Saturday, March 31, 2007

Mike Skinner wins Martinsville Craftsman Truck race

In the early days of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, Mike Skinner won a lot of races and a championship. 2007 has been a big year already and Skinner was looking to win his third race in a row at Saturday's Kroger 250 at Martinsville. He won the pole and Martinsville is a difficult place to pass.

So Mike Skinner's #5 Toyota took the lead at the start and no one could touch him. The race was on FOX. It was the first Craftsman Truck race to be shown on network TV since 2000. The trucks usually put on a very good show but not this time. Just way too many inexperienced drivers getting into unnecessary crashes. It wasn't fun to watch.

The only two trucks that had a chance at Skinner were Todd Bodine's #30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota & Kevin Harvick's #2 Camping World Chevy. Harvick sseemed to be faster than Bodine and was very patient. Bodine admitted after the race that he didn't have anything for Skinner. The turning point of the race was after Dennis Setzer's #75 Spears Manufaturing Chevy spun on lap 207 to bring out the caution. On the restart, Harvick got hung up with a lapped car and dropped back to seventh place. That was it for Harvick and he finished fourth. There was a green/white/checker finish after AJ Allmendinger's #00 Red Bull Toyota hit the wall on lap 249. It didn't matter and Skinner held off Bodine for the win. Skinner still leads the points and hopefully the racing will be better on April 28 in Kansas. Here's video of the race finish.

Megumi Yabushita makes a triumphant return to MMA

It looks now like the G-Shooto womens MMA company is no longer a seperate promotion. I guess they were losing money so the owners have folded G-Shooto into the Shooto mens MMA promotion and will produce a series called Battle Mix Tokyo. These shows will have an equal mix of mens & womens matches. The latest of these shows was Mar. 30 at Tokyo Kinema Klub. The main story was the return to MMA of Megumi Yabushita.

Megumi Yabushita has been out since suffering a broken wrist in her Atlantic City MMA match last August. The Battle Mix show was her first appearance. She will return to pro wrestling at JWP's Discover New Heroine tournament next week. Her opponent in this 58kg match was Mizuho Sato. She's not a top fighter but this was a good way to get Yabushita back into the swing of things. Sato's main goal was to keep Yabushita from throwing her around. She used strikes to do that and was successful to a point but Yabushita used her considerable judo skills to break through Sato's defense. Check out the accompanying pic. The first round was even but Yabushita had the edge in the second round and won a majority decision. One score card was a tie. Sato's record is now 2-2. Yabushita is now 11-9 and will fight Benkei at Smackgirl's Apr. 28 Osaka show. Benkei has already lost to Sato.

There were two other matches. G-Shooto veterans Ikuko Tamada & Kayo Nagayasu faced off in a Strawweight bout. They had a draw last May. The match went the distance but Tamada won easily when she got Nagayasu in a heel hold in round two. Nagayasu wouldn't submit but Tamada won a unanimous decision. Tamada is now 4-4-2 and Nagayasu is 7-4-1. The other match was a 53kg bout between Smackgirl veteran Kyoko Takabayashi & Yuuko. Takabayashi wasted no time and after a takedown hooked an armbar for a submission at 3:06 of round one. Takabayashi's record is now 7-1 and Yuuko's record is now 4-1-1. At first I wasn't sure what Shooto is up to but it looks like they will be doing a series of Battle Mix shows.

Yahoo LAUNCHCAST song of the day

Artist:Christian McBride/Nicholas Payton/Mark Whitfield

Song:One Finger Snap

Album:Fingerpainting:The Music Of Herbie Hancock

This is a very unusual tribute CD by three young lions of jazz. It's a tribute to Herbie Hancock with no piano. It's got Christian McBride on bass, Nicholas Payton on trumpet and Mark Whitfield on guitar. McBride did the arrangements. He was born May 31, 1972 in Philadelphia. He started out playing electric bass in R & B bands in high school but became more interested in jazz and studied at Julliard. He played in various jazz bands but what got him noticed was a set of duets with legendary bassist Ray Brown at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1994. This earned him a contract at Verve and he's been recording as a leader since then. In more recent years McBride moved to Warner Bros. and has experimented with funk and R & B. Fingerpainting is a very interesting CD and is worth a listen. Most recently, McBride returned to more straight ahead jazz in 2006 with New York Time on Chesky Records featuring jazz veterans Cedar Walton & Jimmy Cobb. Here's Christian McBride with Danish bass legend Neils Pedersen performing Bye Bye Blackbird.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Smackgirl announces opponent for Yuka Tsuji

Smackgirl hass announced several matches for the Apr. 28 Taisho Azeria show in Osaka. But I was waiting for them to announce the gaijin opponent for Smackgirl Flyweight Champion Yuka Tsuji. I have to say I'm somewhat underwhelmed. Her name is Thricia Poovey. She is from New Mexico and has a Muay Thai kickboxing background. She has taken up MMA in the last year and has a 3-2 record working for King Of The Cage. Her nickname is Little Devil and they say she is KOTC Flyweight Champion. Uh huh. This match will be full MMA rules and I expect it to be over once Tsuji gets her on the mat. It's not a title match. Check out this pic of Poovey.

Three other matches have been announced. Megumi Yabushita will return to Smackgirl and will face Benkei in a 60kg match. In a Next Cinderella Middleweight Tournament bout, Miyuki Aruga will face Hiromi Obata. In a Next Cinderella Lightweight Tournament bout, YOKO will face Saori Ishioka. Ayumi "Edge" Saito is also scheduled to appear. All bouts are scheduled for two five minute rounds.

Yahoo LAUNCHCAST song of the day

Artist:The Kinks


Album:Lola vs The Powerman & The Money-Go-Round Pt. 1

The Kinks are one of the most enduringly popular of the British Invasion groups. They've had various members but the core has always been Ray & Dave Davies. Ray was born June 21, 1944 and Dave was born Feb. 3, 1947 in Muswell Hill, London. Like a lot of British Invasion groups, the Davies Bros. were heavily influenced by rock & roll and skiffle music. That's a British folk rock hybrid that was very popular in the late 50s. They called themselves The Ravens and in 1963 were discovered by Shel Talmy. He was a US producer under contract to the British Pye label. Their first single flopped and the group name was changed to The Kinks. You Really Got Me was their third single and it was released in the US on Reprise and was a top ten hit. The Kinks had several more hits but were banned from the US after their 1965 tour for unspecified reasons. Ray Davies' music started going more towards his folk roots and he started to add humour to his songs. The Kinks were petering out in 1968 but then the US ban was lifted. They added keyboard player John Gosling to the group and Lola was his first record. The song and album were big hits and revitalized the band. It's one of those songs that sounds as good today as it did in 1970. The Kinks signed a big contract with RCA in 1971 and continued to record for many years. These days, Ray & Dave Davies are iconic figures in British music and both appear on TV occasionally. Here are The Kinks performing Lola in 1970.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Kyoko Inoue has benign tumour

NEO held a press conference Thursday to announce that joshi puroresu legend and NEO owner Kyoko Inoue will be out indefinitely with a benign tumour. Kyoko entered the hospital on March 5. She suffered a serious ankle injury in a recent match against Fuuka. During examinations, the doctors found she had a tumour in her uterus. It took about two weeks of tests to determine if the tumour is cancerous. Thankfully, it is not. The doctors have not decided whether to perform surgery or possibly treat the tumour with supersonic waves. So it is not known yet how long Kyoko will be out. Here's wishing Kyoko Inoue a speedy recovery.
As a tribute, here's a classic Kyoko Inoue match. It's Bull Nakano & Aja Kong vs Kyoko Inoue & Manami Toyota May 2, 1993. Enjoy!

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Sendai Girls hires two new girls

Sendai Girls has hired two girls and it looks like one of them trained at GAEA in 2004, quit the wrestling business and now wants back in. One is a 19 year old named Sonayasai and the other is an 18 year old named Couna. I may have the names a little garbled but I have posted a pic of them. So if I got them wrong, let me know. It seems the older one trained at GAEA. It looks like she may have debuted but then she quit to start a sweatshirt business. I guess that didn't go very well because she approached Meiko Satomura last month and wanted to return. My memory isn't good enough to remember her. The younger one got interested in wrestling through Michinoku Pro. Not surprisingly, her parents and grandparents were against it but she convinced them to let her join Sendai Girls. Satomura says both will debut in the fall.

