Twodegreesbelow - Various - Metal Massacre XII (Cassette)
And there was no escape, no respite, no bright simple explanation for how they seemed to dovetail with our thoughts, our anxieties. In the shadows of my dreams, I saw the lighthouse at Beacon Point. And the vision struck me like the resonance of a deep temple bell, though when I woke I could not say exactly how or why.
The lingering impression of something incongruous and dense just beneath the surface of the very mundane lighthouse made me doubt my mind. Dreams of water and rain, of a dark rusted hospital ship drifting toward the rocks. Waking to thunder and lightning outside my bedroom window. It had been storming just off Beacon Point for days, never moving too far inland, just enough to cover Carling and the beach. How much had I slept? Three hours? I went into the kitchen and started some coffee.
Dreams and the fragments of dreams. Echoes and reflections of a mind untethered. The residue of those feelings and the fragments that sometimes returned throughout the day: the lighthouse illuminated from behind by an unknown source, its tiny circular windows dark and still, the rain coming down hard but completely silent.
Such images would come back to me like memories. And the dead hospital ship making its way inexorably toward the land. It would crash against the shipways. The destruction would be incredible. In my dream, I felt desperate to tell someone. But I was always alone. The coffee maker beeped. I leaned against the sink, looking out through the little window far above the apartment lot, the space tinged green by sodium floods.
And watched the sheets of rain glitter pale emerald against the night. December 24, in the writing lifeupdateWriting Expeditionyour author Comments closed. It began as a Blogger travel blog when I was living in Bujumbura, Burundi, and grew into kind of nexus for all my publications and writing projects.
Thanks for traveling with me. The obnoxious advertisements will thankfully be going away. There will be discussion forums for asynchronous writing workshops. My newsletter will be picking up again and my podcast will finally be getting underway. Mostly, this is because I moved to a rural area on the big island of Hawaii and just needed to rest, meditate, and take a semi-working vacation for the first time in 10 years.
Hakalau at dawn. December 11, in aestheticsbooksgenre fictionnovelpornPublishing IndustryWriting Comments closed. I once drove a forklift in a magazine distribution warehouse for a living and got to know romance, action adventure, and western paperbacks of the s and 90s fairly well, since we handled a high volume of grocery store book sales. I read the cast-offs that got damaged in the sorting process on my breaks. The writing was usually atrocious, but it was an incremental education in what readers actually want.
Years later, when 50 Shades of Grey sold When James Altucher called the book great literature on account of its sales figures, I shrugged. It fit with what I was packing every day into forklift innerbodies. I learned some interesting things from her about the how genre fiction publishing is evolving. But I came away with one difficult unanswered question. Why do the main characters in romance novels now all seem to have unremarkable porn names—i. Ethan Chase.
Julie Steel. Laura Woods. Richard Ward. Shannon Green. One gets the impression they should either be overseeing new accounts on the 15 th floor or having a highly choreographed threesome in the back of a speedboat somewhere in Florida. Or both. There are no more 70s porn names. Thinking I might do some research on the evolution of character-naming trends in romance writing and porn and write about it for a magazine, I did some digging and found a news story about how porn sites have seen a dramatic uptick in popularity as a result of Covid isolation.
It got me thinking about a Wired piece from on how social media, cell phones, and the internet in general have disrupted the entire porn industry. As a book editor, I am interested in that, especially in the aesthetic changes some might say aesthetic fallout that have ensued.
She said many of the in-house style sheets currently handed out to low-status and even midlist romance writers now require interchangeable sorts of everyman characters. But even though the TV series ended init was still squarely within the female-oriented rom-com story genre—occasionally with a racy B- or C-plot but nothing too far outside the fairly permissive, though still present bounds of HBO propriety.
But now there seems to be a blankness creeping in. Ravishing ensues—somewhere in the vicinity of walnut wastebaskets and corner offices. By the end, Jonathan Charles is so moved he has an emotion. All because her passion taught him how to love. I realize I may have just described the plot of Jerry Maguire. Maybe it was all porn from the beginning. November 30, in ancestorsHakalaumeaning Comments closed. The cemetery work was interesting and it did give me dreams.
We unearthed a year-old headstone that had sunk into the ground and restored it. Pretty neat. The headstone weighed about lbs. A friend of mine translated the inscription for us. We did several others, but this was the most dramatic and difficult.
November 16, in HakalauHawaiiinspirationself worktravelyour authorzen Comments closed. Or something along those lines. I know there will be digging and clearing and probably some metaphysical protocols observed, at least beforehand. I know there will be graveyard nightmares to follow.
Hopefully, the cool horror-movie kind. I know there will be good food and an entire community coming together to do this work for free, just because it needs to be done.
For most people, an adventure like this would fall on the peculiar side of disturbing. Two days after the election, I arrived in the dark. A deserted local airport after a layover in Honolulu, the only souls around dressed all in white to administer my second Covid test of the journey, the new welcome ritual.
They drifted through the enormous empty terminal meant to hold multiple tour groups and one of them stuck a six-inch Q-tip up my nose. I could have told them that ahead of time and saved them the trouble. Then: straight down a long, lonely highway and into the forest. And thank goodness for that. This village is old. Bright green geckos abound. Beetles crawl the ceilings in the middle of the night. Spiders bigger than your thumb. Chirping coal-gray coqui frogs until dawn.
And there happens to be a lot of that around as well. Now and then, you might make an extraordinary effort to get some rice. Tea and incense. Rice and ulu. At AM, I wake in order to write fiction at a rickety wooden table in the corner of my enormous empty living room. Enormous for me. I spend time looking at the old hand-carved statue of a Buddhist monk by the door.
At ten-after-five, I walk across the road in the dark to practice an hour of Rinzai zazen in the village zendo. Just let me stay in Hakalau. October 28, in journalismmediapoliticsSplice Today Comments closed. October 27, in booksCreative WritingpublicationPublishing IndustryWritingyour author Comments closed.
My third collection of stories, Living the Dreamjust got accepted by Terror House for publication in I will be updating my websites when I have more information. October 27, in aestheticsF. Is it gleaming? Do you have any idea what that is? Do you even know? Oh, the beating would be vast and terrible. And this brings up a deeper lesson about fiction writing: stylistic consistency is more important than any given stylistic choice. Take it or leave it. Do you want to enjoy the story or not?
