Category: Articles


Last time around, it was decided that Melisandre is going make your shitty death metal band all melodic and atmospheric with her fell magicks, King Stannis is still bitter about getting put on that cross-country bus by James and Lars back in ’83, and Ser Davos would rather just relax in the tub with a nice book. Today, we check out The Mother of Dragons, Daenarys Targaryen, and The Mountain That Rides, Ser Gregor Clegane.
SPOILER LEVEL: Slight allusions to stuff from the second half of A Storm of Swords and maybe part of A Feast for Crows, but nothing major for people who only watched the TV show. So yeah, technically, there are references to minor details that haven’t happened yet on HBO, but you should be able to read on without having things ruined.  Just don’t blame me when I spoil the surprise of the part where a cyborg Ned Stark shows up in a spaceship from the future and just starts laser-blasting Lannisters and Freys in the name of Freedom. Oops. But still, if you haven’t read the books or seen the shows, go do that soon, because it’s kinda worth it, you know? (And really, read the books, because they’re about five theoretical seasons ahead of  where the show is at by my count, and I don’t want to wait for you fuckers.)


stabJust in case your friends were suspicious of you being the Worst Person, you can put aside all their doubts with one of these!

If you need explanations, either click this here handy link or scroll down a little, depending on how you got here. If you don’t, that means you’ve been here at least twice, and I didn’t think anyone did that. My mind has been blown. Anyway, things are weird and alphabetical this week, because I forgot to turn Shuffle on, but it all worked out in the end.

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5. Dismember – “Override the Overture” vs. Yes – “Owner of a Lonely Heart”

Ha ha, oh dang, how the hell did THIS happen? A long, long time ago, I bought Dismember’s Massive Killing Capacity CD and decided it was the best, so once I had gained the powers of illegal downloading, I went on a brief “oh man, Swedish death metal” kick, and ended up with a few more of their albums and something by Unleashed that I can’t remember, because the files were corrupted or in some weird Apple format, so I just deleted it. I really hope it wasn’t any good, because I never bothered to try for it again. Anyway, it turns out that original CD I had bought was the one that all the death metal dudes hated, because it had slow parts and memorable songs and other stuff death metal isn’t supposed to have, and most of their stuff before and after was just not nearly as good to my ears. This song was alright, though, kinda sounding like old Sepultura, if they were way faster, had an even more unintelligible singer, and tuned their guitars way down, to the point where you kind of wonder how they even worked, with the strings just dangling loose like that. Anyway, this was the only song I could remember a thing about off the Like an Ever Flowing Stream album, and it’s kind of okay, I guess.
“Owner of a Lonely Heart” is one of those songs you hear when you’re like three years old, and it just sort of burrows its way into your mind forever. So you spend the rest of your life flashing back to that weird horn-blast keyboard thing and the part of the video where the dude jumps off the roof, and it freaks you smooth the hell out, because you’re three, and you don’t know about special effects yet, so it’s all too real. So the guy jumped off the roof and turned into an eagle or whatever it was, and there’s this crazy eagle-man out there in the world, and as the years go by, he flies and soars and tastes the blood of the trout in his beak, and he loses the parts of his mind that made him human and becomes more eagle than man, and he’s still out there, and he’s watching you, and he’s waiting. Crap, gonna have the night terrors now. Fuck eagles. But yeah, somehow, it made it on my phone, and anything that can take my mind to a place where a crazed man-eagle will come out of nowhere and start slashing at my eyes, like an avian version of Inspector Clouseau’s man-servant dude is probably something I need in my life.


soad JudasPriest-Painkiller

6. System of a Down – “P.L.U.C.K.” vs. Judas Priest – “Painkiller”

You know what, to hell with all of you, because when System of a Down first showed up, they were just about my favorite band for like a full six months. They were doing things the likes of which I had never heard, while managing to not make me think “oh man, this is some nonsense, no wonder I haven’t heard its like before.” This one sounds all pissed-off in parts, because he’s singing about his people getting slaughtered by the Turks, but it also sounds downright cheerful in other parts, because System of a Down was just super-weird in those days, which was what made them good. I can’t comment much more on it, because I really don’t know what happened in the Armenian Genocide, aside from the way no one seems to want to remember that it happened. At some point, the dudes in charge just sort of shrugged and went “why did the Armenian people get the works? That’s nobody’s business but the Turks.” Something is terribly wrong with me.
Meanwhile, there’s “Painkiller” by Judas Priest, and WHOA, HOLY SHIT THIS SONG IS THE MOST METAL THING THAT EVER EXISTED, OHHHHH DAAAAAAAAAAAAAMN. FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAHHHHH. Rob Halford is SCREEEEAMIIIIIING, and that drummer dude doesn’t know that you can actually stop hitting the double-bass sometimes, and Glen Tipton and K.K. Downing keep doing these guitar solos, where it sounds like one guys getting finished, and the other guy frowns and is like “oh yeah, dickhead? Listen to THIS!” And the bass player would probably be alright if I could hear him. I think Judas Priest, having failed in making us commit suicide with the hidden messages on “Better By You, Better Than Me,” just decided to take the direct approach and murder us directly with this song. And it worked, We are all dead now.

WINNER: Judas Priest in a blowout, with System of a Down getting a second chance.

AnthraxFistfulOfMetal  black-sabbath-paranoid-nems-5

7. Anthrax – “Panic” vs. Black Sabbath – “Paranoid”

You know, I probably could have thought up a bunch of stuff to say about “Panic.” And none of it would have mattered, because Paranoid, you know? If you’ve never heard “Paranoid” before, you’re a bad person, if you don’t like it, you’re a monster, and if you’ve heard and liked it, but don’t have it burned into your brain in its entirety, you are suspect. Highly suspect.

WINNER: Sabbath.