Yahoo LAUNCHCAST song of the day

Artist:Bebe & Cece Winans


Album:Greatest Hits

Of course Benjamin "Bebe" & Priscilla "Cece" Winans are from the Detroit based Winans gospel singing family. They were one of the first black gospel artists to really crossover to the mainstream. They first surfaced on Jim Bakker's PTL Club in 1981. They were in the PTL Singers. They became kind of famous for singing Up Where We Belong from the film Officer & A Gentleman. Their talent was obvious but Bakker insistance that they sing the song repeatedly on live TV was weird. Bebe laughs about that today. Of course we all know what happened to PTL. Fledgling Contemporary Christian Music producer Keith Thomas convinced Bebe & Cece to record with him. Their 1987 self titled release was released independently but it earned them a contract with Capitol Records. Their 1988 CD Heaven featured this song written by Bebe & Thomas. It not only was a hit in the gospel & CCM market but it crossed over to mainstream R & B. It probably helped that Whitney Houston was a fan and had them appear with her on stage. The 1991 CD Different Lifestyles was even bigger and featured this video for Addictive Love. Bebe & Cece Winans split up in 1994 and they continue to have successful solo careers. And Cece continues to work with Keith Thomas. This comp is great for beginners. They're both tremendous talents. Some of the Bebe & Cece arrangements may be a little dated but Bebe has proven that he can take these songs, update the arrangements and the songs still hold up.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Yahoo LAUNCHCAST song of the day

Artist:Tennessee Ernie Ford

Song:Sixteen Tons

Album:Vintage Collections

Tennessee Ernie Ford was famous for his comedy antics but he also had a booming baritone and was a pioneer in crossing over from country music to mainstream. He was born Feb. 13, 1919 in Bristol, TN. Though he studied music, he got his start as a DJ in Cincinnati in 1939. After serving in the US Army Corps in WWII, he moved his family to San Bernardino, CA and developed his Cousin Ernie comedy shtick while working as a DJ. In 1947 he met influential producer Cliffie Stone and Stone signed Ford to Capitol Records. A lot of music fans familiar with Ford's later recordings might be surprised to know that his early records had a boogie woogie feel to them. He had a few hits and things were starting to peter out in 1953. His appearances as Cousin Ernie on the hugely popular I Love Lucy in 1954 brought him back to the public's attention. Sixteen Tons was written by legendary songwriter Merle Travis and Ford's booming vocal really sold the grim tale of a coal miner. It was number one on the charts for ten weeks in 1955. This got him his own TV variety show in 1956. He continued to record for decades and had occasional chart success. But Sixteen Tons was his biggest hit. This budget comp is fine for beginners. Tennessee Ernie Ford was inducted into the Country Music Hall Of Fame in 1990 and then died of liver failure Oct. 17, 1991 in Los Angeles at age 72. Here's Ford performing Sixteen Tons. I think this clip was shown on the 1990 Country Music Hall Of Fame broadcast.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

JD Star announces League Princess 07 participants

I finally have full results for JD Star's Mar. 21 Shin-kiba 1st Ring show. The main event was supposed to be the "final decisive battle" between Team Araki Place & The Caribbean Army. We can only hope. Also, Fuuka had a meltdown after losing to another veteran. But first, JD Star has announced the participants for the League Princess 07 tournament. It will start on April 6 and have a round robin format like last year. They don't have a belt anymore so I don't know how they will reward the winner. They've announced the matches for Apr. 6 so I wanted to discuss the wrestlers involved. I'm familiar with most of them.

There are eight wrestlers and there will be four matches. Arisa Nakajima will face Lily Urai. Nakajima trained at A To Z and is currently the JWP Junior Champion. Urai trained at Gutsworld and has been a part of JD Star's Team Araki Place angle. There is Hiroyo Matsumoto vs Hanako Kobayashi. Matsumoto was trained by Mariko Yoshida and has been very impressive since her debut last July. Kobayashi is a Kaoru Ito trainee and has worked her occasional shows. I think this is her first match outside that company. There's Aya Yuki vs Misaki Ohata. Yuki is a NEO trainee. Ohata is a Jd Star Athtress who debuted in December. Finally JWP trainee Kaori Ohki vs somebody I've never heard of. She just debuted on Mar. 4 and I'm not familiar with the company she works for. I think her name is Murasaki but I'm not sure. We'll figure it out.

Now on to the Mar. 21 show. Ayako Sato won over Misaki Ohata with a missile dropkick at 8:00. Ohata is just weak looking. I saw one of her matches on Youtube. The veteran team of Tsubasa Kuragaki & Leon won over Hiroyo Matsumoto & Ayumi Kurihara. Kuragaki over Matsumoto in 14:59 with several lariats. Next was Fuuka Top Gun 2. Her opponent was Ayako Hamada. It looks like Ayako beat the crap out of Fuuka. Fuuka got very little offense and couldn't even get her F Doll finisher to work for her. Ayako started the match by stomping Fuuka's face into the mat and finished her with a spin kick and a hip drop at 17:18. Fuuka was left sobbing in the middle of the ring. Afterwards, Fuuka was still crying backstage. She wished she had never been in this match. It was the first time a match was a truly unpleasant experience. She thought Ayako was trying to hurt her. Ayako said Fuuka needed to be taught a lesson and Ayako is the teacher. She doesn't know who is teaching the Athtresses but they're not learning very well. So now on the JD Star website they're questioning Fuuka's future. I don't know if this is an angle but it seems like Ayako may have been legit pissed. I may have to see this match.

The main event is the supposed final confrontaion between Team Araki Place & the Caribbean Army. Shuu Shibutani, Cherry & Lily Urai vs Caribbean KIM, RUM & MOON in a six girl elimination tag match. Team Araki Place attempts to shake hands but the Caribbean Army double teams Shibutani outside the ring. Urai won the first fall over MOON with a moonsault press at 14:25. RUM takes advantage and eliminates Urai with the Caribbean com at 15:09. Cherry hits a plancha outside the ring. Back inside, Shibutani eliminates RUM with a diving senton at 21:20. So that leaves Caribbean KIM alone with Shibutani & Cherry. KIM chops both of them and then hits a swinging DDT and a spine buster to eliminate Cherry at 24:50. So it's down to Shibutani & KIM. KIM lifted Shibutani in her Caribbean Impact finisher but she countered it and rolled her up for the win at 32:02. So a very happy finish for the faces. A big win for Shibutani and KIM even shook hands with her afterwards. Holy mackeral! An actual conclusion to an angle.

Yahoo LAUNCHCAST song of the day

Artist:Lizz Wright

Song:I'm Confessin'

Album:Dreaming Wide Awake

Lizz Wright is a young jazz singer who like Anita Baker, would be just as comfortable singing R & B or gospel. She was born Jan. 22, 1980 in Hahira, GA. Her father was musical director at the local church. By her teen years she was winning awards in local choir competitions. She studied voice at Georgia State in Atlanta and joined the group In The Spirit. It appears the group was very popular in Atlanta but they never recorded. Lizz signed with Verve in 2002 and veteran producer Tommy LiPuma produced the 2003 CD Salt. It was successful but some of the arrangements were a little too busy. Producer Craig Street has worked with Cassandra Wilson & Norah Jones so he was brought in to give 2005's Dreaming Wide Awake a stripped down sound. There is very minimal backing and Street emphasizes Wright's vocal abilities. She gives the old chestnut I'm Confessin' an updated groove. Lizz Wright occasionally writes her own songs but like Cassandra Wilson, she is excellent at updating old songs with her own imprint. Here's Lizz Wright performing I'm Confessin' in Basel, Switzerland in 2005.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Yahoo LAUNCHCAST song of the day

Artist:Dexy's Midnight Runners

Song:Come On Eileen


Considering the kind of music I normally write about, I'm almost afraid to admit I like this 1982 smash hit. But I do and I like a lot of British groups from this era. In North America, Dexy's Midnight Runners is just another one hit wonder. Their history in England is more complicated. Dexy's Midnight Runners was led by Kevin Rowland. He was born Aug. 17, 1953 in Wolverhampton, England and grew up in London, Ireland & Birmingham. In 1977, he was a member of a group called The Killjoys. They only released one single. He got together with Kevin "Al" Archer and decided to form a soul group and named it after dexedrine. Rowland had a couple of fatal personality flaws. One is he was a control freak trying to control a large band. The other was he seemed obsessed with the look and image of the group instead of the music. He tried to make Dexy's look like New York dockworkers as a tribute to the film Mean Streets. This would drive Archer nuts. After some record company problems, they had a couple of hits in England in 1980. After the next couple of singles flopped, Archer left to form Blue Ox Babes. Everyone but trombonist Jim Paterson left too. Rowland & Paterson reformed Dexy's. The story goes that Rowland heard a Blue Ox Babes demo and liked their folk based sound. He decided to alter Dexy's sound to sound more like them and hired their violinist Helen O'Hara. The video for Come On Eileen helped Dexy's become big in North America. Rowland has admitted that he stole the street urchin look of the video from Blue Ox Babes. They were never able to duplicate that mainly because the lineup was unstable because Rowland is a pain in the ass. He eventually released a solo album in 1988 that tanked and disappeared for several years due to depression & cocaine addiction. His 1999 album My Beauty tanked as well. I'm sure you've all seen the video but here it is anyway.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Kyle Busch wins Bristol Nextel Cup race

The big thing at the Food City 500 NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Bristol is that it was the first race for what has been called the Car Of Tomorrow. The COT will run a total of 17 races this year, mostly short tracks and it will run the entire 2008 season. Most of the improvements in the car are safety related in the driver's cockpit. You can't see them. The differences you can see are the rear wing replacing the spoiler and a splitter on the front of the car similar to a Craftsman Truck. It remains to be seen if the racing will be any better. I don't think it matters at Bristol or Martinsville but we might see a difference at other tracks. Jeff Gordon won the pole.

