Announcer Adventures: Slim vs. The Hillbilly Hecklers

Posted in Roller Derby with tags , , , , on October 10, 2013 by Lightning Slim

A Cautionary Tale of the Deep South

This story actually has very little to do with roller derby, but did happen (as crazy bullshit often does) at a derby tournament. I recently had the pleasure and privilege of calling some games at the Asheville Division 1 Playoff Tournament for the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association.

A word about Asheville: Asheville, North Carolina is one of the most beautiful and hospitable cities to which I have ever had the experience of traveling. It’s a small city of about 80,000 folks, nestled in green, rolling mountains. It’s an interesting cultural centre and a gathering place for hippies, dissidents and lefties in a massively conservative area. From what I understand, the rest of the Carolinas call Asheville “The Cesspool of Sin”.  And sin you can, in a way most pleasing to me, as organic coffees and a dizzying array of locally brewed beers were served to me by cheerful, dreadlocked young people with anti-fracking bumper stickers on their old Toyota Corollas as the local Democracy Radio affiliate played nouveau bluegrass.

Everyone in Asheville is extremely polite, accommodating and attentive. The host league, the Blue Ridge Rollergirls, were nothing if not lovely. After about a day I was starting to get used to this real-life manifestation of Southern Hospitality.

And then the weird thing happened.

I was downtown, walking to a Mexican restaurant when the light changed against me, forcing to scamper back onto the curb lest I be forced to deal with the hassle of a foreign jaywalking ticket. Next to me, pulled up at the light, was an incredibly hideous 1987 Ford Taurus made of bubbled paint and sour regret. I think some folks call that a hoopty…feel free to correct me on that. From the passenger window lanced a searing voice that was exactly what I had expected to hear in the South before I had arrived.

“Son, you ain’t from round here, are you?”

I turned to look at the speaker, who, like the driver, was lanky, dentally challenged, and basically resembled the entire cast of Winter’s Bone. He continued:

“You cain’t be crossing against a light in Carolina. You best be getting back on the curb. And you know what else you need to do? You need to take a razor and take care of all this, ’cause let me tell you boy, it ain’t working for you.”

His motions indicated that all this meant my sizable mutton-chop whiskers. Most folks like ’em. I get called Lemmy, Elvis and Wolverine. Nobody besides my mother had ever straight up dissed them before.

“Tell me something. Don’t lie to me now. Don’t lie to me. You ain’t got no woman at home, do you? You got no woman ’cause your look’s all wrong!”

Time slowed down. I thought many things, mainly involving some kind of retort: I have a degree in English. I am one of the Unflappable Canadians. I am an Agent of A.F.T.D.A., trained in the art of witty repartee. I can handle these freaks; nobody in Duck DynastyLand should be making fun of another man’s beard! Let’s do this.

And then I opened my mouth and it all went to shit. I was utterly unmanned, sputtering like a wet toaster: “I…have…women…” I trailed off, my head full of thoughts of all the high-tech armaments that not putting a dime into your car forever could buy. There were also some images:

winter's bone is this gonna be our time

“Is this gonna be our time?”



This last one was because I was still hungry.

I took a deep breath and prepared to try again.

The light turned green and they drove off with a cackle, rear bumper scraping the crown of the road as the car’s nonexistent suspension fought the steep incline. I stood there, thinking about what Elvis or Lemmy or Wolverine would have done and concluding it was not that.

I did get my Mexican lunch, and afterwards returned to the arena. I saw Sweet Willy, the tournament’s head announcer, sitting with some Atlanta skaters, so I decided to get a southern opinion on what had transpired. After I had told my tale, Willy was no good to me, as he could barely breathe from laughter. The skater beside him, Sissy Splaysek, turned out to be an Atlanta resident transplanted from Texas. Since Willy is secretly Canadian anyway, she was the closest thing I had to an expert. “So”, I said, “Is this how things go down normally? Drive-by mockings?”

Sissy, who despite wearing derby gear managed to present a picture of southern belle refinement, gave a subtle pearl-clutching gesture near her throat and breathed “Heavens no. No southern gentleman would ever speak such words to a stranger on the street. Those folks must have been mountain.”

So there you have it. My deep-fried southern shame. Don’t get me wrong, I would return to friendly Asheville in a heartbeat. Heck, if I could keep my healthcare I’d move there. But never again will I tangle with the Mountain Men. They have counted coup upon me, and own my soul.


