Entry 0022: Trying to Unlock the Magic

talkingheadslp

LP: Remain in Light by the Talking Heads

1980 Sire SRK 6095

Favorite Track: Crosseyed and Painless

 

I have a writing deadline this month and I am struggling with the story that I am writing. And the reason I am struggling is very stupid. An anthology is looking for Swords versus Cthulhu Mythos stories, something right up my alley. The last year I have been experimenting more with writing supernatural and Weird tales as evidenced by some of the entries in this blog, see entries 7, 10, and 16–I can’t get the links to work properly right now. I play Arkham Horror and Mansions of Madness all the time, read Weird fiction voraciously, and enjoy the creepy and occult. I love them so much that every time I write a sentence I am disgusted with myself for sullying pulp fiction stories that aren’t known for the literary craft so much as their haunting implications. And I know that of course the first draft is going to read like crap-that is why editing was invented.

So why am I freezing on this assignment?

I am just thinking about it too much. So now I have to torture you poor readers of my blog. I need this entry to practice writing segments of this story so I can find the language of the tale-those Clark Ashton Smith-like sentences full of Satanists casting bizarre spells and mummies. Enjoy whatever happens below:

I.

Crowley finished his mug, froth wetting the red hairs that swathed his ruddy cheeks and claimed he saw Jador the mad sorceress talking to the shadowy figures in the forest whose visages were never seen even under the full luminosity of the moon. The apothecary had told him she had been very inquisitive over the more esoteric of roots, especially vellagonna, a perennial herb from the Southern Hinterlands once used as face paint by the barbarian tribes, and, further more, Jador’s squalid hut by the river Tyn reeked of sulfur. Nefarious witchcraft warned the apothecary, his one remaining eye blood-red in the shrunken socket of his thin face. Fen sat silently sipping at her drink, listening dismissively toward Crowley’s conjectures.

“She had followed the Tyn to the bend by the merchant docks, crossed over like a wraith gliding over its grave, I swear her feet never touched the water,” Crowley roared a forced laugh and grabbed another mug from the passing bar wench. The wench, a stocky girl of broad shoulders and fiery curls spilling down over her soft chestnut skin, flashed him a smile that held all the portents of a lascivious night ahead for the young sentry. “She was wearing that hideous and mud-stained white robe. The one with that six-sided star inside two concentric circles. When she got to the edge of the forest, she took it off.”

Jarl, Fen’s husband, sat up with a start, a bead of mead falling from the bushy grey beard onto his lap. His face was on the edge of nodding off but now it reared of joviality and masculine enthusiasm. Fen rolled her eyes and punched his shoulder. Jarl sheepishly shrugged and turned back to Crowley, “She was…naked?”

“Like Rafferty was when we found him with half of his sister’s bridesmaids,” the men laughed and clinked their mugs together spilling more mead over themselves and Fen, who had already decided which spell she would use tonight to create some peace and quiet for herself. “Nude, hairless, supple, and strong. Jador may be short and mad behind the eyes, but I wouldn’t want to get on the bad side of her. There must be Azzisian blood in her veins.”

“I heard she was part Rudge,” Jarl said.

“She’s Zalamian. Really, Jarl, you have food on your mind.”

“And what makes you so sure she’s Zala-mammalian or whatever you said.”

Fen blinked her oval eyes for a second, the blue irises seemed to turn yellow when they reappeared. “Unlike you fools who sit here believing all this drunken talk with all the other carousers of the Winged Frog, I have taken special interest in this mad sorceress. Have you ever seen her mutter those cursed syllables and cast a spell as black as a lich’s soulless skeleton? Have you seen her open the forbidden and fungi-ridden spine of the Apocryphal Book of the Damned? Have you seen her transform into a hairy bat three feet tall and fly off into the night with her actual face bearing fangs and an upturned nose? I have. Jador must have belonged to the Zalamians, the ancient wizard tribe destroyed by that gang of giants that live north of here. If you can recall the song Arywn the troubadour sang last year at the Rain Festival…”

“Come off it Fen,” Jarl punched her shoulder now, “Arywn sings fables and love songs for doe-eyed and vulnerable. He made that up to impress Beryl’s daughter.”

