Junk Food Journey - Sour Patch Kids Cereal

This one really caused my jaw to drop. What an idea? Who is the animal that came up with this? Probably the same guy who brought us green and purple ketchup.

This was either going to be a disaster or a stroke of genius and I simply had to know how they managed to synthesize Sour Patch Kids into a nutritious breakfast cereal.

The results were both shocking and conclusive. Watch now.

Junk Food Journey - Orange Vanilla Coca Cola

Typically, flavored seltzer is my beverage of choice. It tastes refreshing without wasting precious calories that can instead be spent on delicious food. If I do drink coke, I prefer non-domestic because they use real sugar instead of the extra poisonous High Fructose Cornsyrup.

In particular, fruit flavored Coke can be really weird, although I do like Cherry. Does Orange Vanilla Coke TASTE like a CREAMSICLE? Let’s find out. I need to know this.

Game of Thrones: The perfect way to catch up.

THE END IS COMING. Are you caught up yet? I’m working on it now. There is a list of episodes floating around the internet that shows you exactly which threads are important for season 8. And while I appreciate the thoughtful gesture, in the end I don’t think it is the way to go.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of watching serialize television is the element of surprise. Is there any lower form of scum than a nasty spoiler posted for all to see on social media? They are scroll-able land mines just waiting to ruin my viewing experience.

Now, to be fair, It is WAY TOO extreme to categorize a list of episodes in the same league as cold hard spoilers, because it’s not. But I just don’t like how even reading the list of episodes forces my brain to make certain connections that it otherwise would not.

The Solution.

Screen Junkies has put together the perfect recap that boils 67 episodes (68ish hours) of story into 52 minutes and 27 seconds of catch up. This way, I can chug the whole story like a can of beer at a frat party without feeling like I might be able to predict where things are heading.

Although I did pass by this (click at your own risk) the other day. I didn’t read the article, but I can’t lie, the headline does have me more excited than annoyed. There is also the chance that it could be hype. But your brain does automatically start trying to figure out what kind of moment it could possibly be based on where things are left at the end of Season 7. Oy.

Ok, stop reading THIS, and instead WATCH THAT below!

Misfits Reunion? Sometimes April Fools jokes can come true.

All the way up to 3 years ago, if you had said on April 1st, 2016 that Glenn Danzig, Jerry Only, and Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein would reunite as The Misfits and play Riot Fest you would clearly be joking. If someone didn’t look at the calendar, their heart would skip a beat as they read the news. Today, not so much because we now live in a world where Green Hell has frozen over.

It is truly a surreal notion. The next time you think something is truly impossible, just remember that Glenn Danzig and Jerry Only shared a stage as The Misfits after 10/29/83. Anything is possible.

Art by  Taylor Love

This is Us: Peeling Back the Layers

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This is Us:

Peeling Back the Layers

WARNING: This review contains SPOILERS.

Please do not read or read with caution IF you have not seen the film yet.

There is one thing that is truly undeniable when it comes to Jordan Peele and his filmmaking: His originality. It is so refreshing in a time plagued with endless reboots, remakes, sequels, and homogenized tent pole concepts meant for the masses. It is that originality that gives Peele an endless well of credibility for me as moviegoer. I will go see ANY genre film this man makes, all you have to do is tell me it is a Jordan Peele film, and I am there - trailer unseen. His brand is that strong, and it continues to outshine any flaws that I have seen in his work.

Peele also possesses an immense pop culture intelligence that has afforded him the ability to subversively weave his influences as well as meaningful symbolism throughout the narratives of his films. Like Get Out, a lot that has been baked into the Us cake.

Things that stood out as I watched:

Shiny objects. The dead twin Tyler girls in the upstairs hallway lie in the same positions as the Shining twins! Considering that Jordan Peele was doing press dressed as Jack Torrance, this didn’t feel like a coincidence.

Froot Brutes. While the Wilson family sits around at the home of Kitty & Josh Tyler (Tim Heidecker & Elisabeth Moss), Jason can be seen eating from a bowl of Froot Loops sans milk. Is this meant to be a nod to the psychotically tranquil scene where Rose Armitage enjoys her segregated “white” milk from “colored” Foot Loops? Does this add further evidence to the crazy reddit theory about Jason? What kind of psycho eats dry cereal as they drink milk? Scary stuff.

C.H.U.D is MY bud. I LOVED seeing the C.H.U.D tape among the other VHS on the shelf at the beginning. Not only is it a nod to the subterranean on goings mentioned just before in the opening preamble, but it feels like a little wink from Peele to reassure Horror fans and Genre nuts that they are getting something good. Additionally, I really appreciated seeing the random tape with a written on label - nostalgia city.