Jeff Gordon's #24 Dupont Chevy led the first few laps. Tony Stewart's #20 Home Depot Chevy took the lead on lap 7 and Gordon dropped back as his car wasn't handling well. The caution is out on lap 43 Dale Jarrett's #44 UPS Toyota crashes and takes David Gilliland's #38 M&M's Ford with him. The leaders pit. A few guys who pitted earlier stayed out but Stewart gets the lead back on lap 70.

Stewart continues to lead until Elliott Sadler's #19 UAW/Dodge Dealers Dodge passed him for the lead on lap 194. Stewart regains the lead on lap 198. Bad luck for Sadler as he pits for a loose wheel on lap 248. He finishes 27th. A caution comes out on lap 282 when Kasey Kahne's #9 UAW/Dodge Dealers Dodge hits the wall. While the leaders are on pit road, Stewart is losing fuel pressure. It turns out to be a defective fuel pump cable. He finishes 35th.

Kyle Busch's #5 Carquest/Kellogg's Chevy leads at the restart on lap 289. But Denny Hamlin's #11 FedEx Chevy takes the lead on lap 298. Kevin Harvick's #29 Shell Pennzoil Chevy moves into second and then takes the lead on lap 408. Then a debris caution on lap 412. Everyone pits and Hamlin gets the lead. Jimmie Johnson's #48 Lowe's Chevy has a flat tire on lap 484. As he's slowing down, the leaders get caught in traffic and Busch regains the lead. The caution comes out. Busch & Hamlin stay out but other lead lap cars pit. Are fresher tires enough to contend for the win?

On the restart, Denny Hamlin starts dropping back. He tells his crew the engine is blowing up. He finishes 14th. Jeff Gordon & Jeff Burton's #31 Cingular Chevy use those fresh tires to roar up through the field. But it looks like Kyle Busch has a big enough lead to hang on. Kasey Kahne spins out David Ragan's #6 AAA Ford to bring out a caution on lap 497. That's not what Busch wanted to see. On the green/white/checkered finish, Burton gets around Gordon and gets close to Busch. He could have spun Busch out but Jeff Burton doesn't do things like that and Kyle Busch hangs on for the win.

Congratulations to Kyle Busch, crew chief Alan Gustafson and car owner Rick Hendrick for the win. Big top ten finishes for Jeff Green, Jamie McMurray & Casey Mears. The COT didn't mean much as it was a typical Bristol race with a great finish. Check out the video of the end of the race. Mark Martin wasn't here so Jeff Gordon took over the points lead. Another short track next week as the Nextel Cup boys head to Martinsville. Meanwhile Bristol will be reconfigured in time for the August race. Here's the top ten of the race.


1.5/Kyle Busch/Carquest-Kellogg's/Chevy/Rick Hendrick

2.31/Jeff Burton/Cingular/Chevy/Richard Childress

3.24/Jeff Gordon/Dupont/Chevy/Rick Hendrick

4.29/Kevin Harvick/Shell Pennzoil/Chevy/Richard Childress

5.16/Greg Biffle/Jackson Hewitt/Ford/Jack Roush

6.66/Jeff Green/Best Buy/Chevy/Gene Haas

7.8/Dale Earnhardt Jr./Budweiser/Chevy/Dale Earnhardt Inc.

8.07/Clint Bowyer/Jack Daniels/Chevy/Richard Childress

9.26/Jamie McMurray/Crown Royal/Ford/Jack Roush

10.25/Casey Mears/National Guard-GMAC/Chevy/Rick Hendrick

Yahoo LAUNCHCAST song of the day

Artist:Art Farmer


Album:Out Of The Past

Along with Clark Terry, trumpeter Art Farmer was largely responsible for popularizing the flugelhorn in jazz. He was born Aug. 21, 1928 in Council Bluffs, IA. His twin brother Addison Farmer was a bass player. By 1945 he was a fixture on the Los Angeles jazz scene. He played for all kinds of bands and recorded as a leader for Prestige. He moved to New York in 1953 and played with Horace Silver & Gerry Mulligan. He started his own band with sax player Benny Golson in 1959. This 1996 CD Out Of The Past covers that time. It's a comp of two albums he recorded for the Chess subsidiary Argo. The Ray Bryant song Tonk is from the 1961 album Perception. Musicians are Harold Mabern on piano, Ron McCurdy on bass and Tommy Williams Jr. on drums. Farmer formed a group with guitarist Jim Hall in 1964. This video performance of Bilbao & Darn That Dream is from 1964 and also appearing is Steve Swallow on bass and Pete LaRoca on drums. Farmer moved to Vienna in 1968 and continued to be in demand until his death on Oct, 4, 1999 in New York at age 71. Art Farmer was a very underrated musician and well worth a listen.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Carl Edwards wins Bristol Busch Series race

Last week I talked about Kyle Busch's misfortune in the NASCAR Busch Series this year. He always seems to have the fastest car and something always seems to happen to cost him the race. It wasn't going to get any easier at the half mile high banked Bristol racetrack for Saturday's Sharpie Mini 300. There will be contact and someone will get upset. Rookie Steve Wallace won the pole.

Any race at Bristol will have plenty of cautions. Steve Wallace's #66 HomeLife Communities Dodge leads. On lap 8, something breaks on Jon Wood's #47 Clorox Ford. He hits the wall and takes Brent Sherman's #36 Big Lots Chevy with him. Carl Edwards' #60 Scott's Miracle Gro Ford takes the lead on lap 31.

Kyle Busch's #5 Lowe's/Sta-Green Chevy takes the lead on lap 104. But then he spins on lap 111 when he gets loose after hitting the apron. His car is OK and he's back in the lead by lap 137. David Reutimann's #99 Aaron's Toyota hits the wall to bring out the caution on lap 182. Everyone is looking to pit. NASCAR tells the drivers that pit road is open but the light and the flag to indicate that don't change to green. Edwards & Busch don't pit thinking pit road is closed. After figuring out what happened, NASCAR allowed Edwards & Busch to pit and retain their positions. Obviously several teams were upset about this. NASCAR President Mike Helton came to the broadcast booth to explain what happened. He said NASCAR made a mistake caused by heavy radio traffic and this was the fair thing to do though he knows some teams won't like it. Check out the video coverage of this incident. At least Helton doesn't try and dodge the issue.

When the race gets started again, Ryan Newman's #12 Kodak Dodge passes Edwards for second and then takes the lead on lap 213. Newman got lucky during the pit stop confusion. He did pit but had to return for loose lug nuts. Because of NASCAR's ruling, he was able to hold his position instead of going to the rear of the field. On lap 233, Newman is trying to lap Mike Wallace's #7 GEICO Chevy. Kyle Busch checks up and Edwards spins him out. Busch blames Wallace's lapped car and he has to pit and restarts in 15th place.

Edwards still leads with Matt Kenseth's #17 Dish Network Ford in second and Newman third. By lap 276, Kyle Busch has moved up to third place. But neither Kenseth or Busch are able to get close enough to Edwards to get the lead. And Edwards & Kenseth are teammates. So Carl Edwards wins the race and continues to lead the points. And Kyle Busch continues to have unbelievable bad luck. The Busch Series is in Nashville next week.

