Friday, September 20, 2013

Iron Maiden & Megadeth @ San Manuel Amphitheater. 9/13/13.

The Battle of San Bernadino. An eight hour heavy metal bonanza in the blistering outskirts of Southern California. Somewhere along the edge of civilization (LA County) and chaos (the desolate landscape/highway system that leads to Las Vegas) a shit ton of awesome metal bands besieged the San Manuel Amphitheater (the largest outdoor amphitheater in North America) for a full day of mosh pitting, dirt breathing, guitar shredding goodness. Iron Maiden, aka the coolest band ever, headlined the event while thrash metal legends Megadeth, Anthrax, Testament and Overkill; along with neo-thrash younglings Warbringer, handled supporting duties. "Run To The Hills" indeed.

Well, that was a sick lineup. Too bad life and traffic interfered. Between conflicting work schedules, the basic human need for food/subsistence and the two and half hour trek to the venue (FML road construction/detours/Friday after work traffic blows) we missed all the opening acts before Megadeth. Hearing Anthrax play "I Am the Law" while hiking to our seats and watching them take a bow after closing their set with "Antisocial," doesn't count. 

For whatever reason, Megadeth was the only group from thrash metal's "Big Four" lineup that I had never seen in concert. Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax, I've seen them all at least twice over the past decade but have somehow always missed Megadeth. Well, on Friday the 13th, on band leader Dave Mustaine's birthday no less, the curse was finally lifted. The band opened with "Hangar 18" and the 30,000 people in attendance went ballistic. 
photo by:  Kathy Flynn @
Thankfully, Dave and co. played a greatest hits set, with only one track off their new album Super Collider making the cut. After years of struggling with live vocals, Megadeth have recently begun tuning their guitars down a step so that Dave's voice is finally in key with the music once again. This meant that the vocals sounded fine but the music to some of the band's more technical songs *cough*"Tornado of Souls" & "Holy Wars..."*cough* sounded a bit funny. By funny, I mean distorted and slow and kind of silly. Songs with more groove and start/stops like "Sweating Bullets" and the ending breakdown of "Wake Up Dead," were awesome though, especially with thousands of people shouting along. Finally got to see Megadeth on Mustaine's birthday. Circle of life.

photo by: Kathy Flynn, @
Iron Maiden are magicians. Swashbuckling, acrobatic, hypnotists. Only Iron Maiden could make such a large and sterile venue like San Manuel feel like a cozy club gig. Their music and stage show are larger than life. Attending an Iron Maiden show is an all encompassing experience. The elaborate backdrops on stage, the fireworks and pyrotechnics, the singing and chanting, and dear lord the guitar harmonies. It's like hanging out with the singing outlaws from The Pirates of the Caribbean ride, but in Tomorrowland and Frontierland all at once. This was the final run of their 2013 Maiden England tour, where they revisited songs from their Seventh Son of a Seventh Son album. It was pretty much the same show as their concert from last summer, but with a crap load more people. The audience at a Maiden show is almost as important as the members onstage. The crowd at The Battle of San Bernadino was in full scale celebration mode. I took some crappy cell phone footage during "Run To the Hills" and "Fear of the Dark" and the audience was so loud I could barely hear the band. The maniacs in the lawn area behind us kept the entire venues spirits up, lighting multiple bonfires and chanting/jumping in unison all night. The rabid crowd response kept the band's energy going which resulted in yet another spectacular Iron Maiden show for the record books. How these guys keep rocking so hard in their 50's while I struggled walking back to the car once the lights came on, is something I'll never know.

Some awesome individual recorded the ENTIRE concert. Check it out below:

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Dental Plan: Simpsons Themed Short Fiction


A MAN is tied to a chair inside a dark warehouse. A large GOON paces beside him.
So you lied to us…in song? Fuck. I hate when people do that.

Aw, you've got it all wrong. It's not like that. Look, I got the idea when I realized the fridge was cold, and…

Liar! You were out gallivanting around with that floozy of a bigger brother? He put you up to this? Didn’t he, didn’t he? Look at me!

