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[Week 6 Discussion] | Michigan vs Iowa | 12:00 PM on FOX
#19 Michigan (3-1) vs #14 Iowa (4-0)
When: Sat, 10/5, 12:00 PM Eastern Where: The Big House, Ann Arbor TV / Streaming: Fox Sports Betting Line: -3.5 Michigan Feel free to use this thread for giving predictions, discussing the coaching / program, analyzing games, asking/answering questions, or commenting on anything else Michigan football related. For even more more discussion join the Discord or follow our Twitter. For tailgating or game-day info check our Wiki. Go Blue!
Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives. PREVIOUSLY:
Okay, look, here's the deal. The obituaries, as sad as they are, contain some of Dave's best work. But good lord, they are looooooooooong. And they never contain anything newsworthy that is relevant to 2002 or anything. But they're always super interesting from a historical perspective. But last week, Dave wrote a brief obit for Lou Thesz (only 5,000 words, ahem) and promised to go into more detail this week. So this week, we open with a 16,000+ word obituary for Lou Thesz and I just can't. Sorry. It's really good though, you should all go read it. But I've got, like, a family and a job and responsibilities and stuff. I can't recap this. It's an incredible piece of work though.
The World Wrestling Federation is no more. On May 5th, the company unveiled its new name, World Wrestling Entertainment. Dave recaps the history of the company briefly (was originally called "World Wide Wrestling Federation, or WWWF, until 1979 when it was shortened to WWF, which is has remained for the past 23 years). But as of this week, the company has been rebranded to WWE. The website domain was changed to WWE.com and all references to "WWF" were changed to "WWE." The scratch logo was also changed, with the F being removed, so now it simply looks like "WW" (which, honestly, never really did make much sense to me. Even though the logo has changed, it's still "WW" to this day). Anyway, this all stems from the World Wildlife Fund lawsuit over in the UK, in which the WWE lost every court case and appeal. They were planning to appeal the ruling in the UK's highest court, their final last-ditch effort to save their name, but the reality is, they weren't going to win that case. Vince McMahon and the company blatantly and repeatedly violated the agreement they signed in 1994. It was 1000% obvious they were in the wrong here and they had gotten spanked by every single court before, often losing their appeals by unanimous decisions. So they weren't going to win this final appeal either and they knew it. So they dropped the appeal and threw in the towel and finally agreed to just change the name. The WWE has until May 15th to remove all references to "WWF" from their shows and merchandise. Any merch with "WWF" on it can no longer be sold after that date. All video packages and posters will have to be changed and any "WWF" mention or logos after that time on television or in past footage will have to be censored. Last year, during the court case, the WWE claimed it would cost them more than $50 million to change their name and to deal with all the legal and rebranding headaches that come with it. But this week, they backtacked on that and said it wouldn't be that expensive after all. Who knows if that's true, but the idea of this costing $50 million was enough to make the shareholders shit themselves, so Dave says they claimed it won't cost that much in order to keep the stock from plummeting. Anyway, none of this had to happen. In 1994, Vince McMahon and the Wildlife Fund signed an agreement that the wrestling company would not use the "WWF" name for promoting itself outside of the U.S. (since the Wildlife group is based overseas) and that worked well for a year or two. But then Vince McMahon apparently decided, "Meh, who cares about agreements?" and began repeatedly and blatantly violating it, constantly, for years, at which point the Wildlife group finally got upset enough to file a lawsuit. Anyway, on the first Raw since the name change, Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler repeatedly stumbled over the new initials, accidentally saying "WWF" multiple times. Gonna take time for everyone to get used to calling it the new name.
The buyrates for Wrestlemania 18 are in and it appears the event will have to settle for being the #2 biggest money show in wrestling history after it came up short and failed to surpass Wrestlemania 17. Final numbers aren't in yet, but latest estimates put it somewhere around the 800,000 buys range (ended up being about 880,000) which is quite a bit down from WM17. It was also #2 in total revenue from live gate and merch. Internally, it's actually being seen as something of a disappointment because with the power of the Hogan/Rock dream match, they were hopeful this show would top 1 million buys but unless something drastic changes with these buyrate numbers, it looks like the final total will be a good bit short of that.
NJPW's latest Tokyo Dome show is in the books. The show drew a sellout crowd of 57,000 fans, there to see the Masahiro Chono vs. Mitsuharu Misawa dream main event (which ended up going to a 30-minute draw). It was the biggest non-Jan. 4 crowd NJPW has drawn to the Dome in 2 years. So that's the good news. The bad news is that the show flopped in the ratings on TV. A big part of that is because the Chono/Misawa match didn't air as part of the show (due to the Asahi-TV/Nippon TV network issues discussed in past issues) so the televised show was built around the Shinya Hashimoto/Naoya Ogawa vs. Scott Norton/Hiroyoshi Tenzan match and man, the fans sure didn't seem to give a fuck about that. In fact, the rating was so bad that there's concern that this will be the end of pro wrestling on prime time TV in Japan for the foreseeable future. But there are justifiable reasons for the rating. The show went head-to-head with the Kirin Cup soccer tournament, which was a huge deal and did more than double the rating the NJPW show did. Unlike the U.S., wrestling and "real" sports in Japan have a major crossover audience, so having real sports competition severely hurt NJPW's show. Also, while Ogawa is a draw as a singles star, putting him in a tag match against Norton and Tenzan isn't exactly setting the world on fire. The show lasted 6 hours, which was way too long and the crowd was burned out before Misawa vs. Chono even started.
Other notes from the NJPW show: it opened with an hour long 30th anniversary ceremony. They had a 10-bell salute for Lou Thesz and brought out a bunch of legendary NJPW names from the 70s and 80s. Then they did an angle where Antonio Inoki came out to give a speech, but he was attacked by Tiger Jeet Singh. But then Chyna made the save, attacking Singh, running him out of the ring, and challenging him to a match. Inoki's ex-wife, famous Japanese actress Mitsuko Baisho then made an appearance, getting a huge pop, and she and Inoki did his famous catch phrase to kick off the show. Minoru Suzuki of Pancrase (who started with NJPW as a pro wrestler) was also there. Jushin Ligher and Minoru Tanaka won the IWGP Jr. tag titles and then Liger challenged several NOAH wrestlers who were at ringside (most notably KENTA) and they all jumped in the ring and it ended with a staredown. The Steiner Brothers reunited to face Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kensuke Sasaki, with Chyna as the special referee. Tanahashi was working hurt, but he still worked. They did a spot where Tanahashi ran into Chyna and he went down off the bump instead of her and Dave seems annoyed by this since Tanahashi is a guy they really need to be pushing who can be a huge star for this company. Dave doesn't like him selling bumps for Chyna. Anyway, decent match but the Steiners basically steamrolled them and Tanahashi was pinned by Scott Steiner. Chyna then challenged several All Japan Women at ringside as well as Scott Steiner, Tanahashi, Sasaki, and even IWGP champion Yuji Nagata, saying she wanted a title match. Dave thinks this company has lost its damn mind. Speaking of Nagata, he retained his title in the next match. And then, of course, the main event. Usually during interpromotional matches, the crowd is always super pro-NJPW but this time, they went insane for Misawa and it was clear there were a ton of NOAH fans in the building. Chono did some Inoki moves and Misawa did some Great Baba moves, to kinda have a spiritual "Baba vs. Inoki" tribute in the match I guess. Ended in a draw and by the time it was over, no matter how big the dream match was, the crowd was burned out and weren't as hype for the match as you might expect once the entrances were done.
Goldberg has received a full buy-out of his WCW contract from Time Warner and as of this week, he is now an unsigned free agent. Goldberg did not request the buy-out, the decision was made by the Time Warner side after the most unprofitable quarter in their history. The company was looking to cut expenses, even at a loss, just so the books can look better in future quarters. Goldberg reportedly received almost all of his remaining salary (more than 90% of the nearly $3 million he was still owed) in order to get him off their books. When Goldberg realized he's going to be a free agent a year earlier than expected, talks with WWE started up. But as usual, they went nowhere. WWE (I feel like I'm having to get used to typing that all over again. Really does feel like 2002 again) has interest in him, especially given the way ratings continue to plummet lately. But Goldberg has always wanted more than WWE is willing to pay. Plus, they're feeling burned right now after signing Hall and Nash to big money, long-term contracts for part-time work, only to have Nash get injured and Hall likely to get himself fired at any moment (that moment is coming sooner than you think), and neither of them really getting over in any meaningful way. Even Hogan, who is also making big money for a reduced schedule, was hot for a minute and boosted ratings and buyrates. But after only a few months, that train already seems to be out of steam and TV ratings are back to floundering with Hogan as champion leading the shows. So WWE is kinda gun-shy on opening the checkbook and paying out the ass for these big stars, futilely hoping that one of them is the quick-fix that can stop the bleeding.
There's also the question of how Goldberg would fit within the WWE locker room. He hasn't been shy about his dislike for Triple H, dating back to WCW when Triple H trashed Goldberg in a radio interview and saying that even if Goldberg was available, they wouldn't want him (which, at the time, when WCW was still alive and Goldberg was the biggest star in the company, is just about the dumbest thing he could have said. In 1998, WWF would have gladly traded 10 Triple H's for Goldberg). Anyway, Goldberg took the comment personally and even confronted Triple H face-to-face at the Toy Fair convention in New York a couple of years ago, in a bit of an ugly scene where Goldberg was yelling at him and Triple H and Stephanie kept their heads down and said nothing. Goldberg also has a lot of dislike for Scott Hall, which is another of Triple H's good friends, so ya know. The latest on Goldberg is that he's considering working some in Japan but he's just fielding offers right now. Word is he's interested in working with PRIDE as well as NJPW. Of course, if he's looking to maximize his money potential, WWE is still the place to go if you want to make big bucks. If promoted right, matches against Rock, Austin, Triple H, and others could do huge buyrates. And if they keep Goldberg and Austin apart for a year and build to a match with them at Wrestlemania, well, needless to say, that show would set records. Dave talks about how Goldberg got nuclear hot in 1998 and even in 1999, he was the biggest drawing wrestler in the business. But by 2000, the company was dying, Goldberg was injured, and "Jesus Chris with an Etch-a-Sketch" couldn't have drawn in WCW. Dave again does the math and talks about how WWE should have brought Goldberg in for the Invasion angle. Yes, it would have cost them a lot of money and upset the salary structure, but he would have more than made up for it with the kind of buyrates he could have drawn with those dream matches and the Invasion angle might have had a chance. But alas.
And of course, who's to say how WWE would use Goldberg? They already have Brock Lesnar and they're currently giving him the unstoppable monster push. Lesnar is bigger, younger, and a more legitimate athlete (for whatever that's worth). And WWE probably isn't going to give Goldberg an endless string of jobbers to beat. In WWE, he's going to be expected to work longer matches, sell for people, etc. They won't book him the way WCW did so who knows how he'd get over in WWE? If they wanted to build to an Austin/Goldberg match, it would make sense that Goldberg first has to plow through guys like Triple H, Undertaker, etc. And politically, that just ain't gonna happen. Dave doubts NJPW can afford him for anything more than one or two big shows. As for PRIDE, he could probably make a lot of money there, but the problem is.....PRIDE is a shoot. They haven't had "worked" matches in a couple of years and doing so now would kill their credibility. Which means Goldberg would have to go into a legit shoot and one embarrassing loss there would severely hurt his future earning potential. In the end, Dave thinks it's inevitable that Goldberg will end up in WWE, but probably not any time soon. But he's certain it will eventually happen. There's too much money on the line for both sides and WWE's ratings woes are making them desperate, so it'll happen some day (yup, less than a year from this).
And the moment is here! For those of you who had "under 3 months" in the "How long will Scott Hall last?" pool, come collect your prize. Scott Hall was released by the WWE this week due to misbehavior on the European tour. Firstly, he went on a drunken binge during the entire tour and was even worse on the plane ride home (much more on that in a bit). Dave says this was inevitable. WCW fired him. Even ECW stopped using him when he got arrested at one point. And even though he was seemingly behaving during his Japan tours, even NJPW cut ties with him shortly before he went back to WWE because they were fed up with some of his antics. And now WWE has fired him. Dave talks about how Hall made a drunken spectacle of himself in the locker room on his very first day back in WWE, before the NWO even debuted on TV, then he showed up in Toronto for Wrestlemania in no condition to perform (later came out that he was hungover from the night before), which caused Austin to insist on ending their feud at WM (which was the plan, but Dave says Austin has continued working with Hall afterwards simply because they don't really seem to have any other credible opponents for him). Hall's match with Bradshaw at Backlash was an embarrassment and the night before that show, agents had to help him back to his hotel. Just endless incidents like this. In Europe, Hall was such a blatant drunken mess that even the other wrestlers were calling for him to be fired. Hall was 45 minutes late for the bus they all took to London and then passed out in the locker room during the show. On the plane ride back, he was starting fights with people and eventually passed out and it got to the point that people were worried about his health. When they got back to the U.S. for Raw, they literally had to wake him up from a drunken stupor backstage to send him to the ring to do his segment (and yes, he wrestled). After the show, they fired him. No one came to his defense, and even Hall's closest friends are now admitting that he simply can't handle the pressures of being on the road and being released is the best thing for him right now. Dave talks about how a lot of wrestlers have been fired in the last couple of years for drug and alcohol issues and that's all well and good, but the big problem is why hire them in the first place? Scott Hall's issues were not a secret. It wasn't like he cleaned himself up before he came to WWE. He was getting in trouble and collecting arrests like Pokemon all the way up until the day they brought him back. Anyway, Hall had a 2-year deal, believed to be worth $600,000-per-year downside for only 10 dates per month. So a really sweet deal, but it's gone now.