Eagle Sawai announces retirement

LLPW veteran Eagle Sawai has announced that she will retire after the May 20 Korakuen Hall show. Eagle recently celebrated her 20 year anniversary in joshi on the Feb. 12 Sumo Hall LLPW show and she feels that's a good way to end her career. I would agree with that. The accompanying pic is from the Feb. 12 show. She said she is preparing for married life. When Nikkan Sports asked about a significant other, she said it is possible to prepare for married life alone. Well, I suppose she could always kidnap a husband. Just kidding. Her opponent for her retirement match will be announced at a later time. One other quick LLPW note. They had a show last week that marked the return to joshi of former JD Star Athtress Mizuho Ishikawa. She was brought in to fill in for the injured Francoise. I don't know if she is returning on a regular basis or it's just a one shot deal.

Yahoo LAUNCHCAST song of the day

Artist:Otis Redding

Song:Pain In My Heart

Album:Otis! The Definitive Otis Redding

I guess the best thing about Otis Redding is that 40 years after his death in a plane crash, his music is still fresh. This 4CD box set Otis is essential for R & B fans. The first three discs have every essential recording he ever made going back to his pre-Stax days. The fourth disc consists of live recordings from various sources including this version of Pain In My Heart. It's from the 1964 album Apollo Saturday Night. Otis wrote a lot of his own songs usually with Steve Cropper of Booker T & The MGs. He wrote Pain In My Heart but it seems it was too similar to the Allen Toussaint song Ruler Of My Heart. Toussaint successfully sued and the rights for the song reverted to him. It's still a great performance and here's Otis Redding performing Try A Little Tenderness from the 1967 Stax Europe tour.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Mickie James vs Victoria on HEAT

The main event of this weekend's episode of WWE HEAT is a match between Mickie James & Victoria. Now you could go to to watch it but I thought that visitors to the blog would enjoy watching it here. So call it a shameless attempt to increase hits on the blog. Enjoy the match.

Vinnie Mac gets slammed

You may have heard about Sports Illustrated's investigative report regarding certain doctors prescribing steroids to athletes. There were several WWE wrestlers on the list. The WWE's response to this article was that the time period was before they started their wellness program last year. The mainstream perception is that the WWE has their heads in the sand about this. They probably shouldn't have said anything but I'm sure Vince McMahon went nuts on Monday and ordered Gary Davis to issue a statement. So the WWE was in Orlando on Wednesday to announce that the Citrus Bowl is the venue for Wrestlemania 24. WKMQ Sports Director Todd Lewis asked Vinnie Mac about steroids. After Vinnie Mac told him off camera that his question was in bad taste, Lewis aired the following report and now it's all over the internet. Including here. I'm sure this doesn't make Vinnie Mac very happy but he should have been drug testing a long time ago. Here's the video clip.

Yahoo LAUNCHCAST song of the day

Artist:John Prine

Song:Dear Abby

Album:Great Days:The John Prine Anthology

I suppose the best way to describe singer songwriter John Prine would be he's Bob Dylan with a sense of humour. He was born Oct. 10, 1946 in Maywood, IL and grew up in Kentucky. Along with his best pal Steve Goodman (City Of New Orleans), He bacame a fixture on the Chicago folk scene in the late 60s. Kris Kristofferson heard Prine and helped him get a record contract with Atlantic in 1971. Prine's songs are in the tradition of someone like Bob Dylan but he uses humour in a lot of his songs somewhat like Tom Paxton. Except he's more cynical than Paxton. Dear Abby is a good example. It's a commentary about whiners and how to respond to them. Prine had a good run with Atlantic and then Asylum but was dropped in 1980. He immediately started his own label Oh Boy Records with manager Al Bunetta and has been very successful. This Rhino comp is a good overview of his career. Prine was diagnosed with cancer in 1998 but recovered after undergoing treatment. He's still recording & touring and his new CD with bluegrass legend Mac Wiseman Standard Songs For Average People is out next month. Here's John Prine from 1990 performing Paradise, talking briefly about Kentucky and then performing Donald & Lydia.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Yahoo LAUNCHCAST song of the day

Artist:Paul Simon

Song:Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes


Paul Simon is one of the great songwriters of popular music. He's best known as a performer for his days with Art Garfunkel but he has also had a significant solo career. The 1986 album Graceland was an attempt to experiment with different musical styles. I guess like a lot of creative people Simon gets bored easily and he likes to try different things. So Graceland had some Zydeco songs and also used South African rhythms. Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes featured the group Ladysmith Black Mambazo. It was a huge success and was probably Simon's best selling solo album. The music was experimental and accessible at the same time. It's definitely worth getting. Simon continues to try different things such as the stage musical Capeman. His latest CD is a collaboration with Brian Eno from 2006 called Surprise. At least he's interesting if not always successful. Here's Paul Simon and Ladysmith Black Mambazo performing Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes in Africa in 1987.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

JWP gearing up for Discover New Heroine tournament

You've probably already heard that JWP is attempting to recreate a tournament called Discover New Heroine. Long time fans will recall that this was an AJW tournament in 1996. It teams a veteran with a rookie and the idea is the rookie gets the rub from the veteran. I'm not sure the concept will work today but I guess it's just something to do and Commando Bolshoi has a history of reviving concepts from the past for no particular reason other than hoping that fans have fond memories of the original tournament. That's flimsy but that's the way the joshi business is these days. They're grasping at straws. It looks like they finished announcing the participating teams on the Mar. 18 Itabashi Green Hall show.

JWP has not announced the schedule for the Discover New Heroine yet but they announced several teams a couple of weeks ago and have added a couple more. But it looks like the tournament will take place over several weeks. I seem to recall that differs from the original. The teams named a couple of weeks ago were as follows. Azumi Hyuga (JWP) & Arisa Nakajima (JWP), Yoshiko Tamura (NEO) & Ayumi Kurihara (free), Nanae Takahash (SUN) & Natsuki*Taiyo (SUN), Tsubasa Kuragaki (JWP) & Shuu Shibutani (JD STAR), Kayoko Haruyama (JWP), Aoi Kizuki (Ice Ribbon), Kaori Yoneyama (JWP), Kaori Oki (JWP). Oki has been out with some sort of illness recently. Misae Genki (NEO) & Aya Yuki (NEO), Yuki Miyazaki (NEO) & Nagisa Nozaki (NEO), Toshie Uematsu (free) & Rei (free), Ran YuYu (free) & Hiroyo Matsumoto (Ibuki), Megumi Yabushita (free) & Lily Urai (Gutsworld), Aki Kamabayashi (Ito) & Mai Ichii (Ito) & Sakura Emi (Ice Ribbon) & Miki Ishii (Ice Ribbon). They have added three more teams this week. Tanny Mouse (NEO) & Bullfight Sora (free), Yu Yamagata (RAVE) & Cherry (Union) & Sachie Abe (JWP) & Misaki Ohata (JD STAR). We can talk about who isn't in this tournament but never mind.

The opening match for JWP's Mar. 18 Itabashi Green Hall show had rookie Arisa Nakajima challenging Manami Toyota. Toyota does her usual grumpy old bitch routine. Nakajima hits several dropkicks but Toyota gets her knees up when she tries a splash. That's the beginning of the end and Toyota wins with the Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex at 14:19. JWP Tag Champs Sachie Abe & KAZUKI have a match coming up with Kaori Yoneyama & Toshie Uematsu but on this occasion Yoneyama has a mystery partner and that is Tanny Mouse. Abe & KAZUKI win at 13:03 when KAZUKI hits Yoneyama with a leg lariat. It's at this point that Tanny Mouse announces her partner for the Discover New Heroine tournament is Bullfight Sora. She's a little over experienced but never mind.

ECO attacks Commando Bolshoi before the bell. ECO attempts to get an advantage outside the ring but Bolshoi hits her with a garbage can and finishes her with a single leg crab at 7:11. Leon gives a very spirited match to Yoshiko Tamura. She hits a couple of backbreakers and a mad splash. But Tamura comes back and after several flying elbows, she hits a Patriot Buster for the win at 16:53.

The main event had Azumi Hyuga & Misae Genki vs Tsubasa Kuragaki & Kayoko Haruyama. Typically it was a very exciting match and Hyuga & Haruyama were outstanding. Kuragaki hits a backdrop on Hyuga and tags Haruyama in. She comes in with a guillotine leg drop from the top rope and follows with a lariat. Hyuga comes back with a cross arm suplex and an avalanche style swinging DDT. Haruyama hits another guillotine leg drop but is accidently nailed by Kuragaki and Hyuga pins Haruyama with a crucifix pin at 19:29. A pretty good main event for this show.

