Thursday, October 09, 2014

Best Pro Wrestling Podcasts

Podcasts make my hour-long commute somewhat less soul crushing. And while I haven't regularly watched  wrestling in years, I really enjoy the burgeoning sub-genre of wrestling interview podcasts, many hosted by former or current wrestlers.

All provide a behind the scenes, insider perspective, and you learn a lot about how hard wrestlers work to make the shows realistic and entertaining. I've sampled many shows and would recommend:

The Steve Austin Show
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin is a surprisingly natural interviewer and host, and he seems to be friends with every former and current wrestler. Dig into the archives for his talks with Ric Flair, Scott Hall, Paul Heyman, and more. Note: he actually has two shows. The second "The Steve Austin Show - Unleashed" has the same format but with more profanity.

Talk is Jericho
Chris Jericho still pops up in WWE from time to time, and on his twice-weekly show, he interviews former wrestlers and pop-culture personalities. His recent interview with Triple H was particularly insightful.

The Ross Report
Jim "JR" Ross has worked in wrestling since the early-1970's as an announcer, most notably on RAW during the Attitude Era, and a backstage figure. My only critique is that he is considerably less caffeinated than during his live TV days, so some episodes drag, particularly his freeflowing pre-interview commentaries.

The Art of Wrestling with Colt Cabana
Hosted by longtime indie wrestler Colt Cabana, this was the first breakout wrestling podcast, and he's interviewed everyone from his close friend CM Punk to veterans like the Iron Sheik and Hillbilly Jim. Some of his guests are more obscure (and I'll admit to skipping those), but he's a good conversationalist.

WOOOOO! Nation with Ric Flair
This podcast is better than I expected, thanks to Ric's co-host who helps guide the conversation, making each episode more like a joint interview with Flair and his guests telling stories together. His admittedly-inebriated episode with Kevin Sullivan stands out in my mind for its ribald stories.

Other Podcasts of Note:

MLW Radio
A mix of wrestling opinion and interview podcasts from Jim Cornette, Konnan, and other veterans.

WrestleCast - WWE and TNA wrestling interviews
No longer updated, but this UK-based show got some of the biggest stars, from Mick Foley to Ric Flair, to speak out of character and tell great stories. The archives are still available on iTunes.

Pro Wrestling Torch Podcast
The best insider newsletter also has a robust website and regularly-updated podcast featuring commentary and guest interviews with stars like Goldust and Scott Hall.

Booker T and Tazz also launched podcasts in recent months, also through

BTW, if you need a podcast app, it's hard to beat Overcast. The voice boost, smart speed, and 30-second skip features really improve the listening experience.

Turning Black Friday into Track Friday

What if some of the money spent on Black Friday went towards charity instead? What if people instead came together on local tracks in support of the causes they cared about? A good friend had that idea, and 2 years and $37,000+ raised later, "Track Friday" is taking off.

I designed their webpage and will participate again this fall. If you also like the idea, please consider liking their Facebook page or even joining the movement.

Friday, April 11, 2014


In the 5 years since my last post, the Internet has only gotten bigger. So you could be forgiven for missing these new sites and businesses launched by friends of mine, but they are worthy of your time/clicks:

Personalized photo book from
Personalized photo book from
Personalized children's books are a dime a dozen. But personalized children's book with your child's picture in the story? Innovative, inspired, and, based on my son's reaction, a gift that your child will actually appreciate.

Rereading some of my old blog entries makes me realize how much I miss writing. I benefited from great teachers, and now the Winning Writing Academy is running a Cranford summer writing camp to inspire that same love in elementary school students.

A small piece of wire can make different beads come together into something beautiful. Just like how a bead party can bring your friends together in a fun night of jewelry making, conversation, and cocktails. Let the Queen Bead show you how.

Attention must be paid--check them all out.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

One year later

1.  New job.
2.  New baby, due in 3 weeks.
3.  Still unstoppable.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Every word matters

This just in: per Pathmark, marshmallows are "fun to eat."

This changes everything.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

My American Idol

Back in our Hoboken days, we were often serenaded by our building's parking garage attendant, who came from Egypt and spoke pieces of English when not belting a Top 40 tune. He was a charming guy, to the point where I often suspected he was hitting on my wife.

One evening he announced that he was trying out for American Idol, but we moved out long before we ever heard the outcome.

