My Top 11 Songs of 2019

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Having already posted my Top 10 CDs of 2019, here are my Top 11 Songs of 2019. Why 11? Well, these songs made up the playlist of the final Mostly Metal broadcast of the year, and I had time for these 11 songs!

11. The Blade of Immortal Steel, by Twilight Force, off Dawn of the Dragonstar.

10. Journey to Remember, by Visions of Atlantis, off Wanderers.

9. DNA (Demons and Angels), by Rhapsody – Turilli / Lione, off Zero Gravity: Reborth and Evolution.

8. No More Hollywood Endings, by Battle Beast, off No More Hollywood Endings.

7. The Ruler of the World, by A.C.T., off Rebirth (EP).

6. A Ghost in the Trenches, by Sabaton, off The Great War.

5. Weightless, by Evergrey, off The Atlantic.

4. No Holding Back, by Myrath, off Shehili.

3. From Savior to Assassin, by Teramaze, off Are We Soldiers.

2. Barstool Warrior, by Dream Theater, off Distance Over Time.

1. Ghost in the Moon, by Avantasia, off Moonglow.

My 10 Favorite CDs of 2019

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… with links to sample songs.

10. The Seal of a New World, by Signum Regis.

Sample song: A Memory.

9. Dawn of the Dragonstar, by Twilight Force.

Sample song: Winds of Wisdom.

8. Signs of Wings, by Sascha Paeth’s Masters of Ceremony.

Sample song, which is not representative of the whole album – but damn, Adrienne Cowan can sing: The Path.

7. No Halos in Hell, by Cyhra.

Sample song: Out of My Life.

6. Wanderers, by Visions of Atlantis.

Sample song: Heroes of the Dawn.

5. Human, by Darkwater.

Sample song: Alive II.

4. Distance Over Time, by Dream Theater.

Sample song: Pale Blue Dot.

3. The Atlantic, by Evergrey.

Sample song: End of Silence.

2. Shehili, by Myrath.

Sample song: Born to Survive.

1. Moonglow, by Avantasia.

Sample songs: Lavender & Invincible.

One Step Beyond Missing Episode Links

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This page is mostly just for me, but I’m putting it here just in case Google starts tracking it and showing it to people who search on missing episodes of One Step Beyond.

One Step Beyond is a TV show made at the same time as The Twilight Zone, and is structured similarly. I think The Twilight Zone has better “best episodes”, but overall, One Step Beyond is more consistent because it doesn’t have the goofy episodes that The Twilight Zone did.

Anyway, I’ve been watching One Step Beyond on Amazon Prime, and the number of episodes available there is smaller than the number of episodes listed for the series overall on IMDB or Wikipedia. This probably has something to do with streaming rights (although apparently many episodes of OSB ended up in the public domain, so who knows). Anyway, some to all of the missing episodes can be found on YouTube, so with thanks to the people who posted these episodes on You Tube, I’m collecting the links here for easy reference. The completist part of my brain would get a rash if I claimed to have watched One Step Beyond completely if I just went by what’s available on Amazon Prime.

Season 2

Season 3: Amazon Prime only has 16 of 39 episodes.

The Death Waltz
The Return
If You See Sally
The Voice
The Promise
The Sacred Mushroom
The Stranger
Justice
The Face
The Room Upstairs
Signal Received
The Confession
The Avengers
The Prisoner
Blood Flower
The Sorcerer
The Villa
The Tiger
Nightmare
Eye Witness

Opposite Ends of the Spectrum

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Most people who know me know that my favorite style of music is heavy metal. Lots of people who listen to metal do so for its therapeutic value; it’s loud, brash, and angry, and listening to it can help you deflate your own similar feelings. For example, who doesn’t feel better after driving around cranking some Testament.

My favorite genres of metal, though are power and progressive metal. Testament is definitely not in those categories. I like them a lot and have a bunch of their CDs, but my overall top preference is for bands that have a significant amount of clear vocals, lots of melodies, and even orchestral components … like Nightwish.

I also love bands that have intricate musical arrangements.

In other words, a lot of the heavy metal I like the most is not made to sound angry – it’s made by people who might have grown up listening to Judas Priest and Journey, and decided to blend the heavy and melodic elements.

So it’s pretty strange that my other favorite type of metal has been “doom metal”. This style is slow and deep, and designed to bring out your feelings of despair.

The progenitors of doom metal are said to be Black Sabbath, who laced most of their music with this (new at the time) style.

