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Month: January 2010 (page 1 of 5)

This is what could have happened to my brother Charlie if he’d grown up in Japan under radically different circumstances but still played the bass guitar.

Hahah! Excited to see you next weekend, Cha Cha!

01 – Of Friends and Lovers

In front of me on the altar lies my best friend Arturo, cold, grey, and dead in a box.  Arturo’s mother cries throughout the service, silently soaking her dainty handkerchief with tears and snot.  Beside her, his father holds the sans-handkerchief hand, looking stoic and strong, but the heavy lines of his face reveal the war this tragedy has caused inside his head.  Oh, poor babies.  Is it wrong to feel so little when so many people are mourning?

His sister Eva—god, she looks tight today in that black dress—speaks after the priest gives his eulogy, generic but comforting to those who would have it.  She is so sincere.  I am impressed.  She says they all miss Arturo, his bright smile, his laugh, his winning attitude.  That it is such a tragedy to have one so young taken from them before he had the chance to affect the world.  Cut down in the spring time of his life.  Strong and handsome, Arturo was a man who loved his family, his friends, his country, his God.  

I zone out.  

I imagine the taste of her lip gloss on my lips, something fruity, sparkles smeared on my face.  I try and imagine the color of her panties.  I stare at her tits gently jiggling in her dress as she gesticulates meaningfully during her speech, adding appropriate emphasis to the most poignant, heart-felt moments, when his auntie who is sitting next to me grabs my hand and looks deeply into my eyes.  Hers are filled with tears, red, swollen.  I do my best to play it like I have been captivated by Eva’s words rather than staring at her amazing rack, but the woman is so lost in her sadness that I could have been screaming and cursing and throwing things across the church pews and she still would have thought I was displaying a sensible expression of grief over Arturo, my sweet lost best friend.

Eva finishes and sits and some cousin who I have never met comes up and plays some sad sounding song on the piano I don’t know but which really opens the water works in the crowd.  I hide my face in my hands to avoid any more sincere exchanges of misery.  I close my eyes, enjoying the darkness, and press my palms hard into my eye sockets.  Hopefully the redness the pressure causes will be enough to convince people I have been suffering silently, tears barely held back in this moment of extreme loss.  

Oh, poor Arturo.  If only you were here to see how hot your sister looks today.

With my head swimming, full of Eva, I notice myself coming to half-mast—probably best not to stand up from the pew with a boner—I fill my head with all the unsexy thoughts I can muster: my sixth grade homeroom teacher, the homeless man who used to pee on my window and then shit himself while napping on my block, taxes, the rotten fish smell of the wharf on a hot summer day.  I focus so hard on not getting hard that I barely notice when the funeral procession begins.  Arturo’s dad passes me, misinterprets my attempts to thwart my erection as grief-induced detachment, and places his hand on my shoulder in a show of support.  

“Come, David,” he says, “let’s pay our final respects.”

I look up at him, my eyes still glazed and red from the pressure of my palms, and nod silently.  As one of the pallbearers—it’s me, his father, three of his male cousins, and some ridiculous curly haired guy he went to college with—I take my place at the head of casket opposite his father, good old Gus, and cast my eyes across the solemn, expectant crowd.  They are all miserable.  I hope that none of them can tell that I feel nothing for Arturo right now.  It is the living sibling I am more concerned with at this point.

I catch Eva’s eyes and think I read the briefest glimmer of a message there.  Hope for later?  A promise?  Is she thinking about me as much as I am thinking about her?  I shudder and close my eyes, my lips pursed, and swallow hard.  I conjure unsexy thoughts at a heretofore unreached pinnacle of torturousness.  I grimace at the choice scenes playing across my mind’s eye.

Gus catches my revealing facial expression and says to me, “It’s ok.  You can let it out, son.  It’s ok to let go.”  Gus, if I let go of the careful mental balancing act happening inside my head right now, I would bear your son’s coffin down this aisle with my cock like diamond, laughing at how stupid you all look.

I decide against letting go.

The casket lifts slightly and I take the cue and we start leading it down the aisle of the Roman Catholic church holding the service, with its idols and stations of the cross and blood sacrifice.  Roman Catholics are a strange bunch.  I do not and will never fully understand their mysteries.  Gus is a believer though, and Arturo’s mom, Adoracion, well, just look at her name.  I feign it for them, if only so they don’t suspect.

We make it halfway down the aisle when a woman wails and throws herself on the coffin.  Her weight makes my arm hurt.  I turn and place my other hand on her and realize that it is Adoracion in the flesh.  She grabs my lapels, tears streaming down her cheeks, and collapses into me.  Eva grabs her mother and I hand her off, but not before Eva lightly brushes my hand with her own.  I nod to them both with as much gravitas as I can muster and continue down the aisle, my hand still tingling from the electricity in Eva’s touch.

A hearse waits for us at the bottom of the stairs leading down from the entrance of the church.  Much of the audience, if you want to call them that, lines the stairs on either side of the path to the hearse.  The rest of the onlookers file out behind us.  Solemnly, with tremendous weight and importance, we lead the wood and metal box containing the sad, empty flesh of poor, sweet Arturo into the back of the hearse and shut the rear door.  Tears erupt in the crowd when the latch connects, signaling the very last car ride Arturo will ever take.  I am tempted to call shotgun.

