WrestleMania 39: night 1

Well folks, I wrote about WrestleMania in 2020 when we were all stuck inside and I had more time on my hands; I then neglected to do so for the next two years. Maybe I’ll find the time to go back and write them up, putting in a historical date, pretending they were there all along.

Back then, the idea of the two-night WrestleMania was to compensate the fans for their not being able to attend during COVID19. But even in 2022 and this year, when excited fans and their generic tattoos are filling Super Bowl-sized stadia, the trend persists. Rather than featuring on the “grandaddy of them all” being a point of prestige, WWE is now featuring storylines about the most hapless wrestlers not having a match on the show. Witness Seth Rollins last year, when he ended up getting the returning Cody Rhodes as a mystery opponent. Or the quite awful “Baron Corbin” this year, and his perpetual boom and bust cycle of storyline wealth and luck.

Anyway, night 1 of the show was very decent, excellent in places and massively overlong.

The main event saw perennial scrappy underdogs Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn become undisputed world tag team champs, unseating the Usos, who had reigned for nearly three years. It was a great match, full of drama, some barely believable kick outs, and lots of emotion. The win was not just the end of an epochal reign, but a milestone for these longtime friends who fought up from the indies together, as well as catharsis for Zayn, who was once aligned with the Usos as part of “the Bloodline” before going through a violent and emotionally draining rivalry with them.

The other big winner was Rhea Ripley, who won a rematch of her WM36 contest with Charlotte Flair. Another excellent, lengthy match, this was pretty brutal (some of it, like the German suplex that saw Charlotte land face first, I couldn’t even tell if it was planned or accident). Nice mix of both teasing their submission holds and very high impact moves. Rhea has come a long way since debuting incredibly nervously on the main roster: her time as part of the Judgement Day group has done wonders for her confidence on the big stage.

A less impressive title match saw John Cena fail to prise the US title from Austin Theory. The story was all about how Theory is unconvincing as a potential main event wrestler, and that he is not ready for a veteran like Cena. That’s a good story, but they did it wrong. There was a spot in which Cena has Theory on his shoulders for his special move, and they accidentally KO the ref. Cena hits the move, and puts Theory in his submission hold, the STF. Theory taps, Cena lets go, but the ref is out, so he didn’t see!

Oh dear.

But if Cena is such a crafty veteran, surely he just keeps the hold on until the ref wakes up, and Theory’s spine is completely effed up. In the end, Theory hits Cena with a low blow, hits his own move and gets the win. Not only does Cena not teach him a lesson, but because he had to cheat to win, Theory remains unconvincing.

The other highlight was a four-way tag match, which should have been messy, but produced some of the biggest “holy shit” moments I have seen in ages. The Street Profits won it (Angelo Dawkins halting the Brawn Strowman express with a body check was a killer moment) over Strowman and Ricochet (springboard shooting star press out of the ring), the Viking Raiders and Alpha Academy.

This post is starting to feel as long as Night 1 itself, so I’ll gloss over Seth Rollins beating Logan Paul (surprisingly good), Rey Misterio beating his son (meh match, but good end to the storyline) and Trish Stratus/Lita/Becky Lynch beating Damage CTRL (decent nostalgia trip for the oldies I guess, but a waste of Io and Dakota Kai).

I got a damn Steam Deck

(Or: I need to blog more)

Using the Steam Deck as an actual computer!

Today I got a Steam Deck. If you don’t know what that is, you can Google it. But in short, it’s a decent gaming PC in the form of the Nintendo Switch’s big brother. Made by Valve, the clever people behind the Half Life and Portal games, Steam gaming platform and an early example of employee-friendly working culture.

You can use it entirely as a very powerful handheld, or you can put it into Desktop Mode and use it as a computer. It’s Linux and nice. I’m writing this post on it, in fact. I’m reminded of the time I got a Nexus 7, nearly a decade ago, and decided that was the dawn of a new era of prolific writing. Ah, the folly of youth. Still, it’s nice to know I can do that.