Also out there in heavy metal land is “death metal”; this is the style that features what are called cookie monster vocals. I have never become totally accustomed to that style, and I am very hit or miss in terms of which bands in that genre I enjoy. I think that in order for me to like it, the vocals need to still have relatively good enunciation even while being growled … like this:

As that song shows, there is a lot of overlap between the genres of death and doom metal, and there is even a subgenre called (you guessed it) death-doom. If you take the slow and dirgy style of doom metal and lay over it the deep growlies of death metal, you have death-doom. And … odds are I won’t like any one particular offering of it. But here’s where it gets strange: there is yet another subgenre called “funeral doom”, which takes the deep, hellish feel of doom metal and really goes all in. Imagine a slow-paced New Orleans funeral dirge with the band replaced by doom metal, and you have funeral doom. This style is most often accompanied by vocals growled (or better yet, regurgitated) in the deepest death style. You’d think that this is so far away from my usual favorite types of metal that I would abhor it, but the opposite is true! I had dabbled in listening to it in the past, and it never clicked, but recently during a Spotify encounter with a band called Mournful Congregation, something happened and it felt “right” to me. I even found the slowly-brewing growled vocals to be almost comforting.

I think I know why this happened. Outside of metal, I have always loved to use electronic new age music as background ambience while reading or working. Reading a fantasy novel and listening to Tangerine Dream go hand in hand.

The musical components of Tangerine Dream and funeral doom are nothing alike, but I’ve found that the mood I get out of them are very much the same. I’ve discovered another style of ambience that goes well with reading, or even driving, and that makes time go by faster. And since funeral doom mixes slow, tidal music a la Tangerine Dream (especially early spacey / noisey Tangerine Dream like Zeit) with the brutal heaviness of metal – even though the vocals are usually growled – it’s the best of both worlds!

I don’t know what made the original purveyors of funeral doom (supposedly Thergothon and Skepticism) do what they did, maybe they were just have really bad days, but I now have a whole other subgenre to explore that’s at the totally opposite end of the spectrum than what’s been my go-to music for so long.

Along with funeral doom, I’ve found “drone metal” in the band Sunn O))), which is heavy music with no real melodic structure to it, just intense ambient heavy mood – I’d love to go to a Sunn O))) concert and just literally feel the music for two hours.

Now pardon me while I go list more comics to sell on ebay so that I have money to spend on more funeral doom metal like Pantheist and Shape of Despair!

Outside the Ropes: ACW at Rust Belt Rebellion, 2019-08-17

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Well, it’s been almost 4 months since I wrote one of these things. For most of the shows I’ve been to recently, I’ve carted along recording gear to prepare delayed audio coverage for broadcast on WVLP (*). But this ACW show was outdoors, and plus, they have their own commentary crew who don’t need me setting up mics of my own.

(*) For example, also this weekend, I went to the RCW show “Storm Zero” in Mishawaka – that coverage will air Sunday Aug 18 on the Northwest Indiana Wrestling Action Program NWIWRAP at about 9:10pm Central on WVLP, and then will find its way to the NWIWRAP YouTube channel a couple of days later. But back to ACW!

The Rust Belt Rebellion is an annual outdoor car show (and fun family event) that takes place in someone’s LARGE back yard property in Shelby IN. There are a couple of open fields where people bring in their well kept old cars, a small playground for kids, food & craft vendors, and this year a home-made ice cream stand! And then there is a field where ACW sets up their wrestling ring (the curtain and announce table are to my right in this picture).

The first match was Jeremy Hadley vs. Kujo. As usual, Hadley came out with mouth a’firin’, and he must have done his job really well, because after the match, some dude was trying to push his way back through the curtain to (I guess) beat Jeremy up for some mean thing Jeremy said to his wife. This must have been his first wrestling show. Look, if the “bad guy” gets you to have a genuine emotional reaction to something he says (which is his job!), you should go up to him later and congratulate him on a job well done, not try to track him down because your feelings got hurt. While the true outcome was Hadley 1 – Guy In Crowd 0, the match score was Kujo 1 – Hadley 0.

The second match was TK Zero vs. Sabotage, which TK Zero won with a reverse DDT looking thing I don’t know the name of – picture a TK Zero giving Sabotage a DDT, except instead of being face down, Sabotage is face up, and TK has his forehead bent backwards with a forearm squeeze (like the Gu-Lock on 205 Live) … then TK Zero drops Sabotage down on his head. Sabotage was counted out by the ref for being unresponsive after that move. Jeez, I thought he killed the poor guy, it looked really good.

TK Zero must have made a good impression on the crowd at last year’s Rust Belt Rebellion show, because some kids clearly recognized him when he came out, and one of the loud guys near me who had too much beer shouted, “You said that last year!” to one of TK’s barbs at the crowd.