Gomorah’s “Excrement”

Pretty sweet, metal as hell video. The song’s a little spastic, but overall it’s pretty damn cool. This seems like a band that is really going to come into its own on their second record. I look forward to it. A lot of potential here and a sweet video.

The Kandidate’s “Give Up All Hope”

I don’t know what it is about these guys, but I am totally in love with this. I only checked out the video out of curiosity, but these guys totally kill it. Maybe it’s the way these guys, deliberately or not, nailed the updated 90s metal feel. Maybe it’s just nostalgia for the metal of my youth washing over me. Maybe it’s that I can understand the words, but the band is clearly aggro as hell. It’s as if 90s hardcore and Southern Metal had a baby and that baby was awesome. It’s heavy, it’s thick, it’s crunchy, it’s punk, it’s metal, it’s fresh.

Seriously, best new band I’ve heard in a while. I can’t wait to pick up their record.

And the video is pretty rad too. I usually HATE videos with lots of performance, but the silhouette against the projection thing is really working for me. Amazing.

Did I say that I liked this yet? I do.

Evergreen Terrace’s “Sending Signals”

Say what you will, I think Evergreen Terrace is an awesome band. Over time, they’ve been shifting from a good, if not exactly unique, hardcore band, to a totally rocking hard edged rock band. This song is a perfect example of that evolution. I also like that the dude who does clean vocals doesn’t sound like anyone else and totally avoids the whiney emo-tinged wailing you find so often in sub-par bands who imitate but do not innovate. Devil Wears Prada, I’m looking at you.

And isn’t the name “Evergreen Terrace” totally awesome? 10 points if you get it.

Famous Literary Addicts

This story is making the rounds today, but I thought it was cool enough to share.

There’s no secret that substance abuse has always traveled hand in hand with people in the literary world. It’s just a thing. It doesn’t make it ok, but it’s fascinating nevertheless. For example, did you know that Ayn Rand was addicted to speed? No, neither did I. But here she is, looking a little crispy around the edges.

It's the eyes, man.

Intense.

Life has posted a gallery of famous literary addicts. I knew that Burroughs was a junk addict, but I had no idea that Louisa May Alcott (of Little Women fame) was too. Wild!

Famous Literary Drunks & Addicts

Check it out.

Power Metal & Me, or, Why I Cannot Take Myself Too Seriously

Over at Invisible Oranges today, Cosmo Lee is further exploring his distaste for power metal. Personally, I like power metal. It’s cheesy and stupid and ridiculous, but it is also totally awesome. It’s like you’ve got a bunch of dudes sitting around after an epic campaign of AD&D (2nd ruleset, duh) and they’re all talking about how to make the most epic metal ever.

“Well guys, we probably need operatic vocals,” says one.

“And probably powerful sweeping guitars,” says another.

“And the guitars could have solo battles with the synthesizers,” says a third.

“Yeah, that would be rad,” says the first.

“And we probably need a constant barrage of double bass drums,” says yet another.

“And our lyrics should be about elves and unicorns and dragons and shit.”

And thus was Power Metal born into this world. If ever there was a metal genre filled with earnest as hell guys pursuing the impossible dream by making the silliest, unicorn-filled music ever, it is Power Metal.

Here is a selection of some of my favorites of the genre. Let’s start with Rhapsody, perhaps THE awesome, MOST ridiculous Power Metal band of all time. Even better, they’re Italian. This is “Power of the Dragonflame.” Is that not an awesome song title?

Next is Demons & Wizards, probably my first intro to true modern Power Metal. My friend Deegan came over one day and was all, “Dude, do you have Napster?” and I was all, “Over dial up, yeah,” and he was all, “Dude, find a song called ‘Poor Man’s Crusade’ right now,” and I was all, “Ok.” Well, I did and it was AWESOME.

This song, “Fiddler on the Green,” is from the same record. It is, I think my favorite song on the record and has a 3 and a half minute build to insanely powerful power metal magic.

Star One is a one-off side project by Anthony Arjen Lucassen of Ayreon. The record, called “Space Metal,” is a Power Metal concept record based on Science Fiction movies.

Wait. Read that again.

A POWER METAL CONCEPT RECORD BASED ON SCIENCE FICTION MOVIES. What the fucking fuck? That is so awesome. Films include Stargate, Star Wars, and fucking Dune. Honestly, I can’t think of anything that combines dork and awesome more perfectly.

Here’s a fan-made video for “Eye of Ra” from that record.

Dream Evil, who I posted one below this one, is a Swedish Power Metal band I saw for the first time live playing with Carnal Forge, Testament, Immortal, and Rob Halford—a strange line up to be sure. But they totally rock. Here’s “Fire, Battle, Metal!”

Hammerfall is another band doing epic heavy cheese as well as anyone and they totally rock. This is “Renegade.”

With this light survey of Power Metal under our belts, what do we now understand. For me, Power Metal is awesome if you are able to relax and not take yourself too seriously. While I think that there are guys in this scene who live and breathe this shit, I also think there’s a significant contingent of guys who are laughing right along with the fans. Sometimes you can make and enjoy things just because they’re fun. That, more than unicorns and dragons and elves and trolls, is what Power Metal is about for me. I love Pig Destroyer, but my music doesn’t always have to be so serious.

Dream Evil’s “The Book of Heavy Metal”

Dream Evil is an awesome Swedish power metal band and this video is suitably cheesy. It rules.