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A Deep Dive - Ghislaine Maxwell: Silver Spoons and Hard Times
This story was published in Frank's Report. Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.Frank Reportis one of the internet’s best destinations for true, unfiltered, hard-hitting journalism run by the acclaimed journalist Frank Parlato. Since 2015, articles published onFrank Reporthave exposed major scandals and criminal enterprises (including the NXIVM Cult. Frank Parlato has been cited as a source by hundreds of major media outlets around the world, including the New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CNN, Fox News, Albany Times Union, New York Post, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, Oxygen, Hollywood Life, E! News, CBS Inside Edition, Televisa (Mexico, Stern (Germany, Brisbane Times (Australia, Sun (UK, Hamilton Spectator (Canada), Haaretz (Israel), Tibetan Journal (Tibet), Dnevnik (Croatia), New Zealand Herald, Sputnik News (Russia), Voici (France), Blich (Switzerland), Pour Femme (Italy), CM Journal (Portugal) and more. Frank Parlato was the lead investigator and coordinating producer of Investigation Discovery’s 2 hour blockbuster special ‘The Lost Women of NXIVM.’))))) From sex trafficking cults disguised as self-empowerment groups to government cronyism depriving citizens of tax-funded programs, Frank Report doesn’t just turn stones – it outright obliterates them. Welcome to Frank Report, one of the internet’s finest examples of real, unbridled journalism.
Ghislaine Maxwell – Silver Spoons and Hard Times
August 9, 2020 By Paul Serran https://frankreport.com/2020/08/09/ghislaine-maxwell-silver-spoons-and-hard-times/ http://archive.is/by7md Ghislaine Maxwell led much of her life under the world’s fascinated microscopic view, always enthralled by her – famous and infamous – as it watched her fortunes wax and wane. From the celebrated miracle daughter of media tycoon Robert Maxwell; to the broken young woman who fled scandal in the UK to a small New York apartment, trying to launch a new life; the rebirth Jet-set Ghislaine, who was everywhere at once, longtime companion of Jeffrey Epstein, a man even richer and more shady than her father; the sophisticated middle age woman, a runaway alleged criminal trying hard to avoid detection by her pursuers – finally, to the incarcerated, indicted suspected sex trafficker and perjurer. Ghislaine was Robert and Betty Maxwell’s miracle baby, born on Christmas Day, 1961. Two days after that, their eldest son suffered a fatal car accident. In 24 hours, it all had been somehow foretold: joy – and then tragedy. During the Swinging Sixties, Robert Maxwell served two terms as a Labour Member of Parliament (MP) for Buckingham. He led a multimillionaire lifestyle, and was the host of star-studded parties at Headington Hill Hall, his baronial fifty-three-room Oxford mansion. The Maxwells spent a million dollars redecorating the mansion. In a stained glass window scene for the imperial staircase, Israeli sculptor Nehemia Azaz depicted Robert Maxwell as the biblical hero Samson tearing down the gates of Gaza: “a titan of luck, impossible achievement, and unlimited wealth”. They had the use of chauffeured luxury cars. They traveled the world in Robert’s Gulfstream IV Jet and his sleek 180-foot yacht, named Lady Ghislaine. “If Bob Maxwell didn’t exist, no one could invent him,” Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock celebrated the bombastic, demanding mogul who dined with kings and presidents and had a bottomless appetite for family, food, fortune, and fame. The first brush with financial and professional hardship came at a age when young Ghislaine would have been mostly sheltered from it. In the early seventies, after Robert Maxwell tried similar shenanigans in a failed attempt to swindle the American financier Saul Steinberg, who was interested in a strategic acquisition of Pergamon Press. Steinberg claimed that during negotiations, Maxwell falsely stated that a subsidiary responsible for publishing encyclopedias was extremely profitable. At the same time, Pergamon had been forced to reduce its profit forecasts for 1969 during the period of negotiations, leading to a suspension of dealing in Pergamon shares on the London stock markets. It was found that Maxwell had contrived to maximize Pergamon’s share price through transactions between his private family companies. This was a criminal practice he would utilize again in the future. Inspectors from Britain’s Department of Trade and Industry declared Maxwell unfit to run a public company: “Notwithstanding Mr. Maxwell’s acknowledged abilities and energy, he is not in our opinion a person who can be relied on to exercise proper stewardship of a publicly quoted company.” ‘Captain Bob’ established the Maxwell Foundation in tax haven Liechtenstein, in 1970. By the 1980s he come back roaring, prompted by money later said to have originated in the Soviet Union. He bought the Mirror Group built and a massive media conglomerate. The good times were on: Ghislaine was nicknamed “The Shopper” because of her wild spending funded by Robert’s millions. He also bankrolled her failed corporate gifts business. During this period, she reportedly had a VERY close relationship with her father and was widely credited with being her father’s favorite child. In Oxford, Ghislaine led a student life of wealth and privilege. Her father would send Filipino servants to the college house she shared to clean, arrange the table and cook, in the event of a party. Her career piggybacked on her father’s businesses. She was made director of the Oxford United, and later, put in charge of “special projects” of the New York Daily News. With her father’s money, she found her way into society, especially in New York — a haven where she could escape his complete control. But the good times were not to last. Overextended and over-leveraged, Maxwell’s empire was about to crumble. At this time, Maxwell reportedly was a regular at London’s casinos, playing three tables at once, even dropping $2.5 million in a single night. For years, he had been an inveterate gambler, but this was the behavior of a desperate man whose time was running out. “He was a very crude man,” said a female writer for Time magazine. “His polish was not very deep. If you were with him for any length of time, it peeled away. I was in his library in the Maxwell House penthouse—a beautiful apartment with marble and servants all over the place—and while I was admiring his books, his valet said to me, ‘You should see Mr. Maxwell’s collection of pornographic tapes’.” Ghislaine visited her father in his office before he flew off to Gibraltar. “He was looking for an apartment in New York—a sort of pied-à-terre, where he could talk and have meetings—and he wanted me to help him,” she told Vanity Fair. “He asked me to go see a particular apartment. He said, ‘If you like it, I’ll make time to see it and come to New York.’ ” But the next time Ghislaine saw her father, he was dead. ”Ghislaine is the baby of the family and the one who was closest to her father,” her mother Betty told Vanity Press. ”The whole of Ghislaine’s world has collapsed, and it will be very difficult for her to continue.” When she finally appeared before the reporters, she had collected herself. “How did your father die?” a journalist shouted at Ghislaine Maxwell. “He did not commit suicide. That was just not consistent with his character. I think he was murdered. ” Maxwell, it turned out, had debts of nearly $5 billion, and had stolen hundreds of millions from the Mirror Group’s pension funds to shore up his faltering companies. That left 32,000 employees exposed to retirement ruin. The irony was not lost on the hard-hitting British press: Robert Maxwell, a socialist, stealing hundreds of millions of pounds from the Mirror’s pension fund! He swindled money from two of his public companies, transferred millions in and out the secret family trusts in Liechtenstein, to manipulate the share price of his Corporation. Robert was called “rogue,” “crook,” “bully,” “thief,” “megalomaniac,” and “gangster.” The press told lurid tales of his sex orgies with midget Filipino hookers. He was seen as a 310-pound aberration gorging on spoonfuls of caviar. An erratic and cruel tyrant who used Turkish towels for toilet paper. Journalists wrote that he was a spy for the K.G.B. or Mossad or Czech intelligence—or all three. “My daughter Ghislaine has no money, no trusts, no funds anywhere.” her mother Betty told Vanity Fair. “Neither of [my children] had any money. Their father never gave them any money.” Their assets were frozen. His son Kevin’s house was put up for sale, as were the Lady Ghislaine and the Gulfstream IV Jet. Their passports were seized. A friend told TheTimes of London, “[Ghislaine] had always been the life and soul of the party wherever she wanted to go in the world and never had to worry about money.” Now she was the broken child of a monster, his name forever synonymous to scandal. “She was catatonic,” the friend said. Forced to vacate her huge company-provided residence, she moved into a small apartment. When a friend came to visit, Ghislaine told her, “They took everything—everything—even the cutlery.” Little did she know how many more times things in her life would shift from silver spoons to hard times. A woman brought up in luxury, she had everything taken from her, before she came to the United States to begin again. “He wasn’t a crook,” Ghislaine told Vanity Press. “A thief to me is somebody who steals money. (…) Did he put it in his own pocket? Did he run off with the money? No. And that’s my definition of a crook.” “I’m surviving—just,” she said. “But I can’t just die quietly in a comer. I have to believe that something good will come out of this mess. It’s sad for my mother. It’s sad to have lost my dad. It’s sad for my brothers. But I would say we’ll be back. Watch this space.” Ghislaine Maxwell was also being hunted by the tabloids. The Maxwell name was so detested in London that she is said to have had to walk around in a blond wig so people wouldn’t recognize her. Ghislaine Maxwell’s reinvention didn’t take long. Maxwell moved to the United States just after her father’s death. Her photograph boarding a Concorde to cross the Atlantic caused outrage – her father had just defrauded pensioners out of 750 Million Sterling Pounds. According to the Mail on Sunday: “Unnoticed by almost everybody, traveling with her was a greying, plumpish, middle-aged American businessman who managed to avoid the photographers. It is to this man that 30-year-old Ghislaine has turned to ease the heartache of her father’s shame.” “His name is Jeffrey Epstein.” “Whose house is this, Ghislaine?” a friend asked her in the early 1990’s. “Who lives here?” My friend,” Maxwell replied. “Well, is he banging you?” the friend demanded. “What’s the scoop here?” A trust fund is said to have provided her with an income of $145,000 a year. A far cry from her previous seemingly unending wealth. She “never, ever had any cash. Lots of credit, of course, but no cash”, one friend recalled to the press. And yet, she lived the high life. She was known in New York as the “female Gatsby” for her lavish entertaining. Had a “reputation for being charming and funny, and a glittering lifestyle straight out of the pages of a society magazine”. She was now “far from the ever watchful eye of the British press,” Hello! magazine wrote in 1997. “She is proud of the fact that her new life is all down to her own hard work and has her elegant apartment to show for it,” the magazine mistakenly added. One day, she would “get married and have kids. But it has never been a focus: My focus is my business.” Ghislaine’s presence added more fuel to the question: “How did Jeffrey Epstein amass his fortune?” For one of the most propagated theories is that Maxwell’s father Robert bankrolled him with funds hidden from the UK authorities. Jeffrey Epstein built a 21,000-square-foot mansion on a massive ranch in New Mexico, which – he boasted – made his New York townhouse “look like a shack”. He named it the Zorro Ranch. He also acquired a 72-acre island in the Virgin Islands and an 8,600-square-foot home in Paris, with a specially built massage room. She had found a path back to the lifestyle she’d lost when her father died. “She was used to living very well,” says a friend who knew her then. “She didn’t want to go back to where she was.” All she had to do to keep it was to give ‘the monster’ what he wanted. Maxwell was expected to drop everything to serve Epstein. She had to keep everyone in line, because one misstep would unleash the wrath of Epstein, one of the few people who could make Maxwell cry. “He would be screaming over the phone,” recalled an Epstein victim, “and she would burst into tears.” The New York townhouse became a social nexus; guests could have included members of the Kennedy and Rockefeller clans, “along with the requisite sprinkling of countesses and billionaires,” according to The Times of London. She was “a modern-day geisha” in a “domain filled with the richest people in the planet. “It’s a world frequented by young half-naked girls in bikinis, billionaires and lavish lifestyles, but it borders on the grotesque. You are never really sure what is going on behind closed doors.” Royalty was specially prized, which is why her friendship with Prince Andrew became so treasured. In 2000, Maxwell and Epstein attended a Prince Andrew’s party at the Queen’s Sandringham House estate in Norfolk, England. It has been reported that the event was in honor of Maxwell’s 39th birthday. And yet, Ghislaine began trying to distance herself from Epstein long before he went to jail. In the early 2000s, she hooked up in California with a man much richer than Epstein: Ted Waitt. Waitt lived in a seven-bedroom, 14-bath mansion in La Jolla, sailed the world aboard a 240-foot mega-yacht, the Plan B. It was equipped with a helipad, Jacuzzi, elevator, gym, and HAD AN ONBOARD SUBMARINE, which Maxwell soon was licensed to pilot. After Epstein went to prison in Florida for a short period, Maxwell saw the silver spoons turned into hard times again. Acquaintances that crossed her path reported how she was almost unrecognizable. She was not stylish and attention grabbing anymore, seemed determined to go unnoticed. Her face had no makeup. There was a hint of gray in her black hair, she put on some weight. “I was so shocked by her look,” a friend recalled to the British press. “I didn’t recognize her.” She even gave up her once proud name, sometimes introducing herself to new acquaintances only as “G.” “Where are you living, Ghislaine?” the friend asked. “I lost touch with you.” Maxwell suddenly went blank. “Oh,” she replied, “a little bit everywhere.” December 2014: Virginia Roberts Giuffre filed a motion in the Southern District of Florida describing Maxwell as Epstein’s “primary coconspirator and participant in his sexual abuse and sex trafficking scheme.” Maxwell made a huge mistake, issuing an “urgent” statement to the media dismissing the claims as “obvious lies.” That allowed Giuffre, to sue Maxwell for defamation in federal court in New York, a lawsuit “widely viewed as a vessel for Epstein’s victims to expose the scope of Epstein’s crimes,” according to the Miami Herald. Maxwell affirmed her innocence with fury, at one point of her testimony banging her fists on the table. She also, according to charges filed by the DOJ SDNY, committed two counts of perjury. 2019: when the SDNY reopened the criminal investigation into Jeffrey Epstein, Ghislaine was far away, living the high life. She met with her friend Prince Andrew in Buckingham Palace, and participated in “Cash & Rocket”, an annual charity road rally. Between races of the rally, she joined the super rich in attending a Masquerade Ball in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, as well as a White dinner at La Reserve in Geneva and the Red party at the Yacht Club de Monaco. Those were to be her last reported events. Cash & Rocket scrub Maxwell’s photo from its website once Epstein was arrested and the scandal assaulted the headlines again. On July 6, 2019, Epstein was arrested by federal agents at Teterboro Airport, arriving from Paris. The FBI raided his mansion, and charged him with sex trafficking of minors. “Epstein’s pimp girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell, a very well-connected Brit socialite cannot just walk free,” actress Ellen Barking tweeted the day after Epstein’s arrest. “This woman is his pimp. She pilots planes [sic] to and from the island. I know because she told me.” Maxwell again went into hiding, unreachable during legal proceedings. It surfaced in December 2019 that Maxwell was among the people under FBI investigation for facilitating Epstein’s crimes. She was faced with a tabloid frenzy even bigger than the one that accompanied the death of her father. She again uprooted herself and tried to start over in Manchester-by-the-Sea, a quiet village 30 miles north of Boston, she lived for a time in the $3 million, five-bedroom colonial home of Scott Borgerson, CEO of CargoMetrics, a hedge fund investment company involved in maritime data analytics. Since Epstein was found dead in jail, last August, she is reported to have moved 36 times, out of fear for her safety. Credible Death threats arrived by social media, email, phone, text, and postal service. It began in earnest with Epstein’s arrest, multiplied with his death, and accelerated in the months that followed. They soon became a routine part of her life. She hired a professional security firm, with operatives that are veterans of intelligence and law enforcement agencies. This photoshopped photo of Maxwell surfaced last year to mislead the public into thinking she was in Los Angeles. Frank Report was the first to report the photo a fake, a story that went viral.
