THE APOCALYPTIC VERSES OF MOTÍRHEAD
World in prison screams in pain,
There are no leaders you can blame,
Human greed destroys your sphere,
And there's no room for you out here,
You're on your own now.
March 7, 2016: RASSLEMAN SPOTLIGHT on Chris Jericho
(aka Chris Irvine, aka Lion Heart, aka Moongoose McQueen, etc.)
Chris Jericho became a superstar or professional wrestling in the early 1990s, traveling across the globe and impressing audiences with his high flying maneuvers in Canada, the United States, Japan, and everywhere else wrestling is popular. He was originally known as one half of the Thrillseekers with partner Lance Storm, and later gained fame as a solo wrestler in Philadelphia-based Extreme Championship Wrestling before performing for both WCW and the WWF during the famed "Monday Night Wars," where he rode a wave of popularity to becoming the WWF's first ever Unidisputed World Champion.
pretty sure holmes was like 44 in this picture, you guys.
All that being said, FUCK THIS GUY, I HATE HIM. I hate his face, I hate his weird-ass gritty reboot of Ed Grimley hair, I hate the way he's always "on," acting like a fake wrestling character even in non-wrestling interviews, because that's just how he naturally talks. I hate how he insists on wearing tiny wrestling panties even after his body apparently started to melt, I hate his random scattering of "cool dad" tattoos, and I hate the way The Walls of Jericho eventually just turned into a regular boring-ass Boston Crab. I hate the way he shows up on every VH1 "I Love the ___s" show, even for decades he wasn't alive in probably, and I hate the way his stupid band might actually be okay if he wasn't the guy singing. When Chris Jericho appears on my television, all the joy is sucked out of my life, and some small part of my soul dies. You're not cool, Chris Jericho; you haven't been cool since like 2003, and you shoulda stayed buried there.
(He was actually super awesome back in the 90s though.)
SELECTIONS FOR YOUSE GUYS:
1994: Smokey Mountain Wrestling - The Thrillseekers (Chris Jericho and Lance Storm) vs. The Heavenly Bodies (Dr. Tom Pritchard and Gigolo Jimmy Del Ray) - A dude sent me this on a tape in probably 2002 or so, and this was the first pre-WCW Chris Jericho match I ever saw. (Technically, I had "seen" him in the ECW years, but only as a clip on a commercial for a VHS tape they were selling, so that doesn't count. And yes, it totally was the pretty much inescapable one that involved dancing atop the ECW Arena in and unedited and uncensored fashion.) This is some classic shit right here, where the Thrillseekers come out in a race car to a song by Danger Danger, and Jericho has a broken arm that he sustained while SEEKING THRILLS on a motorcycle, and the girls love them, because they're Canadian, and the South has this weird thing where they hate everyone that's not like them, but a non-local accent on a white man is considered the sexiest thing ever. Like I literally knew a dude in high school who moved away for a couple years, then came back with a fully-affected fake California Surfer Dude accent, because he knew what effect it would have on his life. It took all my inner strength to not stand up in study hall and yell that he was the same Sling Blade-sounding idiot that I had to literally physically remove from my house three years earlier when he was trying to dunk my cat in the toilet and steal my brother's Playboys, after he had mentioned that he was bummed because his dad wouldn't let him join the Ku Klux Klan. True story. But oh yeah, wrestling. This is your basic old school southern tag match, where two big dudes with guts beat up on the young, pretty dudes while the crowd screams and Jericho loses roughly six gallons of blood, but THERE'S NO QUIT IN HIM, BY GOD, and Jim Ross is announcing, and Mark Curtis is the referee, and holy shit SMW was amazing, and I'm super sad now that the local America One Network affiliate never picked it up.
1998: WCW - Chris Jericho vs. Marty Jannetty - This is one of those examples you can point to if you're trying to explain to someone from the future why World Championship Wrestling no longer exists. Dude comes out to his dollar store Pearl Jam entrance music and spits hot fire on Dean Malenko while the announcers talk over him about what Hollywood Hulk Hogan and Kevin Nash are up to; wondering where they are, who they are with, what are they thinking? Are they thinking of me? Then, Jericho has a quick match with Marty Janetty, who is best known as the world's most forgotten best wrestler ever, and it would have been amazing if they made a whole thing out of it, but it's just a couple quick minutes, because it's 1998 WCW, and no one under 250 pounds truly matters after the first hour of Nitro is over. This is followed by Jericho busting out his printed list of 1,004 holds, (to top Malenko being "The Man of 1,000 Holds" you see) and it's one of the most famous, beloved rasslin' promos of all time that people will remember forever, but it still remains the Hogan and Friends Show, and Jericho was out of the company like a year later.
1999: Chris Jericho's WWF Debut - ...And this right here is what WCW was missing out on by keeping Jericho as an upper-lower-middle card guy. Dude shows up, and the crowd explodes to Austin-like proportions, and Jericho immediately talks his way into being a main event level dude in the company whose business wasn't imploding. Of course, he gets immediately unmade by a furious onslaught of The Rock's catch phrases, in a horrifying preview of what the insufferable 2015 version of the Rock would be like, but this was 1999, and Jericho was still awesome, and the Rock was still awesome, and wrestling was good, and we were all young and still had futures, and oh god, this was 17 years ago, and this clip is almost old enough to smoke and vote now.
