Things Could Be Different

If things had worked out differently I could be rolling with a ten year old kid and be married to someone who’s completely wrong for me. Essentially, I could have put a cap on my growth as a person. I could have foregone any sort of education and pursued the rest of my life with a fear of learning and a high school diploma which, as it turns out, was hardly worth the little time I actually invested in it. I could be bored with my life. I could think that what I was doing was a “good path,” pushing boxes around in a warehouse somewhere, or working as a hack-chef in an upscale chain restaurant; or at least I’d say it’s upscale to give myself some inflated sense of worth. I could be in jail. I could be in some gutter somewhere. I could be dead. But I’m not. Of all the things that could have happened, I ended up here. Looking at this screen on a Sunday night in a beautiful and safe apartment that I can miraculously afford in a state that I genuinely had trouble pointing out on a map as little as eight months ago.

Looking back on who I thought I was, and maybe even who I thought I was going to be, I could have never guessed that things would have played out like they did. I was in the 12th grade a decade ago, working to make up credits so I could actually graduate from high school. I had quit my job and picked up a taste for drinking beer and doing a bit of hash and weed. I guess though, when you carry your own pipe around with you pretty much wherever you go, ‘a bit’ is probably an understatement as far as usage is concerned. Point is, the drastic changes that life gives us are so immense that it’s sort of pointless to focus on anything but the moment. Sure, draw up your five year plans and figure out what you’d like to aspire to be in that given amount of time, or make sure that you’re working to meet your goals, but don’t think for one moment that some serious change isn’t going to happen between now and then. It will. Things could have been different now given the past, and things in the future will be different given the present. Suppose all that’s to be done, really, is to just try and enjoy yourself a bit right now.

MySpace Has Been Sold, But Can It Be Saved?

Earlier this week it was rumored that MySpace would be going through another round of extreme layoffs which would serve as a budget cutting measure to help secure a buyer. Though the asking price of $100 million was still on the table, all but two potential companies had seemingly bowed out from the race to purchase the once colossal social media giant. While Golden Gate Capital and Specific Media were two of the most prominent bidders in the hunt for the News Corp. property it now appears that the latter has won a successful $35 million bid for MySpace, as was reported today via AllThingsD.com. The company’s long and tumultuous history notwithstanding, might the acquisition suggest that there is some sort of hope of returning the once beloved giant to its peak in popularity? Not at all.

The current issue of Bloomberg’s Businessweek features a cover story by Felix Gillette which details the remarkable rise and fall of MySpace. More important than simply detailing the history – something which Gillette does remarkably well – the article questions whether or not there is a future for the crumbling media hub. “Myspace can be something again,” commented MySpace co-founder Chris DeWolfe, before continuing, “but I think you have to have someone that can really reimagine what it is.”

It appears that Specific Media will be doing just that, as the vaguely worded press release suggests “many synergies between our companies” and that the companies “look forward to combining our platforms to drive the next generation of digital innovation.” When considering that Specific is a massive advertising network though, immediate thoughts such as information harvesting begin to become the most valuable ideas there, especially when considering the vast ocean of users (active or no) whose information remains on the site.

Yet if MySpace goes belly up, what might be the most unfortunate result will be its inability to capitalize on its once prominent music branch. The site’s “About” section reads like an introduction to a the world’s most interesting entertainment portal, but the most important part of its brief manifesto comes in the description of MySpace Music. “Myspace is also the home of Myspace Music, which offers an ever-growing catalogue of freely streamable audio and video content to users and provides major, independent, and unsigned artists alike with the tools to reach new audiences.” As DeWolfe continued in the Businessweek piece, “I’m a little disappointed in the music product, given that we spent so much time and effort to get more music licenses than anyone in the world. I haven’t seen Myspace Music evolve how it should have.” Not only did MySpace become synonymous with music at one point in time, but it became a primary tool for musicians far and wide. Things have since changed.

Aside from spreading resources entirely too thin following News Corp.’s purchase of MySpace, the parent company’s unreasonable emphasis on profits over product was one that separated it from such blossoming user-first portals as Facebook, Twitter and even Tumblr. But what remained throughout the downfall was a sense that the website could (someday, maybe?) still be used as a prominent tool in helping artists promote and market their work. As new companies such as Bandcamp and Soundcloud (and even Facebook’s music facilities) began to surpass the capabilities of MySpace however, that dream has essentially become as good as dead.

What we’re left with now is, indeed, “a leading social entertainment destination powered by the passions of fans,” but what remains to be seen is if the company’s new ownership plans to do as DeWolfe suggested and reimagine MySpace’s future. Chances are good, however, that once Specific Media is able to utilize the information that has just been purchased they’ll shut the doors and bring the story of MySpace to its long-awaited close.