Demon_Lung_-_Pareidolia_cover  demento

8. Demon Lung – “Pareidolia” vs. They Might Be Giants – “Particle Man”

It’s really a good thing Demon Lung doesn’t suck, because I kinda internet-know the drummer, and I’m pretty sure it’s basically his band, so even if they were godawful, I’d at least try to be nice; all “oh, it’s a solid effort!” or whatever, but it’s all good, because so are they. I’d name-drop the dude, but I don’t think I ever knew his last name, am way too lazy to look it up, and there have to be dozens of Jeremies in the world, so it would be a pointless thing to do. The story of him going to the Creationism museum while wearing a Deicide shirt shall always remain one of the best things I’ve ever heard, though. Anyway, I don’t have as much of a frame for reference, re: doom metal as I should, (and I really should, because it tends to be aaaaaawesooooome, for real, what is wrong with my listening habits)  but just imagine Pentagram (when they’re more in metal mode than rock mode)  with Grace Slick singing, and you’re at least in the same town, if not the same neighborhood. Someday when I’m not broke, I’m gonna totally buy the full-fledged Cd they put out, because I already got the E.P. for free, and I don’t want to internet-steal it and be that guy. Also, a T-shirt or two. Someday. Stupid air conditioners, electric bills, and car tires. Stupid world.
“Particle Man” is a song you totally know, because it was everywhere for a while, and I think the video was even in heavy rotation on the old Comedy Channel, which is crazy because that was a comedy channel, as opposed to a music one. A TV channel about music is a pretty cool idea; someone should do that. And someone needs to make a joke about there not being a cable network dedicated to music, because I’m pretty sure nobody’s thought to do that yet. But yeah, “Particle Man” is a fun song and all, but listening to it again just reminded me of how I got burned out on it sometime around 1993, and the burns haven’t quite healed yet. Also, Triangle Man sounds like a dick, and I hope Universe Man fucks him up someday. Feel bad for Person Man, though; sounds like he’s got it hard enough without people hitting him with frying pans. I bet it was Triangle Man, too. More like Asshole Man, if you ask me.

WINNER: Demon Lung, Demon Lung, Demon Lung hates Particle Man. They have a fight; Demon Lung wins, Demon Luuuuung.

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SECOND CHANCE #1. Sacred Reich – “Victim of Demise” vs. System of a Down – “P.L.U.C.K.”

Feels weird to do this, but I have to give this one to System of a Down. “Victim of Demise” is perfectly fine, but it’s like the fifth or sixth best song off an album by a band that has like a zillion songs from a bunch of CDs I like versus maybe the fourth best off the one really good album by a band with maybe 10 songs I like. Between letting Sacred Reich lose and not giving the Second Chance nod to Anthrax, I am really doing my favorite bands wrong lately. Oh well. Even with upsets like this, by the time all the deletion is done, Sacred Reich will still have probably thirty songs to System of a Down’s six, so I don’t feel bad.

Yes, Priest, Sabbath, Demon Lung, and S.O.A.D. stay, and the rest:

play him off



So a while back, I got a new phone. Then, I broke it and got another one along the same lines, but presumably better. I mean, the screen is bigger and it can do weird stuff with sending files into other people’s phones and your own computer and whatnot, but I guess the main thing is that it’s marketed well enough where you can get a case for it that’s something other than “generic single-color rubber slip-on thing,” sometimes even in actual stores, and not just those little mall booths where they go to Amazon, buy a bunch of cases for $3 each, then ask you $37 for them. Anyway, that information has nothing to do with most of this, but it provides texture for this little introduction, if nothing else. The world needs more textures. Anyway, as well as useless bullshit like making phone calls and allowing me to communicate with the outside world, it’s a pretty sweet MP3 player. And I got lots of MP3s. So many of them. Like a hundred, man. But seriously, at some point, I ripped every CD I had to an external hard drive, (oh man, remember when computers didn’t come with like 15 squillobites of storage, and you had to augment what you had internally?) plus added in all that illegal shit from the Great Downloading Binge of 2000-2004, (which totally didn’t happen, and they’re all hella-legal, seriously) and it all added up to too much crap, and in a spree of going “ooh, ooh, I’ll add this and this and this oh man,” I added way too much to my phone. Too much, as in 1,259 songs. Wow. On one hand, hey right on, variety, but on the other, I do my musical-type listening almost completely on the drive home from work, (I listen to podcasts on the drive up there, because in the darkness of three in the morning, still in the process of waking up and on deer-infested roads, I don’t need to get all Slayered up and have one of those “oh dang, I didn’t know I was going that fast” moments.) and I really don’t need to be reaching down, looking at tiny screens, and skipping stuff I don’t want to hear at 65-70 mph, you know? (Ha ha, oh man, I obey speed limits, what a DORK.) So, partly inspired by sitting on the toilet and  reading about Raven Mack’s JJ Krupert thing a while back,  and partly inspired by not wanting to perish in flames, I have devised a system to cull the herd.

HOW IT WORKS: First, I put the thing on shuffle, all the way home, without skipping a track. Then, I go back over my recently played list (mentally adding stuff that it left off the list for some reason, like the Armored Saint track today) and pit each song against each other in the order they got played. So the first song fights the second song, etc. The winner of each song fight (the one I liked more, duh) stays on the phone, and the loser gets deleted. And just in case “Ace of Spades” goes up against “Breaking the Law” and it’s an awful thing for one of those to go, I’ll choose one song from each day to get a second chance. The second chance song stays on the phone until the next day, when it faces that day’s second-chance song, with the winner staying for good. Also, if two songs I can’t stand to lose end up that way, I’ll just keep them both, because fuck your rules, man. I’m a loner, internet; A rebel. But yeah, and then, I come home and type about them, and lost of people get pissed off when they click a Google link hoping for Rapidshare downloads. Suckers.

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1. Black Sabbath – “Heaven and Hell” vs. Pentagram – “The Deist”

“Heaven and Hell” is pretty much one of the masterpieces of the heavily-metallic arts, and no matter how unaware of post-Ozzy Black Sabbath the average dude out in the streets may be, it has to get serious consideration as one of the awesomest things Sabbath ever did. And awesome things Black Sabbath did that involved either Ozzy Osbourne or Ronnie James Dio covers an awful lot of ground, you know? It’s just crazy good, and it still makes me want to punch that Coheed and Cambria guy in the face, because of those things he did to it last year. Anyway, this was a no-brainer, and out of all eleventy-million songs on the damn thing, there were very, very few that stood a chance here.
“The Deist” is the hapless victim here, a moderately deep cut from an album that’s actually on the phone in its entirety, thanks to me literally paying actual money for it, which in this case meant paying six imaginary digital dollars to Amazon for an imaginary digital copy. The Future is here. The bummer is that this is awesome.  It’s a killer song that mentions Satan pretty early on and has this crazy guitar sound that makes me think of what would happen if Thor had use for a lawn mower. Really is a bummer that the world at large (or at least a small portion of it) went completely unaware of this band until that documentary about Bobby Liebling being a crack-addicted real-life Gollum (although he’s cleaned up a lot lately and has been fully upgraded to Smeagol status) came out. I think I first heard of Pentagram when the Be Forewarned CD got reviewed in some magazine my brother had, but I’m not gonna lie, I never bothered to actually listen to them until some time late last year. So I’m a poseur, but not a complete one, maybe? Anyway, this is good and it’s a bummer that it has to lose, but no worries, as this album still has a few goddamn untouchable songs on it, so there will definitely still be a lot of Pentagram in the rotation.

