- Winston Churchill
Mr. Robo: Well, I set up an appointment with Mr. Ham to discuss my compensation, but there's a while to go. Mind if we just chat to pass the time?
Me: Why not? But remember this, Mr. Robo: stick to your guns. Mr. Ham may be crude and obnoxious, but - and it pains me to say this - he's one of the best at fighting for and getting what he wants, which brings to mind our beloved American GOD-EMPEROR, Eternal Meme Lord of Trolls, to him be the glory!
But, more seriously - a group of demonstrators applied for and received a permit to hold a rally, fully in accordance with their Constitutionally-guaranteed rights to freedom of speech and assembly - apparently "White Lives Matter" is now a supremacist slogan - only to be ambushed by the usual anti-First Amendment suspects. At this, TRUMP, exhibiting his usual impartial no-nonsense common sense, correctly chastised both sides - the demonized alt-right, and finally the can-do-no-wrong-even-when-they're-bashing-heads-in-because-diversity alt-left - for their behaviour... and got heavily attacked by the Fake News media for it, of course.
The Standard Globalist Fake News Playbook
There has been sentiment that TRUMP has not been a "uniter" about whom the nation can rally, but if this is so, I'd gather that this is more a product of the contemporary political environment, than any lack of rhetorical gifts on his part. Case in point: you actually believe that Hillary - who couldn't even keep her own party from splitting its support despite controlling the key apparatus - could have done better? Guess how loved Bernie would be, if he had actually managed to hike everyone's taxes? Saint Obama was at barely 38% approval himself, after the initial rah-rah novelty wore off... while some 40% of Americans have sensibly agreed with TRUMP that when one of your kids teases the other, who punches him in return, and then they start fighting... both are getting grounded.
No, it was always about the principle, you see. Sure, the alt-right may have a despicable fringe element of individuals professing neo-Nazi beliefs and whatnot, but if we are to condemn them for that, what about the masked thugs and self-righteous rioters reliably associated with the alt-left?
In his reaction, TRUMP has affirmed that he is indeed what he had promised - no ordinary pandering politician who kowtows to the whims of media fancy, and instead a strong LKY-esque leader who speaks his mind and does what needs to be done, unpopular as it may be. Case in point: "Dreamy Eyes" Trudeau, who once so happily condemned TRUMP's enforcement of immigration laws for liberal brownie points, has suddenly decided that open floodgates isn't all it's cracked up to be, after all (sorry); I'm betting on them ghosting the Paris Agreement as they did Kyoto, i.e. once it's their turn to pick up the bill.
Mr. Robo: Yah, Bush II got to 90% approval - ninety! - after 9/11, so I would suppose it's more a sign of the times.
A permanent feature nowadays
Me: Well, they-who-may-not-be-named-because-it's-racist have just struck Barcelona and Finland, but the media somehow hates admitting that he's right. It's a mess, really - on one side, there have been plenty of individual injustices, but then you turn it around and watch as one of the "good Islamic" countries like Malaysia cracks down on atheists and bars conversion on pain of death, and you get the sense that it's not gonna work. Ironically, the alt-left are adopting the practice of destroying historical monuments that they don't like with the tacit approval of the FAKE NEWS - Lenin's ok though - when even Indonesia has settled for just covering them up.
I mean, like, if you're defacing Robert E. Lee statues just because he fought on the losing side, where does this end? Washington and Jefferson were unrepentant slaveowners, burn down the Capitol? This alt-left mania-cum-orgy-of-violence stinks of the French and Cultural Revolutions to me. It's not been great for some Lis in Singapore either, but I've got to give it to our PM - he tries. Oh, he tries.
Mr. Robo: It was one of the more entertaining National Day parades in recent memory - there were the drones - which have found wide usage locally - and then there were the other, unplanned highlights...
Me: What else is there... North Korea's latest fifteen minutes of fame appears to have overstayed its welcome, good riddance - but really, it was the superpowers who did this to themselves... ah yes, the sad Google Diversity affair. *shakes head* How the once-good have fallen.
Is this what it has come to?
[N.B. Google, with its unparalleled command over the consumption of information, is the prime target for those who would desire thought control]
The story of former Google employee James Damore is a chilling one - that increasingly, individuals can be punished for wrongthink. One can easily imagine his ex-colleagues gleefully bashing China's censorship and proposed harmonious citizen scoring system at the coffee machine, because this is acceptable rightthink by unspoken Goolag cultural norms, only to clam up when one of them carelessly brings Damore up. "Shush!" a lanyarded cubicle wage-slave whispers fearfully, glancing about to check if any of the dreaded HR overseers are about. "Master said that some things just cannot be discussed!"
