Category: Music


System: XBox 360 (also released for the Playstation 3 and PC, but I’m only going to actually list the system I played it on)
Release Year: 2009
Developer: Double Fine Productions
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Best Football Card I pulled in 2009: 2009 Bowman Draft Picks Platinum Malcolm Jenkins 1/1
Cool Heavy Metal Album From 2009: GWAR – Lust in Space

YOOOU GUUUUYYYYS. This would have been the most perfect video game possible when I was fifteen. I mean, if I had been fifteen around 1985 or so. And if 1985 humans could comprehend a video game that wasn’t just flat colored blocks that went BLEEP BLEEP BLOOP. And if whatever weird strain of autism I have didn’t make me wait until I was sixteen to start getting into The Metal. And if my appreciation for power metal didn’t start at some point in my twenties. But you get the point, I hope.

This game is basically Tim Shaffer’s intimate, filthy love letter to the very concept of heavy metal, and everything it might stand for in the minds of people who would dare to spell Heavy Metal with capital letters. Like the opening scene of the game involves downtrodden roadie Eddie Riggs (voiced by Jack Black, playing himself, because much like Danny McBride, that’s what he should always be doing) having to put up with the bullshit of a terrible, spoiled nu-metal band. (think pre-crisis Linkin Park, before the backstreetly-boyish sounding dude saw the writing on the wall, bought some thick-rimmed glasses, and started screeching the way Kid Rock fans think is what emo sounds like) And then, a bunch of insanity happens, the entire band is gruesomely killed, and Eddie is magically transported to A METAL LAND IN AN ANCIENT TIME. From there you join a ragtag group of hesher rebels trying to free the Brütal Land from the forces of evil, which includes glam rock posers, Hot Topic/Nightmare Before Christmas goth posers, and demons rocking a weird S&M/Catholic Church kinda look, led by a dude voiced by freaking Tim Curry. TWO THIRDS OF YOUR ENEMIES REPRESENT FALSE METAL, YOU GUYS, AND THE OTHER THIRD IS PENNYWISE THE CLOWN. In time, your ranks grow until your allies include Rob Halford, Lemmy Kilmister, and Ozzy Osbourne pretty much just playing themselves, and Lita Goddamn Ford playing some sort of black metal jungle lady who rides around on a fire-breathing gorilla/cat thing with Gene Simmons makeup. Holy shit. And as well as chopping hella dudes with a big ol’ axe, you can also kill people with guitar solos, which were recorded in real life by Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing, and the pivotal parts of the game turn all Real-Time Strategy, where you command your Army of Metal on a field of glory, which is the most metal thing anyone can do in life. And this is all in addition to the crazy-ass metal-as-all-getout soundtrack, with over 100 songs, plumbing the depth of everything you’d ever want in a game about Metal, aside from Iron Maiden, which is a bummer, but still. It runs the gamut of everything from Mastodon to Diamond Head to Ministry to Def Leppard to Emperor to UFO to Carcass, Ratt, Enslaved, and all points in between, all playing while you run over shit with your car.  Everything about this game is beautiful and perfect.

eddielemmyBeautiful and perfect, just like Lemmy Kilmister.

The Case Against: The big problem people seem to have against Brütal Legend is the some pretty blatant false advertising this game got prior to release, where the battlefield strategy parts went completely unmentioned, and it was hyped up as a God of War-style hack-and-kill sort of game. And yeah, there’s plenty of hacking and killing, but the major “boss battle” parts are all Real Time Strategy. But hell, God of War already exists, and people not giving two shits about Dante’s Inferno kind of indicates that the world only needs one God of War series at this point. So fuck all y’all, the strategy parts just make this its own semi-unique game, and I’m sorry y’all are too dumb to do anything but run into a crowd of dudes, swinging your axe until you die again. My complaint is that the story mode is too short, to the point where once I finally got used to leading my army to glory, the game was over. But I guess “there should have been more of this game” is kind of like praising with faint damnation.

brutal_legend_200908151529281Which is probably the best kind of damnation, honestly.