2016: WWE - Chris Jericho interrupts The New Day - Aaaaaand, BULLSHIT like this is why hearing Chris Jericho's music makes my bowels want to expunge their contents, reducing my weight so that I might make a hastier escape from the room that the WWE Network is playing on. He tries to recapture the magic of that '99 debut, even dropping some of the same lines, but the hot fire that was once spat at the expense of Dean Malenko and the Rock has degenerated into just making the crowd chant "Rooty Tooty Booty" at the New Day, who are pretty much the 2016 version of 1999 Chris Jericho, and are literally the only consistently good (or even watchable) part of WWE weekly programming. And it's just sad and gross and depressing, because Jericho really does believe he's The Coolest Teen, and the WWE's entire marketing strategy in 2016 is "young dudes with futures as second-banana to middle-aged men," and you see how the crowd eats it up, and you realize that Big E will never be world champion because racism is out of control, and wrestling is the worst sometimes, the fucking WORST.
(he really was cool in the 90s, though)
March 13, 2016: YOUR Iron Maiden Book Report of Souls 2016
Here we are once again in the couple-weeks-ago aftermath of having the United States' collective face rocked nearly to the point of severance by Iron Maiden. If you don't know who that is, you should educate yourselves as soon as Big Science invents an interconnected network of computers that will let you search for stuff. If you know, but don't care, kill yourselves. Luckily for me, one of the only nine places here - seriously, they only hit nine cities, what the hell - was Tulsa, Oklahoma,which was only a few hours away, so we were on that shit like a cervical vertebra. For the historically-minded among you, this was me and Sarah's second Maiden-based encounter, and you can check out the literally occasionally death-defying tale of Maiden England 2012 Road Report right around here.(And for the record, the second part from the day before the show is the best part, so if you only look at one of those blog posts, that's probably the one) Fortunately for us, Tulsa is closer than San Antonio, so this ended up just being a one-day trip, and the wheelman this time was my older brother, who was only hopped up on energy drinks, as opposed to beer and muscle relaxers or whatever like the San Antonio trip, so the journey was a lot more uneventful. We drove to Norman, we ate cheeseburgers, we got in his car, we went to Tulsa, we saw Iron Maiden, we ate pancakes, we went home. Aside from an hour or so in like at the BOK Center trying to not pee on ourselves, not much to report. (We didn't pee on ourselves) So on to the show~!
The opening act this time around was The Raven Age, who no one seems to know anything about aside from the main guitar guy being Steve Harris's son, which explains how they got the gig. And attempts to find out what these dudes' deal was prior to the show were... discouraging. Based on the four songs of theirs that Spotify has, they basically sounded like a slightly more modern-ish version of Staind, and I said mean things about them on Twitter, and it was just an ugly scene for all involved. So anyway, the show started with those guys, and I don't know if it was the added loudness and lack of slick studio production, the fact that they were dipping into a pool of songs that were significantly deeper than the one four-song EP, or something else entirely, but they were... Good? I dunno, I enjoyed them. Funny part is that it was kind of hard to gauge the audience's reaction at first, because an Iron Maiden crowd is a pretty low energy one, at least by the standards of what you'd think a metal crowd would be. These aren't the teenage doofuses from a Five Finger Death Punch crowd, running toward a mosh pit with fists and elbows a-swingin', because that's what they heard you're supposed to do on TV. No, these are those kids' dads. They took off a few hours early from work, changed out of the managerial slacks and polo shirt into the tattered rags of their World Slavery Tour 1985 t-shirt; they got their ticket from their wife for their 45th birthday, they're tired, they're old, they're bald, and they just want to rock out and smoke the dope and listen to the metals in peace. So faced with a band that they didn't know the words to even if they liked what they were hearing, there was a lot of folks standing still in utter silence while the band played, followed by an almost shocking amount of "WHOOOOOO FUUUUCK YEEEEEAAAH"s once the song would end. So The Raven Age did good, even if it probably wasn't apparent to them at first. Also, the bass player looks like a shorter, chubbier version of the WWE's Sheamus, while the singer looked like a skinny, less gingery version of the modern mohawked version of the WWE's Sheamus. If they had merged into one and Brogue Kicked somebody, I'd have lost my damn mind, but alas, it was not to be.
It's never too late, though.
