Y Marks the Spot: The Nasty, Brutish, and Short – On Bullying

I hate categorization, especially when it comes to human beings.  In my opinion, there isn’t much that is more of a threat to the well-being of mankind than demographics.  I see the problems created by primarily defining one’s self by gender, ancestry, age, spiritual status, and whom one sleeps with as sort of a polar paradox.  Sure, groups separate people from one another, causing bigotry, tribalism, and discrimination, but at the same time they don’t separate people far enough, to the point where every person is an individual free from all the expectations and biases of the competing cultures.

Going further, I refuse to claim a sexual orientation.  First off, I’m far too narcissistic and antisocial to define myself by the presence of someone else.  But I suppose the main reason why I choose to not define myself along sexual lines is that I demand the ability to like any person in any way that I want.  Sex holds a pretty low rank in my relationships, so describing myself as gay, straight, or bisexual would feel like a cop-out.

Of course, this means that I often get treated as though I’m gay.  Wearing makeup and dresses and singing songs about molesting the male cast of Saved by the Bell hasn’t helped.  But I think I’d get the homo label anyway.  As progressive as we like to think of ourselves, there’s still a huge gay paranoia within our society, the magnitude of which draws parallels to McCarthyism.  One must always travel with one’s identification in full view.  Among guys (and let it be noted that I’m not presuming to speak for the ladies), this pretty much means that if you’re not banging at least five smokin’ hot girls at once, in full view of the entire world, your sexuality is suspect.

As an adult, I’ve fallen victim to this meatheaded thinking, but as a teenager, in a public school, shit.  I’m going to come right out and say it: fuck public school.  It’s a refinery of anti-intellectualism populated by savage little shits constantly at war with each other.  With the exception of a few friends, teachers, and an army of guidance counselors, I hated just about every moment I spent in the system.  My great grades were no indication of my experience.  On the off chance that I have children, there is no fucking way I will subject them to what I went through.

I suppose I’m queer in the more universal sense of the word, which is to say that I’m a chronic stranger.  But in that 12 year prison term that is public education, few recognize the difference.  The weirdos are faggots, regardless of what nascent form of sexuality is developing within them, and they suffer for it.  In that hateful maelstrom of loneliness and status-seeking, I was no innocent, though I mostly survived by vanishing instead of damaging.  For the belligerent, homophobia was often a convenient excuse for being an asshole – but sometimes we were just being assholes.

I’m happier now, by the way.

So I look at the recent rash of gay teen suicides with horror and sympathy, and I think that the massive outpouring of support for these kids – especially that shown in the It Gets Better Project – is nothing short of amazing.  Comparing the current reaction to something even so recent as the Columbine shootings of 1999 is mind-blowing.  In my experience, Columbine became a justification for bullying, not against it.  All soul-searching and self-questioning were quickly drowned in reactionary concealment and witch hunts for boogeymen wearing trenchcoats.  I remember.  I was there.  I was wearing one.

Yet today I also see a danger in some of the reactions.  While most people have their hearts in the right place, I’ve picked up on a lingering tendency to emphasize the gay in gay bullying, and the gay in gay suicide.

With all due respect to the fact that homosexuality is still viewed by too many as a source for second-class citizens, and being fully aware of the monstrous shit that is still coming out of the mouths and keyboards of the wannabe righteous phobe-trolls, I don’t think that the problem of bullying should be defined by who it’s happening to.  I don’t think that most, if any, acts of brutality should be.  Suffering is personal, relative, and can’t be compared.  Between the extremes of hypochondria and institutionalized crimes against humanity, when a spectator rates one person’s misery as more important than another’s, humanity’s lesser natures tend to creep in.  It also makes people placed outside of the special circle less inclined to care.  In fighting injustice, you can’t just stand up for those you claim as your own.  You have to stand up for everybody, or nothing gets solved.

Keep in mind that the early Christians were fed to the lions.  Look how well that turned out.

So when I hear or read about people saying that people who aren’t gay can’t understand the horrors of gay bullying, my first impulse is to answer that this isn’t always true.  Just because I’m not gay doesn’t mean that I haven’t been treated like shit because someone thought I was gay.  I feel like people who make such exclusionary comments discount not only the damage and perspectives of the straights, but also those of aliens like me.