“Where in the world was Ghislaine Maxwell? Everyone, it seemed, had a theory, each wilder than the last. She was said to be hiding deep beneath the sea in a submarine, which she was licensed to pilot. Or she was lying low in Israel, under the protection of the Mossad, the powerful intelligence agency with whom her late father supposedly tangled. Or she was in the FBI witness protection program, or ensconced in luxury in a villa in the South of France, or sunning herself naked on the coast of Spain, or holed up in a high-security doomsday bunker belonging to rich and powerful friends whose lives might implode should Maxwell ever reveal what she knows—all the dirty secrets of the dirty world that she and Epstein shared.” (Vanity Fair – Jul 3, 2020)
Maxwell remained at large, beyond the reach of attorneys, tabloid reporters, and a 10,000-pound reward from The Sun in London. “It’s a little bit like Elvis—you get lots of reports but they’re hard to verify,” a victim attorney said in May. She was periodically said to have been spotted around the world, usually in places where she was not. Reporters scoured the globe. Some said she was in Russia trying to get a Oligarch to protect her. Others pointed to Israel or Brazil, China, Singapore, the Middle East, England. She was “both everywhere and nowhere,” lamented UK’s The Guardian. On August 2019, she was apparently photographed eating a burger and fries in the Cahuenga Boulevard, in the San Fernando Valley. She held The Book of Honor: The Secret Lives and Deaths of CIA Operatives. Given Ghislaine and her father Robert’s alleged ties to Intelligence Services, this choice does not seem accidental. Papers were running out of incredible stories to account for her disappearance. A bizarre new theory emerged she could be hiding in a submarine which – as we saw – was not downright impossible, since she DID have a license to pilot underground vehicles. On July 2nd 2020, Maxwell was arrested by the FBI and NYPD in the small New England town of Bradford, New Hampshire. It is situated at driving distance of the NYSD. They finally found her in a luxurious four-bedroom, 4,365-square-foot home on a wooded lot, called Tuckedaway. Ghislaine Maxwell was charged with six federal crimes: luring and enticement of minors, sex trafficking of children and perjury. The crimes took place between 1994 and 1997, the years of her “intimate relationship with Epstein,” when she “assisted, facilitated, and contributed to Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse of minor girls.” One of the three unnamed victims was “as young as 14 years old when they were groomed and abused by Maxwell and Epstein, both of whom knew that certain victims were in fact under the age of 18.” FBI assistant director William F. Sweeney Jr. described Maxwell as “one of the villains of this investigation,” who had “slithered away to a gorgeous property” in New Hampshire, where she was “continuing to live a life of privilege while her victims live with the trauma inflicted upon them years ago.” “I am optimistic about my future,” she said in 1997, “and believe things will continue to improve for me as time passes.” Now, according to sources close to her, “I don’t think [Ghislaine] sees there is a future,” came the reply. If found guilty of all charges, Maxwell could face a prison sentence of 35 years. She denies the accusations, and has pleaded not guilty to all six charges. She will await trial locked up in the Metropolitan Detention Center, in Brooklyn. A dreadful prison that is as removed from her previous “silver spoon” upbringing as it’s possible in the US. Hard times. She used to be a larger than life character, who once hosted a dinner for NY socialites on ‘the fine art of giving a blow job’. But then, she really blew it. A report from a source familiar with the Metropolitan Detention Center gives a glum picture of Ghislaine Maxwell’s present conditions. She is in the women’s section and believed to be confined to a solitary cell. Because of the past history of the MDC, it is not impossible to suspect that Ghislaine could be having sexual relations with one or more corrections officers, either male or female. Her available wealth would permit her to buy some privileges directly from the corrections officers who could smuggle in items for her. MDC has a history of guards, male and female, enjoying sex with prisoners and smuggling in everything from alcohol to cell phones to drugs. While she is not enjoying what anyone would call a privileged life, and is most likely [because of Covid protocols] confined to her cell, dank and cold [in summer] perhaps as much as 23-24 hours per day and possibly getting only one hot meal per day, our source says, with her wealth and talent to charm, if there is any privilege, any opportunity, any luxury to enjoy at MDC, she is enjoying it. Of course, she is probably under near-constant surveillance, for no guard wants to go to prison for letting her get murdered or commit suicide – as did her former lover Epstein. It is not known how frequently she is meeting with lawyers in special rooms set aside for the purpose. But an MDC source tells Frank Report that prison officials are known to eavesdrop on those conversations with lawyers and defendants and do so on high profile cases. Whether they report to the prosecution what they learn is unknown. In the end, Maxwell has a hard road to hoe and will remain in the brutal and unsanitary MDC until she stands trial or makes a plea deal or dies. The possibility of additional charges other than those currently charged against her – for hebephilia crimes in the last century – remain a possibility. The late Jeffrey Epstein was a convicted hebephile, a person who has urges for post pubescent but under the age of consent children. Is Ghislaine one also? And are there others, famous and prominent men of power who have indulged as Jeffrey and allegedly Ghislaine have done? The ace in the hole for her, obviously, is, if she has info on other prominent hebephiles that the DOJ for its own partisan or PR reasons might like to selectively prosecute, she can trade that info for a lenient sentence and hopefully not be murdered for doing so. Her former lover, Jeffrey Epstein, might have committed suicide, as the Mainstream Media and the US Govt. urges you to believe, but there are some who find the coincidences, cameras being off, bones broken indicating he was strangled, guards happening to fall asleep as they were assigned to watch the most famous prisoner in the world, such that that it just might cause reasonable people to doubt the official narrative a little more than the corporate media and prison officials would wants us to doubt. The same fate might befall Ghislaine and we may never know just what she did. Whether her crimes were confined to herself and Epstein or whether there was a vast network of hebephiles joining in – or – in fairness to her – she is innocent as she claims, something that a trial, if she makes it to trial, might help us determine. stretcher during the funeral service in Jerusalem’s main convention hall on Nov. 10, 1991. The body is laying on a stretcher, draped in a white Jewish prayer shawl with black stripes as is it tradition of Jewish burials in Israel. (AP Photo/Natik Harnik) Ghislaine is fourth from the left. https://preview.redd.it/vnzmapdilrg51.png?width=432&format=png&auto=webp&s=bde723c918da88ce07aa1091b70c77baa76c0562 https://preview.redd.it/6v6qco3llrg51.png?width=509&format=png&auto=webp&s=7531e39667e4ee9f869b6c56ef8c53e118a8909f https://preview.redd.it/xu6z62snlrg51.png?width=574&format=png&auto=webp&s=c96a9decc1af25e8adc0e31b9cdad1d51c67faee
Where did Pondo get all of his money? Three theories
As we may know, Pondo “The Hair” Pondoson is an entrepreneurial bowling alley owner in Hebra, Hyrule. Pondo’s conceit is simple: pay me 20 rupees. If you roll a strike, you get 300 rupees. If you roll a spare, you get 100 rupees. If you roll anything else - I don’t know. I’m too good at this mini game to have ever rolled anything else. Many of you are likely familiar that bowling at Pondo’s is one of the most popular ways to grind for cash. The absolute fool of a gambler pays 15 to 1 on strikes and 5 to 1 on spares with seemingly no limit to how much cash on hand he’ll pay to fulfill his perverse delight of watching someone throw a snowball down a bumpy hill. But how did he accrue such a massive fortune? He doesn’t seem to have any other form of job or income. His lodge is in one of the most desolate and remote regions in the nation of Hyrule. What gives? I posit three theories as to where this sketchy bowling maniac got his nearly unlimited wealth and why he won’t give me 10,000 rupees to give to the last great fairy without making me dance like a puppet for his devious glee. Theory 1: Pondo’s lodge lays on top of the source vein for all rupees (or at least silver and gold rupees) mined pre-minting within Hyrule. It’s kind of on a hilly mountainous area below the Hebra tower. There could be hidden access somewhere within his lodge, and he could have goons or cronies mining away for him. The root of this theory is that this would make him doubtlessly infinitely wealthy - think of a literal gold mine - with relatively little outward signs if it’s a small enough operation. The main failing of this is that it would be a tremendous logistical effort we don’t see any evidence of, and that the sick creep wouldn’t work a day in his life. Theory 2: Pondo is involved in serious underground gambling rings, and he’s very deep in debt. The bowling game is a Ponzi scheme in which every rupee he lends to you is borrowed from someone else - probably a Goron. The idea is that you’ll suck at bowling so he’ll make back any possible losses - the same way a casino or arcade might work - but in reality you’ve watched that YouTube video and are basically counting cards. However, he’s powerless to do anything about it as it would expose his scheme or he’s too stupid/stubborn/desperate to call it quits. I believe if he continues to hemorrhage money, debt zora’s will come and whoop him sideways. Theory 3: Pondo is a retired bowling legend who ran the same hustle on others. He’s won so much he doesn’t mind paying out, as you’ll never even scratch his earnings and if he goes broke he’s got the stuff to go back on the road. This one fits most with his outward commentary, such as mentioning he’s staying out in the freezing cold risking Moblin and frostbite all because he loves the pins so much. Presumably that love was once an electric snow bowling career. I will not be acknowledging his puns. Thank you.
Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words, continuing in the footsteps of daprice82. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives. • PREVIOUS • 1987 FUTURE YEARS ARCHIVE: The Complete Observer Rewind Archive by daprice82
The Bunkhouse Stampede Finals and Royal Rumble are in the books, and as a head-to-head it’s best described as a stalemate. Neither show is what Dave would consider among the best cards he’s ever seen, and from the perspective of a tv viewer they were about what you’d expect. No strong overall lineup for either, and what was delivered wasn’t spectacular either. WWF had the edge in glitz, but not as much as usual because of the live factor meaning they couldn’t rely on post-production editing tricks. Here’s a sentence that describes a typical Raw today: “The three-hour show had too many replays and looked like it may have dragged in spots if you were there live.” Dave’s gotten some word from people who were there for the Bunkhouse finals live, and all rated it terribly as a live experience. From the tv viewer perspective, though, it was better than Starrcade despite some major issues (Dave says they owe the audience an explanation for why the Rock & Roll Express and Steve Williams were absent, as well as for the lack of Mike Rotunda vs. Sting which was pushed on WTBS half an hour before the show).
Dave’s tired of writing a lot of the same complaints about NWA, but they do seem to be responding to fans. They’re going to start showing the finishes to matches that go off the air on the following week’s show and have made changes to the announce desk. Jim Ross did a great job on ppv and toned back on calling every match an all-time classic like he did at Starrcade. But there were eight no-shows among the wrestlers and on Thursday night they had a terrible show in Los Angeles. Most of the no-shows were guys they pulled from the card to save money on flights. The Bunkhouse Finals were advertised with a 7 pm start time, but many of the tickets had 8 pm printed on them, and the show itself actually started at 6:35. Pm and ended at 9 pm, so those arriving at 8 missed most of the show. Not all the no-shows can be blamed on the promotion (Mighty Wilbur got injured, Rock & Roll Express appear to have up and quit), but some kind of explanation needs to be made for the fans. Between all that, getting chants of “Refund” after the Stampede and Dusty getting booed (which fans watching on tv heard) when he won the finals, NWA has significantly hurt its position in two of the biggest markets in the country in LA and New York. They’re making changes, slowly, but some changes need to be made or they’re going to sink. NWA fans come for action, but you can’t get the kind of action the fans want with the schedule they’re running (contrast to WWF which can get by with less action because their guys are seen as stars and the fans want to see the stars). Doing cross-country double shots on weekends is killing NWA, and they need to make new stars. Turning Flair face, since he’s more popular than almost anyone else, isn’t even something to do right now because Luger’s turn is in full throttle and they don’t have a heel to take up the slack. They could turn Dusty heel and have him feud with the Road Warriors, but they won’t.
In the past few weeks, NWA has managed to lose several guys they really shouldn’t have. Terry Taylor is gone apparently because the office had it in for him because of when he left the promotion in 1985. Big Bubba Rogers had become a good worker and had a great gimmick going, but WWF poached him. Rock and Roll Express apparently quit because they were unhappy about their push (though Dave thinks despite their ability and work, they’ve been on borrowed time for nine months now). Dave gives Steve Williams 50/50 odds of coming back and just kind of gestures to UWF as explanation. Sean Royal quit, and Chris Champion, Eddie Gilbert, and Brad Armstrong are all but disappeared. And more are looking to get out. Dave hates writing all this stuff about what Crockett’s doing wrong on the front page, especially when he’s been talking about it for months, and especially because he’s a fan of the NWA. He wouldn’t classify himself as a fan of WWF, but they’ve earned his respect with what they’ve done to take the business to another level and in the next two months he expects them to blow the whole wrestling business wide open. But WWF’s success isn’t the reason for NWA’s problems. WWF doing counterprogramming has made Crockett earn less money than he would have unopposed, and Dusty probably books himself the way he does because he knows WWF won’t steal him (spoilers: WWF gets Dusty in just over a year) and it’s hard to leave the limelight, but WWF isn’t the reason for most of Crockett’s issues.
According to the newspapers this morning, Wrestlemania IV will take place in Atlantic City’s Convention Center. Capacity is 16,000. There were rumblings of Vince being close to a deal in Vegas for either UNLV Gym or Caesar’s Palace, so Atlantic City’s a surprise. Wrestlemania is going to be more focused on ppv than closed-circuit this year, apparently. But most of the audience can’t get ppv, so they’ll still need closed-circuit in major cities.
Two weeks after Wrestlemania will be the Crockett Cup. Place is to be announced, and Dave thinks it’s high time Crockett re-establishes working relationships with at least one or two other North American promotions in order to help make the Cup a big event. They just don’t have the talent roster this year to get away with doing otherwise.
A correction on Starrcade: Dave reported a 6.6 percent buy-rate, but the reality was a 3.3 percent buy-rate. Dave heard they got 20,000 buys and just assumed it was of the 300,000 homes available on cable, but forgot to factor in the 300,000 homes it was also available in via satellite. Dave’s received reports that there were 6 million potential homes for the Bunkhouse finals, but that seems high to him. Even matching the buyrate of Starrcade at that number would mean over $3 million in gross revenue, and Dave doesn’t think they were remotely close to that.
- Anyway, Dave goes through the Bunkhouse finals. An estimated 7,000 were in the arena, and the dark match was Sting and Jimmy Garvin beating the Sheepherders by DQ. Nikita Koloff retained the NWA TV title against Bobby Eaton in a 20 minute draw. -2 stars. Larry Zbyszko beat Barry Windham for the Western States Title, with the match starting slow and getting very good in the last ten minutes. 3.5 stars. Road Warrior Hawk beat Ric Flair by DQ in the NWA World Title match. 3.75 stars. Dusty Rhodes won the Bunkhouse Stampede finals. Lots of blood, a lot of guys going the distance you wouldn’t expect to have the stamina to do so (the match was 26 minutes long), and it was exactly what was promised and was good stuff. 3 stars.
- As for the Royal Rumble, the crowd appeared to be nearly sold out with almost 18,000 in attendance. Ricky Steamboat beat Rick Rude by DQ. Heavy with rest holds and stalling before the final two minutes had them trading near falls constantly and getting good heat from it. 2 stars. The Jumping Bomb Angels won the WWF Women’s Tag Titles from the Glamour Girls in a 2/3 falls match. They started behind with Judy Martin getting the first fall, then the Angels won two straight falls with each Angel pinning Judy Martin (sunset flip and double missile dropkicks, respectively). It was a good match, but not great - the Angels missed a lot of moves and seemed to be out of shape. 3 stars. Jum Duggan won the Royal Rumble, last eliminating One Man Gang. The match was much better than Dave anticipated, and the match went on roughly at the same time as the Bunkhouse finals match. Better camera work in it, and Dave notes that WWF seems to have fudged the two minute intervals after a bit. 3.5 stars. The Islanders beat the Young Stallions (Paul Roma and Jim Powers; Dave’s nickname for them is The Barbie Dolls) in two straight falls. He makes a weird joke about a submission actually working on a pushed guy (Haku submitted Roma with a Boston crab) making him go out for “Oriental food” afterwards because it was so surprising. I’m too confused to even know what to make of the line. 2.5 stars.
Outside the matches, Royal Rumble had some other stuff. Andre and Hogan had a contract signing for the Main Event, where Andre slammed Hogan’s head into the table and pushed the table onto him. Dave’s amazed people buy Hogan as a face, because there’s just something naturally dislikable about people who act the way Hogan does and he thinks Vince could probably get Lee Harvey Oswald over as a face. Dino Bravo attempted to set a world bench press record. Of course, the weights were as legit as the half a million dollars Dusty supposedly won, but Bravo’s supposedly able to bench over 600 lbs legit. Jesse Ventura helped him with “715 lbs” and then claimed he didn’t help at all (the Road Warriors are scheduled to bench on the 30th and were originally planned to use legit weights, but they’ll have to use bogus weights to keep from looking weak next to WWF’s monsters now). Anyway, now they’ll bill Bravo as unofficial bench record holder, and that should get him heat because of the obvious cheating.