Deals & Steals: More Cowbell Edition

Posted in Deals & Steals with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 7, 2013 by Lightning Slim

jesu_lifeline  Lots of awesome junk in the pipeline these days..this order came from Second Spin, and the prices are in $US.

First off, it’s a bit of a before/after shot featuring Justin Broadrick:

Fall of Because – Life Is Easy $5.97. Ugly, messy and extremely vibrant pre-Godflesh (even earlier than Head of David) recordings from many of the guilty parties. This was a re-release, not that it matters because the recordings are so raw.

Jesu – Lifeline $4.49. Now in the post-Godflesh stage of life, Broadrick creates dream-pop, light ambient soundscapes. This EP features Jarboe on vocals.

Metalocalypse – Season 4 $15.99. Hard to find up in the Great White North, it’s always good to spend a little time with Dethklok.

Portal 2 – Songs to Test By $6.50. This four disc (!) set contains every piece of instrumental music in both Portal video games. I mainly bought it for the GLADOS-voiced theme songs, and I still wish they had made some room for a bit of in-game dialogue.

Psyclon Nine – We the Fallen $2.98 and INRI $3.48. Blasphemous electro-industrial with a hint of dark ambient.

Cubanate – Cyberia $4.47 and Antimatter $2.00. Coming at you from the soundtrack to every driving game from the 90’s. Guilty pleasure.

Finally, we have a massive back catalogue slab from stoner rock legends:


Fu-Manchu-California-Crossing-300x300  Fu Manchu – California Crossing $2.99, King of the Road $7.99, In Search Of… $5.49. Start the Machine $9.99. So much cowbell it’s like I’m building a dude ranch.


Album Review – Mares of Thrace “The Pilgrimage” 2012

Posted in Album Reviews, Sevens to Nines with tags , , , , , , on October 3, 2013 by Lightning Slim

335141  Any fans of Death From Above 1979, Rush or even Danko Jones know that we Canadians have so much angst in our souls that it only takes a couple of us to create a full-sized rock band. Mares of Thrace bear out this theory on The Pilgrimage, with only two young ladies on drums and baritone guitar making a hellish and compelling amount of noise.

Sonically, the album bears a good deal of resemblance to other prog/sludge acts like Baroness, with abrupt time changes, whisper-to-scream vocals and lyrical paeans to the uglier side of human nature (in the case of The Pilgrimage, the narrative framework is the story of David and Bathsheba).

Mares of Thrace will be ones to watch in the years ahead. Any band that can tour in a minivan and still have their own driver has the opportunity to cultivate a fanbase nationwide and beyond. 8 out of 10

Preview: Heavy MTL 2013

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 7, 2013 by Lightning Slim

And so the pilgrimage is set to begin again. Heavy MTL 2013 will (hopefully) be a good time that will rinse out the bad taste of encroaching cheapness that has overtaken the show of late. Main sponsor has switched from Budweiser to Molson Canadian, which is a bit like telling a captive that flogging has been discontinued in favour of foot-sole beatings.

Also, remember these?


The beautiful holographic VIP passes and lanyards that have been a cool feature of the MTL experience are now gone. Paper tickets only. Wonder how MUNG those are going to get when we have to show them to security every time we want to get into the seating area? Also likely gone is any sort of physical schedule, which was slowly eroded from a full magazine/brochure until last year it was a single flyer, inaccurate and delivered late in the day.

For the first time, MTL has offered its own dedicated accommodation package; a set of rooms at the New Residence of McGill University (the building itself is a former 4-star hotel). This could either be the best decision we’ve ever made or the worst, as it is inexpensive and convenient, and populated entirely with heavy metal maniacs. You see the double edge of the sword here, no?


Now, for the schedule. Here’s Saturday:

Sat Schedule


Although I’m a little sad that A7X takes pride of place over Megadeth, I totally get it. Dudes are old and tired. Not as successful as Metallica or grass-roots respected as Testament. Plus, Dave Mustaine is like three seconds away from pulling his pants up to his armpits and turning into cranky old Republican Clint Eastwood. Thing is, Eastwood has always been a “good guy with a gun”, and never wrote “Hook In Mouth” or covered “Anarchy in the UK”.  My crew will be hanging with Wintersun anyways.