So you take it. He has trained you to read and appreciate his fiction rather than trying to meet your expectations. Some great fiction writers can do both. Scott Fitzgerald, for example, can write idiosyncratic prose and also ground those weird! He had to make his prose acceptable to the reader something that also helped him support himself by selling stories to LIFE and The Saturday Evening Post in an era when you could live that way.
Lovecraft is great in other ways. I repeated queer extracts, and muttered of Afrasiab and the daemons that floated with him down the Oxus. I know HPL sets himself the very difficult task of writing about states of consciousness that have only a tenuous connection to everyday life. I do take a certain daemoniac enjoyment of how he disregards certain modern conventions.
When that happens, you dig a moat. Nevertheless, there were problems. My own troubles started a week before I moved in. Hauberk College cancelled its spring semester in the interests of social distancing and good hygiene.
I was supposed to have received a dining hall meal plan along with my freshman year scholarship. This, I thought, is no way to start an adult life. In this branch of my family, wearing a mask to protect against Covid was a sign of weakness, wrong thinking, unworthiness, and shame. It was enough that everyone knew I was attempting college. Anything more and I felt the generosity of my relatives would become strained beyond the bounds of credulity.
I said nothing and kept trying to look like I was putting my back into it. He was short, had a beer belly, small eyes, and a round face.
He was also completely bald and never had anything close to red hair. Uncle Marty looked completely different: tall, muscled, with blue eyes and a thick blond goatee that made you think of King Arthur. Aunt Phoebe, on the other hand, was completely gray and starting to develop a stoop from osteoporosis. She liked to say her bones were getting smaller along with her brain. None of them looked like each other.
And none of them looked like me. I sometimes wondered whether any of us were actually related. The moat was wide enough for two grown men to stand on the bottom shoulder to shoulder. They checked the depth with a wooden yardstick as we progressed. We dug our way clockwise around the house; past the corner of the porch; past the enormous red-brick chimney that started at the base of the foundation and went up six feet above the roof; past the completely rusted propane tank, which everyone agreed would someday explode; past the back porch and the far corner of the house, gray and disintegrating like the old barns you saw from the highway; and back around to the front.
The ground was relatively soft. Still, it was an enormous project to attempt in one day. When we found our way back to the front yard, the ouroboros could almost bite its tail. So we broke for dinner. It was ham and cheese sandwiches, brought out by Aunt Phoebe on her Franklin Mint commemorative platter, featuring Donald Trump and Abraham Lincoln healing the sick of Bombay. Above them, the good Lord smiled down from his golden throne in the clouds.
Aunt Phoebe liked to joke about it, but I also noticed she kept the platter on a decorative stand by her boom box over the sink. My uncles and I sat on the edge of the moat, our feet dangling down like kids at swim class taking a break. There was a festive air, a certain delight that Uncle Red and Uncle Marty never seemed to show.
But when they looked at what we accomplished they smiled and high-fived each other. Then the three of them looked at me. I raised my fist in solidarity and took another bite. It was a two-story Coronado foursquare build by the Louis Company for my great-grandfather in He moved there from Kansas City with the expectation that the town of Hauberk would eventually grow along the railroad in his direction, raising the value of the land.
That proved, however, to be a precipitous assumption. The property was the last bit of an unproductive patch, which before the Great Depression had been optimistically designated as farmland, but which was now just a flat plain of grass and birch trees with dry creeks and too many crows.
The house had been going to seed for the last 80 years, just like our family, and was known to be an area where you might get threatened with a. Still, Uncle Red, Aunt Phoebe, and Uncle Marty, having survived their respective spouses, retired together to the old house in the late s. Since then, they seemed to have given themselves over to the kind of melancholy one feels when the good old days are unquestionably gone forever.
They did not keep the place up, but they did admire it greatly, if only in the abstract and usually in the evenings after a certain amount of alcohol. The house signified the last good, common, family thing in their lives. They were not well off, but they treated the old homestead not unlike one of the great estates of a lost European nobility, a sad reminder of a grander, more glorious age.
That was just her style, the same way that my uncles agreed with her no matter what she said. I was a guest in the house, yes, but I was also a spectator.
When the George Floyd protests came to Hauberk and someone tried to burn down the Walmart Megastore a block west of the college, Uncle Red, Aunt Phoebe, and Uncle Marty defaulted to the fatalistic, medieval siege mentality that had been lurking in their DNA all their lives.
They ran up their credit cards at the gun shop and patronized whichever local box stores were still open in order to prepare for the worst. They figured the End Times had finally arrived. It cheered them immensely. All Hauberk was on edge. Everyone was talking about what had recently happened in Nirvana, just over the Arkansas line, where an anti-police brutality protest turned brutal and an entire strip mall went up in flames, including a bank, a nail salon, a Mongolian restaurant, and a storefront sculpture gallery featuring Remington reproductions and assorted objects of rodeo art.
Though the editors of the Hauberk Gazette condemned the violence in the strongest possible terms, stressing the need for dialogue and down-home midwestern tolerance, there was an abiding sense that anything could happen. Unfortunately, the moat had not been dug from the knees and it was decidedly not watertight.
Things got more difficult when Aunt Phoebe strained her back boiling crab apples in an enormous cast iron cauldron behind the house. And then what? Mercifully, Aunt Phoebe left me alone. Yes, I had bad shovel form. I knew it. I did my best to put my back into it and dig like I had a pair. And I knew better than to attempt to pry it out of them. They had their secrets, jointly and severally, to be sure. Still, in spite of the fact that none of us pleased Aunt Phoebe with our shovelry and my uncles took regular piss breaks, constantly bringing more Bud Light out from the pantry, we completed the moat by nightfall.
They completely filled the plastic yard bag with their empty cans. I felt we would all sleep well that night—my uncles from an abundance of beer, me from physical exhaustion, Aunt Phoebe from her nightly Halcion crushed up and taken with warm milk. In the upstairs hallway, she grabbed me by the arm as we passed each other on the way to our rooms.
It was dark, but we paused in a slant of light from the circular window over the stairs. Fingers digging into my arm, she warned me not to go outside if I woke up before dawn. She sighed, frowned at me, then let go of my arm and shuffled down to her room at the end of the hall.