Yahoo LAUNCHCAST song of the day

Artist:The Temptations

Song Papa Was A Rolling Stone

Album:Emperors Of Soul

Papa Was A Rolling Stone is one of the all time great Motown hits and of course is representative of Motown changing their musical direction in a more socially aware direction. Simple love songs didn't cut it anymore. By 1971, Eddie Kendricks left The Temptations for a solo career and Paul Williams had left due to alcoholism. He would commit suicide on Aug, 17, 1973 at age 34. They were replaced by Damon Harris & Richard Street. Papa Was A Rolling Stone was produced by Norman Whitfield and he wrote it with long time partner Barrett Strong. Supposedly The Temptations didn't want to record the song. They thought it was too dark. It also clocked in at 12 minutes. Motown released a seven minute version as a single and it was a number one smash in 1972. The single version is widely available and is on this 5CD box set Emperors Of Soul. The longer version is on a twofer of the albums All Directions & Psychedelic Shack. Either way it's one of my favourite songs. Here are The Temptations performing Papa Was A Rolling Stone on Soul Train in 1972.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Yahoo LAUNCHCAST song of the day

Artist:Stevie Wonder

Song:Fingertips Part 2

Album:Greatest Hits

When you look at what Stevie Wonder would become, one might look at his earlier music as frivolous. But you have to remember that he was 11 years old when he signed with Motown in 1961. Berry Gordy teamed him with producer Clarence Paul. Wonder wasn't an immediate success and while Motown was trying to figure out how to sell him, DJs started playing an album track fron the 1963 live record The 12 Year Old Genius. Back then, singles were usually three minutes long so it was very unusual for DJs to play a seven minute song. It caught Motown by surprise and they issued Fingertips Part 2 as a single. It's still fun to hear. Of course Stevie's voice would soon change and he'd go through some growing pains but by 1970 he would become the musical genius we all know and love. This Greatest Hits comp was originally released in 1968 and covers Stevie's early material only. There are other comps around including the Close Of The Century box set. Here's Stevie Wonder performing Fingertips Part 2 on the Teen Town TV show. Take note of The Miracles & The Marvelettes coming out at the end.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Emoto wins over Yoshida at Mar. 18 Ibuki show

Mariko Yoshida's Ibuki fed is well on the road to their first Korakuen Hall show on May 5. The Mar. 18 Shin-kiba 1st Ring show is the final show leading to this big show. So you might think Yoshida is looking to put herself over at that show. But Yoshida doesn't approach things in a selfish way and it appears at this point that she plans to put over a couple of wrestlers who have been very loyal to her. Atsuko Emoto had a 30 minute draw with Yoshida on the last show so those two are the main event again. There were 383 fans in attendance.

The opener had Kyoko Kimura against Hiroyo Matsumoto. It looks like it was a pretty good match. Matsumoto still likes to use the back breaker and she stunned Kimura with a lariat. But Kimura came back and finished Matsumoto with a cross arm breaker at 10:56. Kimura said afterwards that Yoshida is afraid of her and she will be very interested in the upcoming announcement of the May 5 main event. Next NEO rookie Aya Yuki won over JD Star rookie Misaki Ohata with a cross body block at 7:14.

Next was Ran YuYu & youngster NAO against Sakura Emi & Aoi Kizuki. NAO is the teenager who has been working for Ibuki the last couple of years. She has just graduated from high school. The match came down to NAO & Kizuki and NAO won with a dragon sleeper at 16:59. Shuu Shibutani & Ayumi Kurihara won over Cherry & Rei when Shibutani hit a diving senton on Rei at 19:55.

So now Atsuko Emoto gets another shot at Mariko Yoshida. One of the problems with Emoto is she still has that cow alter ego so it can be difficult to take her seriously but Yoshida really wants to push her. The match itself was back and forth as one would expect. But the turning point came when Emoto kicked out of two Air Raid Crashes. Emoto came back with a brain buster. Yoshida tried to put Emoto to sleep but Emoto escaped, hit five lariats and finished Yoshida with the B Crash (Jack Hammer) at 24:57. Afterwards, Emoto demanded a singles match with Kyoko Kimura at the big Korakuen Hall show. Typically, Kimura was very coy about it. This was a very big win for Emoto so that's the likely main event.

Yahoo LAUNCHCAST song of the day

Artist:Karen Clark Sheard

Song:The Heavens Are Telling

Album:The Heavens Are Telling

Karen Clark Sheard is one of the premier "sangers" in the world today. Of course she is one of the legendary gospel group The Clark Sisters. Elektra Records president Sylvia Rhone signed Karen thinking she could sell her to a secular audience the same way she sold Yolanda Adams. That didn't really work but the 2003 CD The Heavens Are Telling is great music. The title song was written and produced by Donald Lawrence. Check out Karen's performance of the song on Bobby Jones Gospel. Rhone left Elektra for Motown. Elektra dropped Karen but she signed with Word Records and released It's Not Over in 2006. Also, The Clark Sisters have reunited and their new CD is out in April. Karen Clark Sheard is the kind of singer that musicians listen to but I doubt she is marketable to a secular audience. She's someone you need to seek out.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Jimmie Johnson wins Atlanta Nextel Cup race

Atlanta Motor Speedway is known for fantastic finishes. In fact, Jimmie Johnson was on the wrong end of one of those finishes in 2005 when he was nosed out by Carl Edwards. So after winning in Las Vegas last week, Johnson was looking to go on a hot streak at Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500. Ryan Newman won the pole but changed an engine on Saturday and had to go to the bacxk. That meant Johnson was actually on the pole.

After Saturday's Busch Series race, there was concern about tire wear. But the teams were very careful about that so it wasn't an issue. Jimmie Johnson's #48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools Chevy is in the lead. Trouble for Kyle Busch's #5 Kellogg's/Carquest Chevy. He makes an unscheduled pit stop on lap 19 with a vibration. It turned out to be a loose wheel. He went a lap down and was never able to recover and finished 32nd.

A debris caurion came out on lap 36. Everyone pits and Jeff Gordon's #24 Dupont Chevy leads off pit road with Jimmie Johnson second. Tony Stewart's #20 Home Depot Chevy moves up from fourth to take the lead on lap 43. Johnson gets the lead back on lap 79 just as green flag pit stops begin. Kurt Busch's #2 Miller Lite Dodge leads when pit stops cycle through on lap 91. Johnson's back in the lead by lap 107.

Another debris caution comes out on lap 142. Everyone pits and Johnson trades the lead with Jeff Gordon & Matt Kenseth's #17 DeWalt Tools Ford. More green flag pit stops. On lap 193, Gordon has trouble with his pit stop. It turns out to be a problem with the inside panel of the front right wheel well. Gordon eventually goes a lap down and finishes 12th. Scott Riggs' #10 Stanley Tools Dodge blows an engine to bring out a caution on lap 222. Everyone pits and Johnson continues to lead.

Big crash on lap 230. Greg Biffle's #16 Jackson Hewitt Ford clips David Reutimann's #00 Domino's Pizza Toyota into the wall and collects Brian Vickers' #83 Red Bull Toyota & Kasey Kahne's #9 UAW/Dodge Dealers Dodge. More pit stops and Johnson leads on lap 237. Tony Stewart gets the lead on lap 238. Another debris caution on lap 270. Everyone pits. This could be the final pit stop if the race goes green. The Chevys & Dodges can probably make it to the end on fuel. The Fords can't.

Fuel mileage is taken out of the equation with a debris caution on lap 309. Stewart continues to lead with Kenseth second and Johnson third. Johnson gets around Kenseth and catches Stewart on lap 320. Stewart tries to hold him off but Johnson gets the lead on lap 322 and squeezes Stewart to the outside. Stewart brushes the wall and Johnson pulls away and wins the race. Afterwards, Stewart said that he could have raced Johnson if he hadn't been squeezed into the wall but Johnson did exactly what he was supposed to do and Stewart would have done the same thing in that situation. Check out the video evidence for yourself.

Congratulations to Jimmie Johnson, crew chief Chad Knaus and car owner Rick Hendrick on the win. Big top ten finishes for Juan Pablo Montoya, Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr. & Reed Sorenson. Mark Martin finished tenth and still leads the points but he will not race next week in Bristol as planned. Rookie Regan Smith will be in the #01. Also, next week will mark the debut of the much heralded Car Of Tomorrow. Here's the top ten of the race.


1.48/Jimmie Johnson/Kobalt Tools-Lowe's/Chevy/Rick Hendrick

2.20/Tony Stewart/Home Depot/Chevy/Joe Gibbs

3.17/Matt Kenseth/DeWalt Tools/Ford/Jack Roush

4.31/Jeff Burton/Cingular/Chevy/Richard Childress

5.42/Juan Pablo Montoya/Texaco Havoline/Dodge/Chip Ganassi

6.07/Clint Bowyer/DirecTV Hotpass/Chevy/Richard Childress

7.99/Carl Edwards/Office Depot/Ford/Jack Roush

8.1/Martin Truex Jr./Bass Pro Shops/Chevy/Dale Earnhardt Inc.

