Tagged: too many tags

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...

ROCK OUT WOOOOOOOOThis was the first Google Image Search result for “rocking Sentra,” and as such, I feel it is appropriate.

Yes, my gentle readers, (All seven or so of you? Christ.) it’s another multi-part, ongoing thing that I’ll probably abandon really fast, but you’re not paying for this, so quiet, you. Anyway. A while back, I found this site, Rate Your Music, where you search out and enter all the musical crap you own, and do things like rate it, review it, and make really snooty, unnecessary, and/or completely asinine lists regarding it, (The world does not need a top 500 list for a given year, because if it’s made by one person, that person is a goddamn liar.) however you see fit. And being a complete and utter dork, I did that. Or at least I mostly did that, because after a while, it occurred to me that I have way too much crap, and it struck me that I couldn’t actually rate some of it, because I had barely even listened to it. You see, between the acquisition of fast internet and ensuing complete moral lapse that happened around 2002 and the one time around 2006 when I was kind of semi honkey-rich and just wouldn’t stop raiding clearance and used bins at Hastings for $3 metal CDs, I accumulated a whole bunch of crap, and most of it got lost in the shuffle.

But now, I find myself with a thirty-plus minute drive home from work, coupled with about an hour or so a week of yard-mowing time, and god dammit, it’s time to pull some of this crap out (or, you know, load it on various mp3-playing new-fangled dee-vices) and actually listen to it, and justify its existence on my hard drive or shelf. And since I’m apt to do that sort of thing, I’m sharing the results of this half-baked musical quest with you, the internet. (Hi, internet.) Just keep in mind, though, that I’m not a professional music reviewer, and I’m probably not that good of an amateur one, so this is mostly going to be a bunch of “well, this sounds like so-and-so, crossed with so-and-so,” and “ha ha, oh man, this sucks.” But once again, you’re not paying for this.