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Monthnotes for March 2018

My second feature for Bandcamp Daily was published mid-month, this one on a selection of bands exploring new directions in grindcore. Again, it’s not a definitive guide, nor meant to be one; it’s a selection of artists across a spectrum that have caught my attention over time, and which fit the brief. I’m very happy with how it turned out; cheers to my editor Jes Skolnik for their work in that regard. More…

Monthnotes for February 2018

I already covered the beginning of February in my previous notes, and there’s little to report for the rest of the month. Time flies; sometimes there isn’t much to show for it work-wise. And sometimes the weather slows the country into shutdown mode. So let’s turn to some personal projects. More…

Monthnotes for November 2017

November was a bullet-point kind of month:

  • Enlarged Heart Radio has been revived for the winter, with two shows this past month, numbers 20 and 21. I’ll probably have another one up before Xmas, provided my weekends aren’t too hectic.
  • I saw and reviewed Battle of the Sexes and Suburbicon for Thumped. I also attended screenings for three 2018 releases (or they are on this side of the Atlantic, anyway). My notes on those are just that at this stage, but expect my thoughts in the new year. More…

Monthnotes for October 2017

I should be writing about October, but since the first of November has passed, I must note that it’s 16 years since I started this blog. It really doesn’t feel that long; a decade at most. I suppose it’s true what they say about time seeming to go by faster as one grows older.

Anyway, I don’t really have much to say about this anniversary other than I’m glad I picked things up again this year, even in the piecemeal fashion that I have. It’s good to carve out a space for oneself in the increasingly walled garden of the web. More…

Monthnotes for September 2017

So, an eventful September as predicted.

The biggest news, both work-related and personal, from the last few weeks is that my Bandcamp Daily feature on Ireland’s heavy underground was published.

It’s my highest-profile writing project to date, and only happened because I decided I had nothing to lose by sending the pitch. I’m not exactly brimming with self-belief (the term ‘imposter syndrome’ was created for people like me) but this has been a big boost of confidence. More…

Monthnotes for July & August 2017

Wow, summer just kind of came and went, didn’t it? Nose to the grindstone for the most part, meeting deadlines and whatnot. It’s difficult to write about here, as I can’t yet show the work. But that’s the problem with writing, about anything: every day involves countless little problems that, once solved, don’t bear thinking about. Hence two months since my last update. I expect September to be a little more show-and-tell.

Monthnotes for May & June 2017

May more or less blurred into June on the work front, which is grand. It means I was busy.

Of course I did make sure to take some time off for Bee’s birthday (and mine, since it’s the same day and all). We overnighted in Dublin to see the National Theatre’s production of Amadeus at the Light House Cinema, which was well worth it. The play and the hotel; wouldn’t you rather have a room next door to the cinema (and enjoy a buffet breakfast the next morning) than rush across town with 15 minutes to spare to catch the last bus home? More…

Weeknotes #818-820

Not a whole lot to report from the last few weeks:

  • My reviews of Lady Macbeth and Mindhorn went online. I’ll have one for The Red Turtle later in this month. I won’t have one for Alien: Covenant this week, since I appear to have slipped off the Fox press list. My press screenings calendar is clear for the time being.
  • I still have a lot of music promos to listen to. Also, I went to my first gig in forever the weekend after Easter, but I didn’t write about it.
  • I blogged this list of SST artists still going today. For no particular reason other than that I was curious about it.
  • I left my bicycle in the shop for a long-delayed service at the end of April. Turns out I’d buckled the hub of my rear wheel what with all the potholes Irish Water have left around town since last October, so a whole new wheel was in order. Once I got it back I took advantage of the good weather to ride out to the Cooley Peninsula. But my second trip, yesterday in fact, ended abruptly when I ran over a nail on the cycle path. Result: one exploded inner tube and one shredded rear tyre. So my bike is currently back in the shop. Sigh.

More current updates via my Twitter account, as always.

Weeknotes #810-817

Well. The time since my last weeknotes did not go exactly as according to plan. But that’s nothing unusual for me. Here are the highlights:

  • A few print deadline scheduling changes meant planned writing was either scrapped or put on the long finger. Ultimately that turned out to be a good thing, as I made the time to wrap up my fourth Noises On! column for Thumped: long, long delayed, but hopefully you’ll find something of interest in it. Of course now it’s up, all I can think of are the records I didn’t mention. FOMO and all that.
  • Only two film reviews, as previously linked, for Free Fire and A Cure for Wellness. Scheduling conflicts meant a bit of a screening drought for a few weeks, but in recent days I saw a couple of late April/early May releases, and have another one on the agenda for next week. Still trying to spend less time with passable movies in my leisurely viewing, which has meant more TV than films in my diet; lately we’ve been flying through The Legend of Korra of an evening.

