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Reviewing The Wrestling Album

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You'll pay to watch your favorite wrestlers fake-fight, but will you shell out your hard-earned cash to hear them really sing? The Wrestling Album, a 1985 release by the World Wrestling Federation, sought to answer that question. As part of our ongoing commitment to exhaustively covering ill-conceived novelty records by athletes, let's take a track-by-track look at this classic.

Track 1 "“ "Land of a Thousand Dances ?!!?"

Most albums try to open with a strong track to grab the listener's interest. This is not most albums, just as most song covers don't need incredulous punctuation. This dud opens with a whole slew of wrestlers warbling the rock staple with slightly modified lyrics. The wrestlers start grunting, bleating, and choking out individual lines before giving way to another grappler. Years later, it's hard to identify a lot of individual wrestlers' voices, though some come through loud and clear—particularly Freddie Blassie's and the Iron Sheik's. (It's probably a good thing the Sheik was handy with a camel clutch, because his earning potential as a singer would have been limited.)

The aural pain isn't quick, either; the song drags on for over four minutes and gets worse as it progresses with lyrics like "I wanna pound on your wimpy little body/How could you? You're so dang shoddy." Amazingly, this isn't the worst track on the record.

Can anyone stop this madness? Only Rowdy Roddy Piper, who throws an on-tape hissy fit that introduces one of the album's running conceits: between-track commentary by the WWF announcer team of Vince McMahon, "Mean Gene" Okerlund, and Jesse "The Body" Ventura. Ventura remains in his snotty heel character throughout the record and turns in a truly egregious bit of vocal overacting that's worth the price of the album.

Track 2 "“ "Grab Them Cakes" by Junkyard Dog

14.jpgThe late Junkyard Dog was a man of many talents. He could wear a chain and dog collar and make it look good. He could bodyslam much larger opponents. And he could apparently record a decent song. "Grab Them Cakes," which sees JYD get backing from disco queen Vicki Sue Robinson, is a surprisingly serviceable mid-"˜80's dance track. More impressively, JYD decided to take on a socially important issue in his song: butt-grabbing. (He's strongly in favor of it, it seems.) The Dog is ostensibly providing dancing instructions in the song, but all you have to do is "dig the groove" and "go for your partner's you-know-what." Plus, there's a lot of gratuitous barking, which really helps it stand out from the other dance tracks of its day.

"Grab Them Cakes" was released as a single, and it was successful enough to earn Junkyard Dog a spot on American Bandstand, an opportunity no other wrestler ever received.

Track 3 "“ "Real American" by Rick Derringer

Thanks to this song, no one who spent their formative years watching classic WWF television will ever forget how important it is to "fight for what's right. Fight for your life." Derringer's repetitive guitar rock track later earned a place in wrestling fans' memories when it became Hulk Hogan's entrance music. Even now, it's sort of hard to hear it without cupping a hand to your ear.

Interestingly, though, the song wasn't originally intended for Hogan. As Vince McMahon's between-track commentary reveals, "Real American" was supposed to be the theme music for U.S. Express, a champion tag team of Barry Windham and Mike Rotunda. The Hulkster didn't get start using the song until after the tag team broke up in 1986. Still, though, to the modern ear, this sounds like a deliciously nostalgic big boot to the face.

It's worth listening for the backing vocals of one Mona Flambe. "Flambe" was the pseudonym Cyndi Lauper used to record on this track, a ruse that might have worked marginally better if she didn't have such a distinctive voice and clear ties to the WWF.

Track 4 "“ "Eat Your Heart Out Rick Springfield" by Jimmy Hart

5.jpgHart, the "Mouth of the South" and pesky manager to wrestlers like the Honky Tonk Man, could really sing, and not just in a "He's not so bad on a WWF record" sense, either. Before Hart ever got into wrestling, he was a vocalist in the Gentrys, a rock band that charted a #4 Billboard hit with its million-selling "Keep on Dancing" in 1965.


Armed with this vocal pedigree and his brand of high-strung humor that endeared him to so many wrestling fans, Hart lays down a diss track on, you guessed it, Rick Springfield. Hart's beef with Springfield isn't totally clear, but it seems to stem from Springfield's stated fondness for girlfriend-stealing.

The track starts out strong with Hart voicing both sides of a conversation between himself and his girlfriend's mother before turning into a competent piece of guitar rock that bears more than a passing resemblance to Springfield's "Jessie's Girl." Although the chorus is more stilted than catchy, Hart acquits himself pretty well here, and it's definitely one of the better tracks on the record.