Why are we forced to decide between GWAR and Blackguard while Halestorm is in the free and clear? Grr. Ah well, I can’t resist seeing what the inconsistent Antarcticans* can come up with in a festival setting.

Similarly, it hurts me that I have to run from interesting proggers Baroness to see a few minutes of jaunty, parodic Steel Panther.

Sorry, Newsted. A reformed At The Gates takes it. And a possible train wreck reunion of Danzig and Doyle is way more fun than All Shall Perish.

How about Sunday?

Schedule Sun

No interruptions to the silly fun of Huntress! Or Finntroll! Or the-real-reason-everyone-is-here Amon Amarth! Me likey.

Then there’s some time for a Dagwood sandwich, some people watching and a bit of a nap before Machine Head.

Thrash newcomers Havok would be in trouble if both Mastodon and Children of Bodom hadn’t played Canada 150 times in the past decade. I swear I’ve seen Mastodon more than the Dayglo Abortions, and it’s well-known the Dayglos will play your living room for $200 and a pizza if you can track them down. Looking forward to it, Havok!

While I actually enjoyed the mellow vibe Godsmack brought to their last appearance at MTL, I don’t need it again. Certainly not at the expense of missing Cryptopsy.

Zombie is never bad live – let’s hope he keeps his record strong.


Will report back afterwards, of course! Check my Twitter feed for on-the-day shenanigans!


* I love GWAR, but they can’t self-edit. Every record (excepting the first two) has at least one excruciatingly bad track on it. I made a “worst of” playlist and discovered they could play an hour long full set of filler.

Album Review – Amon Amarth “Deceiver of the Gods” 2013

Posted in Album Reviews, Sevens to Nines with tags , , , , , , on July 15, 2013 by Lightning Slim

AmonAmarth-DeceiverOfTheGods  When Metallica followed up Ride the Lightning with Master of Puppets, an album that is virtually identical in terms of structure and songwriting, I don’t recall anyone at the time getting butthurt about receiving more of a good thing.

Why, then, is Deceiver of the Gods getting flak for its lack of forward momentum and the band’s entirely sane decision to not go about fixing the unbroken and popular sounds they’ve achieved of late? Personally, I look at it this way:

Twilight of the Thunder God = Number of the Beast; the definitive and instant classic.

Surtur Rising = Piece of Mind; the longer and more confident follow-up. Less oomph, but definite quality.

Deceiver of the Gods = (you guessed it) Powerslave; a top-of-the-game album. Safe choices, very clean production.

It’s a fun record with all the chops you would expect and influences written all over it. It has a Priest’s worth of double harmonies and a heck of a lot of old-school thrash. “Blood Eagle”, in particular just screams Kreator. I highly recommend the deluxe version, which includes an EP of original tunes written (absolutely perfectly) in the style of Priest, AC/DC, Mötorhead and Sabbath. Johan Hegg’s Ozzy impersonation alone is worth the price of admission.

If these past three records are where the Amon Amarth wants to plateau, I have absolutely no problem with camping out a while. Let’s just hope my Maiden analogy goes no further. 8 out of 10

Album Review – Black Sabbath “13” 2013

Posted in Album Reviews, Sevens to Nines with tags , , , on June 26, 2013 by Lightning Slim

images  We live in a world with several fantastic Black Sabbath records, some indifferent ones, and a couple of complete dogs. With the arrival of 13, it would be easy to simply slot this reunion effort somewhere in the middle, say “good job”, slap these rapscallions on their wrinkly behinds and call it a day.

Not so simple. After a couple of listens, 13 is banging on the ceiling, perhaps even clawing at the podium. It’s a lusty, robust metal album by anyone’s standards, and a pretty great Black Sabbath album to boot.

Some folks have complained about overproduction, which is admittedly an unfortunate fact of life these days. I think in the case of 13, these people fall into two categories: those who a) have apparently never heard Death Magnetic and b) are still mad about Death Magnetic and want to blame all of the ills of the loudness war on Rick Rubin. This album shows tremendous restraint on Rubin’s part –  he stays the hell out of the way and lets Sabbath be themselves. Sure, he’s done the audio equivalent of whatever they used to do to Elizabeth Taylor’s photographs to Ozzy’s voice so that now the old dodger sounds stronger than he has in years, but so what? Iommi is speedy and vital as well, and Geezer in particular wields his instrument like a weapon against entropy.