“Or wife,” roared Crowley who upon seeing Fen’s furious face, bit his tongue, “I was just…”

“Just being the childish ass that you always are,” Fen spat, “You really believe those shadowy figures are human? You Jarl? What do you know about the life behind the clouded veil? There are…monsters is the closest descriptor I can give them…that live all around us. And if you were to meet with any of them, you would swallow your own tongue and wish your eyes were blind.”

Fen stormed off with a great swing of the wooden doors. Jarl sat in silence for a moment before finishing her cup and grabbing two more for himself and Crowley. The wench lingered at the table, her broken and glassy fingernails caressing Crowley’s callused hands. When she left, Crowley spoke in a whisper, “Fen may be right. I was disquieted the very moment Jador dropped her robes. I had the distinct impression that my vision was being played with…that I saw her naked human form…but something was being…covered up.”

“Tricks of the night. Those forest leaves have a way of making every sound and creature more ominous than during the day time.”

“But it was the shadowy figures that set a scream lost in my throat. I alluded to not being able to see their faces even though the great orange light of the moon shown down directly upon them. That is not all,” Jarl eyed the tavern to make sure nobody else overhear what he said next, “They had eyes. Six of them. But they were not on their faces. I doubt that they had faces at all. They had six white eyes with pupils that seem to spit sparks along a giant oblong belly like udders on a goat. Below them sagged a mouth full of needle-like teeth, each the size of my massive forearm.”

Jarl dropped his mug on the table with a heavy clatter, “And what of Jador? What did she do?”

Crowley pulled at his chin anxiously, “She spread her legs.”

 

II.

 

Fen cast a glance in both directions before stepping onto the wooden planks of the bridge that spanned the river Tyn. There were no sentries nearby, most like Crowley were too busy drinking and chasing the bar wenches. She listened, however, for a slight fluttering sound and, when she heard it, she followed the sound into the dark forest. The tree trunks were narrow and closely packed together, long leafy branches pointed in all directions above her head. A couple of feet under the canopy and it was too dark to see. Fen reached into a small purse dangling from her belt and pulled out a pinch of white vellagonna powder.

“Illumi,” she said, the powder sparked and a small ball of fire hovered above her hand. Fen waited to adjust her eyes and then carefully picked her trail through the thickening underbrush until she found the glade where two large boulders formed a shallow cave. Thorny vines hung over the mouth like some slimy curtain, the golden petals opening and closing around purple stamen. Fen brushed them aside and held the magical flame in front of her.

“Iä! Iä! Shub-Niggurath, the Black Goat of a Thousand Young. And we are One of the Thousand.” A second voice had added to her own, a low purring voice fuzzy with drowsiness.

Fen continued looking down along the floor of the cave but saw nobody there. It wasn’t until the voice spoke again that she realized it was above her where a rotund bat hung from the ceiling. At the end of the furry body projected an oval face with exaggerated round ears, small eyes with brown irises, and a hooked nose with flaring nostrils. The bat screeched like a human, its terrible cry resounding back and forth between the damp rocks. Fen heard her own cry echo in her ears as her eyes watched the bat enlarge. Shoulders grew out of the wing sockets, the wings melting into the curved musculature of the arms. Hair fell away from the waist as stubby legs pushed away from the perch and the transforming creature executed a forward flip to land agilely. Raven hair fell down along her square chin line.

“The years have made you look unobtrusive and domesticated. If the High Priestess saw you now, you would be next on the cutting block.”

“And you are imprudent as ever, Jador. I always questioned why the High Priestess initiated you into the cult. It is not enlightenment you seek, it is revenge.”

“Fen, your conception of the universe is as small as your heart. You are being used by the High Priestess just like all the other girls.”

“Blasphemer! The Goat of a Thousand Young will have your soul!”

Jador hefted her jeweled scabbard and tied its to her waist. She could not shake off the thought that her mother once yielded it. The memory sent a slight tremor unobserved by Fen.

“I came here, Jador,” Fen continued, “to save you. We saved you once before. Do not be so adamant to go to your death. You cannot defeat them.”

Jador withdrew the sword, inspecting the blade for nicks. “I was a little girl then. My whole tribe laid before me bloodstains in the tall grass. My parents both died under the same blow, the same stone axe the size of one of these boulders we stand under, swung by that colossal brute. I am not a little girl anymore and his face is all I can see.”

Fen recovered herself, “The High Priestess frightened them with cantrips. Otherwise you would be a puddle like the rest of the Zalamians. What makes you so sure you can win this time?”