Track 5 "“ "Captain Lou's History of Music/Captain Lou" by Captain Lou Albano

1.jpgA few paragraphs ago I promised that "Land of a Thousand Dances?!!?" wasn't the worst track on this album. It's truly terrible, but it takes this bomb less than a minute to usurp the throne of awfulness.


The song begins with a lengthy conversation between George "The Animal" Steele and Albano on the history of music before segueing into "Captain Lou," which is apparently a modified cover of an NRBQ song. There's really no good way to describe this track; it's like a tone-deaf Cookie Monster got drunk, took a bunch of stimulants, then waddled into a karaoke bar to scream "Captain Lou, Captain Lou, Captain Lou!" while George Steele moaned in the background. I suppose there's an outside possibility that this isn't the worst piece of music ever recorded, but I'd be willing to bet one of my paired organs that it is.

We'll put an audio clip up here, but I wouldn't recommend listening to it. There's an off chance it could get stuck in your head and drive you to madness.

Track 6 "“ "Hulk Hogan's Theme" by the WWF All Stars

There's not much to say about Hulk Hogan's pre-"Real American" theme song, a nondescript arena rock instrumental that's heavy on keys, wailing guitars, and explosions. It sounds pretty much like any other babyface wrestler's theme song. In this case, though, it's notable for its length: four minutes. Really, the track gets its point across in the first two minutes, and by about the four-minute mark, even the most die-hard Hulkamaniac is probably wishing they hadn't torn off their shirt so early in the song. As a reward for making it through the whole thing, the listener gets to hear Jesse Ventura vomiting in disgust during the commentary track. Now that's showmanship!

Track 7 "“ "For Everybody" by Rowdy Roddy Piper

10.jpgThis one's sort of hard to wrap your head around, but bear with me. In the song, Piper is a Canadian guy playing a Scottish guy trying to sing like a backwoods American singer who's had one too many jars of whiskey. Piper, the WWF's most hated heel at the time, apparently recorded this track as a way of showing his utter contempt for the rest of humanity. Since the promotion catered to children, though, he couldn't sing his real message of "F--- Everybody," so it was neutered to "For Everybody." Not only does this little clean-up job really neuter the viciousness of Piper's message, it makes the sax-heavy song downright confusing. What is for everybody? It's not really clear. What we do know is that Piper still wants us to "kiss [his] trash."

Track 8 "“ "Tutti Frutti" by "Mean" Gene Okerlund

mean-gene.jpgIf this song doesn't make you laugh, you might be legally dead. After all, who better to cover Little Richard than a small, bald, mustachioed wrestling announcer? Okerlund's actually not a bad singer, and he enthusiastically throws himself into the song. The final product is pleasantly surprising, like finding out the creepy old guy who hangs out at the karaoke bar can actually belt one out. The underlying concept of Mean Gene covering Little Richard, though, is too hilarious to overcome, so instead of sounding like a musical triumph, it's the record's comedic high point.

Track 9 "“ "Don't Go Messin' With a Country Boy" by Hillbilly Jim

Thought this was just a rock record? Think again. Hillbilly Jim turns in this track, and while he can't really sing, it's impressive to see just how many country stereotypes the producers crammed into less than three minutes. Fiddles? Check. Down-home backup singers? Got "˜em. Banjo? Yep. Copious use of the Jew's harp? Oh, God, yes. References to moonshine? Abundant. Hillbilly Jim warns listeners of the terrible fate that will befall anyone who might have the audacity to mess with a country boy: "You'd be biting off a hunk too big to chew." Really? That's it? Give it points for being understated, but that doesn't really provide much of a deterrent to messing with a country boy.

Track 10 - "Cara Mia" by Nikolai Volkoff

volkov.jpgThe great thing about wrestling is that no matter how absurd it gets, it can always top itself. The rest of the album might have been bizarre, but the final track kicks things into surreal territory. Volkoff, the WWF's premier "Soviet" heel at the time, recording a dance cover of "Cara Mia" sounds odd, but his earnest voice nearly saves it from being pure camp.


At just under the two-minute mark, though, Volkoff "goes berserk," stops singing, and starts screaming about how he'll show you music with class: Russian music. He then starts an exuberant rendition of the Russian national anthem, much to the disgust of McMahon and Okerlund.

