Friday, April 29, 2011

'ello, Love

Every so often, I get this inexplicable urge to connect with my fellow humans. To take part in one of those great mass spectacles, to give myself over to the unifying experience of the mono-culture. Again, this doesn't happen often, so when it does, I roll with it. Thus, Yvonne and I were up at 4:45 this morning for the royal wedding.

It wasn't until a few days ago that I gave half a rat's ass about this. I only started to become interested after reading a Times piece that remarked how Kate Middleton is this rare celebrity without a Twitter feed, tell-all book or reality show (in a sense, her whole life from here on out is a reality show, but it's not as though she's famous for getting hammered on camera). Indeed, what seems the most remarkable thing about her is her discretion -- she didn't go talking to the press after she and William broke up a few years back; there's been no tawdry behavior of any kind; people only have lovely things to say about her. And isn't that reason enough to get on board with this thing? Isn't that something to support? I say yes.

But, of course, there is something else, too. Royal weddings break up the monotony of our own lives. This isn't because they're better than us, it's simply a fact. It's probably the reason royal families persist, to stand in contrast to, and somehow "above," our own ordinary lives, through their connection to hundreds of years of antiquity. Whatever it is, I'm into it. America as a whole seems to be. There has been twice as much news coverage of the royal wedding (as a share of all news) here than in the UK. Americans never need an excuse to focus on celebrity, but I wonder if our own difficult times (joblessness, political mire, the diminishing of American greatness) make the escape of a royal wedding that much more attractive.

Anyway, we did our best impression of loyal subjects here, complete with a full English breakfast (eggs, bangers [!!!], bacon, beans, tea and homemade, fresh-baked scones -- did I mention that my wife is a master cook?). Coverage was tuned mostly to the BBC feed because they were identifying the various dignitaries from the Commonwealth and foreign royal guests (the SERBIAN ROYAL FAMILY?). To me, this was half the fun, like watching the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. And from there, I think everyone got the same view: Elton John in the audience, fumbling through the hymns even as his partner belted it out; David Beckham looking absurd (but Posh looking great); the bride's fantastic dress; a pretty nifty sermon from the Bishop of London.

All in all, a pretty good morning.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The 365 Round Up! - Part Two

The countdown of the best pictures from the 365 Project continues. In case you missed it, read the first installment here. Otherwise, on with the show!

I am the type of person who is better one-on-one than in a group. Portraits suit me because I see it as a deeply personal way to interact with someone. Dan thinks that portraits are super easy. (Forgive him, he doesn’t know any better). It all comes down to trying to get your subject comfortable and at the same time feeling comfortable yourself behind the camera. Easier said than done!

I have always been grateful for the times I had the courage to approach a stranger and ask if I could take their picture (the usual response is “WHY?”) More often than not, I like those photos (you would think it incentive me to do it more often--though sometimes I am just as nervous asking someone I already know!) However, my favorite people to take pictures of are Annette and Dan though they are very different.

Annette is the best model. Not only is she super photogenic, but she will gladly do whatever I ask of her and has the patience to sit through hundreds of shots. Dan, on the other hand, usually tilts his head in annoyance when I ask to take his photo, and I am lucky to get a smile. I usually only have one or two snaps before he starts freaking out. (Meanwhile, on the rare occasion Dan takes a picture of me, can I tell you how long and drawn out that process can be? That's for another blog entry.)

#273 - Annette in the Snow

I love this picture of Annette in the snow wearing my winter coat. I took this during a photo shoot in my mom’s backyard where I made her frolic in the snow for about an hour. I asked her to put the hood up even though I think most people would have objected. She trusts me completely and I love that. This photo is also a homage to my winter coat because by accident I tossed the it in the washing machine and dryer without taking the fur trim off which turned it into a dead dog. I can still wear the coat without fur, but it’s not the same
#46 - Dan in Costa Rica

I like nearly every picture I take of Dan (I am biased), but this one is tops and multiple Hamsters selected this picture as one of their top choices. I took this picture of of him in Costa Rica while we were hiking. He is doing the head tilting pose, but somehow you can’t see his annoyance. Perhaps because we were newlyweds and it was our honeymoon and he was being patient for once. But seriously, the camera loves this man. Why can’t he love it back?