Jador flashed a smile with too many teeth. For the second time, Fen started.

“You’ve…you’ve made…saw them and made the pact.”

“Giants are the least of my problems now,” Jador smiled again, teeth behind teeth. “Now my sword is hungry.”

Fen gurgled as blood filled her throat, the spell she was about to cast slit in half like her larynx. She fell to her knees, still alive as Jador began to eat her starting with her fingers. Demons love fingers.

 

III.

 

Giants became as still as mountains themselves when they slept and the careless adventurer could easily find themselves pitching tent right next to a navel filled with brackish water. But when the cold weather started in, giants built their massive fire that could be seen for miles, orange-red hellfire crackling and popping like a summer heat storm. Jador slept in a swaddle made of yak and kept her fire to mere embers, shivering slightly throughout the nights of reconnaissance. Giants did not seem to possess good eyesight or maybe their staggering twenty feet heights blurred details to blobs of color and shapes. Yet their sense of smell seemed godly as if with each inhalation, they could identify each individual scent in a six mile radius. Which made Jador’s choice of yak a bad one save for the use of bat guano which acted as a deterrent possibly reminding giants of their fear of enclosed spaces.

In a few hours when she was sure the giants had fallen asleep, she would have her revenge. She held her mother’s sword before her in the typical stance of the Zalamian. She slowed her breathing as images of the past filled her head. As a snap of the giant’s fire reverberated throughout the mountains, Jador once again felt the ground shaking beneath her feet nine years ago when she was a child helping her mother with the sharpening of swords. Wars had forced the nomadic Zalamians to the mountains of the north, a land unfamiliar to them and harsh. The soil produced sour berries and a bland fruit with a tough carapace that was hardly worth the effort to skin. Water sources were few and far between. The caves were as damp as sleeping out in the rain. But the Zalamians wanted no part between the eternal struggle between the two great empires of the Southern Hinterlands: the Asmetiks and the Mesermizirs.

Unfamiliar to the race of giants, the Zalamians fell right into their trap. One moment all was tranquil between the mountains; the next the mountains themselves were rising. The giants were ugly brutes to Jador–giant slabs of meat covered in coarse ropey hair, their facial features exaggerated in their rather large heads, their mouths opening up like a miniature sky framed by stalagmites and stalactites. Their common weapons were stone axes crudely fashioned or a club made from a trunk of the numerous tall pine trees. Or they simply kicked with their feet sending the Zalamian flying fifty feet through the air. Half of her tribe were crushed before they even knew what had struck.

Her parents were the first to draw blood against the giants, using their poor vision to sneak up close and attempt climbing up their bodies. The average Zalamian were three feet tall, but Jador and her mother were smaller than average, Jador an inch taller than Jadorella. Tnem, her father, managed to crawl onto the giant’s chest stabbing his spear and pulling himself further up. Jadorella was just a few feet behind him. From the flap of their makeshift teepee, Jador watched as another giant smashed his stone axe right into the chest of his comrade, killing him and Tnem and Jadorella in one fell swoop. The world seemed to flip upside down as the corpse slammed into the earth, a wall of dust blinding Jador as the teepee fell down around her and pinned her legs to the ground. Furiously wiping her eyes of gritty stone pebbles and tears, she looked up into the face of the four remaining giants. All around her were the red smears of her people. The tallest giant held the stone axe that slew her parents and on its face a great ragged scar cut like a canyon across the surface of his face. A trail of snot ran from his nostril like a semi-solid waterfall. Jador accepted death: it would be better to be with her parents then survive.

And then came the forbidden and awful moans that scared the giants away. Then the women in the white robes found her in the wreckage and rudely debated if her life was worth saving in front of her. It was the High Priestess who looked into Jador’s watery brown eyes and spared her a sacrifice to Shub-Niggurath, a name at the time Jador hardly understood. Instead she became a member and taught the ways of witchcraft at a terrible price. Jador had never slept soundly since the initiation when they opened her third eye with a cup of noxious tea.