Hey, speaking of that European tour, turns out there was a bit of trouble on the flight back to the U.S. Perhaps you've heard of it. Most of the trouble wasn't even due to Scott Hall. Turns out Vince McMahon didn't make the trip and lots of people decided that was a good reason to cut loose and have fun. Plus, since everyone has seen Hall get away with being drunk 24/7 for the last few months, they figured nobody would get in trouble. So....folks got DRUNK. Among the various incidents on this flight: Goldust got on the speaker system and began drunkenly serenading his ex-wife Terri with love songs. Terri was extremely uncomfortable and begged him to stop and then Jim Ross had to go sit him down. Ric Flair also "started to get wild" but Jim Ross calmed him down as well (Dave doesn't seem to know just yet exactly what Flair "getting wild" entailed, but if you don't know, it involved getting totally naked except for his robe and started helicoptering his dick at flight attendants. And it gets worse if you feel like researching it. The flight attendants later filed a lawsuit against Flair and accused him of sexual assault). Curt Hennig was spraying people with shaving cream and he kept trying to get Brock Lesnar to fight him. Lesnar, being a newcomer, didn't know how to handle it and didn't want to get in trouble, but he ain't gonna let Hennig talk shit to him either. So anyway, Lesnar got up and basically annihilated Hennig, repeatedly taking him to the ground and embarrassing him because, well, of course he did. It's Brock Lesnar. At one point, Lesnar slammed Hennig up against the side of the plane, right into the emergency exit door, which freaked everybody out for obvious reasons. Michael Hayes got into a scuffle with Bradshaw and then tried to pick a fight with Hall (although everyone on the plane said Hall had it coming). Anyway, Hayes was apparently obnoxious as hell and annoyed everyone. But then he made the mistake of falling asleep and someone (believed to be X-Pac) cut his hair off. When Hayes woke up, he was furious and tried to fight several people. The next day at the Raw tapings, his entire mullet was in a plastic bag, pinned to the wall of the locker room for everyone to see. Gerald Brisco, Arn Anderson, and Hayes all caught a ton of heat from Vince afterward since they were the people who were supposed to be in charge. Anderson and Hayes especially, since their jobs are to keep the boys under control, but they were apparently having just as much fun as everyone else. Everyone's waiting to see how Vince is going to handle this situation. As noted, Hall was already fired and Hayes got an earful from Vince, Stephanie, and JR at Raw the next day, but there will likely be more fallout. Undertaker was also said to be furious over how out of hand everything got (I'm sure we haven't heard the last of this).
Anyway, while they were in Europe, WWE presented its latest UK PPV, Insurexxtion. As usual with the UK PPVs, this was little more than a glorified house show. They announced the show as sold out, but there were empty seats everywhere. RVD vs. Eddie Guerrero for the IC title was the show-stealer according to every report Dave heard, and was said to be far better than their Backlash match. Brock Lesnar teamed with Shawn Stasiak (lol wut) and lost to the Hardyz. Brock beat up everybody after the match. Triple H beat Undertaker in the main event and Dave doesn't know why since Undertaker is the one challenging Hogan for the title at the next PPV. The top rope broke during the match when they did an Irish whip into the corner and when the rope snapped, a metal piece broke off from the corner and flew into the crowd and barely missed hitting a small child in the face.
Smackdown on 5/2 drew the all-time lowest rating in the history of the show. Dave says that's the scariest thing to happen to WWF in the past 5 years. It was also the 3rd lowest rating for any Smackdown or Raw dating back to 1998. The rating was a full 18% drop from the week before, which was already scary. The rating was even lower than previous holiday episodes. So what was the problem? Well, it was headlined by Hogan defending the WWF title against Chris Jericho (as it turns out, the final time the "WWF" title was ever defended). Dave says the title has been meaningless for years now and Hogan's steam is running out. And Jericho hasn't recovered from spending the first part of the year being emasculated and playing second fiddle to Stephanie McMahon in the Wrestlemania feud. Add all that together and you've got a recipe for a shit ratings night. Among other things. Dave isn't blaming this all on Hogan and Jericho by any means, there's a lot of problems with the company as of late, from bad storylines to failing to make new stars, and it's all starting to come home to roost.
Keiji Muto wrestled a match in AJPW under his alternate gimmick of Kokushi Muso. Turns out "Great Muta" isn't his only other persona. The Kokushi Muso gimmick is basically like Hakushi in WWF, where he's covered his entire body in Japanese writing. He originally debuted the gimmick in Michinoku Pro last year, when teaming with....Hakushi (Jinsei Shinzaki, who occasionally brought back the old Hakushi gimmick in Japan). Anyway, same thing here. He teamed with Hakushi for this match, while using that gimmick (Muto would use that gimmick a handful of times throughout the years, always when teaming with Hakushi. It's like that was only his gimmick for that team. The last time he used it was in 2009, also in a tag match with Hakushi).
Former NOAH Jr. champion Naomichi Marufuji underwent knee surgery this week and should be out around 6 months (ends up being 9 months).
NJPW is doing an angle (according to Dave) similar to the Vince/Flair angle last year where Antonio Inoki and Masahiro Chono are battling over control of the company. Although it's more realistic. Inoki is in the press talking about how many of NJPW's shows aren't doing well and is pushing for them to use Naoya Ogawa more, while Chono doesn't want to. Inoki is also saying Chono needs to retire from wrestling and focus his energies on managing the day-to-day business of the promotion full-time. Dave says this is an angle, but it doesn't sound like much of one to me, and I think later years have kinda proven there was a lot of blurring between fiction and reality here, because there was a ton of behind the scenes turmoil in NJPW during this period.
Will Smith appeared alongside Antonio Inoki at the Japanese movie premiere for the film "Ali" based on Muhammad Ali's life. Crowd went absolutely insane for Inoki (I've tried like hell and can't even find a picture of them together. But then again, I can't find a single pic from the premiere at all).
When reviewing the recent Dos Caras Jr. shoot fight in Japan, Dave talks about the guy's potential as a wrestler. He has a strong amateur background, legit shoot skills, and a famous name. Dave thinks, if he's even halfway a decent worker, he can almost be a guaranteed star in Mexico (based on his name alone) and probably Japan too, if he decides to pursue that career (indeed he did, and indeed, he was fairly decent at it. Of course, he later became Alberto Del Rio, accused rapist and pretty much confirmed all-around piece of shit).
Former long-time WCW referee Randy Anderson passed away this week after a long battle with testicular cancer. Back when WCW was still around and he first got diagnosed, they did an angle out of it where Eric Bischoff fired him and then laughed at his wife and kids when they begged him to give Anderson his back. Of course, he was later re-hired when Flair became on-screen commissioner and continued to referee until 1999 when the cancer forced him to retire.
Random news and notes: Bobby Heenan is said to be in good spirits and is especially excited because WWE recently contacted him about doing a WWE Magazine feature on him. Verne Gagne's wife Mary passed away from cancer this week. Goldberg will be appearing on this week's Wrestling Observer Live show to be interviewed. Mil Mascaras is releasing an autobiography (in Spanish of course) and man, I'd love to find an English translation of that because I bet it'd be interesting. Chyna appeared on "Sabrina The Teenage Witch" this past week.
Bruno Sammartino turned down an invitation to attend the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame ceremony in New York (yes, that HOF existed and still does, in a different city now). Bruno did an interview with the local paper and said "Wrestling is how I made my living and supported my family, but it's over. I don't want anything to do with it anymore." Bruno managed to turn the discussion to the WWE, despite them not having any affiliation with this HOF and grumbled about how Vince McMahon blocked him from being inducted into the Madison Square Garden Hall of Fame. However, the new MSG owners have apparently promised Bruno he'll be inducted this year, since he sold the place out 200 times (Dave jumps in here to correct it and says the real number of sellouts is closer to 45. Bruno only main evented the Garden 127 times and by no means were they all sell-outs. But it's one of those myths that has been perpetuated for so long that Dave begrudgingly recognizes that people are always going to believe the 200 number is true, but it's not even close. He compares it to the claim that Andre The Giant was 7'4, which also wasn't true but people repeated the lie so often that it became accepted as fact).
Afa Anoa'i Jr., the son of the legendary Wild Samoan, is a star football player at his high school and is being recruited for Penn State. He also sometimes wrestles on his father's indie shows (that would be Manu, who was very briefly part of Legacy with Orton, Dibiase Jr., and Cody).
Former WCW announcer Scott Hudson will be doing commentary for Jerry Jarrett's new promotion, and Bob Ryder is said to be in a major front office position.
Jarrett has put out a press release saying that his new promotion has had talks with Randy Savage and Ultimate Warrior. Word is Warrior wanted a 15% ownership stake in the new company, which pretty much ended those talks right there. They're also apparently interested in Scott Hall now too, with the idea that since they're only doing 1 show per week, he won't be a screw-up here. Dave is skeptical. Anyway, currently Road Dogg and Brian Christopher expected to be some of the company's top stars and Dave's not optimistic.
XWF wrestlers were told last week that a television deal should hopefully be finalized this week. But Dave has been told no chance it's happening that soon. The rumors are that the deal is either with the FX or Fox Kids networks. Ted Turner had inquired about buying this promotion a few months ago, but when he learned how much it would cost to get them off the ground and make them competitive, he lost interest (TV deal never materializes, company is already dead, etc. etc.).
The Scorpion King slipped to 2nd place this week, falling to the new Spider Man movie which did a record breaking $114 million opening weekend. Randy Savage has a small role in that movie.
Speaking of, The Rock worked his first match in about a month at a Fort Lauderdale house show, teaming with Hogan to beat Jericho and Angle. After the match, Hogan tried to get Rock to pose with him, but Rock wouldn't do it. Rock thanked the fans for the success of Scorpion King and said it would likely be his last match for awhile. There was a ton of local media there, but Rock didn't talk to any of them. Basically, the house show was in his neck of the woods and he simply decided to show up and work it just so he could see his friends and hang out with the locker room, he had no interest in doing interviews. He was just there because he wanted to be. Backstage, Rock was telling people that Hollywood higher-ups have told him he has to leave the wrestling business if he wants to be taken seriously as an actor. Those in the company feel it's a certainty that Rock really is leaving and he's likely going to break out of wrestling into Hollywood and actually become a rare success story (yeah, you could say that).
Look how long this is already. Imagine if I had covered that Lou Thesz obituary in full. JUST IMAGINE!
Notes from Raw: Dave compares it to an episode of Thunder, with the crowd half-dead for everything. Also, the roster was exhausted after just returning from the Europe trip (and the plane ride shenanigans) and that was apparent too. Brock Lesnar won his match via pinfall instead of the usual ref stoppage and Dave says that word is Triple H got in Vince's ear and convinced him to end the ref stoppage gimmick for Brock. Sure, why not? Hogan was supposed to ride off on Undertaker's bike at one point, but then the motorcycle wouldn't start. It was one of those awkward live-TV moments where time stood still and nobody knew what to do. Flair finally turned heel on Austin, to a shocking lack of heat from the crowd. Nash returned, etc. Dave recaps the rest of this show and it sounds like a lot of bad WCW stuff, coincidentally enough with a lot of the same people.
The man who played the effeminate gay guy applying to be Vince McMahon's secretary on Smackdown a few weeks ago was new creative team member David Lagana. He recently joined the company and has written for several other TV shows, including "Friends" and has a strong knowledge of the industry (Dave says if you've been reading the Observer closely for the last few years, you're probably familiar with him, he's written in to Dave a lot over the years).
Dave goes on a brief rant about how to use older stars. In the past, everyone, even Vince McMahon, talked about how you should use guys like Hogan and Flair in small doses and how WCW's reliance on older stars like that is what made them less special. Dave talks about back in the day in Memphis, Jackie Fargo would come back once or twice a year and he was always the biggest star in the company when he did. Because he was used sparingly. But WWE has pretty much built its company around Hogan and Flair (and to a lesser extent, Vince and Undertaker) over the last few months and they've been totally overexposed because of it. Just 6 weeks ago, Hulk Hogan was getting some of the largest crowd reactions in the history of the business. Now, he and Undertaker are practically hearing crickets during their on-screen interactions.
Lita underwent neck surgery this week and isn't allowed to do anything physical for 9 months. Scotty 2 Hotty also had neck surgery and is expected to be out for about a year. Both are expected to make full recoveries though.
Jesse Ventura admitted this week that he received WWF stock options as partial payment for some work he did with them. Dave doesn't know if it's related to the Summerslam appearance a few years ago or the XFL announcing gig. Ventura says he has 10 years to exercise those stock options but wouldn't give any further details.
Scott Steiner told WWA he will work their next UK tour but after that, he's going to WWE. Dave is skeptical. Reports are that Steiner was in horrible pain after every match he worked on the last WWA tour and there's significant doubt that his body will hold up to a WWE schedule.
The new Steve Austin "What!" DVD has a lot of WCW footage, including the full Austin vs. Steamboat match from WCW Bash at the Beach 94. Dave doesn't say so, but I believe this is the first time WWE used any of the WCW library for commercial release after they purchased it the year before.
Someone writes in and asks Dave to stop spending so much time writing about steroid use in wrestling and instead says he should write a story about racism in the business. This person writes about the allegations from years back of Dusty Rhodes using the N-work with impunity, or the time DX parodied the Nation by wearing blackface. The WCW discrimination lawsuit, the embarrassing angles they've done with Mark Henry such as Sexual Chocolate, etc. This guy is asking why is it white wrestlers outnumber black wrestlers by 35-to-1 ratio in the U.S. (70-to-1 in Mexico and 80-to-1 in Japan). He wants to know why Dave isn't writing about that stuff. Dave responds and agrees that the blackface DX promo was racist, and it was racist when Buff Bagwell did it in WCW and when Roddy Piper did it in the 80s. Dave says wrestling, especially from the 70s through the 90s, had a horrible history of exploiting stereotypes and/or saying and doing racist things. You can argue it's gotten better, but no doubt the problem still exists. Dave lists some examples but he also pushes back on some others. For example, he's heard people complain that Booker T isn't being used properly due to his race and Dave disagrees. It's true that Booker T probably deserves a bigger push, but you can make the same case for guys like RVD and Jericho and Raven or DDP (when he first debuted, at least) and that didn't happen either, so Dave doesn't necessarily think Booker's lack of top-star push can be blamed on his race (we're less than a year away from Triple H definitively proving otherwise).
There's also 2 letters about the Rock/Hogan match at Wrestlemania and they couldn't be more different. One guy writes in and he can't understand why people are praising that match because if you put aside the hot crowd, it was awful, everyone's moves looked bad, it was embarrassing, etc. and says Hogan should have retired afterward. Then someone else writes in and says he was there live and, taken as a whole, Rock vs. Hogan was the greatest match he's ever seen. Basically the same "love it or hate it" opinion people have about that match to this day. Also, someone else writes in about the recent Low-Ki vs. American Dragon match from an ROH show and puts it up there among some of the greatest matches of all time (listing off several classic WWF matches like Shawn/Razor and Owen/Bret at WM10 for example). So there ya go.
NEXT WEDNESDAY:more fallout from the Plane Ride from Hell, more on the beginning of Jarrett's new NWA-TNA promotion, more on the NJPW Tokyo Dome show, and more...
