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 cleard 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 to you wake up so you can go home.”
“He’s finished? No shit? I don’t even remember 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.

Old-Ass Mixtape Reviews, Volume 1: Beloved Songs

Howdy! I’m trying really hard to make sure I write something every day, no matter what. Right now I’m not feeling my main project, so I thought I’d try something new(ish), just to keep my brain moving. I have a bunch of old homemade mixtapes from way way back (most recently circa 2005), and I haven’t listened to most of them in well over 10 years. What I’m gonna do, from time to time, is play one of those tapes and write about it.

I plan to write while the tape is playing, ostensibly to write a real-time “first listen”-type review, but also to just force myself to write for a set period of time. I will not allow myself stop before a tape is finished, except in cases of emergency, or if the tape just goes kaput, which so far seems like a real danger with this first one. I’ll be surprised if I can make it through a single play without this tape literally (figuratively) exploding.

Readers of my old blog might recall my Old-Ass VHS Reviews there, wherein I would review an old-ass VHS tape featuring some kind of heavy metal band or bands. This’ll be similar to those. As stated above, I’ll write while listening, and then I’ll go back over it for some light editing – minimal overdubs, unlike this tape. This tape so far is like if mud made a sound.

Oh, “this tape” by the way, is called Beloved Songs. There’s no date on it, so I’m not sure when I made it, and I legitimately have no idea what’s on it. Anyhoo, here are some words about it.

Side One

1. First up is “Lay Lady Lay” by Bob Dylan. I don’t remember liking this song before Ministry covered it on their 1996 album Filth Pig, but I guess I did. A lot of people think Filth Pig is a real piece of shit, and honestly, I understand why a long-time Ministry fan might feel that way. I, however, am more of a casual fan of Ministry, and I really like Filth Pig. Especially the title track – holy shit!

2. “Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin, or maybe something else…no, the chorus just kicked in, it’s definitely “Immigrant Song”. Is that a chorus? I don’t really know. Anyway, this song is dope. This recording sounds like it’s playing from the bottom of a 50-gallon drum filled with muddy water, and maybe a turd is floating on top. I might have to scrap this experiment and try another tape.

3. Is this “You Could Be Mine” by Guns ‘n Roses? I think it is. It started out as something else, and then this cut in. Oh yeah, Slash’s guitar is almost cutting through the muck. Duff’s bass is definitely discernable, but Duff is a complete badass, plus bass is almost the only thing audible on this whole tape so far. The longer this song plays, the more it sounds like if the band was playing live at an amphitheater, and I was listening from someone’s back yard like half a mile away. And it was kinda windy outside.

Side note: I sat in the living room with a tape in the VCR for three Fridays in a row in hopes of catching this video on Friday Night Videos so I could record it. Life before the internet (and without cable TV) was hard. You kids have no idea. Now get off my lawn.

4. “Over the Hills and Far Away” by Led Zeppelin. This one is kinda clear. It still sounds like shit, but I could tell what it was immediately, and there was no doubt whatsoever. I fuckin love this song.

5. “Hey You” by Pink Floyd. This one is also relatively audible, especially once I remembered to turn down the bass. I can’t imagine a scenario where I’d listen to this tape ever again, but if things continue thusly, I might be able to get through it one more time for this. Holy shit! it got super loud for a sec, and then…
5a. “Nothing’s Changed Here” by Dwight Yoakam cut in during the guitar solo. Dwight is such a badass. Then after about 15 seconds…
5b. “Speak of the Devil” by Pirates of the Mississippi cut in for four lines of the chorus, and then…
5c. “Hey You” slid back in for literally 2 seconds, and then…
5d. “Where Are You Now” by Clint Black on the Big Ten Countdown on Indiana’s Country WKKG (101.5). Damn, y’all, that Bart Ellison had a smoooooth goddamn voice.

Shit, that was regular ol’ rollercoaster!

6. We now join “Monkey Business” by Skid Row already in progress. This song is so fucking good. Skid Row was so fucking good. Not just the hits, either – Skid Row was a goddamn beast from 1989’s Skid Row through 1995’s sUBHUMAN rACE. I saw them live on the sUBHUMAN rACE tour when they opened for Van Hagar (who were touring for Balance). I will never forget how immensly heavy Skid Row was that night.

Side One clicked off while I was telling you how motherfucking heavy Skid Row was, so I’mma flip it, reverse it, etc.

Side Two

1. Ooh, it’s “Fly Me Courageous” by Drivin’ N’ Cryin’! I haven’t heard this song in a long time. I think I still like it, but I can’t tell from this copy. I couldn’t even tell what it was until the volume shot up right at the refrain.

I was really into this song back when it was new, but I don’t remember ever listening to another Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ song.

2. “Brain Damage/Eclipse” by Pink Floyd. I was really into Pink Floyd for like 5 years in my early teens. It seems like that was pretty common among teenage boys back when I was one of them. I still like them a lot, but I’m less likely to put them on a mixtape these days. The tape has returned to sounding like muddy buttholes.