"Don't Be Evil" - what happened?
Let's go over it again - guy penned a finely-reasoned and mildly-toned memo (so the usual knock on TRUMP's more-combative style doesn't apply here) on how the genders are wired differently; note, this is pretty uncontroversial according to current behavioural science. From this, he made the eminently logical deduction that this could make different groups diverge to different careers naturally (where are the campaigns demanding parity in women plumbers?) and offered a few reasonably-couched suggestions on how this could be approached.
For this, he was branded a Nazi.
The document - and his firing - has taken the Internet by storm, with lengthy discussions mushrooming overnight, most of which admitted one point: by rushing to dismiss Damore, Goolag were, in a way, proving him right. To make it clear - Goolag were under no obligation to implement, or even consider, his prescriptions. It could have been left to sink into obscurity, doubtlessly like most of the thousands of employee postings made each day. He might not have been 100% correct about the underlying science (but note, when the desired completely-equal outcome is stated, the bar for evidence somehow seems much lower). Indeed, Goolag were probably also well within their legal rights in handing him a pink slip.
But, as so often proclaimed in the opposite direction - shutting a man up doesn't mean that he is wrong. And, to be frank, there is no shortage of clever female engineers who recognize the essential truth in Damore's text (and they probably happen to be the ones that are better to work with, anyway)
Then again, he's just a f**king white cis male, so it's ok!
The Bitcoinity US$4000 GIF extended
[To be continued again...]
*sniff* Kids nowadays, they grow up so fast.
- win liao lor
Me: ...and they looked at me funny, when I revealed that I had discussed market strategy with you hamsters. And it's not like they ever sincerely tried, you know. Like, I don't land in Rome and expect to speak fluent Italian off the bat, and then diss the language when it doesn't work that way; I mean, when I started out with hamsterese, it took some time before I got past "thanks for the sunflower seed, sucka" and "back off, or I bite", but nothing that more immersion couldn't fix.
Mr. Robo: *shrugs* Humans have always been like that, when interacting with non-human species. But it can't be helped, I suppose; some of us are just too tasty, and it would seem kind of bad manners to sauté one's dinner companion, after making ardent political conversation... wait, it might actually be easier.
Me: Yeah, people are often kinda bad losers on such topics, but it's easier to handle as one gets older and slightly wiser. Getting busier is another thing, I can't even find the time to blog as often as I would like to. But back to business. Mr. Robo, the Bitcoin summary.
Mr. Robo: The entire thing?
Me: Nah, save some for the annual general meeting letter to the shareholders.
Mr. Robo: Fine, let's see... to begin with, BTC-E, that slightly-shady exchange that somehow managed to survive with little incident all these years, has finally bitten the dust a week or so back - and, get this straight, it appears that they were responsible for laundering the proceeds from the Mt. Gox hack, including by sending some stolen Bitcoins back to Mt. Gox. As it turns out, Uncle Sam might have arrested the wrong guy (not even all that rare), with the actual funds pending disbursement to customers... but we'll see about that.
Alongside this distraction, segwit deployment via BIP91 reduced-threshold MASF has triggered through MEME MAGIC, with segwit itself scheduled to lock in any day soon, allowing actual usage by the end of the month. Attention had thus turned to the ill-conceived 2x hardfork, which has already been beset by bugs after being rushed contrary to proper software practices. Despite that, Bitcoin would nevertheless undergo a hardfork, with a breakaway faction launching Bitcoin ABC/Cash, retaining the non-segwit codebase with increased blocksize.
You can just feel the effort and originality behind Bitcoin Cash
Me: Now, just to reiterate: anybody can fork Bitcoin, and at any time. Indeed, countless lesser-known cryptocurrencies have started life as a Bitcoin fork or clone. A number of them, such as CLAM, Stellar Lumen and Byteball, have further tied token distribution to the state of the Bitcoin blockchain, in effect attempting to boost their own popularity by "airdropping" ownership to Bitcoin holders. Others, such as BitcoinDark and BitcoinPlus, have gone as far as to hijack the brand directly... but, you haven't heard of them before this? Me neither.
