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Sophisticated Whoppers

30 Jun

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Last month my neighborhood Burger King underwent a cosmopolitan rhytidectomy, in accordance with mandates to transform such troughs into elegant gastronomy. McDonald’s has emerged in recent years from an extended postpsychedelic adolescence to embrace the Library of Alexandria aesthetic, while Jack in the Box, under direct orders from draconian CEO “Jack,” has jettisoned its staple blues and reds for a soothing Humidor Autumn. The desired effect, according to corporate literature, is contemplative chi, as opposed to “Holy God, this Applewood Bacon Cheese Fist is wrapping itself around my heart.”

Having never patronized a chic Burger King, I decided this morning to have it my way. On foot I passed the phantom of its children’s playset — the industry no longer caters to plebes. In its place stood a scale replica of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon complete with tanzanite wall, over which flowed a talkative Chianti stream. Occupying its drive-thru lane were sleek fleets of Google cars activated by smartphone apps. Four impeccably attired valets monitored the parking lot, sending any vehicle older than 2008 to a “VIP lane” seven blocks away.

The building’s exterior could best be described as futuristic neoclassical. Its sanctum, inspired by the parlor in Don and Betty Draper’s Ossining home, wallows resplendent in oaks and comfortable beiges. Posted advertisements no longer boast of “flame-broiled” or “flame-grilled” meats; they’re now “artisan-crowdsourced.” Six overhead flatscreens broadcast “Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia,” with a corner space nearby to discuss the film with the shift manager, a former Harper’s editor-at-large. Wafting through the restaurant: Herb Alpert’s “Fandango,” on 180-gram vinyl.

I immediately recognized my counter garcon’s uniform as Yves St. Laurent. “Yes,” she confirmed. “They outfit us all.” “But what about grease stains?” I asked. “Those,” she said, “are flown in from Vienna.” She then apologized for the store’s wine steward, whose flight was delayed in Milan. “That’s fine,” I replied, and ordered the venison curly fries with a 32-ounce growler to go.

Because of the restaurant’s new decibel regulation, I saw only one other “broseph,” as BK calls us nonemployees: an older gentleman pecking at a laptop while seducing a mimosa. Sans prompt, he told me, “It’s a Dogme-esque novel about a man who’s smarter than everyone else but is too humble to share his rare gift, so he hangs out at Burger King, tormented in self-imposed silence, until a beautiful cashier who recognizes his shyness as intellectual superiority offers him her soul. I liken its tone to a Ferrari 458 speeding recklessly past the intersection of Huxley and Terry Southern, and crashing into an abandoned storefront that once sold steampunk fetish wear.”

Alas, I left before the BK book club convened in the alcove, but I’ll be back for the Appalachian dulcimer jam this evening. If you’re not too busy with the Taco Bell barrel tour, feel free to bro by. Bring your Konghou — and plenty of antacids.

The Winter of My Discotheque

20 Nov

"My Soul: A Self-Portrait"

Don’t the trees look like crucified thieves?
Warren Zevon, “Desperadoes Under the Eaves”

Hey, guess what? The Daily Wrazz is a year old! Hey, guess whatter? This is my hunnert post! Even with dismal math skills, you’ll quickly deduce that my blog hardly qualifies as “daily.” But with a considerable graveyard of ditched verbiage in my digital past (I bore so easily — myself and others), the fact this sucker still exists is a monumental achievement.

Especially when you consider that every year at this time I sit and calmly await the onset of my annual melancholy. Well, that’s what I call it, but to be honest I’ve never been able to differentiate between melancholy and sloth. But it hits like clockwork every winter. Back when your roving scrivener was ankle-high to an AP History textbook, this would usually be the time my grades started slipping. I’d lose interest in scholastic regimen and let my homework fester like a PBJ forgotten atop a radiator. My responses to test questions — even the essay portions at which I excelled (flush am I with B.S.) — may as well have been glum variations on “What’s the use?” Compounding that was a heart heavy with pant and pine as I’d gaze into the living-room fireplace, wondering what it’d be like to unfasten a brassiere in its erotic crackle.