But in spite of my cynicism, I hope – to steal a phrase – that things do get better, and we take the larger view.  And I think most people are.  It may take a little nudge and a willingness for people to look beyond their usual circles, but it seems that we’re approaching a common ground where all kids will be viewed – and further, treated – as important.  That can only mean good things when those kids become adults.

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Bizarro Masterpiece Theatre: The Music Videos of Army of Lovers

Army of Lovers - Big Boobs and Scary Dudes

The Music Videos of Army of Lovers

Director: Fredrik Boklund

I’m going to do something very different in this week’s Bizarro, and I’m going to discuss a series of music videos that, quite honestly, scare the crap out of me.  My weirdo street cred is well established, yet Army of Lovers, an avant-garde Swedish electropop group which adheres to a screw anything that moves school of libertine sexuality, is one of the most disturbingly alluring entities I’ve ever encountered.  The more I think about the group’s dynamic, the more convinced I am that Army of Lovers is what would happen if the B-52s grew up listening to Soft Cell, Boney M, and Bach.

He will get you!

The lion’s share of the creepouts are brought by vocalist Jean-Pierre Barda, a leering, gyrating, scantily-clad dude with the chest hair of Paul Stanley and a similar look to the Boy George-obsessed tranny from The Wedding Singer. When Barda stares at the camera, for any reason, my first impulse is to throw a blanket over myself and run away screaming.

But perhaps more disturbing than Barda’s overwhelming aura of campy perversion, or cohort Alexander Bard’s mousy antics, are the band’s shapely, similarly scantily clad women who strut around the elaborate sets and belt out big R&B vocals.  The easy label to stick to Army of Lovers is that it’s a gay, gay band, but if that’s true, then its videos are gay in a way that will make the straights question everything they’ve ever believed about themselves.

Though all the Army of Lovers videos are fantastically strange, what follows are the cream of the crop, those clips so deranged that they may induce nightmares.  The grandiose absurdity of director Fredrik Boklund may well make him the John Waters of the music video world.

Even the least bizarre of these is frightening.  In “King Midas,” Barda cruises the streets with a five o’clock shadow, eventually hitting the club and acting all rough trade.  He’s greeted in the lot by a buxom cop, played by top lady La Camilla, and soon he’s harassing the kitchen staff, molesting dudes in the bathroom, and pissing on his own shoes.  It’s also implied that his lovely assistant may have sodomized Bard the janitor/bartender with her nightstick.  After that, however, it descends to bodies writhing together and becomes just another night out at the fetish bar.

If the gold-plated prancing which comprises “Give My Life” is stranger, it’s mainly because of the few moments when Barda scampers around sporting a three-foot gold boner.  Jesus.

For some reason that’s never explained, this video begins with three of the band members covered in grease and working at a mechanic’s garage.  Barda strolls like a mook toward a car where his two buddies are working and plays a game of grabass with his colleague, whose tits are popping out of her unzipped jumpsuit.  Staying on task, the third wrench defuses this uncomfortable situation by removing what I think is gold underwear from a car’s engine, and a magical portal opens on the ground.  The grease monkeys enter, and, surprise, they’re Army of Lovers again, dressed in gold and getting chased around a labyrinth and whipped by La Camilla.  And Barda’s wearing a thong.

“Israelism” is the most bizarre celebration of Judaism I’ve ever seen.  Appropriating the traditional “Hevenu Shalom Alechem” into the song’s chorus, the video shows the band knee-deep in big tits and Hebrew imagery.  Barda prances around as usual, half the time dressed like a gold-plated princess, but this time he doesn’t hold a candle to the chick who is, shall we say, filling up Jean-Pierre’s bathtub.  Also, Bard suffers a ninja circumcision at Barda’s hands, but it doesn’t stop his frantic pelvic thrusts.

(The best I can find on Youtube at the moment is this live video, but it’s pretty tremendous in its own right.  The official video is here.)

But the all time champ of the Army of Lovers catalogue is “Crucified,” which shows Barda, Bard, and La Camilla in all their baroque glory.  I first saw this gem years ago on Beavis and Butt-head, and the pair reacted to it in the appropriate way – with terror and bewildered attraction.  One moment they cheered a close-up of big boobs; the next they cringed as Barda writhed around half-nude in yet another bathtub.  (“Drain the tub!” Butt-head shouted at the latter.)