Portrait Honorable mentions: #77 Old man at the Met, #79 Counter girl at Johnny’s, #277 Girl with the Red Umbrella
Dan Honorable Mentions: #31 Macy’s and #323 Wigs

Night Shots
It is nearly impossible to take a good photo at night without a tripod. It always looks blurry or using a flash washes everything out. I am so happy that Dan bought me a tripod for Christmas because it really took my night photography to another level. I often find landscape photography to be a little dull but everything comes alive at night--in a good way. Night shots are super fun because it often took me to parts of the city I would never visit on a normal night. There were rarely other people around because it was dark and often cold, so I always felt like I was getting this secret cool view of the city that was put there just for me. I often came home from these photo shoots feeling giddy and high on life.

#307 - 59th Street Bridge

This picture of the 59th Street Bridge, inspired by the Woody Allen film, Manhattan, is one of my best. All the Hamsters say so.

Night Shots Honorable mentions: #310 Lexington Ave, #335 Williamsburg Bridge

I am a little surprised by the overwhelming positive reaction I got with my food photography. I find street photography and portraits the most challenging and rewarding, but everyone tells me I should get into food photography. I often took pictures of food during this project when I didn’t feel like taking pictures or I was busy cooking/baking and had no time. Go figure. On one hand, I think it helps that I read a lot of food blogs and magazines so I have an idea of how things should look. On the other hand, the lighting is horrible in my kitchen and my counters and plates are ugly so I always think my photos are average because they could be styled better. Or maybe because it comes easier to me, I don’t think it’s “real” photography and that’s why I can’t take a compliment? Who knows.  

#359 - Zucchini

Though I have to admit, I love how this shot of grated zucchini looks. I was making zucchini muffins, and took advantage of the limited natural lighting in my apartment.

Food Honorable Mentions: #154 My favorite cupcake in NYC, #167 Ginger and Spice

I took a lot of commuting pictures during this project. That was just me being lazy.  I don’t particularly find the subway to be inspiring. In fact, the more I shot it, the more ugly I found it. But I continued to do it because people look very distraught when they commute, so their expressions are always fun to capture. You may notice that I have very few pictures of people riding the subway. I was always to nervous to point and shoot at a stranger and then be stuck with them until the next stop. It is easier to be discreet with an iPhone, which I have attempted a few times, but you lose the picture quality.

#265 - Grand Central Station

Grand Central Station, which is across the street from my workplace, offered some beauty to the daily commute. It is a great place to photograph people because no one is paying any attention to you. In order to get this ghostly look, you need a tripod or a sturdy surface. I placed the camera on a railing overlooking the station. I set the camera on a low shutter speed, and I scanned around to see if anyone was standing still. I focused on the still woman and pushed the trigger. Since it takes maybe 10 seconds to take the picture, the moving people around her become a blur. The effect highlights her “loneliness” in this crowd of people. This photo was also a big-time Ham favorite.

Commuting Honorable Mentions: #81 Alone in Grand Central Station, #206 Rough Commute, #312 Looking Out

Ham Favorite
There was no clear winner for the Ham reader favorite, and many of the pictures I have already highlighted got most of the votes. So here I will highlight a picture that I considered a throw-away but had a passionate following. Loyal Hamster Ara emailed me immediately with his favorite pictures and said that this photo of a naked Barbie doll was his “ALL TIME FAVORITE.” His words not mine. I thought that was a pretty bold statement and when I saw other people voted for it too, I decided that this would be the Ham Pick.

#178 - Naked Barbie

I was walking home from the grocery store and I saw this Barbie doll propped up by the light and thought it looked cool, so I rushed home, grabbed my camera and ran back hoping it was still there. It was, and I got this shot. Ara explained, “With the world buzzing around you, there’s a lost Barbie, was she a little girl’s companion?  A sick joke from a teenager? Who knows.  It made me think, that’s why I liked it.”

Thanks, Ara, and everyone else who voted. This was a long post so thanks for reading until the end!

Monday, April 25, 2011

The 365 Round-up! - Part One

Thanks to everyone who took the time to comment, email or flickr me and let me know their favorite pictures from my 365 project. All of your notes were very kind and I really appreciate all the support. While everyone is on the same page about liking my photos (*blush*), it seemed like everyone had a different opinion on which ones were the best. That meant I had to do most of the narrowing down myself, but when I got stuck or needed a tie-breaker (which was often), I turned to your votes to help me make decide. So that's how I came to my decision.