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entertainment
5 Things We Know About Stranger Things Season 2
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Netflix

Stranger Things seemed to come out of nowhere to become one of television's standout new series in 2016. Netflix's sometimes scary, sometimes funny, and always exciting homage to '80s pop culture was a binge-worthy phenomenon when it debuted in July 2016. Of course, the streaming giant wasn't going to wait long to bring more Stranger Things to audiences, and a second season was announced a little over a month after its debut—and Netflix just announced that we'll be getting it a few days earlier than expected. Here are five key things we know about the show's sophomore season, which kicks off on October 27.

1. WE'LL BE GETTING EVEN MORE EPISODES.

The first season of Stranger Things consisted of eight hour-long episodes, which proved to be a solid length for the story Matt and Ross Duffer wanted to tell. While season two won't increase in length dramatically, we will be getting at least one extra hour when the show returns in 2017 with nine episodes. Not much is known about any of these episodes, but we do know the titles:

"Madmax"
"The Boy Who Came Back To Life"
"The Pumpkin Patch"
"The Palace"
"The Storm"
"The Pollywog"
"The Secret Cabin"
"The Brain"
"The Lost Brother"

There's a lot of speculation about what each title means and, as usual with Stranger Things, there's probably a reason for each one.

2. THE KIDS ARE RETURNING (INCLUDING ELEVEN).

Stranger Things fans should gear up for plenty of new developments in season two, but that doesn't mean your favorite characters aren't returning. A November 4 photo sent out by the show's Twitter account revealed most of the kids from the first season will be back in 2017, including the enigmatic Eleven, played by Millie Bobby Brown (the #elevenisback hashtag used by series regular Finn Wolfhard should really drive the point home):

3. THE SHOW'S 1984 SETTING WILL LEAD TO A DARKER TONE.

A year will have passed between the first and second seasons of the show, allowing the Duffer brothers to catch up with a familiar cast of characters that has matured since we last saw them. With the story taking place in 1984, the brothers are looking at the pop culture zeitgeist at the time for inspiration—most notably the darker tone of blockbusters like Gremlins and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

"I actually really love Temple of Doom, I love that it gets a little darker and weirder from Raiders, I like that it feels very different than Raiders did," Matt Duffer told IGN. "Even though it was probably slammed at the time—obviously now people look back on it fondly, but it messed up a lot of kids, and I love that about that film—that it really traumatized some children. Not saying that we want to traumatize children, just that we want to get a little darker and weirder."

4. IT'S NOT SO MUCH A CONTINUATION AS IT IS A SEQUEL.

When you watch something like The Americans season two, it's almost impossible to catch on unless you've seen the previous episodes. Stranger Things season two will differ from the modern TV approach by being more of a sequel than a continuation of the first year. That means a more self-contained plot that doesn't leave viewers hanging at the end of nine episodes.

"There are lingering questions, but the idea with Season 2 is there's a new tension and the goal is can the characters resolve that tension by the end," Ross Duffer told IGN. "So it's going to be its own sort of complete little movie, very much in the way that Season 1 is."

Don't worry about the two seasons of Stranger Things being too similar or too different from the original, though, because when speaking with Entertainment Weekly about the influences on the show, Matt Duffer said, "I guess a lot of this is James Cameron. But he’s brilliant. And I think one of the reasons his sequels are as successful as they are is he makes them feel very different without losing what we loved about the original. So I think we kinda looked to him and what he does and tried to capture a little bit of the magic of his work.”

5. THE PREMIERE WILL TRAVEL OUTSIDE OF HAWKINS.

Everything about the new Stranger Things episodes will be kept secret until they finally debut later this year, but we do know one thing about the premiere: It won't take place entirely in the familiar town of Hawkins, Indiana. “We will venture a little bit outside of Hawkins,” Matt Duffer told Entertainment Weekly. “I will say the opening scene [of the premiere] does not take place in Hawkins.”

So, should we take "a little bit outside" as literally as it sounds? You certainly can, but in that same interview, the brothers also said they're both eager to explore the Upside Down, the alternate dimension from the first season. Whether the season kicks off just a few miles away, or a few worlds away, you'll get your answer when Stranger Things's second season debuts next month.

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Food
The Gooey History of the Fluffernutter Sandwich

Open any pantry in New England and chances are you’ll find at least one jar of Marshmallow Fluff. Not just any old marshmallow crème, but Fluff; the one manufactured by Durkee-Mower of Lynn, Massachusetts since 1920, and the preferred brand of the northeast. With its familiar red lid and classic blue label, it's long been a favorite guilty pleasure and a kitchen staple beloved throughout the region.