I don’t know what causes it. Perhaps it’s the trees, stripped of their loveliness, dead to me, dead to us all. Perhaps it’s the puffy winter garments that turn me into a bloated potato, or the harrowing conditions I face as a lowly pedestrian when God spits ice down my block, coating every surface — even candidates for necessary balance — in embarrassment and pain. Also, I’m not a big fan of white everything, or the threat of white everything. Give me a gush of visual variety besides the numbed crimson of misery-laden cheeks (what an optimist calls “rosy”).

The sad thing is that I’ve no real reason to be sad. I’ve a steady job with a reasonable income, something I enjoy doing. Plus, I received two additional potentials today that please me greatly as an unrepentant capitalist. God, did I wanna blow some cash at the news. I compromised by dropping ten on a used copy 0f the late Robert Palmer’s (no, not this one) Deep Blues, which joins other tomes on my shelf of inspiration. Best of all, I have clean clothes for tomorrow, which is nice, considering I’ve slipped into the same dress shirt and high-school athletic tee two days straight. (That, I think, is the lazy part. Perhaps a shave’s in order too.)

The First Thanksgiving: So the Indians sat at the kids' table?

Even better: Thanksgiving lands next week. A most welcome respite of family interaction, wooly sweaters, acres of gravy bleeding through dark-meat dams, banter swimming through the pumpkin-cinnamon air, and, most importantly, leftovers, so’s I don’t gotta visit the 7-Eleven to fuel nocturnal scribbles. (NOTE TO SELF: Pitch to the empire a Cranberry Sauce Big Bite, drowned in gravy and stuffing chunks ‘stead o’ gross, goopy chili [Stove Top squirts ‘stead o’ starchy bleats].)

Then, with the gobble growing rear-view faint, I can bust out the Christmas music proper: Dean Martin, Twisted Sister, Bootsy Collins. In the holiday spirit I could ask my father to loose the Cory Frye Archives, particularly my long-lost Screaming Santas EP, with its ever-so-festive rendition of Big Star’s “Jesus Christ.” Maybe I’ll excavate enough space in my apartment rubble — now that I’m finally making enough to afford it without my savings account giving me the finger — to park a Douglas fir, along with presents and flocking and sprinkles of glittery white shit I’ll be vacuuming up and blasting off socks ’til June.

Better yet, to make a little coin on the side, I’ll install a bad-ass speaker system and transform the whole of my lair into an exclusive club. Nothing snuffs wintry sadness like the Hustle, a VIP room and a humidor. But, then, what kind of cover should I charge? Should I make exceptions for acquaintances? Will crashers exploit my natural sympathy, tug at my conscience with pleas of “But it’s Christmas!”? What kind of world do we live in when your fellow man and even your closest friends are willing to take advantage of your hospitality like that? And since department stores hail the coming yuletide as far back as August 16, does that mean I’m up to my eyeteeth in freeloaders five, six months out of the year? Whatever happened to peace on earth, good will to men? Those fucks! Those evil pricks! You know what? Shit on Christmas, piss on winter, and butt-jack that fat, jolly consumerist propoganda icon with the fossilized remnants of our moribund American economy! Aw, hell, I’m gloomy again.

Wrazz Wreviews: The Phone Book

18 Jul

0717091549

2009-2010 Albany-Lebanon & Surrounding Areas
(The Local Pages of Oregon LLC)
3.5 stars

Yesterday saw the air-pocket WUMPH! of this year’s tome, and believe you me, it’s another corker in the only successful ongoing series to not feature a boy wizard and his puberty-stricken pals. Granted, naysayers will bemoan its rote predictability (alphabetical listings, the usual maps) and its tendency to rely on an outdated organizational formula, but adroit and patient readers will be rewarded with astonishing secrets and slight alterations befitting this most complex exploration of humanity. After all, the phone book seems to quietly reason, how much do we truly change from year to year, aside from the usual influx of newcomers and the life cycles of local commerce? In this sense, 2009-2010 is a most valuable tome, edited as usual with care and precision and presented in fetching tones beyond the blase white/yellow contrast of our youth.

