THE OBTUSE ANGLE Gaston the CheeseMaster! or: "Gimmicks We'd Like to See" February 17, 2003
by Jeb Tennyson Lund OnlineOnslaught.com/CitizenScholar.net
As a long-standing phenomenon, wrestling has been both legendary and laughable. You know, like democracy. For every transcendent icon like Stone Cold, there are at least two equivalent burps in reason and content. Wrestling has presented us with such horrors as The Gobbledygooker, Bastion Booger, Doink the Clown, Mr. Staircase, Isaac Yankem and Baron Taco. Perhaps, as in Frankenstein, the real horror is not that which was created but the creator. But we already bash Vince McMahon enough.
Thinking back on all these craptacular wonders, I got to thinking about awful gimmicks. Primarily, what interested me was how memorable and immortal they remain in our minds. To a certain extent, I believe these accidents resulting from the impossible squaring of a circle are necessary. We need awfulness. We cling to it.
Triple H engaging in corpse-raping will only get us so far. There is a woeful dearth of the charmingly awful out there. I propose that we need some gimmick characters periodically stinking up the airwaves for only a month or two for each character. Something to keep us on our toes, to positively direct our hate... to make us laugh. Submitted, hopefully for our collective amusement, are a few wrestling characters who need to occupy our thoughts and percolate our bile for a few days out of the year. (Those gimmicks submitted by posters at the OO Message Board and CRZ's Wienerboard are credited at the bottom of the gimmick.)
GIMMICK #1 Lifespan: two months... On Raw, Test and Rico are locked in a five-star classic when the lights suddenly go out. Two seconds later, the Titantron scintillates with a medley of images: laughing faces, big red drinks, beads, balconies, crawfish, jolly old black people and jolly old white people. Everyone has bad teeth and a winning smile. And the music! It blares its terrible cacophonous zydeco twang. Who's that coming to the ring? Who knows? He wears loose and wrinkled khakis, a silly purple fedora with an orange feather in it, and a wife-beater with a billowy unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt (stained with sweat) over it. He dashes down the ramp, slides in the ring, slaps Test and Rikishi silly, clotheslines Test out of the ring, snapmares Rikishi, and does a moonsault from the turnbuckle.
The next week, he comes out to tell us who he is and announce his intentions. He's The Literal Cajun, and he's pissed off that neither Test nor Rico let anyone have a good time. He has three finishers, one a moonsault, the other a Lionsault and the last a red-mist spray. But he calls them the "Onionsalt," the "Garlicsalt" and the "Spicy Topper." Do you get it? He's cajun! And he's pretty literal about it.
When he's not wrestling, he's sitting backstage getting totally 'faced on Hurricanes. Soon, other wrestlers realize that this is the origin of the "red mist" or the "Spicy Topper," if you will. For the rest of the month, he blows through wrestlers, squashing them all, and always "ga-run-teein' " a victory. Come pay-per-view-time, he's due to meet Kane, and he ga-run-tees another victory.
But he loses! He loses! And because he takes everything so literally, he feels that the loss contradicts the entire meaning of his existence, and he DIES right there in the ring.
The following Monday, as Kane is celebrating his victory, the lights again go out, this time returning with ghostly spotlights. A New Orleans funereal jazz march is played. Then, the Literal Cajun rises from the ring with white and black paint on his face. He's so cajun and literal about things that he's become an undead voodoo wrestler! He's even better than Papa Shango, who wasn't very literal about anything. Kane can't destroy him.
For the next month, he runs roughshod over any opponent with his otherworldly powers. Finally, in a backstage segment at the beginning of the second pay-per-view, Kane summons the powers of a Jobu-like deity, placating it with cigars, rum, a shell-cracker and drawn butter in a little stainless-steel dish. Jobu takes away the cajun's powers because he has been improperly using black magic. Kane squashes the Literal Cajun in their match, chokeslamming him multiple times. Each time, the cajun no-sells and rises. Finally, the cajun looks to be taking control, and he goes for the Congealed Onionsalt (his "undead" finisher). But Kane lifts his hands and whips them to his sides, lighting the turnbuckles and the cajun on fire. The cajun burns, and the ring fills with smoke. His spirit is carried away to the netherworld.
Two months later, the man playing the cajun re-debuts as Philrud Stattman, Evil Disc Jockey.