The record is heavy as shit, sounding like a cross between The Devil You Know and something that was supposed to come out right after Volume 4. Long songs, stark and simple lyrics (“Alright now” makes an appearance) are kept afloat with massive, wobbling riffs that nobody else on the planet can create. Enjoy Tony while you can, we may never see his like again.

For various reasons (candidly discussed by the band in the liner notes) we almost didn’t get this record at all. The fact that it clawed its way into existence at all is amazing. The quality is the icing on the cake. If it’s all we get, it is a fitting coda to Sabbath’s long and tumultuous career. This 13 is lucky indeed. 8.5 out of 10

Derby Things I Will Miss When They’re Gone: Part 5

Posted in Lists, Roller Derby with tags , on May 29, 2013 by Lightning Slim

Derby is changing every day, inching along a continuum that leads from burlesque to mainstream sporting endeavour. It’s where the sport seems to be pulling itself due to (and in spite of) a great deal of debate, so I’m fine with the march toward legitimacy. I will however, mourn the passing of some of the following reminders of the game’s past. They are things that still exist in roller derby, but are under fire, in flux or otherwise doomed to be ground under the wheels of history.

Chapter 1 – Nameyology

Chapter 2 – Booty Short, Legacy Long

Chapter 3 – Billboarded

Chapter 4 – Dude, Skate Like a Lady

Chapter 5: The Party

So you had a bout! It was a close game, everyone is super-stoked and the announcer has told the crowd where to join you at a local watering hole for The Big Afterparty. Your fans will get to see their favourite players, chat about the game and dance the night away. Harmless fun, right?

You know what else your fans might do?

They might see your star player break a finger in a pile-up caused by drunken pyramid formation.

They might overhear one of your fresh meat in a screaming tirade directed at a table of chagrined-looking referees.

They might see your announcer some guy making a fool of himself trying to tell Kamikaze Kitten how cool she is, because she DOES NOT KNOW how cool she is and needs to know. So cool. *

You get the picture. They might witness (or participate in) a variety of alcohol, fatigue and nudity-related events which will serve to take a bit of the shine off the athlete/spectator dynamic.  One thing they might not see, behind closed doors, is the manager of the party venue deciding that there’s not a lot of money to be made from derby events, because the fans are already liquored from the arena, and the skaters are starving and more interested in cheap pad thai than cocktails. The exceptions to this are more likely to cause the situations described above.

But Slim, you say, what about the unique close relationship derby has with its fans? How could we possibly give that up? I can tell you that I have very close personal relationships with both Metal music and hockey. They mean the world to me, and I think it shines out of every pore of my being. And yet, somehow, the last time I got an autograph from Doug Gilmour or Rob Zombie, both of them neglected to mention exactly where I could join them for a few pints.

But I wanted to discuss your film career!

But I wanted to discuss your film career!

The fact that I do not have easy access to these stars does nothing to hurt my enthusiasm for their products and activities. It may even help. And I am certain they are still out there partying after a gig, but they surely do not need me there to peek behind the curtain and feed any sort of burgeoning stalker tendencies. Hands up, skaters: has a creep approached you after a bout at the party venue? Yeah.

Derby’s got a ton of fan-interactivity going for it. Let’s keep the cool, uplifting parts and not the sloppy-ass ones. Keep suicide seats and high-five lines (just not for me. I have to be impartial. Also: germs). Keep autograph sessions and wheel tosses and t-shirt cannons. In fact, keep the afterparty. Use it to celebrate your teammates, your opponents, your volunteers and the spirit of the game. Have it somewhere where the regulars don’t know you, because that way if they do see some shenanigans they might come check out a bout.

Not saying wrong. Just saying time and place.

Not saying wrong. Just saying time and place.

But as for the fans, leave them with a little mystery intact to whet the appetite. We need them to know that, heck yes, derby’s a party, to see and experience at trackside. Because what they see at your bout is what they will come to expect, and if they see Jamz the Great and Powerful off her face and vomiting in an alley, maybe they will come to expect that as part of their derby experience too.

My Unwanted Advice: You Gotta Keep ’em Separated.

Any kudos, h8red or other commentary would be welcome in the comments section.

*Examples entirely fictional as near as I can recall.

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