Next, Drex Odell took on Young Money (with Thomas Keith, his partner in High Society, at ringside). One picture below tells the story of the match – Drex clearly has Young Money discombobulated on the ropes behind him, but Thomas Keith is on the ring apron distracting Drex – and this allowed Young Money to gather himself and get the pinfall on Odell. In the other picture, Young Money gets some serious elevation from the corner.

The fourth match was awesome, but I missed the best parts of it because most of the outside-the-ring action took place on the side opposite me, and I was too lazy to get up and walk around. (No, actually, I blame my chair – my folding lawn chair was broken, and so to get up, I had to move very carefully and delicately not to collapse it entirely … it wasn’t my laziness, it was my carefulness!). This fourth match was X Caliber vs Jared Kripke for the ACW Intercontinental Championship, held by Kripke. It was a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match announced with a one hour time limit! It did not go that long, but two tables got destroyed – on the opposite side from me. During one crash through the tables, Jared Kripke gashed open his knee – and being the trooper he is, he went to the sound table to get a roll of duct tape to tape together his leg (see pic) … I imagine taking that tape off later would hurt more than the original injury, which (from info on Facebook later) took 10 stitches to close. Ouch! X Caliber won the match, and so is the new ACW Intercontinental Champ! And so now you can tell that the picture of Kripke on top of the ladder, holding his belt while smiling, was taken before the match started.

There was a short intermission while all the carnage from the IC match was cleaned up, and then the show restarted with Billy the Kid challenging Rick Raid for Raid’s Tough Man Championship. Raid beat Billy recently to gain the Tough Man Title, and here, Billy the Kid regained the title.

I don’t write this often, but Ref Zoran got one wrong! In the sixth match, Arun took on Brentley Alexander Dawson (BAD). At the end of the match, BAD took a foreign object out of his coat that was hanging on a ring post, and tried to hit Arun with it. He missed, and Arun capitalized to get the pin. But during the pin, BAD managed to slip the object into Arun’s waistband. When Arun stood up after the pin, Ref Zoran saw the object and reversed his decision, awarding the match to BAD. Booooo.

I do not have a picture from the final match because I was on my way out, but Crimson Dynamo is your new ACW Heavyweight Champion, having defeated The Flawless One, Dave Allen! Congratulations to Crimson Dynamo!

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If you’ve read this far, you might like wrestling?  So maybe, check out the Northwest Indiana Wrestling Action Program (NWIWRAP) broadcast Sunday night right after Mostly Metal on WVLP 103.1FM in Valparaiso, IN. The Mostly Metal / NWIWRAP block runs from 8:00 – 10:00pm Central Time, and the time of the switch from music to wrestling depends on how much wrestlnig there is to talk about! If you’re not in Valpo, catch it streaming on http://www.wvlp.org and the Tune In Radio app. Rebroadcasts happen Wednesdays 10pm – midnight, and NWIWRAP is archived on YouTube, just search for NWIWRAP.

Outside the Ropes: Special Fundraiser Show at DeMotte Boxing Club, Apr 28 2019.

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On Sunday April 28, 2019 at 2pm, wrestling fans from the region packed the DeMotte Boxing Club to standing room only as a show of support for the fundraiser put on for the family of Austin Wright (Fury). This was a short five-match card put on in cooperation between ACW and Backbreaker Wrestling. This was not a normal show, wins and losses didn’t matter, and all I’m going to do here is list the matches with a few pics from each; if you were not able to make the show but are interested in the cause and lending some support, there’s a link at the bottom.

Match 1: Drex Odell vs. Young Money (of High Society)

Match 2: The Masters vs. Dick Davis and Jake Rhone. (Man, was Brentley Alexander Dawson pissed when Dick Davis stomped on his $200 sunglasses. Also, that third picture requires some explanation … you see, B.A.D. experienced a BAD wedgie during the match and needed help extracting it. Maybe you didn’t want to know that.)

Match 3: Jared Kripke vs X-Caliber.

Match 4: Billy the Kid vs Thomas Keith (of High Society).

Match 5: Rick Raid vs Austin Fury

The end – when all the workers came out to show support for Austin Fury.

Here’s a link if you want to provide support:

https://www.gofundme.com/baby-primilia

Outside the Ropes: RCW 9th Anniversary Show; Apr 27, 2019

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Revolution Championship Wrestling (RCW) held their 9th Anniversary Show at 7pm Saturday April 27, 2019 at the O’Brien Recreation Center in South Bend, IN.