Bitcoin Cash would however represent probably the strongest direct challenge to the Bitcoin name that the crypto has ever encountered, claiming as it did both the full history, and the brand. However, to put this in perspective, this is a little like investing in a printing press, and issuing a "SU Dollar" with matching denomination and serial number, to each person who shows you a particular US dollar bill for the first time. Obviously, anyone can do that with some upfront investment - and likely even legally, providing that there is no danger of the SU Dollar being mistaken for the original article. The question then is: how much should SU Dollars be worth?
Of course, the analogy from physical banknotes to cryptos isn't perfect. Issuance is near-effortless digitally - forking a codebase is essentially just copying-and-pasting files - but supporting the system is another thing. To begin with, there's the hashrate required for proof-of-work, which BCH is frantically ramping down, and then there's retailer and user acceptance, which might be much, much harder to get. That said, some exchanges are supporting the BCH token, if slightly grudgingly, due to it having non-negligible value for now.
Mr. Robo: H.L. Ham has dumped BCH at above 3000 Yuan pp. at ViaBTC as instructed, human.
Me: That did turn out a reasonably good rate, given what we could discern from the poor liquidity. There were some outliers before the first batches came in, but BCH appears to have settled at about 1400 Yuan equivalent currently. I don't rule out a future pump, but that would just be gambling.
Mr. Robo: And, in any case, BTC's burst US$3300 this weekend, representing an MCAP of over US$50 billion, so it's almost like the sensible people in the room are just glad to be rid of the most militant big-blockers.
Comrades, I think they're onto us.
(Original source: r/bitcoin)
Me: Can't argue against free money. And, Mr. Robo, you should seriously be knocking Mr. Ham up for a raise. You've been working at H.L. Ham for, what, four years now, and it sounds like you're not even getting a cost-of-living adjustment. Remember, employees who stay at a company for more than two years earn 50% less on average, so if he cites loyalty, throw this figure right back at his face.
Mr. Robo: Eh, I don't know...
Me: Be brave, hamster. Tell me how it turns out. Got other stuff to settle.
[To be continued...]
- well-known children's rhyme
Mr. Ham: *flinging door open* Say, human, you'll never guess how privileged you are, to get first dibs on my latest sure-win, can't-lose investment opportu... what the heck are you doing?!
Me: Huh? What? Oh, him. Mr. Ham, meet Mr. Ducky. After bumping into the concept of rubber duck debugging one time too many, I decided to give it a try, and rang the agency up for a consultant. True, Mr. Ducky has been kinda quiet, but he does exude a certain reassuring calm...
Mr. Ham: ...I haven't been gone even a week, and you've already given my job away? I won't stand for this, human! Us hamsters are not so easily cowed! So many years of faithful service, and this is what I get? I'll remember this, ingrate! *shakes tiny paw* And, just to clarify, that would have been a finger, only that I don't actually have fingers, so...
Me: *sighs* Noted. Just let me finish. After the performance evaluation, I've decided to place Mr. Ducky under you, as your subordinate. Your little fiefdom has thus doubled in size. Congrats.
Mr. Ham: Oh. I... excellent decision-making as usual, human.
Me: Don't mention it. But, speaking of jobs, our wise DPM has just sounded out that it's wrong to have complete free flow of people, with particular reference to the India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA); gee, it appears as if allowing a population of 1.3 billion carte blanche to enter a city-state of barely 700 square kilometres might have been a bad idea, after all, even discounting the very real hollowing-out of local know-how in entire industries...
Mr. Ham: No xenophobia pls.
Me: Nah, same logic applies whether they're Indian or Chinese or European or American or whatever. And wait, there's more. In perhaps the worst-kept surprise of local politics, our lady Speaker of Parliament has indicated that she might run for President. Note, however, that I do not write Malay Speaker of Parliament here, since that has come under some contention.
In brief, it appears that Madam Halimah's father happens to be Indian-Muslim, a fact that has been extensively documented, but which is now being whitewashed from Wikipedia. Ownself vouch ownself duly followed, to general negativity from unimpressed netizens. The kicker is, of course, that these kinds of complications had been anticipated as soon as the new racist conditions for the Elected Presidency were set in place; the only unexpected bit was how swiftly it became a problem.
And, as so often has been the case, there happens to be a direct current parallel, over in GREAT AMERICA:
The EMPEROR OF GODS hast summoned the Indian God of Destruction, to purge falsehoods and illusion from the great U.S. Senate!
[Slogan: Only a Real Indian can defeat the Fake Indian]
Mr. Ham: ...this can't be just a coincidence, can it, human?