WINNER: Sabbath.

ignorance  salvation

2. Sacred Reich – “Victim of Demise” vs. Armored Saint – “Warzone”

This was actually a tougher call that you might think. Like Sacred Reich, they’re my boys, you know, to the point where a lot of people I internet-know still think of me as “the Sacred Reich guy.” And “Victim of Demise” is one of their more killer songs, from the first album when they were still kinda like Baby Slayer, just going nuts all over the place, and hadn’t yet settled into that comfortable middle-of-the-road groove that a bunch of bands did between like ’88 and ’90, where they all ended up releasing their best stuff, but then either broke up, (Death Angel) fell off the end of the Earth, (these guys) or just turned into complete foolishness. (Metallica) Anyway, this is early Sacred Reich at their Slayerest, going on about rotting corpses and diseases and such, and it’s as awesome as you should expect.
But you know, I barely have anything by Armored Saint, (just this and a couple compilation tracks) and of all that, this is probably my favorite thing of theirs, so it would be messed up to knock it off there. Especially considering that if I ever saw this thing to completion, there would still be a ton of Sacred Reich on there, including at least two – maybe three or four – other songs from the Ignorance album. So in a shocking upset…

WINNER: Armored Saint. HOWEVER, “Victim of Demise” stays alive for now as today’s second-chance song, with apologies to Pentagram.

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3. Diamond Head – “Helpless” vs. Stormtroopers of Death – “Raise Your Sword”

Oh man, Diamond Head. Those guys are awesome, and on one hand, it’s a bummer that they’re known solely as the band that’s had like five songs of theirs covered by Metallica at one point or another. On the other hand, I guess being that into Diamond Head earns points in Metallica’s favor. Anyway, you probably know the Metallica version, and this is a lot like that, except with singing and notes and stuff, plus the entire freaking final third or so of the song that Metallica refused to play, because at that point, they were still trying way too hard to act all, “grrrr, we are GRUFF and can’t enjoy things at all, including girls.” Same reason they left the “OOOOOHH BAAAAYBEEEE, I CAN ROCK AAND ROOOOLLLLL” part out of “Crash Course in Brain Surgery.” But yeah, awesome.
There was a window of a couple of years where S.O.D. was like my thing, and I got all super-pumped when Bigger Than the Devil came out and super-upset when people got all butt-hurt over it not sounding like Speak English or Die. Anyway, this was a bonus track on the deluxe version of the CD, or in real-life terms, one of the two songs I downloaded off Audiogalaxy with my 56K welfare internet, because buying two versions of the same CD is for chumps, suckers, and sucker-ass chumps. But yeah, this is from the dying days of the band, when Billy Milano decided that they should become the Weird Al Yankovics of heavy metal, which sounded like a really good idea until he put out that useless Rebel You Love to Hate CD. But yeah, this is S.O.D. making fun of Manowar, and even if it was completely terrible, it would be worthwhile just for the line, “Hack and kill, then kill some more, kill and hack, then hack and kill.” But man, the last few minutes are mostly just Billy screeching out high notes that no one thought he’d be able to hit, and it gets kinda tedious when you’re driving, and you’ve vowed to not skip to the next song.

WINNER: Diamond Head.

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4. Deftones – “My Own Summer (Shove It)” vs. Iron Maiden – “Prowler”

Welp, this one was over before it started. One one hand, The Deftones were probably the most tolerable band to hit the scene when nu-metal hit and things got all Korny for a few years, but on the other hand, IRON MAIDEN. And man, the self-titled Maiden album is pretty loaded, and if I had to ditch something from it, this would have been the song I could have stood to see go, which opened the door for an Armored Saint-style upset. But really, I was only ever just sort of barely, marginally into this band, and while “My Own Summer” was like everybody’s summer jam of 1997 or whatever, the title track was like a hundred times better, and it was this band’s only chance to upset anything by Iron Maiden. Also, during the quiet parts, Chino’s whisper-singing is just disconcerting to me, like you can hear all his consonants extra hard, and it just sounds all wet and gross, like he’s singing in my ear as I’m tied to a chair in his rape-dungeon or something. Which might have a been a plus for all the folks who were rocking the XXXXL Jncos, six-foot wallet chains, and Adidas visors at the time, but I don’t cotton to it none, mister.




(Also, “The Warrior’s Prayer” by Manowar came up, but it’s not an actual song, so it went away automatically.)


Last time around, we learned that Ramsay Bolton will be the first to watch your funeral and the last one to leave, and that The Greatjon is the medieval fantasy version of the crazy uncle who did like three years in Parchman for running over a dude in a dune buggy after an argument over a football referee’s controversial decision from a week ago. This time around, we’ve got a special three-parter  that looks at Lord Stannis and his Dragonstone Posse, kickin’ it old school for the Lord of Light. As always, if you haven’t any of the books or watched the shows, don’t go any further, because we got spoilers and spoilers and spoilers.


king diamond shows up in season 4, honest

LAST TIME: We discovered that Ned Stark was probably a pretty good dad, but just too uptight to truly thrash, and that King Robert was so bad, baby, that he didn’t care, at least up until the point when he was killed by death. This time, we examine Greatjon Umber and Ramsay Bolton, and I tell you, those guys – SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS, DON’T CLICK ANYTHING IN THIS IF YOU’VE NEVER WATCHED THE SHOW OR READ THE BOOKS, DEAR LORD SAVE ME FROM ALL THESE SPOILERS.

…Because the night is dark and full of terrors.

