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I am a multimedia designer and aspiring writer from Central Illinois who dreams of bigger things. You are entering the hub of my online world. Welcome. Make yourself at home, read some stuff, click a few things, maybe check out my online portfolio. And of course, if you enjoy your stay, please subscribe.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Coaster Compendium - UPDATED to 71 coasters!

So here I am again...It's been some time since I've been to any new parks to experience new rides, and my home Six Flags park keeps adding carnival-type rides instead of coasters. However, we are planning a possible trip back east over Labor Day weekend this year, and we'll hit Six Flags America for the first time, and maybe even revisit Six Flags Great Adventure.

In the meantime, I've added two new coasters to the list, one being the second Justice League 4D I've ridden, which was in 2016 when it was new at SFGA. (By the way, my new personal high score is in the 59,000-point range. Still only in the top 1% all-time though.) The other new one I just experienced this past weekend at SFGA: The Joker Free-Fly Coaster. HOLY WOW! This is one of those that looks pretty cool in the videos, looks not quite as intimidating when you actually see it, but totally blew me away upon riding it. It was amazing but way too short for me. It was, however, plenty long for my 15-year-old son, who absolutely HATED it and refused to ever ride it again.

If you're not familiar with the concept of the free-fly coaster, let me fill you in. The harness and seat situation is similar to X-Flight in that you sit on either side of the track, two abreast, but it's there are two rows to each car so that your two seats begin by facing two other seats. The major difference is that these seats all rock back and forth--and even completely 360-degrees around--on the z-axis (like a Zipper carnival ride) throughout the entire ride--which has been designed specifically to thrillingly send you flipping end-over-end repeatedly by doubling back on itself several times throughout the duration.

This was obviously taken before we rode,
because he was not nearly this happy afterward.
The Joker also has a completely vertical lift hill. It's literally straight up. That was pretty cool in itself. It's a one-of-a-kind experience, and it's incredible. I highly recommend this coaster. The wait wasn't too bad this weekend--about 40 minutes. It did break down the first time we waited so we came back around later to ride it as a rainstorm was blowing in, but thankfully there was no lighting so nothing got shut down.

This puts me at a current count of 71 coasters. Seems like 100 is actually going to be doable, God willing. If we end up going on this Labor Day trip and also taking our 20th anniversary trip to hit both Texas Six Flags parks, I'll be creeping up there in no time.

I'm kind of irritated at myself for not riding the Cyclone when I was at Coney Island a few years ago. Not that it looked particularly fun, mind you, but simply because it's such a historic coaster and a cultural icon. Oh well. Maybe I'll get another chance someday. Won't catch me passing up an opportunity like that ever again, I assure you.