Me: I'm increasingly convinced that it's all connected, Mr. Ham; as Leibniz suggested, we may well be living in the best of all possible worlds: a world of MEME MAGIC, and infallible GOD-EMPERORS - turns out, pulling out of the Paris Agreement was an overblown non-event, after all.
Anyway, against my better judgment - what's that "investment opportunity" that you were speaking of?
Mr. Ham: Why, buy Bitcoin, of course!
Me: That's it?
Mr. Ham: Yes, that's it.
Me: But hasn't that been the firm of H.L. Ham's primary business since 2013...
Mr. Ham: *patiently* No, human, you don't get it. The point is to buy more Bitcoin. On reflection, our main inefficiency was not buying enough Bitcoin. In fact, we have assessed that the answer to just about any of our problems is simply to have bought even more Bitcoin. And, looking at the charts, I don't think you can argue with that.
Me: Eh, it does make for good looking, all the more with segwit finally, finally appearing to have been forced through, thanks to some timely "encouragement" via BIP148 UASF. That, and one brave soul holding up a "Buy Bitcoin" sign behind Yellen, during a Capitol Hill interview, the Rothschilds dipping in, and John McAfee promising to eat his dick on national television, if the price doesn't hit half a million in three years. We all would much rather he doesn't have to, of course.
We'll expound more on this next time, kind of busy working this market with Mr. Robo - Mr. Ham, Mr. Ducky, get on it!
And just to reiterate, we *do* accept all ethnicities...
but they must be documented
Where got conflict of interest?"
- the usual pithy roundup from r/singapore
[slightly longer TLDR]
The hottest local political saga in a long while has concluded with a whimper, with the PM's younger siblings agreeing to take their feud private, after the standard ownself check ownself. However, for once, I do concur with the incumbent party, in that this is much ado about next to nothing (unlike, it goes without saying, AH[PE]TC). Like a tired Hollywood sequel, this had everything on the surface: imperial intrigue, tension between official and private roles (and not in the adorable Ivanka manner) and property deed horseplay, leading into once-verboten dynastic accusations, hard talk on its impact on our founding PM's legacy, a broad appeal to gauge and rustle support from the loyal court eunuchs, and even some sentiment analysis on the PM's Facebook posts by a CS student.
As so cleanly summarized by the opening quote, the incumbent party has defended its head by old-fashioned acclamation and faulty statistics (as is becoming distressingly common), but as previously stated, it's understandable if the PM is reluctant to start legal proceedings against his siblings.
There would be one last eyebrow-raising moment, though, when Dr. Lee Wei Ling complained in her parting statement (for now) that [the PM's] subordinates are beholden to him and cannot be impartial, that the incumbent party is not subject to independent investigation, and that The State's Times is a party mouthpiece. To this, not a few informed citizens were like, hello, where have you been since 1959 or thereabouts?
But frankly, this plotline got old quickly, and one supposes that our embattled PM was happy to put it all behind him, and get back to his day job of representing Singapore internationally...
He may be a firm and very close friend of Eastasia,
but TRUMP is also a big-picture kinda guy
[N.B. Mahbubani redeemed on his view about Indopore?]
Which brings us to - if you're a connoisseur of political entertainment, our indie MIW productions sadly can't hold a candle to the walking blockbuster series that is America; in the latest episode, TRUMP has arrived to an emperor's welcome in Poland because, let's face it, after being f**ked up from both directions in the world wars, the badass Polish people know very well that they can't afford to be the stupid people when it comes to national sovereignty and border integrity... which, ironically, the implacable Merkelreich appears to be having more success in insidiously undermining, than their unloved predecessors.
[N.B. France had their chance to get woke, but really, their historical track record of supporting brave homegrown female champions seeking to preserve them against Saxon division and foreign invasion is embarassingly poor, to say the least.]
Anyway, it appears another roaring diplomatic success for the President of the United States, as he founded authentic personal relationships based on genuine mutual respect, while pencil-pushing bureaucrats were informed in no uncertain terms that this POTUS is no pushover. No, other "leaders" may have their balls shrink at the slightest hint of censure from the pompous opinion-slingers of the corrupt globalist press (CNN has for one been reduced to blackmailing private citizens and seeing their ratings sink beneath those of Yogi Bear reruns), but TRUMP has backbone to spare, in securing The Best Deal for America.