Next up then for WWF is The Main Event on February 5. Dave’s told not to worry about Andre, because his back is in much better shape than last year. He and Hogan are practicing daily and have worked out the gist of the match. Dave says you can be sure to expect Ted DiBiase to interfere somehow on the 5th.
Stampede is continuing to do good business and nearly selling out all their big shows. Chris Benoit and Great Gama get 4 stars (from Trent Walters, who I guess submitted the reports for the matches in Edmonton) for their Commonwealth Title match from January 9 in Edmonton.
[Stampede] Jason the Terrible has been made an “honorary member” of Bad Company, Bruce Hart and Brian Pillman’s tag team. So now in addition to the hockey mask he’s also got sunglasses over the hockey mask and a bandana and a black leather jacket. The whole getup is hilarious.
Do you remember Central States? Mike George won the WWA World Title tournament on January 23. They had 800 fans. Match ended on blood stoppage.
Speaking of blood, Keiji Mutoh is headed to Puerto Rico.
Tatsumi Fujinami and Kengo Kimura won the IWGP World Tag Titles from Yoshiaki Fujiwara and Kazuo Yamazaki on January 18. Riki Choshu and Super Strong Machine were originally slated to face the tag champs, but Choshu injured his knee and had to miss the match. Dave expects Choshu and Machine to face Fujinami and Kimura on February 7. He then goes on about how bad Choshu’s luck has been lately. Dave thinks he was supposed to win the tournament, except the Maeda shoot happened, and he was definitely supposed to win the tag titles (the match was scheduled for his hometown and New Japan actually does nice things for wrestlers in front of their home audiences). And with all the work they’ve put into getting Choshu on tv, it’s surprising they’ve phased him down the card so much from where he was.
Lots of stuff about Vader’s look in New Japan. On December 27 he wore long tights and had Road Warrior Hawk’s hair, and it didn’t get him over at all. On January 4 he had a mask and full bodysuit to hide his size. January 11 saw him ditch the bodysuit and keep the mask. The evolution of a mastodon, I guess.
Antonio Inoki began negotiations with Fuji TV after TV Asahi scheduled NJPW tv to move to midnight Mondays, and TV Asahi caved. They’ll now be on a 5 pm Saturday time slot. It’s not as good as their old Monday evening slot, but it’s not a death slot like midnight Monday.
Akira Maeda turned down NJPW’s plan to have him go to the U.S. Also, he and NJPW are fighting over his contract. They offered him a new contract for 1988 with a 15% pay cut and he’s not willing to sign it.
There are rumors that Inoki will wrestle Koji Kitao (the sumo wrestler mentioned a few weeks back) at the Tokyo Dome in April. Kitao is 24 years old and 6’5.5”, weighing 345 lbs. The story of his exit from Sumo is he apparently lost his temper and started kicking one of his sponsors (who is 92 years old) and the knocked his stable master’s wife through a sliding door. Dave’s been told if this match does happen, it could draw very big. Kitao is denying he’s going into wrestling (nope). Kitao was made a yokozuna in 1986, just before he turned 23, because the sumo hierarchy felt they needed a new young star to create interest in the younger generation of fans. But Kitao liked the party lifestyle and didn’t care for tradition, and sumo does not tolerate that. But you can’t demote a yokozuna, and that made him controversial (it would turn out that most of this was made up because Kitao’s stablemaster didn’t like him and felt he was underperforming and wanted him out - more on Kitao’s sumo years here if you want to read it). Turns out sumo is kind of worked too, though not as much as pro wrestling.
All Japan is promoting a “Martial Arts Olympic” show on April 2 at Sumo Hall, to feature all kinds of stuff. Tiger Mask II and Giant Baba will team against some foreigners, Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling (the group running against AJW) will have two matches on the show (Miss A vs. Harley Saito and Rumi Kazama vs. Xochitl Hamada). There will be boxing, kick boxing, the original Tiger Mask Satoru Sayama’s “shooting” sport he invented, shoot boxing (boxing + wrestling with gloves), and more. The whole show is being billed as a memorial service to Ikki Kajiwara, who created the Tiger Mask cartoon and comic.
When baseball season starts, All Japan’s tv will be moved to 10:30-11:30 pm Sunday nights. Usually they get moved to Saturday afternoon during baseball season, and this shift will lose Baba lots of money and viewers.
While Crockett and McMahon ran big shows on January 24, Giant Baba met with their rivals in Las Vegas. Baba’s plan in the U.S. is to send his guys, as well as Bruiser Brody, Abdullah the Butcher, Jimmy Snuka, Stan Hansen, and Terry Gordy to smaller promotions to help them fight against the big two.
Dave finally saw Hennig vs. Tiger Mask II. Not terrible, but no heat and little action, he thinks. Meanwhile, John Tenta’s improving well, and Baba seems high on Akira Taue, though he’s so new it’s hard to guess what kind of future he has.
[AJW] Yukai Omori’s retirement show will be on February 15. This was announced after her January 15 world title match with Chigusa Nagayo, where she said if she couldn’t win the title she was ending her career. They went 32 minutes to a double count out in the ring after both collapsed.
[Memphis] Lawler vs. Hennig for the AWA Title on January 18 had Lawler’s ring on the line as well. Hennig promised to give his dad the ring if he won, and Larry Hennig was there. The Axe helped Curt win, and Curt gave him the ring, but Lalwer stole it back.
Memphis local prelim wrestler Jerry Bryant has been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Global Wrestling in Florida somehow turned what was an awful live show on January 22 into a good tv show. They taped on Friday night and by Sunday had it polished up into a good looking product. The miracles of post-production. Issues with the live show included starting 30 minutes late, long delays between matches, the ring mic not working, and bad wrestlers. What they lack in wrestling talent, though, they make up for in knowing how to make a tv show that’s on the level of World Class and better than Crockett or AWA.
Continental (Alabama) did a bench press contest between Lord Humongous (not Sid, but Gary Nation) and Doug Furnas. They fudged the weights here, as Humongous did 645 lbs and then Furnas did it twice (his best in competition has been 600) before Humongous pushed the bar down on Furnas and “injured his ribs.”
Apparently the Observer was mentioned positively in the Detroit News by Justice B. Hill in the January 17 issue.
Since Dave started writing this issue, he’s been flooded with fans writing about the Bunkhouse finals. The reaction he’s gotten has largely been negative, with those there live being extra negative about it. Crockett really needs to reserve three hours for the next time they do ppv - going too short pisses the fans off, and ppv viewers expected the show to last past 9 pm. Another difference between WWF and NWA is that WWF always gets their hottest acts on the mic at some point during ppvs and big live specials (twice in the case of Hogan and DiBiase at Royal Rumble), while at Starrcade they didn’t have Flair, Dusty, or Cornette talk once. Instead Jim Garvin gave the worst promo of his career, Michael Hayes was quiet for the first time ever, and they shoved Steve Williams and Nikita Koloff on the mic for some reason. At the Bunkhouse Finals they had no interviews, and getting mic time for Flair or Dusty or Luger while they set up the cage would have been a big help. More of Dave wondering when Crockett will realize they’ve killed the credibility of their world champion and thus killed the drawing power of the belt.
Michael Hayes has apparently quit Crockett and everyone expects him to go back to World Class. And if Steve Williams doesn’t come back, they’ll probably just forget about the UWF Title entirely rather than doing a unification match.
A couple letters this week requesting that Dave keep up the coverage of wrestling in Japan. Another couple letters praising how good Stampede has been lately. Canada and Japan, bringing us the best in wrestling.
Another letter writer asks Dave to realize how offensive it is to refer to a wrestling match as “a total abortion” and to consider that he’s probably offended many female readers of the newsletter. Dave apologizes and says he’ll stop using the term, before doing a “well, actually” bit. It’s a kind of weird response. Judge it for yourselves.
I apologize for that one and will quit using the term. Actually the term abortion for a bad match is a business term just like jobber, mark, babyface and the rest. But there are a few business terms (mainly for ethnic wrestlers and ethnic fans) which are in bad taste that I don’t use, so I’ll add that one to the list.
Tickets for Wrestlemania IV go on sale January 30. The best 2000 seats in the Convention Center are being reserved as freebies for casino high rollers. And as a heads up, this is the location it does take place at. They called it Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino during the show, but it’s the same building. More on that as we get to Wrestlemania.
If Dave can find the space next week, he’s going to talk about whether or not “30 minute matches which ‘tell a story’” work for today’s fans. He really enjoyed the Windham/Blanchard match on tv but there was no crowd reaction, so he’s beginning to wonder if this is even a style that resonates anymore.
Everyone’s asking Dave for predictions about Hogan vs. Andre. So here’s his prediction (and he is way off on many parts of this):
DiBiase will interfere and Andre will pin Hogan on 2/5, however Jack Tunney will prove he can’t be bought and hold the title up so Ted doesn’t get the title, and order a rematch in a cage at WM4 so Ted can’t interfere (and also so Andre can lose without doing a job). Hulk will win on a fluke, and they’ll run Hulk vs. Andre over the summer in your local cities after Hulk gets back from playing Hulk Hogan in the movies.
”There was a clip in Detroit about Hogan, saying that ‘he’s nice[r] than Kirk Gibson, but not by much.’” Gibson’s reputation is of being a total asshole to fans, especially kids.
Crockett is billing FlaiAnderson vs. LugeWindham on Feb. 6 as the first time Flair goes against Lex anywhere. It’s forgivable to forget Lex’s Florida days, but they’ve got FlaiBlanchard vs. LugeRhodes booked for February 2.
Apparently Road Warrior Hawk’s neo-nazi line is just a quote from The Breakfast Club. Okay. So I guess the first letter writer was mishearing him and he’s saying “Neo-maxi-zoom dweebie”? TVtropes gives us this, from the October 3, 1987 episode of NWA World Championship Wrestling: HAWK: "WELL, Tony Schiavone, There Are Two Kinds Of People, as far as me and Animal are concerned. Clamheads and Neo-Maxi Zoom Dweebies." (the Road Warriors consider themselves the latter). And corroborating with the WWE Network, yeah, the line comes through pretty clear. Network 4 minutes in, and yeah, he’s not calling himself a neo-nazi. Definitely an error by that letter writer, and what a weird line for Hawk of all people to utter.
THURSDAY:WWF’s Big Four are born; The Main Event; Rock & Roll Express, Michael Hayes, and Steve Williams update; Tenryu wins all the awards in Japan; and more
Every single Gex Line in Gex: Enter the Gecko (Re-upload due to formatting issue)
"Get your stinking paws off me you damn dirty ape!" '"It's tail time!"' '"YYYEEESSS!"' '"That's for 12 years of Full House!"' '"Now, that's what I call getting some tail."' '"All right! It's tail time!"' '"My tail's gonna kick your butt!"' '"Time to go postal!" (sounding like a robot)' '"Say hello to the floor!"' '"Put that in your pipe and smoke it."' '"I'm doing this for you!"' '"Gecko-chop baby yeah!"' '"Gecko-chop baby!"' '"Karate-chop!"' '"Watch me use my tail to kick your butt."' '"This is for Mr. Sinatra."' '"You're nothing see, you're nothing!"' '"I'll give you such a pinch!"' '"Move like a butterfly sting like a gecko!"' '"This is for all the angels in heaven."' '"Eat this!"' "File this under 'ouch'!" '"Judo-chop baby!"' '"Judo-chop baby yeah!"' "Watch me use my tail to kick your behind." "You mean I'm not 99.9% clean?" '"Are you after that old sandwich in my pocket?"' '"Hello there, my secret friend!"' '"I ain't gonna make!"' '"I got a mate!"' '"You are a secret frie"Mmmm... buttery." '"Tastes are licking and...ehhhhhhh we heard it."' '"Spock, load the tongue."' '"Burp!"' '"That's the sweet stuff darling."' '"Mmm... TVs instead of potatoes."' '"All right that's the spot."' "3 more I have the whole set!" '"Oh gimme, gimme, gimme!"' '"I'll take one of those, and some of these."' '"If this weren't a video game, I'd be on my way to prison!"' '"Sweet, like candy!"' '"Need it! Need it! Need it!"' '"For me! You shouldn't have!"' '"One for me and one for me!"' "Licking my way to the top!" '"A little tongue now, a lot of tail later."' '"Pardon my tongue darling."' '"Slip of the tongue."' '"Slip of the tongue! Mhmhmh."' '"Slip of the tongue, baby!"' "NOW CUT THAT OUT!" (Gex also says this quote in a somewhat high pitch) '"Warp core breach is imminent, Captain!"' '"Cut stunt gecko!"' '"You never knocked me down!"' '"Easy..." (angrily)' '"Damn it Jim, I'm a doctor, not a pin cushion!"' '"Cut my eyes, I can't see!"' '"THAT'S NOT IN THE SCRIPT!"' '"Um, that's not in the script..."' '"Must... regain... balance."' '"Uh, someone yell cut!"' '"Mental note: get a tetanus."' '"Body blow! Body blow!"' '"It hurts!"' "Someone yell 'Cut'!" '"Stunt gecko!"' '"Where's the stunt gecko?"' '"You never knocked me down!"' '"Easy..." (angrily)' '"NOW CUT THAT OUT!"' "Damn this pesky gravity!" '"Damn this pesky gravity to hell!"' '"Prepare to abandon ship."' '"If I were real this would hurt."' '"Mr. Wizard!"' '"Aaaaah!"' "Prepare to abandon ship." '"Geronimo."' '"Geronimo!"' '"Oh dear."' "They call him Flipper, Flipper." (singing) '"SHARK!!!!"' '"SHAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRKKKKKKK!!!"' '"Piranhas? What Piranhas?"' '"Piranhas? Huddle! Huddle! Huddle! Huddle! Huddle!"' "I hope my fake hip is rust-proof!" (in an old man's voice)' "Is it just me or am I ENGULFED IN FLAMES?!" "I'm flaming--in the manly way..." "FLAME ON!" "I am the god of hellfire!" "Pepto...Bismol!" "Indigestion!" "Flame on!" "I think I'm having a hot flush." "Indi...gestion!" "Pepto...Bismol "Woah." '"WOAH!"' '"ow."' '"OWOWOWOW!"' "Oh no, I'm too young to have a second childhood!" '"The government told me that these experiments were over!"' '"YOU'RE DESPICABLE!" (in a Daffy Duck like voice while commenting on the Daffy Duck costume)' '"Note to self: Don't drink tap water at Jerry Garcia's."' '"Note to self: Don't step on any brown mushy rocks!"' '"Note to self: Don't buy rocket sled made by ACME."' '"This is really about your father isn't it?"' '"Damn IRS!"' '"Will Cheech and/or Chong, report to the front desk!"' '"Hey! I feel like I'm trapped in Boy George's pants!"' '"Look, I just wanted a gift shop in the bathroom."' '"My inner child is coming out and it hurts!"' '"And remember kids, never buy a marvolay from a guy with a top hat."' '"This is like a luau at Mel Blanc's house!"' '"We're on the road to nowhere!" (singing)' '"Have fun storming the castle!" (when castle is encountered)' '"What did you flunk out of nasty camp?"' '"Ah to see the world as Keith Richards does."' '"Brought to you by up-Chuck Jones."' "Ah, to see the world as Keith Richards does." '"This is about your father, isn't it?"' '"Note to self: Don't step on any brown mushy rocks!"' '"I feel like I'm in Boy George's pants!"' '"Shouldn’t you be on a can of tuna?"' '"This is no time for cartoon jokers!"' '"That’s not all, folks!"' "Has anyone seen Carol-Anne in here?" (entering room with the DON'T GO INTO THE LIGHT sign) "Bring out the gimp." (encountering floating skeleton) "Hey cutie." (encountering floating skeleton) "Hello pretty." (encountering floating skeleton) "Bring out your dead!" (encountering floating skeleton) "I understand the head throwing, but the dress?" (encountering floating skeleton) "Is your skull a metaphor?" (encountering floating skeleton) "Jimmy Hoffa, white courtesy phone, Jimmy Hoffa." (encountering floating skeleton) "You, my friend, have an eating disorder." (encountering floating skeleton) "Sorry Mr. Presley, hahaha not yet thanks." "The imperial fleet would never follow us in to a floating furniture field." (encountering floating furniture) "Well that's real scary guys, a floating toilet" (encountering floating furniture) "The odds of navigating a floating furniture field are 3327 to 1." (encountering floating furniture) "Pat, I'll take the floating chair for $200, and the rest on account?" (encountering floating furniture) "Well we met our panel (chuckles) walls... panels, heh..." (encountering wall monsters) "You moved the headstones, but you didn't move the bodies!" "What are you, Larry King's barber? Ha! Ha! You're alright!" (encountering frankenstein monster) "Nice haircut, when did we enlist" (encountering frankenstein monster) "Red Side Story auditions are down the hall." (encountering demented dolls) "And stab and kick and 2!" (encountering demented dolls) "Go stab someone your own size!" (encountering demented dolls) "Let me guess: your parents don't understand you." (encountering demented dolls) "Carrot Top, is that you" (encountering demented dolls) "West Side Story auditions are down the hall" (encountering demented dolls) "Benihana not hiring?" (encountering demented dolls) "Hmm yes, but can you make julienne fries?" (encountering demented dolls) "And stab, and kick, and two!" (encountering demented dolls) "Which one of you played Coco in Fame" (encountering demented dolls) "Do I ammuse you? Like a clown?" "I ain't afraid of no ghosts!" (in a scared voice) "Ugly is as Ugly does." "No! No! No! I wanted the pit there and the pendulum there!" "Reminds me of Halloween at Rip Taylor's." "Uh, hi, I'm here for the real-world interview?" "It beats the Matterhorn, what are you going to do?" "Who forgot to pay the gravity bill?" (encountering floating furniture) "This place is bigger than Drew Carey's bar tab." "Heeeeeeeere's Gexy!" "Welcome to Under This Old House." "Man, Hef has let his place go" "The ad says Beverly Hills adjacent." "I hate these low budget b-levels." "This house is now clean." "Today is a good day to die!" "Behind one of these doors is a brand new car!" "Don't take career advice from Joe Piscopo." "Redrum, Redrum!" "Reminds me of my bother's dorm room." "Axe in the chest for Scatman Crothers." "This is what Tim Burton thinks about when he's in the tub." "So this is never-never land, you'd never guess it from the outside." "FedEx for Roger Corman." "Lily, have you seen grandpa?" "The real estate wizardry of Tom Vu at work." "Welcome to the New York city mass transit system." "I am most certainly not in the vicinity of Kansas anymore." "You have the swan-like grace of a young Nixon." "Freddy, Jason; Jason, Freddy." "Believe