The people were gradually tamed
and all was placed under seal;
taught to shout when they should have been silent,
they were still when they should have cried out.
– Yevgeny Yevtushenko, “Fear”
Stalin’s Soviet Union or Vince’s WWF? You make the call.
It’s Wednesday here at the 411 Samizdat, and if my math is right, frequent correspondent Kurt Dieckmann’s beautiful, pregnant wife should no longer be the second of those adjectives (and if it’s happened, congrats, Kurt, and remember, everyone, if you’re there for the conception, be there for the birth). In the meantime, we have Smackdown lowlights, reader mail, and your typical Wednesday filler. So let’s use the ever-popular Memo To format this week, with, of course, a break for an In Memoriam…
Robert Urich. The king of Bad Television, a guy who survived more bombs than London during the Blitz. Star of fifteen prime-time TV shows (a record), only two of which could be considered even moderate hits. His presence on a show was a near-infallible indicator that if you blinked, the show would be gone. For that purpose alone, he shall be missed.
Now on to the Memos:
MEMO TO MORSE
I am very sorry I didn’t plug you yesterday. If fantasy booking, by definition, sucks, you and Nason are the exceptions.
MEMO TO LETAWSKY
There’s a reason why your info column is the best one out there. You don’t have the overweening ego of certain people at “bigger” sites, and you admit mistakes, unlike a certain Gooney Bird, who’s still living down the fact that he said Booker and Stevie Ray weren’t brothers.
MEMO TO GAMBLE
Agreed on everything wrestling-related. I also lost all respect for the Ohio Department of Taxation when they hit me up for taxes on money I earned in Illinois in 1999 as a resident of Illinois (I paid it just to close the books on that little adventure and shut them up). Illinois never hit me up for money earned in Ohio that year as a resident of Ohio. I don’t even want to think about next year. I’m going to have income in Illinois as a resident of Illinois, and income in Illinois as a resident of Wisconsin with Illinois taxes taken out. And if I switch jobs again…yeesh.
Well, at least the White Sox pounded the piss out of the Indians last night. It’s one of the few times that I regret my homeboys not being Philly, because there’s no doubt the Philly crowd would have been chanting “Tawny, Tawny” as Chuck Finley left the game in the second.
MEMO TO BFM
The first thing I thought of when I saw Raven’s current ring attire for the first time was Adam Ant (I just couldn’t fit a mention in before yesterday). I think it was a natural flashback/reference for us Germ-Free Adolescents who were around for the early days of MTV, when such outfits were considered cool.
MEMO TO TREVOR GIBERSON (AND OTHERS WHO WROTE IN ABOUT JOHN BYRNE)
Curt Swan was damn good. I’m appreciating his work a lot more now than I did at the time (same with Gene Colan). I do agree with you that there were cults around Kirby, Adams, and Steranko (and neither Adams nor Steranko merited one), but the fanbase wasn’t really big enough at the time to turn them into mass movements. It took the Marvel Zombies of the late 70s revolting against the “same old, same old” being promulgated by the Lee-clone writers (Gerry Conway, anyone?) and the Romita-clone artists to spark the creator-auteur movement. Somehow, the Zombies all picked up on the almost-cancelled-again X-Men as the book to champion, and Claremont and Byrne (and to a lesser extent Terry Austin) were turned into movement figureheads/demigods. Then the DC fans got involved and did the same for Marv Wolfman and George Perez. By the time Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons did Watchmen, the practice was so accepted that it was natural to deify them. I must admit being part of that crowd at the time, but I’m older and wiser now and can acknowledge the foolish errors of my youth.
BTW, Byrne might have been saved in my eyes, but it was his Fantastic Four work that showed me he had no redemption. Ripping off Doctor Who plots wholesale and being called a genius for it? Please. However, I’m glad to see that you’re not falling into the “He’s Canadian, So He’s Good” trap that a lot of folks in wrestling seem to be caught in.
