No Longer Just Fartsy

After many years, a few false starts, and plenty of my patented Talking About It All the Time But Never Doing Anything to Progress the Situation Along (patent pending), I finally bought myself a nice camera. Up to now, the fanciest camera I’ve owned was an HP point and shoot, and while it took surprisingly good pictures, I’ve always wanted a nice camera, like with interchangeable lenses and all. A quick shout out to my better half, Mrs. Circlepit, for encouranging me all these years to just shut up and buy a goddamn camera, already. (Note: those were never her exact words.)

And I did shut up and buy a goddamn camera, already, and I’m enjoying it very much! I got a Lumix GX85, and it came with a 45-150 mm lens in addition to the 12-32 mm kit lens. I also got a macro 30 mm lens, and I’m very excited about that one. I dont really know what I’m doing yet, but I’m enjoying the process of learning, and that’s very exciting. For the most part, when it comes to skills, I’ve never been a huge fan of the learning process. It’s why I don’t play a musical instrument, or draw, or paint (I want to know how to do all those things, but I have no interest whatsoever in learning to do them well).

Anyhoo, here are a few pictures I ‘ve made over the past few days. I kinda like these. Maybe you will, too. Unless you don’t like birds. If you don’t like birds, you won’t like most of these pictures. I’m writing a thing about my other new-ish Old Man Circlepit obssession – i.e., birding – for posting here soon-ish. If you don’t like birds I have to assume you won’t care about that, either, but if you do like birds, and looking at picures of them, well, buddy you’re in for a…”treat” doesn’t seem like quite the right word…good time? Eh, I’ll fix it in post. Without further ado…

This is one of the first pictures I took, through my front blinds like a creep because I didn’t wanna scare the birds away. That’s an American goldfinch and a tufted titmouse, by the way.
Red-bellied woodpecker. Look at this pretty motherfucker.
[Insert heart-googly-eye emoji.]
Earlybirds (robins), lookin for worms. I learned recently that their scientific name is turdus migratorius, and I’ve been giggling about it ever since.
This li’l turdus seems sad.
Prolly ’cause this li’l turdus is a yell-talker.
“Monday Mourning” is my official Pretentious Artsy Title for this one. They’re mourning doves, see, and I took this picture on a Monday morning. It’s clever!
First pic with the macro 30 mm lens. It makes me think of that The Bouncing Souls song “That Song” (“I put that needle on the record, and played that song again.”). Even though “that song” in this case, was “Bullion” by Millencollin. I love both of those songs so much.
My mom made this stained glass piece. I like it very much.
My friend Baylee (IG: @howdyhaus) made this doofy lookin li’l guy, and I planted some kind of aloe or aloe-like substance in it and put it on the windowsill above the kitchen sink, and then one day I made a kinda cool-looking picture of it with my macro 30 mm lens with flash. The End.

Like I said, there’ll be more. Feel free to check back in and follow along on my learning journey, and tell a friend if you think they might give a shit. Oh, and if you have any advice, tips, or recommendations for blogs or other websites that might be useful, feel free to pass them on. Thanks for reading, and for looking!

My Personal Top 10 Albums of 2022

A couple days before Thanksgiving I was in the grocery store waiting in one of two lines that wasn’t self-checkout (on account of I don’t work there), and the old guy in front of me (I’d estimate him to be around 80) kept looking at my Napalm Death shirt.

Who could blame him? It’s a bitchin shirt!

I kept trying to pretend like I didn’t notice, and then I accidentally made eye contact, and then the following exchange happened:

Old Guy: I was lookin at your shirt.
Me: Yep.
(A beat.)
Me (assuming he wouldn’t understand what I meant by “grindcore”): It’s a heavy metal band.
OG: Current?
Me: Yeah, since the early-to-mid 80’s.
OG: Well, as long as nobody’s gettin hurt and everybody’s havin fun, I don’t see any harm in it.
Me: That’s how I feel about pretty much everything.
OG: (placing his items on the belt): It was really nice talking to you, young man. Thank you for being so open.
Me: Thank you for not being judgy.
OG: The way I see it, there’s 8 billion of us on this planet, and all any of us really wants is to be heard.
Me: That’s a good way to look at things.
OG: I hope you have a nice Thanksgiving.
Me: Thank you very much, I hope you do, too.

Speaking as a man so hates small talk, and conservations in general, this small-talk conversation made me aware of two things:

First, not everyone is awful. It really seems like most everyone is, most of the time, but every now and then, someone will provide an exception to the rule, and I like that.

2. All any of us really wants is to be heard. I often forget that this is true. I spend so much time trying to not-talk-so-no-one-will-look-at-me that I forget that being looked at and being heard are two different things. I wanna be heard, too, just not looked at, which I suppose is why I’m a blogger and not a youtuberizer or tikkitytocker.

“Hey Joel, what the fuck does any of this have to do with your Top 10 Albums of 2022?” That’s a fair question, and I’m getting to it.

I don’t usually read anyone’s Top 10 Albums of (insert year here) unless it’s in a publication I already read, like Decibel, or if it’s written by someone I know in some capacity. I mean, I don’t care what some asshole I don’t know thinks about what music I should be listening to, y’know? But on the other hand, all that asshole really wants is to be heard, and besides, maybe that asshole isn’t so awful anyway. Also, I’m sometimes an asshole, even though I mostly try real hard not to be.

Having said that, I decided (for I think the first time ever) to make an Official Official Top 10 Albums of (insert year here)(specifically this year), in no particular order. I don’t expect anyone to give a hoot, but I figure I’m paying for the bandwidth, and I still have the physical and mental capacity to write, so why not write something, even if no one but me reads it? That’s a rhetorical question. Also, please don’t look at me while you’re reading this. That (along with being heard) is all I’ve ever really wanted.

And awaaay we go!


Clutch – Sunrise on Slaughter Beach – My love of Clutch is not a secret. How every person on this miserable planet doesn’t also love them is a conundrum that shall haunt me for the rest of my days, but if you really know me, you know I love Clutch. Anyway, Sunrise on Slaughter Beach is an instant classic, right up there in The Elephant Riders Blast Tyrant territory. It’s a bit on the short side, and I wouldn’t be sad if it went on for another song or two, but it doesn’t really need anymore songs. It’s great. It has big, burly riffs, fat-ass grooves, and Neil Fallon’s voice hittin’ you upside the head like a velvet bag filled with crushed gravel. And a theremin!

Standout Tracks: “Nosferatu Madre”, “Skeletons on Mars”, “Slaughter Beach”

Goatwhore – Angels Hung from the Arches of Heaven – To be perfectly honest, this is the first (and so far only) Goatwhore album I’ve listened to in it’s entirety, but I read positive things about it in Decibel magazine, and as and Acid Bath fan I already knew that I was a fan of Sammy Duet’s guitar. So anyway, I went into Landlocked Music one day with no agenda, and they had it for 13 bucks, so I bought it, along with another album on this list, and it was a good day. I know I need to check out more of this band, but for now, I can’t stop listening to this album. Which Goatwhore album should I check out next?

Standout Tracks: “The Bestowal of Abomination”, “Death from Above”, “Voracious Blood Fixation”

Voivod – Synchro Anarchy – My love of Voivod is only more of a secret than my love of Clutch because, generally speaking, more people have heard of Clutch. I love Voivod just as much as I love Clutch, and sometimes more. I’m not gonna talk about Voivod right now (I think I’ve talked about them plenty). [Just kidding, I’ll talk about Voivod any time (other than now).]

Now, I’m here to talk about Voivod’s newest album, Synchro Anarchy. This album continues building on the foundation this lineup laid with The Wake, which is sometimes my favorite Voivod album. That said, so far I like The Wake a bit more, but I haven’t listened to Synchro Anarchy quite as much, plus it’s completely fucking amazing, so that’s no knock on Synchro Anarchy at all. If you’re interested in digging into some heavy music that makes you think, I can’t recommend Voivd’s catalog enough. This album is as good a place to start as any.

Standout Tracks: “Synchro Anarchy”, “Planet Eaters”, “Holographic Thinking”

Sigh – Shiki – Like Goatwhore, I just started listening to Sigh this year, but unlike Goatwhore, I’ve listened to more than just the newest release. I don’t know how to begin to describe what Sigh does, but it’s fucking weird and heavy and cool, and I like it a lot. They started out in 1989 as a black metal band, but they’ve grown to eclipse any single genre of music other than “Sigh” (they’ve had a full-time saxophone player in the band since 2007, for chrissake). Shiki finds founder/bandleader/mastermind Mirai Kawashima ruminating on aging and death. All the lyrics are in Japanese, but that doesn’t matter. Music is the universal language. I recommend this one.

Standout Tracks – Just listen to the whole thing. Use headphones if possible.

Racebannon – Satan’s Kickin’ Yr Dick In (2022 Re-Issue)I wrote about Racebannon, and Satan’s Kickin’ Yr Dick In particularly, on my old blog Stay Heavy, which still gets more views than this blog, even though I haven’t posted anything there since November 2019. I pre-ordered this without hesitation up learning of its impending release. As I already own the album on CD and vinyl, the big draw for me on this release is the second disc, which consists of remastered alternate versions of Parts I-V, plus live versions of Parts I, II, and V, and instrumental practice sessions of Parts I, II, IV, and V. (None of that likely means anything to you, but if you wanna know more about that, why not read my old post about it?)

The remastered alternate versions are dope, and are worth the price of admission on their own, but the live versions are very cool, and the instrumental stuff is cool, although I likely won’t listen to those versions as often. The original album is as great as ever.

Fun Bonus: I was surprised and super-stoked to find an excerpt from my old write-up of the album included in the liner notes to the second disc, nestled in there among quotes from Pitchfork, All Music Guide, Alternative Press, and others. I’m beyond honored to be a part of Official Racebannon Canon.