Now, without further no particular order...the best of Yvonne’s 365:

Street Photography
The majority of my photography is taken on the streets of New York City, and it is always my goal to capture the essence, or a slice of life, of the place where I live and other people who inhabit it with me. I happen to love photo-journalism style the best and whenever I look at the pictures of photographers who do it well, it always looks so easy. But in real life practice, it is really hard because you are essentially waiting for a picture to form in front of you with a nice composition, a great emotion, a sense of movement and lack of clutter. You have little control over the subject and you just have to anticipate things will happen. I don’t particularly have great reflexes (don’t ever attempt to throw a ball at me) and I tend to zone out rather than pay attention to my surroundings so this was a challenge for me. What I discovered over the year is that it just takes a lot of practice, courage, (and a bit of luck) to be in the right moment. Sometimes you get it, sometimes you don’t.

#133 - Carl Schurz Park

Sometimes you take a picture and you immediately know that you got something. That was the case with this photo. I was walking around Carl Schurz Park, taking pictures and not loving anything. But then I saw this couple on the grass and when I snapped this photo, I knew this was my photo of the day. It’s not necessarily a pretty picture, but I like how it tells a story about a summer day in New York City, the need for a little rest, the hot sun shining down on them. It all feels very timeless to me, especially when I processed it in black and white.

#327 - Ash Wednesday

On the other hand, sometimes I come home after a day of picture-taking thinking I have nothing, and I am pleasantly surprised to find I am wrong. Ash Wednesday is a weird day in New York City because you see so many people walking around with ashes on their foreheads. It is always startling (what's that on your face?), and I think it looks somewhat morbid (oh, right, ASHES). I heard that there was a church near my work where the priests stood by the entrance so you could go and get your ashes without sitting through mass, and I thought it would be a good photo opportunity. When I got to the church during my lunch hour, there were lines of people waiting to get their ashes and lines of people coming out. I took this picture of this man leaving the church, with a line of people following him. I was disappointed that most of the pictures I took looked to be kind of sloppy and uninspired (I felt a little nervous photographing a religious ceremony and was trying to be discreet). When I came home, I realized this one might have potential. After I cropped it slightly and changed it to black and white and I was struck by the realization that I had a great shot that captured the mood that day brings. It’s become one of my favorites.

#69 - Yoga in Bryant Park

One of the ways I could improve as a photographer is getting over my shyness. Even though I take a lot of pictures of strangers, I am kind of terrified of it. I often try to take pictures of people without their knowing and have often avoided taking great shots altogether in fear of getting “found out.” It is kind of stupid. (I have only been yelled at by a stranger once in 365 days.) I have gotten better over the year but I still have a lot of work to do. I love this picture, which was 69 in the series, because I was starting to get really annoyed with myself for letting my fear of people sabotage my photos, and I made a conscious decision to try to get over it. I went to this yoga in the park class and took a ton of pictures of people. I saw this girl, who was an assistant instructor or something, and was captivated by her beauty and her yoga skills. I stood by this woman for maybe 10 minutes and took a bunch of photos of her. She must have known that I was doing it, but she never acknowledged me. It boosted my confidence and made me a little less afraid. For that day anyway.

#151 - New York Fashion Week

I really enjoy taking pictures of feet. It brings a neat perspective on life. Back when I took a photo class, I presented a picture of feet to the class and my teacher said, “This is a funny picture but is a good picture?” I think the answer was no, but I don’t care. I still like pictures of feet. I walked around Lincoln Center during New York Fashion Week to see if I can take some pictures of some fabulous people. (That’s one secret of getting over taking pictures of strangers--take pictures of people who want to get their picture taken). I was there in between shows so I didn’t see as much fabulousness as I had hoped. I was just sitting on the stairs, ready to call it a day, when I saw this woman come out of a black car with sleek, bare legs wearing the most terrific shoes. I looked through my camera viewfinder and was pleased to see the other legs framing hers, especially those wearing the running sneakers, for contrast. This picture was inspired by one of my heroes, Bill Cunningham, who happened to do a photo essay about shoes that same week.

