Monday, May 23, 2011

The Greatest Package That Ever Graced the USPS

Issue of Sanctuary (1)

"Don't Blame Me, I Voted For Ultramantis" 2008 Election sticker template (6)

Ultramantis Black character sheet for Legends of Wrestling trading card game by Filsinger Games (1)

Flyer for new releases by Bethlehem, PA-based punk label Square of Opposition (1)

Signed ink sketch of UMB (1)

Flyer for upcoming CHIKARA events (3)

Mint-condition classic bottle label for ancient Allentown, PA-based beverage company A-Treat (1)

Program for EXTREME CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING show at the Hamburg Field House in Hamburg, PA, on September 30, 1994, featuring Sabu, Cactus Jack, Public Enemy, Doink the Clown, and Chris Benoit!!! (1)

Japanese pachinko brochure from Slot 777 (1)

Individually wrapped Japanese candy (3)

Photograph of a black-and-white cat (1)

Square of Opposition records promotional sticker (1)

"Great And Devious" Tote Bag (1)

Near-Mint Condition WWF Trading Card (2)
-Jacques Rougeau
-Tito Santana

Near-Mint Condition WCW Trading Card (4)
-Dustin Rhodes
-Michael Hayes
-"Flyin'" Brian Pillman
-Ric Flair

Authentic, ring-worn Ultramantis Black mask, bearing damage from a match with Kizarny as seen below (1)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

After-Action Report

Well, the dust has long settled. Let me give you the recap.

On Day 46, UMB attended his final Halloween tour stop at Mullerween 4 in Cherry Hill, NJ.
Thrilled to see Dragon Dragon there.

Quite a crowd in attendance.

UltraHandtis photo bomb.

Using dark powers to keep the chiminea nice and toasty.

Discussing lofty matters of state with Empress Nympho.

All was going splendidly until this Aryan Ape showed up playing the BDK theme music through his phone. UMB visibly aggravated. But it wasn't simple taunting, it was the precursor to...


By none other than BDK bigwig Claudio Castagnoli!

The schmoz continues. Later they would agree to cease actual violence, though the rivalry continued at the Beirut table.
Stephanie teaches Mantis how to cook by the book.

UMB and his totem lay a wicked curse on the camera lens.

(Let me stop right here and give one more shout-out to Fae's Fashions who put that getup together. She is hella talented and did all of this with my clumsily-taken self-measurements and a handful of photographs and videos.)

UltraMantis Black vanished into the night sometime after the first 2 AM (daylight savings ended). It was at that point that "I" showed up to the party, and got to hang out with a lot of friends that "I" hadn't hung out with in a month.

I spent the next day diving headfirst into everything I'd kept myself from for the previous 7 weeks. Starting with a Mc10:35, on to the sports bar for a whole pile of non-vegan food, ended the day with a McRib (which is TERRIBLE, like rubber cement slathered in roof tar).

The next morning I woke up at 4 AM in a cold sweat, feeling awful. I called out of work but I kept on.

That was the first day, but for over a week afterwards I pretty much made a hit list of foods and methodically went around murdering them. At the end of the week, I felt like total crap. I realized how much healthier I felt in general during Project UMB, and starting back in on meat and dairy had made me feel sluggish and just crummy overall. I began making plans for a full-on return to veganism after the holidays.

At the time of this writing, I've scaled back the non-vegan consumption a good bit and it's helped noticeably. I'm still considering a return to veganism in the medium term, but it's looking more like I might have the discipline to actually strike some kind of reasonable middle ground. In the health aspect, Project UMB really showed me how a vegan diet (or, at least, a less non-vegan one) can be a positive thing for me.

Perhaps predictably, though, I never quite came around to identify with the ethical motivation that most (all?) vegans have. As Project UMB demonstrated, if something cannot be done to the absolute one hundred goddam percent, I probably don't have any interest in doing it at all. And the bottom line is that there is no way that any human being can completely avoid exploiting or harming animals, whether directly or by the nth-degree association that is common in many vegan prohibitions (i.e. "cigarettes aren't vegan because most of them contain honey, and even the organic brands like American Spirit that don't still are represented by the tobacco lobby that also represents tobacco companies that do use honey and also test their products on animals." That's a paraphrase). At some point, every vegan has to make the conscious choice to continue doing something that hurts animals, such as driving or riding in vehicles that emit toxic fumes and travel fast enough to goosh bugs on windshields. Some vegans will make it further than others in this regard, but eventually, they will all draw a line. But that's why I am not a vegan. Everybody carries their banners as far as they feel they need to.

Anyway, as a nice epilogue to all of this, I went to my second CHIKARA show last weekend, at the Arena (or the Asylum Arena or whatever it is) in Philadelphia. Simply the most fun I've ever had at a thing, with the possible exception of Electric Six at the North Star Bar circa late 2005. Every single match (except Kingston-Homicide, yawn) was spectacular, but obviously, one outshone all the others for me.

While I had met UltraMantis Black at my first show, he did not wrestle that night, just signed autographs and sold merch. But last weekend, he did wrestle...oh yes he did. And not just any match either, but a falls-count-anywhere against BDK leader Ares.