Okay, that happened, so now we're on to the main event. Before we get started here, I need to point out that the big difference between the 2016 show and our oft-mentioned first Maiden experience in 2012 is that this is a normal tour behind a recent album release - The Book of Souls - as opposed to the greatest hits/recreation of the 1988 tour thing that the Maiden England Tour was. So about half of this show was new songs off the new album, and this internet thing right here is probably going to be just as much (or maybe more so) a review of the new record as it is a review of the show itself. Anyway, go listen to "Doctor Doctor" by UFO real quick, aaaaand here we go:
1. If Eternity Should Fail -This is a perfectly fine song from the new one, and it's a really good opener for the album, with the cool intro and the way it sets the tone and the general theme of the next 90 minutes of your life. As a concert opener, though? Eh, I dunno. A concert opening song should either be the biggest hit that's not going to be the last song that the crowd can sing along to and get exited for the opening notes, the new single everybody's been hearing on the radio and/or internet, or just something fast-paced and relatively short, like Metallica opening shows with "Creeping Death" or Motorhead going with "Bomber" or "Doctor Rock" all those times. You want to get the crowd pumped the hell up, and I don't know if a mid-paced eight-and-a-half minute song is the one to do it. That opening part, though, with the dry ice cauldron and whatnot, was probably the best thing they could have gone with. So I guess when I said "eh, I dunno" a minute ago, I truly meant that I didn't know, or something. Also, I need to point out here that Bruce Dickinson started out the show wearing a dang hooded sweatshirt that he kept on for seemingly half the night, and he should have died from doing that. Like it was warmish in there to begin with, even before you added 11,000 little furnaces burning at 98.6 degrees, and he was right there, under those hot-ass lights and right next to an assortment of flames and explosions all night. While running around like a goddamn maniac, too. Bruce Dickinson is like 60 years old, and was fighting throat cancer like a minute ago, and he's in better shape than I have ever been in or will ever be. Jesus.
2. Speed of Light - Now, this is what I was alluding to as the prototypical concert-opener. It's The Book of Souls's introductory single with the sweet-ass music video, and it's pretty much the heaviest, most shit-kickingest song on the damn thing, and even though it's not 30 years old like most of the Best of the Beast type material, people were flippin' puuuuuumped (trying to not cuss so much on here, you guys) from the first moment that enough seconds of the song had played for it to be identifiable. (like two seconds) And with its status as the only Book of Souls song that wouldn't seem odd and out of place if you snuck it onto a copy of Powerslave, as well as one of only a handful that doesn't insist on pushing the ten minute mark, it's probably the best thing on there. My only problem was that when he gets to the part where he's all "SHOOTING PLASMA FROM MY GRAAVE," they couldn't figure out a way to rig up a big, green fireball to go up in time for this tour. Maybe next time; we have the technology, I'm sure of it.
3. Children of the Damned - This right here is the song that exposed me as a False Metal poser of the lowest sort, who gravitates more toward the singles than the deep cuts. This was the first song they played that came from the 1980s, so the crowd of old-ass professionals were psyched beyond belief, and meanwhile, I was coming to the horrifying realization that as a side effect of skipping around between "Number of the Beast," "Run to the Hills," "The Prisoner," and "Hallowed Be Thy Name," I didn't know the words to this at all. So while eleven thousand other folks were screaming out the lyrics to their heart's delight, I employed my go-to of "you don't know the words; just headbang awkwardly until you get to the chorus, but not too hard, because your neck is precious, and even if you're 5-10 years younger than most here, you're still kinda old now." It was a dark time in my life, to be sure, but I'll make it somehow, one day at a time.
4. Tears of a Clown - Yeah, this is another perfectly fine song, as well as the only track on the new one that does what it needs to do and gets out in less than five minutes, but I'm not real sure about it as a song for a live setting. "Woo, let's have a rock and roll god dang party tonight, you guys, here's a song about Robin Williams killing himself! Yeeeeah, WOOOOO!" I mean, bummer songs are probably way more the norm for heavy metal in any form than uplifting ones, but at least by the end of "Hallowed Be Thy Name," you're totally rocking out, you know? That one cool "Carry On My Wayward Son" sounding riff isn't going to get you hyped enough to forget how you've spent the last several minutes being reminded of how much of a feeling you caught when Teddy Roosevelt said bye to Ben Stiller at the end of the last Night at the Museum movie. Works just fine in an album setting, but it's kind of a drag live, which kinda became a recurring theme with the new stuff.
5. The Red and the Black - Another new one, and I'm glad no one reads anything I write on the internet, because this one would probably get me in trouble with certain segments of the Iron Maiden fan community. Because in all my internet travels of looking for speculation on what the set list for this show might be, this was the one song everyone was dying to hear. This was the album's centerpiece, the one masterful track that they would've all sold their children into slavery to hear in a live setting, and well... I... Don't really like this song. At all. Like it's just not that good. It's thirteen goddamn minutes long when they could have gotten everything they needed to out of this song in at least five fewer minutes. There are two problems that Iron Maiden's stuff can have sometimes, and this has them both. First, it's a false epic; it's long for the sake of being long. It's not like "The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner" or that 13 minute Mastodon song off Crack the Skye that was the best thing they ever did, where you're being taken on a fantastical journey of prog rock. It's just a 7 minute song that hits the guitar solo and stays there for another full song's worth of time. It's fucking exhausting and unnecessary. There, I said it. I guess it's an improvement over how a lot of 2006's A Matter of Life and Death got ruined by trying to extend song length by just repeating the chorus for minutes at a time, but it's still a drag. And even if it had been honest about how much of your time it needed to eat up, it's just too, I dunno, dense. The main verse parts sound less like someone was trying to set some lyrics to some music than they sound like someone trying to deliver a whole shitload of information, and somehow, they're gonna cram that shit into however many lines are available, no matter the cost. The result is some auction-calling-ass verses that are awkward and unrewarding. Sometimes, when you're more interested in telling a story than singing a song, you get a "Hallowed Be Thy Name" type masterpiece out of the deal, but you usually end up with a trash-assed "Alexander the Great" instead. All this being said, the "WHOA-OH, OH WHOA-OH" stuff that goes on in the chorus works like a motherfucker for singalong-minded concert attendees, and maybe that's why everyone wanted this in the set list, I guess? But yeah, somewhere inside all of this, there are *parts* of a good song, but just too damn many of them. Anyway, I'd like to take this time to point out that the new album's closing track, "Empire of the Clouds," probably isn't the all-time Maiden masterpiece that the internet says it is, but it's still well and good enough, even if it is a lot more of a "background noise for doing the dishes" song than a fully engrossing listen. But I am so glad that they didn't feel like loading up a piano for every show, because a low-tempo, eighteen minute song would've just been too much for me to stand.