All those damn Vampires. Much like the C.H.U.D tape, another one of those winks was using Santa Cruz and its pier as the setting for the story. It too ties into the whole subterranean theme with the cave that David and his coven of Lost Boys hang out in. It is such a magical yet ominous place that laid on a nice layer of dread, especially in the opening flashback. There is even a very brief mention of the filming of some scary movie that Adelaide’s mother tells her father.

Tuned in. The comedic use of NWA’s song Fuck the Police is the perfect button of satire on the eerie juxtaposition of the Beach Boy’s Good Vibrations playing as the Tylers are savagely murdered by the doppelgangers.  As I’ve read elsewhere online, it ties into the idea of the police being worthless much like we also saw in Get Out. Peele’s cinematic use of music rivals Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, and Danny Boyle.

Chiller. The Thriller shirt is another tasty visual treat that really make us feel the time period, much like the VHS, and the location of Santa Cruz. Just seeing it made me feel the same feeling I felt watching the Thriller video as a lad and added to that same ominous tone. It felt like it was the template for Peele in the same way that Halloween was the template for the opening of Get Out.

Everything went black. I’ve read online that the golden scissors are clearly a symbolic way of revolt by cutting the “Tether".” In hindsight, this is quite obvious. But at the time while I was watching I could only think of the reversal of the silver spoon - a popular expression for those fortunate to be born into wealth. The golden (or perhaps it is brass) scissor (as well as the red jumpsuits) represent a life of endlessly toiling in a garment or sweatshop.

Nobunny loves you. The Tethered are some sort of failed experiment who (exclusively) eat  rabbits - kindred spirits who have always been test subjects in one way or another. Did the cloning start off with experimenting on rabbits? This might explain the rabbit surplus. As I talk about below, it just feels too surreal to be explained in any sort of rational way.

Psycho Killer. There is a really fun theory that Jason is a deadite, there is also a theory that Michael Myers is one of the Tethered. It makes sense. Wow! Such a great idea. It’s as if we have retroactively found mythologies for these slashers! I’m digging it, and with those red jumpsuits they wear, I once again wonder if it is meant to be a tip of the hat in some way.

Revenge. It was really great to see all the Black Flag t shirts! There were 3 in all that in hindsight are pretty self explanatory, it doesn’t get more subversive than that! First we see the My War  shirt at the beginning, followed by the classic bars, and lastly, Jealous Again. So perfect. I love this sort of thing - a great lesson for any filmmaker looking to add rich, symbolic detail to their film. Before the band, the Black Flag was a symbol of Anarchy. I am surprised that Peele didn’t use the Damaged album cover as well, it would have fit perfectly with the rest.

Parental Advisory. Peele takes the gilded idealism (like “Just Say No”) of  Hands Across America from the 80s and just shreds it in the best way ever by turning this empty benevolent gesture from a bygone era into a malevolent focal point of chaos,  anarchy, and carnage. It is deeply linked to whatever trauma was felt by (the real) Adelaide Wilson and really says something about how random things can imprint people during horrific situations and become a symbolistic focal point for them.

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I feel confused, but I am not sure if it is in that good way.

There are a few tiny gripes. I have too many questions about story semantics. They just could not be ignored no matter how much I enjoyed the terrifying performances, masterful filmmaking, dark comedic flourishes, and spine tingling suspense.

Normally I want to revel in the mystery. But with Us, I just needed more answers. I don’t know why. When I got out of the screening, it was a bit frustrating and my initial emotions left me feeling unfulfilled, but I realize that it is probably for my own good. Sometimes when it is all on the table, I begin to nitpick and complain about spoon-fed exposition along with the nagging question of “why everything needs to be explained?”

If I had to guess, it could have been this shift in tone from realism, to what seemed supernatural or surrealism, and then followed by another reversal to realism. When we first meet the doppelgangers, I was sure they had to be supernatural in origin. I was a bit shocked (also a tad let down when they weren’t) and that led to too many questions (not always a bad thing). I hate to say it, but the tonal shift feels (to me) a bit too post Sixth SenseShyamalanistic” like The Village: A misunderstood film, that should be better seen as a Twilight Zone episode.

I got questions.