Standout Tracks: Disc One: “Part I”, “Part II”, “Part III”, “Part IV”, “Part V”; Disc Two: “Part I”, “Part II”, “Part III”, “Part IV”, “Part V”

Charley Crockett Li’l G.L. Presents: Jukebox Charley – I bought four Charley Crockett albums this year, and I got to kind of see him live, albeit from all the way in the back of an oversold venue. My friend Chris recommended him, and like many recommendations I receive, I ignored it for a while, then one day at work I decided to listen to his newest album, The Man From Waco, which also came out this year. It’s also great, but I didn’t want to have two albums from the same artist on the list, and Jukebox Charley is the one I’ve listened to more out of the two. So anyway, I went into Landlocked Music one day with no agenda, and they had a used copy for 6 bucks, so I bought it, along with 2020’s Welcome to Hard Times and another album on this list, and it was a good day.

This is the fourth album Crockett has released under the “Li’l G.L.” line, and like the first three, these are all covers. All of them are fantastic, as Charley Crockett is great at what he does. He’s just about the only person I’d wanna hear sing a Tom T. Hall song other than Tom T. Hall himself (may be rest in peace), although an exception will always be made for Alan Jackson’s cover of “Little Bitty”.

Standout Tracks: “Where Have All the Honest People Gone”, “I Hope it Rains at My Funeral”, “Make Way for a Better Man”

A Vulture Wake – One. Kingdom. Animal – Not enough people know about this band, and that’s silly. They began as a sort-of “melodic hardcore supergroup” of sorts, if your definition of “supergroup” consists of members of bands that most people haven’t heard of. That is meant as no slight to the members of A Vulture Wake – there is an impressive punk rock pedigree on display with this band, from from the beginning until now. The only consistent member is singer/guitarist Chad Price, perhaps best know for his time as singer for ALL (perhaps best known for not being the Descendents) and/or his time as singer/guitarist of Drag the River (both are among my favorite bands, even when Chad’s not singin, and both very occasionally play live still, but I digress).

I love A Vulture Wake’s first album, 2018’s The Appropriate Level of Outrage, and quite frankly it made a direct impact in my decision to stop eating meat (almost 6 years ago now). I enjoyed 2019’s Fall Prey EP, and the Kingdom EP from June of this year, a bit less, but it’s still great.

Then in September, the band released a second new EP entitled Animal, and released both of this year’s EPs as a CD called One.Kingdom.Animal, and hearing the Kingdom songs in the context of the Animal songs really makes them make sense to me. It’s heavy, it’s melodic, it’s catchy, it’s fucking excellent.

Standout Tracks: “Virus”, “Moths”, “We Are Living in a Dream”

Morgue Supplier – Inevitability – This band has been on my radar for a few years, and I’d heard and enjoyed some Morgue Supplier songs before purchasing Inevitability, but I decided to pull the trigger on this one, and I’m so glad I did. Inevitability picks up where Brutal Truth left off. That’s not to say that Invevitability sounds like Brutal Truth, but it does feel like a spiritual successor to that band’s very best albums. It’s not for the faint of heart (or ear), but if you’re itching for some music that’s heavy, noisy, chaotic, apocalyptic, and terrifying, Invetiability will scratch that itch.

Standout Tracks: “Absurd Identity”, “Empty Vacant Shell”, “My Path to Hell”

Cave In – Heavy Pendulum – Volumes have been written about Cave In by any number of writers better than yours truly, but the Big Deal surrounding this album is that it wasn’t supposed to happen. Longtime bassist Caleb Scofield passed away in a horrific car accident in 2018, the band released Final Transmission a year later, which featured the final recordings with Caleb. Then Converge bassist/backing vocalist Nate Newton joined up with the surviving members of Cave In in 2021, and they recorded this cracking motherfucker of an album. I haven’t listened to a lot of Cave In’s music, but Landlocked had this in a beautiful 180 gm 2xLP gatefold set and it wasn’t expensive, so I bought it, and I love it. Stephen Brodsky writes and plays some absolutely God-Tier Riffs, and this album delivers on those in spades.

Standout Tracks: “New Reality”, “Blood Spiller”, “Amaranthine”

The Tragically Hip – Live at the Roxy, a.k.a. Live at the Roxy May 3 91 – I love The Tragically Hip as much as I love Clutch and Voivod, even though I discovered The Hip much more recently. In 2021 they released a really solid 30th anniversary box set of their brilliant 1991 sophomore LP Road Apples on the heels of Saskadelphia, an EP of unreleased songs from the Road Apples era. Live at the Roxy was part of that box set, but it got a standalone release this year, which qualifies it for this list. This is The Tragically Hip at the beginning of the peak of their live powers, and if you’re a fan of blues-inflected, slightly jammy rock ‘n’ roll (but good), I can’t imagine you wouldn’t enjoy Live at the Roxy.

Standout Tracks: “Twist My Arm”, “Three Pistols”, “Blow at High Dough”


I’ll write about both of these soon. One I just received in the mail a few days ago, and the other I’ve only listened to once, on account of I don’t listen to that type of music that often, but both came out this year, and both deserve a mention.

Specimen Box – Remote Communion

Noah Nordman – SHIPWRECKED! PT. I

That’s all I got for now. Look for more soon (but not too soon), and also check out these albums. They all rule.

And don’t be afraid to be heard.

I Drove You Home, Then You Moved Away: A Sort of Update Combined With a Thing About the Deftones

I started writing a thing about the Deftones on my old blog a couple hundred years ago (August 2017, more specifically), with the goal of listening to their entire discography in order and writing about that. A recurring theme in my writing, both public and private, is the reality of my utter laziness when it comes to actually sitting down to write, so (*SPOILER ALERT*) I never got around to actually starting that, let alone coming anywhere near finishing it. The fact that I’m currently using a rapidly failing six-year-old Chromebook as my primary means of writing doesn’t help matters. “Why haven’t [you] simply purchased a new laptop of some sort?”, you might ask. That’s a fair question, and the best answer is that in addition to being fairly lazy, I’m also weirdly cheap about things I shouldn’t be cheap about. I’ll drop 40 bucks on a concert t-shirt without so much as a second thought (though there will be a lot of grumbling about the price while I do so), but when it comes to things like upgrading an ancient piece of technology that sends me into fits of rage pretty much every time I use it, which is pretty much daily, well now hold on just a second there mister – I don’t need a new laptop, I already own one! Plus it has cool stickers on it!


Side note: I know a Chromebook is not the same as a laptop, but I also know that’s not relevant to this, and that I don’t actually care.

Anyway, I’m not here today in an attempt to revive that old corpse, because that ship sailed a long time ago, plus a bunch of other metaphors. I’ve since listenened to all their albums several times (including the one that came out four years after I first had the idea to listen to them and write about them) and I didn’t bother to write about any of them, mostly because in the long run, it doesn’t really matter what I think about the Deftones discography (it’s pretty fuckin incredible though, for the record), but also because my laptop is one of the Top 3 Biggest Assholes I’ve Ever Known (Non-Human Edition).

Did I mention that I’m also lazy?

What I am here today in an attempt to do, whatever the fuck that means, is mention that, thanks to my amazing wife and her knack for picking out kickass birthday presents, I’m finally gonna see the Deftoness live tomorrow night (with Gojira!), and I’m beyond stoked!

Mrs. Circlepit mistakenly assumed that I’d seen them live before, not realizing that I had in fact missed two opportunites to see them. My first time missing them was in 1996 when they opened for Pantera and White Zombie (Eyehategod made an unscheduled appearance that day as well), and later (circa 1999) I missed them headlining with Snapcase and Quicksand as support. Can you imagine how fucking incredible both of those shows must’ve been?! I know at least two people who attended at least one of them each, and I missed both because of work-related nonsense, but now I make the schedule, and I’m finally gonna see the motherfucking Deftones live!

Careful reader(s) of this “esteemed” blog might recall that I kinda saw Gojira live last year at Louder Than Life, but really that it was more of a “heard them live while they played behind me while I stood in the Slowest Line in History of Lines while I waited to purchase a couple of 40 dollar t-shirts” type of situation, so clearly that doesn’t count. I’m very much looking forward to righting that wrong tomorrow night as well, even though I’m not nearly as familiar with Gojira. There’s another band called Vowws opening the night, and I checked out one of their songs last night, and they seem alright (probably better live), but we might not make it in time to see them anyway, so I’ll not mention them for now except for this sentence.

And speaking of Louder Than Life, this will be second time we’ve attended a live show since then (the first was Gwar/Napalm Death/Eyehategod back in early November), and I’m jonesing for it real hard. This past week at work was a total bitch for a lot of reasons, and I’m ready to blow off some major steam tomorrow. And continuing for just a moment to speak of Louder Than Life, tickets have long since been procured for this years’ festivities, and as always, the lineup is a mixed bag, but overall it’s much more solid than last year. I’ll surely write more about that eventually. Maybe I’ll even have a new Chromebook/laptop on which to do so. I’ll most definitely have at least a few more 40 dollar t-shirts by then.

Thanks for reading, whoever you are.

Cook As Needed for Pain, Volume 2: Zucchini, Tomato, and Cannelini Soup

Hey, look everybody, I’m finally following through on something. Here’s Volume 2 of this thing I started working on over two-and-a-half years ago. Please hold your applause until the end.

I planned to stop by Bloomingfoods on my way home from work today and buy a couple of big ‘ol baking potatoes for dinner. Big ‘Ol Baked Potatoes with Broccoli and Whatnot is a shared favorite meal of Mrs. Circlepit and myself. It’s super satisfying, super filling, super delicious, and super easy, and since my job and the general state of things are not-so-slowly killing me, both physically and mentally, I wanted dinner to be as easy as possible without ordering takeout or delivery.

After a drive across downtown that was significantly more dangerous and time-consuming than it should’ve been, I arrived in front of the co-op to find their tiny parking lot absolutely lousy with parked cars and people trying to park and people trying to pull out of spaces, and I don’t wanna paint with too broad of a brush here, but most of the people who shop at the co-op drive like dumbfucks and can’t park for shit. My only other option was parking on the street, but I won’t give the City of Bloomington a penny more than I absolutely have to, so I said “fuck that, I’ll figure out something else for dinner” and drove home, wherein I quickly devised a plan for a soup that I think will be delicious.

