Monday, March 12, 2012

Iced Earth At The Palladium - 03/09/12

Okay, here's my account of going to see one of my favorite Heavy Metal bands; Iced Earth.

After getting out of bed, the worst part of the day occurred...WAITING!!! I swear time nearly came to a stop and I kept staring at the clock, willing time to move forward at a faster pace. My uncle Kevin and our good friend Jim arrived at 2:15 just as they said they would. 2:30 comes and the damn van hasn't arrived, so the secretary calls to find out where the driver is. She finds that they are enroute.

Needless to say, I was not very pleased. I had everything planned out so that we would arrive at the venue before 4:30 to have extra time for any unforeseen problems. The driver finally arrives at about 2:45 and by the time I get in the van and locked in place and ready to go, it was 3:10. At this point, my blood is boiling, but I kept my cool. The drivers usually arrive about 15 minutes before the scheduled pickup tiime.

Our driver ends up taking a longer route to the venue. In my mind's eye I'm strangling him. When we're approximately 10 minutes away from the venue, my uncle calls Andrew (Iced Earth's tour manager) and leaves a message telling him we're running late because of the traffic we ran into. Again, I want to kill the driver for being late picking us up. A few minutes pass and Andrew calls back and tells my uncle not to worry about being late and to call him when we get there. To top things off, the freaking driver nodded off when we were heading out, so our friend Jim strikes up a conversation with him to keep him awake.

We finally arrive about 15 minutes late. In the cold, we have about a 100 yard trip to get to the front doors of the venue and when we reach them, we encounter a wheelchair's worst enemy...STAIRS!!! A little step up to door level and beyond the glass doors, steps leading up and steps leading down.

While Andrew and the venue staff are working on a solution, I've become so cold that I can't drive my wheelchair because my hand has become a popsicle. As we waited, Andrew hands my uncle the VIP stickers and my VIP laminate, which my uncle hung around my neck. After about 10 minutes, it's decided that a side entrance would be the best option. It was that or on the stage. I decided against the stage because when I did that at the same venue 8 years ago to see Iced Earth, the sound was horrible because the speakers are facing out towards the crowd.

After another 15 minutes in the cold, the door opens and we're led to a small balcony area. This was a pretty good location, but I couldn't see well because I can't look downward due to the position my neck is stuck in, but we made it work out as best as we could. Symphony X was doing soundcheck when we got inside.

A couple minutes later, Jon Schaffer (rhythm guitar), Stu Block (vocals), Troy Seele (lead guitar), Brent Smedley (drums), Freddie Vidales (bass guitar) and his wife Connie come over to me. With Symphony X doing their soundcheck and me being a bit congested, it was difficult to talk with them, which was frustrating for. If I had made a slight adjust to my ventilator before I left the hospital, I would have been able to speak better. Thankfully Andrew took a few pictures because my camera was dead. I got the autographed Dystopia poster and a guitar pick Jon signed. I really only got to speak with Brent, Freddie and Connie a very little bit.

As they were leaving for dinner I think it was, they all thanked me for coming. Brent asked if I would like a drumstick after the show and I said definitely!

Symphony X finished up their soundcheck and sounded simply amazing. I was impressed and couldn't wait for their set. About 15 minutes later, Warbringer began their brutal soundcheck, which practically rattled my teeth. I was looking forward to their set as well.

Show time...

The lights go out and Warbringer hit the stage after a messed up intro to which singer John Kevill responded "What the fuck was that?" He said a bit more, but I can't remember what it was. They tore through a very short set of 5 or 6 songs. I was a little surprised it was that short.

Next up was Symphony X. Their light show had me squinting because the strobes were so bright. I love their music, but only really know one song by name and that's Inferno (Unleash The Fire), which was their final song before a 3 song encore.

The mighty Iced Earth were next. The intro to Dystopia came on and the crowd roared. All the bands were great in my opinion, but Iced Earth really stole the show. They had an amazing connection with the crowd. They sounded phenomenal, but getting Stu's mic just right seemed to be a battle during the entire set. But damn, he can sing. He was simply incredible and his falsetto screams were ear-piercing. The entire band was flawless. People who have trashed Troy's playing must have bad hearing because his solos were spot on. When they played V and Stu, Jon and Freddie sang the chorus, I got the chills and got teary eyed because I was so happy and it was just so powerful. Watching Over Me was tearjerker because I played that song at my best friend's memorial service over a decade ago.

Iced Earth made all the difficulties I went through well worth it. As promised, Brent gave a drumstick and it was one he actually played during the show. My uncle told him for me that I didn't get the VIP t-shirt and he took care of it immediately and a few minutes later I had one. After thanking him, we headed out, but not before buying an Iced Earth and Symphony X t-shirt.