3. “Stranglehold” by Ted Nugent. Man, Ted Nugent is such a piece of shit. I hate myself a little bit for liking some of his songs. I saw Ted Nugent live two summers in a row (1995 and ’96, I think), with Bad Company providing support both times. I wasn’t as acutely aware of what an asshole Ted was back then, but my memories of his band’s live performance are positive. Bad Company kicked every bit of ass both years. Also, lawn seats only cost 12 bucks.

4. “Traveling Riverside Blues” by Led Zeppelin. My discovery of Led Zeppelin coincided with the release of their box set in 1990, when I was 13. That’s a pretty perfect age for a dude to get into Led Zeppelin. Anyhoo, the box set included 2 previously unreleased songs, and this was one of them. Like the bulk of early Zeppelin, this is mostly just an amped-up cover of an old blues song, but I still dig it. I do prefer their middle period, though, especially Side Two of IV and the entirety of Houses of the Holy. I remember seeing the video for this on MTV at my aunt Connie’s house once. That was pretty exciting. I saw the video for “Sweet Child o’ Mine” once there, too. I’m getting of track, though.

5. HOLY SHIT! A live rendition of “Jesus Was Way Cool” by King Missile! I’m hoping future tapes have little surprises like this hidden inside. I feel like this must’ve been recorded off “Brave New World” on Rock 92 FM.

“If you were blind, or lame
You simply went up to Jesus
Or, well I guess if you were lame, Jesus would probably go up to you
Because it’s difficult, if you’re lame, to go up to Jesus”

And that’s the end. That was a fun little excursion. Look for another one sometime soon. Don’t look too hard, because I make no promises, but I’m gonna try to try. Thanks for reading! If you like what you read, why not tell a friend?

Don’t forget to follow Clockwise Circle Pit on Instagram and Facebook. I’m on Twitter too, even though I hate it, because it’s much easier to talk shit to Donald Trump and his kids (and Ted Cruz) there. So, y’know, follow me there if you want, but I don’t really use it for updates or anything.

Rando Review, Volume 1: My Day Off

Work was literally a figurative Hell On Earth these past few days. Indiana University hosted the Big Ten swimming and diving championships the last half of the week, and some 38 billion people descended upon the restaurant where I work in four days, with an estimated 12,000,065 alone from 4-11 pm yesterday.

Some people won, some people lost, and most importantly, all the motherfuckers who came to town for that shit are gone. Buncha off-menu orderin, half-and-half pizza eatin jackanapes. Anyway, that shit’s in the past now; I’ve had this whole day off, and it’s been pretty tight. Mrs. Circle Pit is out of town with her sister and their mom for a basketball game, so I’ve literally had the day entirely to myself for the first time in longer than I can remember. I approached the experience with no plan whatsoever, and if I may say so, I’ve done alright for myself.

I ate nachos for lunch while watching an episode of Key & Peele, I drank a bunch of coffee, and I’ve listened to Fully Completely by The Tragically Hip (a perfect album) and Hidden History of the Human Race by Blood Incantaion (weird, bitchin psychedelic death metal). I’m currently listening to No Good to Anyone by Today is the Day (it’s a fuckin banger, although there’s a chance the bass guitar in the opening/title track might’ve gotten me pregnant – stay tuned for updates), and am about to listen to Mirror Reaper by Bell Witch.

I also cleaned up my flower beds and built a raised bed for this year’s vegetable garden…

Our neighborhood is lousy with wildlife (seriously, it’s like a friggin Disney movie sometimes), especially deer, so I nailed chicken wire to an old pallet and leaned it against the fence to help minimize potential deer access from one side. It serves a dual purpose, though, as I can grow some kind of climber up it, i.e., zucchini, because that shit’s delicious.

I lined the bottom with several layers of newspaper (thanks, IDS!) and some dead leaves. I’ll be adding my soil soonish, and I’ll figure out some kind of cheap way to protect the other three sides from deer, as well as other woodland critters.

I’m gonna grow a tomato plant, definitely zucchini, and something else (some kind of pepper maybe?), along with some herbs and flowers.

I’ve wanted to build a raised bed for several years now. I’m not sure what inspired me to finally get on today, but I’m glad I did. It felt good to work with my hands, and the result is far from perfect, but I’ve spent way more time making way shittier things in my life.

Last but not least, the icing on the cake that is My Day Off: I picked up a copy of Phantasm on DVD at Big Lots for fuckin two dollars and eighty-eight cents! I owned a DVD copy a long time ago, and it disappeared at some point. I own a VHS copy, but both of our VCRs shit the bed in the past year, and I haven’t gotten around to replacing either of them yet. Now I own a watchable copy, and I intend to watch it very soon. Maybe tonight, right after I finish this dumb thing.

Now I’m chillin and enjoying some Ruby Bloom Amber Ale from Bloomington Brewing Company while I wait for Mother Bear’s to deliver my dinner. So far, I’d rate My Day Off a 9 stars out of a possible 10 stars. Your move, Mother Bear’s; show me what you got.

Thanks for reading, friends. Until next time…