Ok, I wasn’t going to dive in, but once I started I could not stop. I am still grappling with the “They” who created the Tethered. Who are they? The Government? Do “They” end up keeping tabs on everyone they have cloned and then pair them up? i.e. The Tyler’s and the Wilson’s Doppelgangers are married to the same people - or is that taken care of through the mental tethering aspect? What about their children? Are they clones? Or did the Tethered conceive those children? Is it possible that they are sterile and the only way they reproduce is to mirror the combinations made above by cloning the children as well? What about the scissors, red jumpsuits, and rabbits? If “They” who created the Tethered happen to be the Government, then these are weird items to include. They feel very surreal and lynchian - elements that do not reflect the scientific/realism of the cloning. I could not reconcile their union.

As the film lingers in my thoughts, I continue to glean what is being said online and my brain mellows a bit on the questions. I also realize that because of the brilliant twist ending, I will need another viewing in order to give the appraisal it deserves. Like any good film with a Sixth Sense level twist, the entire meaning is forever changed when you finish that first viewing. It will never be the same film again.

A sophomoric success.

Overall, Us is a well-rounded sophomoric (sometimes they can be sophoMORONic) home run with some frayed edges. I am stoked for his critical and box official success. We need A THOUSAND more directors like him. Peele must have felt the pressure as he crafted his second film. How do you follow up a movie like Get Out? It can’t be easy. Especially when the hype machine is constantly shouting hyperbole that “we” as an audience hope is true. Is Us a masterpiece out of the gate like Get Out? I don’t think so (although time will tell). Peele is forging a respectable body of work. He is on a path to solidifying a cinematic legacy like Hitchcock and Spielberg, however, if he is not careful he could go full Shyamalan. And as we’ve already learned, you never go full Shyamalan. Can’t wait to see what you do next Mr. Peele!!!

Post Note: I DO NOT hate M. Night Shyamalan or his films.

I think he is immensely talented and has the capacity to tell great stories (when he does). Left unchecked, we get things like The Happening and... so on.

Junk Food Journey - Peeps!

HOW MANY MARSHMALLOWS CAN I FIT IN MY MOUTH WHILE I SAY THE WORDS, “CHUBBY BUNNY?!” TAKE THE JOURNEY.

Loads of Posers - Chasing the Chaotic Image

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Long before there were Hipsters,

there existed Norwegian Black Metal.

Originally published at Ghastly Grinning, February 24, 2019

Lords of Chaos opens with some text that perfectly sums up what you are about to watch. “This film is based on Truth… Lies… and what really happened.”  Reading that really allowed me to divorce myself from trying to unravel truth and just enjoy the story.  I had a big problem with this in Bohemian Rhapsody. You can’t deviate from the truth with such an iconic, popular figure. I found it to work much easier with a film about an obscure subculture that no one really knows much about.

Lords introduces us to Øystein Aarseth aka Euronymous - the guitarist and mastermind behind one of the first Norwegian Black Metal bands, Mayhem. Euronymous omnipotently tells us the story of his struggles with his extreme music subculture, his troublesome friendships, and ultimately his own death. I haven’t read the book that Lords is based on (yet), but I was familiar with the story because of the Until the Light Takes Us documentary that it came out years before.

Writer/Director Jonas Åkerlund takes true crime material (that he knew at an intimate level, being the drummer of Bathory) and with painstaking detail, crafts it into an excellent heavy metal black comedy/horror thriller. Particularly, the comedic elements that permeate the whole film from beginning to end are brilliant, making for scathing, effective satire. He masterfully distills a tone that can instantaneously jump from being deadly serious to being deadly ridiculous. To invoke Mick Garris’ elegant terminology (by way of Elric Kane on Shockwaves Podcast), the comedy is SO black, that it ends up being as red as all the blood spilled in this film.

Just like the human body needs electrolytes for hydration, so does Lords need this comedy to balance the incredibly grim and graphic violence running through its veins. This is not cartoonish slasher decadence. It is the dark, matter-of-fact reality that occurs when you stab someone with a knife or blow your own head off. The film doesn’t sugarcoat the situation, the camera doesn’t cut away, and it is BRUTAL. BRU-TAL. It is the authenticity of this violence along with a lack of score that pays a sort of respect to these very serious things that really happened to actual people. Despite its content, nothing feels overly sensationalized or exploited. But that is not the case with most True Crime, more on that later.

The story itself is framed by this juxtaposition of wholesome Norway and the true Norwegian Black Metal scene within. It is the very vital foundation needed for this sort of satirical commentary. Several times throughout the screening, I am reminded of the Goth kids from South Park who mirror the perfect symbolic reflection of the goofy tongue-in-cheek celebration of all things dark and evil.