6. The Trooper - OHH GOD DAMN. How do you follow up a meandering thirteen minute song that absolutely does not work in a live setting once the "whoa oh" parts are over? THIS. Forever this. "Speed of Light" is the rockingest shit-kicker of a song on the new album, but "The Trooper" takes that title all-time. And Bruce Dickinson is running around in a British redcoat uniform that even a crowd presumably containing a bunch of "Guns, God, and 'Merica" Oklahomans can get behind, because FUCKIN MAIDEN, YEEEAAHHH. LET'S TEAR THIS MOTHERFUCKER DOWN AND PUT THE QUEEN BACK IN CHARGE.
7. Powerslave - SLAAAAAAVE TO THE POWEEERRRR OF DEEEEEAAAAAATH
8. Death or Glory - One of the best songs from the new album, and another one that's less than six minutes. Funny how that works. Something sounds slightly off about it to me, though, like they could have lifted this one from a B-plus to an A if they had just ever-so-slightly sped it up. Nothing drastic; I'm not talking like playing a 33rpm record at 45 or anything, just maybe like 35 or so? Either way, this song rules, and if they weren't going to play "Aces High" this time around, this works just fine in the role of cool song about people killing each other in triplanes. Also, "climb like a monkey out of hell where I belong" is one of the weirdest lines from an otherwise deadly-serious song I've ever heard. It is absolutely bonkers, and I care for it a great deal, even if I'm gonna have nightmares about hell monkeys now. Also, my new 50s horror-themed pop punk band, The Hell Monkeys, has a new 7-inch coming out on Nitro Records soon, check it out.
9. The Book of Souls - Before this song, Bruce gives a big speech basically thanking everybody for being pretty down with the newer songs and talking about how they love playing the old classic stuff for the people, but they try to stay alive as musicians and do new stuff too, and it was great and he was right, and Iron Maiden still doing their thing is fuckin' beautiful. I mean, in all honesty, the new stuff isn't as good as the old stuff, but it never is. But they're doing it; they're still doing their thing, and it is their thing. They're not just plastering on a fake smile and plowing through a kind of music they seemingly despise like Metallica, and they're not The Main Guy and some faceless studio musicians just going through the motions, like Slayer or Megadeth. It's mostly the same guys, (and the "new guy," Janick Gers, is himself a New Wave of British Heavy Metal original) doing the same kind of things that brought them this far, and they're actually trying, and they seem to be having a good time doing it. And it's sad, but that's rare now with the older big-time legendary bands. Metallica no longer gives a shit, Judas Priest is down to just one half of the Downing/Tipton guitar super-team, Black Sabbath is calling it quits, and Jeff Hanneman, Ronnie James Dio, and Lemmy Kilmister are all dead now. There are none of the original members left in Sepultura, Suicidal Tendencies turned into some sort of lame pop-punk band, Dave Mustaine spent an album trying to capture the magic of "Life is a Highway" in metal form, and Black Flag came back, but in the form of Greg Ginn jacking off a theremin and getting mad that people want to hear actual Black Flag songs. Iron Maiden still doing the same kind of music with mostly the same guys and still on the same arena-sized, platinum-selling scale is beautiful and perfect, and we need groups like them to stick around as long as possible, for the good of the land.
That being said, "The Books of Souls" is kind of a dull song that's another one over ten minutes, and I didn't care for it much at all. I spent the duration of this one thinking back to peeking at the set list ahead of time and remembering that there were six songs off the new one tonight, and doing the mental math to determine that this was the sixth one, and I got really bummed out that they weren't going to be playing "When the River Runs Deep," which is cool and good, two things this song was not. But it was all good, though, almost like they knew this one was a clunker, because the show got buck-ass wild during this one, where the guy in the giant stilt-walking Eddie costume comes out, and he flips everyone off and threatens the band with a hatchet, until Bruce runs up and pulls his heart out, and throws it to the crowd. HE THREW HIS HEART INTO THE AUDIENCE. SOMEONE GOT TO TAKE EDDIE THE HEAD'S PRESUMABLY BATTERY-POWERED BEATING HEART HOME WITH THEM.YOU GUYS. YOU GUUYYYS. IT'S PROBABLY ON A SHELF RIGHT NOW, NEXT TO PICTURES OF THEIR DOGS AND FAMILY MEMBERS. YOOOUUU GUUUUUYYYYYSSSSSS.