me, you smell like I feel." "Ladies and gentlemen, Tom Arnold's acting coach." "Heeeeeeere's Gexy!" '"Now who would live in a room like this?"' '"This place is bigger than Oliver Reed's bar tab..."' '"Hey, the ad said Beverly Hills adjacent!"' '"I hate these low budget b-levels." "Shut down all the garbage mashers on the detention level!" '"Hmmm.... www.dork.com!"' '"What is this? Outtakes from Deep Space 9!?"' '"How did I get in Bill Gates' head?" '"All this technology still can't explain why David Hasslehoff is so popular."' '"I love that guy. He's not housebroken."' '"This is like an all-nighter at Richard Simmons' house."' '"The only thing this place doesn't have is a baby gap."' '"All this technology so fat guys can hear Rush Limbaugh?"' '"All this technology and Shatner still can't get a good hairpiece."' '"Coming soon the Wizard of Oz 2000!"' '"I feel like I'm in the Wiz!"' '"Boys, Tron's not gonna work once. It's not gonna work twice!"' '"Ehhh! I should have become a Maytag repair man!"' '"Lady, I don't know who wired this for you, but none of this stuff is grounded."' '"Uh, lady, you gotta change your lint filter."' "Let's see.... www.dork.com!" '"How'd I get in Bill Gates' head?"' '"Boys, Tron didn't work once. It's not working twice!"' "Welcome to Jurassic Park, keep your eyes peeled for sleestaks and other bad special effects." '"In a land before time, when Saturday Night Live was funny."' '"WILMA!!!!"' '"I'll take 'Places I Can Burn To Death' for $100, Alex."' '"Marshall, Will, and Holly. On a routine expedition." (singing)' '"Add 1 million years, two white tigers and we're in Siegfried and Roy!"' '"One day soon, it'll be a smoke belching factory here!"' '"The difference between this and Hades is that there's no Kathy Lee Gifford."' '"Dr.Zaius, would an ape make a human doll that talks?!"' '"The natives will trade four of their women for the girl with the golden hair."' '"That's a spicy meatball."' '"GOODNESS GRACIOUS, GREAT BALLS OF FIRE!!!"' "And this is just one of the forty thousand rooms in Aaron Spelling's house!"' '"I haven't seen blasts like this since taco night at James Earl Jones' house."' '"OK who's job was it to mow the lawn?"' '"If Prince was a snail these would be his tracks."' '"There's a joke here about snail trails but I'm not gonna tell it."' '"Evolve or get out of my way pal!"' '"Hey it's my mother-in-law!"' "If this is the best they've got around here in six months we'll be running this planet"' '"Gecko shall not kill gecko!"' '"Soylent green is geckos!"' '"I should've come back here to fill my lava lamp hohoho!"' '"I am the lizard king, hear my roar!"' '"Memo to Gilligan. Try building a raft." (in an area with lava rafts)' '"A raft! How convenient! Those programmers think of everything." (in an area with lava rafts)' "Welcome to Jurassic Park" '"The natives will give you four of their women for the girl with the golden hair."' "My name is Caine, I seek water." '"I'm looking for the two small girls that sing for Mothra."' '"What's harder, getting through this level or divvying up the check?"' '"I'll beat this level but in an hour I'll be hungry for another."' '"I'm Tom Vu, you can be a millionaire!"' '"Dr. Jones, I'll never get all three Sankara Stones."' '"Ugh, where's Short Round when you need him?"' '"I'm lost in Dick Dale's colon."' '"I knew I shouldn't have hired Margaret Cho as my landscaper."' '"With the level six you get egg roll."' '"Ahh, ancient Chinese level."' '"Oh hoho no, not the Hellraiser box."' '"Yes I'm here to pick up my laundry."' '"This is going to be one expensive easter egg hunt" (when breaking vases)' '"Domo arigato Mr. digital roboto, domo."' '"Wax on, wax off."' '"Nice robe Mr. Hefner."' '"Come on Jake, it's Chinatown."' '"Yes I'm here to pick up my laundry."' '"Why yes I'm here to pick up my laundry."' '"You don't match the carpet and you have to go."' '"Ancient Chinese Secret, huh?"' '"Now listen to me grasshopper."' '"I'm having 'Nam flashbacks, and I wasn't even there!"' '"Waiter? Just box up the evil, I'll take it home."' '"Is this the Year of the Gecko?"' '"I'm looking for a man called Scaramanga."' '"Hmm, reminds me of Jackie Chan's bathroom."' '"So, this is where all the missing socks go."' '"Man, this place smells like ducks."' '"The things I do for Mooshoo..."' '"I'm the ultimate weapon, baby, yeah!"' '"Hi, I'm looking for the two small girls who sing for Mothra."' '"Akira to white courtesy phone, Akira to white courtesy phone."' '"Where's Shortround when you need him?"' '"Last time I was here, I was dressed as a woman. Yes!"' '"What's harder, getting through this level or digging up the check?"' '"Oh, great, the dream sequence from Brazil again."' '"Hey where's Tom Vu and the geishas?" ‘ "Waiter, just box up the evil and I'll take it home." "Captain, they are a bizarre alien race that find Adam Sandler funny." '"The princess is here in the detention level."' '"Has anyone seen Fox Mulder's sister?' '"There's a gecko on my tail, R2, see what you can do with it!"' '"First sign of an Ewok, I'm out of here."' '"Meet Gex gecko"' '"Screw the Force, who's got a grenade?"' '"I feel like a walking dutch oven."' '"I don't think that's good air."' '"Spock, can you read me?"' '"This is major Gex to ground control" ' '"We don't serve you kind in here!"' '"Are you related to the cartoon trash can at the movies?"' '"Are you fluent in gettin' your butt kicked?"' ''"You are unwise to lower your defenses.'"'' '"Alright boys, phasers on stun"' '"Tell me again the difference between the future and Las Vegas."' '"I knew Roswell would open up a casino."' '"Scotty, beam me into an Ivy League Sorority House."' '"Shouldn't I be wearing a lead apron?"' '"Well I guess this means I can't have children."' '"Two to beam up."' '"Keep the dribbles, I just want the quadrotriticale."' '"Aren't you a little short for a stormtrooper?"' '"Well, if it isn't Doctor Jellyfinger."' '"Is that a lightsaber are or you just happy to see me?"' '"I can't see a thing in this helmet."' '"Daddy wants air! Daddy wants air!"' '"Gexy wants new helmet! Gexy wants new helmet!"' '"This is radio 3 erect signing off."' '"Out of the way, Roseanne!"' "500 channels and still nothing on."' '"At least I'm not at the DMV."' '"Terminator? Phone call for a Mr. Terminator."' '"Welcome to the only thing more evil than IRS Headquarters."' '"So this is where they decided to change Coke."' '"Looks like we got a fly in the spider's web"' '"Screens up."' '"The horror!"' "Welcome to the only thing more evil than the Inland Revenue Headquarters." "And they said testing A-bombs on this island would have no effect." "Someone who is not me could stand to lose a few pounds." "I've got ten seconds to save the world." "Welcome to this week's episode of 'Touched By An Uncle'." '"All that work and I'm back where I started. It's just like college."' '"My god! This is New York! I lived here... Worked here."' "Dead fly martini. Shaken not stirred." '"I am the last gecko."' '"Gecko. Gex Gecko."' "This is the big one! I'm coming Elizabeth!" '"Ladies and gentlemen! The new Fall TV season!"' '"So this is New Jersey."' "Evening, Mr. Picasso!" '"To boldly go...I'm scared!"' '"Oh William please... Give me a sponge bath.
Pillé este artículo de Bloomberg (ya sé, ya sé), que habla de algunas ideas para salvar la economía ante la pandemia. Dejo un link y copio el artículo por si no lo pueden ver (Está en inglés). Espero sus opiniones.
In economics, there is no Hippocratic oath: First, do no harm. If there were, world leaders would be in serious violation of it. With the noble purpose of saving lives, they are deliberately throttling the global economy. The plan is to put economic activity in a state of suspended animation for weeks or months, get past the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic, and then resuscitate the patient. Necessary? Probably. Dangerous? Undoubtedly. Because this has never been done before at this scale, there are no white-haired elders to guide us. We are going to have to invent the plan as we go, recalibrating as facts emerge. Just as overwhelmed doctors must choose which patients to save and which to let go, we will need to decide which sectors, which companies, and which workers are most in need of and most deserving of a rescue. And eventually we’ll need to make agonizing trade-offs between saving lives and saving livings. The more people are saved from the coronavirus through draconian shutdowns, the more livelihoods will be broken, in some cases irreparably. President Trump said on March 24 that he would like the U.S. economy “opened up and just raring to go by Easter,” which is April 12. However, the more we ease up on quarantines and social distancing to allow the economy to breathe, the more patients will have their breath stolen by this frightening lung disease. Martin Eichenbaum of Northwestern University and others calculate in a new working paper that the U.S. could save 500,000 lives through serious containment measures vs. the base case of doing nothing—but at the cost of knocking 10% off economic output in 2020. No doubt, it’s going to be ugly. Here is one principle for policymakers to consider as they make decisions on our behalf: If you must do harm to the economy, please make it reversible. Hurt, but don’t kill. Bend it, but do not break it. The sudden stop could cause hundreds of thousands of small and medium-size enterprises to go out of business—to break. Some will quickly reemerge, which is fine. But in many cases the loss will be permanent. High-functioning teams that have taken years to assemble will break up. Synergies will be lost. Workers who thrived in a particular niche will flounder, seeking jobs from new employers who don’t understand who they are or what they can do. “Much of the information in our society is embedded within corporations. The bankruptcy of an enterprise leads to the loss of organizational and informational capital—a negative shock to the economy,” the Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz said in 2014 in a meeting of the International Economic Association by the Dead Sea in Jordan, where he gave the presidential address. The answer, of course: Keep companies intact as much as possible. Restarting the economy after Covid-19 recedes will be easier if the enterprises that make and sell things are ready to go. It’s also a kindness: “Losing a business to failure—especially one that has been built up over time—is a devastating blow to the owners and their families, who are often involved,” economist David Levy, himself the chairman of a family business, the Jerome Levy Forecasting Center in Mount Kisco, N.Y., writes in an email. “Dreams destroyed, fortunes destroyed, lives destroyed.” So what are we to do? Well, one elegant way to keep companies afloat is Germany’s Kurzarbeit, or short work time, in which the government subsidizes the salaries of workers who would otherwise be laid off. Kurzarbeit helped Germany snap back from the financial crisis faster than any other European country, says Markus Brunnermeier, a German-born economist at Princeton. Several Scandinavian countries have followed Germany’s lead, and the United Kingdom announced a similar program on March 20. An alternative is to lend money to businesses freely and cheaply until the crisis passes. The Federal Reserve is all over that when it comes to big companies, financing their commercial paper and announcing on March 23 that it will even buy corporate bonds directly—a major departure for the central bank. (“Wow, just wow,” George Rusnak, co-head of fixed income strategy at Wells Fargo Investment Institute, said on Bloomberg Television.) Getting help to smaller companies, which rely on banks rather than the markets to raise money, is a tougher problem. The $2 trillion bill that was nearing congressional approval on March 25 includes $350 billion for lending to businesses through banks involved with the Small Business Administration. Another idea, from Brunnermeier, is for the Fed to charge banks a negative interest rate—that is, pay them, via the discount window—for rolling over their loans to small and medium enterprises. In an ordinary recession, encouraging banks to “evergreen” their loans—give new money to debtors so they can pay interest on their old loans—would be considered malpractice. It would be viewed as wasting precious capital on propping up zombies instead of directing it to new, job-creating investment. But this is not an ordinary recession. The companies that need help are not zombies. Keeping them afloat is not sinful but essential. “It’s a 180-degree change in mindset,” Brunnermeier says. Stiglitz, the Nobel laureate, who teaches at Columbia, advocates a “super Chapter 11” that would avert mass insolvency. In a 2010 paper, he and the University of Warwick’s Marcus Miller wrote that the bankruptcy code “is essentially designed for idiosyncratic events in which assets may be disposed of at going market prices,” which is emphatically not the case in a crisis in which no one wants to catch a falling knife. Under a super Chapter 11, they wrote, a government-sponsored institution “would consolidate the troubled businesses and decide simultaneously—and this is the key—how all of them would be resolved in a common procedure.” That procedure could involve, for example, swapping debt for shares across the board. Deborah Lucas of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has spent most of her career studying the federal government as a financial institution. She was chief economist of the Congressional Budget Office and now directs the Golub Center for Finance and Policy at the MIT Sloan School of Management. “You don’t want to blow up viable, going concerns, and that’s the biggest risk in the current situation,” she says. “It’s worth paying a lot to avoid that.” Companies should not get direct aid such as grants, she says, because any company will take cash that’s offered, even if the managers know their situation is unsustainable. Loans work better—managers won’t usually take a loan they don’t expect to pay back, because a default could land them in bankruptcy court. Based on her experience in the financial crisis, Lucas says it’s a mistake to put conditions on loans, such as requiring that employers retain workers. Many managers would rather pass up the money than tie their hands, she predicts. Bailouts aren’t popular. When I touched on this theme in an earlier article, I got reactions on Twitter such as, “A morally bankrupt money grab for the investor class.” The Left wants help for workers, not capitalists. And there’s a segment of the libertarian Right, including many economists, that says the free market does a fine job of redeploying resources—workers, machines, patents, trademarks, etc.—to their highest and best use when a company fails. In the financial crisis, “instead of bailing out banks, U.S. policymakers should have allowed the standard process of bankruptcy to operate,” Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron wrote in the libertarian Cato Journal in 2009. So, yes, individuals need help, too. Beefing up unemployment benefits and extending their duration is a no-brainer. Forbearance on debt repayment also makes sense. It’s not only companies, after all, but households that should be kept from breaking. Meanwhile, the process of rescuing companies can go horribly astray. Ben Hunt, co-founder and chief investment officer of Second Foundation Partners, calculates that stock buybacks by the four biggest airlines exceeded their free cash flow from 2014 through 2019—enriching executives and shareholders but leaving the companies unprepared for a crisis. “The raccoons and high-functioning sociopaths are out in force on this, looking to get their private losses socialized and their private gains locked in,” Hunt wrote on March 19 on his website, Epsilon Theory. It’s reasonable to impose conditions on the aid companies get, as the new bill does. Hunt would put tight caps on executive compensation; fire and replace board chairs; require the companies to raise money by selling shares, even at today’s unfavorable prices; and prohibit buybacks and dividends until the government loans are repaid. Taking part ownership in companies in return for emergency aid—as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has discretion to demand—would give taxpayers some of the upside, at the cost of edging the U.S. a tad closer to Bernie Sanders-style socialism. It’s also reasonable to pick and choose which industries to rescue. Airlines may be vital infrastructure, but casinos and cruise lines are not. In keeping with the philosophy of bend-don’t-break, aid should be concentrated on the most breakable kinds of companies, which tend to be ones that are light on physical assets. Once the employees of asset-light companies disperse, there is little or no value left. Small businesses, which employ almost half of the U.S. workforce, are more likely than big ones to be asset-light. Companies with valuable physical assets can bounce back relatively easily. The failure of a shale-oil producer does no harm to the hydrocarbons still in the ground. Cruise lines still have their ships, airlines have their jets, and casinos still have their glitzy gambling halls, which can quickly resume operation once the virus all-clear sounds. Politics should play as little role as possible in bailout decisions. Easy to say, hard to enforce. In 2008-09, when the Bush and Obama administrations were trying to rescue General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC, “we worked to fend off attempts by stakeholders on all sides of the issue to meddle in granular decisions over which dealerships to close or which plants to shut down,” Brian Deese, Steven Shafran, and Dan Jester, who concocted the plans, wrote in a chapter of First Responders, a new book written and edited by financial crisis insiders. The lobbyists are once again out in force, representing everyone from pig farmers to theater owners to exercise-clothing manufacturers. The Trump administration agreed to independent oversight of a fund to support companies. Bailouts of companies and aid to individuals will be fantastically expensive. There’s a good chance that the stimulus plan that was under negotiation on Capitol Hill on March 24 will have to be followed by more. But that’s because the need has never been greater. Think of the government-ordered shutdown of the economy as a heart attack—or to use a more timely metaphor, severe acute respiratory syndrome. Treatment must be aggressive to succeed. Halfway measures and economizing don’t cut it. Whatever is done needs to be done soon. Layoffs have already begun. The more damage businesses suffer, the harder it will be for them to bounce back. As Trump’s March 24 statement goes to show, the political pressure to resume normal economic activity is beginning to intensify. The surest way to maintain support for the restrictions that protect the public from Covid-19 is to alleviate the damage that those restrictions do to the economy. (Updates throughout with details of stimulus bill.)
