bITS 'N CHUNKS
Twelve years (no shit!) after their formation and the metal community is still out on Ghost.
Are they more gimmick than music? Is T___as F___e running game on all of us? Are they actually metal? These are mere philosophical questions in the end; me, personally, I've outed myself as a metal purist a couple of times so to classify Ghost as, say, "doom metal" is a bit painful to me.
But death 'n doom is what the band pays stock in (in addition to hilarious dark mockery of Catholic institutions) and I'm not going to tell them what to identify as. There are times when I honestly just don't care because the music is good. Ghost especially caters to the part of me that loves camp and kayfabe. I just wrote two fucking heartfelt wrestling entries in a row, I obviously don't take everything super serious.
That being said, I'm going to my 2nd Ghost concert in just a few days here. My first encounter with the nameless ghouls and their Papa was a couple of years ago at good ol' Marathon Music Works. Then, they were leaning heavily into their psychedelic period even as the 3rd incarnation of Emeritus (Papa III) brought in a new era of sleazy late 70s/early 80s inspired cock rock. The floor was hazy, the lights swirled, and everyone smelled like incense. I don't think I needed to bathe for a few weeks. The stage show was fantastic and already gearing towards something a little more theatrical, so for Rats on the Road I'm not terribly surprised they're hitting the theater circuit.
I've held off on video and indulging in a lot of fan lore to be able to enjoy the show as it is: a show. Anything that you have to read three volumes of back story, for example, to "understand" is playing games. But in preparation, I'm taking time out to mistily and fondly remember Ghost's first official album, Opus Eponymous. This record cemented me as a fan for life, is still my preferred period, and the peak moment where gimmick and musicality collided into the perfect mesh of doom, trad metal, and unironic Satan worship. Finally, the music your parents ASSUMED you were always listening to, now made flesh!
All band lore and singer controversy aside, Opus Eponymous still wins me over with its blend of melody, chugging early-Sabbath tendencies, and Gothic horror. Songs about the fallen archangel himself are augmented with odes to Countess Bathory and the Beatles. And... ABBA, because they are Swedish and who doesn't love a good folk melody? Anyway, it seemed like from this point on Ghost could do no wrong and by the time "Year Zero" rolled out they were well on their way to actual annunciation. Popestar and parts of Meliora were steps back, showing off Papa's pipes but not furthering too much else. But even while he new regime under Cardinal Copia (who is NOT using his boom box enough) is giving me Spinal Tap vibes, but I'm hoping Prequelle can turn us around. I'm just hoping by this time next year they will have gone full Queen-meets-Alice-Cooper, utilizing some kind of gilded guillotine as part of the act, no?
Back with wrestling clickbait again, because that’s the type of month it is.
This quarter got a little weird. I lost my permanent job and, after a brief stay-to-vacation, I gained another job however temporary. It put into perspective how long I’ve held off on actually banking on my own skills, doing work that makes me happy, being paid, and so on.
If you think I was depressed, you’re only half right and probably not even about that, because I had so much to look forward to that past!me was on the hunt for. Way to go, past!me. I went to Southern Underground Pro, and now with whiplash speed I’m back at the illustrious and not-very-well-labeled Sport Arena at the Nashville Fairgrounds for the Making Towns Classic. Two rounds of competitive, combative women-centric independent wrestling and a very long, very hot day drenched in honeysuckle, sweat, face paint, and blood.
I told you how important women’s wrestling is right now, but let’s see if we put our money where our mouths are.
Looks like the rigor mortis is setting in…
Ohh, expecting a Converge embed were you?
It was a year ago that I decided I’d gotten a taste of live wrestling shows after retiring from the graps scene in general for a while and I wanted to go to more local shows.
A year ago while shaking WrestlingTwitter down for info, I ran across the show card and some YouTube videos via Twitter for some cats called Southern Underground Pro. For a small promotion I recognized quite a few names – Dough Markham? Seen that guy before. Curt Stallion? He’s been on my TV! The Carnies? I probably bagged their groceries! I love these guys! This sounds like a big deal. I was even familiar with Kick Out at Two the podcast and I’d awkwardly spoken to Jesse like… once? I’d be remiss to remember.