Here’s another one of those weird internet projects I’ll start and never finish, but which sounds like a pretty good idea, so I’m still starting it, even though I know damn well I’ll never finish it. Uhh, anyway. The third season of Game of Thrones ended not that long ago, and I actually managed to watch it in a timely manner for a change, through means that were totally legal, honestly for real, and I’m sure the NSA dude that’s assigned to my IP address will vouch for me, especially after I sent him that fancy cookie bouquet. (Of course, if I did manage to watch the show illegally, fuck you, I’m gonna end up buying the DVDs later, so you can go screw, Jack Valenti or whoever it is that sends the lawyers after people.) Anyway, in addition to watching the show, at least 75% of my toilet time has been spent reading the books that the show came from, so at this point it’s reacted with that weird, secret strain of autism I caught off a toilet seat at Kroger that one time, and I’m pretty well immersed in that world lately. So I think on this stuff a lot, at times when I really should be thinking about things like work or oncoming traffic, and something occurred to me. Lost somewhere in all the talk about this show that world has been ablaze with lately, no one’s been mentioning a very important thing: This show is FUKKIN METAL. Seriously, it’s like nothing But swords and knights and blood and death and corrupt politicians and  fell magicks and dragons and metal. It’s like George R.R. Martin sat there, typing all these books out, imagining that someday, somehow, the words he was setting to paper would eventually get turned into a television show that would someday magically cause a single tear to trickle down the cheek of a statue of Paul Baloff, at least in a more perfect world where there actually were statues of Paul Baloff.

If only….

Anyway, partially because it seriously sounded like an interesting idea, and partially because I’m tired of having all my interesting ideas just sort of swirl around in my head for weeks and months until my brain magically erases them, I’m going to do one of those internet things I do, where I start a potentially long, ongoing project that only gets visited once or twice and dies unfinished. But the show’s not done and I still have roughly 2.8 and counting of the books left to read, this idea should pop back into my head from time to time. So I like its chances. I’m going to take the characters from this thing and think about them real, real hard and I am going to figure out who are the most FUKKIN METAL characters from this particular universe, and maybe someday twist it into a top 20 power ranking list, going to super insanely metal at #1 to just pretty darn metal or whatever at #20. And of course, the series isn’t finished yet and the books are nowhere near finished, so characters might rise and fall, depending on their actions and/or gruesome deaths. But to clarify, I’m not going to dork analyze the metalness of everybody. Some characters even in something like A Song of Ice and Fire are still just going to be obviously non-metallic, and all five million of the little background characters simply aren’t going to be worth the time. Like G.R.R. Martin is a dude who cranks out 1,000-plus page books on the semi-regular, and I’m a dude who seriously updates a pissant blog about thrice yearly, so if that guy couldn’t come up with more than a solid paragraph or so for Jeyne Poole or Ser Jacelyn Bywater, I ain’t gonna be the one to fill in that gap. Of course, this is the internet, and the internet is a sick and terrible place, so I’m sure that sooner or later, someone will send me links to some sort of “fuckyeahjacelynbywater dot tumblr dot com” blog or a three-thousand chapter pornographic fan fiction site dedicated to Jeyne Poole’s erotic encounters with Goku or one of the Animaniacs or whatever, and then I’m going to have to turn off my internet and start making bombs in the lawnmower shed out back. Dark and full of terrors indeed. But yeah, sticking to only the debatably metal and at least semi-major characters, and in no particular order. Also, in the event that you haven’t read a book or watched a show yet, you should probably just turn around right now, lest things be ruined for you forever. As in spoilers and whatnot. And in case anyone’s just skimming the introductory paragraph, the way I do with Cracked articles, I’m just going to say SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS OH GOD TURN AROUND THERE’S SO MANY SPOILERS, in bold capital letters. Anyway, I’m going to do this two characters at a time, both in the name of making sure these things don’t get too long and in the contradictory name of making sure these things aren’t too short. Let us begin:

DUUUUUUUUDES Last time on this trilogy of blog posts that’s taken more time to put together than the trip itself, Sarah and I repeatedly made narrow escapes with our lives on the Streets of San Antonio and I rambled on about lucha libre for a while. But now the time has arrived to fully inform you people on the night of the reason for all this hullabaloo, and I’m not going to be cryptically sneaking Iron Maiden lyrics into this one, (You guys noticed that on the first two parts, right? Right?) because this was the night when they were actually there, right goddamn there, all up in my face, being the face that they were desperately trying to rock completely off of my head. A glorious night of heavy metal and explosions and light and sound and glory and explosions and additional explosions. But I’ll get to that in a minute.

The Spurs play there!
I totally took this picture myself, because I can jump real high.

First, we had to get to the building, which started with a whole lot of “oh no, don’t worry about it, we can drive ourselves there, it’ll fine, no really, driving is fine, seriously we mean it,” which led to Sarah’s dad driving us there, which lead to a refresher course in the True Meaning of Ultimate Terror.  Of course, we left pretty early, so no amount of completely inexplicable wrong turns in a straight-line drive down one road could derail our quest to be the lines and get a good spot, right up front, where all the metal was going to happen, with the guitars and the yelling and the explosions and what-have-you. So we got there, and we got in the long-ass line. Awesome. Ten minutes later, oops, that was the wrong line, this one’s not for paperless tickets. So we get in another long-ass line. Ten minutes later, oops, that was the wrong line, this one’s not for general admission. So we get in another long-ass line. Oh hey, this one’s the right line! Oh, but your debit card doesn’t work. So we get in another, albeit much shorter, line and since I am the genius king of men with a smart-ass phone and an email opened up on it right there for all to see with my name and relevant numbers and such-like to show the dude at the ticket resolution counter, BAM, we got tickets all of a sudden. Super great. Of course, all of this running around and getting into the wrong lines and the dude’s card reader being broken because THAT’S TOTALLY A NEW CARD just had to have ruined the whole thing, right? Like the time we lost running around after tickets was going to put us at the back of the arena, behind a giant pillar that’s usually not there for Spurs games, right next to a dude who farts a lot and likes to talk about Ron Paul, right? HA!