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Weeknotes #807-809

Past the midway mark in February now, and not that much to report:

  • My review of Hidden Figures was published earlier this week. I’m drafting two others that will have to be finished by Monday if they’re to go online in time for their respective release dates. And since I’ve got another screening on Monday morning, that means I’ll be working on those over the weekend.
  • Since I’m writing this weekend, I’ll wrap up my long, long delayed music wrap-up so I can clean the slate for 2017 before the clocks change. Yes, it’s apparent that I need a better schedule for this stuff, though it was a (blessedly brief) cold that made last weekend a write-off, productivity-wise.

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Weeknotes #805-806

A few things to close out January:

  • I documented the redesign of this website last week. The visual aspects came swifter than I expected; the scripting stuff caused more frustration. But I still got there within a matter of days. Since then I’ve tweaked things a little, adding a post format template for videos, and the FitVids jQuery plugin to make video embeds resize fluidly in tandem with the responsive grid; it doesn’t work for Mixcloud iframes, however, I think because they’re widgets drawing from too many variables.
  • Over on Afloat.ie I wrote up a thing on Annalise Murphy’s Sailor of the Year win. Usually my contributions aren’t as lengthy or as live-wire as that, writing up and editing and CMSing on the fly, as the quotes come in. That’s modern journalism for you. And I should sell myself more on it.

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Documenting the new design

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably seen my site’s had a bit of a redesign.

Well, ‘a bit’ is putting it lightly: I coded a whole new site template from scratch over the last three days, building on the Skeleton framework that a lot of people seem to be using (from snooping around their sites with view-source, like the old days).

It’s been ages since I’ve done so much web coding — more than three years since my last redesign. I think I’ve kept things clean enough under the hood, and it resizes nicely on my smartphone.

The new look was pretty much a necessity seeing as I’ve finally migrated from Movable Type to WordPress. And boy has that been a learning curve. Not so much using the CMS itself; I’ve become familiar enough with that posting things on other sites. But getting my own stuff into the system was a challenge.

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Weeknotes #800-804

Halfway through January already? I suppose I should write up something about the last few weeks, so.

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Weeknotes #796-799

I should’ve been posting this via a fancy new super-fast broadband connection over the national grid, one to which our new supplier was only too eager to sign us up and get us connected. Dundalk’s one of the launch towns for Siro, after all, and there’s quite the drive locally to get people hooked up. Our own connection was scheduled for eight days ago. But it never happened. Because apparently the clearance to the nearest electricity pole is too far, and our house is too low. Funny that, considering every house in this neighbourhood is a bungalow.

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Weeknotes #789-795

It’s well and truly winter now, even though the leaves have only fallen in the last few weeks. I think the snow in some parts is sign enough, if not the calendar. It’s also fucking freezing, but on the plus side, that appears to have finally killed off the wasp nest in the extension that’s prevented me from mowing the back garden since midsummer. (And annoyed the shit out of us with dying wasps spontaneously appearing in the house.)

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Weeknotes #788

So I’ve finally got the hang of changing down to the lowest gears on my hybrid, which means I can tackle those steep climbs on the road from Dundalk to Newry. And boy are they steep.

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Weeknotes #785-787

It’s been a productive September on the writing front, with seven (and a bit) film reviews under my belt so far. There’s bit of a breather for the next few days, as I don’t have any press shows on my calendar till the end of next week, but I have got a couple of screeners to watch this weekend, for which I’ll have my little notebook ready.

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Weeknotes #767-784

Summer went by all too quickly, or not quickly enough, depending on which way I look at it. I’m already missing the long days, as sunset creeps earlier and earlier with each passing evening. But the rotten stuff of life that spoiled days and weeks, I could’ve done without. I’ll trade daylight after seven for the knot in my guts, no question. Let’s see what the rest of September holds.

Weeknotes #762-766

Well, April went by fast. Too fast to stop and take account, though on review I didn’t achieve that much. I watched a few movies and a bit of wrestling and a lot of anime. I listened to hours of podcasts. I read a whole bunch. I suppose that all adds up to something but right now I couldn’t tell you what.

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Photos old and new

Seagull in the sky

I spent a day or two over my mid-March week off trawling through my photo archive, going back quite a few years, looking for things worth posting to my dormant Flickr account. It turns out there were quite a few, and they’re not half bad.