9.41/Reed Sorenson/Target/Dodge/Chip Ganassi

10.01/Mark Martin/US Army/Chevy/Bobby Ginn

Yahoo LAUNCHCAST song of the day

Artist:The Solitaires

Song:Walking Along

Album:The Doo Wop Box

One of the great things about The Doo Wop Box is it includes great songs by lesser known doo wop groups. Walking Along was the best known song by the minor group The Solitaires. They were formed in Harlem in 1953 by ex-Vocaleer Herman Curtis along with Buzzy Willis & Pat Gaston from The Crows. Monte Owens, Bobby Baylor & Bobby Williams of The Mello-Moods rounded out the group. They signed with Old Town Records and issued some lushly atmospheric records. Curtis left in 1955 and was replaced by Milton Love of The Concords. He sang lead on their biggest hit Walking Along in 1957. Like a lot of doo wop, it's a fun song and The Doo Wop Box is the best place to get it. Personnel changes killed The Solitaires and they disbanded in 1961. Buzzy Willis went on to produce the 70s group Kool & The Gang and has reformed The Solitaires occasionally on the oldies circuit. This is a video someone did of Walking Along set to footage from the film Stalag 17.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Jeff Burton wins Atlanta Busch Series race

It's been a tough start to the 2007 NASCAR Busch Series for Kyle Busch. Every week it seems like he has the fastest car in the race but he can't close the deal. That's what happened last week in Las Vegas when Jeff Burton ran him down on the final turn. Busch won the pole for Saturday's Nicorette 300 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Could he end his bad luck this time? The other issue in the race was tire wear and NASCAR planned to throw a competition caution on lap 35. Tire wear was a factor in the race.

Kyle Busch's #5 Lowe's/Busch Gardens Chevy dominated the race. He led from the start. Matt Kenseth's #17 Arby's Ford took the lead on lap 30 and Busch faded to fifth. But after pit stops during the lap 35 competition caution, Busch regained the lead on lap 40 from Kasey Kahne's #9 Ragu Dodge. Hard crash on lap 63. Jason Leffler's #38 Great Clips Toyota cuts a tire, slams the wall and collects Reed Sorenson's #41 Juicy Fruit Dodge. It was as hard as Leffler's crash in California but he was OK. Jeff Burton's #29 Holiday Inn Chevy led after pit stops but Busch regained the lead in short order.

Caution caomes out on lap 79 when Jamie McMurray's #26 Dish Network Ford spins. A very strange crash during the caution. Kyle Krisiloff's #14 Clabber Girl Baking Powder Ford got his lap back. While he was attempting to go around to get back on the lead lap, Tony Raines' #33 Chevy was cleaning his tires and didn't see Krisiloff and Krisiloff slammed into him. Raines' spotter is to blame for this. Busch led on the lap 88 restart.

Then the tire wear issues started to surface. Jeff Burton felt a vibration on lap 117 and pitted. It turned out to be a worn right front tire. Matt Kenseth pitted with similar problems. Green flag pit stops had cycled through when Jon Wood's #47 ArmourAll Ford & Steve Wallace's #66 HomeLife Dodge crashed on lap 141. Everyone pitted and Busch continued to lead. The broadcasters talked about whether guys would pit again for tires if the race went green the rest of the way. But I was sure there would be another caution.

On lap 167, Sam Hornish Jr's #12 Penske Truck Rental Dodge tapped Todd Kleuver's #16 3M Ford and turned him into the wall. So everyone pits for fresh tires. Two big mistakes on pit road decide the end of the race. Tony Stewart's #20 Goody's Cool Orange Chevy pits while pit road is closed. He was in fifth and had to restart in 16th place. But the big mistake was on leader Kyle Busch's car. A lug nut was left off the left front tire. This was spotted by a NASCAR official and he had to come back into the pits. Busch restarted 17th.

Jeff Burton leads Matt Kenseth & Kevin Harvick's #21 Auto Zone Chevy. Kyle Busch is coming up through the field. Burton pulls away for his second straight Busch Series win. Harvick gets around Kenseth for second and Busch is third. So Kyle Busch loses another Busch Series race. Here is video footage of Tony Stewart & Kyle Busch's pit road penalties.

Mike Skinner wins Atlanta Craftsman Truck race

Since Mike Skinner returned to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series a couple of years ago, he has been very fast but something always seemed to happen to ruin his finish. So far in the 2007 season, Skinner looks like the front runner. He won two weeks ago in California and he won the pole at the American Commercial Lines 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

From the start of this race, it became clear that Mike Skinner's #5 Toyota & Todd Bodine's #30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota were the fastest trucks in the field. Problems at the start. TJ Bell's #50 Heathcliff's Cat Litter Ford spun his tires and Tyler Walker's #36 360 OTC Toyota rear ended him and broke his radiator. Chase Miller's #4 Open Joist Dodge ran over debris, broke his steering and the caution came out. Skinner led until Bodine passed him for the lead on lap 19. NASCAR threw a competition caution on lap 23 because the trucks only had one practice session and NASCAR wanted the teams to check on tire wear.

Skinner led at the lap 32 restart and was passed by Bodine on lap 51. Skinner regains the lead on lap 73. There were a lot of cautions at the end of the race and that seemed to hurt Bodine. Bill Lester's #15 Bowen Homes Chevy hits the wall to bring out a caution on lap 109. This gave Clint Bowyer's #2 Camping World Chevy the lead but the cautions seemed to hurt him too. AJ Allmendinger's #00 Toyota crashes and brings out a caution on lap 116. On the restart, Skinner bumps Bowyer from behind and moves him out of the way. Bowyer finished fifth. Bowyer was calm about it afterwards. He said that he's won races that way so it's no big deal. Bodine finished second. Skinner's truck was better on short runs so the cautions really helped him. He now leads the points. Here's video of the end of the race including Skinner's pass for the win.

Yahoo LAUNCHCAST song of the day

Artist:The O'Jays


Album:Collectors Items

Of course The O'Jays are one of the all time great vocal groups and are considered one of the staples of the Philly Soul sound of the 70s. But like The Spinners, The O'Jays aren't from Philly either. Eddie Levert, Walter Williams, William Powell, Bill Isles & Bobby Massey formed the group while attending McKinley High School in Canton, OH in 1958. They recorded as The Mascots for King Records in 1961. One of their biggest fans was Cleveland DJ Eddie O'Jay so they were renamed The O'Jays. They bounced around various labels and producers like HB Barnum but met producers Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff at Neptune Records in 1968 and of course they are Philly Soul. Isles had left the group by then. Neptune closed in 1971 and Massey left. But that's when Gamble & Huff started Philadelphia International Records and of course The O'Jays had one of the first hits on the label with this great 1972 McFadden/Whitehead song Backstabbers featuring a great lead vocal by Eddie Levert. The O'Jays had several big hits over the next few years and they're all on this comp. William Powell died of cancer on May 26, 1977. He was replaced by Little Anthony & The Imperials veteran Sammy Strain. The O'Jays success petered out in the 80s but they continued to record occasionally. They actually got a big boost in the 90s because of the success of Eddie Levert's sons Gerald, Sean & Eddie Jr. Levert & Williams still tour today with new member Eric Grant and The O'Jays appeared in the film The Fighting Temptations. Here are The O'Jays performing Backstabbers on Soul Train 1972.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Sendai Girls announces brackets for Battlefield Tournament

Sendai Girls held a press conference on Friday at Rinno-ji Temple Gallery Hall in Sendai City to announce the brackets for the opening round of the Battlefield Tournament. The whole idea behind this tournament is to have the semi finals and final at Sendai's first anniversary show in July. The second round will be on May's show and the first round matches will be Apr. 7 & 8 at Zepp Sendai. The first bracket will be on Apr. 7. The matches are Meiko Satomura vs Tsubasa Kuragaki, Chisako Kanari vs Manami Toyota, Dynamite Kansai vs Toshie Uematsu and Devil Masami vs Mayumi Ozaki. The second bracket will be on Apr. 8. The matches are Aja Kong vs Kyoko Kimura, KAORU vs Mizuki Endo, Akari Okudo vs Sachiko Kanari and Yurie Kaneko vs Ayako Hamada. The one thing that's notable about this is that one of the Sendai rookies is going through to the second round. Does that mean anything? Probably not. She's the boss so one has to assume that Satomura will put herself over. I wouldn't mind seeing a final of Satomura vs Ayako Hamada expecially since Ayako will face one of those rookies in the first two rounds. It doesn't make me feel any better about the way this company is booked.