Musicians everywhere: If you didn’t create your own website in 2009 it’s best you do so now, because MySpace as we know it is dead.

Ken Shamrock to Fight James Toney… For Some Reason

Details are quite limited at this point in time, but it’s now been confirmed that a fight between UFC Hall of Famer Ken Shamrock and renowned multiple time boxing champion James Toney will go down in the near future. The date is tentatively locked in somewhere in the fall (September 23 and October 1 have both been announced as the date of the fight) and will be held at an as-of-yet unknown venue in El Paso, Texas for an as-of-yet unnamed promotion. Despite the scarce details, a larger question remains: Why?!

In an interview with MMA Weekly, Shamrock explained that the opportunity to fight Toney is an interesting one as it won’t be held under the widely accepted unified rules (which are used by such promotions as the UFC, Strikeforce and Bellator), but will instead put a limit on how long the match can stay on the mat. Rather than allowing the fighters (ie: Shamrock) to take the fight to the ground (ie: take Toney to the ground), the bout will have a 30 second time limit which the fight can remain on the mat following a takedown. Though the one-time UFC great revealed in the interview that he looks at the opportunity to fight Toney under such unusual rules as “entertainment” first, he still promises to “beat him up.” How noble.

Toney, who was embarrassed by Randy Couture in his first and only MMA match, still claims that no boxers in his weight class will fight him because they’re “scared” and that Couture turned down a half million dollars to compete in a rematch. Speaking to EsNewsReporting.com, Toney explained — in traditional James Toney fashion — that “once I hit him, it’s over with,” before adding a bit of additional news that lends the fight even more of a bizarre twist. Not only will it be held using hybrid rules, but the fight will sanctioned for eight rounds, as opposed to MMA’s usual three.

Despite having just one sluggish MMA contest under his belt, Toney will still genuinely serve as a stand-up challenge for Shamrock, especially so considering his questionable ability to take a punch at this stage in his life. Yet, if Toney’s words are true, an eight round up and down bout could favor the former UFC champion, who still appears in far better shape than the bulkier boxer. But make no mistake, at this stage in each man’s fighting career: Ken Shamrock’s labeling of this match as “entertainment” above all else is absolutely correct. These two aren’t facing off in a fight, they’re facing off in a freak show that will lend them each a payday. Nothing more, nothing less.

Weeds: Season 7 Premiere Recap

“Three years later…” opens the first episode in the seventh, and rumored to be final, season of Showtime’s Weeds. And where the final episode of season six left off with drama hitting yet another bizarre peak — Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker) copping to murder charges which subsequently led to the arrest of her estranged husband Esteban, in the process allowing her family to escape to Copenhagen — the new season starts with the beleaguered heroine sitting down for her parole board meeting. Yet even the episode’s most straight-forward moment is riddled with unnecessarily cheeky commentary, provided by the off-screen board members bickering about the specifics of Nancy’s release. Within the first minute of the new season we’re already shown the nonsensical path which the show is apparently set to continue on…

Apparently gay for the stay, Nancy’s cell mate offers her a warm embrace and goodbye kiss (and information… and a pair of oven mitts which she reveals as “the key to our future”) before she is released to a halfway house which is maintained by Counsellor Ed (played by Gary Anthony Williams, aka Stevie’s dad from Malcolm in the Middle). And while Nancy settles into her new yet no less impossibly far-fetched life, we’re taken overseas to Denmark to catch up with the rest of the family (and Doug, Nancy’s tag-along pothead friend). Since we left off, Shane has become a puppeteer, Silas a (scantily clad) male model and Andy a tour guide (working alongside Doug). Unusual? Sure. But really, could we expect anything less?

Finding out that Esteban has been murdered (sadly killing one of the show’s few remaining storylines of interest), Nancy is left to discover a hidden key in a bath house that she was tipped to by her Russian cell mate (the oven mitts are used to search through the bed of hot rocks in one steam room). While the Botwins are informed by Nancy’s sister of her early release from prison, Nancy uses the hidden key to uncover a suitcase full of artillery which, as any good recent parolee would do, she carries with her (presumably) back to her halfway house.

We’re left with Shane, Andy and Doug preparing to return to the US where they plan on surprising Nancy in her new Manhattan-based residency. Could the show’s production team have packed any more nonsense into a single episode? Even with a few moments of remote normalcy mixed in, it would seem a tall order.

The new season picks up three years after we last left the mixed up gang of perpetual ne’er-do-wells, yet it seems like a lifetime since the show has offered a storyline worthy of its ongoing acclaim. Since we’re off and running though, it might be best to simply hold on enjoy (what’s left of) the ride.

