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a jim jividen blog

Here's the thing. I'm watching one of these shows on the Cooking Channel featuring food trucks. There's a Scottish expat making fish and chips; in a thick brogue he somewhat wearily explains his irritation with Americans who habitually order a side of tartar sauce: "tartar sauce is basically gherkins." That's this blog. I claim no particular insight, no revelation. If you enjoy the flavor, great, but this blog is basically gherkins.

RIP Howard Zinn

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Howard Zinn - American hero - died today. He was 87.  The smartest obit I've read is here.   Here's a tribute to Zinn from Democracy Now, which will also appear on the Tendown Sunday.  And here is the Nation from February 1

In recent days, he was asked his thoughts about Obama's first year.  Here they are:

I' ve been searching hard for a highlight. The only thing that comes close is some of Obama's rhetoric; I don't see any kind of a highlight in his actions and policies.


As far as disappointments, I wasn't terribly disappointed because I didn't expect that much. I expected him to be a traditional Democratic president. On foreign policy, that's hardly any different from a Republican--as nationalist, expansionist, imperial and warlike. So in that sense, there's no expectation and no disappointment. On domestic policy, traditionally Democratic presidents are more reformist, closer to the labor movement, more willing to pass legislation on behalf of ordinary people--and that's been true of Obama. But Democratic reforms have also been limited, cautious. Obama's no exception. On healthcare, for example, he starts out with a compromise, and when you start out with a compromise, you end with a compromise of a compromise, which is where we are now.


I thought that in the area of constitutional rights he would be better than he has been. That's the greatest disappointment, because Obama went to Harvard Law School and is presumably dedicated to constitutional rights. But he becomes president, and he's not making any significant step away from Bush policies. Sure, he keeps talking about closing Guantánamo, but he still treats the prisoners there as "suspected terrorists." They have not been tried and have not been found guilty. So when Obama proposes taking people out of Guantánamo and putting them into other prisons, he's not advancing the cause of constitutional rights very far. And then he's gone into court arguing for preventive detention, and he's continued the policy of sending suspects to countries where they very well may be tortured.


I think people are dazzled by Obama's rhetoric, and that people ought to begin to understand that Obama is going to be a mediocre president--which means, in our time, a dangerous president--unless there is some national movement to push him in a better direction.

Royal Rumble 2010 Preview/Best Royal Rumble Matches Ever/I Create Words

4 times a year, I preview WWE PPVs; this is done as part of a two decade wrestleationship that you can read about here.  Yes, I just coined the word wrestleationship. Friendship largely built around a shared appreciation for wrestling.  Wrestleationship.  Which is not as good as the word brojob that I've also coined in recent weeks.  A brojob is when, in the company of men, say in prison or a frat house, one man will service another when there are no women around who are so inclined.  The men involved don't view it as a homosexual act, it's just something that happens between bros and isn't spoken of again.  I'll leave that to the reader to decide if the men are kidding themselves.  I pass no judgment, I'm just a linguist.  I can't think of a single appropriate piece of wordplay I might offer to characterize the caliber of my linguistic skills.

Brojob. You're welcome, internet. People get uncomfortable when I use it in conversation:

Publix Cashier:  $87.17 is your total.  You saved eleven dollars.
Me: Hey, you've gotten a brojob, right?  Maybe in the corner by the Entenmann's? This guy knows what I'm talkin' about!  This guy definitely knows what I'm talkin' about!

But enough of that.  The Royal Rumble is Sunday.  From Atlanta, I think.

1. RAW Title: Sheamus v. Randy Orton
-This is the lineal WWF Title.  When we last left off at Survivor Series, Cena was the Champ, in the midst of his 5th profoundly mediocre run.  He kept at Survivor Series in the 3 way with Hunter and Shawn.  But he lost the strap at the December PPV in a gimmick match to a newcomer Sheamus.  Yes, they spell it with the h.  If it were a half dozen years ago, it would probably also end with a z.

I know you don't know who this is.  Sheamus is getting the monster heel push, old school - new heel comes into the territory, beats everyone and takes their stuff.  He's extra pasty white with red hair and an unfortunate facial hair configuration.  It's a good look; he stands out instantly from everyone else, despite having a completely generic WWE sanctioned wrestling style.  It's been a good push - they put him over Cena clean, he doesn't back down to anyone (except Mark Cuban) it's a good way to build a new guy.  They've done far more right with Sheamus than wrong. 

Except they picked the wrong guy, I mean, there's nothing either particularly good or bad to say about his in ring work yet; he's just a guy, apparently chosen because he and HHH work out together on the road.  He doesn't suck though, there's nothing inherently wrong with him - just that you could have given this same push to a better guy, and now you can't.  Had they decided to give Bryan Danielson the rocketship push (I'd have settled for Swagger, but there's nothing inherent about Danielson, even in a WWE world, that should mean he's in Florida while Sheamus has the strap) the matches would all be better, the promos would be better, and it would generate the type of interweb buzz that matters on some level. 

Orton's still the top heel in the company; there's no real program here, Orton won a match to get this match.  It could lead to a face turn, if they decide to go that way - but that would require one of the DX guys to go heel to avoid all the top guys on the RAW side being babyfaces.  I think more likely they'll put Sheamus over, perhaps with one of Orton's guys (young Rhodes and DiBiase) costing him the match.  Maybe we get Orton/DiBiase at Mania. There's no reason to think this will be either good or bad.  Like most WWE matches.  Like a quarter pounder with cheese, it's not really that most WWE matches are good or bad - they just taste like WWE.