The snore rattled Jador from her reverie. The moon was already starting to come down from the sky, a tinge of tangerine in the distance. Jador swore and took off at a run to the base of Skull Mountain. The slope was difficult and Jador found herself winded by the time she reached the top. In the valley below her slept three giants in a rough semi-circle around the bonfire. One was missing. The heat from the fire was intense and she had to shield her eyes. She had one chance to finish them before they woke up. She had made the pack with the Black Goat in the Woods. She hadn’t fully understood its terms; it spoke in the language of nightmares. Jador began to trace the scabby symbol carved into her stomach as she had been instructed. Her mind grew fuzzy and her vision doubled as she concentrated on the abhorrent fricatives and implosives of the dreaded nightmare language. Her stomached knotted like in a vice and she hurled before she could steady herself.

Then, all at once, her body burned with racked pain and a curative water seemed to be squeezed out of her. Before her an ominous black cloud surged with pink astral lightning amid a swirl of stars from a different galaxy. Three of the stars appeared to be getting closer until three penumbras pushed against the dark curve of the cloud like three white-hot corneas. The cloud disintegrated with an audible renting of released pressure and three–things–escaped loose into the air, hurling themselves at the sleeping giants. Jador vomited again, her vision turning grey as she fought for breath. The heat of the fire began to diminish. Jador pulled herself up with the help of a nearby tree to witness the destruction below.

The subdued fire still cast a wide circle of light from its dying embers, the ashen logs covered in some slick interstellar mucus that glowed like permafrost. There was no trace of the three astral beings she had summoned. Of the giants, little remained but hunks of fetid muscle and gnawed bones. The giants’ eyes were like deflated balloons.

Jador stumbled her way down Skull Mountain and into the enemy’s lair. In the far end of the valley, a mountainside was punctured and mined to form a closet for the giants to store the few tools they used. To the left, another steeping slope was divided into shelves by large stone slabs cut into the rock.

I am going to take a break. Look for this post to be added to either later tonight or tomorrow. Please make comments and suggestions about what you liked and don’t like. Better names will help.

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Entry 0021: My Other Telephone is My Left Earhole

FallTelephone

EP: Telephone Thing by the Fall

1989 Cog Sinister 876 611-7, 7-inch

Favorite Track: Telephone Thing

 

Here are some highlights from the recent text messages I received or sent. Sadly, some really good ones got deleted before I thought of this idea. Perhaps I will do it again. Plenty of NSFW language and conceptual nightmares:

 

BEETS: “You’re going to get that potato tattoo with me.”

 

BEETS: “Are we talking actual bees or metaphorically for cocks?”

BEETS: “No cock is going to get stuck in my hive because of honey.”

 

PINEAPPLE: “Question has anyone ever opened up a battery store next to a Hustler store?”

 

POTATO: “Takin any ladies into the bathroom tonight silverlips?”

 

MELON: “What time tmw?”

PINEAPPLE: “1.”

MELON: “Cookie.”

 

CHEESE: “Chomp some ghosts for me!”

 

9:20 in the morning

KUMQUAT: “Happy birthday. I made it snow for you. You are welcome.”

PINEAPPLE: “Thank you. I just realized I forgot to tell everyone not to wear a bra at my party.”

 

 

 

Entry 0020: All Space Work and No Space Play Make Johnny Go Space Mad

theclashep

LP: Gates of the West by the Clash

1979 Epic AE7 1178 ZSS 166141, ZSS 166142, Came as promo with the American version of the self-titled album, 7-inch

Favorite Track: Gates of the West

 

The velvet morning hung frosted pink in the underground. Whoever was controlling the weather knobs must have gotten laid last night. There was nothing cute about life since we moved off of Earth and into these Colony Domes. Life was work or the death of a thousand strangers you’ve grown to think of as extensions of your own body. Life is more being a cog in the machine now than ever. Anyone who complained life on Earth was boring is an asshole.

I said that to my ex-girlfriend before I boarded the Resurrection as some kind of excuse for my inability to keep still. She saw through me, however, I suspected that she would have ended things sooner than later. There are only so many Mahler performances at Music Hall and Christmas festivals you can sit through with a person before you seek escape. Like people are prisons. Or that being a person is a prison.

That was why I got on board and left Earth: I wanted to escape myself.

Now my sense of self has been eradicated and I am wanting it back. The task assigned to me was to extract water my various of strange sources: blue-green plants that made sounds like a child saying “pepper…pepper”, the neon arcs that extend from crystals the size of skyscrapers back home, and The Well. Just below our dome is a hundred-foot long lake of the darkest water possible. Even shining our strongest flash lights into it, the water absorbs without revealing. One scientist, Talia I think her name was, jumped in the first night of our arrival. She came out in one piece, but I don’t want to describe it anymore than that. Wendell used a lidded coffee mug to transport her to the trash bay.