I still remember going to the 7th Anniversary Show, it’s hard to believe it’s been 2 years since then. The weather today was perfect for a wrestling show – that is, the fact that we actually had %&@!ing snow on April 27 meant there was nothing better to do than stay indoors and watch wrestling!

To open the show, current RCW Tag Team Champions “Biggie Smalls” – Brutus Dylan and Kevin Storm – came out to say thank you to the audience for their continued support. This was interrupted by Jorge Bravo, who says that even though he’s put in time and effort, he’s not yet been offered a full time spot on the RCW roster. Brutus Dylan tells him that since J.C. Bunyan is not going to be there, Jorge can replace him as Shady Chris Xion’s partner later on in a tag team championship match.

The first match features Mitchell Taylor taking on Tank, who is returning to RCW after an extended absence. Tank makes really quick work of Taylor, and I didn’t even get my camera out for a picture until the match was already over.

Tank barely even broke a sweat.

The second match was a Fatal Four Way featuring Unchained Brandon Day, the Lost Cause Anthony Lee, the Self Made Man Douglas Stout, and the Polish Heartthrob Jared Skalka. Wow, that’s a lot of words for 4 people. I think before the match, the four of them got together and said “Kill each other? Yes!” – because this was quite a hard hitting match. The crowd favorite was the Polish Heartthrob, with his signature move the “Pole-Lock”. The match ended when Douglas Stout hit the Polish Heartthrob with a big move, but Brandon Day took advantage by tossing Stout aside and getting the pin himself on Skalka.

The women came out next, as Shawna Reed challenged Melanie Cruise for the RCW Women’s Championship. Reed started the match with some avoidance, and then later revealed some brass knuckles she had hidden in her knee pads. She was able to use them a few times, but regardless, Melanie Cruise eventually put her away with a big boot.

The ref says “Put her down” … and Melanie did.

Next up is the promised Tag Team Championship match between champs Biggie Smalls (Dylan and Storm) vs challengers Shady Chris Xion and Jorge Bravo. Xion and Bravo both played it selfishly for a while, tagging the other in when the going got tough. Eventually they got it together enough to keep Kevin Storm in peril for quite a while. Below you can see Brutus Dylan using his Sorcerer Supreme telekinetic powers to fling Storm out of the ring onto the other two. Storm came up from this with a bloody nose; note that white wrist tape has the advantage that it really shows off the color red quite well! The tag team champs retained.

The last match before intermission got underway when Mojo McQueen came out carrying his box o’ stinky blue doom. Good lord, I hope no one in the crowd had asthma. (Where’s Angel Armani when you need him, we could have used some of his perfume spray!) Anyway, McQueen’s opponent was Cody Hawk, who played a long game of keep-away at first, then got the upper hand a few times by working on one of McQueen’s legs pretty consistently. McQueen later got the pin by using the claw to render Hawk unconscious.

After intermission, Dylan and Storm came back out to induct a second person into the RCW Hall of Fame. A surprise appearance by the first inductee Super Diva helped add some spice to the moment. All three men had very nice things to say about inductee #2 – Ronald Shell, a.k.a. Dusty Bottoms and Ox Baker, Jr. Congratulations, Ronald!

Wrestling got underway again with Dru Skillz vs. The Right Hand of God Sam Knight. As he does, Dru terrorized kids during his entrance. He also may have been hungry, as he bit Knight a lot in the match. The match ended after a low blow from Skillz, in full view of the ref who put up his hands in the “What did I just see and what am I going to do about it? … Nothing!” pose.

“You better not have eaten ALL the Doritos!”

Next, Noah Walker defended his RCW Intercontinental Championship by defeating Stills with a discus punch. The match almost ended in a count out when the two were outside the ring for quite a while, but the ref saved the day by making sure they heard the count at 9 with a very clear tone of “guys I’m serious, I’m about to count 9, so you need to get back in here!” Also, they had matches back to back, and I think a tag team of “Stillz and Skillz” has a nice ring to it.

The main event was RCW Heavyweight Champion Russell Jones taking on visitor from Impact Wrestling, Moose! The two started off outside the ring, going almost all the way around the gym before finally getting into the ring – below you can see Moose about to dunk Jones’ head into a basket. I think Moose picked up some strategy tips from Dru Skillz before the match, because he was biting his opponent a lot, too. The end came when Moose dodged a kick by Jones, causing Jones to kick the ref instead; while the ref was down, Jones grabbed his title belt and whopped Moose in the head. Then Jones revived the ref enough for the three count.

The next RCW show will be Friday May 17 at the Battell Center in Mishawaka, IN, with special guest Madman Fulton.