One day, Aunt Phoebe would tire of my sarcasm. Then there would be hell to pay. Until then, it would be either liberals or bears or perhaps liberal bears, and hell could wait. It was a big house, two stories up on a high footprint. The wood and flagstone front porch was painted dull clay red on a gray concrete foundation about six feet off the ground.
The top floor—four bedrooms, three bathrooms, and a solarium full of cardboard boxes and miscellaneous dusty junk—felt more like a third story. I opened the bedroom window and felt the night air on my face. The window was more like a set of narrow doors with yellow glass panels. It had little French handles made of pewter and, when it was fully open, it framed my body from mid-shin. No screen. You turned both handles at once, swung both sides inward, and then it was just you and the night sky.
No one, to my knowledge, had ever fallen out and broken his neck, but it was the first thing I thought of as I stood there listening to Uncle Red snoring two rooms away. The flat blue-gray plain of dead farmland stretched out under the moon. Here and there a black copse of birch broke the monotony. The saplings grew tall and thin together like groups of people mingling at a party.
My uncles were too superstitious to cut them down. I looked for the moat, but I could only see the edge of it if I leaned way out, which scared me when I did it.
Aunt Phoebe set out a bowl of Cream of Wheat for me with a slab of butter in the middle like a tiny radiant sun. She was in a good mood, doing the dishes, whistling, had the local conservative radio show going full blast from her ancient boom box over the sink. I thought it was a holy roller radio service at first. But it was just an agitated republican.
Aunt Phoebe gave me a sour look. Too much work. And I was short on jars. The speaker on the radio had a feverish, almost breathless way of spitting out his words, as if each one were a bullet. The question under debate was what the violent liberal rioters were going to do when Trump won again. A group of illiberal Marxist dissidents was supposed to be holding a sit in that evening in downtown Saint Joseph and the local militia was set to come out and prevent various statues from getting beheaded.
It was all a bit hard to take with a bowl of greasy porridge after a day of engaging in medieval siegecraft. The moat, as I have already mentioned, was lacking a sealant, at least one appropriate for a crusader stronghold. But the backup plan was sound and had already been put in motion. Uncle Red explained the plan as we looked down into the moat. Uncle Red lit a cigarette, squinted, gestured at the moat with his smoking hand. Then Uncle Marty took me out to see his cattery.
Two things are always true in this existence of toil and servitude, no matter who you are and no matter what you do for a living: one never expects napalm and visiting a cattery will change you. The former is true because napalm, like moats, is something out of myth and legend, something we only see on TV.
We better roll out the napalm. The latter is true because feral cats are sons and daughters of the goddess, Bastet, and therefore inherently divine. And 38 furry divine beings peering at you from the roof and through the slats of an ancient collapsing barn will deliver such pagan grace as to make you rethink certain fundamental assumptions and generally reconsider your life. Uncle Marty explained this to me when we got there, which also made me reconsider Uncle Marty.
They told their friends. You know? When we got out of the truck, the cats started meowing. I got a ton of books on it. Started having these dreams. Then one day, I came out here to shoot some cans and I saw a cat sitting right over there.
But the barn had remained, slowly listing until a tornado or maybe just age and termites caused it to definitively collapse sideways. From the look of it, one more bit of harsh weather might do it in completely. Uncle Marty opened up five large tins of cat food and positioned them around the doorway.
He talked as he washed out and refilled two aluminium water dishes of the sort the local farmers used for goats and alpacas. Then, about a week after that, I had a dream of cats in a golden temple and I knew. A large crowd of cats had now formed around my uncle, some taking sips of water, some rubbing against his jeans, or nibbling at the food. A row of them looked down from the edge of the roof like vultures. Pairs of eyes stared at us from spaces in the wood.
The meowing was prodigious and incessant. Uncle Marty disappeared to his room. Contrary to what one might initially think, this was their usual routine. They were simply ingrown, weird, haunted by people or things long gone, by memories or regrets or fantasies. And to watch them in their evening pursuits, to pass judgement on them, even silently, seemed indecent, made me feel as though their loneliness could add to mine. So I gave them as much room as I could in that dusty old house, retreating to my bedroom after dinner to read.
I kept a diary on my laptop; though, I was often uninspired and only tapped out a few lines. I would, she said, Twodegreesbelow - Various - Metal Massacre XII (Cassette) lonely and miserable in the years to come.
But there would be a time when the tables would turn and all those kids who seemed to be having fun now would despise themselves and their lives. Then it would be my turn as long as I studied very, very hard. She had that angry righteous light in her eyes when she said it. Maybe they thought some moat digging would be good for me.
We were about ten miles out from the house Twodegreesbelow - Various - Metal Massacre XII (Cassette) a dirt road without a name. I asked Uncle Marty if the barn was part of the family property, but he just smiled and shook his head. October 5, in Critical thinkingjournalismmedianarrativenewszombie culture Comments closed. We all live online now. We look at the world through electrified windows. All we see in our non-digital lives is our homes and immediate neighborhoods.
This is good and bad. The Good : we live in an information society where communication, news, and knowledge can be produced instantaneously. The Bad : we live in an information society where communication, news, and knowledge can be produced instantaneously. Is it true that the United States is collapsing? What does the New York Times say about it?
All media is a product. This is capitalism. Is Fox News a legitimate news source? But it will seem more or less reliable depending on your assumptions about the world, your values, your community, and your culture. How about the Daily Wire? Probably because conservative pundit, Ben Shapiro, founded and until recently ran DW.
How about The Daily Beast and Vox? How about any of these and Breitbart or The Drudge Report? Stoking controversy in targeted audiences. Google it and the reason should jump off the screen. Even search engines have slant, bias, implicit preferences that show the world a certain way. Look at Media Bias Fact Check and search your favorite media sources there.
You have to work to get that on your own. Here are some questions to ponder for yourself :. October 1, in Donald TrumpelectionsJoe Bidenmeaningmedianewspolitical theaterpolitics Comments closed. September 29, in drinkingexcerpthangoverKingsley Amis Comments closed. Amis is one of my favorite comic prose writers.
When that ineffable compound of depression, sadness these two are not the sameanxiety, self-hatred, sense of failure and fear for the future begins to steal over you, start telling yourself that what you have is a hangover. You are not sickening for anything, you have not suffered a minor brain lesion, you are not all that bad at your job, your family and friends are not leagued in a conspiracy of barely maintained silence about what a shit you are, you have not come at last to see life as it really is, and there is no use crying over spilt milk.