In closing, I had a GREAT time and can't wait to see them again. My most sincer thanks go out to Bill Murphy (Iced Earth's publicist), Ulf Zick (Iced Earth's manager), Andrew Peters (Iced Earth's tour manager) and all the guys in Iced Earth and their road crew for making this night one to remember!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Family Matters

I always thought family was the most important thing in a person's life. Whether it be immediate family or not. I've found out that for some people, that's simply not the case. My cousin Ben from my mother's side of the family comes to mind here. You so, he lives a mere 10 minutes away from the hospital I live in, yet he can never make the time to come and visit. If it wasn't for my family cookout and family Christmas party, I would never see him.

Yes, I certainly realize that his wife and 2 healthy daughters as well as his auto detailing and online business come first and I would NEVER ask to be put before any of it. However, is it really that difficult to put aside a little time to visit me? I would be happy and grateful if it was just a 5 minute visit. Sadly, that's apparently too much effort on his part. His excuse is that he's too busy with his kids and if he were to visit, he would need to bring them and after about 20 minutes they would get bored and want to leave.

This is a problem why? Is 20 minutes somehow not considered a visit? I'm sorry, but his excuse is in a word LAME.

Recently, he promised me that I would see more of him. Guess what? The last time I saw him was at our family Christmas party on December 17th. I knew he was just talking out of his ass when he made that promise. I certainly don't hate him in ANY sense of the word, but I sure as hell resent him.

I can't exactly say I'm very happy with my other cousins either. I know they are busy with their kids and careers too, but in my opinion it's just inexcusable that they can't make a little time for me either. It's pretty sad.

If there were awards given out to family members that make an effort to visit me, they would without a doubt go to my uncles David and Kevin. I see my uncle David once a week and sometimes once ever other week for an hour or two depending on his work. My uncle Kevin I don't see very often, but he more than makes up for by taking me out to concerts and what not, which is a good deal of work.

Here's something that I find astounding. People who don't even know me make more of an effort to visit me than my cousins. Case in point. Freddie Vindales the bassist from the heavy metal band Iced Earth drove 2 hours from New Hampshire to visit with me in November of 2010. And in August of 2011, Matt Barlow the former vocalist from Iced Earth and his wife planned the late celebration of their anniversary around visiting me and they didn't even know me!

I guess it's the same with every family. There are some you can rely on and others you can't. As they say, "What goes around, comes around". And no, I don't wish bad fortune on my cousins. One day they will rely on someone for something and they be let down. Then they will know how it feels to be in my situation.



Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Very Special Visit

This past Sunday August 14th was a special day for me. Why, do you ask? Well, that's a simple answer. Matt Barlow and his lovely wife Heather payed me a visit. Matt is one my all time favorite heavy metal singers and in my opinion, one of the best in metal. I place him in league with the likes of Rob Halford (Judas Priest), Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden) and Geoff Tate (Queensryche). If you don't agree, you must need hearing aids. ;-)

For those of you who don't know who Matt Barlow is, he was the vocalist for Iced Earth from (1995-2003 & 2007-2011). He officially retired from Iced Earth on August 6th after the band's awesome performance at the Wacken Open Air Festival in Germany.

He retired for very admirably reasons. To spend more time with his beautiful wife and adorable boys as well as focusing on his law enforcement career. It takes a real man to put his family first. I really admire him for that because far too many men avoid their obligations to their children, my deceased father being one of them

Before I go into the details of my visit with Matt and Heather, let me first tell you how it all came to be.

In March 28th I sent a message to Matt on his personal Facebook page asking if he would consider coming to visit me at some point in the near future. Three days later, he sent me a reply, saying he would definitely try to make it north to see me sometime this year. Needless to say I was pretty excited.

Fast forward to August 8th. Matt's wife Heather sent me a message through his Facebook page to inform me that they would be in my area on August 14th because they were celebrating their 11th wedding anniversary in my area and actually asked if I would be up for visitors. I was like HELL YEAH! I couldn't type my reply fast enough! LOL

I told two of my nurses about it almost immediately after reading the message. They thought it would be a nice gesture to make Matt a gift.. A few ideas were tossed about. Eventually we settled on making a t-shirt. It was black and said Iced Earth with an ankh (Egyptian cross) just below the space between the words Iced and Earth. On the back it had all the albu titles that he did vocals on. We also got him a good luck card. For Heather, we got a small Gerber Daisy plant (unfortunately she accidentally left it behind). For both of them, we got an anniversary card. My nurses got a small selection of food, including grapes, chips, pretzels and dip. They decorated the visitor's lounge with my Iced Earth flag and black and blue ballons. It looked pretty cool.