As always, the introductory blue section is alternately a familiar delight and a reminder of who to contact when our sewers belch bilge into our manicured lawns. Of particular interest to your faithful skeptic was the “Area Code & Time Zone Map,” helpfully stretched across two pages for maximum edification. I found myself nostalgically navigating previous area codes (503, 562, 818, and 310, if you’re interested; the first formerly covered the entire state of Oregon until the mid-’90s) and becoming reacquainted with the oft-neglected Mountain and Central areas, whose rugged monikers filled me as a child with awe and envy, specifically as they applied to television schedules. “Tonight!” an announcer would intone way back when, “It’s a city under siege, with no backup to separate law and order from chaos and hell. All bets are off! It’s an explosive Sheriff Lobo, 9 p.m. Pacific, 8 p.m. Central and Mountain.” I didn’t understand what made our neighbors so special that they got to watch my favorite programs an hour earlier. As a result, I begged my parents to move our family to Colorado or even Alberta, for the cheap rents. Central and Mountain, you thought you were awesome, but you were so totally not!

Of less interest are the international codes; what reason would I possibly have to call Islamabad? Also useless: the 2009-2010 calendars — not enough space to pencil in your nephew’s coronation. But the minimal faults dogging the Blue Page experience are overshadowed by the helpful “Hard to Find Numbers” tab, although I must subtract several plaudits for not catering to me personally. Where are the numbers of old girlfriends or movie stars? However, I’m grateful for easy access to Homeland Security, should I decide to report my landlord’s monthly terrorist activities.

Speaking of activities, the exhaustive section also includes a hard-copy calendar (though no perforation for easy removal) of local events. I puzzled at the nonexistence of the traditional Timber Carnival and made a mental note to attend the Stand by Me Cruise-In & Sock-Hop in Brownsville this August 15, in hopes that Wil Wheaton will surface to repay, with accumulated interest, the 50 cents he borrowed for a Pepsi in the summer of 1985.

After the sparkling vivacity of their set-up, the Albany/Lebanon White Pages can only pale in comparison. They begin promisingly with the usual array of merchants vying for eyeballs from the lead-off spot; this year begins with A-1 Charlie’s Towing Service of Albany, followed by A-1 Coffee Service of Jefferson. These early entries provide intriguing fodder for personality studies. For instance, what compels proprietors and their services to stake the forefront? Market research? Brash confidence? In any case, there’s a certain nervy je ne sais quoi, a purposeful exposure that in many ways rivals the elaborate advertisements peppered throughout the book or the business names highlighted in yellow for insistent emphasis. A1, especially, implies unsurpassed excellence, and according to this year’s tome, my search for a reputable towing company, coffee company, and garage-door and gutter installers ends before it really begins, freeing the rest of my weekend to shop for a competent satellite television provider, which I locate easily in the adjacent column (A Advanced Satellite Television).

The residential listings are a brisk plod through characters both familiar and new. Among this year’s bombshells for longtime readers is the division of Alma and Clevon Merkin into separate addresses, which is unfortunate considering their former status as a phonebook staple (since 1974!) and the example they set for unrepentant romantics like myself. Also, the Behlmans have relocated from 25004 Broadalbin S.W. to 89972 Fulton St. S.E., affecting any offspring of school age. (One of the Local Pages’ most glaring liabilities is its lack of character depth; one laments the passing of the ’80s alternate edition, which listed children, their year of birth, and the homeowners’ respective vocations.) The section concludes with James and Irene Zylva of Lebanon, who unseat longtime epilogues Art and Kathy Zylp of Shedd. Reached for comment, Irene chirped, “Oh, yes, they called last night with their congratulations. Lovely couple, and Art’s a hellcat at canasta. We ‘bottom-feeders’ hit it off wonderfully, and we owe it all to that shrink-wrapped brick dropped on our doorstep.”