One-Off Gimmick #1 Lifespan: God knows... I present... The Mime!
His promo is well... he doesn't cut promos. They mostly involve opponents meeting The Mime, and they just can't understand what he's trying to get across to them. I suppose The Mime would be either tweener or heel.
His moveset involves the Invisible Steel Chair in which his empty hands swing at the opponent, and they must sell an invisible chairshot. He also is able to bring up invisible walls that his opponents hit, as he taunt's happily. He would come out to no music, with black-and-white strobe lights, and just kind of wave to the crowd. Of course, he would eventually turn into an evil mime and basically try to cram people in boxes.... from Shinstrife
GIMMICK #2 Lifespan: two hours... At the beginning of Raw, Chris Jericho is on the mike, laying into some new jobber with his gifts of sarcasm and exaggeration. Mid-promo, J.R. blurts out, "I'll admit that this young man is funny, King, but humor will only go so far with the fans." The king replies: "That's right, J.R. It's great to get a laugh, but no one will buy you as a main-event contender unless you can display some physical intensity and mental focus." "Absolutely, King," J.R. adds, "jokes are for the skinny kid in class. Not the star athlete."
For the next two hours, J.R. and the King break more kayfabe than Shawn Michaels shooting-up Demerol during a shoot interview. They point out the shadow of the cameraman during backstage segments. When the show cuts to a private scene in a hotel room, they ask how the cameras got there. They wonder why Triple H doesn't have the same workrate that he used to. And they wonder why no wrestlers watch the Titantron to see what other wrestlers are doing.
Then, the next week, they pretend it didn't happen and meet all questions about it with blank stares.
One-Off Gimmick #2 Lifespan: God knows... A man who can work anywhere in the country: Home Town Hero. A heel character who always acts as if he is from whatever town they are currently wrestling in, only he screws up details about the town, thus alienating everyone. from Krakken2000
GIMMICK #3 Lifespan: three/four months... Sean "X-Pac" Waltman's triumphant third debut in the WWE has fans desperately running from the beer lines, toward the throngs cheering at ringside and throwing off Security's every attempt to move them back. X-Pac's three(!) different kicks, chop and broncobuster have the masses screaming hoarsely as he destroys Chuck Palumbo. While Palumbo lies but a few breaths away from the next world, X-Pac's music ("Ungh, Ungh, Ungh," by Nelly featuring Master P., Shaggy, O-B G. Why-N, Lil' Kim, Sisqo and Ja-Esh) cries out from the speakers lining the arena. X-Pac stares in total disbelief at the Titantron and his own entrance video which features people smoking cigarettes in a room with two old couches (director: Fred Durst). Then he sees a gyrating silhouette atop the ramp.
Soon the silhouette bursts into color, as the man runs to the ring. He's wearing X-Pac's gear! He's dressed just like him! X-Pac and the mystery man duel with three devastating kicks, a chop and more of the same kicks! X-Pac, weary from his previous match, succumbs to a broncobuster and is pinned. The stranger gyrates and does the crotch-chop, then proceeds calmly up the ramp, refusing all interviews as he exits the arena.
The following week, on Smackdown!, The Big Show and Chuck Palumbo (with Kevin Nash) are in a heated face-to-face debate in the ring. Show is claiming that the monitory powers of the Supreme Court allow adjudication of any election due to the Court's ability to insure proper execution of democracy through judicial review. Palumbo is contending that an election represents the most fundamental right of governance in a democracy... and that the Supreme Court overstepped its bounds in 2000 by disenfranchising thousands of voters through its judicial review essentially undermining and silencing those who determine the structure of government (the voters), by tacitly condoning the illegal practices of a government official (Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris) who, in the end, subverted the process of legitimizing government itself. Ergo, the Supreme Court, an institution created from the will of the governed, repudiated the principles of governance and by implication itself. As such, the rule of law is abnegated, resulting in a legal situation wherein anyone could Superkick the justices without threat of repercussion. Kevin Nash, who is listening, merely drools and botches a "standing still" spot, resulting in a leg injury.
As the EMTs are wheeling Nash away for another eight months of recovery, the Titantron rings out with, "Whe-elllllll, well it's the Big Showwwww!" and the discussion stops. Standing below the Titantron is the same man who attacked X-Pac last week, but he's wearing the same singlet that the Big Show wears. He grabs a mike and speaks.