It was transcendent. We didn't get a chance to savor his entrance music much, for he got straight down to business, charging the ring and WHIPPING A CARTON OF SOY MILK AT ARES' FACE. And it just got better from there. They brawled pretty much everywhere inside the Arena, and for a decent stretch actually went at it on the pavement of Ritner Street. As soon as the action left the ring, the crowd just collected into a mob that followed the action around, and I think it must have been someone right next to me who took this picture:
Unfortunately, through shady officiating by BDK referee Derek Sabato, interference by Tursas, and the mysterious withdrawal of UMB's backup, my idol lost the match after eating a Praying Mantis Bomb, his own finishing move, onto a chair in the middle of the ring. He lost that day, but he will have his say in the end. I already have my tickets for the season finale in Reading in a couple of weeks, and I can't wait.

Still, I have to say that, while I certainly revel in his triumphs and bemoan his defeats, it almost doesn't matter to me whether he wins or loses, because he does either in an equally spellbindingly awesome fashion. There's nobody else whose identity I'd rather have stolen for Halloween this year (at least...that costume ain't goin' nowhere!).

If you've been reading this blog the last 4 months, hey, thanks for hanging around for the adventure. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did (HA!). I'm still waiting on a couple more pictures, and when I get em I'll post em. And if I go vegan again, whether for good or because next year or the year after I have decided to do Project UMB Redux, I'll be back here, but otherwise, this is pretty much it. So, cheers!

May the new sunlight guide you.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Day 47: Yes! You Thought Otherwise!

So, here we are, nearly at the end of the road. Tomorrow night is party #4, and my final stop. I hope there are more pictures taken at this one than there were at party #3, of which I have seen zero. Hopefully some will crop up later. Tell you what though, #3 was my favorite so far. UltraMantis Black teamed up with Little John to dish out some punishment at the Beirut table and slung on a bass guitar to jam it out with Chet Wingspan on drums and some Hindu from Saturday Night Fever on gee-tar. After what felt like an hour and a half, I looked up and it was 3:30 AM. Great party.

On the vegan front, well, it's going. Not easily. I'd expected it to be harder at the outset, and then easier as time went on. Instead, it's turning out the opposite way. Way back around Day 9, veganism was an exciting new world where blue was yellow and the sky was filled with oceans. Now blue is blue but all my suits are brown, and it's just raining all the damn time. Even places like the Green House in Collingswood, NJ or Sticky Rice on H Street in Washington, DC, which do amazing things with vegan cuisine, increasingly just instill me with a craving for meat. Something like this:

We'll reassess on Sunday morning. Anyway, CHIKARA update! UltraMantis Black bravely led his squadron into battle against the vile BDK at the Dark Ciberknetico. UMB did a tremendous job with the heavy lifting, eliminating his former slave/teammate Delirious as well as BDK frontman Ares with devastating Praying Mantis Bombs. In the end, it came down to Eddie Kingston and Tursas, and Kingston won, also managing to be the first wrestler in CHIKARA ever to knock Tursas down. I would have liked to see a different outcome, as I'm not the biggest fan of Kingston, but the important thing is that UMB's plan to defeat the BDK succeeded. We'll now see how the aftermath turns out, as he'll now be facing Ares one-on-one in a falls-count-anywhere match in Philadelphia on November 21st, and his 2010 Cibernetico and long-lost Dark Breed teammate Hallowicked (at BDK Director of Fun Dieter Von Stiegerwalt's cruel whim) at the season finale in Reading on December 12.

Now then...remember, way back in July when I put up that trailer for the UltraMantis Black interview? How about in August when I tracked down its source and the obstacles keeping it from the adoring masses? seems that when Project UMB brings all its weapons to bear, none can long withstand its barrage of annoying pesterings!* It give me immense joy to present to you...THE COMPLETE WRESTLINGINTERVIEWS.COM ULTRAMANTIS BLACK INTERVIEW!!

Pottsie's hot dogs?? If he's talking about the same Pottsie's that I'm thinking of, the only one in southeastern Pennsylvania (or, uh, the world) to my knowledge, he may have grown up within about three miles of my own ancestral home...

Wow. I wish I could have seen this earlier in the project, I would have done a few things differently. I did pretty much nail the breakfast, though.

Watching this entire interview has made me burst out in amazed laughter at many points, but maybe my loudest would have been at his response to the "favorite villains growing up" question.

*Seriously, thanks to ChikaraThemes for presumably prying this from Vin Gerard's cold, dead hands.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Day 38: Urutoramantisu Burakku!

I expected veganism to get more difficult within the first month, and after that, it'd be smooth sailing. It's almost been the opposite. Just when I figure I'm safe because I can't even remember what meat tastes like, and I don't even think about pounding almond milk anymore, I drooled uncontrollably through the NFL games last weekend because of the meat present and yesterday in class I stared down a plate of cupcakes (which I normally don't even like that much!) for 8.5 hours. I can do this.