The atmosphere is all ascots, corsets, and frilly nightrobes.  The cast twitches around like drug addicts from some French erotica, sword fighting, waving flags, batting at a tiny piano, playing a violin with a loaf of bread, and staring into the camera as though the viewer was a canvas for sex crime.  Barda, of course, is the video’s lead creep, chaining himself to a caged bed, prancing around, and most of all despairing – while gyrating.  It’s pretty awesome.

I vastly appreciate anything that can horrify me, and in this Army of Lovers has succeeded magnificently.  I salute you, you epic perverts!

The Designer’s Drugs: Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan – The Fall

Medium: Literature

Stimulus: Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan – The Fall

Anno: 2010

 

The second book in this new vampire trilogy is so much better than the first.  While The Strain eventually found its legs, it suffered from a horribly awkward introduction, where the authors ham-fisted the world together with overbearing explanations.  Luckily, The Fall hits the ground running and allows the reader to catch up in its own time.

As its title blatantly suggests, this book chronicles the time when everything goes to Hell.  The Strain’s tale of creeping contagion bursts into full-scale disorder, yet the powers that be, for various reasons, do nothing.  The heroes of the first book are first ignored and later vilified, as tends to happen in stories like this, and they must fight the story’s rogue vampire lord and unravel all mysteries on their own.  All pretty typical, but an interesting element comes in the intervention of the rest of the king bloodsuckers, who aren’t pleased that their brother is scaring the straights.  One of the story’s main characters is recruited by these ancients, assisted by a vampire-hunting vampire, and he draws together a hunting team comprised of street thugs and an old ex-luchador reminiscent of El Santo (by far the book’s best new addition).

The Fall’s greatest strength is its characterization.  Del Toro and Hogan have hit their stride in keeping out of the narrative and filling this failing world with believable, well-fleshed people.  This is especially true in the chapters detailing characters who don’t become a part of the greater struggle, who fall prey to the rampage in short order.  To put so much background into doomed characters, and then to off them, creates a great sense of tension and uncertainty.  So when the next character comes along, and the details of his or her life are given, one can’t help but become skeptical about that person’s chances.  And then someone surprises the reader and triumphs.

With the already established characters, del Toro and Hogan guarantee nothing.  While they don’t come anywhere close to clearing the slate, every character is placed in a position in which certain doom seems imminent.  The authors’ skill is shown in how the humans handle these scrapes; there are no magical, unexplained escapes, but rather instances of dumb luck that shine faintly through the terror.  The fact that a character survived one onslaught doesn’t mean that another one isn’t coming around the corner.

Not everything is sparkling; there’s a weird subplot thrown in involving nuclear reactors and a sappy message stating that a mother’s love is stronger than vampirism.  But most of it works.

This vampire trilogy may have started rough, but its midpoint indicates that it’s only going to get better.  The Fall is a quick and dirty vampire story that cuts out all the crap and leaves nothing but monsters and mayhem.  Old school nastiness at its best.

Y Marks the Spot: The Selfish Gene

Back in 1963, a comic book guy named Charles Xavier rolled around in his wheelchair and wrote the book on “differently abled.” As what his creator Stan Lee dubbed a Mutant – a blanket label with a scope ranging from chesty telepaths to five-assed monkeys – Professor X led a crusade for equality that was unprecedented in comic book history. Lee’s intention in this landmark title was to mirror the current struggles of the Civil Rights Movement, with Xavier filling the role of Martin Luther King Jr. and his friend and nemesis Magneto playing the reactionary side of Malcolm X. Throughout its history, through its great and not-so-great story arcs, the mutants have held a unique status of being dyed in the wool heroes who don’t quite get along with those they protect. (An argument could be made for Batman being the forerunner of outcast heroes, but then again, why is he in the Justice League – and why was he played by Adam West?) As opposed to the cheers heard at the end of most Golden Age comics, the X-men are as often as not pelted with bottles and run out of town by mobs and killer robots. The obvious reason why is because they’re different, other, freaks.

This ongoing theme of bigotry and nobility in spite of it has resonated with the public, and has made the X-men one of the top comic franchises in history, and for good reason. But there has always been a problem with the series, one which has grown more obvious in recent years as storylines in the Marvel Universe have grown more Orwellian.

Let’s start at the beginning. Our pal Chuck operates his team of young superheroes within the veneer of an academy for “Gifted Youngsters.” Now, we all know what gifted means in this case; Chuck’s running a safe haven for mutants, where they can feel safe and learn to control their powers, when they’re not rising (en masse, it seems) to save the world and make it more tolerant. Much is made of Xavier’s King-like dream of peace between mutants and non-mutants.