Previous | First | Next ----- A/N: Please consider supporting my writing efforts on Patreon. You can follow this story and be alerted when new chapters release via fanfiction.net. Special thanks to Tobi from the discord server for a double visual accompaniment today as well! They are not perfect representations of in chapter events, but they set a great scene nevertheless! ----- “Well, what do you think?!” Houston asked gaily, taking Fredrick by the hand and leading him aboard her mint condition hull. Modifications had clearly been made in the absence of a physical crew, leaving the ship sleeker and more evasive while maintaining its substantial firepower. The three triple 203mm batteries aboard the vessel were mimicked by the girl’s rigging, a complex system of hydraulics and tubes connecting her miniature guns to her waist. They sat aboard large steel-gray and red stabilizing fins that would help her maintain balance in open ocean combat, and were completed by a small, grinning Cheshire cat decal above the letters USN. She carried a pistol in her hand, a replica of one of her 40mm Bofors batteries. “I think the smile on your face says it all,” the young cook replied, tilting his head to steal a glance at the exposed skin between her shoulder blades. Just below her collar, a vibrant rigging mark in the shape of Texas’ lone star still glowed, fading slowly in the wake of the ship’s new construction. As soon as they were aboard Houston activated her engines, pulling the cruiser out of dock so that Minneapolis could begin work on her own hull. “Hmm, you’re rather sweet, Frederick. I’m glad you’re back safe and sound too,” Houston told him kindly, walking around her deck as she inspected her guns and fittings with pride. Many parts of the ship came to life under her touch, pivoting and changing elevation as if partaking in a firing exercise. “I could say the same, Miss Houston.” “Oh come on, all I did was laze around and help look after the kids!” “Doesn’t mean something couldn’t have happened. It’s war, after all,” Miles reminded her, though it certainly wasn’t necessary. She spun on her heel to face him, her large Union Navy tattoo plainly visible on her upper right thigh. “Be safe tomorrow too, Miss Houston. It would be a shame to come home all this way just to…” The young man could not quite bring himself to say ‘lose you’, but Houston seemed to understand his meaning all the same. As her rigging shimmered and vanished, she reached out and took his hands in hers. “You cut yourself. Be careful in the kitchens,” she observed, fingering a tender wound that would surely leave a bright pink scar atop one of his knuckles. “And Lord willing, that's all the action I’ll see in this war,” Miles replied, taking a deep breath and squeezing her fingers tightly. “The way the Commander spoke, it sounded like the largest fleet ever assembled is coming for us.” “And you’re worried about me,” Houston finished quietly. It was not a question. “I’m worried about Hatsuharu and Yuugure and all the rest too, but at least they’ll be on the island. I can do something if it comes down to it. You’ll be very far away,” he worried as Houston found herself a suitable location in the bay just north of the base and dropped anchor next to the California. “But I’ll be thinking of you!” She promised happily, though those words only served to draw Fredrick’s face tight in a frown. “Fredrick-” “Just be careful,” he insisted. “It’s a beautiful ship; it would be a shame to lose it again.” “Yeah it would, wouldn’t it?” Houston agreed thoughtfully as a pair of gulls settled on the top of her aft crow’s nest. “But Fredrick, I’m already on borrowed time. I can feel it in my cube, in my bones. I was supposed to die at Java, without having ever met you.” “Miss Houston?” Fredrick whispered, feeling a small pit of fear worm its way into his guts. The air about her had changed significantly, revealing a sober and almost world-weary woman underneath her metallic cat ears and vibrant pink hair. “Fredrick, have you ever lain with a white woman?” Houston asked before seeming to remember herself. She tittered at his shocked expression. “No, I didn’t think so given you are barely allowed to speak with them. What about any woman?” No more adequate an answer was forthcoming from the young man as he found himself rooted to the spot, Pacific breezes ruffling his uniform. Houston took his hands again and stepped close to him. “Second chances shouldn’t be wasted, don’t you think, Fredrick?” “I uh, but aren’t you… what I mean to say is the Commander-” “Is an exceptional and handsome man!” Houston agreed readily. “He’s kind, reserved, and saved my life. He’s competent too, and I think he’ll see us through the battle tomorrow. That doesn’t mean I want to go to bed with him. Not every girl in this fleet has dreams of glory. I just want to live this life I’ve been given. I’m happy to take you back to the docks right now, Fredrick, but I don’t want to leave you tomorrow with just a peck on the lips. Come live a little with me, ravel up my ball of yarn?” she suggested with a cute swipe of her fingers against his uniform. When he leaned closer, Houston sealed her request with a brush of her thin, soft lips against his own. The boy’s mind may not have known how to respond to her, but his body needed no such training or consideration. He allowed his lips to part in invitation, one she greedily but gently accepted. The two fumbling lovers embraced, with Houston gasping against his mouth and pulling back as his left hand brushed against her rigging mark. “Did I hurt you?” Fredrick asked quickly, swallowing heavily as he noted the growing flush in Houston’s cheeks. The girls back home, the ones he was allowed to long and lust after, did not blush like that. “No, not at all. It was just intense!” Houston gasped, gathering herself and reaching over her shoulder. She took his hand and returned it to her back. “Be gentle, please.” Miles was more than happy to oblige, experimenting with feathery brushes of his fingers and the comforting cover of his large palm over the area, sheltering it from the wind and warming it with his own body heat which was steadily rising thanks to their ongoing kiss. When the sensations from her rigging mark simply could not be withstood any longer, the electric shocks turning to warm pulses of longing thanks to his easy touch and unassuming manner, Houston took his cheeks in her hands. She could feel the slight beginnings of stubble under her palms. Bright green eyes met dark brown and delightful laughter bubbled up from her chest. “Fredrick, I didn’t want to do this so soon but it seems Akagi and Kaga decided not to wait around. Would you make love to me; show an unordinary girl an ordinary life?” Houston’s second proposition was no more answerable than her first, but again the young man’s body knew the correct reply. He had no way, no words to explain to her just how unordinary their union would be. But he considered the coming battle, considered the fact that she might be lost. There was only one course of action to be taken. Without a word he shrugged off his jacket and shirt, laying them down on the deck for her. Houston laid herself down graciously, throwing him a coy yet innocent smile that beckoned him to oblivion. He was powerless to stop it as she freely bared herself to him, save her choker. As the base prepared for war and a New Orleans class hull came to life at dock, no one took the time or effort to glance out to sea as Houston felt herself come alive again. ----- “Don’t you want to be down there with her?” West Virginia asked Javelin. The two of them were seated near one of the base’s fixed AA batteries, about halfway up the slope to the dorms and radio tower. Mountains of shells were ready and waiting to be fired, courtesy of the bulins and Akashi. “I feel like I’ve done nothing but remain at her side since she arrived here,” Javelin replied sadly, recalling Zed’s desperate flight from her own faction. “She’s one of my best friends. I can’t let this be anything but her decision. Sometimes it feels like she and Laffey are my sisters, even though I love Jupiter and the others dearly as well.” “Mmm,” the stoic battleship agreed, fingers resting on the neck of her guitar. “So your focus is evasion?” “Yep yep!” Javelin affirmed, playing with her blueish-purple hood and adjusting the small crown atop her head. “Don’t count me out when it comes to submarine warfare or gun battles either. I wish I could do something about my torpedoes though. Those new girls from the Sakura have such amazing armaments.” “Yeah, but their guns couldn’t even tickle me if they tried,” West Virginia countered. “Based on what happened with Downes and Laffey, at least what I understand of it, keep training and keep focused. When the Commander grants you that power, or when you feel the need to claim it for yourself, I think you’ll acquire the strength you need.” “You make it sound like magic,” Javelin replied with a smile. West Virginia’s eyes softened slightly. “Not sure what else to call it. Not even Commander Thorson or the minty kitty really understand those cubes. They know how they work to an extent but the rest might as well be magic. But that’s good. If they’re shooting at you and missing, that gives me an opening. You’ll find that us Colorado’s aren’t the fastest or most maneuverable. And I don’t have as many barrels as Pennsylvania or Tennessee. But…” “But?” Javelin prompted. “Woe to any ship that tries to face me woman to woman, even a carrier if I can see her. Did you know I used to have torpedo tubes?” “No! Really?!” the Royal destroyer demanded excitedly, tapping her namesake weapon against the ground. The battleship gave her a full smile that time. “Yeah, really. When I was injured at Pearl Harbor and they wanted to rebuild me, I told them to get rid of them. A fast little demon like you is perfect for that sort of thing. Me? It would take so long to turn and fire the other tubes it would be pointless, to say nothing of my main battery rotation speed. But don’t worry. I’ve made up for it.” “Uh huh, how so?” Javelin was eager to learn more about her battle buddy, having never seen a Colorado-class hull before their arrival at Thorson’s base. “You won’t tell Tennessee?” “Why would I do that?” “Because we were redesigned to be better than her,” the battleship replied neutrally. Javelin shrugged. “She doesn’t care. No offense, but I’d still bet on her in a fight with you. She’s merciless!” The destroyer’s tone was one of approval. “No arguments there, at least not right now. But she’s only got sixteen 28mm guns and fourteen Oerlikons.” “Right. And you?” Javelin tapped the AA battery with the tip of her spear to accentuate the point. West Virginia struck a chord on her guitar. “Forty 40mm Bofors, forty three Oerlikons, and of course the eight 406mm guns. Just focus on the seaborne threats when we fight. My sisters and I know how to provide a protective AA envelope. With Cleveland on our side our odds are even better. Maybe it’s because she’s a cruiser but I just can’t beat her precision.” “With so many guns you won’t have to! But do you really think we can win? It sounds like the enemy has as many aircraft as they want.” For the first time, true worry crept into the young woman’s voice. West Virginia placed a hand on her shoulder. “We have unending firepower and resolve too. I’m sure you’ve seen plenty over in the Atlantic, but don’t underestimate the will of those who lived through Pearl Harbor. I remember the smoke and the flames, the screams of dying men. Oklahoma and Nevada didn’t make it. Downes and Cassin were torn to pieces. But in the end they failed. Even if they destroy Enterprise and her sisters tomorrow they will have failed if they can’t kill us.” The conviction in West Virginia’s words, especially given her typically mild manner, gave Javelin pause. She remained silent as a squadron of P-40’s flew by overhead, now a sight on the base almost as common as the flocks of seagulls. Far out to sea she could see Yamashiro and Fusou’s float planes returning from a scouting mission. The battleship continued. “Those of us who didn’t perish in those fires are now stronger than they could possibly imagine. I went all the way across the country and back, met the people I’m defending. Colorado dismissed her entire crew in the wake of the attack and rebuilt herself with her own hands. Maryland hasn’t ceased sharpening her skills since that day. If she ever finds the ones who killed Oklahoma they’ll wish they were already dead. And I know I don’t need to speak for Pennsylvania and Tennessee.” As a group of three Fulmars rocketed out to sea to join in the scouting mission, West Virginia struck a harsh chord on her guitar. Javelin’s foot was tapping soon after. Send them over the waves, her sentinels.They’re reporting the news, position of our foes.This battlefield’s been chosen, Thorson orders advance!Time to alert our sisters, they’re soon in range. “Midway! We meet at Midway!” Javelin added happily, bobbing her head from side to side. The battleship threw her a favorable look and continued. A passing bulin stopped to sit and listen. Call all women to deck, keep the fortress strong.Head out into the sun, descending on our foes.This is the crucial battle, in the heat of our war.To sail and sink our targets, out in the waves. “Midway!” Display our might, order and chaos, battleships at war. “We meet at Midway!” We’ll win the fight, tactics are crucial. “Naval war!” Cleveland cut in from the stairs as she and the Portland class sisters headed to the Sakura dorms to spend some time in the onsen. Far from shore a Pacific war,Shells are raining from the skies.It’s a Dreadnought day, it’s our naval way,A blood-red sun is on the rise. West Virginia wailed on her guitar for a few chords, allowing some of her pent up frustration and battle energy to seep into her music before transitioning to working her fingers along the strings individually. By the time she and Javelin repeated the chorus another couple of times and struck the final note, they’d garnered a small audience, including several manjuu, who dispersed or hopped away after polite applause. When they were alone again the battle partners looked at one another. The USS Minneapolis sounded her horn from the docks below, another weapon in Thorson’s arsenal. “I think this is the beginning of something beautiful,” Javelin declared. West Virginia smiled thinly behind her collar. “You’re my favorite tea-drinking Royal, that’s for sure.” ----- “Come on, sis. Tomorrow’s going to be a big day. Live just a little bit?” California insisted as she and Tennessee strolled along the beaches to the east of the docks. Since arriving at the base, the beach had become, unsurprisingly, California’s stomping ground. She strode through the shallows, kicking up the seafoam remnants of waves with her bare feet, her body clad in a dark blue bikini with gold trim. From her feminine hips hung a sheer shawl designed after her state’s flag, the bear and golden star accenting her behind. “Easy for you to say. Tennessee doesn’t exactly have any beaches,” the elder sister replied. “And since when did you care about your home state?” “Never.” “Then you have no excuse! Come on, Tenn; the water’s great!” “We’re boats, of course it is,” she sighed, nevertheless caving and joining her sister, if only to stem the tide of good-mannered nagging. Her uniform vanished and was quickly replaced by PT shorts and her black sports bra. California groaned. “You have absolutely no fashion sense, sis, you know that?” “I’m a machine of war, Cali. I don’t need fashion sense.” “Mhm, your partner doesn’t seem to mind admitting she’s more than a boat,” California countered coyly, pointing with discretion towards the dry sand of the beach and the tropical tree line just beyond. There sat Downes and Ooshio, the former having long discarded her jacket and oversized t-shirt. “I’m going to have to talk to her about that,” Tennessee said quietly, seeing that Downes had managed to connect her studded leather collar to a bra in similar black material, complete with metallic studs along the straps and over her nipples. The battleship didn’t bother looking close enough to see if she’d changed her underwear to a similar material, or if she was just indulging in rank hedonism on some sort of brave whim. Regardless of her own thoughts on the matter, the ensemble was having the desired effect on its intended recipient. Tennessee watched with a hardened expression and clenched jaw as a flushed Ooshio ran her fingers tenderly over Downes’ exposed musculature, the Union destroyer leaning against a palm tree and her new girlfriend resting among the sand and grass. Despite the lewd situation the two of them were deep in discussion, with Downes waving her hands about animatedly. No doubt she was in the middle of one tale or another. Catching Tennessee’s eye, the ashen-haired girl waved from the shade, prompting Ooshio to look their way as well before promptly turning red again and burying her head in the crook of Downes’ neck. “Aww, she’s so cute! And she was looking straight at your abs by the way,” California laughed. She didn’t know Downes well, but the young woman had always struck her as a dominant and protective type. “It’s a good match, don’t you think?” “I think I need a new sparring partner,” Tennessee growled. “That’s not fair, sis! She can have her fun and still train with you.” “And what about you?” The elder sister pulled her cap over her eyes. “You have yourself someone to watch your back?” “Other than you, you mean?” California smiled as a wave lapped at their bare ankles. “Yes, other than me.” “Yep, brand new ships too!” California insisted, pointing at the Houston and Minneapolis far out in the bay. Tennessee nodded. “Good.” “When are you going to talk to him, Tenn, seriously?” California’s tone grew worried. “If the worst happens-” “There’s nothing to talk about, Cali!” Tennessee insisted sternly. “You can lie to the others but not to me. I see right through you. I’m your sister,” the younger replied, holding Tennessee’s gaze. “Look,” the battleships gaze out to the northern ocean. “If both of us survive tomorrow, there will be nothing that needs to be said.” “Your state may not have beaches, but you’re more stubborn than a Tennessee mule,” California relented, throwing her hands up. “Oh well, I’ll just have to make sure you two hardheads live to tell the tale!” “Just stay behind me, sis. Everything will be fine.” Tennessee wrapped her arm around California’s shoulder and pulled her closer. The sisters continued along