I had an hour before I had to go to work. I don’t know why I do this to myself: make myself write four whole pages before breakfast. The routine is bothersome. In the seven months I have been in Dome Delaney, I have saved a part of my sanity. This will do no body any good. Life is work I keep writing every morning, but I know I am kidding myself. My pencil is a stub and the eraser has been bitten off.

The ultimate purpose of Delaney is to solve the food issue. We can make water and oxygen and nitrogen. We can conserve energy. Growing Earthbound plants has its difficulties, but the preserving the food is the problem. Despite careful environmental controls, the food will turn into a fine glowing powder, little beads of maroon and lilac sand. The process took about two hours after the vegetable or fruit was grown. So we had to grow our meals and eat them right away. Often we found traces of maroon and lilac in our shit.

Lydia and Rowland, our top scientists, had numerous theories, but everything was coming up spilled wine. Lydia insisted it was the basic materials–tomatoes and potatoes and carrots were just not meant to survive here. We needed to find a way to eat the native plants and make them healthy for us. Insert the essential amino acids or something. Rowland thought otherwise. He had an idea that given enough genetic manipulation and cross-breeding, a frankenstein version of tomatoes, potatoes, and carrots could grow. The secret was unlocking the right combination.

I hated the two of them and wrote my hatred into my journal like a weaponsmith forging a great sword in the white hot flame of his furnace. They had lost everything about a personality as possible. An automaton would look human compared next to them. When they walked, they didn’t bend their knees or swing their arms. They just glided, their mouths pulled down in frowns. They blinked in unison. I slept with Lydia one time and it was like ejaculating into a mummy.

My breakfast disintegrated before I had removed out the special equipment I need from its complex packaging. I wasn’t hungry. One of the tools is a thin laser beam that whips around beating the solid food into an edible paste. It has a range of about a foot so I would have to get real close. Timing was an issue to–the on button started the battery-powered engine which took thirty seconds to warm up the laser pointer. I would have to approach Rowland and Lydia from behind.

I had left my shack and walked all the way to the science compound, my boots stamping harshly against the artificial turf. When I entered the door, I found a scene of chaos already ensuing. Rowland and Lydia were in the middle of it, their arms around each other. I almost did not recognize their smiles behind the strange colorful smears across their cheeks and lips. About two dozen other scientists were surrounding them throwing their work at each other. I almost could hear Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz no. 1 playing from some speaker set in each table. People were screaming, laughing, dancing, throwing objects and being hit in return. I realized they had all gone mad, probably neglecting their journals for the sake of sex and smuggled sake. I thumbed the on switch as I pushed past a hunchbacked man with small bifocals.

Rowland had his back to me. He was tall, muscular in the neck and shoulders with hair pulled back into a ponytail. I wondered how long it would take to make his spinal cord paste and just what that would feel like under my hands. Behind Rowland, Lydia saw me coming. She sidestepped, pulled her arm back, and launched something into my face.

It was warm and creamy. I felt something crusty flake across my nose and forehead. A hot puddle flew into my gasping mouth. My tasted buds identified it as cherries. The laser had fallen from my hands obliterating the last two toes of my right foot although I had not noticed until later. My mouth was full of cherries–hot, juicy, tasty earthbound cherries.

“Food fight!” Rowland turned around and smacked me with the mushy end of a banana. He wore the remnants of a chocolate cake and grapes on his countenance. Lydia was part blue hiding behind her clipboard.

“Tyrone did it! He saved us! He solved the food problem!” Shouts I heard from the mob.

Life was now not just work. We could work then play. We would be assigned a new task, which would be exponentially easier. Dome Delaney would become Earth-2. We wondered if any of the other domes had made it this far. We would have to check our communicator after we were done wasting our salvation in this orgy.

In the foggy notion of morning sometimes, while I write, I still wished that I had killed Rowland. I am still the most sane person in outer space and I can already see that the little bit of humanity he had found being smacked in the face by dessert has already left him. Also, I know that murder is morally wrong.

But I am human and I came out here to the farthest reaches of the void to stop being that.