Subcultures tend to be the revolutionary counter-culture reactions to some sort of socio-political turmoil. But with the Norwegian Black Metal scene, you have this really nice place where nothing bad ever happens. There is no crime, no oppression, everyone has healthcare, but 75% of the population is Christian. And so the disenfranchised youth ends up taking on this extreme reverse ideology as a form of rebellion and expression of individuality. They despise the message of love that Christianity encompasses as a whole. At one point, Euronymous proselytizes his desire to spread things like hatred, sorrow, and evil.

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Within this music scene, there is an obsession over purity and authenticity. Universally, in the prison system, one of the worst things you can be is a snitch or a rapist. For any musical subculture, it is being a poser. It is a word that gets thrown around constantly in Lords. For these guys, the music and lifestyle are a “religious” means towards a path of the authentic nirvana that they so deeply crave. As actor Rory Culkin said, ‘They are the hipsters of the metal world.”

Encompassing this cultivated dark image requires full commitment. But it is not so easy when Mom and Dad subsidize your life style by investing in your epic Black Metal record shop, or give you potted plants to take back to your pad. There is a brief moment when Bård Guldvik "Faust" Eithun (who lives at home) is halfway out the door to murder a gay man before mom innocently calls out to him about his whereabouts. You have to try really hard to be evil, no matter how much Mom loves you.

The seemingly never ending elitist quest to be the most extreme also comes at the price of everyone trying to outdo one another or impress each other. Swirling in the epicenter is the adversarial friendship between Euronymous and Kristian aka Varg Vikernes. They both want the same thing: To be taken seriously. But they go about it in polarizing ways.

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Varg initially craves acceptance from this peer group. His initial awkward attempt to enter their black circle is rebuked by the Scorpions patch on his jacket when Euronymous dismisses him with a contemptible glance. Eventually he is given a Indiana Jones like test in Euronymous’ shop where he is told that the real Metal is hidden and if he wants it, he must find it. His childlike naïveté leads him to think these guys are the real deal, and so he too must prove himself by committing arson.

Rory Culkin is truly a chameleon, losing himself in the role of Aarseth/Euronymous. Jonas deliciously casts Emory Cohen, a Jewish actor to play the very anti-Semitic Varg. Much like the people that portray them, Euronymous and Varg are both are actors desperately trying to fit into their Black Metal personas. While Euronymous can turn it on and off (especially when things get illegal), Varg cannot. Underneath it all, Euronymous is a lazy, opportunistic braggart who is more than happy to take credit for these crimes in order to further bolster his carefully crafted image. Despite his superficial foul mood, he is patient and polite when it comes to the proper spelling of his forthcoming album De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas to Kerrang magazine.

Varg seems bedeviled by a soft upbringing that is heavily implied, he is mocked for his “Kristian” name. One can’t help but think that this was a personal barb against the real life Varg who is an observer of Odinism/Paganism that despises anything Judeo-Christian. Varg’s arsonist motivations are fueled by his resentments towards the institutions of Christianity and how they erased the Pagan/Norse cultures that existed long before. His involvement in this movement is his twisted way of trying to connect with his Viking heritage. In hindsight, their entire scene feels like a backwards attempt to connect with this past as these modern day Vikings. Their strength, masculinity, and machismo are directly connected to their tolerance of generally unlistenable music.

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In the documentary Until the Light Takes Us, the real Varg goes into great detail to justify his “moralistic” retaliation (a firefighter perished as he tried to put out one of the church fires). His calm demeanor, well-read intellect, and soothing voice make him very compelling at times. But then you remember he is a piece of shit Neo-Nazi sitting in prison for stabbing his friend to death…

The film portrays Varg in a vastly different sort of way. He is a stocky, nerdy, socially awkward man child. It is Varg’s stupidity and adolescent naïveté that make him dangerous, fuel his crimes, and get him caught.

Euronymous’ tragedy is that he is always running from his truth: That he is a poser like all the rest. When the crimes of the Black Circle reach a point of no return, he relents, ready to sort of walk away from it all. After finding intimacy with the photographer he is always trying to impress, he begins to take the steps he needs to embrace who he truly is and does the most UNMETAL thing one could do... He lets his girlfriend cut off his hair. I would love to make an analogy to Samson and Delilah here, but I don’t think it fits because Aarseth never had the strength that he perceives in his Euronymous persona. It was always just a fragile, decorative shell that was capable of cracking at any moment. And now, here he is like a soft gooey lobster waiting for a new shell to harden when Varg comes knocking. Although no one will ever know exactly how it went down, Jonas shows us a very sad, ironic, tragic, brutal ending for our narrator as he begs for his life and for Varg’s friendship.