the shoreline, silence supplemented by the song of gulls, the rustling of palm fronds, and the roll of the surf. California smiled as she rested her head on Tennessee’s shoulder. “Yeah, we’ll be fine.” ----- As Z23 stumbled out of the conductive matrix, gasping for breath, a rush of relief and weakness washed over her. Her collapse was forestalled by Thorson’s arms. When the waters had risen above her head and her world went dark, horrific flashes of the past returned. His warmth banished them. “Zed, you alright?” he demanded quietly. Their corner of the labs was deserted and quiet, with bulins occasionally entering through the main doors far at the other end to pick up ammunition or oil for the ships ready to sortie. “It is done, mein Kommandant.” “Shall we go see her?” Thorson suggested, relieved and pleased to feel the give of her body against his arms. The girl of skin and bones who he’d bathed weeks before was gone. Her cheeks were rosy, her hair had grown flaxen and lustrous, and her chest finally looked at home on her slim, fit frame. “In a moment, Kommandant. I am still weak,” she explained as the Iron Cross of her rigging mark still glowed almost angrily with a bright blue light. “No problem,” he smiled, pushing up quickly with his legs into a standing, bridal carry. Zed gasped and held on tight, finding her arms wrapped around his neck and her lips brushing against his fabric-covered clavicle. He could feel her exhale against his pulse point. Her lips followed after. When he glanced down at her, she craned her neck and offered him another kiss, which he accepted willingly. “I would be loath to head into battle knowing Laffey and Javelin had received your affections in such a way without me,” she whispered as he carried her to the nearest door that led to the docks outside. Her words saw him halt and give her another, longer kiss. This one she was strong enough to receive and relish. Downes’ bravery had broken his resolve with regards to his more mature destroyers. The looming specter of death by kitsune was also a factor, if he was honest with himself. “Mein gott, Kommandant… I did not know you felt such-” “I remember when you first came to us,” was all he said as he turned and pushed his back against the door and carried them out into the sunlight. A gleaming, sleek hull of Germanic make sat in the waters before them, devoid of any hint of siren taint. She was narrow enough to fire her torpedoes to starboard or port from two fixed quad torpedo batteries in the middle of her hull. To her stern sat depth charge launchers and other anti-submarine armaments common in the Atlantic, and her four 5.9 inch cannons completed the look. Placing Z23 on the docks, Thorson stood back as she activated her rigging and placed her hand against the cool steel. Atop her mast appeared an ancient flag, one Thorson only knew from his studies of the wars of the European continent, the North German War Ensign. “How long since that flag has flown?” he couldn’t help but wonder. “1919, mein Kommandant,” she replied sadly. “That was the year my people’s spirit was broken. They still believe the Fuhrer commands them… we would never recover if they knew the truth.” “About the sirens?” “Ja, Kommandant. If it is too much I can-” “I think it suits you far better than Akashi and Fusou’s splinter faction colors, Zed,” Thorson assured her. “It is a shame that the Ironblood and Union were never allies. Such a force would be unstoppable,” Zed insisted quietly, her expression one of contemplation as opposed to practical conquest. “Maybe that’s for the best then, at least until we face the sirens directly. I know we have to fight this battle first, but I haven’t forgotten what they did to you and the others. I’ll help them if I can, Lord willing.” Zed took his hand. “Danke, for standing by me until I was ready to stand on my own again, Kommandant. You should go and be seen among the rest of your fleet. I will take her to sea and begin maintenance drills at once.” “Don’t be late for dinner Zed, that’s an order,” Thorson commanded, removing her beret and ruffling her hair softly. She smiled and took her headgear from him before turning back to her reforged vessel. “You may call me N-Nimi, if you wish. I would never deny your orders, Kommandant. I will be alright, I promise.” “That’s what I’m counting on out there!” Maryland shouted, walking along the narrow strip of cement dock that separated the lab’s dry-dock from the building itself. She laughed at the expression on Thorson’s face. “Don’t worry, I didn’t hear anything. Two of you look cute together though. Commander, I’m going to spend some time getting to know my battle partner one on one. Do as she says and run along now?” “You big seven are something else,” Thorson laughed, straightening his cap. “And tomorrow you’ll be happy you have us, sir. See you for dinner. Let’s go, little one.” “Of course, Maryland. Allow me to show you around my armaments, radar, and sonar,” Zed agreed with pride in her voice that could only be described as German, leading the battleship onward. Thorson was left behind to appreciate the ship as it let out a blast on its horn and took to the sea, the dry-dock filling itself thanks to the prompt action of the bulin crews. He didn’t know how to describe the worry in his chest, but he thought it might be something close to the sorrow of a father sending his son off to war. “Godspeed, Nimi.” ----- “Tono-sama, it is good to see you,” Fusou said quietly from her seat atop one of the cushions on the sheltered deck that oversaw the rest of the onsen. She was quickly drowned out by Yuudachi and company, who reacted quite strongly to Thorson’s state of dress. The three destroyers were doing their nails along with their battleship counterparts. “Yamashiro-san, I can smell him all over you, you know? And please stay still. Shikikan, can you not walk around with your chest out like that. It makes this difficult!” Shigure insisted as Yamashiro moved her fingers in an effort to turn at the waist and catch a glimpse of Thorson’s towel-clad figure. He nodded to his battleships. “Just following Akashi’s rules, no shirt no shoes for me at least. Can’t just snap my fingers and summon a pair of swim trunks like you lot. This looks fun.” “Arizona-san, not you too nanoda!” Yukikaze groaned, watching the Union battleship’s face soften and eyes sparkle as she let her gaze run over Thorson’s war-forged body. “Oh my sweet little Yukikaze, when you’re grown and you find the right man you’ll understand too. Would you like a bow in white, red, or black? We have plenty of colors to choose from,” Arizona asked caringly. She brushed Yukikaze’s short, snowy hair as the Sakura destroyer sat between her legs, looking over silk ribbons to accentuate her look. “Yukikaze the Great does not need a man, nanoda! But she would like this black ribbon please,” the kitten requested, holding out a black strip of fabric trimmed with white lace. Arizona leaned over and pecked the girl on her head, the teardrop hairpin she’d received from Yamashiro months before glinting brightly in the late afternoon sun. “He he heeee~” Yukikaze tittered, closing her eyes and relenting against the onslaught of Arizona’s kind attentions. Nearby, Yuudachi and Pennsylvania had no such compunctions. “You thinking what I’m thinking, pup?” “Meat. Tasty looking meat, wan~!” Yuudachi replied immediately, licking her chops as she and Penny looked at Thorson. Fusou couldn’t help a giggle as Thorson proved more adept at handling open affection from his ships than when he’d first opened up to the idea. “I like the green. It matches your eyes,” he said to Pennsylvania before turning to Yuudachi. “And that’s quite the colorful ensemble you have there.” “Do you like it, Shikikan?” The snow white inu asked happily, almost flashing the entire crew as she hopped up quickly, her breasts bouncing as she held out her nails for him to examine. They were a mix of pink and baby blue. On another girl they’d be gaudy, but they seemed to fit Yuudachi quite well. He gave her a firm pat between the ears. “I do. It’s perfect for you. Glad to see you’re all making the most of this time. Now why don’t you finish up with Penny, yeah? She deserves to look good too, right?” “Wan~! Pennsylvania-san, can we take him to bed together tonight?” “Nope. If I’m spending a night with him he’s mine and mine alone. You work up the courage yourself if that’s what you want. Now get back here and paint my left hand, would you?” “Okay! Maybe later, Shikikan!” Yuudachi told him, returning to her cushion and nail polish as Thorson allowed himself a relieved laugh and sat next to Fusou. She readily leaned against him and inhaled. “Shigure is right, tono-sama. I can smell my sister all over you. It will take days to come off.” “N-Nee-san!” Yamashiro squeaked as Shigure wiggled her armored ears. “You should not have taken him so many times if you were going to be embarrassed about it,” Fusou replied serenely. “Though somehow I doubt he minded?” “Way to put me on the spot, Fusou,” Thorson said quietly, wrapping an arm around her plush waist and making sure she knew he’d absolutely not had his fill of Fusou-class battleships in his bedroom. “For now I just want to make sure everyone’s alright.” “See for yourself,” the shrine maiden insisted, gesturing to the pools beyond. The kitchen staff and other Asashio class sisters were clustered together in the water having a polite conversation. Ark Royal could be seen in a one piece suit, taking each of the flavored kittens for their turn at swimming. Mutsuki and Mikazuki were sitting at the side of the pool, splashing their feet in the warm water as Ark supported Kisaragi’s belly and instructed her in freestyle. “She’s really good with them,” Thorson said quietly, unable to help but consider shipgirls as mothers. He’d already taken many as lovers; it was the natural progression of things. “She is indeed. Tomorrow will be trying for them,” Fusou observed sadly. “We won’t let them hit the island,” he promised, earning nods of approval from destroyers and battleships alike. “Someone has to put Akagi and Kaga in their place,” Shigure insisted. “Their aims were noble, but they sacrificed too much, and were too willing to sacrifice others.” Following that surprisingly mature proclamation from the black dog morph, Yamashiro hugged her tightly. “Have faith in tono-sama. He will see us through.” “Not like I have much of a choice at this point. I defected to come find you, remember? With Yuudachi and Yuki gone that Sanctuary was awful. Now stay still please, so I can finally finish your fingers and we can move onto your toes. Oh don’t blush so much! I’m sure he saw your toes and a whole lot more when you two were breeding like cats!” “Quiet with the little ones around,” Fusou insisted sternly with a whip of her thin, black tail. “Haha, baka-inu,” Yukikaze teased, only to have Arizona pinch her cheek just hard enough to be uncomfortable. “Bad kitty,” she chided softly. When Yukikaze’s lower lip began to quiver, Arizona took her into a surrounding embrace and kissed her ears. “There there, I still love you, little one. It’s just good to be polite to our friends. Here, let’s get this bow on so you can look your best for the battle tomorrow. There we go!” Thorson gave them all a broad smile as order and peace was restored, with Yuudachi standing up to brush Penny’s hair. Even the usually stoic battleship seemed happy to indulge in her feminine side around him and her friends. He couldn’t help but point it out. “We’ve come a long way since that night you arrived here,” he told her. She nodded. “And the journey has only begun, sir.” “Hey Michishio, can we have meat for dinner?” Yuudachi wondered loudly. The shrine maiden’s manjuu chirped happily and she nodded. “Hooray! Wan~!” “Yeah, would be a shame to have it all end now,” Thorson agreed. ----- Following a wonderful spread at dinner, testament to hard work by Fredrick and the girls, the base finally descended into peaceful tension. The afternoon’s frolicking gave way to training and meditation, with Downes, Tennessee, and many others sparring hand to hand around the Union dorm’s annex. Fusou, Yamashiro, and many other Sakura left for the shrine to pray to the gods for victory. Some shipgirls, like Minneapolis, simply headed out to their hulls, wanting to settle in before the battle. Knowing he was very unlikely to find sleep that night, Thorson headed back to the onsen. While the view of his girls in towels and bathing suits was certainly easy on the eyes, the sound of running water, the view of steam and lanterns in the night, and the softness of the cushions Akashi had provided all recommended the onsen as more than just a place to see and be seen. When he emerged from the men’s room he found a pair of white rabbit ears popping out from behind the rocks that lined parts of the onsen’s border. “Hey Laffey,” he called quietly, smiling as they twitched and she turned to face him. She hummed and stood, completely unfazed as he looked at her naked body, glistening with water and moonlight. “Commander has come to spend the night with his first love, yes yes,” Laffey declared, collecting her towel and flask. She tied it around her chest and concealed her matured form from him once more, proof of her retrofit. Silently she followed him up to the lounge area and promptly sat in his lap. After a swig, she offered him the flask. “How could I ever forget my first ship,” he whispered, feeling the burn of warm bourbon slip down his throat. “This is it for tonight. We can’t be drunk tomorrow morning, or hungover.” “Laffey understands well, yes yes. Commander yearns to defeat the evil foxes and their fleets. Laffey will assist.” “Thanks,” he murmured, kissing the back of her head and leaning back against one of the pillars that held up the structure. Laffey took the opportunity to press herself back against him. “Does Commander ever wonder why Laffey has not sought him out at night?” she asked, displaying a maturity he was unaware she possessed. “No.” “Why, Commander?” “That’s why,” he said quietly pointing to two figures that had just entered the onsen from the women’s showers. Javelin was gleefully leading Zed by the hand towards the warm water. As they approached, the former allowed her towel to fall away from her lithe, evasive body freely. She hopped into the water and sighed happily as it enveloped and soothed her. Zed was left standing nearby, holding her towel tightly to her figure. Thorson smiled thinly. “She’s come a long way.” “Laffey loves Zed and Javey. She is afraid we will face Ayanami tomorrow, yes she is.” The bunny took another swig as Zed finally stepped into the pool, quickly removed her towel and dropped the rest of the way so as to not expose herself. Javelin laughed anew and hugged her, complimenting her on her bravery and figure before pointing to Thorson and Laffey. The Ironblood almost fainted on the spot. “If we can avoid her, we will. You know I don’t want to kill them… not her at least,” Thorson promised. Laffey nodded. “But she may try to kill Commander, and Laffey cannot have that, no no. This cannot be the last night Laffey sleeps together with Commander and her friends.” “And who decided that?” he wondered, taking another swig. Without warning Laffey turned and kissed him hard, claiming her share of the alcohol before pulling away to look at him with sleepy, red eyes. “Laffey decided when Zed decided to fight again, yes yes.” “Mission accomplished,” Thorson sighed with relief, resting his head back against the wooden beam. Laffey nodded in agreement before returning to her position and taking another sip. “Mission accomplished, yes yes. Laffey and her Commander have a new mission now. Laffey is stronger. Laffey is wiser. Laffey is drunker. Laffey is ready, yes she is.” “Then I’ll be taking that,” Thorson declared, snatching the flask away, capping it, and tossing it towards a nearby kotatsu. Laffey didn’t have time to protest before both his arms wrapped around her. The trade was adequate, and by the time Javelin and Zed finished their soak and joined them she was fast asleep. A quick rearranging of cushions later, the three girls were snuggled soundly under a kotatsu along with Thorson. Though his nerves mounted and grew with each passing moment, the sounds of the island at night and the soft breathing of the girls who trusted him lulled his eyelids closed with the help of the bourbon. And so on the eve of Midway, even Andrew Thorson found sleep. ----- “Hey, nee-san?” “What is it, Hiryuu?” “Is it wrong that tonight feels… beautiful?” “You aren’t often known for sentimentality, little sister.” “Can’t help it. Tomorrow, no, it’s surely long after midnight. Today there will be fire, blood, and chaos. Today we finish what we started back in December. But for now, the moon is beautiful. Watching it set in the west as the sky begins to turn red in the east? There’s nowhere I’d rather be right now.” “The world has seemed… brighter, these last few days. But do not allow it to cloud your focus. Ready your talismans and cards. This will be the greatest game of hanafuda we ever play.” “I’m as ready as I’ve ever been, Soryuu-nee. We’ll secure victory for the Sakura today. We’ll fulfill our destiny!” “Yes… yes we will.” “The time for preparation is over. This is Akagi of the first carrier division! All carriers ready your aircraft. All ships prepare for battle! Our first target is the airfields at Midway.” ----- Previous | First | Next
This is some sort of twisted, demonic, evil sort of karmic justice. Kings fans cannot have nice things, remember that, because that is a fundamental rule that governs the universe. FYI, my moms mom was FOUR when we last won a championship. Anyway, today started off an excellent day. I popped off on my AP Exams, my parents didn’t seem too mad at me, and I found a quality 2000 roster in 2k that is useable for MyLeague. I go to practice, do the conditioning and the drills, get out, and my whole world implodes. De’Aaron Fox has a sprained ankle. This is catastrophic. This is devastating. In short, wesa in big doo doo this time (Binks 1999). We cannot go 6-2 without De’Aaron Fox. We cannot make the playoffs without De’Aaron Fox. We cannot give a giant middle finger to the league, the pelicans and the fake news corporate sports media (Trump 2015-2020) without De’Aaron Fox. Without De’Aaron Fox, I lose multiple bets with individuals who somehow, failed to believe in the Kings. I have to give money to drug addicts and sexual deviants because De’Aaron Fox sprained his ankle. Our hope is almost all gone, but we have some.