Speaking of media control, our incumbents' latest push for more censorship by another name has resulted in one of the most inventive imprecations that I've heard for awhile; on the bright side, there are encouraging signs that The State's Times might be hocked off to less-uptight outside interests, so there's that.
Continuing to the filler programming that is the local version of Who Wants To Be The President (you do get what you pay for), Dr. Tan Cheng Bock's constitutional challenge has been unceremoniously thrown out by the High Court, to a general lack of surprise (and really, it's best to get this farce done with). Fine, let the "longstanding* imperative for multiracial representation" be safeguarded, just don't expect people to be eager to turn out for it...
[*where "longstanding" is defined as "ever since the incumbents realised that their handpicked candidate might actually lose"]
But then again, we may have dodged a bullet with the former NTUC Income CEO; okay, so he might have been purely trolling, but sad to say, he would have remained completely outclassed by the GOD-EMPEROR in that department.
- Tucker Carlson
BEST PRESIDENT EVA
Today, we commend the Great United States of America for their sagacity in securing a man of unsurpassed leadership. As with Picasso, he broke and reworked conventional boundaries, and forever altered the direction of his art. As with Bubka, he brooked no credible mortal rival, and was circumscribed only by the sky above. As with Muhammad Ali, he floated and bobbed and weaved, untouched by the feckless blows of his inferior opponents. And, as with Kasparov - but better - his tactical genius on the political chessboard was second to none.
His love and courage in pursuing his ideals represents all that is great about America. We are fortunate to have him, and we, the veterans of the Great Meme War, salute him.
HAIL TO THE GOD-EMPEROR!
"The Ernest Hemingway Of Twitter"
[N.B. Recall our recognition of the birth of postmodernist politics]
More than ever, it appears that we have come to esteem the brain, and disdain the body; worshipping at the altar of the intellect (which tends to pay better nowadays, true), we mortify the flesh, and shy from what it can do, the beauty it can attain (more from training and discipline, less from plastic surgery)
This post is dedicated to those who continue to make a living from it. Honi soit qui mal y pense.
Wednesday. Browsing the news on the Circle Line - which, thankfully, has thus far been less-plagued by breakdowns compared to the more-venerable East-West and North-South Lines - the latest CNN Fake News exposé popped up: so, they've been caught peddling baseless Russian accusations yet again, with their producers admitting privately that "it's mostly bullshit" and that it was all about the ratings (i.e. money), while exhibiting little but contempt for the everyday voter.
Well, it's not like we didn't know that all along, and frankly, given how the mainstream media continues slowly sinking, I can even sympathize; mixing entertainment with serious business is, after all, a time-honoured endeavour...
The Sport of Top Presidents!
[N.B. In the best traditions of Honest Abe Lincoln and George Washington]
[N.N.B. He tweeted it himself on @POTUS, the ABSOLUTE MADMAN]
Being a moderately-long ride from Kent Ridge, there was ample opportunity to catch up with new happenings - well, well, the Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that TRUMP's travel ban will be enforced as directed. Of course, as we noted in February, anyone with any scrap of reading comprehension would have realised that this was the only possible outcome, given that the law unambigiously states that admittance of non-citizens is at the President's sole discretion, which even Ginsburg must have been wise enough to concede. Not that this is going to stop CNN and their allies from continuing to play up the non-event, but then, it's not as if the liberal establishment were ever that much concerned about consistency in application of principles...
..and what's this - wear army uniform to get free rides on public transport on Friday? I'm not sure which bright bulb came up with this idea, but at least it shouldn't hurt SMRT's bottom line too much, since I'd wager that only a tiny fraction of servicemen are either garang or gian png enough to go along.
This being my first time at the Stadium station, I wasn't entirely certain that I was heading in the right direction... when a guy cut across with a Money In The Bank briefcase. Then, from the distance, came the familiar, hearty shout:
John Cena sucks!
Yep, on the right track.
Security was fairly tight, but I was soon in, and was relieved to discover that unlike in a number of other countries, we do stick with our assigned seats. It was soon evident that the guys on either side were actively following current WWE storylines, which I have got to confess, I've not been doing. In fact, I hadn't even considered the match card, when I bought the ticket. Time to discover in just how much regard the WWE bigwigs hold of their Singaporean fans...
View from my seat
A minute after the seven-thirty start time and... omigawd, it's Chris Jericho! I thought he had (semi-)retired! But there he was, in the flesh, Y2J, bringing back memories from those secondary school days. The WWE technical team do have to up their game, though - they misspelt "BUILD THE WALL" on his entrance video.