10-15. Hallowed Be Thy Name, Fear of the Dark, Iron Maiden, The Number of the Beast, Blood Brothers, and Wasted Years - From here on out, it's all "greatest hits" type material, so in the name of brevity, (and in the name of another five YouTube embedded videos making this page take a year to load) I'm going to dispense with any sort of song-by-song breakdown, and just tell you that all these were awesome, and even "Blood Brothers" as sort of a curve ball in with the 80s stuff worked. A giant, exploding Eddie head popped out at the end of "Iron Maiden," and "Number of the Beast" was joined by a giant inflatable anthropomorphic goat with his arms folded, signifying that he WASN'T HAVING ANY OF YOUR GUFF, MISTER. It was big-time goddamn heavy metal spectacle that most bands can't afford to do these days, and it was pure Satanic magic for those in attendance. Also, "Hallowed Be Thy Name" was one of the bigger bummers amongst the songs they didn't play in 2012, so it was good to have that there, and with Somewhere in Time being the Iron Maiden cassette of my pre-giving-a-crap-about-music youth, it was cool to have "Wasted Years" be the big finale, even if it was followed immediately by the thought that, oh snap, they didn't play "Two Minutes to Midnight," "Run to the Hills," or a lot of the other A-Number-One, Top of the Heap huge singles. I think I really was spoiled by getting to see a "greatest hits" tour before this one. Anyway, a few other odds and ends thoughts:
- Pretty much everything at the official merchandise booths was intensely expensive, like 40 bucks a shirt, so to hell with that. I mean, Maiden does this thing where the official tour shirts in their complete form are ONLY sold at the shows, but I don't want an artifact; I just want a damn shirt. I'm gonna wear it, and someday it's gonna end up in a laundry hamper with cat hair and/or barf all over it. Forty dollars is too much for that. THE RENT IS TOO DAMN HIGH. So with the knowledge that the official tour shirts always end up on the website for way less, (With the tour dates and venues removed, so as to preserve the eBay value of the real things.) we passed those by. And man, there was this one shirt my wife wanted that Dave Murray was wearing on stage that was kind of awesome, like with kind of an all-over printed (or possibly even with some tie-dye; I didn't get a good look at it) brighter version of some standard Book of Souls graphics, and it's... Nowhere. The Maiden website doesn't have it for sale, and nobody's put one up on eBay, either. So either it was some super-exclusive double-secret shirt that we should have just dropped the forty on, or Dave is some sort of wizard who bleached and dyed a regular black shirt until it was all blue and yellow. Or maybe it was all in our imaginations, man.
- Speaking of overpriced merchandise and disappointment, while I was looking for clips to use for this thing, I found a YouTube video of a guy at one of the Mexican dates touring the bootleg shirt stands, which thrive because un Americans and our drug wars destroyed the economy down there, so no one can afford the real stuff. THE RENT IS TOO DAMN HIGH. Also, since Mexicans are inherently better than Americans, they got rewarded by having Anthrax added to the bill, and the result was this amazingly bootlegged t-shirt:
I NEED THIS SHIRT BEFORE I DIE. I NEED TO FEEL IT AGAINST MY SKIN FOREVER.
- Speaking of bootlegs, they added two video screens to each side of the stage for the benefit of folks in the nosebleeds who can't see, and for the life of me, I'll never figure out why none of the YouTube-minded folks in this modern age didn't just fix their call phone cameras on those all night, so they could be the ones to throw up some damn near DVD-quality footage. I mean, they're not watching the show, anyway, right?
- And speaking of folks not watching the show, there was this old bald guy with the silly little hat who pushed his way in front of 5'1" wife so he could dispassionately stand there and snap pictures while somehow having an uncanny knack of moving his camera precisely where she was trying to use hers as periscope to see over his dumb ass. I hope that guy gets set on fire soon, like a whole bunch of fire. Fire everywhere. All the fire. Is that harsh?
- And speaking of pushy jackasses, IF YOU WANT TO BE RIGHT UP FRONT, DON'T SKIP THE OPENING ACT. Don't hang back half an hour, then wait till the noise dies down and get all "excuse me, pardon me, coming through," spilling a little bit of your beer on everyone you shove past. I did my best to stand my ground when all those chunks of shit started trying to ooze their way toward the guardrail, but I'm pretty sure all my ignoring them did was just make them veer off to the side, where they presumably found a short person to stand in front of. Fire everywhere, I tell you.
- and speaking of speaking of things that have often been spoken of, Janick Gers has some of the weirdest damn stage moves I've ever seen. Sometimes, he would prop his leg up on part of the set, and it would look like he was stretching to run the 100m hurdles after the show. Other times, he would do unfathomable guitar things while just daintily skipping around like a little girl. To this day, I'm not sure if I should have been weirded out by such antics, or if I should have just thought, "oh, so THAT'S what pure heavy metal joy looks like." Probably the latter.
Anyway, Iron Maiden is still the best live band, even if some of the new stuff isn't optimized for such a setting, and IHOP is still the best place to go when you're sweaty and dehydrated from crazy shit going down, and it's too late for normal places to be open. Be courteous to your fellow concert-goers, and if there's a t-shirt that you must have and you've got the $40 free, just go for it before it's too late. Be nice to opening acts, don't be an idiot and start heading for the exit if there hasn't been an encore yet and the house lights are still down. You'll waste your time always searching for those wasted years, you guys. Die for Heavy Metal.