I’ve grouped them into albums as I’ve done before to make things easier. Keep an eye on my smartphone shots, which I expect will be the one most regularly updated going forward.

Weeknotes #759-761

There goes March without much fanfare and, apart from the day job, little to show for it in terms of productivity. Not compared to my busy February, at any rate, when I ploughed through freelance work and the words flowed from my fingertips.

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Weeknotes #757-758

Not the best fortnight for me, in fairness. Existential anxiety last weekend reverberated through the following days, and I’m foggy on the details, so they’re a write-off. Then as soon as I started feeling more like myself, it was head down for a production deadline. And with the hauntings of a cold and all.

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Weeknotes #755-756

Week 755 brought a modest web article assignment and some freelance subediting (a nice bonus for a short month) that continued into the following week, leading into three straight production days, and the requisite subbing, layout and hair-pulling (a bit less of the latter than the last few deadline, though). But it began with a full day of film screenings, one of which was decent fodder for a review (and which I linked last week; I’m doing better!).

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Weeknotes #753-754

My did the last two weeks fly by with little to show for it. My work hours were off schedule again, which always throws things for a loop. And Daniel Bryan retired, casting a unexpected pall over proceedings. But I made the time to spend a day out with Bee in the city, write up a film review last weekend (that I remembered to link here this time) and join in the #MWE fun on Twitter.

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Weeknotes #750-752

Not a whole lot to report for the last few weeks. I’m still playing catch-up on my music promos, and I’ve seen feck-all movies so far this year. I did have a few film reviews published but I forgot to blog about them here. (Sorry.)

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Weeknotes #749

So, let’s talk weight management.

The good news is that my current weight is lower than what I weighed this time last year. The bad news is that the difference is not very much, as most of the gains I made between January and June were lost in the upheaval of moving out of Dublin and finding a new routine. No more 45-minute cycles to and fro the office to burn off the excess intake, alas. (Though if I’m really honest, I’ve simply been snacking on too many sweet things to take the edge off.)

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Weeknotes #744-748

It’s a new year, and as I write this I’m coming towards the end of my Christmas break from the day job. Wrestle Kingdom 10 is on Monday morning, so I’m back to the grind on Tuesday — but even that’s not all bad as I’ve got a screening of The Revenant on Tuesday morning to kick things off.

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Weeknotes #741-743

Week 741 saw the writing calendar fill up a bit, with two gig reviews plus a handful of press screenings. It’s that time when the screenings bunch up a bit so the PR people can knock off early for Christmas, so there are a few January releases coming up shortly, it seems. (January releases for us, anyway; most of them seem to have come out in the States weeks ago.)

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Weeknotes #739-740

Getting paid. Getting a haircut. Writing up some newsy things, editing others. Solving layout problems with InDesign. Oh yeah, and completing my tax return. That was week 739.

Then week 740: deadline crunch time, then more newsy writing, more editing, and a night out with Mick Foley marred only slightly by the three drunk idiots sat in front of us, who thankfully didn’t get the mic to ask their presumably inane question during the Q&A portion of the show.

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Weeknotes #736-738

It’s well and truly winter now. The clocks have turned back, meaning the black of night comes as soon as half past five. And coupled with the kind of gloom that steals what little available sunlight we have, I’ve been in a shitty mood too much of the time. I need one of those SAD lamps or something.

Not every day has been so shitty, mind you. I can see blue through the skylight as I write this. The Mets made it to the World Series (I know!). I watched a half-decent live WWE show (twice!). And I dragged myself out of the house to see the Deathcrusher tour in Dublin on the bank holiday (Voivod? Great, set too short. Napalm Death? Also great, poor sound. Obituary? Tight as fuck but no stage presence. Carcass? Second time round, a bit too slick for me; the light show was like something from Vegas).

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Weeknotes #734-735

Time to write something about the last fortnight, so. Not much pause for self-reflection: subbing, layouts, writing, wrestling, gardening and housekeeping, in no particular order. I’ve got some things I want to say about recent grappling happenings but those will have to wait till the end of the week, after I finish this album review I’m still working on.

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Weeknotes #732-733

Week 732 saw me spinning a few plates more than usual, with press screenings in the first half (that I still have to write about) plus an impromptu trip to the old neighbourhood for new shoes (there’s a factory store, y’see), then the usual production tasks throughout, plus a whole bunch of InDesign proof corrections and extra freelance subediting towards the latter half. There went my weekend!
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Weeknotes #730-731

Week 730 was a non-eventful one, subbing and layout bookending a day of press screenings and some review-writing midweek. It’s tiring stuff, though, all that thinking and brain work, so most evenings, after dinner and Great British Menus, I was dead to the world.