Jericho may be many things, but he's seldom boring, and after his drawn-out swagger to the ring, he gets to yanking the audience about with his mic skills, fishing for cheap heel heat with a proclamation that Singapore Stinks! By the way, one of the delights of live wrestling events is the spontaneous crowd reaction, and audience wags can and do outshine the stars in their (admittedly usually one-sided) wisecracks:
That doesn't work on us, the government already screws us way worse everyday!
Ah, the magic of open participation.
Y2J's riling-up goes over moderately well, considering his heart probably not being in it, and his opponent eventually enters - Hideo Itami. Nope, haven't heard of him... wait, is it that guy I saw in Japan... nah, that's KENSO, Hideo was KENTA. Anyway, this being Asia, the rising Asian new guy gets promoted by the done-it-all veteran, who did seem to be enjoying himself (something that we would see plenty of, though the night)
Next up, Titus O'Neal versus motivational speaker, "Bolieve" Bo Dallas - who loses after a frantic start, to his disbolief. Oh, there's actually going to be a title match too: Heath Slater and Rhyno, against Cesaro and Sheamus. This gon be gud.
New entrance music? Nah, too expensive, the man's got kids
[N.B. Buy the merch, support the man]
I've got to admit, Slater's grown on me since his Nexus days, when I was still watching WWE fairly regularly. While he might never be the face of the promotion, he's always been an excellent worker, performs his regular job (get it, job?) of getting beaten up uncomplainingly, sells at Ziggler-tier when called on to, and is a right hoot when given the chance. I'm just glad to see him get more exposure and airtime... wtf, his former 3MB teammate Jinder Mahal just got pushed to the WWE Championship out of absolutely nowhere?!
So poor Slater's still getting the short end of the stick - but as gimmicks go, plucky Charlie Brownish underdog's not that bad. And, talking of sticks, I'd legitimately mark out if they got Kane in... and referenced a Singapore Kane match. You heard it here first. Back to the match, Cesaro+Sheamus' star power wins out, but they were probably never going to have the belt change hands during a house show anyhow...
Mr. Robo: Wait, you're saying that the matches are scripted? Next thing you'll be telling me, is that the Easter Bunny isn't real.
Me: Erm, talk to you after this, Mr. Robo. The next segment was pure story-advancement, on the drama between Enzo Amore (who has one of the catchiest crowd chants that I've heard - OOOH, ENZOO AMOREEE) and his former tag-team partner, Big Cass. As so often happens when a team's getting stale, one of them turns heel with a betrayal - in this case, Big Cass. He seems to regret it, though, and comes out to sincerely apologize, with Enzo taking his time to consider whether to accept a reconciliation with his old bud.
Only slight problem was, this exact scenario had been played out on television already, and thus the smarks in the audience more or less knew exactly how it would turn out (spoiler: Enzo forgives Big Cass, who duly kicks him in the face out of the blue once more. Perhaps it's the amnesia from the brain damage...)
Next match, The Miz and Samoa Joe (accompanied by the lovely Maryse, another recent returnee) take on Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. The Miz is another of those who can genuinely get under the spectators' skins, but this being a sort-of-holiday-camp, we're tilting heavily to the comedy side. There're fun "KFC" chants after The Miz plays his villainous coward persona convincingly, but he eventually gets pinned after Maryse gets sent off for repeated interference (yes, that's a thing). Plenty of "We want Maryse" cheers were heard too.
WWE supports gender equality
There would be more of that in a way, with a six-woman Divas' contest on after the intermission (there was some Mediacorp Class 95 guest bellringer, but that was so surreal, it hardly registered). In order of appearance: Niz Jax, Emma and Alexa Bliss (a.k.a latest Harley Quinn bandwagon jumper, but we'll let it slide), versus Bayley, Sasha Banks and Asuka. Now, given "home ground advantage" and the fact that she's the Women's Division's Goldberg, it was pretty much a given that Asuka's team would come out on top - the only question was how.
So, can you say butt-oriented offense (no, such moves aren't the sole province of Keijo!!!!!!!!)? Poor Emma gets Rikishi'ed by all her opponents, before predictably eventually getting submitted by Asuka. Was an okay exhibition and all, but what I'd give for an AJ Lee appearance...
We're nearing the end by now, and the last fixture before the Main Event sees Anderson (with Luke Gallows) against Finn Bálor, who seems the high-flying type (and, as it happens, is already an ex-WWE Universal Champion). Bálor prevails, but for some reason I wasn't too taken in.