At first I was figuring on Veggie Chili, which is one of my favorite things to both cook and eat (and which will probably be featured within this feature some day), but I arrived home to discover that we didn’t have any hominy or any canned pinto beans, and as you may recall, I was looking for ease of preparation above all else, so I decided to put on Inlet by HUM and make a soup up as I went along, and now, some 55 minutes later, I have a batch of Zucchini, Tomato, and Cannelini Soup (ZTC Soup) simmering lightly on the stove.

Here’s the list of ingredients in this soup:

2 medium zucchini
2 small-ish carrots
about 1/4 of an onion
1 15 oz can of cannelini beans, drained and rinsed (see Notes)
1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 cups of leftover basmati rice
1 28 oz crushed tomato can’s worth of vegetable broth (see Notes)
1-2 tsp of lemon juice
dried thyme
dried basil
dried oregano
granulated garlic
granulated onion
kosher salt (to taste)
fresh ground black pepper
2-ish Tbsp of olive oil


  1. Cannelini beans are basically white kidney beans. I used them because it’s what I had in the pantry. I think this is my first time using them, and I’m pretty sure I bought the can just to try something different. You could certainly use Great Northern or navy beans instead, just be more gentle when stirring – those beans are especially tender li’l guys.
  2. I forgot to check the actual liquid volume of the can before I put it in recycyling. Regarding broth, I like Better Than Bullion brand No Chicken Base. I use that shit in so many things. It’s a galdern miracle of modern innovation. You can certainly make your own broth or stock. It’s very easy, but BTB is easier, and remember: I wanted this soup to be easy like Sunday morning.

I cut everything except the onion to roughly the same size as a cannelini bean, and I minced the onion. Mrs. Circle Pit doesn’t like the texture of onions, so if I wanna cook with them I have to either cut them small enough to essentially hide them or cut them large enough that she can see them and pick them out and give them to me.

I started out sauteeing the onions and carrots in the olive oil. After a couple-few minutes, I added the zucchini and let it all cook for about 5 minutes before adding all the seasonings. Another minute or so and in go the tomatoes and broth. I added the beans just before it began to simmer, brought ‘er to a full-ass boil, stirred well, and then lowered back down to a light simmer (just a few bubbles). It’s been barely simmering for almost two hours now, and I gotta tell you, friends, the flavor on this soup is real dang good.

This is the point where I added the beans. Look at allathem li’l bubbles.

I’m gonna put some rice in it right before serving it, because fuck it, why not? We’re all gonna die someday, might as well enjoy as much rice as possible before our numbers are up. Brown rice would be dope, but I happen to have some leftover basmati rice from last night’s pretty damn delicous Coconut Curried Vegetables with Chickpeas, which is another thing I love to cook and eat, and which may also make an appearance here one day.

I thought about putting some bulghur wheat in it, just for something different, but I decided to use up the rice instead. Bulghur wheat would probably be really fucking good in it, though. You should try that and tell me about it. Just add it before adding the liquid, and be prepared to probably have to add more liquid as it sits, because bulghur wheat is a thirsty li’l sumbitch.

Aw, hell, I haven’t even talked about HUM yet. HUM are a band from Champaign, Illinois. They’re amazing. They’re sometimes referred to as a “shoegaze” band, and they contain elements of that, but they’re more than that. I’ve read the term “space rock” as well, and that could work in a pinch, but it’s still not quite right. The best word I can think of to describe them is “HUM”. You’d probably recognize their song “Stars” if you heard it. It was an “alternative rock” hit in 1995, and was later used in a Cadillac commercial.

Anway, here’s “Stars”…

There are some incredible live performances of this song from the era, as well. You should watch all of them. Just never stop listening to HUM, basically.

They released three great albums from 1991-1995 (Filet Show, Electra 2000, and You’d Prefer an Astronaut), then one perfect album in 1998 (Downward is Heavenward), then they broke up, and I was sad. They’d reunite occasionally to play a show which would inevitably sell out before I even knew it was happening, but otherwise the members stayed busy with other projects. Then on June 23, 2020, they suprise-released a brand new album, Inlet, which defies all possible logic and comprehension by being even better than Downward is Heavenward. Their drummer died last year, so I don’t really know the current status of the band, but their current status in my heart is among my Top Ten All-Time Favorite Bands.

“Waves” is the first song off the album. It’s perfect. It’s all perfect. Inlet is a perfect album. Listen to it.
“In the Den” is the second song off the album. It’s perfect. It’s all perfect. Inlet is a perfect album. Listen to it.
“Desert Rambler” is the third song off the album. It’s perfect. You see where I’m going with this, right?

I seriously love everything about HUM. The vocals sound like they’re being broadcast from inside your very consciousness. The rhythm section is tighter than a hibernating frog’s butthole. The lyrics are always intelligent and poetic, and often profound. And perhaps most important to this guy right here, the riffs are so heavy you need a Tractomas TR 10×10 D100 to drive them around.

Actual footage of HUM riffs on their way to your brain. I love that “ABNORMAL” sign on the front.

It’s all just so goddamn heavy, and I don’t understand how everyone on Earth doesn’t love them.

ADDENDUM: It’s been nearly 24 hours since I started writing this. I had to stop last night, on account of eating some of that delicious soup we were talking about and then winding my brain down to eventually get ready for bed so I could wake up bright and early and feed the slavering masses. Have I ever mentioned how much I dislike the concept of “jobs”? I’m lucky to have a job I enjoy, but man, jobs are for suckers. But that’s a discussion for another post.

I’m now listening to Shadows in the Deep by Unleashed (which fucking rules by the way) and proofreading/updating this thing. Here’s a fun dumb game: see if you can figure out which things I added today. Your prize is doing something on the toilet that doesn’t involve reading terrible news. Unless you consider learning about my love for Hum ‘n’ Beans to be a terrible thing. That would be weird though. Perhaps abnormal, even.

Speaking of abnormal, thanks for reading this the whole way through, ya weirdo. If you enjoyed it, why not tell a friend? If you hated it, why not tell a friend? If you don’t have any friends, you can tell me, I suppose.

And never be too gentle with me.

See ya next time, ya freakin weirdo.

Joe, From the Comments

“That’s the whole trouble. You can’t ever find a place that’s nice and peaceful, because there isn’t any. You may think there is, but once you get there, when you’re not looking, somebody’ll sneak up and write “Fuck you” right under your nose. Try it sometime. I think, even, if I ever die, and they stick me in a cemetery, and I have a tombstone and all, it’ll say “Holden Caulfield” on it, and then what year I was born and what year I died, and then right under that it’ll say “Fuck you.” I’m positive, in fact.” – from The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

I could be a bit off base here, but I feel like it’s become something of a cliche to say The Catcher in the Rye is one of you favorite books, but damned if it isn’t still one of my favorite books. I’ve read other Salinger, and I’ve enjoyed all of it. I also know that he has stories that are perhaps regarded with more esteem than The Catcher in the Rye, but damned if I don’t love that book more than almost every other book I’ve read. J.D. Salinger knew how to tell a story, and his style is absolutely one of a kind. He’s probably my number one influence as a writer, and, along with Kurt Vonnegut, is the reason I decided I wanted to write in the first place, even though I can’t tell a story for shit.

Re-reading The Catcher in the Rye as an adult, Holden Caulfield comes off more petulant than he used to, but unlike some other books and movies I used to love, I still find myself identifying with him – often more than maybe any other fictional character I’m familiar with. That’s certainly a testament to Salinger’s gift as a writer, but it also offers evidence of my continued arrested development.

I rewatched High Fidelity for the first time in years during The Shutdown, and I did not find Rob Gordon as relateable (or likeable) as I once did. I used to really identify with Rob, and I liked him in spite of his flaws (without which there’d be no story), but last time I watched High Fidelity I mostly wanted him to shut up, and I sometimes found myself really disliking him. At any rate, I don’t know when (or if) I can watch High Fidelity again. The soundtrack is still great, and I’m thinking about giving the book another shot soon, but probably not before I read The Catcher in the Rye again.

Garden State is another movie I used to just adore, and I wanted to crawl out of my skin last time I watched it somewhere between 2 and 5 years ago. I still like the way the movie looks, and there are parts I still enjoyed, but Andrew Largeman is insufferable, and there were some scenes where I just felt embarrassed for the people in them. That soundtrack is still pretty alright.

“Hey Joel, what the fuck are you talking about?”

Sorry, I got a little carried away. I was just tryin to say that not all things stand the test of time. That’s obviously a well-established truism, but I mean it more like some things are only supposed to be with us during a specific point in our existence. Take Garfield, for example. I laughed myself stupid over Garfield comics when I was a kid, but somewhere in my teens, I tried to re-read Garfield Takes the Cake: His Fourth Book, and I wondered for a minute if maybe I was dead, because I didn’t even smile. It was like reading The Famliy Circus, or Cathy. What I finally came to realize is that Garfield didn’t need to still be funny to me to continue being a part of my life. That helped me come to terms later on in life with my new(er)found disdain for Rob Gordon and Andrew Largeman.

I’m digressing hard here, sorry. I will get to my point, I promise. Onward!

Futurama is coming back (again)! Hulu ordered 20 new episodes, and I’m just fuckin ecstatic. If you give a shit about Futurama, you almost certainly already know this; if you don’t give a shit about Futurama, thanks for reading anway, I guess.

They made 140 episodes over the show’s original stretch (it’s been cancelled at least twice before, and probably thrice, but possibly frice four times), and there was only one episode in the entire run that I found to be completely unfunny. The most recent seasons were mostly less “good overall” than the “classic” seasons, but it never stopped being a hilarious, intelligent, highly watchable show (except for that one episode). So even though technically the potential exists for 20 clunkers, the odds are in my favor.

Anyhoo, Mrs. Circlepit tagged me in the comments of some facebook post about the news, and I decided to read the comments, because I’m filled with self-loathing.

This meme will always be one of my greatest accomplishments.

Sure enough, some know-it-all named Joe had to show up in the comments and fart in everybody’s salad. Joe said a lot of things, but he finished with “Besides, Fry and Leela essentially went back to the beginning of the series, how are they possibly going to move forward from that?” and I was all like “IT’S A FUCKING CARTOON ABOUT TRAVELING THROUGH TIME AND OUTER SPACE, JOE. IT HAS ALIENS AND SEWER MUTANTS AND SENTIENT ROBOTS IN IT, JOE. REMEMBER THE LAST TIME THEY REVIVED THE SERIES, JOE?”

