What’s the time?

That’s right kiddies, it’s time for another instalment of everyone’s favorite program, “Gav talks about his mental health!”

So, what’s been happening to me? *deep intake of breath* BRUCE DICKINSON OF IRON MAIDEN ANSWERED A QUESTION OF MINE. IT WAS A DUMB QUESTION, BUT IT WAS MINE AND HE ANSWERED IT.  Sorry for the shouting, but as a Maiden fan for more than half my life, that meant a lot to me. To explain: Bruce was out here promoting his book and put on a show about it, followed by a Q&A. Everyone who bought a ticket got a signed copy of the book (I HAVE SOMETHING HE TOUCHED) and a bit of paper you put your name and question on, which got put into a tub. Word has it they got shuffled around and chosen randomly, and mine was one of the ones he answered! So, I’ve heard from the man himself: His stage clothes do not have an online store, they are a gift from God. Words can’t quite capture just how happy that made me, but I’m slightly gutted that my wife wasn’t there to see it. (She likes seeing me happy, surprisingly)

I ran 8 sessions of Flash Gordon at Phenomenon and, I like to think, did pretty damn well at it. 8 tables of happy players, and from what I heard, more than a few people excitedly comparing notes post session. I’m happier with some sessions, which always happens, but overall think they went well. Warms the heart and fires the blood it does, which is needed to push through the tired. I felt, well, appreciated running for them, in a way I’ve not felt for a while now. There was communication from the orgs, support and encouragement both online and off, all very useful things for a GM who’s more than a bit nervous at his first interstate con. Didn’t hurt that everyone who sat down at the table understood the sort of event I was running (A cheap BBC 1970’s serial, complete with jokes about crappy props and wobbly sets) and ran with it full pelt. I’m hoping to stay longer next year, to make the post con drinks and lunch afterwards. Also, to book the week off afterwards to sleep. I’m not as young as I once was and it really takes it out of you.

Oh, there were stories. Many stories, some cracking jokes and some truly harrowing puns. Ask me in person and I’ll recite some. But the one I’ll tell here is involves a team called the Dragon Ladies, 4 11-13 year old girls. I’d volunteered to run for them, as I only had 2 other players in that session, and while I normally run for 5, I had 6 PC’s so why not? I was bloody petrified, as it was my first session at the con, and running for children is something I don’t have much experience with. I didn’t have to worry a bit, as within seconds they got it. I’ll try to describe my favorite moment. To set the scene – the PC’s have boarded the first passenger vessel between Earth and Mongo, and things are getting trippy as they move between Earth and Mongo space.
ME: “The stars start to swirl, as the sky dazzles with kaleidoscopic colours. Eruptions of light and colour float through the skies. A strange blue box flies past you.”
DRAGON LADIES, in unison: “TARDIS?”
ME: Followed by a phone booth…
Seeing the looks on their faces was priceless and I’d happily run for them again. It took no small amount of willpower not to give them trophies right there. Speaking of that, I might have found my new schtick – smallgoods. I’d mentioned on the blurb there’d be prized for Biggest Ham and Largest Cheese, and as such, procured ham and cheese to give away. Prizegiving seemed to find this incredibly amusing, as did the winners of said prizes. (I overheard “Let’s make a sandwich” between them as they walked back to their seats) To all who played my humble event, I salute you and look forward to next year.

Alas, post con comes the post con crash, and this one hit hard. I knew something was really up when watching Tick Fucking Tock the day after the con ended and almost weeping. There’s a part in Episode 1 where Paul Livingstone’s playing The Auld Triangle acoustically and I nearly broke. I cry pretty much at the drop of a hat, as anyone who’s known me for more than 10 minutes can testify to, but this wasn’t the regular sort of thing. Emotion has frequently been a boom or bust thing for me, as much as I may hope to regulate it. The little things pile up and all looks bleak, with only the small rays of sunshine to light the way. Some days you’re the windshield, and somedays you’re the bug. Or, to quote my favorite author, gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth…

There’s been other events that have messed with me, that I’m still coming to terms with. So, I had a dentist appointment that didn’t exactly go to plan, and I’m staring down the barrel of some pretty heavy dentistry. Who knew self medicating for depression and stress, combined with the attendant lack of self care and dental hygeine, for the better part of 4 years would be rubbish for your teeth? Explaining that at Sunday dinner with the in-laws wasn’t part of the plan either, but what’s done is done. As a result of that (And to save money to pay the dentist bill) I’ve cut sugar as much as I can out of my life, and that’s a bastard of a thing. Given that it was something of a mood stabilizer for me, seeing that last Tim Tam on the table, sitting there uneaten, taunting me, has made me want to scream “SOMEBODY FUCKING EAT IT OR I’LL KILL YOU ALL” more than once.