To compete with Switchboard.com, the Local Pages have audaciously added a reverse directory slathered in pink and brimming with all sorts of revelatory facts for the die-hard numbers freak. For instance, were you aware that a certain number in Lebanon connects you to both the Pearlmans and the Cumbersons? Or that one slip of the finger might find you conversing with Eric Quaite instead of the receptionist at Duncan Dental? Something to ponder the next time you assault your keypad with such reckless abandon.

The Yellow Pages open on a controversial note with “Abortion Alternatives,” a divisive hot-button issue that grips the reader immediately and tugs him through another 255 pages to the tongue-in-cheek “Zippers-Repair.” A subtle moral statement, perhaps, but a cunning full-circle summation, nonetheless. The section itself is divided by a separate white-page block devoted to restaurant menus, an addition likely appreciated by employees whose ears still throb from years of “ummmmm.” Efficiency is crucial in our breakneck, knockabout, easily distracted culture, and customers may now hail the Broken Yolk Cafe with requests at the ready: the 3rd Street Scramble, Triple-Decker Reuben Club, and a Yee-Hah for Vern.

Alas, the 2009-2010 directory cannot maintain this momentum, ending in anticlimactic fashion by covering snooty, whitebread Corvallis, which is akin to Iceberg Slim wrapping a gritty tale set in Harlem by jetting to Martha’s Vineyard. Indeed: while the Albany chapter begins delightfully working-class (A-1 Charlie’s Towing), the denizens across the bridge are introduced with the affluent shallowness of A 1 Auto Glass, as in “Wily Ted attempted to christen the windshield of my Beamer with a ’75 Barolo Vezza Riserva Piemonte at the Alumni Dinner.” The individual departments at Oregon State University are blessed with a smaller font size in an ageist scoff at older readers. Not to say the section isn’t without surprises: I was shocked to learn anyone in the coverage area would admit to family names beginning with “z,” that most uncouth of letters. But here they are, stretched over two-and-a-half columns, ending with Arvis L. Zbornak, whose voicemail begins, “You have reached the McMansion of academic/consultant/painter/poet/filmmaker/saxophonist Arvis L. Zbornak. I can’t come to the phone right now, as I’m at the country club skinning the flesh off proletarians. Please leave your name and number after the tone. However, if you earn less than $50K per annum, you will be disconnected posthaste.”

Class warfare lies at the heart of any phonebook, but frankly the division grows tiresome. However, as a convenient guide or disciplinary weapon for pets and children (the newspaper’s not so thick these days), 2009-2010 Albany-Lebanon & Surrounding Areas remains — at least for now — the yellow, blue, pink, and white standard for modern communication.

“Monday Night Raw” Post-Mortem

6 Jan

Monday Night Raw
Monday, January 5
New Orleans, LA

Well, helloooo, grapplehounds. Sorry I missed our rendezvous last week, but my Internet was down TWO WHOLE DAYS (dunno what happened — kept getting “page load error” messages, then ultimately no acknowledgment that I’d ever installed the Webster in the first place) and was so depressed I forgot the rasslin’ and cheered myself up with Anaconda on demand. What’s not to like: Ice Cube, Jennifer Lopez insisting on white apparel while surrounded by water on all sides and a monstrous python slurpin’ on a then-unknown Owen Wilson and upchucking Oscar winner Jon Voight — too much ham, I suppose. Wink. For my betrayal, I apologize.

Think I’m mostly up to speed now. Tonight begins with sepia-licked footage of Shawn Michaels“Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” spiel from Armageddon as set-up, then leaps into last week’s Raw (unseen by me) and a fatal four-way between Michaels, Chris Jericho, Randy Orton, and John Bradshaw Layfield to determine who faces John Cena for the heavyweight championship at the January 25 Royal Rumble. The Heartbreak Kid eliminated Jericho and Orton, leaving only the chump who signs his checks. Like any good employee who knows he’s about to be downsized, Michaels drops to his knees and allows Layfield to flatten him with a Clothesline from Hell (are you as tired as me of everything being from hell?). So, yeah, yup, OK.