It's Mr. Workrate! After telling everyone his name, he tells the Big Show that he is sickened by Show's inaction and lack of motivation in the ring, then challenges him to a match. Show accepts, and later in the night is destroyed by Mr. Workrate's athleticism and moves. But the shocker is that his moves are the same as Show's. Although his chokeslam is very weak by comparison, he beats Show with his speed and consistency.
For the next two months, Mr. Workrate shames almost every wrestler by imitating their whole movesets and executing them with greater speed and attention to psychology. He taunts, in promos, that his ability is greater than anyone who can stand before him: he has a superior knowledge of wrestling and a greater attention to damaging effectiveness than any who have ever wrestled. Then, in a Three-Way-Dance pay-per-view match against Benoit and Angle, his horrible weakness is revealed. As a mere imitator of others's moves, he cannot attenuate his responses to more than one person. Caught mocking Angle, he loses his focus and taps to the Crippler Crossface.
Not to be daunted, however, he goes over both Angle and Benoit in singles competition following the pay-per-view. But his crusade is finally snuffed when Angle busts out his Olympic wrestling skills in one match, and Benoit follows in a match that features his use of Japanese moves so disturbingly painful and novel that not even the Japanese have found names for them other than "oooohhhh" yet. Mr. Workrate leaves in shame but vowing a return.
Three months later, he returns as a telemarketer called, The Dinner-Time Dealer, who has the unfortunate habit of beginning his extensive promos before the TV shows even start.
One-Off Gimmick #3 Lifespan: three months... That serenest of grapplers: The Iron Buddhist. He debuts as a spiritual advisor to the Japanese wrestlers. He abhors violence, and only gets involved in a feud after the Undertaker interrupts his meditation by beating him with a bag full of frozen hamburger patties. It drives the Buddhist mad! He's a vegetarian! His finisher? A swan-dive headbutt called, "The Third-Eye Opener." All of his matches, feuds and promos serve as lessons in the ugliness of the use of force.
GIMMICK #4 (Submitted by Rick Scaia) Lifespan: uh, what money? I don't owe you any goddamned money! Bradshaw is drinking alone at a local saloon, when his rival du jour shows up and starts whaling on him, with either a bottle or a copy of the Sunday Wall Street Journal. Out of the shadows, a visibly tipsy guy comes to Bradshaw's aid swerving, but still able to brawl and break bottles over people's heads with the best of 'em. The bad guys are run off, and Bradshaw says, "Hey, pal, yer all right. Drinks are on me." Bradshaw and the guy (who looks like Stan Hansen from 20 years ago) sit side by side, not looking at each other, pulling on a couple of longnecks.
A few weeks later, Bradshaw's at another bar, and he spots his brawling buddy in a corner booth. He asks for the guy's name, and the guy tells him: Blackout Jim. Bradshaw thanks him again and asks why he's there, but Blackout Jim doesn't remember a few weeks ago, and thinks Bradshaw's trying to start shit with him. So the two end up brawling heroically until cops have to be called.
Another few weeks later: Blackout Jim reconstructs his own actions from snippets of memory, and eventually shows up on Raw to tell Bradshaw he didn't mean any harm, and that sometimes "he just doesn't remember so good." Out of this, over the course of the weeks, a mutual respect grows, as both men appreciate each other's ass-kicking and whiskey-drinking abilities.
As time goes on, Blackout Jim behaves erratically. Whether it's bourbon-fueled ass-whoopin' or randomly turning on a friend/partner, the audience never knows exactly what to expect from him. He has focused periods when he's chasing tag titles with Bradshaw, and moments of pure drunken oafishness: in other words, he's not drunk off his ass every week, so his character and motivations are fresh and unpredictable.
More and more, he finds himself in mystery/whodunit storylines, as he can't always remember his own actions. But, on the other hand, he's so solid in the ring that the audience begins to suspect that he's only pretending to forget his actions in order to avoid consequences. Eventually, this confusion leads to his inevitable "Getting His Act Together" in which his turn to sobriety makes him devious, judgmental and heelish. And, of course, this keeps Bradshaw out of another singles push.