So here’s the problem. Why doesn’t Chuck teach non-mutants? In reality, any norms who show up on campus are, here, the freaks.  You’d think that making a mutant school open to non-mutants would be a significant step toward unity and reconciliation. Nope. Instead, this school is insular and, ultimately, a defensive construct. With all the bastards trying to kill Chuckie and the Gang, walling up like this is partially justified. Nonetheless, making a school that preaches tolerance mutants-only throws the baby out with the bathwater, denies normies the opportunity to mingle with the freaks and realize that they’re not all that bad. Wasn’t integration a crucial aspect of the Civil Rights Movement? The X-men could have faced a George Wallace-like villain who stood in front of the X-Mansion, refusing to let non-mutants in. Would have been a blast.

I’ll give you a nerd catch-up on the present. In recent storylines, the mutants have suffered mass genocide at the hands of giant robots, after which the not quite dead Magneto became a Che Guevara t-shirt. His daughter went crazy, created an alternate Happyland where Magneto rules, but then all-but erased mutants, leaving less than 200 on the planet. It’s here where the X-men (who, of course, emerge unscathed) become their most insular and paranoid, dropping almost all greater altruism in favor of keeping the laser beam dodo alive. The team’s heroism becomes more narrow and embattled, focused solely upon events’ effects upon its own people. While this isn’t totally out of line, there’s more than a little persecution complex bigotry here, which ruins the original dream of peace and harmony.

This is a problem caused by the taking of sides, of tribalism, of a social Selfish Gene Theory.

The saying which comes to mind in explaining this is, appropriately enough, an Arab proverb: “Me against my brother, my brother and I against our cousin, and my brother, cousin, and I against the stranger.” As humans following (mostly invented) differences, each person finds their cultural niche, their side, which fulfills both the need to belong and the need to have enemies. The person as individual and the urge for self-preservation are obscured and replaced with delusions of serving the greater good, turning saints into monsters and martyrs.

We’re seeing this play out in Gaza, where Israel and Palestine are abusing eons of history to mandate their current savagery against each other. We’ve seen it play out in our politics, where the two-party system has created an either/or, top/down mentality. We see it in the selective acknowledgment of atrocities perpetuated throughout the globe. We see it in the absurdity of asserting that an all-loving God would have a chosen people. We see it every time someone brings any form of social category into play. A friend and I once agreed that, should the current forms of bigotry someday come to an end, humans will simply move on to hating each other based on what entertainment one consumes.

A life defined by social categories and mass-market ideals is one lacking in vitality. It’s alright to be selfish; self is critical, original, the vendor of hope. Bratty entitlement and greed are different, equally as dangerous as factioning. But each life is lived alone. In this, the only sides that matter are inside and outside. The balance between determines everything.

Y Spy: Less than Jake goes to TV Land

TV/EP

On their latest release, veteran ska punk band Less than Jake has taken an amusingly odd turn.  As a title like “TV/EP” may indicate, this is a covers collection of 16 theme songs and commercial jingles, few longer than one minute, reformed into the Less than Jake style.  It works out really well.

Trombone and bass player Buddy Schaub described Less than Jake’s newest offering as in keeping with the band’s tendency to veer off into strange territory.  In our conversation, he noted other precedent-setting ventures from the band, including the Travolta-channeling ‘Greased’ EP, which would make an album like TV/EP feel inevitable, yet great fun nonetheless.


Y Spy: TV/EP is a brilliant idea.  What led you to make it?

Buddy Schaub: Back in our early days, we used to cover [the theme songs of] Laverne & Shirley and Happy Days.  We used to do that live at shows and at some point we recorded a few of them.  They were thrown together and half-assed, so for the last few years we had been talking about really doing it for real.  The idea kept escalating, and eventually it came to be what it is now.

The idea kind of came from how you can get those CDs that are all TV show themes.  I’m pretty sure that some other band has done this, but we tried to do a completist ideal.  The concept was like you were sitting on a couch in front of a TV, changing channels.  If you go to our website, we put a continuous stream of the commercials and TV shows that go with each song.  I actually did the video myself.  Having the videos go with the music was the culmination, the truest form of what the idea was.  It’s definitely more of a complete picture, and there’s a little teeny clip of us I snuck in there.