Where's Baldo?Here’s a picture from the “tag yourself” section of Iron Maiden’s Facebook page, taken from right in front of the stage, and while I may be mistaken, that tiny sliver of a bald head that the arrow is pointing to may very well be my head. Can’t be too sure, but I distinctly remember the dude in the hat being directly in front of me and a little to my right. Or for a better view of how things were, here’s this picture of Maiden’s crew clearing all of the opening act’s crap off the stage:

WE ARE THE ROADCREW, DUH-NUH-NAH-NUH-NAH-NAAHHSomehow, we ended up dead center, maybe forty feet or so back, and I had a pretty nice view of pretty much everything. Sadly, I had to specify myself in that last sentence, because Sarah’s pretty much a tiny little Hobbit person, and any situation where people end up standing in front of her is not going to be a good one for looking at things. In a weird sort of way, this worked out okay in the end, because as a Halfling, she had to use her phone’s camera pretty much as a digital periscope to see over everybody, and we ended up with a whole bunch of footage of the show as a result. And since it was done to serve the practical purpose of her actually being able to occasionally see Bruce Dickinson, all that footage doesn’t come with the attached shame of being the asshole at the show who’s got their phone up the whole time, barely paying attention to anything but the phone itself, because MUSHT THE FIRSHT TO GET THEIR VIDEOSH UP ON THE YOUTBUESH SHHHHHHHHTTTBBBTTTTHHHH *fart*. But yeah, somehow, we ended up with decent seats, aside from the part where there were no seats, because we were in the section that wasn’t for pussies, pussy. Then, after maybe another thirty minutes or so, stuff happened.

Here’s Coheed and Cambria’s stage setup. I didn’t take any pictures of the actual band because I was temporarily DEAD.  Dead from BOREDOM.

The problem with an Iron Maiden show is that somehow, they feel that they aren’t enough by themselves and insist on taking along an opening act. And it’s a fairly common thing for a band to be a band that no one else can follow, but Maiden has reached a level where they’re a band that you can’t even precede. I think Henry Rollins did a whole bit on this back in the day, and it’s completely true: There’s no such thing as an opening band at an Iron Maiden concert. The bands playing at Iron Maiden shows in the period of time before Maiden themselves take the stage are merely extended interruptions, obstacles to what everyone is actually there for. If you’re opening for Iron Maiden and are not of equal or greater legendary status , (Like the earlier shows on this tour, who got Alice freakin’ Cooper, instead of this bunch of buncocky that we had to sit through.) the night is not going to go well for you. So while I had previously heard a little bit of Coheed and Cambria’s stuff and fully, completely disliked it, I was ready to feel sorry for them for what I knew was going to end up happening. And yeah, for maybe a few minutes of their boring douche-prog, as I watched their best efforts to rock out met with motionless silence by the Maiden crowd, yeah, I did kind of feel bad for them. Because yeah, they sucked, but they were playing their asses off, and I suppose they suck in a way that’s got to appeal to somebody, or they wouldn’t have become a big enough deal to get on this tour, you know? Then, some bullshit happened.

YOU'RE ALL FOOLSIn what I’m pretty sure was calculated to be the moment where my Heavy Metal Grinch heart was supposed to grow three sizes and let love open the door to my heart for Coheed and Cambria, they busted out into a cover of the Dio-era Black Sabbath classic “Heaven and Hell.” But man, here’s the thing. I know a tiny little guy who sings songs about rainbows and dragons and stuff like that is a thing that probably lends itself well to parody, and I’m sure that the unflattering impression of him that Coheed’s singer can apparently do of Ronnie James Dio was probably pretty funny and entertaining at some point. But you see, once a guy dies, it’s not quite so fucking funny anymore, and especially not fucking funny when you’re using it as some sort of misguided tribute. And it was at that point, as I stood there, wearing my goddamned Dio t-shirt and watching that Polamalu-looking turd switch from his usual high-pitched “Geddy Lee, but if Geddy Lee was an even worse singer than Geddy Lee” vocal style to something that could have only been a “ha ha, let’s make fun of Dio” voice, complete with weird and whacky facial expressions, because guys, heavy metal is such a stupid and comical thing, am I right, building full of tens of thousands of Iron Maiden fans? Ugh. And I know I wasn’t the only one who thought this, because as I looked around, the whole place was a sea  disgusted faces, all but literally screaming “I DISAPPROVE OF THIS,” and one dude in front of us actually turned around toward me and bowed down and apologized to my shirt. But man, this was the one moment that truly solidified my opinion of Coheed and Cambria as bullshit forever, and confirmed any preconceived notions I might have had about them as just a bunch of shitty hipsters who had figured out that they were actually really good at playing their instruments, but there was no way to show off doing emo/indie crap, so they reluctantly decided to slum it as something resembling a heavy metal band.  And you know, I really don’t want to get all “Manowar True Metal Forevermore” Guy here, but once a certain segment of the douche bag community discovered that wearing old metal shirts got you way more scene cred at the Dashboard Confessional show than REO Speedwagon shirts did, there have been way too many bands clogging up the scene who clearly have a whole “oh, ha ha ha, look at us, heavy metal music, how QUAINT” thing going on, so really fuck Coheed and Cambria forever; they can go die in a giant tire fire somewhere. Except for the drummer, though. He just looked so genuinely thrilled to be here, like “oh man, guys, look at the drums that I am playing, this is GREAT,” and I can’t hate on a guy who seems so happy to be alive. So they can all die except for him, he can have some cake and a Game Boy or something, because he ruled. Screw the other three guys, though. And I’m gonna take the main guy’s two-necked guitar from him and hide it somewhere, because he somehow managed to make the 12-string half of it sound exactly like the 6-string half, and it was just so unnecessary. But yeah, before the show, I was not a Coheed and Cambria fan; after the show, I officially became a Coheed and Cambria enemy. Also, to whoever came up with their stage setup and lighting and such: Lighting placed above the band is supposed to point down. You got that right, nice. However: Lights placed behind the band need to point up, preferably through smoke for visibility. If lights are placed behind the band and then aimed down at the audience, all they do is shine directly in the audience’s eyes, temporarily blinding us, followed by filling us with the hateful rage of a thousand angry bees. SO YOU DON’T DO THAT. So stupid.

Sean Elliiot had his number retired?