Wanna see a great promo? Here's a great promo. And it's not even against another wrestler. It's against a band, The Deadites, that (I think) is doing the soundtrack for the upcoming game Rudo Resurrection Forever, wherein CHIKARA ant-stable The Colony fights against a zombie army that UltraMantis Black raised to fight the BDK, but turned on him. The Deadites, a group of self-described monster-hunting electronic musicians, are having a Halloween show in Worcester, MA this Saturday, and UltraMantis Black has decided that their influence has grown quite enough.

Ok, now who wants to see some pictures from this past Saturday?

UMB enjoying a Sapporo with Homer Simpson, Peter Griffin, Waldo, Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins, The Bee, and Frederica Kruger.

UMB looks on in quiet seething anger as Rasputin assists Waldo's shot of Dr. McGillicuddy's Menthol Mint Schnapps with some nice cruelty-tinged choco sauce.

This looks very Voldemort, but that is not a wand. That is a straw that UMB requires to drink his Japanese Temple Tallboys. He was gesturing towards something.


In deep contemplation, pondering whether it is time to get down.

...IT IS!!!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Day 34: Surface Tension

Party #2 is tonight, 150 miles north of my current position. I'm chomping my nails (we've been over this, cannibalism is vegan) in anxiety because the costume was due to arrive in the mail yesterday and is not here yet. CanadaPost claims it was checked into the delivery facility this morning. The daily mail hasn't come to the apartment building yet today. The post office itself is closed. I have one chance.

But I have gotten ahead of the story, which I have been unable to keep this blog updated with. Doing so will keep my mind off the pressure of the situation.

Thank Baphomet For NAFTA
If you've seen the many videos and such I have posted and linked here depicting your favorite insectoid luchador and mine, you know that his is a wardrobe that cannot be emulated by a trip to any typical retail establishment, or even an extraordinary retail establishment. The vast majority of the costume requires a custom job. Custom-made clothes. Just like that.

Fortunately, I happen to have an existing working relationship with an entity capable of producing this. I speak of Fae's Fashions, a one-woman operation based in the Toronto area. I first got in touch with "Fae" in 2008, when I had set my heart on rocking the Travis Touchdown persona for Halloween. Observe the subject:

Fae was the only one I encountered in my internet searchings that had successfully reproduced Mr. Touchdown's trademark jacket.

I immediately contracted her services, and the jacket was everything I'd hoped it would be. Naturally, then, she was my go-to when this year's goal became apparent.

Oop, the USPS just arrived, with a rather large box from Canada for me. It's time to do this. But before I go, it would be rude of me to not post any gems from Party #1 before leaving for Party #2. Here's a couple.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Day 15: Start Spreading The News

This past weekend, I went up to New York City. My ostensible purpose was to visit some dear friends and in one weekend, wreak unto that city the combined sundering of the Blackout of 1977, the Trash Strike of 2006, the Draft Riots of 1863, and the Great Fire of 1835. I'd say I managed about 70% of the ruin I was capable of. Clearly I'll have to return soon and finish what I started.

But an only slightly lesser goal was to get a rich sampling of vegan cuisine, and few municipalities would I trust to furnish me with such more than the most tight-assed on the eastern seaboard (or the world?).

After riding a Megabus (I'm not even going to get into what a nightmare that bus line was, both up and back, never ride them) to midtown, and a train to Harlem, I was greeted on the street by a parade of demigoddesses bearing a slice of vegan birthday cake, candles and all. Promptly devoured. Delicious! Not quite Vegan Treats, but hella good.

In the morning, I ate a bagel from H&H Bagel Co, straight up, sitting on a barrier in the middle of 7th Avenue (I think that's what it was). I almost got clipped by a Mini.

Lunch, pita bites and edamame hummus from Trader Joe's. For like 3 bucks. And they said NYC was expensive.

For the big dinner, a pack of us went out to Soy & Sake, a very nice vegan-friendly Japanese restaurant in the Chelsea district of lower Manhattan. I had a vegetarian sushi plate and raced through an excellent martini called a Dirty Samurai (3 soy vodka, organic sake, olive juice). A fitting way to start, since throughout the night's succeeding events, I then proceeded to channel my inner Zatoichi.

In the morning, we went out for brunch at The Sunburnt Calf, a cozy Australian joint in midtown. Surprisingly, they were able to accommodate me with a veggie burger. They also gave us free shots (like four rounds??) while we waited for our table, those Aussies can party! Had to make frequent runs a few doors down to the sports bar to watch the Steelers. I blacked out for a decent long stretch there, which is a shame because apparently I missed a black-and-gold bedecked demi-mantis showing up and drinking my Bloody Marys.

Speaking of, there's been precious little UltraMantis Black up on here since Project UMB kicked into gear. Time to fix that. As CHIKARA moves into the last phase of the season, it has become necessary to update everyone on the many storylines that will be coming to a head. To that end, CHIKARA has released some "Previously On" videos. These are exceptional, and you can see the very obvious love of all things comic-book shining through. UMB figures pretty prominently throughout the first vid, and towards the end of the second (especially the Mussolini-like address at about 5:02).