Y Spy: Why did you choose the particular themes and jingles that are on the album?

Buddy Schaub: I don’t know.  Laverne & Shirley we had done before, so we wanted to give that a fair shake.  That was one of the first ones, and while we were practicing we’d brainstorm ideas.  JR stays at my house when we’re doing stuff, and Chris came over a few times and we were going through YouTube videos.  Once you Google one old 80s commercial, 65 of them come up and you keep going through.  We picked songs that we thought we could pull off, stuff that was a bit of a variety and wasn’t all one time period.  Yet there wasn’t a completely methodical plan to how it went.

Y Spy: Was the making of the album a quick process?  There are a lot of tracks on TV/EP, but they’re all really short.

Buddy Schaub: It actually came together really fast.  I thought it was gonna take a little longer than it did.  Once we had taken what we were gonna do we worked it out at the Warehouse a little bit.  At a certain point we just started recording them.  We did it all at Roger’s house.  Once we got the drums down and started putting down the basic tracks it was really easy to start layering the other stuff.  You don’t have to worry about writing lyrics because they’re already there.

It was a great experience because the songs are short and the commercials are even shorter.  But they pack so much songwriting into that little bit of time.  There are crazy harmonies, still a verse chorus verse, a bridge sometimes.  They still manage to pack a full song into a minute, so it was really cool to get into the head space of people that write jingles and TV show themes.

Y Spy: Are you going to be playing these songs live?

Buddy Schaub: We’ve been doing a bunch of weekend shows and throwing them in there.  We’re not going to do the whole album or anything, but we’ve been playing four or five of the songs.

Y Spy: One of the great things about this album is that you’re not taking yourselves too seriously as musicians, and you’re just having fun.  Was the intention to get out of your usual mindset and do something a bit sillier?

Buddy Schaub: Yeah.  We were getting ready to write some new stuff, and we hadn’t done it in a while, and we thought it was a good way to get back into the swing of things.  We still had to do some sort of writing for this and make the songs our own.  It was a good warmup.

Y Spy: You’ve announced a new U.S. tour.  What are its details?

Buddy Schaub: We’re coming back in January after going to Japan and Europe.  It’s starting mid-January, we end somewhere in California in February, and we fly over to Australia to do the Soundwave Festival. It’s pretty much all over the U.S., and it’s with two bands called the Supervillains and Off with Their Heads.  We’re still figuring that out.

Y Spy: Are you preparing a full album?

Buddy Schaub: We’re definitely writing songs.  I’m not sure exactly what we’re going to do with them yet.  We’ve already got ten shelves of songs that we got done before this onslaught of touring that we’re getting ready to start up.  After we come back in January, we’re gonna either try to finish demoing out some of the ideas or see how far we can get with them.  I’m not sure what our plans are yet, but there will be new material.  Hopefully you’ll be hearing original music from us in the upcoming year.  Never fear!  There’s always new stuff to be written!

TV/EP is available now.  More information can be found at www.lessthanjake.com.

Bizarro Masterpiece Theatre: Mega Shark versus Giant Octopus

 

Fight!

 

Movie: Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus (2009)

Director: Ace Hannah

Starring: Deborah Gibson, Vic Chao, Lorenzo Lamas

Written by: Ace Hannah

The thing I don’t like about any of the Monster versus Monster films that have popped up over the past decade is that the ending is almost invariably the same.  Some dick humans are going to get caught up in the film’s epic conflict and somehow, improbably, they’re going to come out on top.  Even if they don’t take out the combatants outright, enough innocent bystanders are going to escape the arena.  It’s the same problem I have with the shitty new Transformers movies: human beings should have no place in the plots of what are essentially gladiator films.  At best, Johnny Human should be a shocked bystander; more often, he should be cannon fodder.

Thus, while I was easily excited by the prospects of a film with such an awesome title like Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus, I knew that some shaved ape jackoffs would inevitably stick their noses into this epic aquatic combat.  I was not disappointed.  Yet having ex-teen pop star Debbie Gibson in the title role provided an interesting way for the humans to triumph.  After all, what better way to defeat underwater monstrosities than by unleashing the Electric Youth?

 

Instead, she breaks out the White Lightning.