One-Off Gimmick #4 Lifespan: a few months... Coming to the ring, weighing it at 170 lbs, from Hanoi, Vietnam Viet Cong, the evil Vietnamese communist. He brandishes the North Vietnamese flag, wears fatigues and only speaks Vietnamese (with a young Vietnamese hooker as his bad translator/valet). He crawls under the ring before and during matches because he was a Tunnel Rat and uses the flag to cheat to win. His finishers?a running powerbomb (The Tet Offensive), a senton splash (The Ho Chi Minh Trail) and, of course, the Oriental Spike.
Viet Cong is Anti-American and Anticapitalist. But he's a hypocrite, because he's making money in the WWE. He never wins cleanly, much like Honky Tonk Man. The ironic thing is that he is too young to have actually fought in the war although that doesn't stop him from displaying total paranoia and setting up bamboo traps around the ring.
As soon as Viet Cong becomes stale, Jimmy Yang is brought in as his Chinese Communist tag-team partner, and they call themselves The Republic. Eventually Ivan Koloff returns as their manager. Of course, in a few months, the audience realizes that Jimmy's an American-born guy, and he turns on Viet Cong and Koloff, ending their disgusting run in the fed and possibly making Jimmy Yang a viable face cruiserweight. from Salmonjunkie (who's Vietnamese and doesn't need hate-mail)
GIMMICK #5 Lifespan: nearly two years... After months of playing Jobber to the Stars, a trimmed-down Triple H is desperately mounting a comeback against the slick-talking heel RVD, when the referee gets knocked out and RVD savagely DDTs Triple H. RVD bails out of the ring to get a chair, and is showered with boos from the contemptuous crowd. Suddenly, the jaunty opening chords of The Kinks' "Well Respected Man" ring out, as a tall, blonde genial-looking man runs to the ring.
Sliding between the ropes, he immediately kneels to check on Triple H. As soon as Triple H shows signs of movement and recovery, the unnamed man stands up to rebuke RVD. After some moments of confrontation, RVD crushes him with the chair accidentally taking enough time for Triple H to make the last-second recovery and win. Over the course of the next weeks, this scenario plays out again and again: the strange man saving babyface wrestlers from unfair odds. Each time, he gets his bell rung.
Finally, after over a month, the man makes his way to the ring to introduce himself. On his way to the ring, he shakes hands and kisses babies. He's Milquetoast, The Well Respected Man! He announces to everyone that he is here to do his fair and level best to be a good wrestler, a good person and a champion.
Thus commences the longest losing streak in WWE history.
The problem is that Milquetoast is too innocent and well-meaning. When his opponent's enemy makes a run-in with a chair, he takes it and tosses it away from the interfering wrestler to protect his opponent. Naturally, his opponent picks up the chair and kabongs him with it. And he's inherently optimistic about all of this. Interviewed at ringside, post-match, he's quick to accentuate the positive. "Sure, it hurt a lot, Coach. But looking on the bright side... by taking that chair in the head, I showed that the human brain can withstand a lot of trauma, and by going through that table, I safeguarded a similar fate from happening to one of my fellow sports-entertainers!" The difference, here, between Milquetoast and Positively Page is that he really and truly believes everything he says. He's 100% ingenuous.
Outside the ring, his Backlund-esque naivete bewilders fans, as he cluelessly spends chaste evenings with Divas who are hell-bent on getting him into the bedroom. Each respectable peck on the cheek, at the Diva's front door, merely compounds his unstinting wholesomeness. And keep in mind that, while all this is happening, he is losing every match. But, he's looking on the bright side, claiming, "I learn from my mistakes. It's a shame I lost, but I'm that much better a wrestler for having done so."
The problem for the audience is that Milquetoast is a really good worker in the ring, and his plucky slice-of-Americana charm has started to make him seem hopelessly lovable. Plus, the fact that he keeps getting closer and closer to his first victory, then screws it up by being incredibly kind, is driving everybody nuts. As such, everyone starts to really want to see him win. Their hopes and prayers seem to be answered when Milquetoast wins the Royal Rumble. (He had been recoiling in horror at the sight of chairs being brought in the ring, when the two remaining participants eliminated themselves with a vicious double chairshot.) Fans are ecstatic, but they know it's not a real victory for Milquetoast.
Their hopes are even further dimmed when they realize he will face the ten-month reigning champion, the Evil Chris Benoit, who has been holding down everyone and refusing to job to anyone taller than he is. Immediately, Benoit begins interfering in all of Milquetoast's number-one contender's matches, making sure he wins. The audience knows that a lamb is going to the slaughter, and they're not even comforted with one clean win. Finally, the hammer seems to drop on Milquetoast's dreams when Benoit announces that the title match at WrestleMania will be a No Disqualification match!