#231 - Bird in Jersey City

Remember how I told you that taking a good picture is sometimes about luck? I was having a meeting with one of my copywriting clients in Jersey City, NJ and had a few moments to spare so I took some pictures of the Manhattan skyline right outside their offices. I saw a line of birds on a rail along the water and I wanted to capture them. I have a fixed lens on my camera (no zoom) so I had to walk as close as I could to frame the birds in the shot. With every inch I got closer, one by one, the birds would fly away. Just when I got to the perfect position, there was only one bird left. I took a few shots and then saw it was about to fly away.  I had one chance to get this photo, and I got it. YES!
Stay tuned for the rest of the top 10 and The Ham reader favorite!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Last Call

Last call for nominations for best photo(s) Yvonne took during her photo-a-day project. I'm curious to know what everyone likes!


My parents are in town for the week and, as usual, there's nothing to do. On Saturday, though, I hit on something that would play to their interests (for dad, maps and geography; for mom, hanging out with me in a place that isn't a record store) -- and in fact, it should be essential viewing for all visitors. It's only the second best thing in all of New York!*

Here's what you do: You take the subway out to the farthest stretch of Queens, walk in to the Queens Museum of Art, plunk down $5 (suggested!), check out the Panorama and let your mind be blown.
What is the Panorama, you ask? Oh, just a 9,000 sq ft, three-dimensional, fully scale model of the five boroughs of New York City, complete with 895,000 buildings, not to mention every street, bridge, and park -- all that's missing are the giant piles of garbage on the sidewalks. It is awesome.

The Panorama.

You enter the room viewing "the city" from the west, and as you stare out to distant Queens and Brooklyn, the vastness of the whole thing kinda -- and I'm serious here -- takes your breath away. The detail on the buildings, bridges and landmarks shows a level of workmanship that actually makes you realize how impressive and formidable this whole city actually is. Oh, and there was nobody there! If this were Manhattan, there'd be timed tickets and lines and over-priced food trucks outside and people ruining the entire scene. There are no secrets in this city of 8.2 million people, but the Panorama -- humble, unassuming, hand-crafted and largely unchanged in 47 years -- feels special in a way that other attractions don't.

I used to think that visitors should go to the top of the Empire State Building. Erroneous. It's a $38 elevator ride! Why settle for a view of one borough when you can have all five? And in Queens, after your half-sawbuck entrance fee, you've still got $33 that you can use to buy a steak AND a bottle of wine at the neighborhood Argentine joint filled with locals, the kind of people who built this city. (The real one.)

See it.

* No. 1 best thing in all of New York -- nay, America -- is the Statue of Liberty.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Five. More. Days. To. Go.

My 365 photo project is almost over!

Hard to believe that the year has come and gone so fast. Some days I really loved the project while other days it was a drag, but all in all, I am quite happy to see how I have improved over the year and I love this little photo diary that documents my life. I can remember clearly the moment I took each and every one of these pictures.

I plan to post my top ten pictures of the year, so if you have a favorite, please send me an email or make a comment on Flickr and maybe we'll have a Ham reader pick.

***I also want to congratulate Bryn and Nell for completing the project (well almost!) and to the other 365ers who made it to the end in spirit. I couldn't have/wouldn't have done it without you.***

Friday, April 8, 2011

Sweet Valley Returns

This week, I have regressed to middle school.

Kristen's death has obviously conjuered up old memories of my pre-teen years. I have been trading emails with my old childhood best friend. Yesterday I came home from work and took a nap. (I used to be a big after-school sleeper, but I rarely do that anymore). Is it any wonder that this is the week I read Sweet Valley Confidential?

I spent most of my childhood with a nose in a book. While I would like to say I was attracted to quality literature, say Jane Austin or Jack London, I spent most of my time reading cheesy YA series books such as The Baby-Sitter's Club, Sweet Valley Twins, The Taffy Sinclair Club, Sleepover Friends and my all-time favorite, Sweet Valley High. My mother and I would go to Foodtown every Wednesday, and while she grocery shopped, I went to the Happy Booker and bought myself a book. I was obsessed.  The books in each series came out monthly, and there was a time where I was even on the bookstore phone list so they would call me the day the book came in and I would go in that very day and pick up the latest. Couldn't wait until the following Wednesday.  I would be done with my new purchase in about an hour. But no fear, these were books which were read over and over again. Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield were very important people in my childhood.

The original goodness.

So when Kayleen told me that there was a new Sweet Valley High book coming out, and that some of her friends were having a dedicated book club especially for the occasion, I knew I needed to get onboard stat.  Nowadays, I get all my books for free from the New York Public Library, but this was something special. I went to the bookstore within the first week of the book's release, plunked down $22 for a hardcover and spent the week reuniting myself with my two BBF's, ten years later.

