Thursday, November 21, 2019


I'm closer than I have been in a while to actually getting caught up to today. And I've got a lot of other work ahead of me to, so before I finally get around to finishing all of that, we've got some family business left to take care. So, every once in a while when I don't have enough to say on a particular subject matter that's garnered the attention of the entertainment world to write a full blogpost on, I instead do a little Mixed Bag Blog, where I touch upon a few different subjects. We're doing another one of those here. This time, I'm familiarizing myself with the new OSCAR RULES, finally, I'm spotlighing the sudden evergrowing growth of PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING's space in the moder television landscape, and I'm doing another Random ALBUM REVIEW of a CD I own, in this case, PAULA COLE's breakthrough album, "This Fire"!


Okay, I'm still catching up on stuff that I couldn't talk about previously when I was in that unfortunate state earlier in the year where I couldn't afford the internet, so therefore I couldn't blog for awhile. Now, most everything that I seemed to miss, most of it, luckily, either was said by somebody else or was mostly some subject that I didn't care about and wouldn't have commented on to begin with. There's still a couple things going on in the world however that I do want to comment on regularly, especially when they involve something I've discussed so heavily as the Oscars, I definitely I should tackle it. 

So, a few months back, we got word of some new changes to the Academy Awards this year. Thankfully it was nothing as ridiculously stupid as a Popular Film category, an idea that has made A.M.P.A.S. President John Bailey so bad in my eyes that I was wishing Cheryl Boone-Isaacs would come back, and I hated her. I don't seem to be the only one either since veteran casting director David Rubin has taken over. Hopefully, that'll finally lead to a Casting Directing Oscar being given out someday sooner than later. However, these new minor rule changes, I should at least take a look at and comment on, so really quickly before Oscar season really gets underway, let's go through them. 

Animated Feature Oscar no longer requires the eight films minimum per year standard to be activated. 

Ummm, okay. I guess that's not a terrible addition. but I am a little concerned about this. I don't think there is any question that the minimum threshold will ever not be met again, but I don't love the precedent 'cause it does conflict with the rule about Best Musical. Yeah, there's a Best Musical category; you might know it as Best Original Song Score, since the last time the award was given out, that's what it was called, but if there's nine films that qualify as Musicals under the Oscars definition in a given year, then a Best Musical category is opened. Again, this haven't happened since Prince won that award for "Purple Rain", but it does seem weird that one genre is limited to this minimum and the other isn't anymore. I mean, what happens if there is a year where there's only eight animated features released, not that I think that would happen, but still, that would make the Best Musical not being honored seem a bit douchy, even if there was only like, two films that would qualify.  

Additionally Nomination voting for Short and Feature Film Animation will be open to all members of the A.M.P.A.S. 

Honestly, I don't like this rule, at all. I get it, that animation should be determined by the whole academy the same way Best Picture is, but honestly, I think that's a bad idea during the nomination process. That means only the most popular and widest-appealed movies will get the nominations, and I don't love that. I like the branch occasionally giving us a strange one, like a foreign or independent animated feature popping in there now and then. I mean, I liked "The Boss Baby" and had no real issue with it being up for Best Picture, and nobody else seemed to care, so I guess it's okay if it's ten sequels keep popping up here too..... Yeah, exactly.... 

Makup and Hairstyling Oscar will expand the nominated films from 3 to 5, and the shortlist from 7 to 10. (Plus a 7 minute limit to Bake-Off Reels for movies) 

Oh, thank frickin' Christ! I love this rule change, I've been advocating it for years, other Academy members have been advocating it for years; I don't know why the Makeup Branch suddenly caved now to five nominees, but it's long, long, long overdue. Already, this rule change is my favorite and it gets me back in the Oscars good graces. They feel a thousand miles closer to sanity then they did last year. Good rule change. 

The category of Best Foreign Language Feature turns to Best Internation Feature, with no other changes with the category's rules. 

