flex: Oh, big surprise. Yeah, pick the guy with the hundred million dollar bomb…uh, film coming out. On the other hand, my long, extended nightmare is over. You see, I have to watch Raw to do this column. I don’t have to watch Smackdown. So, therefore, I get to enjoy wrestling without Flex. Thank you for this opportunity, Vince.
2) Kurt Angle: No surprise here. You know, so far, the top-card picks that I laid out for my little booking last week seem to be coming out just as expected, except that Flex hasn’t been turned yet. For that matter, neither has Angle. But you wait. Steph reads me, oh, yes, she does…
3) Chris Benoit: Shit. Fuck you, Vince, I take back the thank you.
4) Hulk Hogan: Vince is going to get every bit of mileage out of Hogan that he can, and separating him from the rest of the NWO is the biggest step he can take in that regard. Now who the hell do you feud him with?
5) Billy and Chuck: Okay, we’re starting to get more of a balance here. All of a sudden, the prospect of no Benoit is starting to look brighter.
6) Edge: I’ll miss him.
7) Rikishi: I won’t miss him.
8) D-Von Dudley: Okay, who gets My Beautiful And Beloved? It had better be Buh Buh Ray.
9) Mark Henry: Trying to justify that contract, Vince?
10) Maven: Trying to justify Tough Enough, Vince?
1) UT: When is a swerve not a swerve? When everyone expected it, and when the announcers kept calling it one. That feud was nowhere near blown off at WM, so everyone expected it to continue.
2) The NWO: Again, no surprise. This was done to counter the loss of star power on the Raw side. But that certainly blows the “pure wrestling” aspect that a lot of us were hoping for, almost as much as Benoit’s pick by Vince.
3) Kane: Why? Are they thinking that Kane’s entire persona depends on the presence of UT? This one doesn’t make sense. If they’re really going to make trades, this is an obvious one. Of course, the fact that he gets to feud with the NWO does justify this pick slightly.
4) Rob Van Dam: I can’t wait to see how they’re going to use him. This is going to be very, very strange to watch.
5) Booker T: Cool. Very cool indeed. Maybe now we’ve found the answer to the Van Dam question of who’s feuding with him.
6) The Big Show: This is starting to look a LOT like Nitro 1997, isn’t it?
7) Buh Buh Ray Dudley: You know, out of the major tag teams in the WWF, the Dudleys were the ones that really couldn’t survive on their own. This is a risk. Out of the two, Buh Buh Ray has the best chance of a solo career. But how high do you put him on the singles ladder to start?
8) Brock Lesnar: Yay!
9) Billy Brass Knucks: Double Yay!
10) Lita: Tri…no, not really. I don’t understand it either. Maybe Flair really is a dirty old man.
Heading to Raw: Bradshaw, Stevie Richards, Matt Hardy, Raven (hmmm, with Stevie…might be a good option to explore), Jeff Hardy (damn, they kept the three of them together; I don’t need any more Hardys, thank you), Curt Hennig (very nice), Spike Dudley, D’Lo Brown (he still exists?), Shawn Stasiak (what did I do to deserve this?), Terri Runnels (you think Goldust’s going to SD, and wither Excess?), Jackie, Goldust (guess not), Trish Stratus (at least she has Jackie to feud with in addition to Jazz), Justin Credible (keep the Clique together, huh?), Bossman (oh, shit, he’s still on the active roster), Tommy Dreamer (could be good as long as he’s involved with Raven and Stevie to start), Crash Holly, Molly Holly.
Heading to Smackdown: Billy Kidman, Yoshihiro Tajiri (boo!), Chris Jericho (double boo and a major league Fuck!), Ivory (damn), Albert (as long as Taylor isn’t there, okay), Hurricane Helms (Yes, no more looking at him…wait a second, what’s with all the cruisers?), Al Snow (Maven’s gotta have his buddy around), Lance Storm (shit! shit! shit!), Diamond Dallas Page (good), Torrie Wilson (good; I hate the tramp), Scott Taylor (ah, shit, guess they couldn’t break up that dynamic team), My Beautiful and Beloved (keep me away from the kitchen knives, please), Christian (please, no more of Edge/Christian, I beg you), Test (he would have been better off with a clearer field on Raw), Faarooq (hmmm, all of my prospective Horsemen are landing up on SD, but this marks the end of APA), Tazz (gotta keep him with Maven too, I guess), Bob Holly (someone remembered him, at least), Val Venis, Perry Saturn.
That’s thirty on each side. There’s some missing guys in that first thirty, though. Where’s Chavo (Eddy and Rey-Rey I can see not including if they want them to be “surprises” (well, we know about them but the marks don’t))? Where’s the developmentals that were supposed to be coming up other than Lesnar? Where’s Nidia and Victoria? I’m sure you can add your own “Where Are They”s to this list, but it’s very incomplete.