March 20, 2016: The All-Time Definitive List I Made Up Just Now of Most Ridiculously-Armed G.I. Joe Dudes
Before we get to the real issues at hand, I'd like to point out that his little helmet thing was stupid, and no kid wanted that on him when presented with the opportunity to have the principal from Back to the Future as part of their strike force. But anyway, the craziest thing about this guy's arsenal (and I mean arsenal, holy Christ, he came with like 20 loose parts) is that he has a gun that can shoot land mines, and that's not even his most ridiculous weapon. For real, look at it, it's a gun that not only shoots giant-ass looking bullets, but also just flips anti-tank mines out like freakin' frisbees. And that's before you get to the "too large to plausibly be used by a human in non-cartoon form" missile launching cube thing. It looks like he just found a crate of missiles, duct-tapes some PVC pipe to it, and just willed it to fire. A fun addition to this one is that the Magic Missile Rectangle has a the little peg, so you can stick it to his back when you want him to actually be able to lug around that mysterious black case without risking losing your shit in some playground sand. Theoretically, this was for him to tote his Missile Box on the way to the battle, but in practice, it was so you could put him down on all fours and act like he was some sort of horrifyingly unholy cybernetic melding of man and tank, forced by G.I. Joe scientists to live with a missile turret on his back.
And man, we gotta have a talk about this dude. It is a dude with a shaved head, and he's wearing a brown shirt that says "THE RIGHT OF MIGHT" on it in apparently home-scrawled letters. I bet this is one Joe with some strong-ass politics to make the others uncomfortable with in the mess hall. Like you know damn well that this guy has been backed down from a "you people" comment by Roadblock or Stalker at least once. The black suitcase is probably where he keeps his Skrewdriver records and "Make America Great Again" baseball cap.
This one's gonna hurt me deeply, because Shipwreck was my dude back in the days during the after-school Holy Quattuorvirate of G.I. Joe, Transformers, and reruns of The Monkees and Diff'rent Strokes. But man, the fuck you doing with that pirate-ass musket bullshit? You really think that if you bolt a scope to the top of that nonsense, it's gonna change the fact that you're fighting Kalashnikovs with Paul Revere's dad's gun, you Popeye-ass son of a bitch? I bet the only reason Shipwreck never died in combat was because the Cobra troopers thought it would be bad luck to shoot a dude like that. The cartoons probably left out the part where the elite Cobra Crimson Guard had a running battlefield contest of "Let's See Who Can Run Up and Slap the Shit Out of Village Person While He Spends Two Minutes Loading His Lead Balls and Packing His Powder." Polly the Parrot looks terrified in that package art up there, because the painting depicts the exact moment he realized he picked the wrong shoulder to sit on. He knows he's bet his life and well-being on someone who's either crazy or crazy-stupid, and sooner than later, he's going to end up in a state that is definitely not pining for the damn fjords.
Also, I never noticed this before, but he kinda looks like a skinny version of "Dr. Death" Steve Williams.
Heavy Duty (1991)
This is just some Hasbro boardroom brainstorming that got out of hand, possibly after the pot brownies got handed out:
"We gotta give this dude a cool weapon. How about a missile launcher."
"Yeah, man! But like... How about TWO missile launchers."
"Yeeeeah, and a machine gun. Like one of those Terminator 2 Wolfenstein spinny-barrel ones!"
"Shit yeah, but like with two more machines guns on each side!"
"Yeah! But like... What else?"
"I dunno, dude... Maybe he could carry around an uh.... (looks around room) Maybe he could carry around a desk?"
"Oohhh shit dude!"
Sadly, Mario Kart 64 didn't yet exist to distract them, so this thing actually got made.
Hahaha holy shit, Salvo was just a do-over on a guy who came out a year earlier, apparently. G.I. Joe didn't move from Marvel to Image Comics until the 2000s, and I'm pretty sure Image didn't even exist in 1989, but they were ready in advance, by god. That is some Liefeld-ass shit right there. All he needs now are some tiny feet, one arm that's apparently attached to the middle of his torso, and about a thousand pouches. For real, that missile launcher thing is literally larger than he is. How many pounds would one of those weigh? A thousand? A million? I'm guessing "Backblast" is the medical term that was invented to describe what happened to this dude's spine the first time he tried to fire that goofy shit. Army surgeon staring at an X-ray, taking off his glasses and grimacing as he pinches the bridge of his nose. "It's worse than I feared. He's got backblast, Hawk. All we can do now is take him back behind the barn and drown him." And if his only other weapon is a knife, what's he doing with that bandolier of comically-oversized bullets?
(Also, keep your eyes peeled, because "G.I. Joe Men That Look the Most like Rob Liefeld Creations" is totally a thing I'm gonna do someday, possibly soonish.)