But yeah, the main use is to log into the Steam games launcher/marketplace and play the games you bought there. If Valve created Steam back in the day to be the “iTunes of gaming”, then I suppose their iPod has finally arrived.

Another thing you can do, as you can see above, is use that PC functionality to log into non-Steam sites and use your games from those too. What a coincidence that the game pictured was released the same year as my Nexus blog post. I swear I have existed since 2013. You can also emulate old consoles, apparently, as long as you have legally backed up your own ROMs. But I obviously wouldn’t know anything about that.

As you would guess with any new toy, I have spent much more time mucking about with the functionality and gazing at its beauty than using it “properly”. But so far it seems pretty good. Valve have been testing Steam games and marking whether they are a-okay to use on Steam Deck, a bit iffy, or not tested/not working. While useful, it is not law, and I’ve used no-no games like Street Fighter V perfectly happily.

So yes, just thought I would mark this momentous occasion.

Fostering our first cat

La Pantera having a kip

A lot can happen in a week.

Last weekend, a friend of mine rang me, asking if I could look after a cat for two weeks until adopted. They would have done it, but their existing cat wouldn’t have got on with it. So we said yes, and spoke to the fostering company.

That cat ended up being taken, but we were called on Tuesday about taking in a different one. On Wednesday lunchtime, the cat was brought to us. (This was written on Friday evening, to give context to relative time descriptions.)

Like the Met Office does with storms, the fostering company wants its cats’ initials to follow the alphabet. So we were on P. Seeing the girl was quite dark coloured, and given my fondness for heavy metal, we were fostering Pantera.

We were told she was a bit of an old girl, but it was only after the vet gave her a once over that we learned she was at least 14 years old. She was also mega light when she came to us. The story was she was chipped but not registered (how?), was abandoned and spent an amount of time on the street. The lady who brought her had her in her garage for a couple of nights, unable to bring her into the house because of her mother’s allergies.

After the trip to the vet, we knew Pantera needed a tooth operation and might have hyperthyroidism. She was a little wobbly one, shuffling about unsteadily on her geriatric legs, but surprisingly for a street cat, loved being around humans and purred on contact. It was up to us to give her warmth (physical and emotional), a comfy house and good food.

Finding her bed very quickly

We gave her a “stick” as a treat, like a Pepperami but for cats. She held her prey down with one paw while she devoured it. She drank a lot of water.

Over the course of 48 hours, Pantera became more active: her gait had improved to an extent, she was nuzzling and keen to be stroked, she had even started cleaning herself – the sign of a cat with the luxury to take her time. This morning, she even leapt onto our bed for attention; we thought she would struggle just climbing the stairs. As I gently lifted her off the bed, I felt her little ribs with my fingers. She would never not be baggy at her age, but we could make her stronger, healthier and happier.

We gave her a stick today, and she turned her nose up at it. She drank a lot of water.

We got Pantera’s blood test results, and rather than hyperthyroidism, she had renal issues. No biggie, said the vet: take some antibiotics, some renal food and she’ll be ready for the tooth op. But today, I noticed she had an infected-looking paw, so rather than merely swing by and collect the meds and food, the vet told us to bring her in for a look.

We drove to the town the vet is based in, and I had Pantera in a “donut” bed on my lap, the whole time. I was stroking her smelly fur (we got some grooming mitts, but that process takes time), and keeping her relaxed for the hour-long car ride. She was purring and nuzzling, which reassured me. After a little wait outside the surgery in the car (COVID restrictions), we put Pantera in the carry case and Girlfriend took her in to get her paw looked at.


Girlfriend came back to the car with an empty carry case and a tear in her eye. “They want to keep her in. They say she’s got arrhythmia and a gallop.”