Off we go live, to the Big Easy, where Jericho and Orton await in a ring flanked by Cajuns and po’ boys (including Michaels). They’re not happy with HBK’s shenanigans last week and have submitted a formal protest to general manager Stephanie McMahon, with the stipulation that JBL be disqualified from Rumble competition and that the title never be raised in triumph by Michaels again. Layfield’s limo coasts into the arena and out steps Michaels, his tormented ponytail hangin’ high. Boss man follows and speaks for both in the squared circle. Jericho burrows into Shawn’s shaky resolve. Orton, never one to pirouette prettily with his words, calls him a sellout. Stephanie McMahon, sashaying front-office diabolically in her denim McMini, intercedes to slip another scuffle onto tonight’s card: Orton and Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels and that beloved integrity tester, John Cena. The champ is here! Will Sexy Boy follow his principles or his marching orders? Gotta wait for the main event.

Goldust/Melina vs. Santino Marella/Beth Phoenix
Santino‘s beard is progressing smashingly, a budding forest he’s cultivating in deference to his favorite band, Fleet Foxes. Speaking of foxes, Phoenix booster Rosa Perez is in the house, happily waving her markered-up sign. Poor Goldust is relegated to Melina‘s mixed tag-team partner, and he bows out early, dragging Santino off to let the catfight commence proper. Yelps scamper down Bourbon Street as the womenfolk duke up and smack down. Finally, Melina somersaults over a prone Beth and yanks her legs in for the pinfall. Across the country, 14-year-old boys wet themselves.

Winners: Goldust/Melina

Post-match, Perez breaks the fourth wall, apparently for the second time in as many weeks, to bypass absent security and pummel Melina for humiliating her heroine. She’s escorted back to the masses, but Melina follows and a scuffle throbs anew. It’s broken up as Perez is dragged to the WWE payroll department and Melina’s hips tell the truth all the way back to the locker room.

Intercontinental Championship
CM Punk vs. William Regal
Oh, that Blighty viper. On what should have been Punk‘s special day, Regal made certain the event was anticlimactic for everyone. First he dodged a Punk leap by shoving his valet, Layla, into his opponent’s path — the straight-edge Punk’s too pure to boot the ladies. Then, as Punk tried to execute his Go to Sleep finisher, Regal first panickedly grabbed at the ropes, then at the referee, a verboten tactic according to WWE regulations. Layla barks, “Ring the bell!” and ding ding ding! Punk wins by disqualification, but Regal exits with his title intact. An enraged McMahon reads the sneaky Brit the riot act via JumboTron, demanding he defend the title again next week. DQ will not be an option, unless Layla’s partial to Peanut Buster (or Bluster, in Regal’s case) Parfaits.

Winner: CM Punk

Backstage, JBL yammers at Michaels about the opportunity they’ve been handed to annihilate the champ before the Rumble and practically guarantee Layfield the belt he so covets. “I hired you, Mr. Wrestlemania,” he tells his manservant, “to get me to Wrestlemania.” Heavy hangs the head of the bankrupt.

Meanwhile, Orton’s in the middle of a pep talk with two of his charges, Cody Rhodes and Sim Snuka, when the street-clothed Manu appears to beg for another chance after his loss last week. (Fill me in!) Fearless, Peerless Leader snorts that Team Legacy has no room for losers. Manu is left to simmer.

Rey Mysterio/Kofi Kingston vs. The Miz/John Morrison
All tag-team matches follow the same basic formula: one dude is usually stranded in the ring too long and makes a big, anguished show out of trying to reach his corner. Then, when he succeeds, his partner blasts in and flattens anyone fool enough to lock his gaze. It’s a wrestling tradition, and tonight is no different, with Kofi Kingston literally pining for Rey, waving at the little man in pain as The Miz and Morrison twist him into knots. But eventually, babyflesh face makes contact and in spins Rey. So much transpires I can’t keep track, but when the ink dries and the tumult dies, it’s Mysterio vs. Morrison. The former whips a 619 on the latter, a usually debilitating move. But, no, Morrison appears to be immune tonight, and his foot caves Rey’s breadbasket as the acrobat falls from the sky. Winded, he’s an easy pin.