For me personally, I have never enjoyed the True Crime genre and generally find it tasteless - I say this as a horror film fanatic and gore hound. I think on an ethical, respectful level, 9/10 times it is better left to documentaries. Why do we need to see a reenactment of the horrible things that happened to real people? What about their very real families and their feelings? What purpose does it ultimately serve? Why is Lords of Chaos an exception? Because it creates a very important social awareness in the examination of depression, suicide, and the real violence involved when murdering another human being.

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We hear all the time about how people commit suicide, sometimes seemingly out of nowhere, especially with celebrities. Depression is this terrible, deadly affliction that the average person simply doesn’t understand. But the tragic portrayal of Per Yngve Ohlin’s (AKA Dead) suicide takes us behind the curtain. It sums up for us that sometimes there is no rhyme or reason why people do this to themselves. Their brains are not wired correctly and they put themselves in very permanent solutions for (what might be) a temporary state of mind.

Dead’s worship of death while alive, seemed to be the only way he was able to really to feel anything at all. For when he is not worshiping at the altar of death he is practically catatonic in a purgatory of boredom and dullness. This existence is so painful for him that he rather not be alive.

Even being aware of the infamous story beforehand, nothing could prepare me for the shock I felt as I watched Dead violently end his life. There was something so real and genuine to the horror of it, no documentary could convey it in the same way. When Aarseth finds his friend, he is confronted with the actual reality of the brutality he pretends to encompass as Euronymous and has no idea what to do. How should Euronymous act? Aarseth decides that his alter ego would take pictures of the corpse, eat Dead’s brains (he didn’t), and make pendants passed off as actual fragments of Dead’s skull (he admits later that they were chicken bones). In his pathetic quest for fame, he goes for the lowest hanging fruit.

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In some ways, Lords makes for a great spiritual companion to the punk rock indie classic SLC punk. Both stories circle around two friends in religious/wholesome places, where the main character (who is also the voice over narrator) finds out that he was a poser all along and falls in love.  While the real life Black Metal nerds and Varg groupies will lambast and skewer this film, I think Lords of Chaos is destined for immortal cult film status. It is a perfect document for its obscure subculture.

Junk Food Journey - Most Stuf Oreos

WHOA. MOST. STUF. EVER?! Not really. Atleast, not until I make a few modifcations myself… THEN it is truly thee… MOST. STUF. EVER. Sooooooooo much cream, my Gods. Let us take this journey.

Junk Food Journey - Dill Pickle Pringles

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Join me on a savory safari, as I navigate the junky side of the culinary spectrum in my quest to try the weird, the wild, and the wonderful.

What the Dill? Around Thanksgiving, I was on the hunt for the Target exclusive limited edition Thanksgiving Dinner Meal Pringles sampler. To my dismay, it could not be found. I was not going to let this ruin my pringly agenda. So instead I picked up Dill Pickle Pringles. Should this put the PICK in your pickle as you select your Pringle flavor for a snacking activity?? Time to find out. Let us take this journey.

Junk Food Journey - Carrot Cake Oreos

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Join me on a savory safari, as I navigate the junky side of the culinary spectrum in my quest to try the weird, the wild, and the wonderful.

Can carrot cake hold it it down in the Oreo universe? I am determined to find out for you dear viewer. Let us take this journey.

Junk Food Journey - Cold Stone Creamery Cereal

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Join me on a savory safari, as I navigate the junky side of the culinary spectrum in my quest to try the weird, the wild, and the wonderful.

Watch as I try to get to the bottom of this Cold Stone Creamery Ice Cream Cereal. In short, it was pretty effortless.

Rock Me Joe: An Awkward Pixies Moment

The Pixies truly are one of the GREATEST examples of how to tastefully reunite as a band while trying not to sell out. They play the hits. They make new music. They tour frequently.

In my book, they “cashed in” with the upmost integrity. I never get tired of seeing them live. There is no better feeling at a live show than a setlist where you are gonna know almost every song on a deep, intimate level.

To coincided with the 30th anniversary of their legendary EP and LP Come on Pilgrim and Surfer Rosa, The Pixies released, Come on Pilgrim… It’s Surfer Rosa.

It’s a “Three LP edition with new artwork reimagined by original designer Vaughan Oliver and the bonus disc, Live From The Fallout Shelter - one of the earliest recordings of the band, a radio concert that first aired in late 1986 on WJUL-FM in Lowell, MA.”

The next step in the usual tired, cliche reunited band cycle is to tour on one of their iconic albums on its anniversary, and play the whole thing in it’s entirety. The Pixies are no strangers to this ritual, but unlike other bands, they do it with class and consideration.