De’Aaron Fox has superhuman ankles. He recovered from a grade 3 sprain in like two weeks.
Marvin Bagley is back. If you don’t know much about Marvin Bagley, let me put it this way: Zion is nearly as good as him.
I’m out of hope. Barnes has COVID, so do Buddy, Len and Parker. Holmes put it all on the line for DoorDash, Bjelica will be suspended by the elitist league for his frankly baller use of profanity. Harry is not buff enough to guard the Zions of the world.
TLDR: De’Aaron Fox being injured is horrific. If he does not play, instead of going 6-2, we will go 3-5.
OBLIGATORY FILLER MATERIAL – BAR FIGHT? NOT WITH DOC BIONICFINGERS! Part one.
That reminds me of a story. I’m going cooped-up crazy. Shacky-wacky. Hotel doldrums have set in. Yes, I know. Es and I just got back from a resounding tour of a shipbreaking yard in India. Flew way above First Class. Never had to even touch our luggage. ♫Oh, what fun it is to charter flights. Limos all the way. Hey! ♫. But, the hotel bars here are paling quickly. Quiet. Too quiet. Same old, dull, dazed, and dormant crowd. The Expat population in Dubai is dwindling mightily. The COVID craziness is a madness that is taking a heavy toll. Everything’s shut down. Everyone’s staying at home. I’m almost nostalgic for a good old Dubai 35 car pile-up and traffic jam. Es sees that I’m in a quandary. She had quite a few friends here in Dubai. The ones I had have all left due to cratering oil prices or they’re what’s considered an ‘essential employee’, and thus unavailable. “ROCK! QUIT YOUR PACING!” Es says in her most inimitable manner. “YOU’RE MAKING ME CRAZY!” “A thousand pardons, my darling. But, Boditek. I suffer! Klytus, I’m bored. Bored out of my fucking mind. I can only write so much on the Precambrian Hydrocarbon reservoirs of Eastern Siberia. Television’s a bust, there’s no Netflix, even Pirate Bay is blocked here, and I’m going spare!” I whimper. “Go then. Begone with thee. Go find a dark bar and grab a seat on Mahogany Ridge. You need a night off. Just take your fingers with so you won’t scare the locals. And be home before they open the borders. We want to be first in line when that happens” she says. “By your command!”, I say, grab her around the waist, give her a spin, a quick smooch on the cheek, and pat on the backside before I hit the stairs in our suite in a flat-out gallop to retrieve my now charged digits from their charging port on my nightstand. A few minutes later… Stately, plump Dr. Rocknocker came from the stairhead bearing three incredibly expensive technologically-derived Kevlar-ed digits. He was clad in his finest Desert Fox chino shorts, freshly cleaned and oiled field boots, a new pair of jade Merino Rannoch Luxury Country Socks, best new Hawaiian drinking shirt, a Blasting technician T-shirt and black, recently blocked, Stetson. He was so full of himself, that he actually stopped talking about his own self in the narrative in the third person. “Esme? Darling? I’m off!” I say with a lilt in my voice and a cheeseburger in my pocket. But that’s another story. “You’re off, all right”, Es chuckles. “Now Rock, remember. This is the first time in a long time I’m letting you off the chain, out unsupervised among the general population. Don’t break anyone if you can avoid it and even if someone needs a quick killing, remember, you’re on vacation. OK?” “Oh, my dear!” I chuckle and snicker, “You know me. I wouldn’t kill anyone here in Dubai. There’s no money in it.” “Still. Best behavior?” She admonishes. “I can’t guarantee anything, but I will try,” I reply. “Pinkie promise?” she requests. Damn. One of the few fingers of which left I have a natural set. Now I can’t say that it was just a Kevlar-coated contract. “But of course”, I say as we entwine pinkies. Hers nice, clean, and pink; mine keloidal, gnarled, and scarred. Yeah, it about makes me retch. But Es sort of enjoys these silly things now and again. I’m waiting in the hotel bar for my cab to arrive. I have a quick Long Island Iced Tea or three before I hit the streets. I’ve got this weird hankering for a sports bar. Don’t know why. I hate football, i.e., soccer, cricket, and those other weird forms of ball chasing they call sports over here. But I yearn to be in a bar full of leather, hewn wood, and smoke. Attended by the smell of manly men drinking as they see fit. In Dubai? Fat chance. I ask my driver, who has just arrived, and who will be with me all night; if he minds me smoking, having a drink in a plain brown wrapper, and if he knows of a decent sports bar in Dubai. No. Nope. Quantum Sports Bar. “It’s sort of pricey”, he tells me. My driver for the duration is one Roy Toisuta, an Indonesian chap who looks like he fell off a charm bracelet. In reality, I could make up three of him. But he’s affable, quick on the gas and bound to be a boon companion. He is wiry in that whipsaw sort of kill-you-with-a-paperclip-1000-different-ways sort of manner. Like the human personification of a gaunt wolverine. We’ll get along famously. He tells me he doesn’t drink for whatever reason. He announces that he would wait for me out in the car while I go in and do whatever one does in a Sports Bar in Dubai for a few hours. “Look, Roy”, I say, “I’m on retainer. C’mon in and I’ll buy you dinner and all the coffee, tea, or fizz water you could want. I just need someone non-judgmental. See, I have this affliction. I’m an alcohol-fueled carbon-based organism. I tend to drink a lot, but only to excess. You have any sort of problem with that?” “Well, Rock”, he says, “As long as we’re being honest, I have no problem. The way I see it, the more you drink, the looser your wallet becomes.” “I don’t suppose you’d care to lay a small wager on that conclusion?” I ask, leerily in that strange way I have that makes Komodo Dragons gulp in disbelief. “I’ll bet, after what you told me about your recent confinement, that I’ll be dragging and/or carrying you out of the bar tonight. “ he snickers, dreaming of my very loose wallet and its contents. “You’re going to be tying one on, I can see that.” “You can see me. But you can’t see my past” I think. “Well, you’re not drinking, so what’s in it for me if I win?” I ask. “A free driver for the next week?” he asks. “Want to make it a month? I’m really, really thirsty.” I sneer. “Make it a fortnight.”, he laughs. “Easiest money I’ve ever made. I can barely hold you back.” “Deal”, as we shake hands. He notices my gloves for the first time. “What’s that all about?” he asks. “Industrial accident years ago. Not terribly pretty.” I say. “Oh. OK. Ready to go?” He asks. “Gentlemen”, I announce, “Forward. Drink!” Roy accepts a cigar from one of my travel pocket humidors and we walk up to the entrance. “You be who?” asks the doorman. “Well, my good man, I am the Motherfucking Pro from Dover, and this is my able-bodied companion, Kato”, I say in my most affected Elliott Gould imitation. “What?” he asks trying to corral at least two functioning synapses. “Pardons. I’m Dr. Rocknocker and this is my trusty driver, Roy.” I continue. “Ah. What? Hmm? Who?” was the response. “Oh, I am sorry. Which word confused you?” I asked, most deferentially. “You trying to be smart?” he asks. “Well, I reckoned that at least one of us should,” I replied. He sat there and fumbled with that reply like a nun in a warm bathtub fumbles with a bar of soap. You know the type, she has hope in her soul… As he struggles to come up with an answer, I offer him a cigar the likes of which I’m certain he’s never seen outside of a Hollywoo movie. “Here, my good man. My card.” I say as I hand over a large example of the perfection of the tobacconist’s art. He gratefully accepts the cigar and removes the rope barrier. “Have yourself a good time, gents.” He says. “Oh. We intend to”, I reply. “Ever need anything, just ask for Sandeep” the towering Nepali remarks with a smile. “Thanks. Have a night yourself…”, I reply and stuff another cigar in his shirt pocket for later. He grins wide as Dubai Creek and just as brown. He shoots me a wide smile and a universal thumbs-up sign. “Best to make friends rather than antagonize the locals”, I muse. “You’re an odd bird, Doctor Rocknocker.” Roy chortles. “Roy, it’s just ‘Rock’, OK? It’ll save both time and cuts down on CO2 exhalations. And I’m all for protecting the environment.” I smiled back. Roy chewed on that one for most the rest of the night. The Sports Bar was quiet. Fairly empty, with probably more wait-persons than patrons. One particularly buxom specimen of the female side of the equation welcomed us in an overtly and obviously affected mien. She wanted to show us to a table that was within the sphere of her waitressy influence. “No, thank you”, I said as I spied acres and acres of glistening unoccupied Mahogany with tens of unoccupied seats that both faced the long bar and the several large-screen televisions there. Seemingly bereft of people to wait and prey upon, she ignored us roundly. To her financial detriment as we would all find out during the course of the evening. I chose a likely looking seat at the bar and Roy joined me, cautiously, a seat or two away. “I don’t bite, Roy”, I said. “Social distancing”, he replied. “Ah. Well, I have a fully functional immune system as well as the hardest working liver in the galaxy. I assure you I’m in no way communicable.” I replied, slightly miffed. “Besides, after that cab ride here, whatever ætiology I have, you have as well, and vice versa.” He scooted over one seat but shuttled that seat back to the right about 15 more centimeters. “Some folks just don’t like their personal space invaded”, I surmised. I pulled out one of my cigar cases, a cutter, lighter, and a stack of currencies that I was going to try and get rid of that night. I had freshly minted UK Pounds, Euros of many nations, Indian Rupees, Russian Rubles, Japanese Yen, Chinese Renmimbi, some Uzbek Som, Afghani Afghans, Argentinian Pesos, down under Ozzian Dollarydoos, Mongolian Tugriks, Omani Rials, a few Samoan Tālā, and a bunch of US dollars. How I ended up with that last group remains a mystery. Roy goggled at the stack of weirdly colored and weirdly wonderful currencies of many nations. “Sorry, Roy”, I said, “No Indonesian rupiah. Haven’t been to Jakarta in a long time.” “What the hell are those weird ones there?” he asked. “Which ones?” I chuckled back. It was at that time our reverie was broken. The bartender, one Zac O'Madden, an Irish national currently working for the hotel to which this bar is attached, interrupts our nascent debauch and asks for our drink orders. “Not so fast there!” I say. “Introductions first. We’re not savages here.” Zac chuckles. “You’re obviously American.” “Вы уверены в этом? [Are you certain of that?]”, I say in return. Zac just stands there and laughs. “Та үнэхээр итгэлтэй байна уу? [Are you really certain?]” I ask in Mongolian. “Ĉu vi vere certas? Bạn có thực sự chắc chắn?” “You’re as Russian or whatever that was as I am Kenyan. Now I know it. You’re American.” He says assuredly. “And you have this nasty habit of being correct. I’m Dr. Rocknocker, call me Rock. This slight but solid fellow to my right is Roy, late of Jakarta and Krakatoa, actually west of Java.” I snicker. “And I am Zac O’Madden, of Dublin and points east. Nice to meet you all. What can I get for you?” he asks. After we shake hands in a very manly, indeed, manner, I ask Roy what is his pleasure. “A tall club soda with a twist of lime, on the rocks.” He replies offhandedly. “You’ve done this before”, I observe rather unnecessarily. “Zac, Roy gets what he wants tonight, my tab. I’ll have a Sazerac, hold the sugar. Actually several. You see, on the flight over, I sat through another showing of ’Live and Let Die’, and now I miss Mardi Gras, New Orleans, and Pat O’Brien’s. But I don’t like sweet drinks.” “Coming right up”, Zac says with a well-practiced swish of his bar rag. “Oh, but I’m not finished. I’d also like a beer chaser. A pint of…ah, do you have a beer menu?” I ask, looking down the long row of tappers. “Coming up”, he says, and races off to find me one. A few minutes later he returns with my cocktail, Roy’s fizz water, and a bar beer menu. I raise my glass to Zac and then to Roy. We clink and I say, “I like this guy. And I like this bar. We’re going to have us a large night.” I drain my unsweet Sazerac in one go. Hey. I was thirsty. Needs a scootch more absinthe I observe. Roy and Zac just sort of stare, wide-eyed, as I peruse the beer menu. Nice menu, nice diversity. Oh, very nice. “I’ll have the Asahi Kuronama Black if you don’t mind. Plus another Sazerac, a bit more absinthe if you please. You see, I have this genetic condition I need to keep in balance.” I grinned. Zac looked at me like I had some sort of adverse medical condition. “You OK, Rock?” he asked most earnestly. “Look, Zac, I just met you and you’re a hell of a tarbender, far be it from me to tell you your job, but you see, there is this…” I said, trailing off. “Yes?” His was a look of genuine concern. The genuine concern he won’t own that pile of currency on the bar in front of me by the end of the night. “Yeah. Genetics dealt me a weird hand. See. I’m an ethanol-fueled carbon-based organism…” Roy just rolled his eyes. Zac looked puzzled. “Yeah, I