Goon grabs the Man's throat.

No! I just, I…I was losing my perspicacity alright?! I wanted more friends, more allies…

Goon lets go as the Man slumps over.

You wanted to be queen of summertime…

                         MAN (WHIMPERS)

So you and your attractive cousin decided to set up shop on our turf? What did you call yourselves again?

Team—Team Discovery Channel.

Wow. Some geniuses huh? You thought you could waltz in here like it’s Happyland? All the other dealers would be too busy in their gum drop houses on lollipop lane to realize what the hell you were doing?


That nobody would notice this little operation, in this time of the year, at this time of day, in this part of the country, localized entirely within your front yard?

-but, it was Country Time Lemonade. There’s never been anything close to real lemons in it.

Pish Posh! You thought it would be like taking candy, from a baby didn’t you…Mendoza? That’s not even your real name is it?

No. It’s Miguel- Miguel Sanchez.

Well, it was nice knowing you Miguel. Mr. Black says it’s time to fertilize the lawn…if you catch my drift.

The Man suddenly jerks upright. He sits tall and defiant.

You hired goons may have gotten the drop on me…but you’ll never stop Dr. Colossus! If you think he’ll slip up like I did, then you don’t know Diablo Canyon Two from Diablo Canyon One…

Colossus? HA.

Goon lights up a cigarette.

                         GOON (CONT'D)
Leave that hack and his oversized decorative pancho to us. Just because he used to be a major player down at the sewing store doesn’t mean shit. Mr. Black, now he…he’s a superstar at the cracker factory. He truly is, the king of all kings. When we catch that little S.O.B., Mr. Black is gonna look him in the eyes and say: “So this is your sick mother?”

Goon hovers over the Man's chair.

                         Goon (CONT'D)
Yeah…put that in your fife and smoke it.  

Goon extinguishes his cigarette on the Man's face.

        Screen goes black. Screaming is heard off camera.


So that's that. A dramatic scene/short story I wrote interwoven with 25 different references to the gnarliest television program of all time, the first decade run of The Simpsons

My goal was to tell a coherent narrative while paying homage to my favorite TV show. Hopefully you normal folk could understand what the hell was going on. To The Simpsons fiends out there: Can you identify all 25 references? Well, can you? Up and atom then.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Iron Maiden are the coolest band ever. There, I said it. Yeah, The Ramones had the sick jackets and no fucks given attitude, The Doors had that 60's psychedelic swag thing on lock, and Rage Against The Machine got tons of angst-y kids to drop (mental) f-bombs at any/all authority figures, but in the end Maiden smokes them all. Why?

Well first off, they've outlasted just about everyone. Formed in 1975, the band has been in action for 38 years now. They've never gone on hiatus or abandoned the scene, hell metal abandoned THEM in the 90's and they waited that shit out till everyone came crawling back during the new millennium. Next, the band is still relevant. Maiden are not your typical nostalgia cash in artists, as they continue to release and tour in support of new albums to this day. They're also insanely popular. Maiden regularly sell out soccer stadiums around the globe and are basically heralded as gods in South America. Also, they've sold something ridiculous like 85 million albums world wide, all due to word of mouth buzz with little to no support from mainstream radio or MTV. Finally, Maiden has Eddie, the coolest mascot in the history of mascots.

Now don't get me wrong, the individual dudes in Iron Maiden are far from Fonzie level coolness. In fact I'm almost positive a bunch of docile millionaires in their 50's are the very definition of "uncool," but that matters not. When these goofy fucks convene onstage or in the studio, they form the larger Maiden monster that's greater than the sum of it's parts. But why? Why is their campy music rooted in geeky shit like history,  mythology and science fiction so cool? Well, just listen!