When they play Come on Pilgrim and Surfer Rosa in their entirety, they replicate the dialogue on Surfer and make sure to play a stellar mini set of B-Sides that no fan in one thousand years would ever think they would get the chance to hear live like: Build High, Dance the Manta Ray, Rock a My Soul, and the Purple Tape version of Down to the Well.

That is what I call considerate!

My moment as an awkward Pixies cringe lord.

11/20/18

Rich and I walk up the sidewalk to Brooklyn Steel when I see him. Off to the side, is a bald gentleman in a cabbie hat smoking a cigarette in the cold. He faces the brick wall of the venue. He clearly doesn’t want to be noticed.

I grab Rich’s arm and SQUEEZE as to prevent any verbal expression that would draw attention to who I know it is… One of my ALL TIME guitar heroes . <GASP>

Joey Alberto Santiago. A man whose music I have worshiped for the last 14 years, since that first time I played Doolittle in the tape deck of my ‘94 Toyota Camry, stands before me. He is a magician that can make his guitar speak in a shrieking, tortured, wailing, emotional musical language that compliments the obtuse, subversive, abstract lyrical poetry, and the raw, focused, primal screaming of Black Francis.

Rich understands the squeeze and takes a hard turn with me. In the 7 times I’ve seen the band since 2005, I have never been fortunate enough to see a Pixie outside of the green room/tour bus/back stage in the wild.

Executive decisions have to be made in a matter of precious seconds. It is my ONE CHANCE to talk to a hero of mine. I would regret it forever if I didn’t try. I go for it.

He turns and sees this DERP(me) standing before him. I assess the situation.

The weather report is not good.

(My appraisal of) his face says, “Dude- I’m so just trying to smoke a quick cigarette right now without anyone noticing me so that I can go back inside where it is warm. I gotta play in 30 minutes. Please don’t bother me.”

I really don’t blame him at all. Like any good smoker who can’t smoke inside, it is never too cold to go out and have a cigarette.

A valuable lesson that I’ve learned when meeting people of note: It is important to realize that your special one moment in time with them is just one of a million of their seconds. Who knows how they are feeling in that day, hour, minute, etc? Don’t take it personally.

At this point, I kinda wish I could abort the mission, but it is too late to retreat.

My legs carry me towards him as my brain sends signals to my mouth piece to speak. My mouth opens and nothing comes out. I have NOTHING to say. I ask my closest companion, my Brain to send me stuff to say. As die hard fan, there is million things to say, and Brain doesn’t send me any of them. Maybe that is a good thing?

He waits for me to talk. Brain scrambles to put a sentence together. He sends me the wrong sentence, “Thank you so much for a great show.” Stupid Brain!

My tongue, the unsung hero, catches it before it can leave my mouth. Cunning Tongue!

Instead, I say, “Looking forward to a great show tonight.” Or some variation of that… Joey nods. I think he says, “Thanks.” I can’t really tell because I know I have already fucked this up.

I walk away. Joey smokes on, not being noticed.

I die, as I try to deconstruct this exchange that probably lasted all of 30 seconds?

During the show, in between moments of musical ecstasy, I think about what I could of (or should of) said. As I write this, I think I should have walked up right behind him while he was making out with the brick wall and whispered, “Rock me Joe,” and just continue on nonchalantly. I don’t really know. It would have made for a much better story than this one. What would you have said?

I still feel like a derp thinking about this. I will remember it forever.

Sorry I bothered you Joey, thank you so much for a great show.

Requiem of a Fiend: The Misfits Reunion at Riot Fest in Chicago

Photo By   Nile Cappello

Photo By Nile Cappello

(Originally published by That’s Not Current on 9/20/16)

September 18th, 2016. Douglas Park, Chicago.

It is the third and final day.

Everything up until this point is nothing more than an appetizer, a bonus for the reason I am even at Riot Fest in the first place. It is hot, and everyone is wearing black. Not me though, I’d rather be comfortable.

I have never seen so many Misfits shirts and tattoos in my life.

Sitting in the grass by the guest press entrance, I suffer through my first exposure to the Deftones. Sorry to say it is not my cup of tea, but their large draw at the Riot stage would probably disagree. How many of them are here to see The Misfits? Probably all.

The sun sets as I hydrate and eat. Energy is needed, and I try to rest my feet because I know what is coming. My voice is raw and hoarse already, I may be getting sick, so I speak sparingly. It worries me that I may not be able to sing along.

A vow is made: No matter how great the temptation is, I will not take any pictures or videos with my phone. The show must only be seen through my eyeballs. I will let everyone else take pictures and video for me.