The trouble is that Milquetoast is horrified by weapons. At the start of their match, he and Benoit perform some great chain-wrestling work, then Benoit finally bails to get a chair. Milquetoast runs to get a chair and proceeds to use it like a shield and duck behind it. Disgusted, Benoit fakes throwing the chair at Milquetoast, then charges him. But Milquetoast, hiding behind his chair, swats blindly at what he thinks is a chair flying at him and instead cracks Benoit across the head. Milquetoast is aghast! Benoit is busted open! Instead of taking advantage, he sinks to his knees beside Benoit's prone form. The audience thinks he's going for a pin, and they go berserk! Instead, he rises to his feet and runs around the ring grabbing every foreign object he can find. Belts, chairs, pipes, fire extinguishers, ring-bells, monitors: he grabs them all and throws them as far up the ramp and away from the ring as possible. When he gets back to the ring, Benoit has recovered, and the two resume their earlier wrestling clinic with periodic spots of Benoit trying to leave the ring, and Milquetoast desperately trying to keep him away from any weapons. Finally, after a grueling forty minutes, Benoit misses the Swan-Dive Headbutt, further hurting his blood-covered forehead. Milquetoast sinks to his knees again, falls over Benoit... 1, 2, 3! The ref retrieves the belt from the ramp, and hands it to Milquetoast. He stares at it in disbelief and runs up the ramp. Fans can't believe it!
On the following Raw, a contender for the tag-team title loses his partner because of injury and comes out alone. He asked anyone to come be his partner, but no one has joined him. Just as he's getting destroyed by Kaientai, Milquetoast runs out and helps him win boom! He's a double champion! But he still runs off, looking a little angry and refusing to comment. The next week, he comes out for the long-awaited interview, in-ring, with Michael Cole waiting with a microphone.
Everyone can't wait to hear from him. They know what he'll say, that he'd "like to thank God for giving me the patience and talent...." People expect the Kurt Angle-esque crying from the man who had the longest losing streak in wrestling. When he comes out, he can't speak. He says: "All I want is to tell you people how much" but he's emotional. He smiles, looks around; he's being cheered. "I mean, that losing streak was awful but you people, you...." He's still moved. Everyone cheers. He tries to open his mouth again. "I just want all to know that... from the bottom of my heart... I hope all of you fucking die." Sudden cascading boos. "All you asshole fans were laughing at me, you thought it was funny to watch me fail. You wanted me to fail. If it wasn't for all that goddamn pressure I would have been a champion a lot sooner!" He turns, beats the shit out of Cole (which receives some cheers) and turns into the biggest heel asshole anyone has ever seen. This a combined effort from Hogan's My Dad and me.
One-Off Gimmick #5 Lifespan: as long as ugly nationalism lives... One day, a man with a thick English accent interrupts a promo. He announces himself as Jackson Bertram Pantyshield, The Union Jack. Then he proceeds, in his posh accent, to tick off a few problems he has with his fellow Americans. No one believes he's American. He insists that he's from Schenectady, NY, and his father was a bauxite miner. Nothing he says about his American background is in any way accurate.
Eventually, all his promos which are complaints about his fellow Americans end with the same line, "By the way, I AM NOT BRITISH!" When the WWE goes to England for the two yearly pay-per-views, he's the biggest heel imaginable. Then later in the year, after losing a big title match, he delivers a marginally insane promo, where he finally admits that he's English. Immediately, he becomes a major heel in the U.S. and a giant babyface in England. from Hogan's My Dad
GIMMICK #6 Lifespan: at least two months, at most...? Many months ago, OnlineOnslaught's guiding voice, the redoubtable Rick Scaia, issued a screed called, "Getting Meta-Evil." By "meta" he meant that his commentary was a commentary on methods of commentary employed by other internet writers in reaction to the WWE product or to other internet writers' commentary. But it's fairly clear that Mr. Scaia has never put food on the table with that most gibbering and directionless modern conceptual structure/anti-structure: postmodernism/post-structuralism.
And the man who comes to school Scaia in it, schools us all. That's right, it's The Wrestler. This grappler doesn't just break kayfabe: he subverts it by tacitly agreeing to and embodying the established form of willful cognitive dissonance that it is.