require alcohol in good-tasting and heroic amounts on a regular basis. I also have to smoke huge, black cigars in order to moderate the bioreactor.” I smiled, as I leaned back and fired up a heater. Zac looked at me. Chewed over what I said for a moment or two. He shrugged his shoulders, grabbed my empty glass, and said, “OK, whatever. Round two in moments.” Roy went to ask me something, thought better of it, and just leaned over and grabbed my Zippo from Irkutsk. He looked at the cameo-relief silver and amber city crest attached to the lighter, flipped it open, and tried firing up his cigar. “They draw better if you cut the end first,” I said, absently; and not looking, just hand him my V-cutter. Zac returns with a new Sazerac, a chilled bottle of Asahi Kuronama Black, a tall pilsner glass, and a new club soda for Roy. I puffed my cigar, drained another Sazerac in one go, tried the Japanese black beer, and found it to my liking. I leaned back to observe what sort of sports carnage they were observing on the big screens. Roy just looked at me with wide eyes but said nothing. The evening wore on. After a couple or twelve more Sazeracs, I decided it was time to teach Zac the finer points of mixology via premium vodka, bubbly citrus, ice, and lime wheels. I also found that they had a stock of Pabst Blue Ribbon 1844, from China. “PBR!”, I almost yelled, “Holy wow! I grew up on the stuff.” “Not this stuff, Rock”, Zac said, “Look at the price. We only got a small amount due to a shipping error. It’s not sold outside of China normally.” It was UAE 165 per bottle, about US$45, and worth every dirham. Zak was amazed when I told him to go ahead and have one on Roy and me. “Really, Rock?”, Zac exclaimed. “The usual buggers here are so tight, they hum when the wind blows. Hardly anyone buys me a drink. Except for you Americans. Finest kind.” “That’s me. An international ambassador of amity and alcohol,”, I say and toast in his general direction. “Crack tubes!” Roy was getting tired as a newt. Evidently not drinking, listening to old war stories, and watching recorded US Football games due to the COVID lack of anything live, can take its toll as well. I’m going strong as I’m asking Zac to explain what the fuck cricket is all about. “So, let me get this straight,” I say, ordering another double cocktail and a couple of PBR chasers for Zac and myself. “The guy on the mound runs up and pitches to the guy dressed in the body armor. He uses a bent 2x4 to defend the wicket, which, if I recall correctly, can be sticky. Then he keeps the aliens from stealing the stumps and burning them to ashes in Australia...” “God”, Zac exclaims, “You’re fucking hopeless.” “Everything I know about cricket I learned from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the galaxy.” I smiled proudly. “That was rather obvious…” Zac sheeshed. He left to attend to another patron, a loud and woozy Kiwi. I looked at the source of all the bad noise and in my inattention, just clicked my full beer glass. I inadvertently violated Rule #1 and spilled a small soupçon of expensive, imported beer onto my left hand. “Whoops!”, I said and stripped off my sodden left-hand glove. I used Zac’s bar towel to sop up the bar and dry my techno-digits. Roy looked not only at my ‘whoops’, but goggled my Japanese one-off, so far, electro-fingers. “Rock. What the hell, man. I mean, what the fuck. Are those for real?” he asked. “Yeah, they are a new prototype and I’m the lab rat.”, I said, waggling them and seeing that something as mundane a beer spill could never possibly injure them. By this time, Zac wanders back, sees I’ve used his bar rag, and looks at my hand for real for the first time. “What the fuck, Rocko? You some sort of cyborg?” he asks. “By definition; yes, I am. And my grandfather used to call me that. Thanks.”, I replied. “But, yeah, I’m an alcohol-fueled one at that,” I say, tapping and pointing rather pointedly at my currently unpopulated cocktail glass. Zac returns with a reload. He and Roy demand to know the whole story. “If you must pry…” I say. “Oh, we must, we must”, they reply in unison. So, I regale them with the tale of the Siberian rig. The blowout, fire, and the moderately overzealous Russian FNG. “Rock, I don’t know if that’s true, but by your appearance, it has to be. Let me buy you a drink.” Zac says. Roy asks for a Molson Light. “Roy! You old fraud.” I said. “I usually don’t drink. But after that story, I think I need something cold, wet, and with a little punch.” He said, staring at my hand. “Then you’ve chosen well”, as I down another Rocknocker, sip at my PBR and snip a new cigar. “Rock, can I ask you a question?” Roy asks. Zac is polishing our spot at the bar insistently. I think he has a question or two as well. “Sure. Go nuts.” I reply, puffing on my new cigar and sipping this lovely amber 1844 brew. He crouches conspiratorially and asks in a low sotto voce: “Is that why you drink as you do? To dull the pain? From the accident. That’s it, right? Isn’t it?” Roy asks, almost genuinely concerned. I laughed loud and long. I chuckled, snorted, and had to calm myself with gulps of my beer and cocktail. “Roy, Roy, Roy…I’ll let you in on a little secret. I’m from Baja Canada originally. I’m a multiply-degreed petroleum geologist. I’ve lived and worked in Russia for many, many years. And, as I’ve said, I’m an ethanol-fueled organism. Quadruple perfect storm. My fingers don’t hurt. Or they might, I have no idea. I don’t even know where hell they are.” I laughed at my own witty repartee. Roy actually paled some. He took a long draught of his anemic beer and just stared at me. Zac had disappeared. He presently returned with a bottle of Beluga Gold Line Vodka. “Rock, after that, this one’s for you. On the house.” He said. “Only if you will join me. And let me pay for yours.” I said. Zac agrees. The shnozzled Kiwi from previous in the narrative staggers by and hears the tag-end of our conversation. He leans over to grab the expensive bottle of vodka and says “Don’t mind if I do.” “None for you, asshole. You’re lucky I let you stay here waiting on a cab” Zac growls, and grabs the bottle away. The Kiwi looks at Zac. He looks at Roy. Then he looks at me, my drinks, cigar, and the smaller pile of currency on the bar. He may have been loaded, but something swam upstream against his internal current of booze and made him decide that right now, discretion was the better part of valor. He toddled unsteadily away. “Asswipe”, Zac spits, “He’s here every other month. He pays for his drinks, but he can’t hold them. Never once tips or buys a round. General asshole. Still, management won’t let me toss nor ban him.” “Some people”, I distastefully agreed and poured Zac and myself a healthy double-tot of the fine, smooth, and icy vodka. “I weep for our species sometimes.” I insisted Zac join me. I asked Roy if he’d like a taste. “Thanks, Rock. But you’ve already been too much of a bad influence on me.” he smiled, and tipped his almost empty pilsner glass. “OK, no pressure. I may drink like a school of belugas, but if someone else doesn’t want to, I respect that all day long. Still, the offer stands.” I continue. “I’ll think about it, Rock. I’m still not over how you can just sit there and joke about your cybernetic fingers and how you got them. I’d…I don’t know. I don’t want to think about it. “ he shudders. “Want to see the scar on my leg where I got shot with a .45? Or the scar on my coconut from a hunk of falling ice on a drilling rig?” I asked. “Fuck no!”, Roy almost screams. “What the hell. You held together by scar tissue?” ”That. Baling wire and Duct Tape.” I laughed, “And people wonder why I drink.” “I thought so!” Roy exclaimed. “I drink because I chose to. I can stop anytime. In fact, I stopped smoking and drinking once; by nothing more than sheer force of will.” I said proudly. “Really?” Roy asked. “Yep”, I replied, “It was the worst 45 minutes of my life.” To be continued…
Explaining BNA: Understanding, Truth and Justification (Warning: the text is longer than the actual series)
I finished BNA yesterday and loved it. I got an urgent need to write something about the show and so I decided to write my interpretation about the main themes and conclusions in episodes 11 and 12 to the dilemmas raised. Here we are now: I’m glad that I never wanted to be a writer. Christ, over 3000 words. All in all, not an enjoyable work and good part of it was that I'll never have the temptation to do it again. The quality varies, since I ended writing this at 4 AM hating the fact that I had not gone to sleep hours ago. I make a lot of mistakes when writing English even when I'm not half asleep. On top of that, the text isn't proofread even once, which is the biggest mistake I've done since writing this. The text from this point onward is written with the assumption that the reader is seen BNA in its entirety, and it will spoil pretty much the whole show. I start with giving a brief summary of the main duo
The naïve and the hypocrite
Michiru is naïve girl that always makes an effort towards common good, but fails by lack of information (not understanding the whole truth), expects everyone to be same as her and thus is quick to assume that her perspective on a matter is shared by everyone else. This drives her to often force her sense of justice to others. Shirou is the complete opposite: He knows enough about the truth to know that everyone is different and that humans have done evil. He is a complete pessimist while on the contrary Michiru is an optimist. He fails by using his knowledge as a justifier to judge and punish others becoming a hypocrite. This is also reflected in his name: He has categorized the world to evil and good, black and white, and sees himself as white(=shiro). At the beginning the biggest flaw of these two is their prejudice. From the first episode Michiru, a good human, gains the meaning of representing “You have no right to judge” to Shirou and Shirou, having a completely different perspective to Animacity and beastmen, becomes the symbol of “try to understand others’ perpectives” to Michiru by the start of second episode. Next, I’m going to give a very brief summary of the character development in episodes 1-7, since this text is too damn long as it is and I want to focus on the juicier second half dilemma and conclusion. And so the episodes go: Episode 2: Michiru’s lack of understanding of Beastmen is emphasized and Shirou learn that Michiru’s intentions are good before getting to know that Michiru really is a human. Episode 3: The bond of trust between the two gets stronger and Shirou starts his development from being a hypocrite after agreeing that he will not lock Michiru on a warehouse, since he doesn’t want to be connected as being the same as the criminals they captured. Episode 4: Michiru sees humans from the perspective of beastmen and in the end, decides to not move back to human world (even though gaining the ability to transform into a human form), because she wants to learn more about beastmen and she doesn’t want to go back to being like the naïve people in the party making bad things happen due to their lack of understanding. At the same time, Shirou buries the hatchet with Flip to avoid gang attacking the humans aka. he understands that good outcome is more important than getting the bad people punished. Episode 5: Funniest episode of the show. Shirou learns through Animacity’s baseball that even when something looks bad on the surface, the essence of the matter can still turn up to be good. However, more than anything the moral of the story is told through Bears’ coach Dante that foreshadows the development of Shirou, when Dante understands that his personal grudge towards baseball is not a reason for him not to let others enjoy baseball: vindictiveness goes against the interest of common good. Michiru learns to love the city. On a side note, great, expressive animation with well executed jokes and the whole episode referencing a certain sports manga & anime classic makes this (along with episodes 11 and 12 + Eizouken’s episode 8) one of my favourite episodes of the year. EDIT: after a quick look back to episode 5 I'm amazed how much foreshadowing the episode had: For example, we have a scene where the public starts to riot at the stadium due being distrust towards the gambling system. Episode 6: Essential character for the highlight dilemma commented on the show gets introduced and Michiru gets called out for the flaws apparent with her from the start of the show: Michiru goes to denial, but starts her self-improvement for the second half. Episode 7: Michiru learns from Pinga that humans and beastmen are fundamentally different nullifying the option of beastmen being turned into humans as a valid conclusion. Michiru also learns that there’s also different opinions and perspectives in the world of beastmen. OH BOY, THE BEST PART IS COMING In the episodes 8-10, the show turns by its nature less episodic, so I have hard time remembering what happens and in what episode, but since this part builds up a bigger thematical dilemma that only gets resolved at the end of episode 11, I feel it is best to set aside a little the chronological order of the scenes.