2. Smackdown Title: Undertaker v. Rey Mysterio
-They put out a DVD last year claiming this was the lineal NWA/WCW title; I like the idea of that even though there's not really much of a throughline. When we last left off the 'Taker was the champ, and this is still that run.  He took the belt in October and has maintained it, despite what perhaps could be a career ending back issue - and certainly appears to be a back issue that will end his ability to work on a consistent level.  Rey's also working hurt here, he has a knee that needs surgery and apparently is waiting until post-Mania to shut it down.  Summer has become a popular off-season for the veterans.  At Survivor Series, the Taker kept in the 3 way over Jericho and the Show. 

Rey's in a program with Batista, who turned (he's a much better heel character) - Rey went over Batista to get this shot; he will lose and given the injuries, it will probably be short.  I would guess Batista interferes, maybe postmatch, to attack both guys.  They're gonna do Shawn/Undertaker again at Mania this year; most people consider it WWE Match of the Year (I do not) from 2009.  That and Vince/Bret looks like your double main event, with the title matches a notch below in importance. Undertaker keeps here, maybe loses to Batista at the Feb PPV.  Maybe Batista defends against Cena at Mania.

3. ECW Title: Christian v. Ezekial Jackson
-Christian's been ECW Champ since last summer; he was in an elimination tag at Survivor Series, on the other side was Regal - they remain in that feud - Jackson is part of Regal's stable, I guess you'd call him a protegee - Jackson is a jacked up bodyguard type who, as of yet, hasn't shown any wrestling ability.  Jackson won a battle royal (which is a term that apparently has been banned) to get this shot.  Probably Jackson goes over clean; Christian's been terrific, good every single week both in promos and the ring - he and Regal have had multiple good TV matches, unsurprisingly.  My Top 100 Wrestlers in the World will be posted next week, they'll both be on it.  Won't help Christian here, probably he loses and it happens fast. 

4. Women
-There's a women's title match.  It doesn't matter. 

5. Royal Rumble Match
25 Participants Named So Far:

Past Winners:
Cena
Batista
HHH
Shawn

Past Participants:
Jericho
Punk
Benjamin
DiBiase
Cody
Khali
Show
MVP
Miz
Regal
Kofi
Kane
Henry
Helms
Carlito
Santino
Masters

First Timers:
Ryder
Tatsu
Swagger
Bourne

I don't think there's much chance for a new winner.  There's a pretty bright line between the past winners and everyone else in terms of current standing in the company.  I'd bet on Hunter - Hunter wins and takes on Sheamus.  Maybe DX winds up being the last 2 guys. 

Match quality does not look promising for the 2010 Royal Rumble.  I'd assume the below list stays intact another year.

10 Best Matches in Royal Rumble History:
1. Angle v. Benoit ('03)
2. HHH v. Cactus ('00)
3. Jericho v. Benoit ('01)
4. 2004 Rumble Match (Benoit)
5. Bret v. Diesel ('95)
6. 1992 Rumble Match (Flair)
7. Quebecers v. Bret/Owen ('94)
8. Rockers v. Orient Express ('91)
9. Hardys v. Dudleys ('00)
10. HBK v. HHH ('04)

And here's some general listmaking:

Past Winners:
2009 - Randy Orton #8

2008 - John Cena #30

2007 - Undertaker #30

2006 - Rey Mysterio #2

2005 - Batista #28

2004 - Chris Benoit #1

2003 - Brock Lesnar #29

2002 - Triple H #22

2001 - Steve Austin #27

2000 - The Rock #24

1999 - Mr. McMahon #2

1998 - Steve Austin #24

1997 - Steve Austin #5

1996 - Shawn Michaels #18

1995 - Shawn Michaels #1

1994 - Bret Hart #27, Lex Luger #24

1993 - Yokozuna #27

1992 - Ric Flair #3

1991 - Hulk Hogan #24

1990 - Hulk Hogan #25

1989 - Big John Studd #27

1988 - Jim Duggan #13

Most Eliminations (career): Austin (36).  Kane is 3 behind, Shawn 5.
Most Eliminations (match): Kane (11, '01)
Most Rumbles: Kane (14)
Most Combined Rumble Minutes (HHH, Shawn is 21 minutes behind)
Longest Rumble Performance (Rey - 2006, 3 others have also gone over an hour)
First Entered, every year:
2009 - Rey Mysterio

2008 - Undertaker

2007 - Ric Flair

2006 - Triple H

2005 - Eddie Guerrero

2004 - Chris Benoit

2003 - Shawn Michaels

2002 - Rikishi

2001 - Jeff Hardy

2000 - D'Lo Brown

1999 - Steve Austin

1998 - Cactus Jack

1997 - Crush

1996 - Triple H

1995 - Shawn Michaels

1994 - Scott Steiner

1993 - Ric Flair

1992 - British Bulldog

1991 - Bret Hart

1990 - Ted DiBiase

1989 - Ax

1988 - Bret Hart


Second Entered Every Year:
2009 - John Morrison

2008 - Shawn Michaels

2007 - Finlay

2006 - Rey Mysterio

2005 - Chris Benoit

2004 - Randy Orton

2003 - Chris Jericho

2002 - Goldust

2001 - Bull Buchanan

2000 - Grandmaster Sexay

1999 - Mr. McMahon

1998 - Chainsaw Charlie

1997 - Ahmed Johnson

1996 - Henry Godwinn

1995 - British Bulldog

1994 - Samu

1993 - Bob Backlund

1992 - Ted DiBiase

1991 - Dino Bravo

1990 - Koko B. Ware

1989 - Smash

1988 - Tito Santana

That's your Rumble Preview.  My Top 100 Wrestlers will absolutely, positively be posted next week - I will start rolling out the build to Counterfactual Mania 25 over at whatifwrestling.blogspot.com as soon as I can; I'll put up the preview for WM 26 when it becomes timely; Tendown appears every Sunday right here in this spot; and I'm almost always willing to write about a wrestling match, as I see, well, all of them.

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