Okay, this one...- I don't get at all. Apparently their justification is that the word "foreign" is outdated within the global film community. Is it? Is there something wrong with the word "foreign", that I've never noticed before. I mean, I guess you can say it's derogatory compared to English, which is given the default status by using that term, but...-. See, this would make more sense to me if they changed the rules fo the award. The Foreign Language Oscar  dammit. The Best International Feature Oscar, (Sigh, that's not gonna be easy to get used to saying.) is based around the idea that it's for films that are predominantly not in the English Language, firstly. Then there's the representative stature, where there's one country/one submission rule, then there's the panel voting, etc. etc. Basically, as long as the movie's in another language, it's technically eligible, and that hasn't changed. Of course, America isn't the only country that makes English-language films. Hypothetically, if they changed the language standard, a James Bond movie could be eligible for this award. I'm not big on this. I've seen some awards go with the more proper title, "Best Film Not in the English Language" moniker, which I guess sounds better than Foreign, if you really do believe foreign is derogatory and outdated in that way. I think it's more benign than the Academy seems to think it is now, but...- I don't know, I guess this isn't a terrible change, but it just feels arbitrary and pointless, especially with no other changes to it. I mean if the global community does think the word foreign is outdated, then change the standard about the movie having to be in a foreign language, right? (Shrugs) 

Alright, so these are minor and in some cases, even positive changes to the Oscars, so I'm not being too picky or obnoxious on these, although I'm not crazy about some of them, but they're definitely progressive and positive changes as a whole. They still got a long way to go in many respects, but they're moving in the right direction and that's a positive to me. 


I’ve spoken about pro wrestling periodically over the years on this blog. I’ve tried to limit how often I speak about it for several reasons, there’s a stigma attached to it that’s mostly negative, I post mostly in film and TV groups and they don’t necessarily consider it in their purview of what they consider “entertainment”, and also, even though it is a subject that does fascinate me, you can clarify it as more “sport” than entertainment, and generally some entertainment groups don’t like it when I veer into sports as opposed to traditional movies or television, and I don’t necessarily disagree with that either; I do like sports and while I like to think of the widest landscape possible when it comes to considering what is/isn’t entertainment and despite the fact that most sports occupy a pretty major aspect of the television landscape, but, yeah, I can see why this subsect of entertainment isn’t something that should be veered into that regularly. That said, in regards to pro wrestling in particular there actually hasn’t been much to talk about or discuss regarding it anyway. I’ve occasionally dipped into the subject matter sporadically, and often with an apology, or compared it somewhat negatively to other medias. (Oh, and I’m convinced that the “The Hunger Games” author basically stole ¾ of those books from pro wrestling storylines, if you seek out those old movie reviews, you may notice I make that insinuation in some tiny, subtle ways)

However, I think it is timely and appropriate to discuss the state of pro wrestling on the entertainment landscape right now, ‘cause there’s been some major developments regarding it recently. Basically, to get right to the thesis, this the best time for pro wrestling on the television landscape, in decades! I mean, arguably, not since the Golden Age of television in the ‘50s has pro wrestling been so prevalent on the television landscape. Now, for those who may be knowledgeable and question that, since, yeah, they’re not exactly getting anywhere close to the rating they did during the Monday Night Wars, yeah, that’s 100% true. There is no standard I can come up with where I can legitimately claim that pro wrestling is at the peak of it’s popularity and pop culture relevance, right at this moment of time, and even using that as a standard, professional wrestling has a limited audience scope to begin with and I don’t think it’s ever fully going to embraced by the mainstream media, certainly not anytime soon.

However, we now have WWE Smackdown, on Primetime network television, and on FOX, one of the big 4 networks. It’s the first time there’s been wrestling regularly on Primetime network television since Smackdown originally aired on UPN, so many years ago, which-, let’s face it, I’m just not gonna count that. UPN doesn’t exist anymore, and it was frankly never a big enough network to even matter, and even combined with the WB to create the CW, and actually have a few decent TV shows that have cult audiences and critical acclaim, I’d still argue that CW, doesn’t even count as a major network. Certainly, having a Primetime weekly presence on FOX is big, even though the last time WWE was getting this kind of major attention was John Oliver’s expose on some of their behind-the-scenes practices, this is primarily a positive. 

That said, there’s a lot more going on in wrestling, then just, WWE on FOX.