After that, all of their crap was whisked away by the roadies, and almost as if to serve as an apology for the previous half hour or so, the PA system blasted a bunch of old metal/heavier classic rock stuff, like Judas Priest and Deep Purple, while we all waited for the thing we came here for to happen.  It was a pretty uneventful half-hour or so, except for this one big tubbo in a hockey jersey who we overheard responding to someone’s disapproval of the aforementioned “Heaven and Hell” situation with a really nasal-sounding “eh, it’s okay, he’s dead now anyway.” Made me want to fog up his nerd glasses and hang him upside down from something, while I broke all his DVDs of Kevin Smith movies. Sorry, I’m just kind of pent-up about people who can’t appreciate Ronnie James Dio, you know? Speaking of which, going back in time to outside the building before the show started, this older-looking dude in a jean jacket smothered in band logo patches just sort of looked over at me, yelled “RONNIE JAMES” and kept walking, and for some reason, it was the coolest thing ever. Someday, I’m gonna get me a jean jacket and be the old dude at the show who appreciates the younger dude’s shirt. I think I actually have a Sacred Reich patch somewhere already. Anyway, we just stood and chilled for a while, and when all the roadies disappeared, the lights got all weird, and the band’s unofficial real opening act –  a recording of UFO’s “Doctor Doctor” – played, we knew we were about to see some shit. (more…)

paaaaaaalm treeeeeee“We ain’t got them fancy trees like that in dang ol’ Oklahoma”

When last we spoke, Sarah and I had taken the car and hit the open road to make our wildest dreams come true of seeing Iron Maiden live. But we’re not to that part yet, since there was a whole day of just hanging out in San Antonio beforehand and another one after, which is going to screw with the timeline here some, but you weren’t there, so you won’t notice. Anyway, the original plan was for this extra day or two of our Iron Maiden Vacation to be spent mostly just lounging around the hotel room, finally running free from the responsibilities of a house full of dogs, with the drooling and the shedding and the crapping and whatnot, just eat our cooler full of Walmart deli sammiches when necessary, and maybe stroll around the general walking-distance area of the pretty touristy section of town we were in at some point. Basically, just take it easy, do the whole Iron Maiden thing, maybe check out the market and the Alamo, then take it easy again, then go home.

*cough*Then, Sarah’s dad decided to join us. He lives right at the border, so this was a much easier trip than going all the way to south Oklahoma, so I guess it made sense. On one hand, when you’re both grown-ass adults and are getting away from real life together for the first time ever, having someone else just sort of announce that they’re coming with you is potentially awkward and strange. But you know, he had been really flaky with several previous instances of “I’m gonna come up there next month,” resulting in her not having seen him in a couple of years, so I was cool with it. Of course, I didn’t really know him all that well and didn’t really take the hint of hearing the phone conversation on speaker of him saying “Iron Maiden? Oh, that sounds like something I might like to see,” followed by Sarah frantically, emphatically being like “Oh, it’s sold out, no more tickets, ever ever ever, and county authorities are burning down the AT&T Center after the show,” (possibly not an accurate quote) so I had no idea that  our little getaway was about to turn into us being background characters (along with her grandfather) in his BIG SAN ANTONIO VACATION ADVENTURE.

“Enjoy your stay, you guys.”

So all that time we were going to spend wearing pajama pants and enjoying a room with cable TV and no thin layer of animal hair on every surface was going to be cut drastically short, because he had places he wanted to go, and we were going to go with him. For the most part, this was still not too big a deal, because this just took us to the Alamo and El Mercado, which were probably the only two touristy places we were going to check out, anyway. But it got really clear really fast that anything we wanted to see or do  was going to consist of a quick glance as we jogged to catch up with Sarah’s dad, as he was drawn ever forward, as though compelled by the siren’s song of anything relating to firearms and liquor. And he was really, really insistent that we eventually had to go to this place called the Buckhorn, which doubled as a Texas Ranger museum and bar, with the selling point being that they had taxidermied animals all over the place, leading me to believe that he and his daughter had never actually met before. But anyway, once we were in the market, we were both completely pumped to thoroughly check out the crazy-ass assortment of goods made in China, shipped to Mexico, and then brought up to Texas, such as bootlegged t-shirts, possibly bootlegged lucha libre masks, and possibly legit assorted glass Talavera decorative-type thingies, but we had to quickly abandon any hope of actually buying any of that stuff, because, “hey, there’s this bar I want you to see.” So for the time being, I had to just accept that luchador masks can wait; luchador masks can wait till another day. Because we would quickly have to move on, and go somewhere else. In a truck. A truck that was being driven… By Sarah’s father.

The horror

I never figured that driving around in a major city would be a simple or easy thing. But dudes. Dudes. DUDES. You ever see people do that thing in movies or whatever, where they get off a plane, and they’re so afraid of flying that they’re so happy to be out of the sky and back on the stupid ground that they kneel down and kiss the nasty-ass runway? Well, that feeling is real, and I have had it now. I have been in a vehicle that’s gone close to a mile without the driver ever actually looking forward. I have been in a vehicle that’s made a left turn out of the right-hand lane. I’ve had to yell at a driver “whoa whoa whoa, there’s people behind you, stop, stop, stop” multiple times in one trip. I’ve had to try my damnedest to not visibly show my fear when the driver – who had popped a handful of assorted prescription medications shortly before he got in the truck – explained that he was okay to drive, because he drank all those beers slowly. In those frantic, misguided treks around San Antonio, in my last hours as a slave to the power of death, I came face to face with my own mortality, looking through the glass at the last sights of a world that had gone very wrong for me. So I sat there, tensed with sheer inner terror, holding Sarah’s  hand in a death-grip, while she kept her steel resolve as a navigator and was desperately trying to steer her dad in the right direction, which was usually a losing battle:

“Okay, turn right here. RIGHT. Left goes to the highway, and we don’t want to do that.”
“Huh? Well, maybe we’ll take the highway…”

Seriously, I know now what soldiers are talking about when they tell you that you’ll never understand what they’ve been through unless you were there. I’VE BEEN IN THE SHIT, YOU GUYS.