A text comes through from my man on the inside.  I migrate towards the center LCD jumbotron screen between the two stages in hopes of getting backstage but I cannot make contact… with my contact. The Deftones crowd is too dense, there is no longer any wiggle room to negotiate. Reluctantly, I retreat.

I meet up with Charlie, Bob, and Sandra, they are posted up by the guest press entrance. We hold a make shift symposium and study the geography of our surroundings and debate where the best place will be to start the show together and where the best place will be to finish it.

Charlie, Bob and I first met at the Congress theater (RIP) at the end of a Danzig show in 2008. At the Danzig Legacy in 2011, we all managed to get backstage and took turns taking pictures with Glenn Danzig, Doyle, Steve Zing, and London May. It was amazing.

And now, here we are in 2016 finally seeing the thing we dreamt of most of our lives. Something we endlessly debated, and probably thought could never materialize. I am glad I am with them. We are together in the moment, this is how it should be. We now all know, that NOTHING in life is impossible if Glenn and Jerry can reunite.

It is mutually agreed that we push forward diagonally stage left (Doyle’s side). Rob Zombie plays next door. All the other bands on other stages finish. Their crowds funnel behind, sending us further forward. To call it a sea of people would be an insult. It was an ocean. We chat with our surrounding “community”. A guy named Karl/Carl waves a flag with Karl/Carl on it. Some drunk asshole thinks he’s Moses and starts violently surging through the ocean of people. He is rough. Everyone near him points and calls him an Asshole. Another drunk asshole trails behind, spilling his beer. To our left a void opens up. Two behemoths clash. It is probably a territory dispute. It dissipates, and we are all once again left waiting.

I ask Bob the time until the show. It’s negative 5 minutes. There is a hard curfew, it can now only be a 67 minute set!!

The intro begins. It is the kind of music/ambience you hear on a haunted Halloween CD. A deep, monstrous voice speaks, “I am going to eat you.” The air becomes kinetic over the Ocean, before the erupting thrall to come.

Sounds.

Doyle’s guitar. Jerry’s Bass.

The curtain drops. Lombardo’s drums.

Glenn is a ferocious wolverine.

Suddenly, death comes rippin’.

There is a surge.

Everyone fades away, as we are churned by the Ocean’s current. I try to weather this force of nature. The crowd tightens. Shoulder to shoulder. The flank that was just watching Rob Zombie must be pushing from the left. It loosens, and I am sucked forward into the first of many circle pits. I jump around and have a good time, but don’t stay. A rolling stone gathers no moss. Except for negotiating the occasional tall fellow, the closer I get, the better my view. I am a moth drawn to the light.

There are tech issues but the band sounds great. Jerry is right. They are at the pinnacle. Old timers may have seen them back in the day, but never like this. We are at the right place, at the right time to see Glenn, Jerry, and Doyle. Monsters are among us. They play their songs, and it inspires unity among us in the Ocean, and we sing. We don’t know each other. Under any other circumstances, we might not like each other… But tonight, we turn to each other and sing the lyrics like we have a thousand times before – On our iPods, YouTube, CDs, tapes, and vinyl. We put our arms around each other. We are strangers embracing, in disbelief that we are seeing what we are seeing.

Some of the audience don’t know the words. But it’s ok, they know Woah, Go, and No – and that is all they need to join our fellowship.

And then there are ones who frown. They don’t sing. They don’t Woah. They have no clue. They just know this is an historic event, and they are curious to see what all the fuss is about. They’re on their phones. Or watching the show through them, probably thinking about all YouTube hits they are going to get from their cellphone video, that they will probably forget to upload anyway.

They are here in place of the fiends who could make it out. The fiends who deserve to be here to see history taking place.

Now, I am closer.

We are 138 is about to begin. A girl takes an iPad!?! out of her bag. She starts recording. It blocks her face from the stage RIGHT in front of her. She is happy to watch through the screen. I am not, it blocks my view. I talk to the back of her head,

“Hey, I’d lower that if I were you, it’s 138, I am about to lose my mind.”

She doesn’t even turn around, instead turns slightly to the side and scoffs.

A loud crescendo of chords.

Silence, and then like a baseball chant… 84,000 people all sing that WE ARE 138. The song RIPS wide open.

I jump in front of iPad idiot and do exactly what I said I would: Lose my mind! From behind I feel punches and slaps on my back. I jump up high like Air Jordan (at least in my mind) and soldier on forward into another circle pit.

A guy who has no business crowd surfing, crowd surfs despite gravity’s insistence otherwise. He is concerned for his well being. I am concerned for mine, and I try to have nothing to do with it but somehow find myself holding him up with both hands (I do have help) but still, it makes me feel like Superman. He is passed on. Something drops - delicate aviator sunglasses, I try to return them to the surfer by placing them on his face. As he floats away he lets me know they are not his.