Winners: The Miz/John Morrison

After his loss, Mysterio faces the relentless wrath of Mike Knox, who’d eaten My Morning Jacket that afternoon and pasted all their beards to his chinny chin chin. Poor Rey!

Kelly Kelly vs. Jillian
Last week we learned (well, you did) that Double-Kel was protecting Randy Orton from Kane (As the World Turnbuckles), thanks to a WWE cameraman well trained in the dramatic reveal. Nothing revealed tonight; it’s the same ol’: Kelly’s still a stiff performer, Jillian still sings pooch-deafening standards through her nose, and she still does not shut up even after the bell rings. Kelly mercifully seals her open trench with her own body for the win.

Winner: Kelly Kelly

Adopting Knox’s strategy, Jillian exercises her sore-loser clause but slips out as the arena goes dark and Kane stomps in under a blood-red sky to inform his wholesome beloved that Orton’s in deep next week. With a diabolical gut-cackle, he returns to his backstage sanctum to torture weasels.

Cody Rhodes/Sim Snuka vs. Cryme Tyme
This time it’s JTG who can’t reach his corner. Notice the “bad guys” seldom have this problem. The usual frenzy ensues, with bodies and baggy jeans flying everywhere. Snuka gets a few backhanded licks in, but it’s Rhodes who rolls up the V.

Winners: Cody Rhodes/Sim Snuka

Also victorious: JBL, strutting from McMahon’s office.

Less victorious: Sim Snuka, dismissed from Legacy for not being the cat getting fanned by the ref’s three-count. Rhodes won’t back him up. “All I know is I won the match,” he shrugs as he walks off. More simmering, this time with the electric eyes of Superfly.

No longer behind closed doors, Stephanie informs Santino and Beth that Rosa Perez has been banned from WWE events. Santino still lives under the delusion that it’s he Perez adores; Beth clutches the scruff of his neck and hauls him away for rehabilitation. Once they’re gone, Jericho slides into frame with a bombshell behind his lips. Apparently, his interoffice memo blew onto the desk of Stephanie’s father, WWE owner Vince McMahon, who’s slated for a Raw return in two weeks, perhaps to wrest control of the show from his legendarily petulant daughter.

John Cena/Shawn Michaels vs. Randy Orton/Chris Jericho
Welcome to the main event. How ya been? The question on everyone’s mind is “Will Shawn somehow betray Cena?” Shawn’s blank expression betrays nothing. Cena tries to attract his attention, but his partner seems to be longing for the snack bar.

The answer comes somewhat early as HBK tags himself in and he and Cena combine for a double clotheslines on Chris Jericho, prompting the ten-gallon CEO’s mosey toward the ring for an employee evaluation. Later, Cena attempts his usual FU on Jericho, but the snake slithers out. Orton rakes those champion eyes, blinding him temporarily and turning him into Marc Singer in If You Could See What I Hear. He mistakenly lifts his own partner into the FU; luckily, Michaels wriggles free and diplomatically sets him straight. Whew!

Some sleepers are applied, but, fuck, man, they never work; they just gobble up TV time. I write the following phrase four times, so you know it’s urgent: “Cena needs to make the tag.” He crawls, he yearns, he stretches. Finally, the WWE Lord hears his plea and makes his arm long enough to activate his partner. Now it’s Michaels on Jericho. Now it’s Jericho on Michaels’ legs. Now it’s Michaels on Jericho’s legs. Now Michael’s money leg is up and outstretched for that patented Sweet Chin Music, and Y2J curtsies into dreamland. And a-one, and a-two, and a-three…

Winners: John Cena/Shawn Michaels

See you next week! (Pinky swear.)