We started the drive back, my lap still warm where Pantera had been resting on it, unbothered by the car journey. I wondered what she must have seen and been through in her 14+ years, to be so much more relaxed about the things that spook and disturb most cats. She was philosophical about it all, and had now given herself the luxury of cleaning her fur and having good, long, snore-filled snoozes at our place because she knew she was safe with us.

She missed the donut this time, but was comfy enough

The phone rang. The fostering people. They heard from the vet, and Pantera is in heart failure. What the fuck? We took her in for her paw. We wouldn’t have taken her in at all, if I’d not mentioned the paw. Heart failure.

We gave them the go-ahead to put her to sleep. They said that in her current state, she wouldn’t survive the anaesthetic for the tooth op. She’s dehydrated and her heart isn’t working. Girlfriend is the most caring person I’ve ever met. She lamented in the most heartbreaking way the fact that they’d just taken Pantera away without the chance to say goodbye. Lamented the fact that I didn’t know Pantera wouldn’t be coming back to the car. Wondered what Pantera thought, after a life of being taken from place to place, being dropped off by us at the vet. But she didn’t want her suffering any more.

If we hadn’t taken her to the vet, we would have most likely found her fluffy, lifeless little body in the donut. If we’d not taken her in, the woman would have found her dead in her garage. If not that, she’d have died slowly and painfully on the street.

I don’t know if I wish I could have been there to say goodbye. It would have been too painful. But she’d have known we were there at the end. As it was, we made her last days probably her best ones. She ate well, had energy, warmth, comfort and security. She learned to love, trust and relax again, and that’s priceless.

It’ll take a while, but we’ll foster again.

RIP Pantera, 2007-2022

Black Mirror: season 1

I should really write something about Inside Number 9, given that we recently hurtled through its six series at perhaps a greater pace than we did Line of Duty. But I’m not, I’m writing about Black Mirror because I may as well write about something reasonably soon after watching it.

What does Inside Number 9 have to do with Black Mirror? On the face of it, nothing. But drag the waters and you see that both are pretty exquisitely constructed anthology series (each episode is completely unrelated to what came before. Or comes after). Both were created by middle aged dudes who were cult icons in about 2000, before gradually becoming part of the furniture. And both seem pretty great. So what more do you need?

Nothing. Good. I’ll go into detail on the Inside Number 9 post about that one, but in a nutshell: it’s Steve Pemberton and Reese Shearsmith (from League of Gentlemen and Psychoville; and seemingly always named in that order) making it clear that they are embarrassingly talented, as they shape six standalone episodes of TV that could each be pilots or kernels of movies, every year. And none is bad. Some are amazing.

Black Mirror is Charlie Brooker (and friends), who at the time of League of Gentlemen had his satirical fake TV listings website TV Go Home, and was soon to pour scorn over everythig on a weekly basis for The Guardian. He’s now pretty damn well known. He also apparently has very good ideas and turns them into standalone episodes of excellence. Being on Netflix, I think Black Mirror is probably already more familiar to you lot than it is to me. Hey ho.

There are three episodes in series one, all kind of Twilight Zone/Outer Limits, but very plausible, which is where the real scariness comes in. I won’t describe the plots (watch them), but you’ve got a pilot episode about the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom being black mailed into doing something… awful. Then there is an episode about fitness fads, fame, reality shows and virtual selves (my favourite). And then one in which all of our experiences are recorded by an implant (COVID vaccine!!) that we can then replay and broadcast; the episode concerns itself with how that can magnify already obsessive personalities.

They are all great. What’s really shocking is how relevant and scary they are as a sense of “today taken to its logical conclusion” but they were made a damn decade ago. That’s really bloody impressive. It’s like they’ve predicted, if not the terminus, at least the trajectory of where we are going technologically and socio-culturally. All those years of shouting and swearing about culture has obviously given Brooker a keen eye. And you also get to see a pretty stellar cast (Daniel Kaluuya, Jessica Brown Findlay, Jodie Whittaker) often before they were mega famous.

So yes, that’s it for now. Just some thoughts on the first series before I get too far past it. Toodles!