Disney on Ice, January 16 - 20Your favorite Disney stories come to life at Disney On Ice presents Celebrate Memories! Sail along with Moana on her high-seas adventure and dance with Woody, Buzz and all the Toy Story friends. Feel inspired when love wins in Frozen and dreams come true for the Disney Princesses. Share the excitement and make new memories the whole family will treasure forever! Thu.-Fri. 7 p.m.; Sat. 11 a.m., 3 p.m., 7 p.m.; Sun. noon, 4 p.m., Mon. 1 p.m. , $15-$80 XL Center, 1 Civic Center Plaza, Hartford, CT
Friday, January 17th, 2020:
15th Annual Festival of New Musicals,January 17 - 19The Festival has launched more than 40 new musicals into the universe, sending them across the country, to Broadway, and around the world! Join us for a weekend filled with insider events, seminars, cabarets, and three staged readings of brand-new works as the brightest writers and performers collaborate to create the future of America's greatest art form. Packages & Tickets: Goodspeed's Festival Packages get you access to exclusive events all weekend long! Gold Package: $149, Silver Package: $80, General admission: $25, Students: $15 Fri. & Sat. 7:30 p.m., Sun. 1 p.m., The Goodspeed, 6 Main St. East Haddam, CT
Cabin Fever PJ Party, January 17A fun evening of movement, music and imagination. Geared for families with young children. 6:30 p.m.-7:15 p.m., Pre-registration: $5 per person, $18 family of four. At the door: $7 per person, $25 family of four. Children under 2 free, Roaring Brook Nature Center, 70 Gracy Rd. Canton, CT
Hard Hittin Beer Shuttle, January 17Friday night beer shuttle to Alvarium Beer Co, Five Churches Brewing, Relic Brewing and Kinsmen Brewing. There are three sessions to choose from. $20, includes transportation only. Must pre-purchase tickets online. 6:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m. $20, Relic Brewing, 95 Whiting St. Plainville, CT
Bootlegger’s Bash: Raise a Glass to Prohibition!, January 17Celebrate the 100th anniversary of Prohibition in 1920s style! Dance to jazz music, snap a pic (or your mug shot) in the photo booth, and sample 1920s cocktails. We’re also hosting Hartford Flavor Company for a free tasting of their locally-made liqueurs. Be sure to come dressed in your Gatsby-esque best, you might win a prize for best costume. There will even be a pop-up exhibit of “flapper” dresses from our collection on display. Cocktails and refreshments included. Guests must be 21 or older. Advance tickets can be purchased here, or you can buy tickets at the door. 7 p.m.-9 p.m., $25, Connecticut Historical Society, One Elizabeth St. Hartford, CT
Randy Rainbow Live!, January 17Randy Rainbow (yes, real name) is a comedian, actor, writer, host and Internet sensation best known for his viral comedy videos. His popular series of political spoofs and song parodies have garnered international acclaim and over a hundred million views. He's been called "the best thing about the 2016 GOP race" by Dan Savage and his musical tribute to the first presidential debate of 2016 (“BRAGGADOCIOUS!”) received 28 million views in its first two days. He was subsequently asked by the cast of television's Will & Grace to parodize a song which they performed during a political fundraiser for the 2016 election. Randy has also written for comedian Kathy Griffin and hosted and performed in numerous theatrical events for the Broadway, cabaret and gay communities, as well as for the Tony Awards and some of New York City's most popular night spots including 54 Below, Birdland Jazz Club, XL Nightclub and Therapy NYC where his own weekly show ran for two years. He's been seen as a talking head on VH1 and has been heard regularly as both a guest and co-host on Sirius XM Radio. He is the creator and star of the long-runningBroadwayWorld.comweb series Chewing the Scenery with Randy Rainbow and Last Minute with Randy Rainbow. Please Note: This performance was rescheduled from November 9, 2019. If you previously purchased a ticket for that date, it will be good for the same seat at the January 17 performance. You do not need to exchange your ticket. If you have questions, call the Box office at (860) 444-7373 Ext 1. 8 p.m., $35-$55, Garde Arts Center, 325 State St. New London, CT
Saturday, January 18th, 2020:
Root 63 Variety Tasting, January 18 - 20Is Root 63 your favorite wine? The vineyard now has five of them, so come in for a special tasting of all fove wines which are 100% estate grown, sustainably farmers and produced and bottled on premise. 11 a.m.-5 p.m., $10, $12 with souvenir glass., Sunset Meadow Vineyards, 599 Old Middle St. Goshen, CT
Forest City Public Beer Tour, January 18All inclusive public beer tour to Still Hill Brewing, Forest City, Stubborn Beauty and Tavern at the Armory. What’s Included? - Still Hill Brewing (flight or pint of beer) - Stubborn Beauty (flight or pint of beer) - Forest City Brewing (flight or pint of beer) - Tavern at the Armory (one pint of local beer from tap) + - Sampler plate consisting of jerk jerk chicken wings, shrimp spring rolls and sweet potato fries food\ *Food may change slightly depending on availability. - Safe and Reliable transportation, What to bring: Please bring a photo ID. All passengers must be 21+* Pick-Up Locations: 11:20 a.m.: Double Tree Hotel Bristol - 42 Century Drive, Bristol, CT11:45 a.m.: Middletown Inn - 70 Main St, Middletown, CT, 11:15am - 6:00pm, $95 Bristol Double Tree Hotel Parking Lot, 42 Century Dr., Bristol, CT
Lunar New Year Celebration with Chinese Acrobatics @ Danbury Library, January 18Celebrate Lunar New Year with acrobat Li Liu as she performs amazing stunts and tricks including balancing, plate spinning, ribbon dancing, and more! Learn about the 2000 year old tradition of acrobatics and the rituals and customs that will help begin the year of the Rat. FREE! All ages welcome. Registration recommended.11:30 a.m. Farioly Program Room at Danbury Library, 170 Main St. Danbury, CT
Piff the Magic Dragon, January 18Two shows. Straight from “America’s Got Talent, it’s the greatest magic performing dragon of all time! Don’t miss this night jaw-dropping magic tricks and hysterical comedy, think Larry David in a dragon suit blowing your mind with magic tricks. Voted the Magic Circle’s Stage Magician of the Year in 2014, Piff is keen to point out that, even though he is a magician doing tricks dressed in a dragon suit and definitely plays it for laughs, his act is not really suitable for young children. 5 p.m. & 8 p.m., $40-$65, Ridgefield Playhouse, 80 East Ridge Rd. Ridgefield, CT
Terry Fator, January 18It’s a long journey from Corsicana Texas to the Las Vegas stage, but Terry Fator made it to the top as the headliner at the Mirage Hotel in Vegas for the past 10 years. Terry can impersonate over 100 voices with favorites being Karen Carpenter, Elton John, Garth Brooks, Justin Timberlake, Elvis, Meghan Trainor and Bruno Mars. His cast of characters includes: Winston the Impersonating Turtle; the World’s Greatest Elvis Impersonator; Elton John; Vicki the Cougar; President Donald Trump and annoying neighbor Duggie. 8 p.m., $49-$80, Palace Theater, 100 East Main St. Waterbury, CT
Everclear with Paul Gabriel Blues Band, January 18Everclear has written and recorded some truly iconic 1990s alt-rock hits. And while it’s a virtual surety that no Everclear gig is complete without a rendition of “Santa Monica” and “Father of Mine,” lately the band has found that exploring the full range of past material, especially the “deep cuts,” not only gives fans a rare treat, it also injects new life into the band’s live dynamic. Formed by Art Alexakis in 1991 in Portland, Oregon, Everclear has enjoyed a lengthy career spanning 11 studio releases (three of which went platinum), numerous videos, thousands of shows and accolades that include a 1998 Grammy nomination for Best Rock Instrumental. Like a true survivor, Alexakis has soldiered on through multiple lineup changes over the years. The current touring lineup features longtime members Dave French (guitar) and Freddy Herrera (bass), as well as drummer Brian Nolan. 8 p.m. $35-$70, VIP $185., The Klein Auditorium, 910 Fairfield Ave. Bridgeport, CT
Sunday, January 19th, 2020:
Tacos & Tequila Fiesta, January 19Celebrate all things Tacos & Tequila at Foxwoods Resort Casino. Foxwoods is celebrating Cinco de Mayo a few months early. ¡Diecinueve de Enero. Enjoy taco and tequila samples from over 20 companies. Dance along to a live mariachi band or show off your skills on the mechanical bull. It's not a tasting, it's a fiesta! Prices: Blanco ($15) : Includes entry into Tacos & Tequila, you can purchase food and drink. Perfect for designated drivers. Reposado ($45): Includes entry into Tacos & Tequila, 2 Taco Samples and 3 Tequila Samples. Additional food and drink available for purchase. Anejo ($80): Includes entry into Tacos & Tequila, four taco samples and six tequila samples, unlimited Margaritas for one hour. Additional food and drink available for purchase. 4 p.m., Premier Ballroom at Foxwoods Resort Casino, 350 Trolley Line Blvd. Mashantucket, CT
I remember. God knows if I try I can still remember, believe it or not. I got a brain like a mine. Memories like tunnels all the way down. Branching and twisting deeper down inside me. But you know time. Beams rot and earth sweats and sometime...sometimes I’ll go looking for a name or a face and there’ll be nothing but rubble. Big black cave-in on my thirty-fifth birthday or my high-school graduation. Dropping out of college and my great aunts all buried together. I don’t even try to sift through it anymore. But if there’s one tunnel that’s as solid as a gun barrel it's the time I spent working repossessions in 1966. I worked for a P.I. I met after I got out of the army. He’d been fingered by the V.A. to sniff out deserters and he came looking my neck of the woods. He had been looking for a buddy of mine. At first I told him to shove it but two hundred bucks and a job offer later, I tell you. The look on a mans face when you walk in on him screwing his neighbours teenage daughter with a gun in one hand and an arrest warrant in the other, it’s not a first day story that a lot of people can match up to. Cortez had offered me the job as he was in need of someone able to walk streets he couldn't walk without being fingered for a bad actor. What he meant by that was he wanted a good white boy in brown pants to vault a few fences, look through a few windows through cupped hands without having the cops called on him every five minutes despite giving a very convincing story about a potential gas leak. I called bullshit on that early on, but didn’t press it as it was good money. But straighten my damn hams if a pair of wire-frame glasses I lifted off my dad and a few ‘aw jeez’s and a couple of ‘golly I’m real sorry’s didn’t make people annoyed or assuaged enough to let you get out of their faces without so much as a reprimand. The glasses thing was a trick I used a crazy amount of times throughout my career. People trust nerds. Or at least feel like they don’t have anything to fear from them or don’t think that they’re going to need to prove themselves to them in anyway. They came in handy in fights, too. People avoid the glasses almost subconsciously. But I went on to work with Juan Phillipe Gavrón Cortez for that entire year until I moved on to other P.I. work under my own license. And believe it or not, like I said before, that time was the most memorable I ever spent working that side of the law. But Jimmy, or ‘Señor Cortez’ as he’d have me call him in front of his wife and kids, I drove him from job to job and did some picking up and dropping off and developed a few rolls of film in my granny’s bathroom and then dropped ‘those’ off on some very fancy doorsteps. Besides catching folks dodging the draft or dodging taxes or pretending they can’t walk. I remember this one time, after congress passed this disabilities list ‘morbid obesity’ was one of the new bright and shiny ones. And over eight thousand new people started claiming dissability. And I tell you, you won’t believe how fast some of those fat motherfuckers can move. Not that some of them didn’t qualify. But there’s nothing like having a fat sobbing man being forcefully weighed by two court officers to check that he ‘is’ in fact over 100 pounds. Jimmy and me and his seemingly endless supply of cousins also worked litigations for this downtown law office. Mainly going over to clients places and not outright threaten anyone, but roll up our sleeves and lean against some doorways just so as to flash the leather of what could be a .38 in a holster. But most of the time, we went into bankrupt peoples houses and retrieved physical collateral to pay off their court debts. People who owed money to the bank. People who couldn’t cough up legal fees. I remember this one job. We drive up to this house. Big. Glass house. And we go in and we begin to retrieve the collateral. But there’s this one armchair. This sickly green leather thing with thin little mahogany feet. And there’s this blonde girl sitting in it. Legs tucked up under her. Trying not to cry. She wouldn’t get up. We were nice about it. We weren’t complete assholes. Generally we’d just stone-wall. No reaction. Insults, spit, fists. We just move along. And so when she won’t get up, I just pull the chair with her in it through the house and load it into the truck. She doesn’t say a word. And we’re about halfway down the hill when she starts banging on the side of the cab to be let out. We do, but she don’t say nothing, she just hugs herself with her bare arms and walks up the hill. Her daddy said it was about it being her mom’s chair. Mother topped herself after daddy lost millions. Not his fault. He tried to break into the casino business out in Vegas. And those boys don’t like competition. That is the most walled of all walled gardens. The guy submits all the permits and cost plans and puts up the money and pays off all the right people and hands out all the under the table cash they tell him they’re gonna need from him, they still shred him. Casino built, slot machines in plastic. All those shiny little chips. They waited until the very last second. And then they knocked down every door and threatened every soul who could make his dream a reality. In three days. He lost everything. And on the fourth day he receives the bill for the demolition of his own casino. A demolition that had been booked a year prior to him paying every single one of those pricks. But I also remember the circus. An entire circus. This sun-bleached high-top that sat outside Albuquerque. We turn up and there’s nobody home. Everything set up for a show. Nobody there. Except for the ring leader. This flabby guy with no shirt on and a pair of jeans tucked into treadless cowboy boots and he’s stacking a bon-fire. Broken chairs and shit. And sitting right in the middle of it like an egg in a nest, is this big green safe. This old-school monster with brass dials. Size of a Datsun. And this guy is drawing on this dunhill cigarette and he’s screaming his head off. “This is what you fuckin’ get!” this and “This is what you fuckin’ get! You bitch!” That. And we stroll in and we ask him what he’s doing and he looks at us. And he draws this bright orange cattle-prod from this leather loop around his belt and he’s weighing it in his hand like he’s going to take a swing at us. And so we reach into our jackets and we flash our pieces and he lets his arm fall. And we ask him again, you know what’s the deal here, collateral’s coming in, legal defence needs to get paid, what’s with all the broken collateral? And the guy doesn’t say a word, he just flicks the switch on the cattle-prod and the sticks it into the bon-fire and the whole thing goes up. These big gasoline gorged flames. And we’re all watching this thing go up. And that’s when the safe starts screaming. Just howling. Like a storm siren at the bottom of a well. And my buddy, he pulls his gun and he starts whipping this fucking guy. Screaming at him. We’re running around like maniacs, trying to find water. My buddy Angelo just stomps the flames with his boots and eventually he just crashes right into the blaze and throws his body against the safe and it topples. End over end, it mashes into the ground. Angelo’s dropping and rolling. I go over to him but he’s okay. My other buddy Reese, he’s dragging the leader by the hair and he throws him onto the safe. Guy screams, the safe was red hot. And next thing the guy knows there’s three guns in his face. I’m frozen. But everybody else is screaming. They grab his wrists and make him work the dials. It’s burning his fingers bad. But he’s laughing and soon enough they’re turning that wheel and they all heft the door open. And flying out is this Orangutan. Enormous. And pursued by a black cloud that smells like burning hair and grilled meat. Teeth like sickles it comes at Reese, the monkey takes a swing at him and clips his jaw and I tell you it sounded like a queue ball hitting an eight! Pop! Jaw, broken. And without thinking, guns start going off. And they just shred that poor animal. And the leader, he’s just laughing. And we don’t know what to do. So we just call the cops. We never found out what happened. Until about a year later. There was this bar where all the cops drank and really all the legal servants had a