“Monday Night Raw” Post-Mortem

2 Dec

Monday Night Raw
Monday, December 1
Washington, DC

So last Friday I got a call from one of the night managers at my local Arby’s, a gregarious sort by the name of Russ Pruitt. He took me to task for, as he said, truth in media, reminding me that I didn’t prepare for last week’s Raw with a bacon ultimate meal from Jack in the Box but a bacon beef ‘n’ cheddar augmented by a side of eight cheese sticks (can’t hack the curly fries; terrible gastrointestinal science) from his well-kept establishment. “I take pride in our menu’s potential as sports-entertainment sustenance,” he said, sounding a little hurt. (When I asked him about it later, he chuckled and explained that he’d just run out of marinara sauce and couldn’t bear imagining all those parched gullets forced to accept the deep-fried appetizers au naturale.) “Hey, Russ, man,” I replied. “I’m sorry.” I quickly ordered from the $5.95 menu and promised to call him back later for his post-Raw analysis. As always in matters of beefy vows, I was true to my word. So here’s Russell James Pruitt, 37, night manager at Arby’s (Unit #01791), Albany, Oregon.

Prologue

Hm. Well, so they pretty much establish John Cena‘s pwnage of Chis Jericho with footage from Survivor Series two weeks ago and from last Monday’s Raw, where dude just tore homeboy flat-out apart. Kinda funny when Jericho talked about Cena’s credo, “Hustle. Loyalty. Respect.,” in a company town like Washington, D.C., where all the Beltway players know plenty about the first and fuck-all about the rest, amirite? I like the angle that Jericho’s little boy is a hardcore Cena fan, which drives his pop insane with rage and causes disorder in the house of Y2J. Jericho’s always awesome in these opening things. He gets the crowd so riled up. All he’s gotta do is whip out hot-button words like “sycophant” and “fools” and they’re braying for his bleached-blonde blood.

International Championship Tournament (First Round)
Rey Mysterio vs. The Miz

Didn’t see this one coming, though I wasn’t surprised when it happened, especially after last week’s staredown — well, as much as anyone could stare down a tree — with Mike Knox. Rey didn’t even make it to the ring. This is gonna make the night interesting. I see that Layla‘s doing William Regal‘s work backstage, which makes me wonder if Regal’s carefully orchestrating a rift between tag team champions CM Punk and Kofi Kingston, since they’re each gunning for his belt too, and Regal’s made no secret of his admiration for Punk. But, yeah, I guess that other tag team, The Miz and John Morrison, is competing as well, but you can’t have two similar storylines, and Morrison’s got Finlay tonight, who he’s easily gonna trounce, which means The Miz gets the short end, whoever he faces.

Winner: N/A; Mysterio injured by Mike Knox, suffering ligament damage in his right arm and elbow

CM Punk

CM Punk

CM Punk/Kofi Kingston vs. Cody Rhodes/Manu

Well, Ted DiBiase Jr.‘s still out, so Randy Orton‘s influence becomes even more prominent on what remains of the Priceless faction. Haw — ‘ja see that reel of Punk working the Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade as its grand marshal? Some homecoming, eh? Well, tonight he’s in D.C., Batista‘s hometown, where the straight-edge movement Punk loves so much was born. Wonder if Ian MacKaye‘s in the house tonight, gobbling on soy burgers and cheering him on. Based on Punk’s entrance jam, though, I don’t think bro spends his nights spinning Fugazi or Minor Threat, anyway, huh? Priceless’ strength are their quick tags; neither partner’s in the ring too long. Can’t say the same for Punk, who’s having one helluva time reaching his corner to make contact with his man. But when he does, grab your peacoat, Jasmine: we’re going to town! And Rhodes heads uptown to the roundhouse with Kingston’s boot as his guide.

Winner: CM Punk/Kofi Kingston

Yeah, Orton’s got them totally under his spell now with all that feelgood jazz about taking “the first step in realizing our collective potential.” Sounds like a CEO addressing the swallowed suckers in a business merger. My kids call him Orton Wan Kenobi. Isn’t that clever? Um, Jericho’s obviously gonna be a factor in the Kane/Cena main event; he’s up there in Kane’s red-hued solitude box, which I guess he carries with him around the world, goading the monster into plucking the champ’s arms off. “Don’t play mind games with me, Jericho!” Kane snarls in reference to his favorite John Lennon album.

Melina

Jillian vs. Melina

Oh, sorry, did you say something? All’s I wrote down is that Santino shouldn’t attempt the splits and the Glamazon has no future as a broadcaster. Other than that, Jillian‘s got an impressive set of lungs. She kinda reminds me of this exotic dancer I used to know in Medford. For fifty bucks, she’d shatter your glass. For sixty, she’d destroy your will to live.