 

Sadly, this film does not heed by my punny strategies.  Instead, Commodore Gibson must combat the menaces at the behest of Lorenzo Lamas, the Steven Seagal of television.  Lamas plays a dickhead government functionary who forcibly recruits Gibson, her Irish mentor, and her soon to be Japanese lover (soon to be her lover, I mean, not imminently Japanese), into war against the monsters.  While her boyfriend joins his countrymen to combat the Octopus, Gibson, Lamas, and the teach board the USS Electric Youth – captained by a guy who looks disturbingly like the great Chris Penn – to go after Mr. Shark.  The humans lead the beasts into each other’s presence, and a nautical argument which might have resolved peacefully goes sour.

 

What Would Captain Chris Penn Do?

 

This movie is a titan of bad CG and absurdity, but there are two scenes which deserve special praise.  The first comes after the opening credits, which takes a panoramic view of mountains and helicopters, two places traditionally safe from sharks and octopi (in theory).  In her stolen minisub, Commodore Gibson is shown in certain shots typing with a left hand bearing black nail polish, while her right hand, in a different angle, features clear nails.  A naval code, perhaps?  Yet when her right hand is shown typing, it also has black nail polish!  Durr.

But the greatest thing in this movie?  The scene in which THE SHARK LEAPS OUT OF THE OCEAN AND DESTROYS AN AIRPLANE.

 

Jesus Fucking Christ.

 

They’re making a sequel, and Urkel’s in it.  I’m not joking.

* * *

[As a bonus, here’s how things would have really gone down.]

The Designer’s Drugs: Mick Foley – Countdown to Lockdown

Medium: Literature

Stimulus: Mick Foley – Countdown to Lockdown

Anno: 2010

The oversaturated, often ghostwritten world of the wrestler’s autobiography has been worn out since Mick Foley single-handedly created – or at least legitimized – the field.  His first of four autobiographies, titled Have a Nice Day!, was a remarkable account of pro wrestling, compiled from handwritten notebooks written in Foley’s own hand.  It remains the benchmark against which every other pro wrestler’s memoirs are judged.  Since then, Foley tends to pop up every few years with a new book of varying quality detailing his life’s recent events.

Of these follow-ups, Countdown to Lockdown finds itself in the middle of the road.  The main thrust of the book details Foley’s exodus to TNA, wrestling’s number two promotion, where the old gun attempts to deliver a solid match within a steel cage.  The days count down as Foley’s fears, insecurities, and physical condition threaten to overwhelm him, yet he pulls himself together.

The ultimate problem that plagues this book is the insecurity.  Foley’s accounts of the wrestling world are still enthralling, and it’s still really easy to get behind him in his newest adventures.  But wow, does he come off as nervous in this one.  The book’s scatterbrained tangents, bashful asides, and schoolboy shout-outs to the ladies take a heavy toll on the narrative.

As such, the best chapters in Countdown to Lockdown have nothing to do with the main story.  Foley’s account of his marginalization within and departure from the WWE, and his take on wrestling’s many casualties and tendencies toward substance abuse, feature some of the book’s boldest writing.  Foley’s criticisms of his old job, jaded fans, and the industry at large are delivered largely with fairness and without bitterness, though a few cheap shots do come out from time to time.

Another key element in the book is the description of Foley’s charitable work, both as a wrestler and outside of it.  His work with disabled kids and wounded soldiers has gone back for years, but Foley spends a lot of time in this book promoting his favorite charities, particularly his work sponsoring children in foreign countries.  It’s interesting to read about his impact upon a village in Sierra Leone, a place where the celebrity of pro wrestling doesn’t reach yet where Foley is treated as a hero.  These stories might have felt out of place in the average ghostwritten wrestling memoir, but are completely fitting alongside Foley’s optimistic style.

The Hardcore Legend's Legend

But the most notable part of this tale is, believe it or not, Tori Amos.  Though she’s been mentioned in Mick’s other books, here he devotes an entire chapter to praising the singer.  In what basically amounts to a fan letter, he breaks down the lyrics to his favorite Amos song, builds up the nerve to meet her, and then agonizes over whether he creeped her out.  It’s a strange and occasionally fawning part of the book, but one which ties in with the main narrative later on.  In the larger context, it makes sense, but the presentation could have been less starstruck.

It’s an odd, meandering piece of work, but Countdown to Lockdown should appeal to the already converted wrestling fan.  For the newcomer, however, start with his first book.  Foley’s gift for writing may not be in full force here, but it is present often enough to signify that, while his wrestling career is coming to a close, he may still have a few good books left in him.