RELATED MEMO TO JAGUAR-EL
No, it’s not contradictory. What I’ve been advising with Flex is an evolution of the character. What Byrne did with Superman was a complete break, allegedly to get back to basics but done simply because the Superman of the time didn’t fit in with his conception of what the character should be like. It might have worked with a different character, but this is Superman you’re f*cking with. That has to be taken into account. You simply don’t zero-base Superman because too much has been added on to the mythos and has been dragging it down. The word “icon” is overused, but in the case of Superman, it’s appropriate. He is a worldwide icon, and you don’t make radical changes just because you can. The sad part is that he laid out all of what he ended up doing in a long interview he did with the Comics Journal in 1980 or 1981, and everyone laughed at those statements at the time.
MEMO TO HECTOR GARCIA
Man, are you off-base if you think I’m a socialist. Economically-sepaking, I’m a free-market moderate-to-conservative who believes in a flat tax and welfare reform. I’m also a former government employee. I know how much government f*cks things up when they run stuff. Maybe you misunderstood what I was trying to say, but I think calling the Venezuelan oil company’s heads “chimp-level management” is an indictment of their abilities. Yes, it’d be nice if everyone was good-natured and geared more toward group mentality, and we can have working socialism. But we go off and elect complete whores who pimp themselves out to any constituent with an open checkbook (see Hollings, Fritz and Walt Disney Company, The). A republic sucks. That’s why you to go Democracy at the first possible opportunity in Civilization.
As for the Muslims getting sick of Israel and starting an oil embargo, they did that in 1973. I was there for gas prices going from a quarter a gallon to a buck and a quarter overnight. Also, OPEC has member nations now that will break with an attempted embargo, nations like…oh, Venezuela. And Kuwait, whom we made safe for feudalism ten years ago. And Saudi Arabia, who will go against the US when it makes them look good to the Muslim world but who will back the US up come nut-cutting time.
I’m also really confused about this statement: The rest of the world isnt on Israel’s side on this one, and I doubt a war in the middle east right now wouldnt be supported by very many countries, and could just lead into a world war. Huh? If many countries won’t support a war in the Middle East, how is that going to lead to a world war? On last weekend’s McLaughlin Group, the Ol’ Defrocked Jesuit put out a nightmare scenario involving Israel, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, China, and Taiwan that would lead to a world war, and even he admitted that he didn’t believe what he was positing.
RELATED TOPIC MEMO TO IAN WRIGHT:
No, I am not going soft. Come on, I just compared Flex to Stalin again, and compared the WWF to the Soviet Union to boot. That’s not going soft. If it’s because I’m not saying nasty things about Ariel Sharon, then I plead guilty to that. The thing is, it gets a lot more attention and thought when you bring up stuff that isn’t obvious at first glance to people. We’ve known that Sharon’s a complete maniac with a hard-on for Palestinians for over two decades now. Frankly, events like Jenin are expected situations with the guy considering what he did in Southern Lebanon in 1982. In other words, there’s no state of shock that can bring on a state of indignation. It would take something totally over the top (like going nuclear) to bring a rise out of me concerning Israeli actions right now. It’s barbarism committed in reaction to barbarism committed in reaction to barbarism, with no way out of the cycle other than to lay down all arms or to wait until the last man’s standing. You know my recommendation: make it the latter and put it on PPV.
SEMI-RELATED MEMO TO CHRISTOPHER ARRINGTON
Very interesting challenge, but you don’t know me very well. I can hate someone as much as I do Flex. I can’t think of three good things about him, because everything that people cite as “good” about him have their negatives (the fact that he’ll do jobs (but only when there’s something in it for him on the back end), his (stale) promos, etc.). As for the new PYL, I’ll just quote myself from my Greatest Game Shows Of All Time series over at Reality News Online: PYL is unimaginable without Peter Tomarken.
IN A SIMILAR FLEX VEIN, MEMO TO OCTAVIAN
Because it wasn’t only at WM17 (not X7, you silly mark) that Flex was getting heel pops. He was getting them in every promo he did against Austin for a few weeks leading up to the event, and not all of those shows took place in Texas.