Was Nate Marquardt Wrongly Released by the UFC?

After a whirlwind of events this past weekend took UFC veteran Nate Marquardt from headliner status on Sunday night’s UFC on Versus 4 card to being unemployed, the longtime middleweight contender joined MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani for an interview on today’s edition of The MMA Hour. Yet while the fighter and his manager Lex McMahon both shed light on the situation, the clarity surrounding Marquardt’s release seems hazier than ever.

Speculation ran rampant this weekend as no known information was shared regarding Marquardt’s suspension and subsequent release (HIPAA laws prevented the commission and promotion from commenting publicly). And while many years have passed since his 2005 suspension from the Nevada State Athletic Commission for testing positive for anabolic steroids (a controversy which the fighter still maintains was due to an over-the-counter supplement), the news was made that much more dramatic considering the fighter’s subsequent decision to maintain silent until today’s interview.

Citing an ongoing difficulty with hormone levels following months of testosterone replacement therapy, the fighter and his manager revealed that despite being entirely “transparent” regarding the process with the commission and the UFC, that it was a prescribed double dosage mere weeks prior to the fight which eventually led to the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission’s decision to disapprove clearance for the fighter.

Despite the fighter’s apparent willingness to disclose information during the interview, his emotions overcame him at times as he held back tears on multiple occasions, somewhat vaguely citing that he knew he could have taken better precautions to ensure that such an issue hadn’t arisen. Claiming that subsequent tests over the rest of the weekend showed far reduced testosterone levels — a reflection of re-hydrating following to his pre-fight weight cut — the duo further revealed that the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission will be reconvening with the new evidence to follow up on his current suspension. Yet with all of this new information in hand, the interview was still foggy in terms of why the UFC and Dana White were so immediate in making the decision to cut the veteran.

Explaining his stance at the UFC on Versus 4 pre-fight show, White bit into the fighter over the weekend, “Bottom line is, what Nate Marquardt did is bad enough to be cut from the UFC… I’m disgusted with him. He has no business fighting in the UFC.” Though known for his history of hastily remarking on any number of situations, when adding everything up it still seems as though the whole story is not yet on the table. If Marquardt’s telling the truth, and has been since first starting his hormone treatments, then why has he been made out to be such a villain over an issue which appears largely the fault of a doctor’s prescription. Chael Sonnen’s own controversy surrounding elevated testosterone levels following last year’s bout with Anderson Silva was dealt with in a much different manner by the UFC, which suggests that there’s something else which contributed to the snap-decision for the fighter’s release. On the flip side, despite repeating that they wouldn’t share certain details (such as his actual testosterone levels) until the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission made their decision on the matter, there still seemed a sense of secrecy which the fighter appeared burdened by throughout the show.

Despite the newly released information, Nate Marquardt’s story with the UFC may still be far from over. But until more information is released the question remains: did Nate Marquardt deserve to be released considering what we now know?

Ryan Dunn, Star of Jackass, Dead at 34

TMZ is reporting that Jackass cast member died last night in a car accident.

Posting a picture to his Tumblr account of some friends and himself drinking earlier in the night (seen below), Dunn drove his Porsche off the road at roughly 3:00 am last night, the fatal crash killing both him and an as yet unidentified person.

Though no stranger to crazy antics and reckless living in the past, Dunn had been involved with some recent projects that looked to take his career in a rewarding direction. Starring alongside Jessica Chabot, Dunn appeared in a new series titled Proving Ground, which recently debuted on the G4 network. Prior to that both he and Jackass‘ Steve-O recently appeared on an episode of NBC’s Minute to Win It, where the duo competed in a series of games to win money for charity.

April Margera, mother of Jackass star Bam Margera, broke the news earlier this morning, calling a local radio station and later confirming the news with TMZ. More details are sure to follow.

Source Claims “Chappelle’s Show” to Return

Dave Chappelle is returning to television with a new show. Or so says The Daily while citing an “insider” in their June 16 article “Chappelle’s next act.” And just as the the comedian displayed through the tireless brilliance that was Chappelle’s Show, it seems that he will be once again be playing the role of innovator as he is reportedly looking to a subscription-based service such as Netflix, Hulu or Sony’s Crackle to act as the show’s home.

While any news suggesting new material from Dave Chappelle is welcomed, the idea that it’s instantly bound to be on par with his previous successes might be a bit of a leap.

Certainly a move away from a network would lend Chappelle the creative control he seeks as he develops his new material, but the writing team around him has changed in the six years that have followed since the star’s bizarre departure from the spotlight.