THE TRUTH ARC
As Michiru starts aiming to know more about the circumstances of Animacity, the show starts to study more deeply the matter of truth by asking the questions: What is the truth and from what base it is justified to act. Through multiple scenes between Michiru and other characters, the philosophies of other character’s related to the studied questions are told. BNA studies all these approaches to truth and comes to point out a flaw in each of them. The philosophies are: Mayor: It is best to not act on base of a truth of which you are uncertain on. (Along the lines of what Michiru says to her in rooftop conversation, to what the Mayor comments as being “a perfect” approach) This philosophy fits to Mayor perfectly as she is the neutral character of the show (with good intentions) and it is easy to see it as the approach to truth a scientist would take. She cooperates with Sylvasta, since the company is willing to make good and she has no proof of Alan having ill intentions: Even though in episode 3 Shirou says out loud that he has doubts about Sylvasta, Mayor does not change her way of treating Alan or the company, since she acts on the base of concrete proof. The flaw of her philosophy is shown in the show with the "evil" side easily making her inactive by feeding her doubt with biased information. Shirou: You have to see things, feel things for yourself and find answers that convinces you. (Direct quote) The lone wolf approach. Again, fits the character perfectly, since Shirou bases his stands entirely on first-hand experience. The flaw of this philosophy is shown when right after Michiru gets this advice from Shirou, she sees Nazuna getting into a black car when Michiru has a memory of a similar occasion where Nazuna was kidnapped and decides on that base to “save” Nazuna: It leads to misunderstandings, since you cannot expect to experience the whole truth from first-hand experience: there's a need to trust others and information given by them. Alan: The truth lies in which you cannot see. (Direct quote) Perhaps the most important single quote on the show, since it should be remembered every time Alan is on the screen right to the very end. As far as I remember, technically Alan doesn’t say a single lie in the screen: He sure acts with compassion on matters he actually despises, but all what he says is true. He is the perfect villain for this story, since the lies he tells are not based on false information, but by feeding the truth on quantities that form a biased image of the whole matter. This quote also gives some serious 1984 vibes that isn't surprising coming from a show that has Nakashima Kazuki (Kill la Kill among other things) as script writer. And then we have our dilemma-maker: Nazuna: A fabricated truth that leads to good outcomes is good enough. (Quite self-explanatory, eh?) Nazuna lives by this rule on two levels: Firstly, she lies about being a god to bring peace into Animacity with the message of “Be a good beastman”. Secondly, she lies to herself by denying that she is used as a pawn to obtain her dream of becoming an idol. When good results of her actions start to come, BNA raises, on a classic Trigger way, a universal question: Between a society build on fabricated truth for peace and an honest society having a peace, is the only difference on value the valuation each individual gives to the truth? Or better put: What is the value of honest society?
Plot before episode 11
When Michiru learns that Nazuna will not stop being Ginrou after learning that Ginrou is real, she gets angry, but after seeing the improvement in Animacity after a god appearing to them, she shows significant character development: She clearly states that she is not part of the cult (Doesn’t share the same opinion as Nazuna), but due Nazuna having good intentions behind it, Michiru supports Nazuna as a friend, since understanding that it’s not right to force own values (valuation of truthfulness) to others. At the same time, Mayor’s philosophy bites her in the ass, since in the light of new information she is now uncertain about the truth (Beastmen can live in peace together) and thus stops the act (maintaining Animacity). Due his own experiences and valuing less new information coming from other people, Shirou keeps believing that beastmen can live in peace. Since now he doesn’t have the support of the head of the city and is wanted by the police, he becomes desperate to do the right thing for common good and starts to cooperate with people he despises and is willing to act in a way that goes against his own values. This is the build-up for the big finale
EPISODE 11: THE CONCLUSION TO THE DILEMMA
At idol concert Wolfman: I kill fox before big reveal Tanuki *with wolfman’s gun: No don’t kill my friend. Wolfman: wowwow, ok I won’t kill fox. But no reveal Tanuki: Lol ok, deal. Great scene. The scene slightly improves when Shirou’s and Michiru’s personal flaws, meanings for each other and the themes of the show are added. In the end, we are left with my favourite scene in ages. Shirou’s intention is to kill a person that keeps a fabricated truth alive and justifies it with the greater good. On this matter, everything goes according to the plan: Gun is pointed at a person that intends to keep a fabricated truth alive and justifies it with the greater good. Only difference is that behind that gun is a face that has the symbolistic meaning of “You have no right to judge” and the situation calls out Shirou’s hypocrisy. At the same time for Michiru, the symbol of “try to understand beastmen’s perspective” and the beastman she though she knew the best is acting totally against his own values, so she breaks down crying due the frustration of the feeling of never getting to understand others. I love how the surreal scene with Michiru pointing a gun towards Shirou is made even more surreal with pretty blue lights waving from one side to another while an upbeat song plays on the background. At the end of the scene, Shirou tells about upcoming beastmen’s shock of being tricked by someone they believe in. Michiru decides to trust Shirou on this and in return Shirou trusts that Michiru can keep Nazuna from confessing. After this, Shirou gets stopped by the Inspector. Shirou says that the city is in danger and that all he really wants is to protect beastmen. Inspector trusts him. At the stadium, Michiru tells Nazuna not to confess and to trust her. Nazuna decides to trust. Can you see a common theme on these couple of minutes about the power of trust? When Boris goes and tells the truth anyways, we go through the nightmare of everyone being filled with anger, city going out of control, Shirou reliving his worst memory and ending up killing Michiru. And so, Trigger’s answer the questions it had raised earlier: To be able to have a fabricated truth have power (for good outcomes), there needs to be a wish for knowing the truth, need for having something to trust. A good society based on a lie is unsustainable, since it always coexists with a will to seek the truth and a truth drifting away from good outcomes. At this point I didn’t care if the last episode would be good, since Trigger and Nakashima hadn’t bottled it with giving a universal question an answer that couldn’t be applied universally - but they really managed to make the last episode good with giving a conclusion to the main duo’s character arcs.
Alan is a mirror
Question time: What shows the truth, but not entirely?... A mirror! I bet you didn’t expect that! A Mirror also shows the person whose looking at it and that is why I felt it was a fitting analogy to Alan. But let’s track back a little, since we have a topic in our hands thrown by the ending of the 11th episode with the truth having bad outcomes – we have vindictiveness that is also an essential part of Shirou the character. Shirou is also made clear to be the personification of this will for revenge: he has the blood of 1000 rancorous beastmen and leads the pack of Animacity’s angry beastmen with his howling. Serious Nakashima vibes are given from the get go with Shirou getting back to his senses after tasting the blood of his comrade – The spiral of revenge (is that a term in English?) is broken when it’s realised to be hurting the ones close to you, too. Along with the topic of revenge, we are shown the power that comes when sincerely aiming for common good (Slight importance to the whole show’s main message): The “good guys” with a good cause for everyone are helped for the reasons of wish for individual gain (Mink and Flip’s gang) and those who are grateful (Bears towards Nazuna). But now back to fighting Alan and completing the character arcs of Michiru and Shirou:
Why did Michiru win?
Well she didn’t: Had a critical miss with the mic stand and after that she was a second away from being shot before Shirou saved her. But she did complete her character development when she found an flaw in Alan that was common for her too at the beginning of the show: She calls out Alan on forcing every beastman to be vaccined turned into a human, understands that this is a decision every beastman should be allowed to make themselves and fights Alan to give every beastmen the freedom to decide.
Why did Shirou win?
Alan reflects Shirou by treating beastmen (hybrids) the same way Shirou treats humans: Full of prejudice. Yet again Shirou watching at Michiru indicates Shirou realizing “You are in no position to judge”: Shirou has a sense of beastmen superiority (right to judge others) justified by the cruelty of humans towards beastmen and Alan justifies the superiority by racial purity. Shirou understands his own hypocrisy before dealing the finishing blow and completes his development from seeing himself as worthy of punishing others to understanding the flaw in separating world to good and evil. He wins the urge to get a revenge from behalf of the citizens of Nirvasyl and Animacity: In the end after saving Alan he says that he doesn’t want to live with regrets anymore indicating that he did feel regret from what he did after Nirvasyl. The show sends the message that acts of revenge and anger cause regrets and conclusion comes with cutting the endless circle of revenge when on own "turn". With the show already mentioning the concentration camps and World War II earlier in the show as part of beastmen's history and paint Alan as literal nazi, the show emphasizes Shirou's will to revenge by making the act of the target as cruel as possible: By intentionally making the reasoning for revenge as "justified" as possible, the show indicates that its message on revenge is to be interpreted as universal. The message itself isn't that unique as it is the conclusion in great amount of stories that have revenge as a dilemma that needs to be solved, but I believe it was necessary for the show to give this an answer (even an obvious one), since it makes BNA's message "complete" by going through the dilemma of "a truth that justifies punishing" that essentially is dilemma of revenge.
Why did the Alan lose?
Alan lost by not living by the moral he gave to Michiru at the Sylvastar Pharmaceutics: Truth lies in which you cannot see. Alan based purebreds and his own superiority on being different from other beastmen, giving the example of being above Nirvasyl syndrome. However, the fact that he didn’t know any instance of purebred having Nirvasyl syndrome didn’t mean that the truth would be that purebreds are above Nirvasyl syndrome. When the syndrome started for him, he lost the thing he had build on his sense of superiority. At the same time, the flaw of his philosophy is pointed: Alan needed to fall by being betrayed by something he thought he knew, since a person with the worldview of "Truth lies in which you cannot see" should be an eternal scepticist and never think they would know anything. Thinking that the truth is that purebreds are superior beings means that Alan not only felt he was above other species, but also above the rule he has set to the world. What I think the final message of BNA is With the Mayor saying in the end that she will invite humans to the city, too, to raise the understanding between the two species, while noting that it will be difficult, I concluded the moral of the story to be along the lines of: Prejudice is a bad way to take even when your assumptions of others are optimistic; trying to understand others perspective is difficult, but necessary. While being truthful and aiming for good for all doesn’t guarantee success, it is the strongest foundation: The trustworthy and the kind have many friends. ‘Kind’ and ‘friend’ might not be the most fitting words (I blame my English vocabulary!), but it increased the wholesomeness of the message and made me feel warm from the inside so it stays :) I’ll rewatch this show, since there are some bits and pieces that I didn’t manage to form into clear messages on first watch and intend to go deeper into later.
I don't what this is exactly (reasoned opinion?), but I come to the conclusion that I liked a lot what the show had
As I said in the beginning I personally loved this series: Visually it is among the best I’ve seen: the usage of colours was brilliant with being eye candy when at most bland and intensely striking when the show needed it to be dramatic, expressive animation was exactly what to expect from the LWA director Yoshinari and the presence of Imaishi in action scenes really was there and, oh boy, did this show constantly remind the viewer that you, in fact, are watching a Trigger show. The flashy soundtrack really got me to raise the ranking of Mabanua in my personal list of best anime composers around as the OST really dared to go for the spotlight time to time, which is something that has never gone wrong with Trigger shows. I do prefer the characters of LWA of BNA’s, but that is mostly because of the lack of Akko in BNA. Loving how flawed the “good” characters are in BNA and how this could very well form into a constant trend in Yoshinari-directed works, since Akko would fit well into this cast in that sense. The sad fish from LWA also got his successor in Jackie. The style with world building and plot managed to hit the right spot for me, since it took the route of being entertaining instead of realistic and too serious and made it personally easy to focus on the most essential thematically and plot wise: Using common tropes such as mafia boss being a family-oriented man, a cult being a mean to control masses, detective looking always bored and being a neapolitan mastiff, the dehumanized terrorists or other killers not actually being sociopaths, but humane people with concerns based on reality and only desperate ways to get their cause proceeded, a cool-acting and all-knowing character losing their cool due some specific insecurity they have (Mink), idol industry having the dark side of idols being strictly controlled brands and worshipped idol confessing about their personal life leads to some fans act unpredictably due being upset about their image of a flawless idol being shattered are all so common tropes that I personally did not have any problem understanding that these are not topics the show wants to comment further on and the thematic focus of the show is elsewhere. I am a fan of Nakashima’s writing style in Gurren Lagann and Kill La Kill and ended up loving it with BNA, too. And as you can expect if you really read that long wall of text, I had no problem with the conclusion and pacing. This show managed to be worthy of my hype and there really isn’t much I hope it had done differently. EDIT: I expect that very few will see this anymore, but I forgot to mention that I did like how a show that has trust and prejudice as big topics doesn't in the end have many instances of people lying, but is portrayed always in a way that makes the viewer doubt everything what suspicious characters said. Although I feel like this aspect of the show made many here draw some big conspiracies about the end twist and might've lead some people to focus on theme-wise and plot-wise on the wrong things (making them not get that much out of the show in the end), I liked it and it was definitely an aspect of the show that made me appreciate the work even more. At the end, I want to state the obvious to avoid any misunderstandings: This is my own interpretation of BNA's meaning and my own reasoning on why I like this show. I'm not saying that this is the only correct interpretation to have on the show or only valid opinion about it. Everyone else is (as always) free to think whatever they want about the show. No TL/DR: I'm shit at summaries. This is proved with this text that was intended to be compact and not a pain in the ass to read. This is something you can download on your phone and read when you are sitting in a toilet: not for the purpose of entertain yourself with my interpretation of BNA’s themes and meaning, but to find the 0–15 Forrest Gump references that are hidden in the text.