This gooey, spreadable, marshmallow-infused confection is used in countless recipes and found in a variety of baked goods—from whoopie pies and Rice Krispies Treats to chocolate fudge and beyond. And in the beyond lies perhaps the most treasured concoction of all: the Fluffernutter sandwich—a classic New England treat made with white bread, peanut butter, and, you guessed it, Fluff. No jelly required. Or wanted.

There are several claims to the origin of the sandwich. The first begins with Revolutionary War hero Paul Revere—or, not Paul exactly, but his great-great-great-grandchildren Emma and Amory Curtis of Melrose, Massachusetts. Both siblings were highly intelligent and forward-thinkers, and Amory was even accepted into MIT. But when the family couldn’t afford to send him, he founded a Boston-based company in the 1890s that specialized in soda fountain equipment.

He sold the business in 1901 and used the proceeds to buy the entire east side of Crystal Street in Melrose. Soon after he built a house and, in his basement, he created a marshmallow spread known as Snowflake Marshmallow Crème (later called SMAC), which actually predated Fluff. By the early 1910s, the Curtis Marshmallow Factory was established and Snowflake became the first commercially successful shelf-stable marshmallow crème.

Although other companies were manufacturing similar products, it was Emma who set the Curtis brand apart from the rest. She had a knack for marketing and thought up many different ways to popularize their marshmallow crème, including the creation of one-of-a-kind recipes, like sandwiches that featured nuts and marshmallow crème. She shared her culinary gems in a weekly newspaper column and radio show. By 1915, Snowflake was selling nationwide.

During World War I, when Americans were urged to sacrifice meat one day a week, Emma published a recipe for a peanut butter and marshmallow crème sandwich. She named her creation the "Liberty Sandwich," as a person could still obtain his or her daily nutrients while simultaneously supporting the wartime cause. Some have pointed to Emma’s 1918 published recipe as the earliest known example of a Fluffernutter, but the earliest recipe mental_floss can find comes from three years prior. In 1915, the confectioners trade journal Candy and Ice Cream published a list of lunch offerings that candy shops could advertise beyond hot soup. One of them was the "Mallonut Sandwich," which involved peanut butter and "marshmallow whip or mallo topping," spread on lightly toasted whole wheat bread.

Another origin story comes from Somerville, Massachusetts, home to entrepreneur Archibald Query. Query began making his own version of marshmallow crème and selling it door-to-door in 1917. Due to sugar shortages during World War I, his business began to fail. Query quickly sold the rights to his recipe to candy makers H. Allen Durkee and Fred Mower in 1920. The cost? A modest $500 for what would go on to become the Marshmallow Fluff empire.

Although the business partners promoted the sandwich treat early in the company’s history, the delicious snack wasn’t officially called the Fluffernutter until the 1960s, when Durkee-Mower hired a PR firm to help them market the sandwich, which resulted in a particularly catchy jingle explaining the recipe.

So who owns the bragging rights? While some anonymous candy shop owner was likely the first to actually put the two together, Emma Curtis created the early precursors and brought the concept to a national audience, and Durkee-Mower added the now-ubiquitous crème and catchy name. And the Fluffernutter has never lost its popularity.

In 2006, the Massachusetts state legislature spent a full week deliberating over whether or not the Fluffernutter should be named the official state sandwich. On one side, some argued that marshmallow crème and peanut butter added to the epidemic of childhood obesity. The history-bound fanatics that stood against them contended that the Fluffernutter was a proud culinary legacy. One state representative even proclaimed, "I’m going to fight to the death for Fluff." True dedication, but the bill has been stalled for more than a decade despite several revivals and subsequent petitions from loyal fans.

But Fluff lovers needn’t despair. There’s a National Fluffernutter Day (October 8) for hardcore fans, and the town of Somerville, Massachusetts still celebrates its Fluff pride with an annual What the Fluff? festival.

"Everyone feels like Fluff is part of their childhood," said self-proclaimed Fluff expert and the festival's executive director, Mimi Graney, in an interview with Boston Magazine. "Whether born in the 1940s or '50s, or '60s, or later—everyone feels nostalgic for Fluff. I think New Englanders in general have a particular fondness for it."

Today, the Fluffernutter sandwich is as much of a part of New England cuisine as baked beans or blueberry pie. While some people live and die by the traditional combination, the sandwich now comes in all shapes and sizes, with the addition of salty and savory toppings as a favorite twist. Wheat bread is as popular as white, and many like to grill their sandwiches for a touch of bistro flair. But don't ask a New Englander to swap out their favorite brand of marshmallow crème. That’s just asking too Fluffing much.

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