For instance, much of the success of the universally acclaimed Comedy Central hit was due in part to Neal Brennan, who wrote Half Baked with Dave and was co-creator of Chappelle’s Show. And interestingly enough, Brennan has just recently began speaking out on the topic, sharing his side of the drama that arose when Chappelle walked out on a reported $50 million television contract, leaving his team in limbo as he unceremoniously disappeared to Africa six years ago. Just this week he was a guest on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast, revealing in detail his side of the fiasco and how he felt as though the network was striving to divide he and Chappelle prior to the fallout.

Brennan similarly discussed the issue with Chicago Now recently; a topic which he had remained silent on for years, which makes the news of Chappelle’s forthcoming return to comedy even that much more peculiar.

Though Brennan revealed to Joe Rogan that he and Dave had made amends to some degree and were again on speaking terms, he made no suggestion of any pending project with the comedian giant and was secure in discussing his recent return to stand-up comedy as his primary focus.

Additionally, in his seemingly random stand-up appearances since the show ended, Dave has created a unique legend around himself by veering far from his previous format and topic matter. There was his unscheduled six hour, seven minute marathon performance at the Laugh Factory in 2007 which kept the audience “laughing for six hours,” and a four hour Comedy Cellar performance which reportedly yielded similar results: Both of which showed off a new side of the comedian which is supported by claims that recent L.A. stand-up appearances have utilized a far more loose, free flowing format and included much more crowd interaction than past routines.

When considering such developments in the past few years, adding that Neal Brennan isn’t likely to have anything to do with the new project, this leaves any forthcoming adaption of Chappelle’s Show even that much more of an anomaly.

What Does GSP vs. Diaz Mean For Strikeforce’s Future?

After publicly denying that the match was in the making, UFC President confirmed yesterday that a super-fight between UFC Welterweight Champion George St-Pierre and Strikeforce Welterweight Champion Nick Diaz would indeed be taking place. The bout is tentatively scheduled to go down October 29 at UFC 137 in Las Vegas.

With the news comes a series of new questions concerning the future of Strikeforce however, especially considering that one of the promotion’s champions is now signed to a contract with the UFC.

In speaking to MMA Fighting, Diaz’s manager and trainer Cesar Gracie revealed that the fighter had signed a “multi-fight, multi-year contract with the UFC.” Explaining that the new contract also leaves Diaz with the option to fight in Strikeforce, Gracie added that “If he’s back in Strikeforce, I would imagine that’s because he lost his next fight.”

Further discussing the announcement with USA Today, Gracie also went into the nature of the contract and how it pulled Diaz away from a rumored boxing match with former IBF Super Middleweight Champion Jeff Lacy. “It was kind of a complex contract because of the boxing, so he obviously had to be compensated for not boxing and taking this fight instead.”

Simply based on the information that’s been released at this early stage in time, it would appear that despite the clause which allows Diaz’s return to Strikeforce, that even if he loses he’s now on the hook to a different order of management. If the UFC wasn’t interested in securing the fighter for an extended duration of time they would have likely allowed him try his hand at boxing before returning to contract negotiations. Regardless of the result GSP bout however, Strikeforce’s future is taking a huge hit here by blatantly serving as a farm for the higher-tiered competition of the UFC (which really isn’t shocking to anyone, but now it’s “public”). And what’s more, what happens if Diaz is actually able to defeat GSP?

Considered by many to be the most legitimate challenger to St-Pierre’s belt in MMA right now, Diaz bears the skills and a style which will unquestionably combat GSP’s ever-conservative game plan. Winner of his last 10 fights Diaz has offered ample evidence of his abilities as a dangerous fighter during this streak, scoring wins over the likes of Frank Shamrock, KJ Noons and Paul Daley. But if he is indeed able to defeat the seemingly unbeatable French Canadian champion he will will be lending Strikeforce’s middleweight division, and in essence the entire promotion, a deathblow.

If the reigning Strikeforce Welterweight Champion captures the UFC crown chances are that he’ll have to relinquish the former promotion’s belt, in the process leaving one of MMA’s most compelling weight division’s in on of MMA’s most compelling promotions without a champion. And with a forthcoming incorporation of Strikeforce into the UFC pending anyways, such a hole in the promotion’s hierarchy could spell the first in a string of instances of the UFC cherry picking Strikeforce’s elite talent for its own purposes.

Regardless of any hypothetical fallout however, Diaz will likely give St-Pierre a hell of a fight when the UFC champion returns to Las Vegas for the first time since defeating Thiago Alves at UFC 100 in 2009. And as fight fans, with the only other compelling option being a questionable super-bout between he and current UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva, we really couldn’t ask for anything more.