I’ve even found myself comparing ingredients on chips to see which has less sugar, something I never thought I’d do. On the bright side, I’ve lost weight to the point my wedding ring is loose at times, so some good has come from this. There’s also the wanting to go out and do stuff again, like using swords and bows! Alas my regular LARP isn’t running at the moment, as I have a shiny new rapier (that I’m fucking rubbish at using) to play with. I’ve had my fill of trying to play anti-heros or scoundrels, and just want to swash my buckle – is that so bad?

Look, it’s rather late, and I really should be sleeping, so I’ll wind this up. Thank you as always dear readers, for your indulgence. I’m going to leave you with some advice, some of the finest advice I can hope to give. 4 simple words, that will improve your lives no end.

LISTEN TO BLACK SABBATH.

Be seeing you…

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ROOOOOOOOTS BLOODY ROOOOOOTS

Max and Iggor Cavalera / Skindred, Sydney Big Top Sep 22 2017.

Sepultura’s album Roots holds a special place in my heart, as what helped expand the visions of what metal could be, sending me down a different path. True, it didn’t eclipse my burgeoning love for all things Iron Maiden, but that passion was both A: in it’s infancy and B: still something of a guilty pleasure for me, a feeling that took me a good few years to openly embrace. Given the nature and ferocity of their split, or rather frontman Max Cavalera’s split from the rest of the band, I’d long figured I’d have had no chance of seeing the songs performed live. True, Max had reunited with Sepultara drummer (and brother) Iggor in 2006 and formed Cavalera Conspiracy, among Max’s numerous other projects, but when it was annouced the two brothers would be touring the Roots album in full, well, I was there. The fact ragga metallers Skindred would be supporting them was less the icing on the cake for me, and more the cake itself. Sure, it did seem a little akward to be keener on the support than the headline, but I figure support bands deserve love all, right?

I trundle my way down to the venue, check in my bag and already curse both the venue’s no steel cap shoe policy and my being raised Lawful Good. *sighs* I make my way to the front early, wanting to be right up there for Skindred, and after an epic wait, the strains of the Imperial March ring out and the band hit stage. Singer Benji Webbe, sunglass clad and impossibly cool, climbs up on the monitors, Under Attack kicks off and my head begins to thrash. They put on an impeccably cheerful set, freely admitting that they’re here to get people warmed up for Max and co, but in no way slacking off because of it. Kill the Power has the audience roaring, Machine (From the then forthcoming new album) howls like a banshee and we end Warning with the now traditional Newport Helicopter. The cheeky gits even leave the stage to a burst of Nobody Does it Better

20170922_200947
Benji Webbe – LORD OF ALL HE SURVEYS.

After putting my shirt back on, I vacate the mosh pit in search of food and drink. And safety – I have what could be charitably called a piss poor tolerance for pain, and I can see the size of the people behind me. Making my way to safety (AKA the upstairs seating), I settle in for the main event. Anticipation builds, the mosh pit grows even more frenzied and the they hit stage. what can I say about Max, other than he looks just like someone who’d give you a quest in a post apolyptic RPG. He grabs the mic, bellows “ARE YOU READY? ROOTS, BLOODY ROOOOOTS” and we’re off. Goddamn, I’d almost forgotten how hard that song hits, and I can barely draw breath. Attitude has the crowd roaring, and Cut Throat is extraordinary, to say nothing of the look of awe on my face at hearing Ratamahatta played live. Things slow down a little mid set , but picks up with a storming Endangered Species and album closer Dictatorshit. I’m lathered in sweat and ragged and 16 year old me can’t believe what he’s just seen. The encore of a medley of early Sepultura goes down a treat, as does covers of Venom’s Black Metal and Motorhead’s Ace of Spades, ending with a reprise of Roots, Bloody Roots.


See, I have proof!

Alas, none of my photos of the headliners turned out OK, and I don’t remember who the rest of the band were, though their moves came straight from the ‘Big Book of Metal Stage Moves’, complete with wide stance and head bob. But I can’t bring myself to mock much, given the faces I’ve pulled while playing Guitar Hero over the years.

As we shamble out into the night, battered, only slightly bleeding (Small cur on the finger, nothing to worry about) and very happy, I once again think just how much I love live music. There’s nothing like it.