If this works, if you can convince yourself, you need do no more, as provided in the markedly philosophical. If necessary, then, embark on either the M.
Literature Course or the M. Music Course or both in succession not simultaneously. Going off and gazing at some painting, building or bit of statuary might do you good too, but most people, I think, will find such things unimmediate for this— perhaps any—purpose. A good cry is the initial aim. Begin with verse, if you have any taste for it.
Any really gloomy stuff that you admire will do. My own choice would tend to include the final scene of Paradise LostBook XII, lines to the end, with what is probably the most poignant moment in all our literature coming at lines —6.
The trouble here, though, is that today of all days you do not want to be reminded of how inferior you are to the man next door, let alone to a chap like Milton. Safer to pick somebody less horribly great. I would plump for the poems of A. Thomas, not that they are in the least interchangeable. Switch to prose with the same principles of selection. It is not gloomy exactly, but its picture of life in a Russian labour camp will do you the important service of suggesting that there are plenty of people about who have a bloody sight more to put up with than you or I have or ever will have, and who put up with it, if not cheerfully, at any rate in no mood of self-pity.
Turn now to stuff that suggests there may be some point to living after all. The naval victory in of the forces of the Papal League over the Turks and their allies was accomplished without the assistance of a single Anglo-Saxon or Protestant. Try not to mind the way Chesterton makes some play with the fact that this was a victory of Christians over Moslems. By this time you could well be finding it conceivable that you might smile again some day. However, defer funny stuff for the moment.
Forester perhaps the most useful Twodegreesbelow - Various - Metal Massacre XII (Cassette) the lot. Turn to comedy only after that; but it must be white—i. I am not suggesting that these writers are comparable in other ways than that they make unwillingness to laugh seem a little pompous and absurd.
Here, the trap is to set your sights too high. On the argument tentatively advanced against unduly great literature, give a wide berth to anyone like Mozart. Go for someone who is merely a towering genius.
After various false consolations have been set aside, its last movement really does what the composer intended and, in an amazingly non-dreary way, evokes total despair: sonic M. The Swan of Tuonela comes to mind, often recommended though it curiously is or was in my youth as a seduction background-piece.
Scope for a little article there. The last section of the Sibelius, in particular, carries the ever-so-slightly phoney and overdone pathos that is exactly what you want in your present state. You can restore some of your fallen dignity by telling yourself that you too are a Duerstender in der Wueste. This is a piece that would fetch tears from a stone, especially a half-stoned stone, and nobody without a record of it in his possession should dare to say that he likes music.
The Kathleen Ferrier version is still unequalled after twenty years. Turn now to something lively and extrovert, but be careful. Jazz is not much good for your M. But if you really feel that life could not possibly be gloomier, try any slow Miles Davis track. It will suggest to you that, however gloomy life may be, it cannot possibly be as gloomy as Davis makes it out to be. There is also the likely bonus to be gained from hearing some bystander refer to Davis as Miles instead of Davis.
The surge of adrenalin at this piece of trendy pseudo-familiarity will buck up your system, and striking the offender to the ground will restore your belief in your own masculinity, rugged force, etc.
He will suggest to you, in the strongest terms, that life is exactly what you are at present taking it to be: cheap, futile and meaningless. September 29, in Conformist CultureromanceStupiditywork Comments closed. A former co-worker of mine called me on Skype a few months ago. Tell me how. He has an office crush in a time of no office. Ah so. I lied and told him I was busy. He Skype-called me a few days later and wanted to talk. I told him I had no idea and suggested he ask his therapist.
Then he started crying. But I felt bad. I know. I really am an asshole. And to be completely honest, a small part of me was flattered.
Nobody asks me for advice about anything and probably for good reason. And I know nothing. Why he came to me I will never really understand. Aside from the two albums, they also had three cuts on a compilation of local bands. You might notice one of them is Babyfat.
They later changed their name to Ultrababyfatdue to there being another Babyfat already extant. Not much I can tell you about these folk, sadly. I remember hearing the name years ago, but I never saw them live. They were from Athens, which is about an hour away from me, and this was their sole release.
I didn't even know they had released anything until I found this in a dollar bin at a local store on Record Store Day a few years back. What I can tell you is they sported an unconventional line-up of vocals, bass, violin, and drums, and Michael Stipe of R. I suppose I could also tell you I love dollar bins, but that wouldn't likely be a big shock or anything. I came across a three-song sampler CDR of tracks from this album at my favorite local store back in The music therein was definitely on the.
Shocking, eh? There was a little flyer for an upcoming show at the Star Barso I decided to check 'em out. From the credits, it would appear that Warren did everything himself on the album, but he assembled a small ensemble for the live show.
I know I enjoyed it, but all I can remember now is they were a bit more conventional in the live setting than on this utterly bizarre and wonderful CD. Also, Warren obviously got a haircut sometime between the taking of the photograph from the back cover and their show.
I reviewed this one on Amazon, by the way, something I don't do all that often. Here's what I had to say back in the early months of Droning music, unintelligible vocals and a general sense of otherness make this one of my favorite releases of Artimus Pyledriver Southern Fried E.
CDR EP self-released, Luckily for Artimus Pyledriverthey had 'em in spades. For the few years they were around, Artimus Pyledriver were the ruling kings of the Atlanta metal scene. They sported a sound that mixed a rooting in classic southern and hard rock with influences like hardcore punk and metals of the stoner and thrash variety. Their first release was this snazzy lil' self-released CDR EP, and it's the source of today's jukebox selection.
All the songs from the initial EP appeared, but not in the same versions. As to how a band from Atlanta got signed by a label on the other side of the planet, Buzzville had previously released the debut album by their fellow Atlantans Gonzalez. After touring a bit, Artimus Pyledriver got picked up by DRT Entertainment in the States, and their album got issued on my and their side of the pond, sporting new cover art, a new mix, and an additional cut.
Interestingly, the version of today's song had gotten an acoustic, country blues intro for the Belgian release, but it was removed for their countrymen. The world is, indeed, a strange place. Sadly, after the album hit these shores, the band began to fall apart. They announced some upcoming split releases with Hank IIIbut they never materialized, to the best of my knowledge. Vocalist Dave Slocum temporarily took over the mic for another local metal combo, Doomsayerand that was the last I heard of any of them.