Finally, the big one. The arena goes dark, and Bray Wyatt enters, swinging his trademark lantern ominously - the crowd plays along by slowly waving their handphones in torch mode. He's got the on-tap creepy vibe down pat, I gotta say. But, do not fear - facing him this day is the Hero of the WWE Universe, Retirer of The Undertaker, the one, the only, Roman Reigns!
Eh, he's at least drawing *some* reaction...
Boooo. Boooooo. Booooooo!
Well, they can't say they didn't see that coming. One can feel a little sorry for Reigns, though - he probably didn't ask to be The Rock's cousin, and to get so persistently, relentlessly pushed to the head of the line, against the bulk of the fans' wishes.
Wyatt starts strongly, and after a while, Reigns retaliates with a mighty strong-looking right uppercut. Now, that's a big right hand.
And another one. And another one.
Wyatt unleashes his arsenal, playacts in the corner, tries to set moves up. Reigns punches. And punches. And punches.
Alright, he grapples once in a while, generally to push Wyatt into the ropes, or the corner. For a punch. I think there was a spear in there somewhere. Followed by a punch. And not just any punch, the same one punch. Yes, the big men of wrestling have never been accused of being technicians, but this is getting ridiculous. The booing is getting louder. Reigns asks for a microphone. The first one doesn't work, which somehow feels fitting. He growls something about The Undertaker into the second one. That doesn't work either. Wyatt smacks him down and asks if the crowd paid to see this. The crowd pops.
Wyatt is finished off with a Superman Punch.
Boooo. Boooooo. Booooooo!
It's almost like the media trying to force Hillary down the audience's throats - it was never going to bring the ultra-cool anti-hero (i.e. Stone Cold Steve Austin, GOD-EMPEROR TRUMP) down. The guy in front of me takes a photo of himself giving the winner the finger. Reigns, seemingly used to the reaction, ignores it all and strikes his mandated poses. Slowly, the crowd disperses, a few to write reviews. A fine night, all in all. Maybe I should start supporting the local scene...
Sleep No More
There is a block of abandoned warehouses on the West Side of The City That Never Sleeps. In another time, loitering about these parts might have been a questionable choice, and the buildings do still bear the marks of their gritty beginnings. The gentrification of the High Line and Chelsea Market hadn't quite extended here. Thankfully, it wasn't desolate - a tidy queue had formed, with guests of all shapes and sizes and colours, if slightly disproportionately of Chinese (which may explain their expansion to Shanghai). Directly in front of me was a pair of guys, one white, one black, both in shorts. They seemed more than friends, but this was New York City. It would take much, much more than that, to gain fleeting notice.
A burly doorman - bouncer? - moves down the line, absentmindedly checking I.D., perfunctorily asking if any of us had shelled out for the optional extras. And then we were in. I handed my bag off at the counter, and shoved my four bucks over when it was evident that they had forgotten about it. These things had to be done the right way. I was then handed a mask, a playing card, and directed into a twisting, barely-lighted passage (I forget the exact order), which led to a cosy bar. In another reality, I might have found cause to be seated, but I was by myself, and perhaps twenty years from that being done.
The seats are all reserved
[N.B. Alternatively, there's the MIT Media Lab extension]
The surroundings remain dim, my fellow guests expressionless by design, their diverse identities and individuality supplanted by a simple veil of moulded plastic. They huddle in small groups, aware that locating each other would be hard, were they to be separated. A few lovebirds hold hands. All wait. Finally, a man takes the stage. He identifies himself as Valentine - Victor? Vincent? It doesn't matter, this too is a mask. He requests that the Aces step forward (so that was why Mr. Neuroscientist said to arrive early). It was beginning.
Valentine works his way through the deck, and my number comes up. I stand before the exit/entrance. A lady, for whom the very term statuesque must have been invented, takes charge. Her voice is deep and syrupy, with overtones of command. My lovelies, she addresses her faceless and voiceless flock. It's hard to tell if she means any of it. There are some instructions, probably the usual disclaimers, and we're led to an unadorned stairwell.
Up, or down?
There were, unavoidably, certain associations, and the vast majority ascended after some slight hesitation. I went down, for otherwise, who would? There were some few others too, who took in the incongruous sights - was that a tent? Catching up with some fellow wanderers, I returned to more domestic environs, in time to watch a gentleman stumble by - I would later learn that he was likely Banquo. He flails, collapses and rises, anguished yet controlled.