As I mentioned before television and pro wrestling have always gone hand-in-hand and especially in the early days of TV, local wrestling was a guaranteed ratings hit in the Territory days in most of the country. After the Monday Night Wars ended though, pro wrestling on television of major note has mostly been relegated to WWE on whatever network they were on at that time, usually USA Network, and any other company that you can generously call competition were lucky if they even got television coverage of any kind. Now however, there’s actual competition though, and from a familiar competitor. Without going too deep into the history of this, a couple months back AEW, All-Elite Wrestling, made their national weekly broadcast debut on TNT, the first time they’ve aired pro wrestling in Primetime since 2001. They didn’t dare go on Monday Nights, to take on the Raw juggernaut, but this is a significant upstart that’s run by people qualified to compete on the same level with the WWE, and most importantly, actually has the financial backing to possibly do it.

And WWE’s nervous about it; they actually took their minor league wrestling brand, NXT and switched it from their own WWE Network to USA to compete against AEW, something that they never even considered for any other fringe competitor before. If the WWE is taking it seriously, then maybe a closer inspection is needed. 

However, it’s not even just AEW now. MLW or Major League Wrestling, is gaining a major following through weekly TV and it’s streaming service, Impact Wrestling is, still around, admittedly I’m not sure how, but they’re a presence on regular weekly television on something the Pursuit Channel, so is, of all things, New Japan Wrestling, which has a weekly broadcast on AXS, and Ring of Honor, has a semi-national presence airing on Sinclair Broadcasting Channels across the country, and even has some national presence on networks like CHARGE and STADIUM. Even the NWA, the National Wrestling Alliance, a brand that’s practically ancient, has actually returned to television-, well, Youtube, but basically television, with a regular weekly program and is now owned and funded by Billy Corgan! Yes, that Billy Corgan, and they’ve regained a certain amount of prominence in the professional wrestling world. (And I’ve not even mentioning stuff like Lucha Underground, or the rise of popularity of some European wrestling companies here as well.)

Admittedly part of this is simply, technology. With things like streaming and the internet, there’s more alternative social media options for pro wrestling to promote and brand itself, and in turn earn enough capital and identity to get onto a fringe network or two. That said, AEW is about a year or two old and TNT is not a fringe cable network, and FOX is really not a fringe network.

Although, it isn’t that surprising that they’re attempting to embrace pro wrestling. While not all pro wrestling on television airs live, sports and reality programming, along with a never-ending influx of channels, has led to more space on television for pro wrestling then ever before, and to a reasonable degree, you can also say that, wrestling can fit more neatly into several channels branding then it has in a while. Live television and sports are the biggest ratings gets in a world of Netflix and Hulu, because they’re the most insistent kinds of television that require being watched immediately. This is a nearly perfect scenario for pro wrestling to begin infiltrating more of the television and entertainment landscapes.

I’m not saying that we’re getting a new boom period or that this New Company vs. WWE’s Minor League battle on Wednesday Nights, will be a new Monday Night Wars, or even that the WWE has legitimate equal competition from one, or any of these other wrestling companies are gonna overtake the WWE; they’re still the only name that the general public would recognize, they’re the biggest name, the one that will get the majority of the criticisms for pro wrestling rightly or wrongly, and the praise and acclaim for it as well. I mean, the only wrestling celebrity who the laymen would recognize who wasn’t a predominant part of the WWE right now is Ric Flair, and he was in the WWE for a several years there as well, and still works for them occasionally when he’s not appearing in rap videos or Tide commercials, the WWE owns most of the old video libraries from the companies he used to work in, so I’m stretching even counting him. But this has been the most opportunity for pro wrestling landscape, not just the WWE, to infiltrate the entertainment landscape in a long time and it’s coming from several places.


I mean, I just reviewed a comedy movie John Cena starred in, and it wasn’t even a joke that he was in it,… and it was pretty funny and he was good in it, so don’t be too surprised in a world where the biggest movie star in Hollywood and the President of the United States are in the WWE Hall of Fame, if more people from the wrestling world find their way keep making their presence in the entertainment world, especially now.


Alright, once again, I’m doing a “Just-for-fun” album review, in order to actually get through my quest to listen to all the CDs I actually own. Not a music expert, blah, blah, blah, not pretending to be, just writing about a random album I own, but have not listened to, until now, for the first time.