We, along with the rest of America, found out last night how well he'd fared. "Youka," we hardly knew 'ya. Here's hoping your singing stardom dream is merely deferred and that you find that woman to love from head to nipple.

P.S. Apparently Alaa Youakeem would sing for all of the garage's patrons, as this YouTube clip reveals:

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thought bubble

A colleague snapped this at a recent book party we held at a museum. Another possible headline: Before and After.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Spinning wheel, got to go round

The demo wheel
I recently tried out for Wheel of Fortune.

The invite came from a friend who had applied online to be a contestant. 6-8 months later, an email invited him to try out for "Best Friends Week." Thinking strategically, he called me, rather than his true best friend, hoping that my vast (but ultimately shallow) knowledge pool would provide a tactical advantage.

We arrived at the hotel conference room, where about 70 other "best friends" had been summoned. Wearing our best game faces, we tried to convey the enthusiasm that all TV producers covet as we scouted out our competition. The odds weren't in our favor: hot college girls to our right, a Price is Right veteran1 to our left who oozed ordinary-guy charisma.

First, the producers had us complete a questionnaire, and then each pair was asked to simply state their names for everyone to hear. After that, we started to play a simulated game. The producer spun the wheel (pictured above) on our behalf and quietly took notes as we were each called upon. People who didn't answer fast enough, didn't make sense, or didn't have that Sajak-esque aura somehow always landed on BANKRUPT after a few spins. Winners of each puzzle won autographed Vanna White glossies, bobbleheads, and/or handsome Wheel of Fortune beach towels.

Finally our turn arrived. The category was "Phrase," and one player had already gone, leaving us with:
(image via

We instantly has the same thought: it must start with "I'VE".

So my friend spoke for us with conviction, requesting "A 'V' please!"

What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Well, in our case, it got shot down with a feisty buzzer, compelling us to sit back down. I hammed up my disappointment, thinking I may yet impress the producers with my stage presence.

Upon taking my seat, I had the simultaneous thoughts that:
  1. the first word could just as easily been "I'LL"
  2. there are a lot more common letters to choose than"V"
We were not called on again. Many others got a second go-round, and we clapped hard for each player, but our unquestionable spirit was not rewarded. Nor was the person who asked to spin again when solving our original puzzle, which at that point read:

Finally, there was a worksheet with shockingly difficult fill-in-the-blank puzzles (i.e. the answer to one, a "Before and After" one, was MARILYN MONROE DOCTRINE). They were collected after five minutes (along with our questionnaires), and they were "scored" in a backroom.

In reality, the puzzle is used as a cover for people to rationalize why they weren't picked. The producers only look at the questionnaire answers, which asked us, among other questions, for our favorite celebrity, whether we had been on a game show before, and "something that you're proud of."

Of the 30-40 duos, only 10 were asked to stay2 to play another round. Months later, the show aired, and the BFFs to my left won big money (as they say in game show speak).

But I am not deterred, as I hear they are bringing back American Gladiators, and I like my chances.

Not only a contestant, but a star: he won a car. After the show, the local dealer called him to get his preferred color. When he said that he was just going to resell it anyway, they gave him the car's retail value in cash.

The Price is Right veteran and hot college girls were indeed chosen.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Things Remembered: The TI-82

Before Blackberries, iPods, or smatphones, my generation's in-school electronic entertainment came from the TI-82 graphing calculator. Its killer app was the Programs menu, where you could setup mini-applications to handle, for example, converting Fahrenheit to Celsius or solving the quadratic equation.

Mainly, though, we used it for games. One classmate proved particularly adept at programming, creating "Guess the Number" and "FASTKEY," where you had six seconds to press a key over and over (the record holder maxed out at 82, which remains impressive). Pre-wifi, you could link your TI-82 to another via a cable, allowing for easy swapping of programs. People came back from band competitions with new games, such as Blackjack and Archery. I created a few programs of my own, mostly involving profanities.

Remarkably my calculator and the programs remained intact for more than ten years. It wasn't until this past weekend when a memory failure wiped out my archive. As it was the same weekend that I moved from the city into the suburbs, it was hard not to feel that a larger break from the past was occurring. Having long since lost the linking cable, I have no way of getting those programs back or to download new ones off the Internet.

So I bid adieu to the TI-82 and its bulky, low-tech technology. Because of you, I never really learned pre-calc or understood trigonometry. And for this, I thank you.