Little energy to muster to read the few new books I’ve loaded on my Kindle, for instance. I’m on a short story kick — or rather, I would be, if I were reading them and not just thinking about it — so I’ve got some Joe R Lansdale, some Lydia Davis, some Kelly Link, some China Mieville. Bit of a mix there, I think. I’ve even got Borges in my Tsundoku folder, for the classics quota.More…

Weeknotes #726-729

The predominant experience over the last few weeks? Tiredness. I’ve been sick, mostly minor ills in the big scheme of things, but for the better part of a month. First the threat of a cold that turned into a horrid chesty cough that took a week (and two bottles of Benylin) to shift, then a few days later a proper headcold that blindsided me for a whole weekend, and left everything smelling and tasting of slate mucus for even longer. Even as I write this a week later I’m still groggy from congestion, the kind that sloshes around inside your head and makes your ears sting when you bend over. Ugh.

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Weeknotes #715-725

Towards the end of May, we received notice that the rent on our apartment was going up by 25% from July onwards. And that was that: we were finally priced out of Dublin. The city where I was born and grew up, and where we can’t justify spending to live anymore. That’s Ireland in 2015.

Anyway, cue a somewhat frantic, stressful search for a new home — which we found three weeks later, 80km to the north, in Dundalk. That’s where you’ll find us today, paying less rent for a house with a garden, in a quiet, leafy neighbourhood that’s still a short walk from the town centre. And paying less for faster broadband, too.

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Thinking out loud about grief

My grandfather told a story of an old farmer whose wife of 60 years died. “Ah well,” he said, “had a good innings.” A month later his bull died and he was broken up. “Losing his wife,” my grandfather, a doctor, said, “was too big. This was small enough for him to get his tears around.”

This quote, from a short essay on grief on the Guardian’s Comment is Free blog, leapt out from my stew of thoughts and memories last night, upon news of the death of Rowdy Roddy Piper.

I didn’t know him, never met him, but to me and millions like me, the Hot Rod was an indelible part of my childhood, and my wrestling fandom. He was arguably the best talker in the business, not to mention one of the greatest heels ever, and maybe the first (well before Steve Austin at any rate) to transition from ‘most hated man alive’ to perennial fan-favourite without losing the attitude, the edge that made him so magnetic.

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Weeknotes TK

It’s been an unsettling couple of months since my last weeknotes, with various doses of news good, bad and just plain awful in the interim. Things are finally settling down now, though — he hopes — and I’ll be able to spill out some words on what’s been happening around here the last few weeks over the coming days. Making lemonade from life’s lemons, as it were.

Weeknotes #713-714

So, a busy, stressful couple of weeks, then.

Some good things: new reviews on Thumped (Paul G Smyth/Chris Corsano Duo live at the NCH) and Burning Ambulance (the new Bosse-de-Nage album), plus a couple of press screenings (one just for leisure, the new Mad Max movie last night at the Savoy’s big screen).

Some bad things: a ridiculously late night on Tuesday (working till 2.30am) that didn’t have to be that way, and a head cold just about kept in check by decongestants that seem to have had the undesired effect of leaving me dry-mouthed and constantly thirsty.

But hey, it’s Friday, there’s live wrestling this weekend and there’s Lidl chocolate in the fridge, so I’m alright.

Weeknotes #711-712

With the paper schedule out of whack the last couple of weeks, I’m still playing catch-up on a few things: album reviews, a gig review, a press screening write-up. At least with this bank holiday weekend I’ve had a breather of sorts to triage my commitments and carve out some valuable time for thinking and contemplation.

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Weeknotes #708-710

Little to report over the previous few weeks that I haven’t already mentioned.

Press screenings have been thin on the ground for me lately due to scheduling conflicts. I did attend one this Friday morning, for the new Avengers movie, but we’re apparently embargoed till Tuesday, so yeah.

Music-wise, I’ve got another heavy stuff round-up in the works for Thumped, on top of a few other reviews. This past week I’ve been mostly listening to the new Bosse-de-Nage record, All Fours, which is the best thing I’ve heard in ages. That’s been at the expense of everything else, however, so I’ve got a fair amount to catch up on.

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Jack

Jack, July 2007, by MacDara on Flickr.

This is Jack, a few months after my mam adopted him from Dogs Aid in 2007.