(Since I have no interesting personal memories of this one) TOP TEN SONGS ABOUT HEAVY METAL OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD:

  1. Tenacious D – “The Metal”
  2. Metallucifer – “Heavy Metal is My Way”
  3. Death Angel – “Devil’s Metal”
  4. Metallica – “Metal Militia”
  5. Judas Priest – “Heavy Metal”
  6. Anvil – “Metal on Metal”
  7. Exodus – “Bonded by Blood” (these all having the word metal in the title was by coincidence, not by design)
  8. Sammy Hagar – “Heavy Metal”
  9. Venom – “Black Metal”
  10. Manowar – “Die for Metal”

Current Top Million Billion Video Games of All Time, as of 7-29-2015:

  1. Brütal Legend (2009 EA/Double Fine, Xbox 360)
  2. Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!! (1987 Nintendo, NES)
    3-10,000,000,000,000,000. TBD


Many many moons ago, there was no internet. Well there was, but it was this weird text-only thing where you had to sit a phone (which was not yet mobile) on a little cradle, and it was all balding dudes with ponytails bitching about Star Trek. At least that’s how it looks in my mind; hell, I only was around computers, internet-ready or otherwise, starting in the late ’90s like most of y’all. But either way, there were no websites, there was no YouTube, and getting information about anything that wasn’t covered in newspapers or just happened to be on TV at the same time you were in front of a TV was not a thing you could just casually stumble ass-backwards into. So we had magazines; these big papery things with words and pictures in them, and they came out once a month usually, and they were real big with musically minded people, especially if their musical minds were on things that FM radio wasn’t going to touch or MTV was going to stick after midnight. So in the 80s and 90s, the world became absolutely flooded with various and sundry heavy metal magazines, and at some point, people started saying, “hey, why not just do something like this in video form?” and video magazines happened, which were basically like a music-based TV show, but with no commercials and some cussing. And people loves them some cussing. One of these was called Hard N Heavy, and as looking back at regular paper metal magazines has kinda become a thing I’m all about lately, I was pretty pumped that 20 of these Hard N Heavy tapes popped up on Hulu Plus at some point. (I dunno if they’re on regular non-paid Hulu, but you might check, I guess. And if they’re not, someone’s probably got them on YouTube or BitTorrent by now. Information finds a way, and that way is usually piracy.)  This isn’t the full run of these tapes, as what’s on Hulu starts with stuff from 1993, and I’m pretty sure this thing started in 1989. But anyway, what’s called Episode One is from ’93, and it’s entitled Raw. Let me tell you about it.


Spent the better part of the time when I was supposed to be Doing Things putting this together on Spotify. (And yeah, it only works if you have Spotify, so sign up for that and whatnot) Honestly, it’s a work that will perpetually be in progress, but even in the initial stages, should be enough to make you want to fistfight a bull elephant, kick the shit out of him, and then pick him up and SHAKE HIS HAND, because YOU ARE A GODDAMN SPORTSMAN.


Here is a brief clip of ridiculous 80s Satanic metal band Venom totally clowning on ridiculous 80s barbarian metal band Manowar. A dude from the olden days of the internets sent this to me as an mp3 he recorded directly from his cassette version of the full interview (oh man) years ago, so for all I know, this might be some sort of half-assed ~EXCLUSIVE CONTENT~ but I’m willing to guess that if I bothered to do a Google search, I’d find it in like thirty different places. (Oh man, what if someone has the full interview? Maybe I will Google it sometime around 2017.) Either way, it’s silly, and the world needs more of that.


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.

flowing gta-vice-city-Flash-FM

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.

1000x1000 R-150-732382-1321401688

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


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.


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…)

I’ll get the third part of the Maiden England Road Report done in the next couple days. Until then, here’s this. Also, a new Armchair Linebacking will have been done sometime between now and Thursday. BE THERE~!

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...