tab. A real fuck-Irish place. There were better bars but I made sure to show up every once in a while to pay tribute to the other, ah, assholes in my line of work. But I’m there with a date of all people. And everyone’s talking and we get onto war stories. You know, gristly shit to rile up the girls and what-not. But out of nowhere, my date starts telling this story! She was a paralegal at the time and she starts talking about this gristly court case she’s on. She’s talking about this class action type deal. This ‘incident’ at this circus that was in the county at the time. She’s talking about one of the acts. This act they did with a magician and this orangutan. This disappearing act. Magician comes out with a pair of mahogany boxes. Big as a mini-fridge. Crank on the side. And this act is an audience participation affair. The magician announces the trick. Something will be going into the box. And won’t be coming back out. The ape is going around and it’s going to pick somebody out for the trick, right? And he grabs this baby. This little toddler out of her chair and he waddles off with her. And the mother follows. And people are kind of freaked out, but the mon’s laughing and going along with it. The ape sets the kid down. Pats it on the head. And the magician’s upset but the mother’s into it. This young blonde. Country girl. And the magician laughs it off, picks the kid out of the ape’s arms, hands it back to the mom and people are set at ease. Now. The magician briefs the woman. Something personal is going into the box. And it’s going to be sucked into the magical googah void or whatever. And eventually returned to her. No big deal. And the monkey. Is supposed to take something from her. Necklace, handbag, hat, whatever! And like you already fucking know, that ape has got that baby in that box quicker than the magician can mace the damn thing. And it’s cranking the crank and smiling and nobody knows wether to scream or not. Is this the act? Nobody knows. Evidently the magician is keeping on with the show, that’s his job. He’s making jokes and assuaging the mother under his breath that the kid is ok and he follows through with a quick spell and the ape hobbles across to the second cabinet and swings open the door. And there’s a top hat. Black velvet top hat. The magician fakes being shocked, the mother is looking concerned and the ape wears the hat and does a dance before putting the hat back into the cabinet. Door close. Crank routine, back to the first cabinet. Door open. Cantaloupe. Ha, ha, ha. Magician is hurrying it along. He’s talking into his head set, and the monkey keeps running back and forth between the cabinets, cranking and opening doors, alarm clock, shoes, cake, microscope, gloves, no baby, no baby, no baby! And the mother is starting to get upset. And so everyone’s starting to get upset. She’s getting a little too wrapped up in it. “My baby, my baby!” And the audience is starting to make it clear that this act isn’t funny anymore. People are calling out. The magician’s panicking, rushing through the act. And then he declares one final joke. “CRANK THE OTHER WAY!” And the ape does a big ‘whoopsidoo’! And he cranks the other way. And sitting in the cabinet, is this little, itty-bitty babydoll. And he walks over to the mother. And he tucks the doll into her thin little arms. And waits for the applause. Police. FBI. Search party after search party. They never found the kid. As much as one can grieve. That is the best damn magic trick that I ever heard pulled. And like they do with real witches. They tried to burn that monkey. I got a brain like a mine. Memories are like tunnels I dug. If I wanna see my brother’s face or my mom’s, if I wanna remember the first ride I ever bought. Or the first girl I frenched. All I've gotta do is take a walk. Down those tunnels. But lately, the more I try to remember, the more cave-ins I find. I couldn’t tell you what colour my mom’s eyes were. Let alone her hair. I don’t remember my pops at all. But I know. As long as I’m alive, the tunnel down which ‘that’ monkey lives. That’s been cast in steel. If it all comes crashing down. That tunnel. Is gonna be there forever.
New Beginning II - Book Shawn Michaels if he were in his prime today - Part 1: Heartbreak Kid
In this booking, Shawn Michaels is an indie legend; compared to the likes of David Starr. He’s won countless championships in promotions from all over the world, but never really burst onto the big company scene. Shawn’s first major appearance was at Double or Nothing, competing in the Casino Battle Royal and making it to the final 3, before being eliminated by MJF. He would then continue to work AEW shows such as Summerfest and Fyter Fest, losing to Cody and defeating the man who took him out in the Battle Royal, MJF, but it was at Fight For The Fallen where he challenged Kenny Omega to a bout at All Out, and it was made official a week later, with it being billed as The Best vs The Future. Rookie vs Veteran. All Out. AEW All Out Kenny Omega vs Shawn Michaels V-Trigger! Shawn falls to the floor, using the turnbuckle as leverage, not wanting to stay down but after being hit with second V-Trigger of the match, he couldn’t hold on, yet still managed to kick out at 2 when Kenny dragged him into the middle of the ring and pinned him! Omega, furious, picked up Michaels and went for a Cross-Legged Brainbuster, but Shawn escaped, going for a roll up but Kenny kicked out, before nailing Omega with an Inverted Atomic Drop! Shawn then ran towards the ropes and took Kenny down with a Flying Forearm Smash, and then synched in a devastating Figure Four Leglock! Omega was in serious pain and anguish, with Shawn not letting go, but Kenny made his way inch by inch towards the ropes to break up the hold, however he was immediately clotheslined to the outside! Shawn then climbed the top rope and went for an Elbow Drop, but Omega countered with another V-Trigger! Kenny sent Michaels back into the ring and nailed him with a Butterfly Piledriver! But that wasn’t enough as Shawn once again kicked out! Omega had had enough, and went for a One Winged Angel, but Shawn flipped forward, landing on his feet, before going for a Sweet Chin Music! But Omega dodges and catches Shawn, going for a Ripcord V-Trigger, but Michaels holds onto the knee and hits him with a Teardrop Suplex! Shawn then goes to the top rope, attempting to pull off one last maneuver in the form of a Moonsault on a standing Kenny, but Omega moved out of the way and Shawn landed on his feet, allowing for The Terminator to lift up Shawn and put him away with the One Winged Angel for the win. After a grueling 26 minute match, Kenny Omega stands tall over the rookie Michaels. Kenny helps Shawn back up and in a show of respect shakes his hand, before rolling out of the ring, leaving a defeated, yet improved Shawn Michaels in the ring. Shawn isn’t seen on AEW Programming after his loss to Omega, and it isn’t just AEW shows, as he doesn’t appear on any of his regular indie promotions, instead goes on a short hiatus, with his Twitter and Instagram going completely blank. However, on September 18th, the wrestling world got the answer. The NXT Champion Adam Cole stands in the ring alongside his Undisputed Era stablemates, the NXT Tag Team Champions Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reily and the new NXT North American Champion Roderick Strong. It’s the first ever live episode of NXT and Cole is cutting a promo on his success in this brand, from having the most impactful debut in all of history, to winning the first ever Wargames, to becoming the inaugural NXT North American Champion, to finally winning the NXT Title and completing the Triple Crown. But he wasn’t done, saying that there is not a single soul back there who can beat him. And that’s undispu- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4ErmBDTOJo An unfamiliar theme song plays, but when the graphic on the Titantron shows “The Heartbreak Kid”, the crowd go insane. “SHAWN MICHAELS IS NXT!” shouts Mauro Ranallo as HBK walks out from the back, dressed in black, red, and white attire. Cole is shocked, Kyle is shocked, Bobby is shocked, Strong is shocked, everyone is shocked at the debut of Shawn Michaels! Michaels makes his way down to the ring with a mic and goes to say something but he’s drowned out by “HBK!” chants that echo throughout the arena. The NXT Champ looks disgusted at the fact that Shawn thinks he can interrupt him, but Michaels doesn’t say anything, instead nails Cole with a Sweet Chin Music! Adam drops to the floor and Shawn is swarmed by the rest of The Era, with Michaels receiving kicks from all directions, however he manages to fend them off, chucking Fish over the top rope and onto the apron, with Kyle accidentally knocking his own partner when Shawn ducked a forearm. Strong went for a Strong Slam on HBK, but Michaels escaped and shoved Roderick into O’Reily, before going for a Sweet Chin Music on him. Roddy ducked, allowing for the finishing move to hit Kyle behind him, meaning Strong could take advantage of Shawn and hit him with an End of Heartache. He helped Adam back up and the champ hit the new star with a Last Shot to stand tall. William Regal came out next and announced that next week, Shawn Michaels will face off against Roderick Strong in his NXT debut, and if he wins, he will get a title shot at Adam Cole the following episode! The Undisputed Era evidently disliked the idea, but they knew they had no choice so left, all their gold still around their waists… for now. On NXT, Roderick Strong vs Shawn Michaels is set for the main event. Throughout the night, Shawn is seen encountering members of the NXT roster such as Johnny Gargano, Keith Lee, and the returning Finn Balor. But at one point, Michaels gets ambushed by Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reily backstage, with the pair double Powerbombing him through a catering table. Regal is furious when he finds Shawn in the debris and bans the rest of UE from ringside. Michaels is taken to medical to see if he can compete but before they can get an answer, Shawn storms out of the room, reminding them he has a match to prepare for. Finally, we get to the main event of the night, and as Roderick is making his entrance he’s attacked by Michaels! HBK and Strong brawl their way down to the ring where the bell rings, and the match is officially under way. They start off fast-paced, with Shawn really impressing the NXT audience, and after only 5 minutes in Shawn goes for a Sweet Chin Music but Roderick catches the leg and hits him with an End of Heartache, only for Michaels to kick out! This infuriates Strong, and he becomes more aggressive, but Shawn still manages to stay on top, and after another 12 minutes, nails him with a Sweet Chin Music to get the 1, 2, 3! Two of the best up and comers of their time put on a great main event for the NXT Universe, but it isn’t all a happy ending, because as soon as the ref slammed his hand down on the mat for the third time, Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reily, and Bobby Fish all made their way down to the ring to attack the victor. But the assault is ceased, as Shawn is saved by Johnny Gargano! The Heart of NXT sprints down to take out The Era, with Shawn and Johnny hitting simultaneous Superkicks on Fish and O’Reily, while Adam and Roderick lay on the outside, stunned. It was official: Shawn Michaels vs Adam Cole for the NXT Championship would be happening next week. This NXT Title bout did not disappoint, with both wrestling legends giving it their all and proving why they are in the main event slot. Despite Shawn only being exposed to the NXT crowd for 2 weeks, he had quickly ascended to the top, with his merchandise sales rising fast and Shawn becoming overly popular with the audience. Cole was the perfect opponent, a technical wizard but also heelishly cunning and able to pinpoint his enemy’s weaknesses. He targeted the neck of Shawn throughout the 17 minute match, setting him up for an inevitable Last Shot, but Michaels fought back with fire in his eyes, pulling off a Moonsault at one point to the outside, only to be hit with a Panama Sunrise after Cole dodged. The Undisputed Era ran down to distract Shawn, but they were taken out by Gargano who sent the Tag Champions running for the hills after a vicious Superkick to Strong! However, this was the perfect diversion, as Cole hit Michaels with a Last Shot to the injured neck, only for Shawn to get his foot on the ropes! Johnny stayed at ringside, cheering on Shawn after the attack, and the crowd popped huge when Adam went for another Last Shot, but Michaels ducked and nailed the champion with a Sweet Chin Music from behind! HBK struggled to crawl into the cover, but the match was stopped completely when Johnny slid into the ring and beat down Shawn! “What the hell is going?” Mauro exclaimed as he watched Gargano rain down fists on Michaels, giving him the DQ win! Johnny took HBK out with a Slingshot DDT and stood over his exhausted body as Cole celebrated with his title on the ramp alongside The Undisputed Era. The next week, Johnny would explain his actions, saying that he was insulted at how Shawn thinks he can waltz in here and suddenly become the new hero. Johnny Wrestling is the only true hero you need! Michaels was reportedly at home for that week due to the neck injury and DDT he suffered last episode, and Johnny reminded the NXT masses that he’ll always be here for them. He left, only after repeating that he’s the real hero. Johnny would then go onto dismantle Shane Thorne the subsequent episode in their scheduled bout, calling out Shawn for a fight at NXT Takeover: Wargames in a post-match promo. He was answered by none other than Michaels himself, who ran down to the ring and sparked a brawl, laying Gargano out with a surprise Sweet Chin Music, accepting the challenge on the stage. The two would feud going into the illustrious NXT show, which saw Gargano continuously remind the crowd that he’s the real hero, and Shawn proving every week why he’s the best, going up against Kushida in a fantastic bout one week. On the go-home show, a contract signing is scheduled, but before anything can happen, Gargano ambushes Shawn, and they fight all the way down to the ring where Johnny sends Shawn through the table after a wicked Superplex, standing tall to end the show. While all of this was going on, NXT had also started invading Raw and Smackdown, demanding a spot in Survivor Series that year. Dream matches were made, including a 3 on 3 on 3 Survivor Series Elimination Tag Team Match between all the brands, and Champion vs Champion vs Champion Triple Threats that would only be seen once in a lifetime. However, Shawn Michaels was also brought into the brand supremacy mix, and he quickly came face to face with one of Raw’s top stars and a pro wrestling icon called AJ Styles. The two would appear on each other’s shows, starting brawls and going back and forth on the mic, leading to a dream match being made between the pair. This easily became one of the most highly anticipated matches on the card, and the WWE Universe could only wait and see. NXT Takeover: Wargames III Shawn Michaels vs Johnny Gargano Michaels and Gargano put on a fantastic opener, with both men bringing their all. It was Shawn’s Takeover debut, and he walked away 1-0 when he put away Johnny in a great conclusion, which saw Shawn pull off a beautiful Elbow Drop off of the top rope onto the apron, followed up by a Sweet Chin Music to get the win. Shawn managed to kick out of two Slingshot DDT’s, but Johnny also was able to stay in the match after a picture perfect Moonsault from HBK. Michaels cut a promo after the match, telling the Illinois crowd that he has his eyes set on the NXT Championship. He left quickly, drained after the amazing showdown he had just had with one of NXT’s finest, Johnny Gargano. Survivor Series Shawn Michaels vs AJ Styles After going all out on Johnny Gargano the previous night, Michaels came back refreshed and better than ever, pushing Styles to the limit, and putting on a fantastic match with The Phenomenal One. Despite the bout only going 20 minutes, those 20 minutes were full of innovative spots and great storytelling, with AJ reminding Shawn throughout the match that he can’t beat him and that he’ll never be main event material, yet Shawn proved him wrong, getting near fall after near fall and showing his athletic ability by hitting Moonsaults and Elbow Drops all around. However, Michaels set up for a Sweet Chin Music only for it to be caught by Styles, who grabbed the other leg and put him down with a Styles Clash, before going for a Phenomenal Forearm. AJ set up for the devasting finisher, but he was hit with a Sweet Chin Music as he soared through the air! An amazing counter gave Michaels the win, cementing that he is not to be underestimated. Michaels helped AJ up and they quickly shook hands before Styles left the ring, leaving Shawn to celebrate. It is announced that in two weeks, an 8-Man Tournament will occur, with Tommaso Ciampa, Keith Lee, Damian Priest, Matt Riddle, Finn Balor, Velveteen Dream, Pete Dunne, and Shawn Michaels all competing for an NXT Title shot at the next Takeover, Takeover: Portland. On the show after Wargames, Lee, Tommaso, Damian, and Michaels all had a promo war, with Shawn stating he wants revenge on Cole and The Era, Ciampa saying how he needs Goldie back, Keith wanting to elevate himself to the main event, and Damian reminding them all that he just wants to cause destruction, and the NXT Title will help him with that, which inevitably leads to an all out fight, which sees Keith stand tall. The next week, the first round matches start, with Shawn going up against Velveteen Dream in an excellent battle. They both had similar fighting styles and were both at the same level wrestling-wise, but Shawn managed to go through to the semi’s when he put away Dream with the Sweet Chin Music, a move no man has ever kicked out of. The two shook hands afterwards, and Shawn walked up the ramp unknowing of who he would have to face next. The other match results were: Keith Lee defeated Damian Priest, Finn Balor defeated Matt Riddle, and Ciampa defeated Pete Dunne. It was revealed that Shawn would face Finn Balor next week, and their bout would be made the main event. As soon as the bell rang, Balor charged at Shawn, knowing what Michaels was capable of. Shawn tried to fight back but Finn was like no one else he had ever faced before. Balor’s fast kicks and weakening holds allowed The Prince to be in control for most of the match. However, Michaels didn’t give up, fighting back against Finn, and he nearly hit him with a Sweet Chin Music but it was countered into a Shotgun Dropkick. As the match progressed, Balor lost his control by the minute, until it became even, with HBK pulling out all the stops to take Finn down. He planted him down with a Sunset Flip Powerbomb, only for his opponent to roll through and nail Shawn square in the chest with another Shotgun Dropkick. Balor then ascended the turnbuckle, with Michaels in position for his devastating finisher. However, Shawn rolled out of the way as Finn went for it, and when Balor got back to his feet, he ran right into a Sweet Chin Music. 