“Say, I’m not sure I can take this show seriously anymore.” – that Joe guy the first time he saw this, probably


Only I didn’t say any of that to Joe, because I don’t think I’d like him, and I don’t wanna waste any of my precious remaining time on this plane of existence interacting with people I don’t like. Instead, I decided to share the contents of my jumbled-ass brain with you gentle, genteel souls. (Not to be confused with my jumbled ass-brain. I’m not ready to share that with anyone just yet.)

Here’s my point, though, because ain’t nobody got all day to put up with my jibber-jabber: some stranger’s comments on a facebook post made me think of that quote from Holden Caulfield up at the top of this mess, and I wanted to share it with people. In other words, Joe got to the comments first, and he basically wrote “fuck you” there, and I wish people were capable of not being such dumb-dumbs.

On an unrelated note, you should proably be listening to Neil Diamond. He rules. Duh.

Neil Diamond is not a dumb-dumb.

Thanks for reading. And try not to be a Joe, From the Comments.

Not an Update

In the interest of self-preservation and maintaining some semblance of relevance, here’s a quick thing that most of the people reading this probably won’t care about.

French-Canadian mind-bogglers Voivod are set to release their new album, Synchro Anarchy, next Friday, February 11, and I gotta tell ya, friends, I’m am ex-cited.

Here are some videos, all of them songs contained within my impending Lord and Savior, Synchro Anarchy:

And here is my sort-of review of their last album, 2014’s absolutely superlative The Wake. This is from my old blog, Stay Heavy, which I use even less than this one, which is no easy feat. I get way more views on that one than on this one, even though I haven’t put anything new there in like 3 or 4 years.

Anyway, hey Lloyd, see you later maybe.

Down With the Sickness

[Cue David Draiman noises.]

We had a good run, but after somewhere between 22 months and 400 years (the illusion called “time” has meant even less since March 2020), the sickness finally caught up to me and my ol’ lady. We both tested postive for covid on Wednesday evening. Ooh-ah-ah-ah-ah, indeed.

But I’ll get to that in a minute.

I wanna start with an “in memoriam” of sorts for Mrs. Circlepit’s grandmother, who passed away last week at the age of 91. In a way, it’s fitting that we contracted covid while attending events surrounding her death and funeral, as her 90th birthday party in March 2020 marked the first instance of us inexplicably avoiding the virus (other notable situations and events include both of us working in the service industry and the two of us attending Louder Than Life last September). But I’m getting ahead of myself – I was talking about Grandma Circlepit (not her real name).

Both of my grandfathers died when I was pretty young – my maternal “papaw” when I was 2, and my dad’s dad when I was 5 – so for the vast majority of my life, I’ve only had grandmothers. My mom’s mom (aka “Good Grandma”) died in 2001, and my dad’s mom died more recently, but I can’t remember when exactly, because I didn’t like her very much. That might sound mean, but if I’m not gonna be be completely honest here, then what the fuck am I even doing? She was never very nice to me or my siblings, and she never bothered to learn my wife’s name even though she knew her for at least five years before she passed. I say all that to say this: when the missus and I started dating, she had all her grandparents (which was something I didn’t quite understand), while all I had was Bad Grandma.

Mrs. Circlepit’s maternal grandfather passed away less than six months after we started dating, so I didn’t get to know him at all, but all the surviving grandparents were very cool, and I enjoyed visiting with all of them every time we had the opportunity. Eventally, both of her dad’s parents slipped into ill health, suffering combinations of dementia and strokes, and they’ve been at peace for a few years now, which left her (and, by proxy, me) with one grandma, who I’ve apparently decided to call Grandma Circlepit. She was an awesome lady, and she lived and awesome life, and she had a bunch of kids, and they have a bunch of kids, and those kids are having kids now, and a positive side effect of her awesome life is that I have some awesome family in a time where some members of my biological family have decided to not talk to me anymore for various reasons (chief among them, sadly, seems to be my unapologetic disdain for #45 and my inability to keep my mouth shut about things that bother me).

But I was talking about Grandma Circlepit. She was a badass, and she will be missed. Also, attending her visitiation and funeral (and surrounding events and activities) seems to be how covid finally got the best of us, and that’s what brings me here today. We’re somewhere in the midst of quarantine (could be 2 days, could be 13, I’m really not sure), and we’re both feeling mostly okay, but the symptoms seem to come and go depending at least in part on how much sleep we manage to get the previous night. One symptom that hasn’t stopped for me is constant farting, which I fortunately still find to be hilarious…so far. I mentioned my flatulence recently, and the missus said “gastroinestinal distress is one of the symptoms, y’know”, to which I responded “I know that, but I didn’t think about farting being a part of gastrointestinal distress because I don’t find that distressing. It’s hilarious! I just assumed it meant bubbly guts.”

We’ve been drifting in and out of sleep and whatnot, and watching a fair amount of South Park and The Golden Girls and The Office, and we decided a couple of days ago to finally start watching the Star Wars saga in order (live-action movies only), from The Phantom Menace through The Rise of Skywalker (including Rogue One and Solo), an undertaking we first discussed sometime during The Shutdown, while watching The Mandalorian. We hesitantly kicked off Star Wars-a-Thon 2022 in the early afternoon, and within 30 minutes of beginning, we were kinda regretting the decision.

What follows are a few notes from my first viewing of Episode 1 in over 20 years:

  • The kid that plays Anakin Skywalker is either a much better actor than I remembered or is at the very least not nearly as bad as I remembered, although that might be due in part to seeing Hayden Christhensen (sp? – I don’t care, fuck him) take a giant shit all over the role twice since the last time I saw The Phantom Menace.
  • George Lucas should never have been allowed to direct another movie after the original Star Wars (aka Episode IV: A New Hope). That’s my favorite of the saga for purely nostalgic purposes, but I’m no dummy – Empire is clearly the superior film, and every Star Wars film that Lucas didn’t direct is better than anything from the prequel trilogy. I know it was his intellectual property at the time, but for the love of whatever you believe in, someone should’ve stopped him, at the very least after Episode 1.
  • Jar-Jar Binks is even worse than I remembered, and if the internet theories about him being an undercover Sith sent to bring the Republic down from the inside are remotely true, then fuck George Lucas even harder for making such a dumbshit character capable of fooling literally everyone, including Obi-Wan Kenobi and Liam Neesons.
  • Those Trade Federation dudes are racist as fuck. If I hadn’t seen the movie before, I would’ve fully expected them to throw in an “ah,so” every now and then, and maybe even a “me so solly” when they’re apprehended at the end. And that’s not even mentioning Jar-Jar and Watto. Did George Lucas black out and think it was 1945 when he was writing this screenplay?
  • That CGI is absolute dogshit. Industrial Light & Magic made amazing practical effects for the orginal trilogy (which Lucas famously urinated on when he re-released them theatrically in the runup to The Phantom Menace, and has continued to projectile shit all over with subsequent home releases), and I just can’t understand how anyone involved in creating that movie could think that shitty CGI looked better than 1977’s parking lot Death Star explosion. I’m sure there are plenty of movies from 1999 that have less realistic effects, but none of those movies had the budget of TPM, nor did they have an in-house studio to create those effects. I’ll just say, thank God for Disney, which is not a phrase you’ll hear or see from me often.

Long story short, we both decided separately during The Phantom Menace to find a summary video on YouTube for Attack of the Clones, because neither of us could bear the thought of wasting another 2 hours of our lives on that cinematic abortion. I saw it twice in the theater, and I fell asleep both times. In my current state, I require very little help falling asleep, so you can understand my concerns. All I could remember was clones, and politics, and that Anakin doesn’t like sand.

The 5-minute summary we watched left out plenty of stuff, but I really couldn’t care less. We watched that while we ate lunch yesterday, then for dessert we had a full serving of Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith.

I only saw it once before, in the theater, when I lived in Austin, and I remembered it being better than the two films that preceeded it, but let’s be honest, would it take much to be better than Attack of the Clones? Here are my notes on my first viewing of Revenge of the Sith in over 15 years:

  • The CGI is still bad. The long shots of marching troops and whatnot look fine, but all the animals and spaceships look like they’re taken from video game cut scenes. And that lizard-thing that Obi-Wan rides in the 6th hour of the movie, when he tracks down General Greivous…the noise that thing keeps making reminded me so much of an annoying video game sound effect. I even says to the missus, I says, “that thing is exactly like something you’d have to ride in a video game level, and it would be making that noise the whole time, and you’d be like ‘I wish I could turn off the sound on this goddamn thing’, but you wouldnt’ be able to.”
  • Yoda’s dialogue is off. It’s like someone who thought they know how Yoda talks wrote it, like when somebody watches Letterkenny and tries to imitate Squirrley Dan by justs addings ans “s”s tos everys words when that’s clearly not how Squirrley Dan talks.
  • One of the Wookies did a Tarzan yell, and the subtitle actually said “[Tarzan noise]”, and a little part of me died, and it was glad to be dead.
  • Whether or not it was better than The Phantom Menace is for someone else to decide, but I sure as shit enjoyed it more than The Phantom Menace.

Which brings us to today, which I estimate to be day 37 of quarantine. Based on the television lineup, I think it might be Saturday. I awoke today feeling much better overall, only to discover that my senses of taste and smell have gone away. It’s a very surreal experience, to inhale deeply above freshly ground coffee beans and/or a jar of nutritional yeast and smell absolutely nothing. I’m gonna try to use this unfortunate turn to my advantage, and see if I can drop a few pounds while it apparently doesn’t matter what I eat.

I’ll be like this, but not as cute.

We watched River’s Edge earlier, which is still a fantastic movie, and I read a bit of my new book, Devil House by John Darnielle, and we’re gonna continue our Star Wars experiment with Solo very soon, and perhaps I’ll share some notes here afterward. Perhaps you’ll even come back and read them. Until then, thanks for reading. And for serious, try to avoid catching this shit. I can’t imagine how much it would suck if we weren’t vaxxed and boosted.