Winner: Melina

Haw! Goldust massaging Santino’s shoulders. Drama of the comic foils!

Shawn Michaels

Shawn Michaels

Street Fight: John Bradshaw Layfield vs. Shawn Michaels

Aha! The payoff to last week’s mysterious set-up, when JBL alluded to a “deal” he’d struck with the Heartbreak Kid. Well, the deal’s either Michaels delivers Sweet Chin Music in a clean, free shot or accepts a job offer from Layfield, who’s on heel fire tonight, boy. He invokes the economic crisis, which has apparently struck the happy home of HBK especially hard, wiping out his children’s college funds. Hey, maybe the whole stock-market meltdown’s a WWE kayfabe and we’re all just interactive participants, huh! Heh. Heh. Oh, Christ help us. Anyway, am total BFF with the JBL line “I know some things, Shawn. RICH PEOPLE ALWAYS DO.” Boo, rich people! Wotta PRICK! Looks like Shawn’s considering. Heck, I’m down! Know the rich prick’s e-mail offhand?

Winner: Shawn Michaels’ doe-eyed kidlets

Batista vs. Dolph Ziggler

Whoa! We FINALLY get to see this dude in action! He introduces himself all the way down to the ring, then in the ring, then during the match. Really commands his shtick. Took Batista by surprise — ’til Batista introduced him to a lil’ friend, the Batista Bomb.

Winner: Batista

In the postmatch patter he stuns Orton by announcing their match-up at Armageddon two weeks from now. Yup, Jericho’s gonna be a problem. There he is, working on Orton’s psyche, knowing Cena’s a sore spot.

John Morrison

Intercontinental Championship (First Round)
John Morrison vs. Finlay

Not much to wire Aunt Becky here: brawler vs. swagger, and brawler doesn’t stand a chance. We pretty much know the outcome before the bell even rings. Finlay’s a favorite, but he lacks the status to advance in a set-up like this. Which means that Miz is definitely an L-columner regardless of who he fights.

Winner: John Morrison

Rey Mysterio

Rey Mysterio

Intercontinental Championship Tournament (First Round)
The Miz vs. ????

Can’t believe they tried that old TV trick where you go to commercial to build up-in-the-air suspense. Rey Mysterio’s insisting on competing, but we’re supposed to believe he’ll either be forced to forfeit or replaced with a sudden drop-in. Come on, he’s Rey Mysterio! He feeds off the adulation of the hopeful young, gobbling their every drop of worship and love, so you know he’s coming out. And whadayaknow, there he is, drawing attention to his injured right arm, selling it, really selling it. He can’t use it to curl up a leg-hook or even high-five the tykes. Dr. Miz goes to work on the limb but it’s not too long before the patient drops in his usual flurries and reversals and wraps with a doubtful pin, i.e., Mysterio’s so unsteady that in non-Bizarro competition, Miz could’ve easily squirmed loose. ‘ray, Rey!

Winner: ? & The Mysterios

John Cena

John Cena

Kane vs. John Cena

Way overheated. It doesn’t even start until like 10:56 or whatever, so you know it’s going to be short, and knowing Jericho’s gonna interfere, it’s gonna be even shorter than that. Sure enough, Chris surfaces and distracts Cena into a mouthful of Kane boot, but the man recovers to counter a chokeslam and win with an FU (tell your grandma it’s a fireman’s carry), where he literally slings his opponent over his shoulder like fresh-killed caribou then flings him earthward where he is plain done finished for good, I don’t care if his name is Kane or the Washington Monument. Cena gets the pin but can’t keep his hands off Jericho. Too bad for him when Orton, Rhodes, and Manu bust out to overwhelm the champ so bad that Jericho deigns to doff his suit jacket and loose some toejam on Cena’s fetal form. The plot thickens like a senator’s brain.

Winner: John Cena

See you next week, and think Arby’s! (But not outside the bun.)