1, 2, 3! Shawn has defeated Finn Balor and will be going to the fina- Balor from behind! Finn didn’t take the loss easily, brutally beating down Shawn all over the ring, hitting him with a Slingblade on the outside. Balor drilled Michaels into the steel ramp with a 1916 to stand tall and to send a message. Earlier in the night, Ciampa beat Lee to advance into the finals, and to end the show a graphic appeared on the Titantron: Shawn vs Tommaso. We’ve reached the finals of the tournament and once again we see HBK go up against a wrestling legend in a first ever encounter. Tommaso is desperate to win here so he can fight for Goldie, but Shawn won’t give up. Michaels fought back against Ciampa’s relentless attacks, and kicked out of an Air Raid Crash and Fairytale Ending consecutively just to stay in. They went for a solid 20 minutes, keeping the NXT fans on the edge of their seats the whole time, but it was the ending that really shocked them, as Finn Balor’s music hit and The Prince walked out on the ramp to stare down a stunned Shawn, only for Michaels to be blasted from behind and pinned following a knee to the skull and Fairytale Ending! Tommaso was the Number 1 Contender to the NXT Championship and Shawn had lost at the hands of Finn. As the bell rang signaling the end of the match, Balor wasted no time in attacking HBK once again, this time putting him through the announcer’s table with a 1916. Shawn and Finn would start a rivalry, with a Street Fight being confirmed for NXT Takeover: Portland between the two. Finn was a ruthless heel, wanting to show that Michaels is just an overrated rookie with a couple of wins under his belt, but Michaels proved him wrong each week, holding an Open Challenge where he would go up against the greats of NXT, such as Pete Dunne, Damian Priest, and in a MOTY contender Keith Lee, when The Limitless One took Shawn to his limits in a great match. He defeated Dunne and Priest in earlier weeks, with Pete and Damian really giving Michaels a challenge, however, when they were hit with the Sweet Chin Music, it was all over for the Brusierweight and Archer of Infamy. Balor cut promos on HBK, reminding him of Finn’s accomplishments in WWE and how Shawn is a mere blip on the radar of Finn Balor, but when he beat him in thee semi-finals, he made himself a threat. And that’s not good news, because Finn doesn’t miss. NXT Takeover: Portland Shawn Michaels vs Finn Balor Street Fight As soon as the ref called for the start of this match, Finn and Shawn went at each other with kicks, headbutts, and grinding submissions. Nearly 3 minutes into the match was when the first weapon was brought out, as Finn retrieved a kendo stick to use against HBK. He wearied down Shawn early on but that wouldn’t stop Michaels, who had a burst of energy, taking down Finn and allowing him to get a chair. From there on it was utter chaos, with Shawn reversing a 1916 on the announcer’s table into a back body drop through the table behind them, and Finn landing a Coup De Grace onto Shawn while he had a stack of chairs on him! The finish came when Balor and Shawn were battling on the top rope in the corner of the ring. They traded fists but Shawn got the upper hand, and just like their match in the semi-finals, Michaels pulled off a Sunset Flip Powerbomb, this time getting all of it, with Balor crashing down spine-first onto a row of set up chairs! The audience were going crazy, but HBK wasn’t done yet, instead made it back to his feet, and ascended the turnbuckle again, before pulling off an amazing Moonsault onto The Prince! But Finn moved out of the way! Shawn clutched at his rib as he landed hard on the steel chairs and was hurt even more when he was hit with a Shotgun Dropkick to the outside! Michaels landed hard on the apron on his way out but Finn was relentless, going onto the second rope from the apron and nailing him with a Coup De Grace! The Prince wasn’t done, instead ripped open the padding covering the floor, exposing the hard concrete ground, before lifting up Shawn to get him in position for a 1916! The first few rows could feel the pain as Michaels’ head was driven into the concrete, but the ref making the three count after Balor had rolled a lifeless HBK into the ring seemed more painful than anything. Balor left with his hand raised, and the ref had to help Shawn back up. After a gruesome match with one of pro wrestling’s finest, Michaels was aching all over, and had to be helped out by medical staff to the back. Rumors circulated that he might be injured, however they were dismissed on the conference call by Triple H after the show, but Hunter sounded quite unsure at the time. The next Wednesday, we saw Shawn Michaels walk out to start the show to a massive pop from the crowd. He got into the ring and told the NXT Universe that during his match with Finn Balor, he suffered a concussion, and he would like to apologize for not being able to put Balor away. But, he has unfinished business with a certain Era. Concussion or not, he will do whatever it takes to get his hands on Adam Cole. Inevitably, he was interrupted by the NXT Champion, with Strong, Fish, and O’Reily all closely behind him, their championships all still around their waists after successfully retaining all their titles at Takeover: Portland, and Adam reminded Shawn that the last time they faced off he was the one left standing, so why does he deserve another shot? Shawn informed Cole that he deserves a title shot because their last one ended in a DQ win for Michaels, so technically he has a win over Cole, and this time it will be fair; no interference. William Regal appeared on the stage and told both The Undisputed Era and Shawn Michaels that everyone has to prove themselves here, and yes Michaels does have a win over Cole, but that does not put him any higher than the other members of the roster with wins over the champ. If Shawn wants his shot at Tampa Bay, he’s going to have to compete in one of two Fatal 4-Way matches, going up against a range of superstars who have also claimed their match with the NXT Champ. Next week, it will be Matt Riddle vs Kushida vs Pete Dunne vs Dominic Dijakovic in one 4-Way, and in the other, Lio Rush vs Keith Lee vs Killian Dain vs Shawn Michaels. The two victors will face off in two weeks’ time, with the winner of that match challenging Adam Cole for the NXT Championship at NXT Takeover: Tampa Bay! Shawn and The Era seemed satisfied with that, however Cole wasn’t done, instead ordered Strong, O’Reily, and Fish to go beat down HBK! Roderick ran down to the ring and went for knee but it was reversed into a back body drop, only for Shawn to be charged at by Bobby Fish from behind. Kyle and Bobby kicked at Shawn on the ground, and then went for a High Low, but Michaels dodged the move and nailed Fish with a Sweet Chin Music! He ducked a lariat from O’Reily and gave him one too! Strong was on the apron and went to go for a Springboard Clothesline but was hit with a Sweet Chin Music mid-air! HBK was on fire, only to be taken out from behind by Adam Cole with a chair. Cole smashed the weapon repeatedly on Shawn’s back, and finished him off with a Last Shot, standing tall with his NXT Title before the ad break. Shawn wouldn’t be the only victim that night, as Keith Lee, Matt Riddle, and Pete Dunne were all attacked by The Undisputed Era, with Cole leading the assault, wanting to make sure some of his possible challengers were incapacitated before next week. We got a video package to hype up the two 4-Way’s throughout the night and the NXT Universe couldn’t wait for next episode. The opening bout of the following week was the first contender’s match, which saw Dijakovic, Kushida, Riddle, and Dunne have a hard-hitting Fatal 4-Way. Dunne hit Kushida with a Bitter End on the outside but was nailed with a Big Boot on the apron from Dominic, however Dijak ran right into a knee from Matt, followed up by a Floating Bro to give Riddle the win! The Original Bro celebrated after the match, only to be once again ambushed by The Undisputed Era, with Strong laying him out after an End of Heartache, sending a message to Matt as he lay exhausted in the ring. In the main event, we got the second Fatal 4-Way, which was an absolute paragon of wrestling multi-man matches. Keith Lee was a mix of Rush and Dain, using his athletic skills and undeniable strength to his advantage. Lio obviously had a game plan going into the bout, staying out of the action for some parts, but when he was forced to fight, he easily dismantled his opponents with his quickness and agility. Killian utilized his massive body and power to beat down Shawn, Lee, and Rush, but showed he could also soar from the top rope when he took out everyone with a Diving Cannonball! But it was Shawn Michaels who stole the show, making sure he was the spotlight throughout the match as he pulled off amazing spot after amazing spot. This ultimately lead to his victory, with the finish occurring when he used all the strength he had left to hit Dain and Lee with a Double Powerbomb from the corner, however he was attacked by Lio Rush from behind. Rush saw his opportunity and climbed to the top rope to hit a Final Hour on Killian, but he was nailed with a Sweet Chin Music while in the air! Shawn disposed of him to the outside and hit Dain with one last Sweet Chin Music to get the win! Matt Riddle made his way down to the ring post-match to have a stare down with Shawn, and the two shook hands, ready to do battle next week. The main event was set: Matt Riddle vs Shawn Michaels, with the winner going onto face Adam Cole at Takeover: Tampa Bay. Riddle had had his fair share of conflict with Cole, as he was the guy who eliminated him from the Royal Rumble and also cost him a North American Title shot against Roderick Strong, allowing Johnny Gargano to get the win, which Johnny then lost at Takeover: Portland. Both men’s incentive was high, and this first-time encounter started off hot, with both men wanting that match with Adam more than anything. Instantly, Matt charged at Shawn with a Flying Knee but it was caught and he was hit with a Snap German Suplex! They then traded fists, with Riddle getting the upper hand, and he ran at Shawn again only to be stopped dead in his tracks with a chop that would make WALTER shiver. For the next 15 minutes these two poured all their fire into this match, with the speed never stopping, and it made it hard for the audience to catch up. But eventually, Shawn was lying on the apron and Riddle was on the top rope, but Matt missed a Floating Bro and landed hard on his shoulder when Shawn rolled out of the way! Michaels then placed Matt on the apron and went to the top turnbuckle, before successfully pulling off a Moonsault to Riddle on the apron! One Sweet Chin Music later and Shawn Michaels is going to Tampa Bay! Adam Cole walked down to the ring alone afterwards and the two came face to face for the first time as official opponents. Adam got right in the face of Shawn, provoking Michaels to lay him out with a Sweet Chin Music, closing the show with The Heartbreak Kid holding up the NXT Title over Cole. After the Riddle/Michaels match to determine Cole’s Number 1 Contender, Adam and Shawn would pick up where they left off back in September last year. Since then, the NXT Champion had lost inside of Wargames, but was able to redeem himself the next night by beating Pete Dunne at Survivor Series. He would then start a feud with Tommaso Ciampa, the man who beat HBK in the finals of that tournament, and he’d go on to beat him at Takeover: Portland. Michaels on the other hand, had faced off with Johnny Gargano at Takeover: Wargames, walking away the victor, before losing to Ciampa, only to be attacked by Finn Balor, who Shawn had defeated in the previous week. At Portland, Shawn lost to Finn in a Street Fight, but bounced back, pinning Matt Riddle to earn his shot at Adam Cole after a great Fatal 4-Way the week before. Now, they meet again, this time with the stakes higher than ever, as Shawn Michaels, the rookie who ascended to the main event in less than 4 months in NXT, going over with the crowd and quickly becoming one of the most popular wrestlers in the world, will take on Adam Cole, the pinnacle of NXT, who’s defeated any and every challenger that’s come at him. Throughout the build, The Undisputed Era tended to interfere, costing Shawn matches and beating him down whenever available, but one episode Michaels had backup in the form of Keith Lee, and the new team called The Broserweights, Pete Dunne and Matt Riddle, all people Shawn had beaten but people that he respected. On the second episode before Takeover: Tampa, we got Lee, Riddle, Dream, and Michaels versus The Undisputed Era, which saw Lee pin the North American Champion Roderick Strong to pick up the win for his team. It was then announced that next week, Shawn Michaels will take on Adam Cole in a Takeover preview, with the winner getting to choose the stipulation for their NXT Title match! On the go-home episode of NXT, we got Michaels vs Cole II, and once again they put on a showstopper of a match, but this time it was Shawn that walked away the winner, holding onto a Panama Sunrise and hitting him with a Samoan Driver! Then, after a Sweet Chin Music, Shawn was able to pin him for the 1, 2, 3 to get the win! However his post-match celebration was ended quickly as O’Reily, Fish, and Strong attacked him, but HBK was ready, taking them all out and laying them out with a Moonsault from the top rope to the outside! Shawn grabbed a mic as he made his way up the ramp, Cole staring a hole through him from the ring, and Shawn announced that at Takeover: Tampa Bay, Cole and him will be locked up inside a Steel Cage! It was made official on Twitter, and the wrestling world grabbed their popcorn to watch what was sure to be a great show. NXT Takeover: Tampa Bay Adam Cole (c) vs Shawn Michaels NXT Championship Steel Cage Cole and Michaels did not hold back, tearing into each other with all the passion in their soul. They used the cage to their advantage, slamming each other back-first into the wire mesh whenever possible. The Undisputed Era tried to interfere, with Strong attempting to unlock the door to no avail, and Bobby and Kyle climbing up the side to drop in. Michaels was drained but managed to fight them off, knocking Fish’s skull off of the steel forcing him to drop down, and nailing O’Reily with a Sweet Chin Music off the top, and he watched as Kyle fell down to the ground through the announcer’s table, receiving a massive pop from the crowd! From there, Shawn could climb down and escape, winning the NXT Title in the process, or, he could choose what he decided to go with, which was put his career on the line by pulling off an Elbow Drop from the top of the cage onto Cole! The audience went insane, refusing to believe what they had just witnessed, but there was not a single soul in the crowd who didn’t count along with the ref as Shawn pinned Adam to become the new NXT Champion! It was an emotional moment, with The Heartbreak Kid bursting into tears as he was handed his new NXT Title. The cameras just picked up Michaels saying, “It’s only up from here” as he walked up the ramp, the NXT Universe chanting “HBK!” behind him just like they did in his NXT debut last year. He celebrated on the stage before returning to the back, his championship glinting in the light around his waist.