https://preview.redd.it/p07or75o84151.jpg?width=500&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=5e64517008b35807b279da18bf10a743f31ce568 I've got a pretty extensive NES collection and have for years been writing about the best games for the system while also trying to collect every title. As such, I feel like I've spent tons of time playing all the great games while the lesser known titles usually come in the mail and go straight onto the shelf. I wanted to make more of an effort to explore the entire library of the Nintendo Entertainment System, not just the classics or even the hidden gems, and so I tried out some buddies I either popped in and immediately out or never played in the first place. I spent about half of 2019 going through the games alphabetically and then posting some reviews of these oddball games I figured most folks never touched. All in all, it turned out to be a huge project, longer in word count than probably every paper I slogged through in college. I thought it might be cool to collect the 10 best and worst obscure games I played and share those with y'all and if people want to read the entire articles I'll link those as well. The entire series A through Z can be found here. The "Best Of" Lists can be found here and here. https://preview.redd.it/fojii2sh74151.jpg?width=1000&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=c24d3c1b600e4d36f336cff23801631ea13402dd 10.PUSS N' BOOTS | 1990 I've been trying to search my brain for any real nostalgic association with the character Puss N' Boots from my childhood. Like I'm sure I knew about him (he's a cat who wears shoes, that's awesome!) but I honestly can't remember his story or any other details really. If you're a big younger that I am, you'll probably remember him fondly from the Shrek movies. I have a young nephew and when he told me recently that his favorite show was The Adventures of Puss in Boots, I thought "shit, I really don't want to sit through this." However, I gotta say it's pretty funny! It reminds me of the general irreverence of shows like Rocky and Bullwinkle or even Adventure Time. Definitely check it out, especially if you've got little dudes to entertain. The NES tale of ol' Puss? Well it's based on a Japanese cartoon I've never seen, but if the show is as bad as this game, that's probably a good thing. Puss N' Boots was published by Electro Brain, makers of other "Huh, that's a game?" titles like Ghoul School, Eliminator Boat Duel, and Stanley: The Search for Doctor Livingston (coming soon to a review near you!) If you've played any of those bad boys you know that Electro Brain puts out interesting but ultimately low production-level games, and Puss N' Boots is no exception. There are a few positives, however. While the music isn't anything too wild, there are at least plenty of unique 15 second long loops for each level (which is asking a lot in most NES titles). Also, each stage takes place in a different location and has some unique design elements: the Ocean stage has you piloting a submarine, the Space Wars stage has a plane, etc. And then...ummm...well...it's a game! https://preview.redd.it/acw2kxqi74151.png?width=500&format=png&auto=webp&s=a50931f52345955006c6b20758f775291919458f The first thing you'll notice here is...yeah this looks like shit. The art style is extremely basic, like "well meaning housewife illustrating her own children's book" beginner's level. Also, the sprites and backgrounds are all similar colors with no outlines so they just indistinguishably bleed into each other. The next thing you'll notice is that the Pussmaster walks SOOOO SLOW, just taking his sweet ass time getting from one place to another. Just like a real cat! However, if you jump he goes 5x faster for some reason, but even stranger is that all the other bad guys also move at that accelerated speed. Weird. Puss N' Boots is also incredibly easy. I can beat the whole game without dying in 15 minutes. AND I'VE NEVER PLAYED THIS GAME BEFORE IN MY LIFE. The main reason for the smooth sailing here is that seemingly the game can only handle one enemy on the screen at a time and they often don't come anywhere near you. Not only that, but it must be having a tough time with loading issues because there are large swaths of each level where there's no enemies at all. Just 5 uninterrupted seconds of Puss gleefully making his way to the right, looking for something to kill. Puss N' Boots has got all the hallmarks of bland game design, not bad per se just incredibly uninspired. The music is extremely simple and repetitive, the sprites and backgrounds are the most basic level of illustration, the animation is almost non existent, the same sound effects are used for everything so you can't tell if you hit something or it you, in fact there's no images or any indication at all that you were attacked other than your lifebar slowly decreasing. Also, even though each level does have different vehicles and whatnot, the gameplay experience is exactly the same: go to the right, shoot things (or don't, most of them won't pose any real threat.) Hmmm I guess you could say the exact same thing about Super Mario Bros, but I don't need anymore page space to explain what all separates these two games other than "it ain't no Mario". Similar Games: Kid Niki: Radical Ninja, Felix the Cat https://preview.redd.it/ccu5bnsj74151.jpg?width=500&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=d9365603767ec2a6748b19ff8d53d3e4445fd4f2 9. DR. CHAOS | 1988 UGGHHH. Just the other day I was wondering "what if there was a game that took all the frustrating things about Goonies II, amplified them to infinity, then dumbed down the graphics, sound, controls, hit detection, and everything else that made that game fun." Well, dreams do come true! Dr. Chaos was made by FCI / Marionette, but on the title screen it says "Pony Canyon" which sounds like an insufferably pretentious indie-pop band opening for Imagine Dragons or something. Marionette also made one of the Dungeons and Dragons games and Phantom Fighter which unfortunately we'll probably revisit come the Letter P. You start the game in a side scrolling level with ultra generic bad guys like rats and bats that kind of reminds me of the Sega Master System title "Ghost House", and for sure like that game, Dr. Chaos would've scared the shit out of me as a child. We didn't all play Silent Hill at age 6 back then and games like this or Friday the 13th or even Castlevania were kinda definitely pretty scary. https://preview.redd.it/358bcunk74151.jpg?width=300&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=2b3ba3ae7e449049c68718f9d1ff802b31fcb7b4 Once the game starts all you see is doors, DOORS ARE EVERYWHERE. What happens when you enter a door? You get a first person view like Golgo 13 or Fester's Quest but you can only turn the four directions. Each direction has cabinets that contain guns and mystery fluids and also MORE DOORS but of course you can't go through these doors, oh no! Eventually you are greeted by two straight up horror nightmares, either a Frankenstein Big Foot who's lungs are on the outside of his body, or a stumpy giant mouthed aunt who's allllllll lips. They're polite monsters though and they wait til you're back outside the 3-D rooms before they attack you. If you ever want to experience your brain completely shutoff, play this game, get frustrated, and then like me watch a walkthrough that's even slower and less satisfying than playing the game in the first place even when you fast forward. I feel like of all the titles on this list, some people out there probably played Dr. Chaos growing up and thus might have some positive nostalgia about it since it's a pretty common NES title. And if that is the case, I am so very very sorry for you. All the other kids who grew up playing Blades of Steel, Super Mario Bros 3, and Legend of Zelda are now CEOs and entrepreneurs and rock stars while you, Kid Chaos, spend your days repeatedly opening doors. And then once inside, opening other doors. And after that? Opening more doors within those doors. And yet the saddest thing? The doors never, ever open for you. (I'm just kidding, I'm sure you're great :) Similar Games: Goonies II https://preview.redd.it/1tlj3ajl74151.jpg?width=1000&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=863852e26211261c1f7f8b77226c16d918f2d448 8. ROLLERBLADE RACER | 1993 Finally, I get to talk about a real game: Rollerblade Racer. YEAH! Rollerblade Racer was published by Hi Tech Expressions, which to me sounds like a futuristic "massage" parlor run by rub n' tug robots. They were responsible for many relatively obscure games for the NES, some of which I've covered already (Fun House, Hunt for Red October, Muppet Adventure: Chaos at the Carnival). If you haven't guessed already, they weren't exactly the American Konami, more like the Panamanian LJN. However, what their games lack in good sound, story, gameplay, graphics, replayability, and pretty much every characteristic that would lead you to believe something was fun, they more than make up for it in mouth agape "what the fuck is this" factors. Thankfully, Rollerblade Racer is no exception. God damn this game is gold. The first screen is this dude in full pads/helmet standing next to two traffic cones, head to toe in all pink including the rollerblades draped around his shoulders, arms at his sides. He says: "Hi, I'm Kirk. I just bought a new pair of rollerblades." He needs you to enter the "Super Rollerblade Challenge" that for some reason means that if you win he'll qualify. Huh? I guess I'll do that for you random stranger. Hahahaha, my god, he calls his outfit his "bladegear". GAHHHHHH!!! Haha oh lord, it's too good! Ok, I've calmed down, I'm centered and ready to roll. Kirk, LET'S SHRED. https://preview.redd.it/gnzynufm74151.png?width=500&format=png&auto=webp&s=055278a433d4669de8b6fb811cf2989b1d9572e6 So basically Rollerblade Racer is a really shitty Paperboy knockoff. I was never a big fan of that game, but that's only because the eponymous paperboy had no style and could not carve the pavement like my boy Rollerblade Racer. Poser! You basically just go forward as fast as you can and jump over everything in-sight. Beautifully, because it's rollerblading, the programmers gave you two authentic rollerblade leaps: wheels straight back and legs beneath you, or wheels straight out in opposite directions and legs split out like a crazy person. Bellissimo! The same enemies spawn every three seconds as you go, kind of like watching an old Flintstones where they walk past the same background over and over and over. The dogs and tricycle kids are super easy to avoid, but for some reason those tiny cracks in the road cause my guy to spill like crazy. Throw in a pebble and you've got the true life roller villains captured right there! After you help Kirk borrow a feeling, you head to the city which is somehow even simpler and easier than the last level. If you find the right line on the screen, you can just go full speed and NEVER INTERACT WITH A SINGLE OBSTACLE. I'm not kidding! The only enemies here are puddles and dogs and you will never come close to touching either of them, even as you pass the same thousand wet golden retrievers on repeat. After that, a sea of traffic cones. THE HORROR! A couple more repetitive levels anddddd...hmmm that's the end of the game. Easy peasy lemon squeezy! I have not laughed this much or this often while playing a video game in some time. It's so painfully easy and poorly programmed that it is of course quite comical, but honestly what they really nailed with this game is how rollerbladers weer perceived in the 90s. No one then, or now for that matter, was ever considered cool for blading. Not even the "aggressive inline" featured in games like Skitchin' or rad movies like Airborne could make it a tenth as cool as skateboarding. That's because to skaters, all rollerbladers were a bunch of Kirks unironically rocking single colored outfits that matched their blades, reminding you to always wear full pads every time you glide. Similar Games: Paperboy, Paperboy II https://preview.redd.it/fcpns4en74151.jpg?width=1000&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=39dbf194947fe17e00a105244ac95b1a8085a87d 7. PETER PAN AND THE PIRATES | 1991 On the cover the actual name reads "Fox's Peter Pan and the Pirates: The Revenge of Captain Hook", making this easily the most cumbersome title in the entire NES library. Not to be confused with Hook which was released a year later, Peter Pan and the Pirates (hereafter known as PPP) is based on an entirely unrelated Saturday Morning Cartoon. I mean I say unrelated, but they're both telling the exact same story as the hundreds of other Peter Pan adaptations. For those that don't know, many of the famous characters developed before or around the 20th century are now Public Domain which is why you see a new Dracula / Frankenstein / Robin Hood / King Arthur / King Kong adaptation come out every few years; Hollywood studios don't have to pay for the rights! I do not remember PPP at all, but it was on the air long enough to get an NES game based on it made (one year!) Oh snap, and this is one of those titles that was only released in North America. I can't seem to find a list that details all of them, but it's pretty rare that there's a game that was released outside of Europe AND Japan. Well, if you lived anywhere outside of the US, Mexico, or Canada consider yourselves fortunate to have missed out because this game blows the big one. One thing I've learned in this review process is that a super easy way to tell a game is awful happens right after you hit the power button and you see the crew credits before the first level. It's like the developers were worried that no one would ever make it to the end and thus never get to see the names of the people responsible. Well, they were right! After giving credit where shitty credit it due, you start the game up and...wow, let that color brown wash over you! You play as Peter (a doy!) and you're gifted with the tiniest, most useless one pixel knife I've ever seen. I mean damn, I've seen some small weapons before but Jesus Christ. Maybe it was a full-sized sword but it's size and usefullness matches it's owner, so once this pint sized goober picked it up the sword shrank sown to Pan sized proportions. It's almost as shitty as Peter's rat-tail. https://preview.redd.it/ps6uy89o74151.jpg?width=500&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=8d25f7ac7fa85c9f0f94bb5243e4392ce046d7a8 Peter can fly, but for the longest time I could not figure how to consistently do it. I thought if I held the jump button that would work, but I kept dropping and rising. All you have do is jump then press a button on the d-pad and you'll start floating slowly in that direction. You need this ability to reach hard to reach spots, but your time is limited (based on how much gold you collect). Of course while floating you can't use your knife which I guess makes sense otherwise you'd just turn this into a shoot-em up and flysplode every bad guy in sight. Man that might've been actually, I don't know, FUN! What really sucks is that this is obviously the main gameplay mechanic, essentially the equivalent of Scrooge's pogo jump from Duck Tales, but because it uses the D-pad you'll find yourself constantly flying when you don't want to and not flying when you absolutely need to. Aside from the usual random enemies like pirates, spiders, and pterodactyls(?) they included the most obnoxious bad guy of the all: every pit, instead of killing you, takes you back to the beginning of the stage. Every pit. FUCK THAT. The music is way too high pitched so even if there were a decent melody hidden in there your ears have to want to hear Geddy Lee's helium solo in order to enjoy it. There are only two sound effects: for jumping and for attacking. I know this because on the first level I caused the music to glitch out and stop playing, leaving only the occasional starter-kit sound effects to illuminate the game's aural mood. What else, well other than PPP looking and sounding like shit, it also plays like shit. The hit detection is horrendous, the jumping is awkward, the aforementioned flying is both the gift and the curse, and worst of all Peter Pan and the Pirates is completely reminiscent of every boring time wasting action platformer you've ever wished you hadn't rented from Blockbuster. But hey, that describes about 40% of the NES library sooooo at least it's in good company! Similar Games: Hook https://preview.redd.it/gh9b45xp74151.jpg?width=1000&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=82cf75a3df597fcdd771b5376824eb9b440ba612 6. NFL FOOTBALL | 1989 What's different about this game from NES Play Action Football? Well the first thing you'll notice is a big ol' official NFL logo on the title screen which means that this game features the actual teams, although I don't think there are any actual players names used here. But hey, I get to play as my beloved Atlanta Falcons, so that's not so bad! Wait, what's that? LJN label?!? SPOKE TOO SOON! First of all, instead of a screen that shows you the plays you can choose from, there's a picture of a NES controller with no indication of what you're supposed to do. I just randomly press buttons until the controller lights up and it takes me to the field. Now it shows for several seconds what the formation of the offense and defense is, but still no layout of what play you're trying to run. Like Play Action before it, as far as I can tell you cannot run the ball (WHY?!?), just throw it which is so much more difficult than it needs to be. Also like that aforementioned garbage title, I cannot tell how to choose the target, there's no arrows or blinking players or anything. And wow, I made fun of NES Play Action Football for being slow but Jesus Christ NFL Football is the real deal. Everything from the time to choose plays, to the time between screens loading, to the actual running speed of the players themselves moves at the most crippled of snail's paces. Also, while there is some generic sports music playing on the select screens, once the actual game starts the only sounds are those of the crowd whistling. Majestic. https://preview.redd.it/xol256s684151.jpg?width=500&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=555f00d652f4cda1a942fba971929baa3c8cbfc3 One small redeeming thing about NFL Football is that once you throw the ball it cuts to a screen with larger sprites and you have to track and position your player under the ball to catch it. It kinda reminds me of the frisbee section of California Games. It's not great, but it's kinda fun and I bet if you were playing against a friend this little battle screen would be the best part. Beyond that? Naw player, this game is a full pass. I don't know if it's just my cartridge (it sounds like something's rattling around in there), but this game seems real glitchy. Like the screen flashes and shakes whenever I choose an option and coding numbers randomly appear, way more than the usual issues a Q-tip and some Brasso will solve. Also, between every play it cuts to this awful blank brownish green screen for a few seconds; however, I think that's just how they programmed it because they didn't know what to do when the game needed to load. If the NES were a mood ring that changed colors based on the aura of the cartridge placed inside it, truly vomit green is the negative energy of NFL Football encapsulated. Similar Games: 10 Yard Fight, California Games OTHER OBSCURE NES GAMES WORTH AVOIDING Castelian, Castle of Dragon, Blues Brothers, Gotcha! the Sport, Incredible Crash Test Dummies, Indiana Jones (UbiSoft version), Jimmy Connors Tennis, James Bond Jr., Spelunker, Snoopy's Silly Sports Spectacular, Swamp Thing
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