I knew what I was getting myself into and assumed the book would be pretty low-brow, but this was something else. It was one of the worst books I have ever read.  It was horribly written, embarrassingly superficial and almost boring. If Sweet Valley High was based on the 1980's, why is 10 years later sometime in 2011? Why does Jessica say "like" all the time? How did Jessica and Elizabeth turn so stupid and shallow and yet everyone falls madly in love with them the instant they meet them?

Was SVH really so bad back in the day, and I didn't know? I refuse to believe that! I don't want to give up any spoilers. The book club meets next week, but if there are any fans out there who have read the book, we need to talk. This can't wait.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Sad News

I am sad to announce that my childhood friend Kristen took her own life and died this week. For those who knew her, here is her Facebook Memorial Page.

Letter to K

I heard that you died today. I was at work when I heard the news, and I could feel my heart slide all the way from my chest down through my stomach and my legs onto the floor of my cubicle.

I do not know the 33-year-old woman you were yesterday. I do not know how you spent your day, who you thought about, what you wished for. When I think of you, you are 13—forever stuck in my brain in those uncomfortable, awkward teenage years with Juliette and me.

At your house, we used to go down to the basement in our ballet slippers. I remember watching you practice fouette turns. Your shoulders pulled back with an easy grace; your face so pretty in concentration. I hoped talent like yours would come naturally to me but you realized long before I did that it came from work and discipline. Dancing or not, you walked with your toes turned out. You often wished you had a traditional dancer’s body. Even with your curves, you were still the best dancer in the class.

We used to dance upstairs in your bedroom, too. This time we cranked up the punk music loud and tried to keep up with the tempo. We mimicked the moves from the Charlie Brown Christmas Special and crashed to the floor laughing. On the pink walls, the tattooed musicians in the pictures on the walls stared us down. A bundle of old pointe shoes hung at the edge of the bed.

Waiting at the bus stop on McNab Ave. You walked down the hill in your blue and white cheerleading uniform. I wished I had one, too. Arms formed a circle around a trapper keeper. Snapping gum. Small hands with perfectly filed nails. You filled out your homework on the bus in your ugly handwriting. All capital letters scrawled in pencil.

You wore a bracelet and ring attached by a chain. It was called a slave bracelet. With a name like that, it seemed like a very bad thing, especially yours with the skull. Juliette got one, but I never wanted to wear one. You ate open-faced turkey sandwiches at lunch every day, your fingers pressing down on the bare lettuce leaf and sliced tomato, a silver ring for every finger on display.

Car trips to the Jersey shore. Your mom, her sweet sugary voice, behind the wheel. Chirpy in his cage strapped in with a seatbelt in the front seat. You and me in the back. You always sought out the longhaired boys on the boardwalk. They were older. Misfits with cute faces. They never paid attention to us. You expressed disappointment; I secretly relieved. Back in Cedar Knolls, we headed to Alwick Records in the Morris County Mall and talked to the sales clerk. We called him Chris Alwick. What was his real name? He wore long hair, too. One time you were so nervous around him you dashed out of the store clutching a poster you didn’t pay for.

You explained to me the meaning of selling out. Green Day sold out. This was upsetting to you. I didn’t understand. If they were your favorite band, then what did it matter that everyone else liked them too? It mattered to you. We watched MTV in the room with the cushy sofas and brown fold-up tray tables. You used to tape heavy metal rock videos. Juliette and I borrowed the tapes and never gave them back. We didn’t have cable at home.

You would always be the first to point out how beautiful, smart and talented I was, but you never believed it for yourself. You were wrong. I saw you. I knew you. I was sick of arguing.

Where were you in high school? I am not sure. The hair got more colorful, the skin whiter, the eyeliner blacker, the tights holier, the mood darker. You were obsessed with Marilyn Manson. You would drive to the city to see shows and meet up with people I didn’t know. Didn’t you crash your car in Hoboken? That sounded scary, so not cool. Your wild stories bewildered me. Another tattoo? I was working toward straight A’s, discovering the Beatles, acting on stage, pining for a boy to pay attention to me. I didn’t want to sneak around and smoke cigarettes with you and Juliette. Could we have another dance party at your house instead? Just like we used to? I snapped a picture of you and Austin Scarlett going to the prom. You wore dark sunglasses and a black feather boa. I can’t remember anything we did together. Did we do anything together anymore? When did it stop? A blank.