Today, I once more share the horror story that was my first tabletop RPG campaign
Today, I’d like to continue spinning the tale of the horror story that is my first tabletop RPG campaign. It’s been a while, so feel free to refresh your memoryby reading the previous parts or read the stories for the first time. By the time our group had gotten to Ind, just shy of two years had passed since the start of the campaign. Many of us were entirely new to tabletop roleplaying games and the Warhammer setting. By now, most of us had found our footing. I myself in the extensive free time I had as a college slacker had taken the opportunity to read through many of the source books for Warhammer Fantasy 2e, 1d4chan, the wikis, and everything else one needs to peruse to understand the ins and outs of the setting. Saul’s player and I wanted to do our own Warhammer campaigns at this point with blackjack and hookers. We ended up workshopping a number of different ideas and characters in this time. One of them, a celestial wizard hailing from Marienburg, particularly stuck out to me. I was originally going to play this character in Saul’s campaign before realizing he worked much better in a campaign where he could be an explorer, considering his dream was to venture far beyond the Old World and see everything waiting out beyond the horizon. As it happened, for reasons previously explained, I was looking to switch out my old character because the GM had neutered what made him a fun character for me. With the Aussie (Nikolai’s player) now sitting in the GM seat, it was my time to make a move. I approached the Aussie about switching out the character and he agreed, if it was what I really wanted. It was decided that my dwarf, as much as he loved the party, had a duty to his people and resigned himself to returning to the Old World aboard the one ironclad brave enough to make its way to the city of spires. Thus entered my celestial wizard, Winston, shortly after the GM switch. His introduction began as something of a joke. The party was eating an ornate breakfast in the Indan City of Spires, something of a crossroads between the East and the Old World. A fellow from farther down the table asked the party to pass him some of the curry. The old GM (who shall still be referred to as the GM to avoid confusion) immediately picked up on the fact that I voiced this character. Cue the session crawling to a halt as both the Aussie and the GM loudly typed to one another. Neither had bothered to mute their mic so the rest of the group was treated to an awkward silence accentuated by the rapid tapping of keyboards. The game eventually resumed, the GM clearly seething. He had his character, Sir Guy, become immediately suspicious of this newcomer. There was no real reason for the suspicion compared to anyone else the group had interacted with upon entering the city, the GM just knew the character was voiced by me, so his disposition dropped by twenty points. The character’s introduction managed to go by smoothly enough. We got through our introductions, everyone made off to sightsee, bathe, and shake off the fatigue of having nothing to actually do for the past year and a half of sessions. There was a whole world of opportunity and everyone reveled in that. The Aussie was something of a history and mythology buff. He’d gone all out on Ind, describing it as every Indian mythology amped up to a hundred mixed in with a pinch of Warhammer absurdity. The good times came to an end when Deathwing showed up with a lizardman army and attacked the city. The attack itself, despite being admittedly epic, was nothing actually worthy of note in terms of a horror story. The one criticism I’d give it is that the epic factor of fighting a dragon was undercut by this being the second dragon we’d actually encountered. We were also treated to an exposition on why giving the Aussie and the GM battle maps was a terrible idea, one that should have never, ever been done despite how loosey-goosey they played theater of the mind. Each map they made was a battleground in its own right. There were always at least three dozen enemies, if not more, as well as more than a handful of allies willing to help. The maps were also made entirely on roll20 via tiles available for free in its client. Due to this, and due to every tile being its own individual separate asset, this caused my computer to have a stroke once they’d built more than a handful of fuckhuge battle maps and failed to delete them. These battles were where the campaign now slowed to a halt. There were simply too many units in play at all times. At first, none of the enemies were bunched together in a horde or swarm, meaning the weak enemies nonetheless turned into a time sink as we desperately worked our way through their dodges and parries so we could hit the pinata that was their wounds pool. What energy everyone had soon drained away because of the absurdity of the battle maps. The real kicker is that, often, the PCs wouldn’t be the stars of these battles. Whatever cool NPC or group that the GM or Aussie drummed up that week would show up and more time would be dedicated to secret rolls and descriptions of them kicking ass than anything else. The core of the issue is that the Aussie and the GM wanted to show battles that were on the scale of an actual battle rather than a skirmish between an adventuring party and some monsters. Instead of using the big, epic battle as a setpiece and throwing us into the coolest moments of the battle (something Green Ronin has rules for in later systems they made), we always had to watch the battle play out in overblown detail with our PCs serving as something between glorified shock troopers and hero units. An excellent idea in theory, but a terrible one in practice that they would hear no criticism of. The dragon eventually died in a suitably epic manner. At some point in the battle, my character was forced to start slinging spells around. Suddenly, Sir Guy’s hateboner for my character went through the roof. After the post dragon killing celebrations, my character went to speak with Spankley about actually joining the expedition. Here is one of today’s lessons in GMing and party cohesion that should be so obvious that they seem patronizing to point out: when a new PC joins, you want to give them a reason to stay with the party. One of the single easiest ways to do that is through a gold incentive. The GM conveniently had that with Spank and his Cathay expedition. All he had to do was tell them he’d pay them money for staying with the group and, bam, presto, suddenly even the most demotivated of characters has a reason to stick around. Except Spank was always incredibly obstinate with new characters. In my time in the campaign, I’d watched the GM have him refuse to take people along because he didn’t want to pay them. This created a scenario where the new PC really had no reason to stay with the group, but they had to if they wanted to play the game. Every PC post session 1 from Breadbeard to Serafina to Alice were all mostly just along for the ride. Knowing monetary compensation was out, I made a character who had another reason to go along with the party. Winston was the son of a Marienburg merchant prince who dreamed of seeing the world. He shared this dream with his fiancé, Vera Strauss. They resolved to one day raise the funds for an expedition and go off exploring together. Unfortunately, fate got in the way as his magical talent manifested and he was quickly snatched off to the amber hills by a crazy old amber wizard. The only thing that saved the posh, pampered Winston from being a shit wizard was the intervention of a half mad celestial lord who saw his tutelage of Winston in the stars. After graduating to the rank of Journeyman Wizard and leaving the celestial college behind, he saw Vera was gone. Apparently, she left on an expedition to Cathay so he set off after her, which is why he was in the City of Spires at the same time as the party. I only bluntly explain all of this because the GM had Spank do it to the entire party without any subtlety or nuance, using every negative point in his backstory to try and drive a wedge between him and the rest of the party so they’d decide they didn’t want to take him along. What the GM hadn’t counted on is the fact that Winston, being a grounded, educated individual who was once a party animal in his youth, was a bro. Almost every PC thought he was the bee’s knees and so said he could come along, despite Spank’s grumbling that he wouldn’t get paid. Thus, did the party set out on an adventure across Ind with the actual Cathay portion of the Cathay campaign looming ever closer. There were a number of admittedly fun plot points that had very little to do with any That Guy or That GM behavior. The Aussie’s main problems as a GM were his battle maps and the fact that he stalled mid-session. I forum roleplayed with the Aussie for many years and I’ve always held his best ideas are hampered by either laziness or low work ethic. He ran out of material very quickly so some sessions devolved into what I liked to call dinner scenes. There grew to be an absolutely absurd number of scenes across the campaign where the party would find themselves sat around a dinner table and we would roleplay out the eating of a meal along with every conversation that accompanied the meal for at least one hour. The GM was something of a foodie and loved giving the Aussie ideas for meals for our characters to eat. These scenes began to drive a few of us a little nutty after the tenth dinner scene in a session. Every time, I’d have Winston go off to research a ritual, brew tea, smoke some Indan kush, or do literally anything besides talk about food and random conversational topics influenced by what page of the Warhammer wiki the GM, Aussie, and Ocel had read that week. The GM went out of his way to paint me doing this in the most negative light he possibly could. Some of you reading this might think I’m blowing his character, a Bretonnian knight, not liking an Imperial wizard out of proportion and holding it against him. Perhaps in a world where he did not adamantly and vocally voice his hatred for my character before every session, you’d be right. Despite not being in the pilot’s seat, he had a habit of influencing the Aussie to have every plot point born of Winston come up in the most negative light possible. As an example, after the defeat of the dragon in the city of spires, Winston decided to form a proper wizard’s staff for himself out of his bones. It was only after Winston imbued the staff with a bit of his own magical essence that he realized the soul of the dragon still lingered in its remains, it was a living conduit of pure Aqshy (the red wind of magic for those of you unfamiliar with Warhammer lore), and that it was the son of Kalgalanos the Black, the first dragon. Winston had inadvertently bound his soul to this dragon, becoming rather corrupt in the process, as the dragon all but imbued him with the power to safely wield a second wind of magic. That alone would have been alright, but the GM also decided the dragon wanted out. To jump out of Winston’s body and resume his true form, he’d need a proper host. He found that in Spike, a dinosaur Ocel had tamed on the dragon isles. We proceeded to have a session where Spike went missing and the party had to track him down. We find him inside the burnt out husk of an Indan home, having killed its inhabitants so that he had a quiet place to continue his metamorphosis. Wanting to be a bro, Winston resolved to enter of battle of wills with the dragon. All things considered, it was actually a decent moment of characterization, with my character showing hints of the Gandalf he could become if he walked down the path of the wizard lord, asserting his will against the dragon’s via the link between their souls. Despite rolling critical success after critical success, the GM kept hastily saying he rolled just as well. I’ve played poker in various mediums since I was a teenager (not in a casino until I was 21, of course), so I have something of a talent for spotting bluffs and lies. This was the first time I’d actually heard a bluff in a tabletop RPG, and it left a terrible taste in my mouth. I called the Aussie out on that fact and asked him why he was doing this. The GM jumped in and snarled that they weren’t just going to let me get myself a dragon familiar. Conveniently, after I explained I just wanted the dragon’s soul to leave Spike’s body and return to Winston’s rather than me attempting to bind the dragon in his current, physical form to my will, the next success I rolled resulted in the dragon losing and instantly returning to Winston. The Aussie later explained that, yes, he was actually lying. I could respect that he could admit that. He also said that the dragon possessed Spike because Ocel needed a nerf. Either his pet needed to die or his bow would get significantly nerfed. Aussie and the GM were both faced with the fact that they’d handed out so many cool toys to their players so early on that nothing in the actual rulebook that was statted could challenge us. By that point in the campaign, at least 4 PCs could have soloed the dragon in the Old World Beastiary going by the bastardized rules they used for the system. Instead of sitting around down, stating that, and rolling things back to a more acceptable level, they tried to do a weird behind the scenes nerf with half of the PCs. The next horror story from this menagerie of horrors is titled ‘How to not take advantage of getting to be the GM for an arc’. Nikolai, for the most part, was harmless during the Aussie’s term as the one running the game. Aussie had him talk less and he didn’t pull his weight as the in-character group leader nearly as much as he could have. That said, when we came to a certain town in Ind, he did one of the strangest, most out of place things in the entire campaign. Nikolai, as any good Kislevite Gospodar, primarily worshipped two gods: Dazh and Ursun. The Aussie had often joked about how he’d like Nikolai to one day become a high priest of Ursun. Considering how anal the GM was about career paths, we assumed that it could never happen. In this certain Indan town, there was a shrine to a bear god. Cue Nikolai having a religious vision after having to mercy kill a bear we found and suddenly he goes from being a perfectly normal human with no magic score to being a High Priest of Ursun with a magic score of 3 (when it goes up to 5 at most). Even typing this, I’m in awe that it actually happened. If a good two thirds of the GM’s players had tried that bullshit, he would have shut it down in a second. The GM uttered not a word of protest and even argued as to how it made perfect sense for the Kislevite bear god to somehow end up being worshipped in Ind. They also hinted that in their version of the Warhammer world, the Ainu also worshipped Ursun. Saul’s player and I were taken aback by this blatant favoritism That’s about it for the Indan part of this journey, except for the story that led up to Saul’s player and myself getting briefly kicked from the game. Oh, yeah, things eventually reached that hard of a boiling point. All throughout the journey through Ind, Spank had decided he was going to do everything in his power to turn the group against Winston once again. He often told different members of the group that he had any number of plans that he could, and probably was, going to enact against him when they returned to the Old World. He had contacts among the nobility in the Reik, which is where the celestial college was based, and a few coins or words could make all sorts of things happen. What Spank, again, failed to count on was that the party liked Winston. Many of them told him about Spank’s plans. In the privacy of his own carriage, he then asked the people who brought this information to him what made them believe Spank was going to hold up his end of the bargain. He was, after all, by his own admission, a skeevy merchant who cared more about profit than anything. Winston further pointed out that only Nikolai had signed any real contract with Spank because my elf bounty hunter had told him they should invest the money they got from killing those two vampires all the way back in Sylvania into the expedition and got Spank to put it in writing that they invested. Everyone else was shit out of luck. My character took the opportunity, when the group next found themselves in a city, to show the group he wasn’t bullshitting when he had a silver tongue. He’d bought a wagon full of goods that he’d loaded onto an elephant the group had gotten earlier and assured the group it would sell for a tidy profit when they got to Cathay. He wanted to demonstrate he was willing to work with them, had more of an interest in seeing them paid, and wouldn’t backstab them if they’d just help him find his fiancé. At this point out of character, I knew that nothing could really come of this. The GM was hell bent on telling the story of this expedition to Cathay exactly his way. The reason he hated Winston so much, to echo the sentiment of Phineas I said so long ago, was that Winston wasn’t supposed to be in his story and he broke the script in several places, mostly by proactively investigating things the GM wanted Spank to force us to do instead. I wanted to see how far I could push this, and I was sick of the campaign. I suppose this part makes me That Guy, but so was literally everyone else in the party except the Aussie, the GM, and Serafina. Everyone was so sick of Spank’s shit by this point that when I out of character and Winston in-character proposed a coup, everyone went along with it willingly. In the last session before we were to finally enter Cathay, as we crossed an empty desert, the group enacted its master plan. Saul approached Spank, being the sole member of the group with any sort of rapport with him. Once more, he talked of the plans he had for Winston when the group got back to the Empire. From atop his wagon, Winston stared at the ogre, Tank, that Spank used as his muscle. He cast a spell called Burning Hatred on the ogre that compelled it to want nothing more in the whole world than to kill Spank. From his perch atop his mount, Ocel shot Spank with an arrow coated in the same poison that he had used to paralyze us all the way back in the Dragon Isles, the same poison he smugly bragged about beating the party with. As Breadbeard declared he was shooting Spank and Alice declared she was pelting a rock, the GM called the session. The result was what one might expect. Serafina’s player, like the redhead she is, got very angry and told the rest of the party that we’d ruined the GM’s fun. The Aussie outright burst into tears over how the story was ruined and stormed out of the call loudly crying. He, a grown ass man, cried over the players killing a halfling that would have either have already died or been a side villain in any other campaign. The GM snarled like an angry dog as he went into a monologue about how we hurt his friend. He went on a very self-absorbed rant saying how we could all spit on him, hate him, make fun of him, condescend him, and do whatever else we wanted to him, because he could take it, but the line was crossed when we hurt his friend. For a man who absolutely hated anime in all its forms, it was a speech that sounded like something Monkey D. Luffy from One Piece would say. I asked him what he was planning to do considering almost all of his players were a part of the plan to kill Spank. He said, “have a nice day” and left. We were supposed to talk some things out the next day but instead Saul and I were unceremoniously kicked from the campaign. It was an altogether expected result, but an amusing one, considering the GM supposedly warped what happened to involve me being the bad guy. The GM had convinced himself that I somehow manipulated the entire situation, forgetting how all it took to get the entire party on board was a “Hey, wanna kill Spank?” Somehow, without intending to whatsoever when the character was made, Winston managed to cause a plot derailment registering at roughly a 0.75 on the Henderson scale that was blown up to be a 1.25 by the reaction of the GM before he retconned the last month of sessions. I guess, for a sane person, this would be where the story ended. I’d give an amused laugh, share the story on 4chan and reddit a few times, and move on with my life. It was not to be so, as you’ll learn in the next part, where both Saul’s player and I get invited back to the campaign because everyone but the GM, including the Aussie and the Aussie’s gf, wanted us back. Part 4
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