IN YET ANOTHER SIMILAR VEIN, MEMO TO VINCENT MALE
I think your idea would work. It’d certainly be fun to watch. However, it requires two things to pull off that the WWF doesn’t have in this case: 1) a great technical wrestler, which Flex is not, and 2) creative writing
MEMO TO JOHN ROWAT
sul-CHES-key. And Scots would kick the living shit out of me and Keith, Hyatte in his corner or not.
MEMO TO MDS11880
The late Justice White admitting he was wrong about Bowers was fine. But he did it after he was retired. Meanwhile, there are still sodomy laws in a number of states still on the books because Bowers is a precedent. If he’d come to that conclusion while he was still in a position to influence people, like Barry Goldwater did about the Reaganistas, then I’d respect him a lot more. Let me give an example: if, fifteen years from now, someone interviews me for a “Where Are They Now?” edition of the old 411 staff and I admit I was wrong about Flex, will people remember that or remember what I’m writing about him now?
MEMO TO JOSH VAN GIBSON
I don’t know what Paul Heyman’s sexual preferences are, if any. I have speculated in the past, though, that they include Chinese boys and donkeys.
MEMO TO CWELSCH23
Hey, last week, I congratulated Kevin Harvick on his victory and his birthday, and look what happened. My power over NASCAR is too great to be used for frivolous mentions.
ENOUGH OF THE MEMOS, ON TO SMACKDOWN…
Jakked/Metal is negligible this week, except for one thing: you’d think that an “RTC Explodes!” special like Godfather/Val would get more exposure than being on Jakked, wouldn’t you?
Well, Maven’s education is entering a new area. On Sunday, he’ll learn what “returning the job” means when he lays down for the Gay Boys like Palumbo did for him.
Kidman and Helms criticizing Stasiak for a bad promo? That is definite pot/kettle/black territory. And I don’t know which team I like less, those two or David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar. All I know is that their match against Chavo and Tajiri will have a lot more workrate than any of the latter’s tour stops this summer.
Sign of Creative Bankruptcy: Pegging all of the mid-card angles on Mark Henry.
No one’s better at semi-shoot promos than Jericho, and his one against Hogan should prove it. The thing is, I have zero desire to watch the Hogan promo before it in order to wait for Jericho.
Okay, so how does Trip become the exclusive property of SD if he loses the title? They never mentioned the mechanics of which show gets who when the Undisputed and Women’s titles change hands. This is why intelligent people like me and Daniels recommended reviving the old WCW titles for Raw. The last thing we viewers need are more loopholes in logic from the WWF.
Bob Holly shows an extreme lack of taste in two areas: first, by picking a fight with Page, normally the kiss of death for any wrestler’s heat; and second, by dissing PAISLEY~!.
Why not go all the way with D-Von and get Pritchard to put on the Brother Love outfit again to manage him? And those weren’t dollars in the collection baskets. This was Houston, remember. Those were Enron share certificates.
Yet another attempt at a hard sell for the PPV.
AND IN OTHER WRESTLING NEWS…
1bullshit’s reporting that, due to their increased responsibilities as a WWF developmental territory, HWA has been forced to cancel Pillman 2002. That’s regrettable. The annual charity event to assist Melanie Pillman and her children has always been one of the most smark-friendly shows imaginable, and I’ve always given kudos to Les Thatcher and his people for putting on a terrific event. I can live with my memories and two t-shirts from Pillman 2000, I guess. But the event will definitely be missed.
Another 4.8 for Raw, and there’s a new party line for spinning. This week it’s “Well, there’s little star power on Raw, so the rating’s pretty good with only Austin, UT, and Flair”. Oh, come on. Give it up. I’m keeping track of this and will call out the spin artists on a weekly basis when every new excuse is made up. 4.0 by Judgement Day still stands as a prediction.
My final prediction for The Scorpion King‘s BO: $140 million in the US, $220 million worldwide, $45-50 million opening weekend. It won’t earn its negative costs back under standard Hollywood accounting methods until the video/DVD is released.
I’ll see you later this week for the Roundtable. In the meantime, keep it here for Grut and Ashish. Until then, my back is killing me.