They did shoot one official video, for the song Swamp Devil and I've included it below. You'll notice Dave does a lot of jumping. He did that at shows all the time.
I used to wonder when he was gonna land wrong and snap off an ankle. Man, I used to hate the Grateful Dead. I just despised them, you know? I thought the song Deadhead by The Teen Idles was hilarious:. A number of years back, for some reason unknown to me despite the fact that the idea came from my own brain unit, I decided to buy a used copy I found of the reissue of their third album, Aoxomoxoareplete with beaucoup bonus traxoa.
I ended up really diggin' the long, drawn out, pyschedelic jams therein, and, naturally, started buying whatever I could snag from that period. My collection now sports twenty Grateful Dead albums! I should add, however, that they are almost all live recordings and nearly entirely from and earlier. Today's song, however, comes from a legally released, but long unavailable, album from that featured live recordings made at the Avalon Ballroom in The Same Thing is a Willie Dixon song, and, to the best of my knowledge, this is one of only three versions of it by the Dead that have been released.
There's another album of Avalon Ballroom recordings, also on the Sunflower label, called Vintage Dead. Anyone have a spare copy? When I worked as a parking lot attendent, lo these many moons ago, there was a bar at the end of the lot that featured live, acoustic music on their back porch. In addition to future members of the Dave Matthews Band oh, joythere was a guy who used to do solo sets with his guitar. Invariably, he'd play Piano Man every time. Pedant that I can be, this drove me up the wall!
You are not the piano man! You are playing a. Anyhow, long before Piano Man was a hit, before his live album kept getting listed in print as Konueptbefore he didn't start the fire, before I understood long division, Billy Joel was half of the hard rockin' Long Island duo Attila.
They released this lone album before splitting. Billy went on to eventual mega crapitudinous stardom. Jon, well, I have no idea, other than he apparently did not kill Billy for having an affair with his wife. For the record, I love this album. Ignore what the linked AllMusic. One of my favorite things about albums of this period is the over-the-top liner notes they often sport.
The ones for this record are so great, I've decided to share them in their entirety. You are welcome. In the fifth century, a scourge rolled across Eastern Europe, destroying all that stood in its path.
A screaming, invincible wave of destruction, it left in its wake half the civilized world in shock and bleeding submission. It was a sword and a flame. It was a name that became synonymous with an unstemmable tide of conquest. The name meant more. To Attila's followers, it meant glory, conquest and riches; an empire that extended to the gates of the holy city of Rome. Is the most remarkable group on the scene since the Huns sacked Europe.
There are only two men in the group, an unlikely number for a conquering horde. But in numbers, the smallness ends. Their sound is their Twodegreesbelow - Various - Metal Massacre XII (Cassette), so are their ideas. The music you will hear on this album has no studio gimmicks, no multiple-track recordings. No extra musicians were called in for the recording session. The sounds you will hear are the same as you would hear live. And how many of us have paid to hear groups live, only to find that their real sound was on records, with extra musicians added?
He is twenty-one, single, and only sweats two things: perfecting his sound and South East Asia. He began with piano, at age four. He began playing professionally at fourteen. He worked for almost four years in a now-defunct rock group Forget the name, man.
Finally Gronquist broke the silence. Shortly before midnight, the imposter began his practiced drill to abandon the jetliner. The air was sparkling clear and the dim smudge that was Iceland rose above the flat, black horizon line of the sea.
The small island country was outlined by a faint but eerie display of greenish rays from the Aurora Borealis. He was oblivious to the dead men around him. He had grown used to the smell of blood and it no longer sickened him. Death and gore simply went with the job. He was as indifferent to mutilated bodies as a pathologist or the neighborhood butcher. The imposter was quite clinical about killing. Numbers of dead were merely mathematical sums.
He was paid well; he was a mercenary, as well as a religious fanatic who murdered for a cause. Oddly, the only part of his work that offended him was being called an assassin or a terrorist. He detested the words. They had a political ring about them, and he nurtured a passionate dislike for politicians.
He was a man of a thousand identities, a perfectionist who rejected random gunfire in crowds or sloppy car bombs, considering them tools for juvenile idiots. His methods were far more subtle. He never left anything to chance. International investigators found it difficult to separate many of his hits from what appeared to be accidents.
The death of Hala Kamil was more than an assigned task. He considered it a duty. His elaborate plan had taken five months to perfect, followed by the patient wait for the opportune moment. Almost a waste, he mused. Kamil was a beautiful woman. But she was a threat that had to be nullified. He gently eased back on the throttles and nudged the control column forward, beginning a shallow rate of descent.
To anyone but another pilot the slight drop in speed and altitude was imperceptible. The main cabin crew had not troubled him. By now the passengers were dozing, attempting but failing to fall into the deep sleep so elusive on long aircraft flights.
For the twentieth time he re-checked his heading and studied the computer he had reprogrammed to indicate the time and distance to his drop zone. Fifteen minutes later the jetliner crossed over an uninhabited section of Iceland's southern coastline and headed inland. The landscape below became a montage of gray rock and white snow. He lowered the flaps and reduced speed until the Boeing B was flying at kilometers an hour.
He reengaged the auto pilot on a new radio frequency transmitted from a beacon placed on the Hofsjokull, a glacier rising 1, meters from the center of the island. Then he set the altitude so the aircraft would impact meters below the peak.
Methodically he smashed and disabled the communication and direction indicators. He also began dumping fuel as a backup in case a flaw somehow marred his carefully conceived plan. Eight minutes to go. He dropped through the trapdoor into the hell hole. He already wore a pair of French paraboots with thick, elastic soles. He hurriedly removed a jumpsuit from the duffel bag and slipped into it.
There had been no room for a helmet so he pulled on a ski mask and stocking cap. Next came a pair of gloves, goggles and an altimeter, which he strapped to one wrist. He clipped the harness snaps and checked the straps for snugness. He wore a piggyback rig where the reserve sat on his shoulder blades and the main chute fit into the small of his back. He relied on a ram air canopy, a square air foil that is more 14 flown than jumped. He glanced at the dial of his watch. One minute, twenty seconds.