His first owners must have lived locally; he ended up at the sanctuary after he was hit by a car and treated at the vet on Raheny Road. His hip was messed up but the vet did a great job, and though we knew he’d get arthritis when he was older it never really gave him much trouble.

They estimated he was about three years old then. He spent the next eight years in my family home, happy and loved. St Anne’s Park is just down the road and he had the run of the place. More…

Weeknotes #706-707

I’ve had a nagging illness the past two weeks, sinusitis that started with the usual stuffed-up back of the nose but turned into an earache that made my jaw throb whenever I chewed anything bigger than a crumb, and a dull headache, with attendant surface tenderness, localised roughly in the same area of my skull. Not nice at all. So forgive me when I say the fortnight’s been quite a blur, of working and waiting and a missed solar eclipse, all around and in between that discomfort.

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Weeknotes #705

Week 705 was a quiet one. From Monday it was head down to the deadline at my semi day job, then a well-earned break on Wednesday afternoon involving a sunshine cycle to the park, where I met these deer. (I’m planning to return with carrots and my good camera on the next sunny day.)

In the meantime, my first album review in ages (not counting my round-up last month) went up on Thumped. There’s a few more in the works where that came from, though it’s still a challenge to sit down and just crank ’em out, y’know? Still chasing my mojo in that respect.

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Weeknotes #704

Two press screenings in Week 704: British war film Kajaki (out in April, so review to come closer to that date) and Neill Blomkamp’s Chappie, which I reviewed for Thumped.

I cycled from home in West Dublin to Rathmines for the former screening, and that was a fairly pleasant ride, apart from the deplorable condition of what Dublin City Council would purport to be cycle lanes in the Islandbridge/Kilmainham area. That and the cycle home was into the wind, which had picked up a bit too much for my liking. But on the bright side, the fog has cleared from a new area of my mental map of the city.

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Weeknotes #703

Week 703 began with WWE Fastlane, an event I don’t think I can bring myself to write about other than say it wasn’t any better or worse than the average edition of Monday Night Raw. I’d much rather talk about the WWE Network when I have a chance to whittle my thoughts into shape.

Later in the week my review of Focus went up on Thumped. That was a tough one, to write about a fairly average film that did not excite nor disgust me to any extreme. I’ve got two screenings scheduled for next week, one of them being Neill Blomkamp’s Chappie, which might prove more fruitful.

Which reminds me, I must find the time to watch Elysium this weekend, around the extra editing work I’ve got going on, and a record review that needs completing. Boy, am I tired. I’m eyeing up the end of March for a few days off; the week between WrestleMania and Easter looks like a good one for a bit of a break.

Weeknotes #701-702

Bit of a blur, the past fortnight.

I spent a few afternoons last week putting together this year’s website awards feature for Afloat magazine; not sure when that’s getting published as yet. Took a bit longer than expected to write as I developed a head cold around the same time, and had to fight through the fog of that to get anything done. Obviously I was useless for much of the rest of the time. I watched a lot of TV and WWE Network, and finished a couple of books while my head was clear enough to handle it.

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Weeknotes #700

Seven hundred weeks, eh? That’s a long time blogging. More than 13 years, in fact. Which reminds me, I completely forgot my blog became a teenager on 1 November last. That’s crazy! So is the fact that I’ve had a website in some shape or form for more than 15 years now. Whodathunkit?

Anyway, enough reminiscing. There’s some new stuff from me up on the new-and-improved Thumped. For one, my review of Jupiter Ascending, the new film from the Wachowskis (and a very enjoyable one it is, too). And at long last, the latest edition of my Noises On! column, surveying my last 12 months or so in heavy music.

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Weeknotes #699

Getting these notes done early today. I’m feeling tired and burnt out after a stressful, frustrating first half of the week, ending with a long day on Wednesday putting the paper to bed, that may have caused by first bout of sleep paralysis in years. Fun times.

Still, other work is chugging along fine: things are being written, music is being listened to, films have been seen and scheduled to see.

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Weeknotes #697-698

Besides my review of Whiplash on Thumped, and a few of my quick news bits for Afloat taking off with hits in the hundreds, which is always nice, there’s little remarkable to report in terms of the work side of the work/life balance.

So let’s talk life, and more to the point, my consuming passion: since Wednesday last week (after finding out about the soft launch) I’ve been mostly spending countless hours watching WWE Network, trawling the archive of WCW pay-per-views and shows that I never saw back in the day. I’ll be writing about it in greater detail soon.

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