Now ont the actual visit...

I was down in the visitor's lounge with one of the respiratory therapists making last minute preparations for the visit; putting out the food and adding some more balloons. We put the Wacken show up on the computer for what I felt was the appropriate atmosphere.

I had planned to be in my room when they arrived where I had Iced Earth playing on my computer. I was going to talk to them for a little while in my room and then tell them I had a surprise for them and then lead them to the visitors lounge. I was just leaving the lounge to go to my room when one of the nurses told me my company had gone down to my room. I headed toward my room and halfway down the hall I met up with Matt and Heather Barlow.

My plans were changed, but that certainly didn't ruin the surprise. Instead of going to my room, I told them I had a surprise for them and I lead them to the visitor's lounge. This was after greeting them of course. They were both pleasantly surprised and thanked me, saying I didn't need to do what I did. They were both extremely down to earth and easy to talk to. They've the nicest people you would ever want to meet.

Matt then said he had some things for me. First he gave me a small Horror Show poster. Exactly the same as the one he's giving away on his official Facebook page when it hits 5,000 likes. He then gave me a really cool Horror Show banner. Next he pulled out 3 pieces of paper, which turned out to be autographed set lists from the Danish band Volbeat. They were at their show in Pennsylvania the night before. Heather told me that Matt did a song with them, but I can't for the life of me remember which one it was because I don't really know Volbeat. Matt autographed the Horror Show poster and one of the Volbeat set lists. They kept one for themselves and I got to keep two. :-)

We talked about music mostly and he told me some cool stories.

When he had long hair and he headbanged or windmilled, he would get his hair caught in Jon's tuning pegs. He said he lost a lot of hair from the right side of his head and that it would be hanging from Jon's guitar.

He also told me that he was disappointed that Century Media didn't record any of the Horror Show tour for a DVD. The band had worked hard on that tour doing three different sets complete with pyro, which isn't cheap. For the record, he didn't say anything derogatory about Century Media. Matt is too much of a class act to trash people.

The visit lasted for just over two hours. Before they had to leave, Matt gave me a goodie bag he was given at Wacken. It included patches, a shot glass on a chain (at least that's what I think it is), a keychain and a rain poncho just to name a few of the items.

We then went to my room to exchange farewells. They both thanked me for allowing them to visit. Talk about humble people. They said they would be back to visit at some point. I intend to keep that Gerber Daisy plant alive to give to Heather. :-)

That was the end to an amazing couple of hours I'll never forget.



Saturday, June 25, 2011

Pissed Off At The World - Addendum

I just wanted to clarify something regarding my last post. I'm not looking for an escort or prostitute. Escorts are allegedly safer as far as STDs go, but they don't come cheap. Prostitute are far too risky for many reasons. Who knows what nastiness they might be carrying. I don't want to let some psycho into my life. I really have enough to deal with in life as it is.

My ultimate goal is to find a wonderful woman to have a meaningful and physical relationship with. As I said before, a female friend with benefits wouldn't be a bad thing.



Friday, June 24, 2011

Pissed Off At The World

For the past couple of days I've been filled with anger and frustration. I'm basically pissed off at the world. Heavy metal is the only thing keeping me from losing my freaking sanity and it helps get rid of my aggression.

One of the biggest things that's just about pushed me over the edge is the feeling of loneliness that's practically consuming my soul. I long for female companionship so much that it's almost physically painful. I'm not just talking about friendship. I want some intimacy in my life once more. I once had that, but those past relationships failed for one reason or another. I'm at the point where I'm craving sexual activity like a damn drug.

Of course I want a meaningful relationship with intimacy, but I honestly don't see that happening anytime soon. Is it so wrong to hope to find a female friend with benefits? I see nothing wrong with this.

Some who read this may think I'm a pervert or sex manic, but those who know me at all know this isn't true. I'm a human being with sexual desires like anyone else. If this labels me as a bad person then so be it. I know what kind of person I am and I really don't care how people who don't know me chose to judge me.

A disabled person having strong sexual desires is not a damn taboo as some people still think it is. I'm a normal man who just happens to have a disability.



Sunday, May 8, 2011

Amon Amarth At The Paradise Rock Club

So, last night after what seemed like an eternity of waiting, I went to see the death metal juggernaut from Tumba Sweden, Amon Amarth! It was an incredible show that I won't soon forget.

I wish I could say that the evening went smoothly, but I had my share of what would best be referred to as "technical difficulties". First off all, the battery that powers my ventilator decided to act up earlier in the week. The ventilator's power meter was showing that the battery was not holding a charge, so the maintenance and respiratory department where virtually scrambling to find and fix the problem before I was to go out.