He opened the escape door and a rush of air swept through the hell hole. He studied the sweep second hand on the watch and began counting down.
When he reached zero he launched his body through the narrow opening feet first, facing in the direction of flight. The velocity of the airstream struck him with the icy force of an avalanche, crushing the breath from his lungs. The plane soared past with a deafening roar. Face down in a stable arched and spread position, knees slightly flexed, hands spread in front, Lemk looked down and saw only blackness.
No lights burned on the ground. He assumed the worst; his crew had failed to reach the correct rendezvous point. Without a defined target zone he could not gauge his wind drift or direction. He might land kilometers away, or worse, impact in the middle of jagged ice with serious injury and never be found in time.
In ten seconds he had already dropped nearly meters. The needle on the luminous dial of his altimeter was crossing into the red. He could not wait any longer. He pulled the pilot chute from a pouch and threw it into the wind. It anchored to the sky and strung out the main canopy. He heard the chute open with a satisfying thump, and he was jerked into an upright position. He took his penlight and aimed the narrow beam over his head. The canopy blossomed above him.
Suddenly a small circle of lights blinked on about one Mile away to his right. Then a flare went up and hung for several seconds, just long enough for him to judge wind direction and speed. He pulled on the right steering toggle and began gliding toward the lights. Another flare went up. The wind held steady with no fluctuation as he neared the ground. He could clearly see his crew now. They had laid out another line of lights leading to the previously lit circle.
He jockeyed the steering toggles and made a degree bank into the wind. Lemk prepared to strike the ground. His crew had chosen the terrain well. The balls of his feet made contact with soft tundra, and he made a perfect stand-up landing in the center of the circle. Without a word, he unsnapped the harness and walked outside the glare of the lights. He looked up at the sky. The aircraft with its unsuspecting crew and passengers flew straight toward the glacier that gradually rose, closing the gap between ice and metal.
He stood there watching as the faint sound of the jet engines died and the blinking navigation lights melted into the black night. Back in the galley, one of the flight attendants tilted her head, listening.
Gary Rubin, the chief steward, stepped into the aisle and faced toward the bow of the plane. He could hear what sounded like a continuous, muffled roar, almost like rushing water in the distance. Ten seconds after the imposter's exodus, the timer on the actuator set the hydraulic arm in motion, closing the hatch in the hell hole and cutting off the strange sound. I've never heard anything quite like it. Rubin hesitated, remembering Lemk's order not to bother the flight crew except for a matter of importance.
Better safe than sorry. The welfare of the passengers came Twodegreesbelow - Various - Metal Massacre XII (Cassette). He lifted the intercom phone to his ear and pressed the cockpit call button. We've just experienced a weird noise forward of the main cabin.
Is there a problem? He tried three times, but the receiver remained dead. He stood there at a loss for several moments, wondering why the flight cabin did not respond.
In twelve years of flying, this was a new experience for him. At first he ignored her, but the urgency in her voice got through to him. We have to be over the middle of the ocean.
He probably saw lights from fishing boats. The captain said we might spot them during our descent for the meteorology study. I think we're landing. Instead of the dark waters of the Atlantic there was a glimmer of white. A vast sheet of ice was slipping under the aircraft no more than meters below. It was near enough for the ice crystals to reflect the strobe flashes from the navigation lights.
He froze, uncomprehending, trying to make some sense out of what his eyes told him was true. If this was an emergency landing, why hadn't the captain alerted the main cabin crew?
Almost all of the U. Only Hala Kamil was sound asleep. Several representatives from Mexico, returning from an economic mission to the World Bank headquarters, were huddled around a table in the tail section.
Director of Foreign Financing Minister Salazar talked in grim undertones. The atmosphere around the table was dampened by defeat. Mexico had suffered a disastrous economic collapse and was going through technical bankruptcy with no monetary aid in sight.
Not yet anyway. Let me check with the captain first. He whipped the curtain closed that shielded the boarding entryway from the main cabin. When he tried the door. It was locked. He frantically rapped his knuckles against the door. No one answered from inside. He stared dumbly at the thin barrier that blocked the cockpit, his mind an incredulous blank; and then, in a flash of desperation, he lashed out his foot and kicked in the door.
The panel was built to open outward, but the blow smashed it against the inner wall. Rubin stared into the cramped space of the cockpit. Disbelief, bewilderment, fear, they swirled through his mind like a flood hurtling down a shattered dam.
One swift glance took in the slumped form of the men, Oswald's head on the floor, face up, ever, staring sightlessly at the cabin roof.
Lemk had seemingly vanished. Rubin stumbled over Oswald's body, leaned across the panel-staring through the wind The massive summit of the Hofsjokull loomed beyond the bow of the plane no more than ten miles away The flickering n lights silhouetted against the rising ice, the uneven surface with ghostly shades of gray and green.
Driven by panic, the steward climbed into the pilot's seat and firmly clutched the control column. He pulled the wheel toward his chest. Nothing happened. The column refused to give. Glancing at the panel, he observed that it showed a slow but steady increase in altitude. He yanked at the wheel again, but 16 harder this time. It gave slightly. He was stunned by the unyielding pressure. There was no time to think straight.
He was too inexperienced to realize he was trying to override the automatic pilot with brute strength when only twenty-five pounds of pressure was required to overpower it.
The sharp, cold air made the glacier appear near enough to reach out and touch. He pushed the throttles forward and hauled back on the control column again. It gave sluggishly, like the wheel of a speeding car that lost its power steering, and inched back. With agonizing slowness the Boeing lifted its nose and swept past the icy peak with less than a hundred feet to spare. Down on the glacier, the man who had murdered the bona fide Flight pilot, Date Lemk, in London and taken his place, peered into the distance through a pair of night glasses.
The northern lights had faded to a dim glow, but the uneven rim of the Hofsjokull still showed against the sky. The air was hushed with expectancy. The only sounds came from the two-man crew who were loading the flights transmitter beacon into the hull of a helicopter. Suleiman Aziz Ammar's eyes became accustomed to the darkness, and he could make out the broken ridges scarring the wall of the ice floe. Ammar stood like a statue, counting the seconds, waiting for the small speck of flame that would mark the crash of Flight But the distant fireball did not materialize.