Plant-Based Adventures in the Derby City: A Sort of Review of Louder Than Life 2021, Part 2

Welcome to the “long awaited” second and almost-certainly final installment of my review of the 2021 Louder Than Life music festival in Louisville, KY. If you haven’t read Part 1 yet, you should start there, then come back here and continue. I’ll wait…

Okay, welclome back. As I mentioned in Part 1, Day Three was always the weakest day of the lineup. Nine Inch Nails was slated to headline, and I was excited about that, as I’ve never seen them live, and I’ve heard nothing but good things about their live show from people whose opinions I trust, Mrs. Circlepit included (she’s seen them thrice). Snoop Dogg was scheduled to offer direct support, and I was obviously into that, because regardless of how I might present myself (both in my writing and in my day-to-day life), I do enjoy having fun. Several other artists and bands ended up cancelling between the lineup announcement and the beginning of the festival, and I’m pretty sure the largest percentage of them were scheduled to perform on Saturday.

So anyway, NIN and Snoop were the only two we were particularly stoked to see, and both of them cancelled. NIN was replaced with Disturbed, which is fine, but not really for me (and is certainly not a proper replacement for Nine Inch Nails), and Snoop was replaced by Machine Gun Kelly, who had previously been scheduled to perform immediately before Snoop. MGK was replaced with something I didn’t care about, although I probably would’ve liked it more than I would’ve liked MGK, but long story short, we decided not to attend on Saturday, because the only band we were interested in seeing was Suicidal Tendencies, and quite frankly it just seemed like a lot of hassle to ride the shuttle to the festival grounds, stand in line to get in the gate, walk all the way across the festival grounds to the second stage to watch ST play for 30-40 minutes, walk all the way back across the festival grounds to the shuttle, then ride the shuttle back to the hotel. I’ve seen ST live a few times and they put on a great show, but I’m a middle-aged man, and I was tired.

We started our day with a vague plan that did, in fact, include a shuttle ride to the festival to watch Suicidal Tendencies. We took a white-knuckle drive to the Highlands to eat lunch at Havana Rumba, an absolutely kickass Cuban restaurant owned and operated by a very nice family, followed by a mostly much-less-stressful drive to visit Mrs. Circlepit’s grandma and aunt, followed by a white-knuckle drive back through the Highlands (strictly to avoid festival traffic on I-65, which is a shitty and terrifying drive on the very best day) to the hotel. We returned, the missus decided to take a nap (Havana Rumba will not let you leave hungry), and I sat on the couch to read. Next thing I know she’s waking me up to tell me it’s 6:00, which means we have less than 40 minutes to get our shit together and catch the shuttle before ST takes the stage, which means that without a series of small miracles, we will miss at least a few minutes of ST’s set, which means we decided to stay downtown on Saturday.

We walked a few blocks east to Merle’s Whiskey Kitchen, where we were given a table outside, which allowed for pretty magnificent people-watching (lots of varied events in the city that weekend). We ordered drinks and an appetizer, and perused the vegetarian options (mostly listed under a section titled “Plant Based”), among which was a sandwich called the “Fake A$$ Chicken Sandwich”, which is an objectively dumb name, but which sounded like it could be a pretty good sandwich. The menu describes it thusly: “southern fried vegan chicken, crispy vinegar slaw, vegan garlic aioli, pickles on a kaiser bun”. I asked our server what the “chicken” is made of, and she replied, “it’s plant based.” I said, “I know that, but I was wondering what it’s made of.” The missus added, “like, is it tofu, or seitan, or…” and the server said, “I’m not sure, but I’ll go find out.” She returns very quickly and said “my manager said it’s plant based, but it doesn’t contain any soy”. “I was just curious about what it’s actually made of,” I replied.

That determined and almost-certainly underpaid server, god bless her, said, “I’ll go ask the kitchen. I just asked the front-of-house manager the first time.” A full 4-5 minutes passed before she came back outside. Her face did not indicate good news. “I’m really sorry, but all any of them will tell me is that it’s plant based.” I tried my very best to maintain my cool (and was successful, I think), and said, “That really isn’t a good or proper answer to my question, but it’s not that big of a deal, I’ll just get something else.” The server said “I know, I’m sorry, they just kept saying ‘it’s plant based'”. Then missus then said “do you know if it’s made in-house, or if it’s something you buy pre-made?” She said, “I know we don’t make it in-house, and to be honest, I’ve heard people say it’s kind of bland and not really worth the price.” “That’s perfect,” I replied, “I’ll have one of each taco instead. I’m really sorry for the hassle.”

The tacos were great, as was everything else (the service included – we tipped her very well), and I’d go back in heartbeat, but the first thing I’ll always think of whenever I think of that place is that every dipshit working in the kitchen that night thinks both that server and I are complete idiots, because we can’t seem to understand the words “plant based”. That’s enough of Day Three.

Day Four was a big’un. Lots of bands we were interested in checking out, both old and new. Metallica was headlining again (rumors abound that they were gonna play “The Black Album” in its entirety), and Judas Priest, Pennywise, The HU, Ayron Jones, Badflower, Sabaton, and Fozzy were all on the Sunday lineup as well. We got off the shuttle as Ayron Jones began his set, and thankfully the lines moved quickly thought the gates, so we got to actually see the majority of his set, which sounded great, and was delivered with a lot of energy. Fozzy was next on our agenda, but they weren’t really a necessity so much as a performance I just wanted to check out, since I had the opportunity to do so. I’ve been a fan of professional wrestling for most of my life, and Chris Jericho was always an entertaining wrestler, so I figured I owed it to myself to finally check out his band, given that all I had to do was walk maybe 50 yards from where we stood for Ayron Jones.

The verdict, re: Fozzy? Entertaining stage presence, enjoyble songs, but nothing special. Regarding the band, Mrs. Circlepit said “it looks like Chris Jericho walked into a Hot Topic and said ‘I’m starting a band, and we’ll probably play a lot of hard rock and metal festivals, who’s in?'” That was as apt a description as I could’ve mustered. I joked that they could call themselves Chris Jericho and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Stereotypes. There was the Guy Who Could’ve Been in a 90’s Pop Punk Band (with Ska Tendencies) on either bass or guitar (I can’t remember which), the Guy Who Could’ve Been in Creed on guitar, the Guy Who Could’ve Been in Some Band Like Buckcherry on either guitar or bass, and the Guy Who Could’ve Been in a New Wave Band on drums, all fronted by one of the most entertaining men to ever hold a microphone in a wrestling ring, The Man of 1,004 Holds himself, Chris Jericho. I’ll definitely watch them again if they’re at a festival I’m attending, but only if their set doesn’t conflict with another band that I’d rather see.

Speaking of bands I’d rather see, The HU were up next on the other main stage (I’ve forgotten which was which), so we made our way over there and promptly had our minds blown by their absolutely unique mix of Mongolian folk music and thick-ass metal grooves. Seriously, if you get a chance to see The HU live, do not miss it. They were fantastic.

Seriously, holy SHIT!

Badflower was next on the other main stage, and they were very good. We made it a point to check out several of the bands we’d never heard of in the weeks and months leading up to the festival, and Badflower was one of the bands that piqued our interest. They’re a bit melodramatic, and they definitely cater to a younger audience, but I enjoyed them, and I’m pretty sure if I was 20 years younger, I’d be a legitmate fan. At one point, their singer asked the crowd how they were doing, or some such trope, and there were some cheers and whatnot, then he said to a guy (presumably) in the audience, “who said fuck you? Did you mean that? Jesus Fucking Christ, that’s so mean”, and I thought that was pretty funny. Anyhoo, as they finished up their set, we walked back over the other main stage to catch Pennywise.

“What’s up, Louder Than Life? We’re Pennywise, and we’re already drunk. There’s no hope for us.” So said Pennywise frontman Jim Lindberg, kicking off a raucous, super high-energy 40-ish minute set filled with classics and funny stage banter and a cover of the Beastie Boys’ classic “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party)”, as chosen by the crowd (the other option was a Nirvana cover, probably “Territorial Pissings” based on past setlists). Pennywise was an important part of my life when I was in my early 20’s, and I’d seen them twice before (both times on the Warped Tour), but this set was the most I’ve ever enjoyed them. The band was obviously having fun, the crowd around me was having a blast, and The HU seemed to be thrilled to join Pennywise on stage for perennial show closer/tear-causer “Bro Hymn”.

This is not my footage.

Seether and Breaking Benjamin were next on the main stages, and not for us, so we got some fuckin delicious iced lattes and checked out Sabaton, who were headlining the second stage. They were tight as hell and super entertaining, and I’d definitely check them out again. We followed our iced lattes with dinner from a food vendor called Tickle Pickle (based out of Cincinnatti, OH). It was the best food I’ve ever had in a festival or concert environment. I got the “Pearl Jam” burger (jalapeno jam, caramelized onions, tomato, and goat cheese) with an Impossible patty, and the missus got “God’s Mac and Cheese”, which was some dope-ass mac-n-cheese topped with crushed up Grippo’s BBQ chips. I’ll definitely check them out next time I’m in Cincinnatti.

Judas Priest took the stage and rained molten metal all over everyone. Rob Halford fucking nailed those high notes, and the band was tight as tourniqet (to steal a line from Pink Floyd). Rob moved around on stage a bit slower than he used to, but he was moving faster than I do when I wake up the morning, and he’s got almost 30 years on me. Speaking of dudes in their 40’s, you may have heard about Priest guitarist Richie Faulkner (at 41 years old, the youngest member of the band by at least 10 years) coming very close to death on stage. I can say with full confidence that Richie Faulkner was the only person in attendance that night who had any idea that Richie Faulkner was in any kind of pain. Watch this footage and have your mind blown as you realize that Richie Faulkner’s chest cavity is filling up with blood while he absolutely shreds his “Painkiller” solo…

That’s him in the thumbnail there, in case you don’t already know. This is also not my footage.

Earlier in the evening, a visibly excited Kirk Hammet joined the band on stage for a ripping version of “The Green Manalishi (With the Two-Pronged Crown)”.