Also, expect some trades. I can see Bob Holly for Bradshaw being done to bring APA and the whole Holly clan back together. Hell, I’d be trading about half of each of these rosters at this moment, as I’m sure most of you would be.
Tazz over Curt Hennig, Former Third Major Fed World Champions Curtain-Jerker (Submission, Tazzmission): A lot of the pressure seems to be off the guys, it seems. Tazz and Hennig were actually having fun out there, and it showed in the relaxed style in which they worked a pretty nothing match. Could Austin really be that divisive a figure? You know, if the WWF would actually answer our questions when we pose them instead of trying to kayfabe us, maybe we’d know, but, gee, since we can’t confirm anything through them, we have to idly speculate and say things like “Steve Austin is regarded as a locker room cancer whose presence has been causing incredible trouble for WWF superstars during a period of transition, and the strain has been showing on everyone.” But getting that information would require us to believe that freedom is slavery and war is peace (I used the Orwell analogy in my mail to Unca Ed on the subject when he was mulling over his article, and I’ll stick with that motif).
Booker T and Christian over Edge and Diamond Dallas Page (Pinfall, Booker pins Page, scissors kick): Nothing to say, really. Just a “camera time for the boys” match. Shame that Nick Patrick is wasted on stuff like this. And why aren’t the referees part of the draft? I would have loved to see Flair waste that last pick on Charles Robinson rather than Lita.
Trish Stratus over Ivory (Pinfall, Stratusfaction): First of all, it’s good to see Ivory back on Raw. Second, you know how dismal this match would have been only a couple months ago? I gotta give credit to Trish. Someone flicked a switch on in her about a month ago and turned her into a real wrestler, and just that action has improved the women’s scene enough for it to be taken seriously.
Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, and Sean Waltman over Flex and the Goblin (DQ, Kane-terference): 90% of the offense in the match was from ‘Pac, which is no surprise. I’m just glad I don’t have to watch the losers ever again.
Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy over Billy Gunn and Chuck Palumbo, Non-Title Match (Pinfall, Jeff pins Billy, rollup): Testosterone, STAT!
Rob Van Dam over Kurt Angle, Intercontinental Title Match (DQ, Tim White Got An Owie): You know, this could have been a good feud. Too bad it won’t happen, huh?
Trip over Chris Jericho and No-Talent McBooker, Triple Threat WWF Title Match (Pinfall, Trip pins Steph, spinebuster, Steph must leave the WWF per stipulation): Okay, everyone start figuring out your loopholes now. She’ll be back. The last time we thought she was gone, it was for a total of six weeks. This one should take less time than that to accomplish. She’s the Bitch of the Baskervilles, and I can already hear her howling.
AND IN OTHER WRESTLING NEWS…
Nothing more on Austin than Ashish has been keeping you abreast about. It’s obvious that the “contractual obligation” guff that Linda was giving us was the WWF’s mea culpa for pissing him off in some unknown way and making sure that his exposure would still be maximized, thus maintaining things like his merchandise sales and keeping him in the income bracket he’s become accustomed to. It’s very strange to see the WWF give in to a wrestler’s demands. Usually, it was WCW who bent over backwards to accomodate certain people, most notably friends of the booker.
So why did they do it? My guess is that they really think they need Austin to sell this split properly by being one of the three “bridges” between shows. It shows how little confidence they have in Trip and Jazz right now (especially in Trip; they know the face turn didn’t work for him, mostly due to the asinine booking, and they’re going to have to turn him heel soon, especially since he’s without his foil Steph until they figure out a loophole to get her back in). It’s not a very good sign when you’re trying to extend your brand and you need to depend on someone who just, in effect, threw a tantrum because he wasn’t given enough of the sandbox to play in. I think I may have been premature on calling Kevin Nash “Big Baby”. The real big baby is shorter and balder.
You know, after this imbecilic draft, I really have to consider whether or not I’m going to keep watching the WWF. The bulk of the performers that I enjoy seeing are on Smackdown, but the one person I utterly loathe being there balances all of that out and more. Meanwhile, the Raw roster doesn’t fill me with a lot of confidence. Unless some trades are made on SD, I’ve got a lot of thinking to do. I’ve done this column on inertia before, especially during the dying days of WCW. I don’t like to put myself into that situation. I’m going to wait and see what’s done on SD before making a decision, though. I’ve got enough in my life happening right now to not have to deal with what’s going to end up being more crap on my screen each Monday night. I’ll be back tomorrow, though, so until then, have a good one.