September 4, 2007

Penny Arcade is Weird/Bischoff Creates Cash

With a fifty dollar gift card for Barnes & Noble I received for my birthday, I headed down to the bookstore to cash in my prize. Which store? Is your reading comprehension really that bad?

Read in a couple of days was Penny Arcade Volume 4: Birds Are Weird. The latest compilation of strips for obscenely popular web comic Penny Arcade archives their works from the year 2003 A.D. Much like their previous graphic novel titles, such as Attack of the Bacon Robots, there is no commentary about the oddities of our avian adversaries, just cover art where our heroes keep a cautious eye on a lone pigeon.

Highlights of this volume include: Cardboard Tube Samurai epics, the grand voyage of Fruit Fucker, Charles chicanery, N-Gage bashing, and Electronics Boutique's (now Gamestop) war veteran manager Frank adding Gabe's pants to what must be a grand collection. But perhaps most important, the Pac-Man watch changes wrists again! One of my favorite comics regards wholly defunct gaming company Acclaim's... "claim" to cease its support for Nintendo's Gamecube gaming system. "That was awful nice of them," chimes Gabe.

The second book I tackled was mammoth sized. So big that it took me FIVE DAYS to read. However, when I finished reading Controversy Creates Ca$h, by Jeremy Roberts, I only wished it was longer. CCC is the biography of ultra-successful business man Eric Bischoff, an individual heralded by those who know him and despised by those who don't.

The book chronicles Eric's life from its humble beginnings in Detroit, all the way to the end of his tenure as General Manager for World Wrestling Entertainment's RAW brand. Sandwiched in between were such jobs as owning his own landscaping company, an overachieving salesman, creating televsion shows, and even crafting a kid's game. Not to mention his stint with Verne Gagne's American Wrestling Association to his meteoric rise in World Championship Wrestling.

The majority of Controversy is the touching story of boy finds company, boy gets company, boy loses company. Much like his early years as President of WCW, Eric pulls no punches when it comes to describing his co-workers, both past and present. He calls it like he sees it and tells his side of the story on such matters like the firing of Steve Austin, why Nitro debuted head to head with RAW, and what went wrong when Hulk Hogan was "fired" at Bash at the Beach 2000. Chances are high that you're a wrestling fan if you purchase this book, and you won't be disappointed with the content. Unless you're expecting a lot of accounts of locker room mischief. Bischoff instead focuses on the corporate world of Turner (which was bought out by Time Warner, which is bought out by AOL), which turns out was far more hectic and political than a roster of wrestlers jockeying for position.

Like all biographies from controversial sports figures, you should be leery on whether or not all the accounts are presented factually. Maybe the book's subject padded some of the negative claims made about them. For years, the Internet Wrestling Community has been doing everything in their power to discredit the man they unaffectionately referred to as "Uncle Eric", and now for the first time, Bischoff is afforded the chance to clear his name.

The book has been criticized for shining a heavenly light on World Wrestling Entertainment's CEO Vince McMahon. Maybe if they read it past the prologue, they would have found that Eric not only gloats about his Nitro beating McMahon's RAW in the ratings for a year and a half, but also takes credit for the WWE's current winning formula. Maybe there's a chance that two successful business men have respect for each other?

Final warning: Reading this book will likely change your negative opinions on Mr. Bischoff. If my review was too pro-Bischoff for you, may I recommend you check out Ric Flair's To Be The Man. The Nature Boy sucker punches Eric while he's on the phone in that one.

Now I just need to decide what to spend the remaining $15.82 balance on my gift card on.

And that's just the way it is.

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