Finally Ammar lowered the glasses and sighed. The stillness of the glacier spread around him, cold and remote. He pulled off the gray-haired wig and threw it into the darkness. Next he removed a pair of specially handcrafted boots and took out the four-inch risers in the heels. He became aware of his servant and friend, Ibn Telmuk, standing beside him. Was the mission a success?
The plane somehow cleared the crest. Allah has given Miss Kamil a few more minutes of life. Ammar swung and stared into the frozen scowl of Muhammad Ismail. The Egyptian's round face was a curious blend of malevolence and childish innocence. The beady black eyes gazed with evil intensity over a heavy mustache, but they lacked the power of penetration. Bravado without substance, a facade of toughness, pulling a trigger was his only skill.
Ammar had had little choice in working with lsmail. The obscure village mullah had been forced on him by Akhmad Yazid. The Islamic idol hoarded his trust Re a miser, rationing it out only to those he believed possessed a fighting spirit and a traditionalist's devotion to the original laws of Islam.
Firm religious traits meant more to Yazid than competency and professionalism. Ammar professed to being a true believer of the faith, but Yazid was wary of him.
The assassin's habit of talking to Moslem leaders as though they were mortal equals did not sit well with Yazid.
He insisted that Ammar carry out his death missions under the guarded eye of Ismail. Ammar had accepted his watchdog without protest. He was a master at the game of deceit. He quickly reversed Ismail's role into that of a dupe for his own intelligence purposes.
But the stupidity of Arabs was a constant irritation to Ammar. Cold, analytical reasoning was beyond them.
He shook his head wearily and then patiently explained the situation to Ismail. An updraft, a malfunction in the automatic pilot or altimeters, a sudden change in the wind. A hundred different variables could have caused the plane to miss the peak. But all probabilities were considered. The automatic pilot is locked on a course toward the pole. No more than ninety minutes of air time is left.
None indicated any pilot experience. Besides, I smashed the radio and navigation instruments. Anyone attempting to take control will be lost. No compass, no landmarks to give them a direction. Hala Kamil and her U.
Then he yawned and ran his hands through a thick mat of wavy black hair. Pitt was a lean, firm-muscled man in prime physical shape for someone who didn't run ten miles every day or look upon the exertion and sweat of bodybuilding as a celestial tonic against old age.
His face wore the tanned, weathered skin of an outdoorsman who preferred the sun to the fluorescent lighting of an office. His deep green, opaque eyes radiated a strange combination of warmth and cruelty while his lips seemed eternally locked in a friendly grin. He was a smooth article who moved easily among the rich and powerful, but preferred the company of men and women who drank their liquor straight up and liked to get their hands dirty.
He had found the vanished Manhattan Limited express train after swimming through an underground cavern in New York, salvaged a few passengers before being sent to the bottom of the Saint Lawrence River with a thousand souls. He had hunted down the lost nuclear submarine Starbuck in the middle of the Pacific and tracked the ghost ship Cyclops to her grave under the Caribbean. And he raised the Titanic. He was, Giordino often mused, a man driven to rediscover the past, born eighty years too late.
Pitt turned from a color video monitor that displayed a view of the seascape one hundred meters beneath the hull of the icebreaker survey ship Polar Explorer. She was a sturdy new vessel especially built for sailing through ice-covered waters. The massive boxlike superstructure towering above the hull resembled a five-story office building, and her great bow, pushed by 80,horsepower engines, could pound a path through ice up to one-and-a-half meters thick.
Pitt placed one foot against a counter, flexed his knee and pushed. The motion was honed through weeks of practice and with the gentle roll of the ship for momentum.
He twisted degrees in his swivel chair as its castors carried him some meters across the slanting deck of the electronics compartment. Short, standing a little over centimeters in stockinged size-eleven feet, broadened with beefy shoulders in the shape of a wedge, he looked as if he were assembled out of spare bulldozer parts. His hair was dark and curly, an inheritance from Italian ancestry, and if he had worn a bandanna and an earring he could have moonlighted as an organ-grinder.
Dry-humored, steadfast and reliable as the tides, Giordino was Pitt's insurance policy against Murphy's Law. His concentration never flickered while Pitt, feet extended as bumpers, came to an abrupt stop against the console beside him.
Pitt watched the computer-enhanced sonograph as the ridge of a crater slowly rose to a crest and then made a steep descent into the interior void. Pitt glanced at the echo sounder. Navy Commander Byron Knight, skipper of the survey vessel, nodded. Besides Pitt and Giordino, he was the only man with access to the electronics compartment.
It was off limits to the rest of the officers and crew. Giordino watched intently as the arc of the formation spread and widened. Second, the sub bottom profiler indicates a bowl-shaped cross section. There's enough iron down there to build a fleet of battleships.
Pretty vague reading. The object is partly obscured by the geology. Continue our heading to the end of the run. If we can make the repair in time, come around and repeat the track. They should pick it up on the next pass. Then it slipped past the sidescan's viewing window and disappeared into a computer that enhanced the detail.
The finished picture came out on a special large high-resolution color video monitor. The smudge had become a well defined shape. Using a joystick, Pitt moved a pair of crosshairs to the center of the image and clicked the button to expand the image.
The computer churned away for a few seconds, and then a new, larger, even more detailed image appeared on the screen. A rectangle automatically appeared around the target and showed the dimensions. At the same time another machine reproduced the color image on a sheet of glossy paper. Commander Knight came rushing back into the compartment. After days of tedium, cruising back and forth as though mowing a vast lawn, staring for hours on end at the video display and sidescan readings, he was galvanized, anticipation written in every line of his face.
You have a target? They smiled like prospectors who have hit the mother lode. Knight, staring at them, suddenly knew. Incredible they didn't find her. They couldn't maintain a straight track.
Probably skirted the opposite side of the upslope, and their sonar beams only showed a shadow where the sub was lying. Also, the unusually heavy concentration of iron under the crater would have thrown off their magnetic profile. Giordino gave Pitt a sour look indeed. The only 19 reason they haven't interfered is because our undersea technology is better and they want us to lead the way to their sub.
Then I'll radio our engineers in Washington to complain of equipment problems and ask for maintenance instructions. Every couple of miles we'll rerun a lane to reinforce the ruse. It's believable enough. This will be our last look at the target. Then we continue on, acting as if we've found nothing. Let's go for it. Far behind the stern, like an obstinate dog on a long leash, a robot submersible called Sherlock automatically refocused its two movie cameras and one still camera while continuing to send out probing sonar waves.