Yahoo LAUNCHCAST song of the day

Artist:Chet Baker


Album:Chet Baker Big Band

Trumpeter Chet Baker is a legendary figure in jazz probably because he had a cool look. As I've said before, he was a very good musician but was damaged by his drug abuse. His legend seems to have grown since his death. But he was a big part of the Los Angeles jazz scene and made some great records in the 50s for Pacific Jazz. This 1955 recording is called Chet Baker's Big Band but only part of the record has a big band. The rest features a smaller group including this excellent version of Tenderly. Musicians include Frank Rosolino on trombone, Phil Urso on sax, Bobby Timmons on piano and Jimmy Bond on bass. Jimmy Heath was the arranger. Blue Note rereleased this in 1993 with the 1956 Chet Baker Sextet EP tacked on. So it's a good introduction to Baker's music. Not surprisingly, there's very little video footage of Chet Baker from the 50s. So here's a tribute set to the tune of Tenderly that I found on IFilm.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Pro Wrestling SUN gets even more silly

So just when you thought that Pro Wrestling SUN had reached the silliness threshhold, they announced the card for Apr. 5 at Shin-kiba 1st Ring. The main event will have Natsuki*Taiyo defend the World-1 Womens Title against Saki Maemura. Some main event, huh? The other title match will have Steve Corino & Toshie Uematsu defending WDB Mixed Tag Team Championship. You may recall that it was reported that Corino conspired with Chris The Bambi Killer to "fix" the title match. I'm not sure why they would bring that up if they're not going to use it in the storyline. The challengers will be KUSHIDA & Tie Chie from Hustle (pictured). They have actually worked as a team over there. Tie Chie is Chie Ishii, the former Nagoya University amateur female wrestler signed by Hustle. There will also be a three way match with Nanae Takahashi, Amazing Kong & Atsuko Emoto and Hikaru will face Shuu Shibutani. SUN president Nakamura sure likes to do some goofy stuff.

Satoko Shinashi retains Smackgirl Flyweight Title by split decision

Smackgirl did a double shot on Mar. 11 at Shinjuku FACE. The afternoon show featured opening round matches for the Next Cinderella tournaments and the Gi Grappling Princess League. The main event of the evening show had Satoko Shinashi defending her Flyweight Title against Misaki Takimoto along with matches from the Supergals Open Weight Cup tournament, the Killer Queen Flyweight tournament and a Middlweight Title contender match. Is that enough for you?

The afternoon show began with semi final matches from the Gi Grappling Princess League. The final would come later in the show. Both matches were scheduled for two four minute rounds. Asami Kodera won over Mika Nagano at 1:35 of round one with an arm bar. Aiko Ushiduka won over Ayumi Funakoshi at 1:05 of round two with a rear naked choke. Next was a 50kg bout. Sachi over Yuka Okumura at 3:05 of round two with an arm bar. This was followed by several Next Cinderella Tournament matches. Flyweight-Madoka Ebihara over Mamiko Mizoguchi by unanimous decision. Middleweight-Benkei over Hitomi Sakimoto at 1:41 of round one with an arm bar. Lightweight-Emi Tomimatsu over Megumi Ito by unanimous decision. Lightweight-V1 over Anna Saito at 4:53 of round one with a rear naked choke. Flyweight-Maho Muranami over Sakaya Takase at 2:59 of round one by TKO. The ref stopped the match when Takase suffered a knee injury.

Aiko Ushiduka won the Smackgirl Gi Grappling Princess League 02 tournament final over Asami Kodera at 3:08 of round one with an arm bar. In a Middleweight bout, Miki Morifuji defeated HARUMI at 35 sec. of round one with a rear naked choke. In a Lightweight bout, Kyoko Takabayashi won over Saori Ishioka by unanimous decision. The main event of the afternoon show was a Lightweight bout between Akiko Naito ans Yasuko Mogi. The first round was fairly even but Naito hooked a choke hold in the second round and though Mogi came back, Naito won a split decision.

The first match of the evening show was a 55kg bout between Emi Fujino and Madoka Okada. Fujino nailed her with a right and finished her with an arm bar at 2:34 of round one. In a Smackgirl Killer Queen Flyweight tournament bout, Eri Kaneya won over Yukiko Seki by unanimous decision. In a Super Gals Mix Cup Open Weight Tournament semi final bout. HIROKO won over Yuiga by unanimous decision. Yuiga is a pro wrestler who normally works for DDT.

Next was a special Full Contact Karate exhibition with a girl described as a "Karate Idol" named Yuka Kobayashi. She won a unanimous decision over Chie Sato. In a Super Gals Mix Cup Open Weight Tournament semi final bout, Michiko Takeda won over Tama Chan by unanimous decision. In a Smackgirl Killer Queen Flyweight Tournament bout, Mai won over Masako Yoshida by split decision. The winner of the match between Takayo Hashi & Sybil Starr will challenge Hitomi Akano for the Smackgirl Middleweight Title. Sybil is a pro wrestler who works for Dan Severn in Michigan. Hashi took Starr down but they ended up in the corner so they had to get back up. Hashi took her down again, hit her with a straight right and finished her off with an arm bar at 2:47 of round one. Oh well. But Sybil said she had fun being a Smackgirl and she wants to return someday.

The main event had the very popular Satoko Shinashi defending her Smackgirl Flyweight Title against Misaki Takimoto. Shinashi has been training in Brazil recently. It was a very close match. Both had several takedowns but were able to counter that and they had to get back up. It appears that Shinashi got the edge in round two with a dragon screw throw. Takimoto was able to counter and came back in round three. Shinashi won by split decision. Shinashi said she is ready for the next challenger and is returning to Brazil shortly. Almost forgot to mention that Smackgirl Lightweight Champ Yuka Tsuji announced that she will return to Smackgirl on the Apr. 28 Osaka show to face a gaijin to be announced.

Yahoo LAUNCHCAST song of the day

Artist:Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers



1961's Mosaic was the beginning of a very fertile period for Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers. It was the first record that the group recorded as a quintet and the same basic lineup remained together until 1964 when several of these guys went on to jazz stardom of their own. You've got Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Curtis Fuller on trombone, Wayne Shorter on tenor sax, Cedar Walton on piano & Jymie Merritt on bass. These are great musicians and composers and Crisis is a great Hubbard song. This version of the Jazz Messengers was the template for Art Blakey's success. Bring in young musicians. They stay a couple of years and they're ready to take the jazz world by storm. This pattern continued for three decades and cements Blakey's legacy. Here's Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers performing Moanin' in 1962. It's the same lineup except for Reggie Workman on bass.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Aja Kong is the Wizard Of Oz

The finals of the OZ Academy Wizard Of Oz Title tournament was Mar. 10 at Shinjuku FACE. They had three more tournament matches and then the final. It's a round robin tournament and Aja Kong was leading. Mika Nishio came out to read a letter from Carlos Amano to fans. I guess she was predicting she would win the tournament. In the opener, Dynamite Kansai defeated Amano with a splash mountain at 7:09. So I guess not.

Chikayo Nagashima had to win the next two matches to make the final against Aja Kong. First Nagashima defeated Dynamite Kansai in 4:29. Next Nagashima had to battle Mayumi Ozaki. Of couse Police helped Ozaki. He came out when the previous match ended and kicked Nagashima. Ozaki used weapons on Nagashima. Then they ganged up on her outside the ring. It doesn't look good. But Amano & Kansai stuffed Police in a bag and dragged him away. This was Nagashima's big chance and she beat Ozaki in 8:32.

Ran YuYu & Aja Kong won over Sonoko Kato & Ayako Hamada in 21:59. It looks like Kato got in a little offense in this match but she still lost. Finally the Wizard Of Oz final. Aja Kong vs Chikayo Nagashima. Nagashima attempts to strangle Aja but Aja smashes her into the corner. She splashes her in the corner. Aja sets Nagashima up for the back fist and it's all over in 8:00. Congratulations to Aja Kong for winning the Wizard Of Oz Championship.