Ech, a show on a Sunday night at a bar? What side of thirty am I on again? Doesn’t matter; it was raining, I was at an OK place in my life, and it’s close by. In the name of the GOOD TIME, I took the chance on a capricious April night, a year ago.
A year ago I started making quarterly appointments between The Cobra and The Basement East and ditching my friends by the wayside any given Sunday.
Ah, we're two weeks on just about at this point but yet another MTAC is in the books this year.
At the end of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, there's a poignant scene at the end where the crew of the USS Enterprise is gazing at the planet Genesis and Kirk remarks that if it's true what they say, that if Genesis is life and rebirth, he must return there again as we all do. And Bones asks him how he feels and he makes the quote that has stayed with me all my days thus far,
"Young. I feel…young."
Like a young man, all brand new and full of hope. March wasn't the worth month on record but it could have stood to be better. It got a lot better towards the end and as we sped towards the Middle Tennessee Anime Convention, the place where my mother and I spent our lives in a 12 hour cycle.
We opted to go only Saturday this year, so we got up early to pick up our badges and prepared to spend our entire day packed with Nerdland fun with minimal breaks to the outside world. As MTAC takes place at two hotels, this would largely imply that we would pop off elsewhere to go get a snack then fight traffic to get our parking spot back. Well, in a double-edged sword for us, we found a really good parking spot that was hard to pass up… at the bottom of a hill. But that was alright. With mom's cane in tow and some strong branches in the dirt, we made it up. And once we were up both hills, we were effectively locked in. Do what you gotta do.
Say what you will about nerds, but being in that convention space is still rejuvenating. We got into more panels than I was expecting and we picked up some drag tips and participated in Pokemon trivia. We wandered around, me decked up in a sparkly pink menhera and mom in her Avengers: Infinity War shirt. As soon as I entered the artist alley I bought gifts for myself and souvenirs for others because I wished they were there. Sometimes. Sometimes I was glad I was alone in my chair and gazing up at a presenter in awe. I made trips back and forth with bounty too lugubrious to haul around, up and down that confounded hill and every time I gulped air and stared up at the sky outside I felt young and refreshed and free of the aches and pains that come with exercise over 20. I was on my feet and you couldn't tell me anything, damnit.
I was most excited about LittleKuriboh's wrestling panel and mom and I sat in the main hall with a bunch of other marks quivering with excitement and detailing their experiences in the wrestling fandom. We left a little early to hit up the bazaar known as the dealer's room where we purchased Japanese pastries and ate like royalty come to the southlands. Like calories and carbs don't matter. Because they don't in that space; neither does money. You know what does matter? Happiness! They say you can't buy it but don't believe them…
Well, maybe that's true to some extent. I know you can't buy time. I don't think we can buy true happiness but we can certainly get things to augment it. You know what you definitely can't buy, though? A GOOD TIME. You can get tickets to get in, buy seats, get drinks, eat good food that costs a bit, but you can't actually buy a good time. You gotta quest it. You gotta hunt it down all night long like an errant dragon and when you find it, trap it and hang on to it, then let it go.
Our letting go was at 9:45 PM, the last panel for the Fandumb Committee. A small panel, I promised to have enough opinions for everyone and I probably did. Never put a live mic in my face. We had some great discussions on fandom culture, otakudom, our childhoods, and building community. The conversations continued afterwards. I made some new friends and bought a shirt. Then the con magic and youth wore off and my legs gave out on me. Suddenly that hill seemed mighty daunting, especially in the dark. But we got down it alright. And when I sat down and tossed the rest of my bounty in the back and finally dismounted my backpack and let the con glitter wipe me down, I turned on the radio. I took one look back at the Sheraton before we hit the highway and I know that next year I must return to that place again.
"How do you feel?"
Well after yet another dark menhera post, let's talk some con stories!
As I'm pretty sure I mentioned, I'm still a bit of a baby at cons and I haven't truly cosplayed in a minute. My first true convention flying solo was Anime Weekend Atlanta right before it got to DragonCon proportions. I'd like to go back if I ever make that serious of an investment but for now I'm enjoying local cons. The only thing I'm looking forward to at this point is branching out beyond anime/game geekery and more into film and literature, specifically horror.
Anyway, let's get into some of my favorite stories from my young convention life.
Ia! If you've come this far, you're either looking for weird or you know you've found it...