But we all survived, and of course, being a bunch of bullshit tourists, we had to see the Alamo before we left. And you know, I’ve only been to a small handful of historical sites and museums in my time,  and despite being the most famous one of all of them, this place was the most underwhelming thing possible. Aside from the church – you know, the part that’s usually just referred to as “The Alamo,” which was where Pee Wee’s bike was supposed to have been kept – almost all of the original compound has been gone for well over a hundred years. And hell, that part is almost shockingly tiny has been rebuilt and restored so many times that if William Cenotaph, touring this fall with Gorgoroth and Ulver.Travis ever used his mutant powers of time travel to see what was crackin’ in 2012, he’d probably barely even recognize the place. There’s the church, a tiny remaining bit of the barracks, and then, a bunch of buildings made in modern times, and even in the museum part, most of the “hey look at all this history!” stuff is bare bones as all hell, and every so often you’ll see a gun or a knife or something that was just built around the time, and based on the information given, might not have ever been on the Alamo grounds until the 1970s or so. The whole place just really seemed like a flimsy excuse to build a gift shop in a highly populated area for the most part. There was a really cool monument outside the place that Wikipedia tells me is referred to as a cenotaph, which sounds like something that a Norwegian black metal band would be named after or some sort of mythological horse-monster, so that’s pretty cool. Also, a truly kick-ass koi pond, where some of those sumbitches had to be at least two feet long, but it probably would have been weird to put a giant koi on the Texas state quarter design. Anyway, not to brag, but based on the historical sites that resulted, Vicksburg, Mississippi had a way more kick-ass tragic siege than San Antonio.

chairman of the Days Inn
You’ve been living so long in hiding, in hiding behind that false mask...

To throw the timeline of things off a bit, we actually made it back to the market the day after the show, (I’ll get to that part next time) and while the four of us were eating frozen grocery store burgers in the food court, Sarah masterfully suggested that they could go check out that Buckhorn place, and we would just wander around the market, like we had originally intended. And it was completely awesome, and we ended up spending way too much on a wide assortment of trinkets and doo-dads, and I managed to pick up the teeny-tiny El Santo mask that had caught my eye the day before. Or maybe it was an El Hijo Del Santo mask; I’m not really sure, but I always assumed they wore the same stuff anyway. But the true masterful find of the day was when Sarah stumbled across the L.A. Park mask I have on in that picture up there. In addition to being way more fancy and up-to-date than the WCW-era La Parka mask I already head, it was a size bigger than how these things are normally made, so I can cram my giant noggin in it with no problems at all. And man, the names and personal relations of Mexican wrestlers can get really confusing at times. So you had La Parka, but then he got fired by the company he worked for, and they owned all the copyrights, so they just stuck a different guy in his costume, and the real La Parka switched to the Darth Maul mask and became L.A. Park. But since then, L.A. Park patched things up with AAA and has actually wrestled both with and against La Parka as opponents and tag team partners, while wearing nearly identical outfits. Oh, and then, the original La Parka (L.A. Park) has an uncle who wrestles as Super Parka, and he’s wrestled in six-man tag matches teaming up with the two other La Parkas. So anyway, yeah, I have the mask of both La Parkas now, even though they’re both the same guy, but also two different people. Also, this one time when I was playing a bootlegged copy of Fire Pro Wrestling A for the Gameboy Advance, I tried to create a disco-themed luchador named “El Hijo Del Sabado Noche,” and I’ve never mentioned that to anyone until now.

“There’s no time! You’ll just have to shoot us both!”

The plan was to spend all our grocery money at the market, then call Sarah’s dad and have him pick us up, then go do whatever the hell we were all going to do. Funny thing though, when faced with the prospect of going to the Buckhorn – which he had lovingly spoken of his desire to see for about 48 straight hours at this point – without dragging along two people who were clearly not interested in matters pertaining to whiskey and antlers, he just sort of decided he didn’t want to go anymore, and instead crashed back at their hotel room. So we were stuck a few miles away from the hotel, without the ride we figured would be withing walking distance of. Then, we remember who the ride was and what it was like riding with them, and just decided that two or three miles isn’t really that far, all things considered, and with chaotically-steered tons of steel becoming involved, it could possibly become just two miles from here to eternity. So yeah, we walked. And it was pleasant as hell, the shade seemed to follow us wherever we went, and we even got a much better look at the Alamo than the day before. Then, when we got back to the hotel, we decided to order food from this delivery place that had menus in all the rooms, they screwed up the order, and when Sarah decided to walk outside to the Coke machine for frosty beverage of some sort, some sketchy-looking dude was hiding behind the machines, peeing in the stairwell. So you can never win, dudes. You can never win.

Disco! Disco! Good! Good!

Also, a lot of the highway overpasses in San Antonio have parking lots underneath, and some of them have crazy light show crap going on after dark, for some reason. It’s like a dance party for all the parked cars, and it’s the best.

NEXT TIME: The last part, with the actual Iron Maiden concert, wherein the ritual has begun and Satan’s work is done.The evil face that twists my mind and brings me to despair...


When last we spoke, I was having my face rocked off by Anthrax, Motorhead, and Slayer at the Mayhem Festival in Oklahoma City. It was the first real full-on concert I had been to, despite my advanced age of 73 years, (citation needed) but that wasn’t the original plan for such an occurrence. You see, way back in April, when I was feeling pretty honkey-rich from tax refundage, we found out that Iron Maiden was going to be within a few hundred miles of us, and holy crap, we had to go. It didn’t matter that it was going to seriously cost damn near three times what we paid for Slaythraxhead last month, and it didn’t matter that the closest they were coming was Dallas, which was already going to be a shitty drive, and that the venue there looked potentially crappy enough to warrant an extra few hundred miles to San Antonio. Because this is no ordinary band, this is Iron Goddamn Maiden. You wait for video for a regular movie, but you spend the cash to see the big special effects blockbuster on the big screen. Iron Maiden is the big special effects blockbuster of bands, and for some ungodly reason, they don’t spend much time in this quadrant of the globe. So if they’re even slightly nearby and if you have the time to lose, an open mind, and time to choose, just let yourself go, because wherever you are, Iron Maiden’s gonna get you, no matter how far. So tickets were ordered, vacation time was requested, and after a last-minute laundry scramble to get together all the crap were were going to need the Monday before, the trip began.

(this was actually taken like a week earlier, but it was too awesome to not throw up somewhere)
“Drive carefully, you guys.”