In the middle of a Match of the Year showdown between D-Von Dudley and Jeff Hardy, Jeff is tearing the roof off the house by breaking D-Von's spine in multiple places with a guardrail-run, a suplex, and a new spot that features him falling off of a crumpled piece of paper that a fan has thrown in the ring. Children's screams and the chant of, "He Needs Health Care [clap, clap, clap-clap-clap]," are immediately drowned out by a pinched nasal voice echoing throughout the arena, saying, "I'm curious as to what your opinion is about this."
As The Wrestler stands atop the ramp, a young girl's piteous wail pierces the din. "God, please make Jeff stop." Her words move The Wrestler to action, as he runs to the ring and clotheslines the Woolite off Jeff's face. The arena erupts in cheers, but the lingering chant of "We want tables..." leaves The Wrestler dumbfounded. Confused, he gets a table and powerbombs D-Von through it. The fans boo. When he looks at Jeff and sneers, they cheer. Then he looks at D-Von triumphantly: more boos.
The same phenomenon happens again and again for The Wrestler. He interrupts a match and attacks a babyface for boos and attacks heels for cheers. The audience becomes far more confused than he. Finally, he cuts a promo.
The Wrestler tells us that he has no a priori existence. Rather, he exists as a sum-total of audience perceptions of what a wrestler should be and should do. Wrestling, he asserts, is a process of constant flux, where the demonstrations of power, prowess or character are created by a collage of the heterogenous individual appraisals of him generated by each crowd member, then altered and recreated by the crowd's heterogenous-collage opinion. "I am your fault; I am all of you superimposed on a form; yet I am a form made from the aggregate of each of your visions of me," he says. Naturally, the crowd boos. "I was curious as to what your opinion was about this," he replies. More boos. He relaxes and adds, "Everyone here in Pittsburgh in stupid. Your local sports teams are unsuccessful." Huge boos! The Wrestler smiles in the comfort of meta-self definition.
Then, in a match later that night that pits a face against a heel, he rescues the face from cheap shots, helps him get the pin, raises the face's arm in victory (repeatedly) and basks in the cheers.
In subsequent promos, he reveals that as merely a manifestation of cultural perceptions about a wrestler and wrestling he: when booed, becomes weaker, and his regularly powerful moves do nothing, forcing him to use chairs and ring-bells to win; when cheered, becomes stronger, enabling him to escape potentially dangerous submission moves and power out of finishers; also, he can do stupid things and have them seem normal; nonetheless has to change direction during his promos, depending on what people are chanting; needs to know what everyone thinks about him.
As if this isn't annoying enough, he begins grabbing the mike and talking during lulls in his matches. The commentary upon commentary increases as he reveals that: if you boo him for doing heelish things, that only increases his desire and need to do heelish things, as "heat," no matter how it is obtained, is the ultimate goal; he will be a heel if booed unless the heel-heat boos are tepid, whereupon the crowd-collage of perceptions about wrestling being "entertaining," force him to act like a babyface in adherence with individually assumed precepts of "entertainment"; commenting on him only serves as a comment on the audience: ergo, the more he is reacted to, the more his character is established.
He can only lose a match when the entire audience does not see, hear or conceive of him. Hence, only Stone Cold or The Rock can defeat him, as only they can get everyone in the arena to turn around for ten seconds, then deliver a totally engrossing promo while the fans' backs are turned. The engrossing promos push their various perceptions of The Wrestler out of their minds, and when they turn back to the ring, Angle has run in to take the place of the vanished Wrestler. A great match ensues, and wrestling's linear progression and structure are maintained... until the bookers change someone's backstory again, thus causing a rift in structuralism that may one day enable The Wrestler to return.
What Does It All Mean? All of these men will prove to be blue-chippers just as soon as they hit the ring. I'm very excited at the prospects that all these angles and grapplers will bring to your television screen. As for me, I'm off to vigorously exfoliate in a 45-gallon vat of Stubb's barbecue sauce.
END NOTE Once again, thanks to everyone who has taken the time to write in with their praise, gripes, disagreements or parallel stories. It's great to read so many thoughtful responses, even if they do take great issue with me sometimes.
Huge thanks go to Hogan's My Dad, salmonjunkie, Shinstrife and Krakken2000, who bought my line that "one day I would write a column incorporating your ideas and I'll credit you!" Thanks, guys!