Maintenance could find nothing wrong with the battery, but my ventilator was not in agreement, so my respiratory therapist swapped out the ventilator with a recently calibrated one. Still, the power meter was showing that the battery was not holding a charge.

Fast forward to Saturday. Before I get up into my wheelchair, my respiratory therapist checks the power level and it reads eighty percent, which is a good charge. By the time I get into my chair, the power level reads sixty percent. So, they immediately plug in the battery charger and hope for the best. Things don't improve. Every time respiratory unplugs the charger, the power level starts dropping. At this point it's looking like I may not be going out. I called my uncle who was the one going with me and I had him call the nightclub where the concert was being held to find out if they had an outlet so my ventilator could be plugged in.

I was in luck! They said they we could hook up an extension cord.

Meanwhile, the staff almost cancel the trip on me until I told them what the people at the nightclub had said. The biggest concern everyone has was would the battery hold the charge during the ride to the show. I was confident that it would.

When it was time to go, my charger was unplugged and the battery was dropping. By the time I got into the van and strapped down, the power level was down to fifty-five percent. Once we were on our way, my uncle checked the power level again and it was hovering just over
fifty percent. During the ride, he kept checking the power and it was holding at fifty percent. When we got to the club about forty minutes later, it was still fifty percent. Once inside the club and at our seats, we plugged in immediately.

Two other things that were not in my favor was needing to get suctioned a lot and being uncomfortable. Thankfully I endured and managed to enjoy the show.

Now onto the show...

The lights go out and the crowd of nine hundred rabid metalheads roar in unison. The recorded intro begins and the crowd is screaming. Then the mighty Amon Amarth take the stage one by one. The roar of the crowd is ear piercing at this point. Immediately they launch into the song War Of The Gods and the crowd is headbanging, pumping fists, crowd surfing and singing every word. The band were as tight as could be. Johan Hegg's guttural growling voice put forth the lyrics with epic power. Fredrik Andersson was a beast on the drums, thundering with fury. Ted Lundstrom's bass pounded with aggression. Olavi Mikkonen and Johan Soderberg played the rhythms and solos flawlessly. They sounded just like they do o their albums, a hundred times better. They played two sets. For their first set, they played their new album Surtur Rising in its entirety.

War Of The Gods
Tock's Taunt - Loke's Treachery Part II
Destroyer Of The Universe
Slaves Of Fear
Live Without Regrets
The Last Stand Of Frej
For Victory Or Death
Wrath Of The Norsemen
A Beast Am I
Doom Over Dead Man

For their second set they played the following.

Twilight Of The Thunder God
Masters Of War
Live For The Kill
With Oden On Our Side
Varyags Of Miklagaard
Thousand Years Of Oppression
Without Fear
Victorious March/Gods Of War/Death In Fire


Cry Of The Black Birds
Runes To My Memory
Pursuit Of Vikings

At the end of the show, Olavi Mikkonen handed my uncle a guitar pick for me and Johan Hegg handed him the set list for their second set. I was thrilled to get some mementos from them.

Once the crowd had thinned out, I ran into Freddie Vindales (Bassist of Iced Earth) and his wife. We couldn't really talk much because it was too loud. He told us that Brian Slagel, founder and owner of Metal Blade Records was there and that if I wanted anything autographed by the band, that he would handle it. Unfortunately, my ride was waiting and we couldn't wait around. However, Mr. Slagel did hook me up with an Amon Amarth tour t-shirt.

I really wish I had had time to stick around and chat with Freddie and Brian as well as possibly meeting the band, but I still had a blast. I can't end the post without thanking the staff of the Paradise Rock Club. They were extremely helpful and accommodating to my needs.



Thursday, April 14, 2011

Slightly Pissed Off

I'm sure everyone has had something piss them off for no real reason at all. This happened to me about 25-30 minutes ago. One of the aides on my floor was helping me with some repositioning. When she was repositioning my lap tray, which I use my mouse on, we were having difficulty getting my hand just right. I was getting frustrated, which got her frustrated. When she said she could only gives me 2 more minutes because she had to help put other people to bed, I lost my cool. I said I'm tired of always being the one who has to wait and that I was going to report it. When she left my room, I shouted that this hospital is a joke and no better than a nursing home. Then I hit my buzzer because I needed a suction. The respiratory therapist asked me what I wanted and I told her what I needed. She told me to hold on because another patient's ventilator alarm was going off and she had to check. I got miffed because two nurses were in the hallway doing narcotics count, which I know is very important. However, does that somehow exclude them from the responsibility of checking on a patient when their ventilator is alarming?

I can't tell you how many times I've needed a suction quite badly only to be told I had to wait because the nurses were either doing report or narcotics count. Am I mistaken of is breathing not a priority any longer?