Presumedly named by its designer after the fictional detective, Sherlock revealed detailed features of the seafloor previously unseen by man. Minutes ticked by with the slowness of hours until at last the crest of the crater began slipping across the sidescan.
The Polar Explorer's course towed Sherlock along the plunging slope of the crater's interior. Three pairs of eyes locked on the sidescan recorder.
The Soviet submarine nearly filled the port side of the sonograph. She was lying on a steep angle with her stern toward the center of the crater, her bow pointing at the rim.
The hull was upright and she was in one piece, unlike the U. The slight list to her starboard side was no more than two or three degrees. Ten months had passed since she went missing, but her outer works were free of growth and rust in the frigid Arctic waters. As if watching a tennis match, their heads turned in unison from the sonar as they stared intently at the TV monitors. The sub's smooth lines slid into view under the camera's lights and were revealed in a ghostly bluish-gray hue.
The Americans found it hard to believe the Russian vessel was a graveyard with over a hundred and fifty men resting inside. It looked like a child's toy sitting on the bottom of a wading pool. Port diving plane torn away. A long gouge in her port bottom, running for about twenty meters. She must have struck the opposite rim of the crater, tearing the guts out of her.
Easy to imagine the crew struggling to raise her to the surface as she kept running across the center of the crater.
But she took in more water than she could blow off and lost depth, finally impacting about halfway up the slope on this side. They continued to gaze at the monitors as the broken contour of the sea bottom glided past, their minds visualizing the horrible death that stalked men who sailed the hostile depths beneath the sea. For nearly half a minute no one spoke, they hardly breathed. Then slowly each shook off the nightmare and turned away from the monitors. The ice was broken. They began to relax and laugh with all the spontaneous enthusiasm of saloon patrons celebrating a winning touchdown by the home team.
Pitt and Giordino could sit back and take it easy for the rest of the voyage. Their part in the search project was over. They 20 had found a needle in a haystack. Then slowly Pitt's expression turned serious and he stared off into space. Giordino knew the symptoms from long experience. Once a project was successfully completed, Pitt suffered a letdown. The challenge was gone, and his restless mind quickly turned to the next one.
This has to be the most remarkable intelligence coup in twenty years. Recovering the sub under Russian noses will be a delicate operation. No Glomar Explorer this time.
No salvage from highly visible surface ships. Pitt stared into the monitor for a long moment, his face thoughtful, his eyes tired, red and suddenly intense. The object was standing straight up. Two handles protruded from opposite sides of a narrow neck, flaring sharply into a broad, oval body that in Turn tapered toward the base buried in the silt. They've been recovered all over the bottom of the Mediterranean.
How do you read it? Then at last he did, his voice was distant, as though it came from someone in the next compartment. Never in his wildest nightmares did he see himself in such a crazy predicament. One wrong physical movement, a slight error in judgment and fifty people would find a deep, unknown grave in the sea. Not fair, he cried in his mind over and over.
Not fair. None of the navigation instruments was functioning. All communications equipment was dead. Not one of the passengers had ever flown an aircraft, even a light plane.
He was totally disoriented and hopelessly lost. Where was the pilot? What caused the flight officers' deaths? Who was behind this insane madness? The questions swarmed in his mind, but the answers remained wrapped in frustration. Rubin's only consolation was that he was not alone. Another man shared the cockpit.
Eduardo Ybarra, a member of the Mexican delegation, had once served as a mechanic in his country's air force. Thirty years had passed since he wielded a wrench on propellerdriven aircraft, but bits and pieces of the old knowledge had returned to him as he sat in the copilot's seat-reading the instruments for Rubin and taking command of the throttles. Ybarra's face was round and brown, the hair thick and black with traces of gray, the brown eyes widely spaced and expressionless.
In his three-piece suit, he seemed out of place in the cockpit. Oddly there was no beaded perspiration on his forehead, and he had not loosened his tie or removed his coat.
He motioned upward at the sky through the windshield. We'd still be over the icecap if it was Greenland. Calamity was piling on calamity. The one-in-a-thousand chance of coming through alive had rapidly risen to one in a million. He had to make a desperate decision, the only decision. Near impossible to pull off a water landing on high waves in the dark, even by an experienced pilot.
And if by some miracle we set her down intact, no human dressed in street clothes could last more than a few minutes in a freezing sea. The red fuel warning lights were flashing across the board. He did not realize that the Boeing flying knots at 1, meters ate up the same amount of fuel as it did when flying knots at 10, meters.
He had not taken command of the aircraft again since climbing over the glacier's peak. He was too unsure of himself to slip the Boeing into a bank with the ailerons so he used only the rudder controls to gently crab around in a flat Turn. As soon as the nose came onto a straight course he felt something was wrong.
Oh, dear Lord, Rubin thought to himself, the blind leading the blind. The altimeter began to register a steady drop. The airspeed indicated a decrease too. His mind strained beyond reason, Rubin tried to will the plane in the air rather than fly it. He also tried to fight time as the distance between the plane and the sea slowly, relentlessly narrowed. Then, without warning, the control column began to grow sluggish and vibrate in his hands. Rubin tensed in his seat, too busy to Turn.
Everyone realized there was no putting off the inevitable, and thankfully there was no panic or hysterical outcry. Even the prayers came softly. Ybarra twisted in his seat and stared down the aisle. Kamil was comforting an older man who was shaking uncontrollably. Her face was completely calm and seemed to bear a smiling expression of contentment.
She was truly a lovely woman, Ybarra thought. A pity her beauty would soon be erased. He sighed and turned back to the instrument panel. The altimeter was falling past two hundred meters. Ybarra took a great risk and increased the throttle settings on the three remaining engines.
It was a useless gesture born of desperation. The engines would burn their last few gallons of fuel at a faster rate and die sooner. But Ybarra wasn't thinking logically. He could not sit and do nothing.
He felt he had to perform one final, defiant act, anything, even if it meant hastening his own death. Five tormenting minutes passed as one. The black sea reached up to clutch the aircraft. The crew of the icebreaker had been alerted by radar to the approaching aircraft.
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