Okay, the actual weapons are fine. The machete is kind of oddly ornately carved for a military weapon, and his machine gun has a mysterious second clip, but in the G.I. Joe world, that's only slightly worse than standard issue in the weirdness category. ( Even if he's got bullets draped across his chest for the most emphatically non-belt-fed machine gun in history) But the bobcat, man, the bobcat. First, a bobcat is totally not a domesticated animal, making Max the Bobcat a ticking time bomb. You can't train a regular-ass house cat to do what you want them to, and they've got a few thousand years of history as our fuzzy little bros behind them. They only shit in a box for us because that's the best place to them, and even then, it's kinda iffy, depending on the cat. And this crazy bastard thinks he's going to have a wild animal obeying his orders to only attack certain people, and definitely not me, Spearhead? What's gonna happen when he's hunkered down in a trench and a bomb hits nearby, with a bobcat right next to his face? My guess is bleed and cuss a lot before finally choosing self-preservation over animal companionship and hucking the little bastard out into No Man's Land. And really, for shits and giggles, let's just say that Spearhead is an animal mystic shaman of the highest order (which is doubtful, his file card thingy says he used to be an insurance salesman) and that he's got Max fully down for whatever. A bobcat is usually like 20 pounds. Now, think about the kinds of animals that Cobra dudes would bring to a fight. Raptor had falcons large enough to murder humans, Desert Scorpions had giant mutant scorpions, and The Croc Master is self-explanatory. (he had a kangaroo) All this dude would manage to accomplish with a bobcat was maybe make a peace offering by feeding their nightmare creatures for them. Leave the cat at home, dude.
Captain Gridiron (1990)
And then there's this fuckin' guy. Like I'm pretty sure he was supposed to be the number one top dude of the 1990 G.I. Joe toy line, like he was all over the advertisements and even managed to sneak into the god awful G.I. Joe NES game they crapped out. This was the dude that Hasbro thought would keep us giving a shit about G.I. Joe once the cartoon show hit a point where no one even knew it existed anymore, because it was only on WGN or whatever. This football-helmeted jackass was supposed to be the new Face of the Franchise. Jesus H. Christ. It would have been enough to just talk about his primary weapon, which is a gun (with handles I'm pretty sure are too far apart to be grasped simultaneously) with the barrel surrounded by missiles. There are missiles all over the gun barrel, a thing that gets extremely hot in rapid-firing combat situations, and the missiles are presumably full of explosives, which are things that you do not wish to become extremely hot. Not to mention that there's no shielding or anything behind them; if he fires a missile off that thing, he's pretty much guaranteed to lose an arm, or at least need more skin grafts than the U.S. government would be willing to pay for. But then, they went and gave him football grenades. Grenades, which have been specifically molded at great cost to the United States military into the shape of footballs, all so this dipshit can sell his gimmick as a member of a top-secret fighting force. Honestly, I'm just assuming whoever the G.I. Joe armorer was had gotten sick of this dude's crap, making bizarre requests for a football helmet and football grenades and actually getting them, that he gave him that suicide-ass missile gun just to keep him from coming back. R.I.P. Captain Gridiron, sorry you got fragged by your own stupid gun.
Also, while I was Google Image Searching for pictures of the dumbass, one of the first results was where some Deviantart mutant had drawn Captain Gridiron as a giant-boobed muscle-lady, and now, I want to go out back and dig a hole deep enough for myself to die inside of it. Fuck you forever, Captain Gridiron.
Blowtorch (1984), Charbroil (1988), and Ice Cream Soldier (1994)
G.I. Joe's primary mission was to defend freedom against Cobra, a ruthless terrorist organization determined to rule the world. And Cobra (a ruthless terrorist organization) did not employ one single, solitary guy - Viper, individually-named, or otherwise - whose deal was that they used a flamethrower, while G.I. Joe had at least three. Why is this important? Because the military flame thrower is a walking horror, a weapon that literally shoots hell at people, causing the most horrible, screaming death possible, and it's one that the U.S. Army stopped using on moral grounds in 1978, and one that's been outlawed by the Geneva Convention since 1980. These three men are fucking war criminals, who regularly commit a war crime that even Cobra Commander - a guy who has a whole squad of dudes called "Toxo-Vipers" - apparently considers to be taking things too far. The G.I. Joe team, being Real American Heroes depicted on toys that are sold to children, see nothing wrong with sending these three asbestos-suited monsters out into the world with back-mounted, napalm-throwing atrocity machines to cook human flesh in the name of Freedom™. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that Cobra is right or that I hope they win or anything, but should things take a turn for the worse, it won't bother me any if these assholes end up being the first ones lined up against the wall. I mean, Charbroil man, holy shit, look at this guy's eyes; LOOK AT HIS FUCKING EYES.
And on a related note, if you needed any more evidence that the G.I. Joe team is full of maniacs being led by demons in human form, just remember that their firefighter guy, Barbecue, literally the opposite of a flamethrower trooper, would just run onto the battlefield swinging a goddamn axe.
In addition to a spike-knucked axe, he comes with a hat full of tricks, a trunk full of Faygo, and car full of fat chicks.