Entry 0019: Catalog of Concerts

wrecklesseric

LP: Wreckless Eric by Wreckless Eric

1978 Stiff Records SEEZ B6, 10″, Brown vinyl

Favorite Track: Reconnez Cherie

 

Last night a girl said I was cool. I am not. I’m just a geek. The compliment came about because the conversation had turned into a joke that I was bragging about my record collection. But it got me thinking about the amazing concerts I have attended in my life.

But this geek has managed to attend some incredible concerts in his life time. No, I wasn’t there for the first time Television played at CBGB’s, heck, I never even been in New York City. I didn’t see Neutral Milk Hotel before they were cool. I didn’t play the same open mic as Bob Dylan. But, for being born in 1983 and not into music until 1994 and not really going to concerts until 1998, I managed to see a lot of the bands that I listen to, almost all of whom peaked before my existence. Some people argue that seeing them is like seeing the shadow of the past–that going to the concert would diminish their appreciation of the music. Hogwash I say. Most of the bands I saw were still rocking. Here are some highlights:

Crash Test Dummies: First concert. Hated it. Squatted on the floor of Bogart’s with my hands over my ears. No joke.

The Living End/Ozomatli/The Offspring: Pittsburgh. Heard someone complain about them playing a song they never heard–the song being Self-Esteem. Girls wanted to make out with my friend and I right when my dad arrived to drive us to my aunt’s. Timing has always been a problem with me.

Too many ska-punk bands to count by Less Than Jake, Flogging Molly, Anti-Flag, and Suicide Machines are the first I think of: Yes, I went to ska shows. And I danced my legs off. I had the chance to have sex in the bathroom of Bogart’s and blew it because I didn’t understand when the girl said she wanted to change underwear she meant something else. I didn’t want to lose my glow-in-the-dark pirate boxers. The strange priorities of a 16 year old.

The Black Keys: circa 2001 or 2002. Had no idea who they were. Still never have listen to an entire album by them. Had a great time but find it odd that they are so popular now.

Holly Golightly: I had the audacity to try and flirt with her while sitting with the band before the show. I think she was amused at my stupidity.

Ko and the Knockouts: Defunct now, but Ko is a fantastic front woman.

Mirah: In my memory, this was a free concert at the coffeehouse in the old school center, but I could be wrong.

The Slits: Before Ari Up died. She spent a good portion of the show, too much in my humble opinion, saying that they were the first punk band to combine punk and reggae. I didn’t need to re-learn the history lesson, but they were fun and played well. However, I regret not saying hello when I arrived very early to the show and wished I could have said thanks to Ari.

Bob Dylan: circa 2007. Modern Times just came out and I was expecting to hear many tracks from that, which would have been fine because I like that album. I stood in the front partially because of some old hippies that really wanted my mom to see him. He was about 5 feet from me. It took me almost the whole song to recognize that it was Maggie’s Farm. His voice was gravel being scraped on gravel (though it improved by the 4th song). It took me most of The Times They Were A-Changin’ to realize: Holy shit he just played Maggie’s Farm. Then followed Lonesome Day Blues, Positively 4th Street, Stuck Inside Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again, ‘Til I Fell In Love With You, To Ramona, Cold Iron Bounds (the best song of the night actually, holy f—the bass), Girl From the North Country (one of my secret favorites!), Highway 61 Revisited, Sugar Baby, Summer Days, with an encore of Like a Rolling Stone and All Along the Watchtower. I still haven’t recovered from this concert. It also started the brief trend of me making mixed cds of setlists.

Wire: Friends and I headed up to Chicago to visit an old childhood friend and catch this amazing under-appreciated punk band. They mostly played from their new album at the time Red Barked Trees. They did play 106 Beats That, Pink Flag, Kidney Bingos, and Map Ref. 41 N 93 W, which makes owning that single more special. They didn’t jump around stage, however, they made me wish I could play a guitar.

Rocket From the Tombs: Apparently Cheetah Chrome quit this reunion right after this show as David Thomas was predictably an asshole. One flubbed note and Dave was making throat slitting motions at Cheetah. That being said they were good and of course ended with Final Solution and Sonic Reducer. I shook Cheetah’s hand and thanked him while ignoring Dave hocking merchandise.

Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine: Jello was Jello and my high school inner child about died in the small crowd that came on to the Madison Theatre on Veteran’s Day. We were by far the youngest people there. The band sounded just like any other Jello Biafra band that sounds like the Dead Kennedys but isn’t by name, but no complaints here. They covered Nazi Punks Fuck Off and California Uber Alles changing the lyrics into a song about Gov. Arnold. For an encore, they rocked Holiday in Cambodia. While I was closing my tab, I felt fully satisfied with the show. Then Jello got on stage again (he had put his shirt back on and hid his belly) and started talking about America’s secret national anthem. I ran back to the stage with the 5 or 6 remaining people. America’s secret national anthem was Kill the Poor. Oh did I mosh.

Black Pus/Lightning Bolt: Speaking of moshing…

Wolves of the Throne Room: I went to the show right after work so I had no time to change although I wouldn’t have anyways. I walked into the Mockbee’s in dress shoes, a tie, a collared shirt, and my fedora. Every one was wearing black and combat boots. One metal head said to the other: “See that guy in the tie? He must be a serial killer.” I out metaled the metal kids.

The Damned: Back to Chicago. They played the entirely of Damned Damned Damned and the Black Album. I almost lost my voice singing along. They blazed and it didn’t feel like 1977 but it felt like time did not matter. I want them to come back to America.

Joe Jack Talcum (of the Dead Milkmen): Man, he was short. It was great. I stood on a bar stool and could barely see him. Of course, the Whig was violating fire laws with how many people were stuffed in there. Played Bitchin’ Camero, Dean’s Dream and the Thing That Only Eats Hippies. Wheee!

Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby: They have the sweetest love story. Amy Rigby used to cover The Whole Wide World in her set and Wreckless Eric heard her perform it. They fell in love and are now together and they even incorporated their story into their set. The show was in this art studio in Indianapolis and felt a little more like a performance art with all the chairs, but they rocked. And they were very sweet to me when I asked for their autographs.

Le Tigre (canceled) Lesbians on Ecstasy: It really sucks that Le Tigre canceled the show. From what my cool friend tells me it was when Kathleen had Lyme disease but it wasn’t diagnosed properly. My heart goes out to her. However, the Lesbians on Ecstasy deserve super credit for playing the show anyways and rocking real fucking hard. The lead singer was in all leather with a whip. This show is also memorable because my dad saw me dancing with all these girls and said I should go hit on them. I thought the band name said it all…

The Decemberists: I didn’t get to hear the Mariner’s Revenge Song, but I heard lots of their early awesome songs and then they played all of the Taint before it had been released.

The Fiery Furnaces: Better show then I would have thought. These last 3 were at the 40 Watt Club. I think my dad slept in the car for this one.

Television: Baclk to Chicago. I had just found an amazing bookstore. It was a nasty sweaty day in Chicago. I was alone in probably the largest crowd I have ever been in. No Richard Lloyd who was suppose to play in Cincy but got real sick. My heart goes out to him. Wow. These guys made guitars look like kid’s toys. They played every song from Marquee Moon (oh Marquee Moon-how the darkness doubles) and Little Johnny Jewel. I would have thrown up if I remembered how to breathe.

X/Blondie: the old person show. It started at 7:30 pm and was done by 10 at the latest. But a totally blast. X sounded old but good and Billy Zoom made Los Angeles and Soul Kitchen raw and powerful. No Nausea however. Blondie couldn’t hit the high notes but put on an excellent performance with her guitarist sometimes shredding like he was in a metal band. It weirdly fit.

Lydia Lunch: This show blew my mind. Her cover of Suicide’s Frankie’s Teardrops may be the greatest song I have ever heard live. She still has a ton of energy and her band mates were all over the place in the cramped stage at Mayday. Lydia is sexy as fuck. I said an awkward hello to her when I got dropped off. She came out of a door right when I stepped out of the car. Can I say again how sexy she is?

Chrome: Who is Chrome? You probably don’t know and that is not me trying to brag that I know some obscure band. Chrome should not be obscure. But from what I read, they never played a lot of live shows. So when it was two days before I was to leave for Prague and I found out they were playing a show in Prague, my mind was blown. I went. There were about 30 people in a smoke-filled seedy bar. Chrome was every bit weird, alien, and exciting as their records. To quote Bob Dylan: “It frightens me, the awful truth of how sweet life can be.”

Coming soon: Peter Hook and the Light performing some New Order songs and then both Joy Division albums!!! My favorite band that I never ever even had a chance as a womb baby to see! Oh my!