You called me once in college. Freshman year. You got my number from my mom. I was so unhappy. I didn’t want to talk, and let you discover that college sucked. That I sucked. You seemed annoyed that I dropped off the face of the earth. I am sorry. I didn’t know what to say. I said good-bye, and I never heard your voice again.

Many years later, you found me on Facebook, and I was thrilled to see you looking so good, so sexy, so full, like you had grown comfortable in your skin. You had steered your life in an opposite course than me, toward a different coast, becoming a different kind of person. Only now I was glad, delighted even. You seemed to be enjoying yourself, and I finally liked my own life, too. I didn’t poke or write but sometimes I browsed through your photos or I let your status updates comfort me in knowing that you were around, out there, somewhere, okay.

When I came home from work, the tears I had been holding back all day finally burst out.  Thoughts of you, of your life, of my life, swirling in my head. A pure love buried deep inside revealed. I had forgotten about it. It could have been years since I last saw you or just the other day. I wish I had paid attention. I am not sure if it would have mattered. Does childhood disappear just like that? You must have been so sad.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Wrestlemania 27: A Love Story

"Wrestlemania isn't the Super Bowl of wrestling. The Super Bowl is the Wrestlemania of football." -- Dan Kunka

I consider myself a pretty respectable guy. Some might say buttoned-down. But let it not be said that I lack the common touch. My first car was a pickup truck. I will fight anyone who disparages Skynyrd's first album. And I have been known to watch professional wrestling.

My old college roommate and Everyday Hamster Dan Kunka had a freakish love for rasslin' (he used to go to wrestling events by himself), and about the same time that he started getting me hooked, I was asked to write a weekly wrestling roundup for work (during my days writing for radio morning shows -- the jocks in the south especially loved this segment). So, in 1999, on the company dime, I saw my first pay-per-view, Wrestlemania 15. And I'm not gonna lie -- I did not hate it.

There's the spectacle. The audacious Americana (remember, professional wrestling was one of the first televised sports). The nostalgia for a time when Hulk Hogan was a household name (even though I never, ever watched back in the '80s heyday). The late '90s and early '00s was also the era of The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin, two of the most brilliantly conceived characters on television anywhere at that time, and so I was more than happy to tune in for Wrestlemanias 17 and 18. And when Wrestlemania 20 came back to where it all started, Madison Square Garden, I WAS THERE. Not alone. With Kunka and our boy Pete. And you know how teenage girls used to get all overcome with emotion and cry when the Beatles would take the stage? Well, with 50,000 fans chanting the Rock's name at Madison Square Garden, I finally started to understand that.

And so, a few weeks ago, when I learned that The Rock -- after a long hiatus from wrestling -- was coming back to propel a Wrestlemania storyline (and conveniently get exposure for his forthcoming action movie), I started to tune in again.

And when I casually put it out there to the poker people that maybe we should get together for Wrestlemania, and Justin and Kayleen both said they were down (was it the return of The Rock? The prospect of Snooki...wrestling...against the real-life widow of former champ Eddie Guerrero, who won the title at Wrestlemania 20 when I WAS THERE?), well, we just had to throw a little watch party.

So, on Sunday night, this happened:

Me and The People's Champion

And this:

After The Rock electrified the millions (and millions) of The Rock's fans by interfering during the main event, we got Kayleen THIS close to buying an "I Bring It" t-shirt. (The Rock didn't actually wrestle -- he hasn't in years -- but he didn't need to. We all went a little crazy anyway.)

As for the rest of the four-hour extravaganza, well, Triple-H and The Undertaker put on an incredible match that stole the show...Snooki was amazing (really, it's not that much of a stretch to go from Jersey Shore to professional wrestling)... and Stone Cold Steve Austin came down to the ring on a camouflaged ATV (classic Austin!) to referee a match between Jerry "The King" Lawler and heel announcer Michael Cole (completely brilliant).

Oh, and on last night's WWE Raw, they announced the main event for Wrestlemania 28 in Miami: John Cena (the #1 contender to the title, the most popular wrestler in the game, and the guy that The Rock screwed over on Sunday night) vs...THE ROCK!

Miami, here we come!