Yahoo LAUNCHCAST song of the day

Artist:Jon Faddis



Jazz trumpeter Jon Faddis was born July 24, 1953 in Oakland, CA. He caused a sensation as a teenager when he emulated the legendary Dizzy Gillespie to the point that he was nicknamed Dizzy Jr. He does have tremendous range. Hitting high notes is always a big deal for trumpet players. He moved to New York in the 70s and started playing sessions. He got to record and tour with Dizzy and also made a couple of great records with Oscar Peterson in 1977. In the 80s he joined the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra and played sessions. He rarely records under his own name but this 2006 CD Teranga sounds great. It's his first CD since 1998. Musicians are David Hazeltine on piano, Kiyoshi Kitagawa on bass and Dion Parson on drums along with some special guests. In searching for a video, I found that Faddis does a lot of guest appearances with regional jazz bands and special projects like the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All Stars. This clip is from Trumpet Summit 2004 with Jon Faddis, Randy Brecker, Lew Soloff, Terence Blanchard & Roy Hargrove on trumpet along with Cedar Walton on piano, Doug Weiss on bass & Idris Muhammad on drums performing Honeysuckle Rose. That's Faddis in the silver vest and glasses.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Fuuka celebrates 3rd anniversary

You have to understand that when I get annoyed about Fuuka it's not really about Fuuka. It's about the idiots who run JD Star thinking that fans are gullible. So it could be any of the Athtresses but Fuuka is the one they want to push. Seeing Mimi Hagiwara in that white bathing suit just confirms how misguided the Athtress concept is. Mimi was the original idol wrestler but she worked hard in the ring and that's why her matches are memorable 25 years later. So JD star had the Fuuka 3rd anniversary show Mar. 10 at Shin-kiba 1st Ring with some guests and and a pointless ceremony at the end of the show.

The opener had Bullfight Sora & Hiroyo Matsumoto vs Ayumi Kurihara & Misaki Ohata. Matsumoto displayed her power by punishing Ohata with back breakers, brain busters and finished her at 13:39. Afterwards, Ohata was pesented with a commemorative gift upon graduating from high school. Will she ever graduate from wrestling school? Nanae Takahashi came over from Pro Wrestling SUN to wrestle Fuuka on this special show. Fuuka's wrestler brother Kakimoto was her second. JD Star wants you to know Fuuka sported a brand new red outfit. Takahashi won with a backdrop in 14:10. Takahashi controlled most of the match but it appears Fuuka may have performed a little better than she normally does in this kind of match. In time we'll see if it means anything.

The main event was a series of singles matches between Team Araki Place & The Caribbean Army. This angle is starting to drag. JD Star keeps promising a conclusion but have yet to deliver. This had three singles matches and the other Caribbean Army members would be banished from ringside to prevent interference. They actually pulled string to determine the matchups. The first match was Lily Urai vs Caribbean MOON. MOON won with a spinning leg kick at 9:04. Next was Cherry vs Caribbean RUM. Cherry wins in 3:12 with a Majistral Cradle after hitting a missile kick, a German suplex and a Cherryton bomb. So it's tied at one apiece. The final match is Shuu Shibutani vs Caribbean KIM. The ending of this had a ref bump from a Shibutani hurricanrana. While the ref was incapacitated, the other Caribbean Army members ganged up on Shibutani and used the Caribbean Impact on her. The ref recovered in time to count three at 19:02. Of course there was an uproar over the Caribbean Army breaking the rules. KIM admitted it and next week will have a 6 girl elimination tag match promising a conclusion to this feud. Yeah, right.

Fuuka's third anniversary ceremony ended the show. They had damcers and singers. But the main part had Fuuka and her wrestler brother Kakimoto teaming up in a match against two masked guys called DV & DVD. Who are these guys? They turn out to be Fuuka's father and older brother. Mom was at ringside. Dad is an elementary school principal and older brother is a city assemblyman. So they had a little match and had a little fun with it. Fuuka thanked everyone for everything and that was over. JD Star has announced that this year's Princess League tournament will be called Grapple Beauty Future 07 and will begin on Apr. 6.

Yahoo LAUNCHCAST song of the day


Song:(Every Time I Look Around) Back In Love Again

Album:Greatest Hits

L.T.D. was a very popular funk/R & B group of the mid 70s. Back In Love Again was their biggest hit. The group started in 1968 with keyboardist Jimmie Davis & bassist Abraham Miller. Both guys were in Sam & Dave's band. They recruited guitarist Johnny McGhee and several horn players but the key recruit was vocalist Jeffrey Osborne along with his brother Billy on keyboards. The group signed with A & M in 1974. They were doing well on the R & B charts but the 1977 album Something To Love included the top five pop hit Back In Love Again. The song was produced by legendary Philly Soul producer Bobby Martin and has a great lead vocal by Jeffrey Osborne. L.T.D. continued until Jeffrey Osborne left in 1981 for a solo career. And he had a very good solo run that I may talk about some other time. The group disbanded but McGhee reformed a new version in 1999. The song Back In Love Again experienced a revival in 2001 when gospel girl group Trin-i-tee 5:7 used it as the basis of their smash Put Your Hands. Here's L.T.D. performing Back In Love Again on Soul Train in 1977.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Joshi legends at Jaguar Yokota 30th anniversary show

Here are a few pics from the Jaguar Yokota 30th anniversary show. The first pic is a pic of Jaguar Yokota & Megumi Kudo from Kudo's blog. The other pics are from Michiko Ohmukai's blog. The second is Mimi Hagiwara in a white bathing suit. The third is Lucy Kayama on the left and Tomy Aoyama on the right. The fourth is Maki Ueda of the Beauty Pair.

Jaguar Yokota celebrates thirty years in joshi puroresu

There is not much question that Jaguar Yokota is one of the most important and revered figures in joshi puroresu history. This is not only for her tremendous ring skills and charisma but for her ability to train the next generation to be as good as she is. When fans talk about the glory days of the 1990s, it all comes back to Jaguar because she trained a lot of those wrestlers. So the entire joshi puroresu industry gathered at the Hotel Laforest in Tokyo on Mar. 11 to celebrate Jaguar Yokota's thirty years in joshi. It was a star studded affair with 1003 fans in attendance.

The format of the show was a wrestling show in the afternoon followed by a ceremony and stage show in the evening. This was also Jaguar's first ring appearance since giving birth to her son in December. You can be sure she has been hitting the gym preparing for this day. The show started with a 30 girl Royal Rumble style battle royal. The big thing here was the participation of joshi puroresu legends Mimi Hagiwara, Lucy Kayama & Tomy Aoyama. The wrestlers entered the ring in groups. A wrestler could be eliminated by pinfall, submission, foul, over the top rope, whatever. The first group was Toshie Uematsu, Sachie Abe, Obacchi Iizuka, Bullfight Sora, KAZUKI & GAMI. The second group was Cherry, Nozomi Takesako, Kyoko Kimura, Haruka Matsuo, Saki Maemura (replacing the injured Hikaru), Leon, Hiroyo Muto & AKINO. The third group was Chikayo Nagashima, Carlos Amano, Ran YuYu, Yuki Miyazaki, Tanny Mouse & Misae Genki. The fourth group was Michiko Ohmukai, Kaoru Ito, Mariko Yoshida, Manami Toyota, Mayumi Ozaki & Yumiko Hotta. The final group was Devil Masami, Tomy Aoyama, Lucy Kayama, Mimi Hagiwara & Jaguar Yokota. Not surprisingly the legends didn't last very long. The finish came down to Devil Masami & Chikayo Nagashima. Nagashima won by pinfall at 21:07. The trophy was presented by Maki Ueda.

The rest of the show was a promotional theme show. First was a Pro Wrestling SUN match with Nanae Takahashi over Natsuki*Taiyo with a reverse splash at 12:32. Next was an LLPW match with former AJW wrestlers Takako Inoue & Noriyo Tateno. Jaguar trained Takako. Takako won with destiny's hammer in 8:57. Next was a JWP match with Azumi Hyuga, Commando Bolshoi & Tsubasa Kuragaki over Kaori Yoneyama, Kayoko Haruyama & ECO in 13:26. And finally a NEO match with Yoshiko Tamura over Etsuko Mita with the running elbow at 9:19. Two more Jaguar trainees.

The main event was Jaguar Yokota, Dynamite Kansai & Ayako Hamada vs. Aja Kong, KAORU & Amazing Kong. KAORU & Aja are two more Jaguar trainees. It was apparently a very entertaining match. Everone got to do their trademark spots. Jaguar used the Princessrana (reverse hurricanrana) on KAORU for the win at 23:00. Jaguar said it's been a great thirty years and thank you for everyhting. Aja Kong grabbed the mike and said "We can never thank you enough for everything you've done for us." The evening show had mostly singing. Chigusa Nagayo & Lioness Asuka sang. Maki Ueda & Devil Masami sang. Mimi Hagiwara sang and she's an actress so she was probably pretty good. Jaguar Yokota and her husband and son took the stage to thank everyone for a great day celebarating her thirty years in joshi puroresu.