 THE TRIP: Sarah and I had pretty much spent our entire long road trip lives being pulled out of bed at midnight for a late-night drive, which effectively avoids most of the traffic, but sucks any and all fun out of the experience, since you’re half-dead and can’t see shit. So after a restful five or so hours of tossing and turning, we took off at not-quite 6:00 in the A.M., meaning there would only be about an hour of darkness, followed by the full vacation experience, the way Clark Griswold intended. Sarah ended up doing all the driving on the way there, (which was her idea, although I certainly wasn’t complaining) so I pretty much live-tweeted most of the highlights, and if you’re a decent human being who loves American freedom, you already follow me on the Twitters, so you’ve read that by now. But for all you unpatriotic heathens who don’t, a quick rundown:

#VEHICULARMANSLAUGHTER– When you get to Texas, the sign welcoming you there asks you to “drive friendly the Texas way,” which is such a farce that it borders on actually being offensive if you’ve ever had to drive in or near that state. Since moving to Oklahoma a hundred years ago, I’ve actually had to add “Texas plates” to my mental list of things that make me immediately cover the clutch with my left foot, tensed and ready to stomp the breaks and/or swerve if necessary. For those of you keep count at home, this list also includes anyone below the age of 25 or above the age of 70, all makes and models of minivan, trucks that require the use of a ladder for entry, anything that already has visible crash damage, and anything that even resembles a Ford Mustang.

AWW PUDDIN– Here’s PUDDIN VALLEY ROAD, which I’m pretty sure runs by the place where the My Little Ponies who have the Southern accents and pick apples live. I mean, if there was such a thing, which I totally wouldn’t know about, because I’ve never watched dozens of episodes of that show, SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP GONNA GO DO CAR REPAIRS AND DRINK BEERS.

GIANT SPUR– Since everything is bigger in Texas, not only did we see a giant spur in Hico, but a giant rocking chair that we didn’t get a picture of in some other town that I forgot the name of. Somewhere, there’s an enormous cowboy who’s pissed off about not being able to find his one spur and wanting to smash up some towns, but once he takes some time to sit down in the chair and chill for a minute, everything will be okay. It’s just a spur, man. Let it go.

holy crap
(Hey dudes, go buy Football Metaphysics for Enlightened Degenerates today)

– In a mysterious location in Texas, (Twitter tells me Adamsville, but I totally don’t remember passing through there) over the course of a couple minutes, in adjoining pastures, we passed both a smashed-up, abandoned limousine and an actual goddamn zebra, as in the stripey African horse-cousin. I’m not one to get into the whole spiritual or metaphysical side of things, but sweet god damn, there’s no way that doesn’t mean something.  Is the zebra my Spirit animal, like what them Injuns talked about? Does the decrepit limo represent the inevitable doom that awaits all who seek the white man’s riches? I don’t know, and perhaps I will never know. But what I do know is that on the return trip (SPOILERS:  We made it back here without dying) we kept our eyes peeled like a couple damn hawks looking for that limo and that zebra, but they weren’t there anymore. Holy shit, dudes, were they ever really there in the first place? Was it all just an illusion? WAS THE ZEBRA A LIE? If nothing else, at least a zebra is pretty much as far as you can get from a pale horse. Someday, when I’m decadently wealthy, totally getting a zebra, though. It could hang out on our expansive compound, and I could feed it carrots, and it would be awesome, except it wouldn’t winnie like a horse, because Zoo Tycoon told me that they just sort of go “buck-buck” like an amazing chicken. Do zeebers even eat carrots? Huh. Man, I think I have to find a river somewhere to just sit down and think about all this for a while.

The biggest lie in this entire blog post is how I managed to get a picture of this particular stretch of road without a million cars in it, because THAT’S HOW MANY CARS WERE ACTUALLY THERE.

– Due to Sarah’s genius route-planning, which completely forsook traditional interstate methods of travel in favor of regular little highways, the drive was a breeze for the most part, as close to relaxing as anything that involves going 70 miles an hour can be. But then, shit got real when we finally made it to San Antonio itself, which still involved like half an hour of driving, because the place is enormous. And it all just made glaringly obvious how much the both of us were absolute country mice, completely unaccustomed to driving at such an advanced level.  In an unfamiliar area at a high rate of speed, surrounded by giant concrete walls on one side and at least thirty other vehicles in our general vicinity at any time; vehicles who cared not for speed limits, clearly marked lines indicating lanes, or that there might be a large, solid object already in the lane they wanted to enter. Basically, Texans are the worst drivers on Earth, and here were like a thousand of them on all sides, going at least a million miles an hour. I’m pretty sure it was a lot like what Hell would be like if the computer-animated cars from Cars went to hell when they died. Ideally, we would have made our way to the hotel with me using the GPS thingy on the phone to navigate, but dudes, I’m not gonna lie to y’all, I just absolutely crumbled under the pressure. Not to say that I was rocking back and forth and crying and going “We’re dead meat, man! Game over man, game over!” or anything, but I’m pretty sure I was actually holding the phone upside down more than once. It was kind of pathetic, but thankfully, Sarah just took the hell over like a champ, all “GIVE ME THE PHONE” and such, as though driving around in major cities was just something she did all the time, and despite the best efforts of one-way streets and confusingly-named two-way ones, we made it. Oddly enough, it wasn’t the scariest experience we had in a vehicle over the next few days, but more on that in a little while.

NEXT: We wander around San Antonio, see the Alamo, buy things from Mexico, and take a DEATHRIDE INTO TERROR.

Good to know.
So, this guy right here? Apparently, he fucks like a beast.

This may come as a shock to you who know me as a well-traveled, worldly man of… the world, but prior to not quite a week ago, I had never been to an actual concert before. I mean, I had been to shows before, which is what you call it when there are maybe 60 people and you’re not delusional enough to call it a concert, and there were all the Blues Festival/B.B. King Day festivities as a kid, but those honestly had more of an “arts and crafts fair, usually without any arts or crafts” vibe going on. I can’t count those, because there are no lawn chairs at a concert. Then, my brother pops up and tells that this whole big thing is going down, and he needs people to go with him, because he’s surrounded by normal human beings who would recoil in horror at anything that even looked like Slayer, much less sounded like them. So tickets were bought, days off were requested, and me and Sarah hopped in a giant gold Caprice (For full metal effect, we should have taken the giant red Trans Am, but it had no air conditioning or insurance and runs at about eight gallons per mile, so to hell with that) to our former lands in the North. The actual trip there was uneventful, and I think I passed out at least once, so I won’t tell you about it. Actually I just did. What the hell, man? (Also, unless otherwise noted, the  videos posted were filmed by YouTube peoples who go by the internet handles bustedface, shabby1975, and sciomancy6, then straight-up jacked via YouTube embed codes for use here. The photos were all by us, though.) (more…)