It's like pirate music, full of swing and buoyant rhythms. The guitar harmonies are catchy, haunting even. Yes it's loud/heavy "metal," but there is no denying how fucking fun and exciting Maiden's music is. I want to hit the open seas and swash buckle my life away whenever this comes on. Only Iron Maiden could make a thirteen minute song about an 18th century poem rule so hard.

Why this random ass Iron Maiden tribute? Well they're playing a special little show in Southern California this Friday w/ Megadeth, Anthrax and Testament that I almost lost my tickets for. Yes, I ordered my tickets months in advance but somehow misplaced them. After a frantic search that consumed most of my afternoon, the precious tickets materialized safe and sound. I was giddy and have been blasting Powerslave and Somewhere In Time ever since.

So remember folks: Iron Maiden rule. Besides, if they're cool enough for Miley Cyrus

                                               and Michael Fassbender

then Iron Maiden is cool enough for you.


Lady Gaga confirmed as legit Iron Maiden fan, posing backstage with Bruce and Nicko. Up The Irons Gaga.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Movie Review: The Spectacular Now

I haven't hated a movie in a long time. The Spectacular Now breaks this streak. As much as I disliked The Bling Ring, at least Sofia Coppola knows how to maneuver a fucking camera. The same can't be said for The Craptacular Now's director James Ponsoldt.

Where to begin? Well, like Public Enemy said, "Don't Believe The Hype." I guess that was my first problem. I figured a movie that both friends and critics raved about (with an astonishing 93% on Rotten Tomatoes! WTF?) must be good. Well fuck me for assuming. Had I gone into this screening blind, having only seen the trailer earlier this summer, I might have walked out merely disappointed...instead of fucking livid.

So what's up with this film? Why did The Spectacular Now rub me so raw? Well, the script is hokey (boring, contrived, lazy), the acting is bad (Characters? No. Caricatures? Yes.) and the direction is flat. Like, Kevin Smith "shooting two people in front of a wall talking," flat. I can handle lame dialogue/plot. I can tolerate ham-fisted performances, but if that's the case then at least give me something to look at dude. When a film drops the ball on all three levels, that's when I shut down and have Episode I flashbacks.

Smarmy Douche: The Movie.
The Spectacular Now follows an unlikeable punk named Sutter as he teeters on the brink of graduating high school and faces the grim realities of adulthood. Yeah, it's one of those movies. Only here, the protagonist is a smarmy douche who is so thoroughly unlikable I actually wished bodily harm upon his character. Sutter is a teenage alcoholic from a broken home who masks his inner pains with a court jester facade. He's supposed to be the fast talking, life of the party who woos the ladies and skates through life a la Ferris Bueller or Zack Morris but instead, he comes across as a sloppy John Cusack. He speaks in cliches and is more used car salesman than high school student. After breaking up with his girlfriend, Sutter meets Aimee, the only likable/believable human in the enter film. She's the shy, maidenly bookworm who shows Sutter that it's possible to breathe oxygen without acting like a cliched douche all the time. Props to actress Shailene Woodley for being this films only saving grace. Even with such a horrible script, she did her best. The rest of the cast? Lifetime movie of the week territory.

Don't get me wrong, it is possible to enjoy a film with unlikeable characters. Pain & Gain and Spring Breakers both centered on psychotic narcissists but were entertaining films because they didn't try to force the audience to relate to their asshole protagonists. Like I said before, if the plot and characters are fucked, you better have some sick visual style to win the viewer over with. Alas, The Spectacular Now fails here. Hardcore. I know this is a mega low budget indie film, but with today's technology, there is no excuse for such shoddy imagery on screen. The whole film just looks dark and dingy. Even Mud which takes place in a fucking swamp looked more pristine. I understand not every film can look as gorgeous as The Place Beyond The Pines, but if you want us to sympathize with a smarmy douche like Sutter, aka: the drunk driving captain of the world, how about some thought provoking/haunting shots like THIS huh?

So that's that. The Spectacular Now: the most infuriating movie of the summer. Remember what Chuck D said about hype? He was referring to this trailer.