Once again, not my footage.

And speaking of Kirk Hammet, Metallica followed the mighty Priest with aplomb, and kicked off their second headlining set with a great rendition of “Hardwired” from their most recent album, the pretty good Hardwired…to Self-Destruct. “The Four Horsemen” and “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” were dope, and then a very early-90’s-MTV-production-style video about the band’s juggernaut album in a year chock-full of juggernaut albums played on the screens, leading directly into the band performing 1991’s Metallica (a.k.a. “The Black Album”) in its entirety, but from back to front, which was a fun twist on the album, and had the added effect of helping us not feel weird about beginning our journey toward the exit (via the shitters, which were only used for peeing, because after 4 days, they nasty) toward the end of the album. I mean, “Enter Sandman” and “Sad But True” are fuckin cool songs, but I didn’t need to pay close attention to them at that point, and the stream of people who seemed to have the same idea as us was pretty sizeable.

We stood nearer the gate and watched them close out their set with shit-hot versions of “Blackened” and “Creeping Death” (it was the first time they’ve ever closed a show with “Creeping Death”, but it seems like it was created for the task). While “Creeping Death” was in full swing, a couple of dudes were walking past us toward the exit when one of them fell to his knees and started to clutch his chest. Mrs. Circlepit sprang into action to offer assistance, but the man assured her he was just having an acid reflux flareup. She offered him some Tums from her purse and he accepted, standing up almost immediately upon swallowing and indicating that he felt much better. He then asked us if we’d like come to his buddy’s house and party with them. He lived real close by, apparently.

We politely declined, and made our way to the entirely-too-hot, far-too-crowded, way-too-intoxicated shuttle back to the hotel and very quickly fell asleep. Our adventure was over, and like the last time, I was filled with a strange mix of relief and sadness. The Missus said the next day that she wasn’t sure she could do that ever again unless we were to spring for VIP tickets, and like last time, we bought tickets shortly thereafter, as soon as I confirmed that I could take that time off work again.

We won’t know who’s playing for another few months, but based on past lineups, I can’t imagine there won’t be at least one headliner we’ll wanna see (probably at least two), and they always stack the rest of the lineup with at least three or four kickass bands/artists (usually more), and the people watching is always entertaining, plus this time, we’ll have access to a dedicated merchandise booth (which will only take 30 mintues instead of 45 minutes), shade (where dickheads will still prop their feet up on a chair and put their backpack on another chair) and air-conditioned restrooms (that a bunch of dumbfucks will no doubt still piss all over).

Should be a great time, and I’m sure I’ll relate the experience here (or somewhere, anyway), but hopefully I’ll get back to this at least a few times before then. Work is finally getting to a point where I can be places other than there sometimes, and that’s neat. At this rate, if people would stop fucking staring at us while they wait for their food, start complying with the local mask mandate/our policy without being little bitches about it, and stop standing in a cluster at the end of the bar where they block the servers, food runners, and bussers, I might even stop vaguely wishing for a quick and merciful death for 6-10 hours a day.

I’m only kidding, it’s no more than 2, maybe 2-1/2 hours most days. It’s called “the rush”.

Oh! I almost forgot: I mentioned in Part 1 that there would be “more on Island Noodles later”, and wouldn’t want anyone to think I’m a goddamn liar. At some point early on Day 4, I noticed that the line for Island Noodles only had like 15 people in it, so I queued up and waited in gleeful anticipation to try this life-changing food. Here’s my official “hot take” on Island Noodles: it was thoroughly okay. The noodles were cooked well, the vegetables were fresh and crispy, and the sauce was salty but tasty, and it was definitely the healthiest food I’ve ever eaten at a non-food related festival, but I just can’t imagine anything living up to the hype I’ve seen about them on LTL-related social media. I’d buy it again, but I wouldn’t stand in one of the typical 40-deep lines to wait for it.

Thanks for reading. If you liked what you read, why not tell a friend? If you didn’t like what you read, I dunno, thanks for giving it a shot, I guess? Maybe you’ll like something else I’ve written. Maybe not. Until next time, remember to keep one foot in the gutter and one fist in the gold.

I Couldn’t Think of a Clever Title: A Sort of Review of Louder Than Life 2021, Part 1

I started writing this last Tuesday (9/28), the day after we got home from LTL, then I worked every day since, until today. I decided to go ahead and publish this part, which covers the first two days, and then finish up another time, so that I’m at least getting something out there. I’ll probably finish it next week, but we’ll see – I can be very lazy. Enjoy! Y’know…if you want.

Louder Than Life 2021 is in the books, and I am very sad/glad it’s over. Let’s back up a bit, though, and start from the beginning(ish)…

In the olden times (April 2019), Mrs. Circlepit told me that if Guns ‘n’ Roses were coming anywhere near us on their Not in This Lifetime tour, she’d like to try to attend. Her 40th birthday was coming up later that year, and we’d already skipped out on the first leg of the tour, and we were both experiencing some regret from the decision. Less than a week later, G’n’R was announced as the Saturday headliner at Louder Than Life, so we snapped up tickets immediately. The day was later announced to include Ice Cube, Suicidal Tendencies, Melvins, Anti-Flag, Andrew W.K., Red Kross, Dropkick Murphys, and Stone Temple Pilots (with their Scott Weiland look-and-sound-alike), along with some bands we’d never heard/heard of. Seemed like a no-brainer. We ended up not getting to see Melvins (they played at the same time as Ice Cube, and Ice Cube (with WC!) (of WC and the Maad Circle!) was definitely more of a “once in a lifetime” kinda thing), and we missed Red Kross (I forget why), but everything we did see was great, and the people-watching…

I’ll back up a bit further now: we’d planned on getting single-day tickets in 2018 for the Sunday lineup, which included Nine Inch Nails, Clutch, Ice Cube, Deftones, Primus, Billy Idol, The Sword, and Monster Magnet, along with some other bands we’d never heard/heard of. That also seemed like a no-brainer, but then one week prior to the show, the entire festival was cancelled due to flooding. The team at Danny Wimmer Presents went to work securing a location that could not be completely covered by the Ohio River for the 2019 fest, and now they have a dedicated space at the fairgrounds/expo center, adjacent to Kentucky Kingdom amusement park, right over there near the airport. If this space is ever completely covered by the Ohio River, we’ve got much bigger problems than a cancelled music festival.

Anyway, back to 2019: we got our tickets, and we had a very good time, but with the venue being newly created (along with a miserable dry spell/heat wave), the day was hotter than Hades (if I remember correctly, the temperature topped out at something like 180 billion degress, but the sun might have damaged my brain, so I could be off a bit), and every time a mosh pit broke out, a mini Dust Bowl would immediately spring to life and engulf the crowd. By the end of the night, when Guns ‘n’ Roses finally went on (a full hour late, naturally), we were so exhausted and dehydrated that we just sat down on the gravel and tried not to pass out until we couldn’t stand it any longer. We made our way to the Uber/Lyft pickup area while the band played “Paradise City”, paid 30-40 bucks for a ride to our hotel less than 2 miles away, and passed out. The next day, we agreed that while we had fun, we were gettin too old for that shit, and that was that.

Me too, Roger…me too.

About a month later, Metallica was announced as the Friday and Sunday headliner for 2020, and we bought weekend passes as soon as they went on sale. Not long after, they announced that Metallica wouldn’t be able to perform, as the show dates conflicted with some rehab commitments that James had. A short time later, a fourth day was added to the festival, with Metallica then announced as the Thursday headliner, with all weekend passes to include Thursday admission. We were already on a rollercoaster, but we figured we were strapped in safely, so we’d just go along with the ride. We of course had no idea how long and steep those hills were gonna end up being.

The pandemic (or “plandemic” if you’re a complete dolt) obviously shut down last year’s fest, but we were given the option to roll our passes over to this year, which we did, scoring a pretty cool free t-shirt in the process. When the lineup was announced for this year, it was a real mixed bag. Metallica headlining on Friday and Sunday with direct support from Jane’s Addiction and Judas Priest respectively (fuck yes!), Nine Inch Nails headlining Saturday with direct support from Snoop Dogg (my god, yes!), and Korn headlining Thursday, with direct support from Staind (a polite no thank you from us, especially re: Staind), along with a whole lot of other stuff (some good, some bad, some we’d never heard of), much of which I will get to in due time.

A few weeks ago, Nine Inch Nails cancelled all their 2021 tour dates, citing COVID concerns, and they were replaced with Disturbed, which I’d rather hear/see than Staind, but which I’m still not interested in. Someone else on the Saturday lineup cancelled (I can’t remember who anymore) and they were replaced with Suicidal Tendencies, which was pretty fuckin awesome news for me. I’ve been a fan of ST for years, and their performance at LTL 2019 was one of the highlights for me. At this point, ST and Snoop Dogg were the only reasons I was interested in going on Saturday, although I wouldn’t have minded seeing Ice Nine Kills, mostly just because of the horror movie stuff they fuck with. Last week, Snoop cancelled, leaving a 40-minute set from Suicidal Tendencies as the only real reason I had for entering the festival grounds on Saturday. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

We arrived in town on Wednesday afternoon, checked into our suite at the Galt House (this trip was a celebration of our 10th and 11th wedding anniversaries, plus 2 birthdays apiece on account of 2020, so we decided to stay in comfort), and tried to relax and rest up. We weren’t planning on getting there too early on Thursday, but we’re old, and we knew we needed to be prepared in order to enjoy ourselves to the maximum possible extent.