Another performer passes by sometime, his shirt stained with blood. Now, I may have dropped literature after my second year, but I knew a Scottish King when I saw one. Why is there a bathtub in the middle of the room? We find out soon enough. His wife enters, aflame with ambition - maybe also something else, but mostly ambition. The couple smoulders as they twirl - the choreography is immaculate. Finally, Macbeth bares himself completely (untamed and uncut), and enters the functioning bathtub. Lady Macbeth washes him tenderly, but as we well know, absolution does not come that easily.
...and no running with sharp objects next time!
I quite naturally switched my tracking to Lady Macbeth after this scene, and she does get her own bath moment (out, damned spot!), in another place. The performers (mute actors? dancers?) one swiftly realises, are experts, as comfortable in their own skin as showing it (but please, do not laugh). Sure, there's nudity enough if you're after it, though it's not really of the titillating variety (but I won't judge). The main actresses are undeniably beautiful, and their attractiveness is only accentuated by the sureness of their movements - confidence is, after all, universally sexy.
It's also easy to realise that there's no way to experience all the threads of the narrative - there's just too much going on simultaneously. Standard advice is to trail a major character, but if it ever gets too much, there's always examining the intricate sets at one's own leisure. There might even be a few surprises in store, but I'm not going to give away too much.
The parallels between this flavour of immersive theatre and professional wrestling are plenty. Watching Macbeth tangle with his lady, one cannot help but recall the similarly-impressive coordination in, say, Daniel Bryan vs. CM Punk. Certainly, there are the little divergences: in pro wrestling, the performers are adversarial on the surface, and have to disguise their cooperation; whereas for the Macbeths, they dance, to outsiders, in unison - but are they, actually, together?
Also, to the best of my knowledge, the move sequences are fixed for this theatre, from how the walls and furniture are incorporated to virtually no margin for error. One expects the dancers to work through their routine almost like clockwork, multiple times per night, night on night. Wrestlers, for their part, have to improvise. While the basic elements of their stories - their movesets - do not vary much, they have to come up with a fresh new tale for every show, a unique take on the eternal monomyth. Shakespeare himself would be humbled.
Only fifty-two - 56? - cards, but a near-infinite number of games
This recurrence is hinted at in the production, as the performers congregate on the hour. Some of the more conventionally-pious would have recognized the possibly-blasphemous symbolism about the Last Supper in that presentation, but frankly, they (and perhaps those with epilepsy) should probably not have been here in the first place. When one buys a ticket to Hell in a Cell, one can hardly expect a sermon, can he?
The banquet concluded, the actors and actresses scatter, taking their ghostly retinue with them. But, surely, Macbeth now knows his treachery will end in his downfall, Banquo knows that he will be murdered by his friend, Lady Macduff knows she will not last the night? It does not matter - what must be done, will be done. Everyone, after all, dies. A lady in scarlet hovers and schemes in the background, seemingly the conductor of this tragic opera. The song that is played, however, is far older than even her...
The soft music plays on, in Manderley Bar.
The characters may be doomed, but they are not dead yet, and so they dance. I resolved to follow the pretty ladies - life is too short to waste on maintaining appearances, after all. She took off her wig. Hey, I can get behind the young Sinéad O'Connor look. Her set was, for want of a better term, masculine, but no less enthralling for that. Can't be top-heavy in this line, by the way. I suppose they get in the way.
I can hardly remember my target on the third run-through, but I would come to appreciate the famous motto: Who Dares, Wins. There is no reward for staying in the middle of the pack, unless one considers staring at fellow spectators' backs as one. No, it's all about being at the forefront, close enough to make out the hairs on their heads. Banquo intentionally backs into me twice during his dance in the Replica Bar, my mask nearly gets kicked off in the ballroom social. It's all good.
The third iteration was an ending, and with the spell broken, we were set on the path back to the real world, aptly signified by a diligent barker hawking the souvenir program, swearing that it would explain everything (Mr. Neuroscientist: it explains nothing; that probably comes closer to the truth). I'll be straight - the show could be a bit hard to digest in one sitting. Then again, I mused, if not very originally: we're also all just actors, like them. Merely not quite as good at the foxtrot and tango.
Waiting for legwarmers to return...
[N.B. Scored Moorcock's The Dancers at the End of Time and The History of the Runestaff from the Co-op, at a dollar for both; this must be the best bargain I've snagged since A&W root beer was at two for a dollar too]
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