March 20, 2016: RASSLEMAN SPOTLIGHT on Mordecai
(aka Kevin Fertig, aka 7even, aka Kevin Thorn, aka Seven Thorn, aka Serpent, aka some other stuff)
Probably going to lose a lot of wrestling nerd credibility for this one, but man, I was soooooo pumped for this guy back in 2004. The WWE started showing these promo videos with this crazy-looking dude with BLAZING WHITE EYBROWS praying in front of candles and telling us how he was "the right hand of The Father," and he was going to rid the WWE of all the whoremongers and adulterers, and that we should both hear him and also fear him, and oh man, this was going to rule. I mean roughly 75% of the 2004 Smackdown roster were either liars or whoremongers, so the possibilities were endless, right? The WWE had never done an evil Lord-worshipping guy before, (unless Brother Love counts?) and a Mortal Kombat Ninja style palette-swap of the Undertaker was so crazy, that it just might work. And then, before you knew it, internet rumors began a-swirlin' that he was being set up for a run against the Deadman himself, possibly even culminating in the revelation that Taker himself was the Father, and that Mordecai was actually his large adult son who had strayed from his dad's ways of doing good deeds in the name of Satan and was doing mean shit to people for Jesus instead. Next-level shit right here, people. And then, he finally debuted, and he had this crazy entrance with the lights and the fire and whatnot, and then he beat up Bob Holly, and then he was gone. Poof, sent back to Ohio Valley Pro Wrestling to hang out for a few months until Jim Cornette fired him for wearing a baseball cap to the ring or some silly shit. We barely got a chance to hear him, and as such, we never truly learned to fear him, either. I never figured out why he wasn't given a decent shot, because while he wasn't exactly a ring general, he was no worse than most of the other garbage that was being churned out of OVW in the days when the WWE was only hiring bodybuilders, dudes over 6'5", and ladies that looked like practice cadavers from a plastic surgery college. And the WWE couldn't have been that down on him either, seeing as how he got re-hired to be a sexy vampire as Kevin Thorn just a couple years later. To this day, I'm still kinda sad I never got to see my dream triple threat match of regular black Undertaker vs. Kane (red Undertaker) vs. Mordecai (white Undertaker). And maybe if one of them upercutted the real Undertaker hard enough while Michael Cole yelled "Toasty!" maybe a fourth, green Undertaker could have shown up. If Big Dick Dudley had still been alive, they could have brought him in as a special tie-dyed Undertaker. It could have been an epic Battle of the Undertakers, and it would have been the biggest night in the history of our sport. YOU GET AN UNDERTAKER! AND YOU GET AN UNDERTAKER! AND YOU! AND YOU! EVERYBODY GETS AN UNDERTAKER! BRB you guys, recreating all of this on a pirated copy of Fire Pro Wrestling A.
ACT LIKE I WON'T, MOTHERFUCKER
SELECTIONS FOR YOU SINNERS:
WWE - "Pale Rider" pre-debut hype video (2004) - FUCK YEAH, MORDY, LET'S GO BEAT UP SOME GODDAMN SINNERS
WWE - Mordecai beats up Billy Kidman & Akio (2004) - I seriously only think Mordecai had like three matches before he got the boot, so pickings were slim for in-ring highlights. Anyway, this is the standard 2004 "we want the big dude to look strong, so he's going to beat up some cruiserweights, because everyone knows they're less than human" thing. Mostly I just wanted to share this because Michael Cole going "that, ladies and gentlemen, is a man who walks our streets!" in an ominous manner was somehow simultaneously super-intense and kinda hilarious, like just thinking about Mordecai in a white robe, lugging around a cross to go down to the Snak Shak to get some peanuts and a Mountain Dew or whatever. This led me and this dude Frank that I worked with at the time to go "THIS IS A MAN WHO WALKS OUR STREETS" any time the other would enter a room for like three whole weeks. Then, Adam watched one of the patients who had wandered over from the mental hospital across the street (no shit, this happened a lot) corner a couple little kids and tell them "A DOLLAR FOR THE BOX" in a menacing tone, and after that, "A DOLLAR FOR THE BOX" replaced "THIS IS A MAN WHO WALKS OUR STREETS" as our go-to inside joke/catchphrase. Retail memories.
NWA Circle City - The Police Department (Rod Street & Deputy Dan) vs. Billy Gunn & Kevin Thorn (2016?) - Man, this is pretty much the best kind of pro wrestling right here, even if it's a situation where ex-WWE guys are slumming it in an NWA promotion, (which is like a couple levels beneath independent, at this point) and the in-ring talent is such that ex-Mordecai is the best dude here by far, and Billy Gunn is the second-best wrestler in a four-man match for possibly the first time in his career. There are evil cops dressed in Lieutenant Dangle bicycle cop getups that do no favors for their pizza delivery guy physiques who wrap the freaking ring in caution tape before the match, Billy Gunn is freshly steroid-fired from a WWE trainer gig and can barely hide his disdain for the crowd in a real-life, not-a-wrestling-bad-guy way, and Kevin Thorn does not give a fuuuuuuck. The dude who's supposed to be working an Anne Rice Vampire gimmick is just all giggles and jokes and smiles, leading the crowd in singing "Happy Birthday" to his daughter, stealing the cop dudes' police costumes, and threatening to rub his ass on the referee. I wonder if he would have made it in the WWE if they had just let him be a damn goofball, instead of just looking at his height and immediately penciling him in as a scary monster. It's all fun in games until the mace comes out, which is true in both wrestling and in life.