Thursday afternoon, we got on the shuttle to the park ($40 bucks for a weekend pass with unlimited rides to and from our hotel vs. $40+ for an Uber or a Lyft per trip (not to mention the wait time) or $20/day to park and deal with that bullshit traffic – thanks, Pegasus Transportation!) along with one other festival-goer who flew up from Puerto Rico for the weekend, and were dropped off pretty much at the festival gates by a guy who may as well have been a cartoon character (imagine Ed from City Slickers as a cartoon). Fun side story: we were all talking about the many events going on in town that weekend, as well as about events we and the other passenger had either missed or had rescheduled on us due to COVID, and talk turned to Motley Crue, at which time the Cartoon Bruno Kirby told us that Motley Crue were staying at the Galt House, and that Pegasus was transporting each of them to the shows in separate cars. “Are they playing at the Yum! Center?” asked the missus, all of us genuinely confused as to how we hadn’t heard about Motley Crue playing the same two nights as Metallica in Louisville, KY. At that moment, I realized he was almost certainly mixing up the two bands, and then he responded “No, at this festival, same as youse are goin to,” at which point I whispered to the missus “He thinks Metallica is Motley Crue,” and the three of us just said “huh”, and let that conversation die Quietly. It did provide us with a pretty steady source of laughter the rest of the weekend, imagining that guy talking to Lars as if he were Tommy Lee, maybe asking him about his sex tape, or how he feels about Machine Gun Kelly portraying him in a movie about his band, or maybe even just telling him how much he loves “Girls, Girls, Girls”.

Anyway, we arrived on the grounds at around 3:00, got the lay of the land, then got a beer and found a shady spot under the Jack Daniels tent and checked out Sevendust on the main stage. Sevendust isn’t really her thing, and I don’t really know their music, but I’ve enjoyed them well enough when I’ve heard them, and I knew that Lajon has a good singing voice, and I wanted to hear it live. Turns out his voice sounds even better live, though the only Sevendust song I know, still, is their cover of “I Am (I’m Me)” from the album Twisted Forever – A Tribute to the Legendary Twisted Sister. It’s a great song, a very good cover, and cool album.

Don’t take my word for it…

I digress. After Sevendust we walked around and listened to a little bit of Wage War’s set and partook in some people watching, not surprised at the lack of face coverings, and not surprised (but seriously fucking annoyed) by the amount of cigarette and weed smoke being blown directly into faces and crowds by inconsiderate jackasses. Even in non-pandemic times, if you don’t at least try to blow your smoke up into the air when you’re in a crowd of strangers, you’re an asshole. The buzz on the LTL facebook groups is that the food from Island Noodles will change your life (I was half-expecting a handjob from all the hype I’d heard and read, which did not happen; there’ll be more on Island Noodles later), but the line was way too long for me to wanna stand in it, so we had some okay pizza from Pie Baby Wood-Fired Pizza instead (it was as good as thin, floppy pizza can be) while we waited for Anthrax to start. This was my 5th or 6th time seeing Anthrax live, but my first time in a crowd this big, and I was excited about that, but I also was expecting their abbreviated set to be more or less a “greatest hits”-type thing, and they delivered exactly what I expected, while sounding fan-fucking-tastic doing it, which I also expected. I was hoping for collaboration with Cypress Hill on an epic cover of “Bring the Noise” (a hope brought on solely by my imagination), but alas, that did not happen.

Beartooth played after Anthrax for some reaon and they were enjoyable enough, then Cypress Hill (featuring DJ Lord from Public Enemy!) delivered a 100% flawless one-hour set absolutely stacked with classics, closed out by an incredibly high-energy cover of “Jump Around”, the whole thing covered by cloud of smoke thicker than I’ve ever seen at a live show. Sen Dog introduced B-Real as “the highest man in the world”, and I feel like that might be true. A lady who looked like an elementary school teacher I know was dancing and rapping along with “(Rock) Superstar” like her life depended on it, and that was awesome to see. After Cypress Hill, we hit the portajohns and headed for our shuttle, our curiosity regarding Korn overshadowed by our desire to hear and see as little of Staind as possible. Seriously, Aaron Lewis is a jabroni, and at two-and-a-half songs on our way out of the venue, I heard plenty. Our early departure rewarded us with a shuttle all to ourselves, a luxury we would not be afforded again.

Friday had more stuff we wanted to see/hear, but we still didn’t have to get there too early, so Mrs. Circlepit treated herself to a manicure at the hotel while I read a book and listened to some Killswitch Engage songs. They’re a band I’ve never really bothered to give a chance, but my buddy D-Lo is a megafan, so I felt like I had to check them out, and I wanted to familiarize myself with a bit with their discography before hearing them live.

Our shuttle ride in was dumb. Aside from us and one other relatively quiet guy there were Five Loud Dipshits who kept yelling about how good Staind was the night before and this Insufferable Hipster Couple who took every possible opportunity to let us all know that they live in Chicago, as if anyone could have possibly given a shit. At one point, Girl Hipster said “Is anyone actually excited about Jane’s Addiction?” at which point every person on the shuttle (except for the driver) raised their hand (this was the only point during this particular trip where I did not want to smack the dumb faces off all those Loud Dipshits, especially the one sitting directly behind me), and it was the only time Girl Hipster was speechless the entire ride.

Regarding the matter of Killswitch Engage, the jury (i.e., me) has reached its verdict, and it is unanimous. “What say you”, you ask? I say I like their songs well enough, they sound fuckin great live, they bring a fantastic amount of energy to the stage, and if I was 10-15 years younger, they’d almost certainly be one of my favorite bands. Their lyrics are insightful and inspirational, and their riffs are heavy as shit, but I already have a stable of bands I turn to when I need a lyrical pick-me-up and/or to be bludgeoned into submission by riffs. I still wouldn’t necessarily call myself a fan, but I like them more than I did that morning, and I’d definitely check them out live again.

I decided to hop in the merch line during Gojira’s set, knowing it would take a while to get to the front, but also knowing that I’d be able to hear them loud and clear while I waited, and assuming I’d be able to catch at least a few minutes of the end of their set. I naturally chose the slowest-moving line, and at one point the two women at the front were taking so long I wondered if they were trying to buy the entire goddamn festival. “Just pick a fuckin shirt and get out of the way, for fuck sake!” I shouted, and everyone around me agreed, even the drunk 20-year-old in front of me who seemed mere seconds away from vomiting and passing out. They finally finished their transaction and talked a lot of shit while they exited the area, and I finally got my Anthrax and Judas Priest shirts about halfway through Rise Against’s second song.

Gojira sounded great, by the way. So much heaviness coming off that stage. Rise Against is another one of D-Lo’s favorites, but aside from a song or two, my familarity begins and ends with their first album (2001’s The Unraveling), when they were pretty much 88 Fingers Louie with a different singer. They did not play any songs from The Uraveling, and I was not surprised by that. They sounded amazing live, but I’d have absolutely shit my pants if they’d played “Six Ways ‘Til Sunday”.

It almost makes me shit my pants when it comes on a mix I’ve made. I can’t even imagine hearing it live.

Rise Against finished, and Jane’s Addiction came out to the opening strains of “Up the Beach”, and we made ourselves down to the pit area (where we were essentially the only masked people, although if all the shitheads blowing smoke in our faces on Thursday didn’t give us COVID, probably nothing ever will), and Jane’s Addiction blew our minds apart. Such a weird, fun, magical, heavy experience. Tears flowed during “Jane Says”, my head banged during “Mountain Song”, my ass danced itself nearly clean off during “Stop”, and my mouth gaped during “Ted, Just Admit It…” The band was fucking brilliant, and Perry’s banter was fucking hilarious, and we were surprised to learn the next day that a loooooot of people in that crowd were offended and/or disgusted and/or completely flummoxed by “how much of magical weirdo Perry Farrell is”, to quote my better half.

How do you not love that guy?

The crowd rippled with anticipation waiting for Metallica’s first set to begin. Finally, after what seemed like minutes, the house music faded out, and “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock and Roll)” by AC/DC blared over the PA, followed by Ennio Morricone’s “The Ecstasy of Gold” from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, followed by Metallica, blasting out as furious a version of “Whiplash” as they could possibly manage at this point in their lives and careers. They continued to tear through a varied (and very solid) set spanning almost their entire LP discography (minus St. Anger, Load, and Metallica (a.k.a. “The Black Album”), though the latter will be touched upon later. It was all killer and no filler, even including the songs I don’t know all that well, like “No Leaf Clover”, and the songs from Hardwired…to Self-Destruct, and the songs I know better but don’t care that much about, like “Fuel”. What I’ve learned in my now three times seeing Metallica live is that they even make the songs I don’t care about sound badass live.

“You wanna get some whiskey and make some bad decisions?” asked the missus, and I advised her that I did. “Moth Into Flame” caused me to mosh like Scott Ian as we made our way toward the Blackened Whiskey tent, and I was reminded that I had an open water bottle in my pocket as water spilled all over my leg and shorts, but my good time was undeterred. We got some whiskey and sat down in a significantly less-crowded area (sitting for only the second time that day, in fact) and enjoyed the rest of the show from the comfort of some really uncomfortable folding chairs. While there, I saw a guy with a hand truck banging his head and singing along while he delivered some cases of soda to a food tent. On his way back, he left his hand truck in the field and proceeded to rock his balls off while the band played their hit “Whiskey in the Jar” from 1998’s Garage, Inc. covers album.

Go man, go!

After kicking off their encore with “Battery”, James said in a very sincere-sounding voice, “Louisville, I have something very important to tell you..GIMME FUEL GIMME FIRE GIMME THAT WHICH I DESIIIIIIIRE, OOH!“, and then they played “Fuel”, and I’ve been giggling about that for a week. We headed toward the gates as “Seek & Destroy” began, and boarded the shuttle for the ride back.

The “shuttle” this time actually ended up being a full-sized passenger bus filled all the way up, and included the Insufferable Hipsters from the ride in. Pretty lame, and decidedly less comfortable than the smaller shuttles we’d been on up to that point, but still better than paying surge prices for an Uber, or having the fat Loud Dipshit behind me again.

We went to bed exhausted but happy, which is the best way to go to bed. Saturday – with its razor-thin lineup – was nigh, and Sunday – with its relatively stacked lineup from open-to-close – was…slightly more nigh. But those’ll have to wait until next time, because I have other shit to do. Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed it…

I’ll leave you with a few more pictures from the festival grounds. Be sure to check back for the “exciting” conclusion, coming soon(ish) to a toilet near you!

Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth), or: Fear Itself

I’m currently enjoying the last of my three mostly-relaixing days off work in a row with a cup of coffee and Faith No More’s superlative 1992 album Angel Dust. I’m thinking about watching a movie when I’m done writing this (maybe The Thing or Full Metal Jacket), and I’ll probably take a nap at some point. I might watch an episode or two of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

I don't know if we'll have enough time.

“Hey Joel, how did you manage to snag three mostly-relaxing days off work in a row? Isn’t your job currently crushing your soul and slowly draining you of life?”

Kind of rude of you interrupt, but I do appreciate your interest. I’ll handle the second part of your question first: as a matter off fact, my job is currently crushing my soul, and has also been sapping my very will to live lately. That’s not say that I don’t enjoy my job; as jobs go, I could do (and have done) much worse for myself. I actually quite like my job most of the time, inasmuch as I am capable of liking a job. (I firmly believe that the purpose of human beings on this planet/holographic simulation is not to toil away at jobs, but I’m caught firmly in that game, and it’s a hard game to quit). Frankly, most of the soul-crushing and life-draining I’m currently experiencing is a direct result of working in the foodservice industry during a global pandemic.

It goes without saying that what follows is solely my opinion, and does not reflect the opinion of my employer but I’ll go ahead and say it just to be absolutely clear: everything published on this blog is solely my opinion, and does not ever reflect the opinion of my employer or anyone else, unless otherwise noted. We obviously need your business so we can stay in business, but many of us are overworked to the point of near exhaustion. A little bit of understanding (and maybe a little empathy) from the general restaurant-going public would be pretty great, and I would love to be able to take a couple of days off work that don’t involve oral surgery or covid vaccines for myself and or my better half.

But I digress. To answer your first question, I was able so score three days off in a row by scheduling oral surgery (I already used up the covid vaccine excuse) to finally get all four of my wisdom teeth removed at the sprightly young age of 44. I went into the experience knowing that even though I would likely end up miserable and unable to eat or sleep or think about anything but pain, I would at least have a good excuse to rest my feet and back, and to not think about work for three days. My overworked and underpaid prep cook/manager Mike also picked up an extra day to cover one of my days off. That guy is a fucking champion and a bloody legend. All hail Mike, the Fucking Legendary Champion.

Anyway, let’s hold the rest of your questions until the end of this piece, please.

This song is not about being overworked and exhausted, but rather is about vampires. Your second question made me think of it, though, and it’s a fucking rad song, so why not shut your damn fool mouth and dig it, especially since you apparently decided it was okay to interrupt me with a question? You should proably go ahead and listen to the rest of the Surf Nicaragua EP while you’re at it. It’s not my favorite Sacred Reich release, but it’s a damn fine piece of work.

Here’s a little backstory on my experience with dentists, since you insist on knowing so dang much about my three days off in a row.

My mom never took me to the dentist as a kid, because I was one of 4 kids, and neither she nor my dad had dental insurance, and we just couldn’t afford it. No one in my immediate family went to the dentist when I was a kid, aside from emergency situations, and being #blessed with pretty good teeth, I never went at all. One result of that reality is that I made my first ever visit to a dentist at the age of 21, when I started having some relatively intolerable tooth pain. I chose a dentist from the Yellow Pages pretty much randomly, which was the style at the time, and Dr. Asshole (not his real name – I probably wouldn’t have picked him if that had been his name) informed me that the pain was, in fact, tooth decay, and that the decaying tooth was, in fact, one of two baby teeth that never came out of my mouth as a child, and which was now starting to just rot out of my big dumb head. He gave me a local anesthetic and began to chisel it out, stopping once, ever-so-briefly, after I indicated that I was was in pain. He said “does that hurt?” and I said something like “yehhh” and said “that’s weird, you shouldn’t be able to feel anything” and continued to chisel away until he was finished. He gave me a prescription for darvocet, and I went home to rest. After taking my second dose and going to bed, I got the fear, and became convinced that something(s) was/were in my closet. The only thing that made sense to calm me down was to get out of the room and watch Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol, which is the best of the Police Acadmey franchise, I don’t care what you say. COP helped soothe my jangled nerves and I eventually fell asleep in my easy chair.

Fun tangent: I got the opportunity to meet Bobcat Goldthwait many years later/several years ago (god I’m getting old) and I told him a very abridged version of that story, and he listened patiently, and when I was all finished, he responded “Really? Police Academy 4 calmed you down? That’s pretty weird, man.” Then he signed the very same VHS copy of Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol that saved my life that night all those years ago. Bobcat Goldthwait is a hilarious, weird, very friendly man, and a true American Treasure.

Upon my expiration from this plane of existence, I would like to be cremated with and/or have my remains shot into outer space accompanied by this item, please and thank you.

About a year later, one of my wisdom teeth started to bother me. After a few days of grinning through the pain, I found a different dentist, this time on the recommendation of a friend. Dr. Much-Nicer-Than-the-Last-Guy (also probably not his real name, although I couldn’t begin to wager a guess as to what his real name was) diagnosed the problem and gave me a prescription for antibiotics and a referral to an oral surgeon. The antibiotics made the pain stop, so I threw the referral in the garbage where it belonged and went on with my life. A couple of years after that I was living in Austin, Texas in the early stages of the car crash that was my first marriage when that wisdom tooth started to bother me again, only much worse this time. After lying awake in absolute misery for a few hours, I woke up my ol’ lady and informed her that I needed to go to the emergency room. I caught a vibe from the ER doctor – let’s call him Dr. Dickhead – like he thought I was trying to score narcotics or some such. If only he’d known about my darvocet experience.

“It’s your wisdom tooth. It’s infected. You need to see a dentist,” Dr. Dickhead said prickishly.
“I know what it is,” I responded through clenched teeth, my clothes dripping with sweat, “but I don’t currently have a dentist and it’s 3:00 AM, and I’m in a lot of pain.”
“I can give you some antibiotics, but you need to see a dentist,” he said, dick-headedly.
“I don’t currently have a dentist, but I would love to have some antibiotics, thank you.”

I took the day off work and consumed as much ibuprofen as I could safely consume, along with the antibiotics Dr. Dickhead so graciously prescribed me. The antibiotics cleared up the infection, like antibiotics do, but this time I found a proper dentist (Dr. Very-Nice) and became a returning patient. When she told me I should think about getting my wisdom teeth removed I pretended to do so, but they weren’t bothering me, so I decided not to bother them.

In the interest of saving us a small amount of our precious and fleeting time, let’s fast forward to now-ish, which places us at 17 years and 2 dentists beyond Dr. Very-Nice.

A few months ago, my current dentist, Dr. Weirdo (who is in no way an asshole, a dickhead, or even a prick) recommended I get my wisdom teeth removed, just to avoid issues down the line. They hadn’t bothered me at all in at least 10 years, but I trust that weirdo, so I got a referral and set a date for my surgery. I was nervous, because I’m a fairly rational human being, and after consulting Mrs. Circlepit, with her lifetime of dental woes, I decided to opt for general anesthesia. Essentially, the idea of sitting in a chair for an hour hearing the sounds of oral surgery was mostly unappealing to me, and remebering the fact that my first local anesthesia experience from 23 years ago was much more uncomfortable than either I or Dr. Asshole expected, I decided I’d rather spend the extra money and get knocked out.

It woulda been cool to be knocked out by this.

Extraction Day arrived this past Monday, and I put on a strong face, but on the inside, I was shittin bricks.

As I sat in the chair waiting for the doctor to arrive, I thought back to all the people I’ve known who have had wisdom teeth pulled and/or cut out, and how nearly all of them (especially the ones over 30-ish) experienced a recovery that sat somewhere on a scale of rough-to-bad. I though about the old medical dictionary my mom had from the late 60’s or early 70’s (which I enjoyed reading as a kid), remembering the horrifying stories of olde-tyme surgery and early anesthesia (knowing it wouldn’t be like that, but thinking of it nonetheless). Then the doctor came in, told me he was gonna insert an IV, and that I would probably feel the medicine going in for a couple of minutes. Next thing I know, I’m being awakened by the nurse.

“Is it over already?” I slurred, trying to steal a few more seconds behind the comfort of my closed eyes.
“It’s already over,” she replied. “We need you to wake up so you can go home.”
“He’s finish? No shit? I don’ even ‘member it,” I mumbled.
“He’s finished. Can you wake up for me?”

And I did, eventually. I guess. I have no memory of being put into the car, and I have the faintest image of sitting in the passenger seat at the CVS drive-thru while we tried to pick up my post op prescriptions, but they apparently weren’t ready yet, so we came home and then there’s a dull awareness of taking my shoes off and sitting on the couch, whereupon evidence retrieved yesterday shows that I attempted to watch a previously recorded A&E Biography episode on retired pro wrestler Shawn Michaels, but fell asleep before it even started. Mrs. Circlepit picked up my Rx a little later, by the way, to the tune of $6.66, which is undeniably pretty fuckin awesome.

Let him who hath understanding reckon the total, after insurance coverage, of your prescriptions.

I ate like a horse on a liquid/soft food diet that first day, putting away some V8, fruit smoothie, applesauce, yogurt (twice), cream of tomato soup, and two Burger King milkshakes. I’ve inexplicably felt zero discomfort since I was in the chair pre-surgery, when the childlike worries of possibly not waking up from the surgery flashed through my brain, and I only had to do about 90 minutes-worth of work yesterday, mostly getting next week’s schedule finished before I was inundated with even more time-off requests, which also allows me the luxury of doing jack-shit today, which is a pretty nice feeling, even though a tiny part of me feels like a lazy sack of turds, thanks the difficulty with being still that I inherited from my dear ol’ Ma. I realize there are a lot of commas in that last sentence, but I don’t really care. Besides, I’ve written sentences that used way more commas before.

I guess the point of this, if there is one, is that sometimes (often?) the things we worry about most don’t come to fruition. That and, if you’re in the vicinity of Bloomington, Indiana and need oral surgery, I suppose I’d recommend Dr. Devitt (that is his real name) at Bloomington Oral Surgery. Seems like he did a helluva fine job. If I wasn’t able to feel the stiches, I wouldn’t even know he’d ever been inside my mouth.

Thanks for reading. And seriously, eat a meal at home every now and then so I can, too.