In this case, I’m doing Paula Cole’s “This Fire”. I know a few songs on this album already, ‘cause it was a major album of my youth. I’ve even talked about my love of “I Don’t Want to Wait” before; I consider it one of the best songs of the ‘90s. This was the album that Paula Cole won a few Grammys for, her breakthrough album, in fact. She was famous for being one of the main headliners of Lilith Fair as well, on the strength of this very well-acclaimed album. She’s had a bit of an interesting and strange career since. She’s not somebody who I’ve followed as rigorously as other artists of that era, which as some of you might know, the post-grunge singer-songwriter movement of the mid-to-late ‘90s, that was noted for being dominated by female singer-songwriters, is my favorite era of music. So there’s a little bit of that bias, but I am looking forward to this. I bought this album, very recently. In fact, I even made a reference to buying this album on Twitter when I did buy it, and I’m fairly certain some though I was kidding, but I wasn’t and like many of my CDs these days, I bought it as it was on sale at my local library. I think I paid a buck for it; I’m fairly certain it’s gonna be at least worth the buck. So, alright, let’s press play on this.

“This Fire”


Alright, I’ve given this a few listens actually, and I loved the album. I can totally see why, the Grammys for instance were head over heels for the album, once upon a time. It still holds up really well. I could listen to this album several times over and find something new in it. In fact, that’s something that’s really amazing, is the production. Paula Cole was famously the first female to get nominated for Producer of the Year despite having only produced her own album that year, but I totally get why. Cole has always been a really eclectic musically. There’s a lot of unique and unusual musical compositions here, especially for some of the album tracks that aren’t well-known. Although, even if you think about it for a second, think about how strange a song “Where Have All the Cowboys Are?” actually sounds. And I love that song, but it’s got a lot of vocal distortion, and an almost electronica beat,- that song in particular I’m really amazed isn’t more beloved now, because it’s so weird. There’s like classical jazz influences, there’s a lot of strange instrumentation,- She’s listed as playing nine different instruments for this album, including something called a Juno and a Tube Werlitzer, which I don’t even know what the hell those are. 

Lyrically, she’s does jump to a lot of topics and has a lot of strange ideas. “Me” for instance, is almost this self-referential song that seems to literally be an inner monologue of Paula, while she’s singing something else. She has some really nostalgia lyrics, especially her most famous songs, she conjurs up some really distorted Norman Rockwell-like images there, but she also can be as angry and defiant as a Fiona Apple or Tori Amos at times, especially on “Throwing Stones”, which has some really evocative angry lyrics. I will say this, I had heard that she had become far more religious in her more recent albums and in her personal life,- I haven’t heard a lot of that work from her, so I can’t entirely judge that but there’s definitely seeds of that. “Tiger” for instance, uses Bethlehem as a symbolic starting point, and in “Road to Death” she literally compares herself emotionally to suffering like Jesus Christ. She also has a very direct sexual side with “Feelin’ Love”.

There’s a lot of ideas here, coming from a lot of different places emotionally and intellectually, both in the lyrics and the music. To give you an idea on the kind of album it is, and the kind of artist that Paula Cole seems be trying to emulate, there’s a guest vocal on the song “Hush, Hush, Hush” by Peter Gabriel. So, somebody who can jump a few different genres at random depending on the song and whatever instincts he has. It’s kind of like, the ideal album I want from this era and this mid-90s singer-songwriter era; I want a couple, wonderful, polished singles, I want very powerful, srrong, emotional lyrics, and I want an artist who uses the freedom of being a solo act to really experiment musically and lyrics with the deeper and more obscure tracks, to constantly keep you on your toes. I mean, a song like “Mississippi”, with all the dark, brooding piano and distorted guitars, I could see being a crowd favorite at a concert, especially for all the twist and turns it brings, even if that kind of extreme vocal shifts might be hard to pull off on stage. Reminds me a lot of Alanis Morissette’s “Uninvited” only with a chorus and a lot more righteous anger.

Yeah, I’ve playing this on a loop since I started writing this, and I suspect I’ll keep playing it for awhile. Great album, definitely going into my regular rotation of CDs, I highly recommend Paula Core’s “This Fire”. Good title, too, ‘caution no matter the subject or genre, there seems to be some kind of passion, all throughout the album, which is another aspect I really love of this era that I often feel is missing now, the passion in the songs and music. 

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