Paradoxically, I somehow never seem to completely run out of energy. My onboard reserves may have depleted, but I am now tapped into the music.

Nothing can stop me.

I am closer still. For a brief moment, my vow is almost broken, I almost take a picture.

Layers of various condensed liquids cling to my person. More liquid falls on my head, gross. I smell it. Thank God(s) it is not beer, just water. It is actually refreshing like the cool breeze that occasionally graces us with its presence.

Miraculously, I have found the ability to sing without any voice. Anything less than singing would have been unacceptable. Dehydration headaches (from trying to sing as loud as possible) have begun. Certain sound levels make it momentarily unbearable. I press on, hoping to squeeze every last drop of excitement from the show.

We are close the the end.

We ALL sing Astrozombies. I close my eyes in the middle of the chorus, having ascended to musical Nirvana as I Whoa with one of my all-time favorite bands. Because, when the Misfits play, Glenn doesn’t sing at you. He sings with you. And we sing with him.

Then we sing Skulls. It’s awesome.

The end of the show has come.

Last Caress is everything you could hope for. Danzig and Doyle play a game of chicken to see who is going to false start? the song. The band’s whole mood is jubilant and playful, except with the tech stuff.

The set ends and the band walks off for a (hybrid) moment. When they return, Jerry takes a moment to thank the fans with some poignant words. Glenn shares a tidbit about the origins of the Bullet EP cover – how he sent Jerry to “borrow” a picture of JFK from the library. Glenn reminiscences about how they were ahead of their time. They smile and fist bump. The camaraderie is amazing to watch as the crowd picks up on it with some applause.

If you don’t know the name of the next song they played… Then why the fuck are you reading this?

I am now 25(ish) feet from the stage, and it is here that I will remain.

They play Night of the Living Dead. Glenn tells the Ocean that they’ve ran out of time.

He asks us all, “What do we think of that?”

And then, “You know that we don’t give two fucks. We’ll play more songs.”

And we all cheer. They launch into She.

Unlike Denver, we bear the fortune of hearing Attitude and the Ocean churns one last time. Jerry throws his bass guitar high in the air and it breaks. Lombardo throws drum sticks. Jerry first tosses the bass headstock with cyclops skull into the crowd. He then thinks it over only for a moment before tossing the WHOLE bass in after.

The show is over. The Ocean calms and recedes, leaving the savage remains of carnage from the brutality witnessed. I traverse the front railing to meet my inside man. People shine lights down to reveal PILES of shoes, clothing, and other various personal effects. The piles of shoes and socks is astounding. People search for their keys, wallets, and cellphones.

I joke about finding a piece of Jerry’s “Devastated” bass guitar. A friend would later tell me that he witnessed six people holding onto the bass headstock with the cyclops skull. No words uttered. Just six angry dogs with an equal claim on a bone.

I make it to the barricade and manage to get backstage via my inside man. I touch Glenn’s giant fucking pumpkins. They are light and seem to be made of fiberglass. He is right, they are pretty fucking cool.

I shake Doyle’s hand, thanking him, my friend Sal introduces me to Jerry. I thank him as well for an incredible show. Jerry is warm, friendly, and gregarious. I am amazed that he gives me some of his time despite having just finishing the show. He takes a picture and signs my Dave Lombardo setlist. I will be framing it.

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 The night is complete. I am glad I saw the show from the trenches.  Anything else would have been less, as the trenches were the only way to take in.

And so, I leave Douglas Park with an experience that few in the past have had, but for some reason – optimistically, I think more will have in the future.

Charlie and I find each other and I tell him about my backstage adventure. We get Mexican Tortas from a food truck by the California Pink line stop.

It is a night I will never forget.

And now, I want everyone’s skull…

Aquaman Stream Of Consciousness Thoughts: A "blahG" Post Experiment

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Warning: This is an experimental blahg post.

Stream of consciousness thoughts after watching #Aquaman

The DC Universe’s Black Panther with Justice League CGI.

Best enjoyed in a theater.

Flash Gordon with a tinge of Star Wars.

Campy.

FUN.

Cheesy.

Metal.

Just as Metal as Thor 3.

Adventure.

Action.

Dolph Lundgren and Willem Dafoe riding crazy seahorse/shark creatures.

Deadly telepathic wine crystals.

Crab People.

Fish-men.

Dear Warner Bros/DC, rebuild your universe with Aquaman and Wonder Woman and work your way up to Batman and Superman. You can do it!

After seeing these two films, I believe in you.