OK, so stay tuned! more to come I'm sure!
  • American Eagle (Six Flags Great America) [details]
  • American Thunder / Evel Knievel (Six Flags St. Louis) [details]
  • Avatar Airbender (Mall of America) [details]
  • Batman: The Ride (Six Flags St. Louis)
  • Batman: The Ride (Six Flags Over Georgia)
  • Batman: The Ride (Six Flags Great America)
  • Bizarro / Medusa (Six Flags Great Adventure)
  • Blackbeard's Lost Treasure Train (Six Flags Great Adventure)
  • Blue Streak (Cedar Point)
  • Boomerang / Flashback (Six Flags St. Louis) [details]
  • The Boss (Six Flags St. Louis)
  • Cedar Creek Mine Train (Cedar Point)
  • Corkscrew (Cedar Point)
  • Dahlonega Mine Train (Six Flags Over Georgia)
  • Dark Knight Coaster (Six Flags Great Adventure)
  • Dark Knight Coaster (Six Flags Great America)
  • Demon (Six Flags Great America)
  • Disaster Transport (Cedar Point)
  • El Toro (Six Flags Great Adventure)
  • Fairly OddParents Fairly OddCoaster (Mall of America)
  • Gemini (Cedar Point)
  • Georgia Cyclone (Six Flags Over Georgia)
  • Georgia Scorcher (Six Flags Over Georgia)
  • Goliath (Six Flags Great America)
  • Great American Scream Machine (Six Flags Over Georgia)
  • Green Lantern (Six Flags Great Adventure)
  • Iron Dragon (Cedar Point)
  • Iron Wolf (Six Flags Great America)
  • The Joker Free-Fly Coaster (Six Flags Great America) **NEW**
  • Justice League Battle for Metropolis 4D (Six Flags St. Louis)
  • Justice League Battle for Metropolis 4D (Six Flags Great America) **NEW**
  • Kingda Ka (Six Flags Great Adventure)
  • Little Dipper (Six Flags Great America)
  • Magnum XL-200 (Cedar Point)
  • Mantis (Cedar Point)
  • Maverick (Cedar Point)
  • Mean Streak (Cedar Point)
  • Millenium Force (Cedar Point)
  • Mind Bender (Six Flags Over Georgia)
  • Mr. Freeze (Six Flags St. Louis)
  • Mr. Freeze Reverse Blast (Six Flags St. Louis)
  • Ninja (Six Flags St. Louis)
  • Ninja (Six Flags Over Georgia)
  • Nitro (Six Flags Great Adventure)
  • Opa! (Mt. Olympus Indoor Theme Park)
  • Pandemonium / Tony Hawk's Big Spin (Six Flags St. Louis)
  • Pepsi Orange Streak (Mall of America)
  • Ragin' Cajun (Six Flags Great America)
  • Raging Bull (Six Flags Great America)
  • Raptor (Cedar Point)
  • River King Mine Train (Six Flags St. Louis)
  • Rolling Thunder (Six Flags Great Adventure)
  • Rolling Thunder [bobsled ride] (Six Flags Great America)
  • Runaway Mine Train (Six Flags Great Adventure)
  • Screamin' Eagle (Six Flags St. Louis)
  • Shockwave (Six Flags Great America)
  • Skull Mountain (Six Flags Great Adventure)
  • Space Mountain (Walt Disney World)
  • Spongebob Squarepants Rock Bottom Plunge (Mall of America)
  • Superman: Ultimate Flight (Six Flags Over Georgia)
  • Superman: Ultimate Flight (Six Flags Great America)
  • Tidal Wave (Six Flags Great America)
  • Top Thrill Dragster (Cedar Point)
  • Tornado (Adventureland)
  • Twister (Six Flags Great Adventure)
  • V2: Vertical Velocity (Six Flags Great America)
  • Viper (Six Flags Great America)
  • Whizzer (Six Flags Great America)
  • Wicked Twister (Cedar Point)
  • Wile E. Coyote Canyon Blaster (Six Flags Over Georgia)
  • X-Flight (Six Flags Great America)

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Recent horror gems can be found among the garbage

I am a fan of horror and suspense films. Working part-time at the world's largest family-owned video rental chain for the past two years, I've seen a lot of horror titles come through those doors. Let me tell you, the digital age has been both good and bad for the indie film industry. It's truly a double-edged sword, and especially in the case of horror it's mostly the dull edge we get to see.

Digital filmmaking is great in that it puts usable creative tools into the hands of whoever wants them for a very negligible price tag compared to the expense of a major studio's equipment. So many people are shooting on digital now that an indie film can easily look quite professional if they manage to get lighting, sound, and the performances themselves right. This has really opened the door for independent filmmakers in the last 10 to 15 years. In my mind this new age of low budget horror treasures was initiated by The Blair Witch Project.

Say what you want about BWP and I'll honestly tell you it scared the bejeezus out of me. For the minuscule budget, bare-bones script and lack of recognizable cast, it was a masterpiece. But this is not a column about that film in particular. What I'm concerned with here are the handful of horror films from the last couple of years that have genuinely shaken me at least to some degree.

These are the films I recommend to people at the video store when they ask me for a good, recent scary movie. this list is not about mindless slasher horror, bad acting and writing, gross-out flicks like Human Centipede 3 or torture porn garbage like Green Inferno.


As Above So Below - Mockumentary horror movie about a film crew investigating secrets in the catacombs of Paris. Shit turns scary. Shit turns bloody. Shit turns upside down. Crazy film. Somewhat unnerving. Should appeal to both the bloodbath lovers and the suspense fiends.

It Follows - Simple, effective horror film that has a real '80s retro feel. Girl gets a supernatural curse passed on to her by losing her virginity to someone she doesn't know very well. Someone is chasing her. Following her. Slowly and methodically. Who, you ask? Hard telling. It's an entity that hops from person to person, kind of like in that Denzel movie, Fallen. What'll it do when it catches her? Let's hope we don't find out... The soundtrack on this one, by synthwave master Disasterpeace, is nothing short of amazing. Creepy AF.

The Visit - Once throwing a seemingly endless run of gutterball after gutterball, M. Night Shyamalan finally picks up the spare with The Visit! This movie creeped the living shit out of me several times. A couple of kids go to meet their long-estranged grandparents for the first time after their mother finally makes amends with them online for a fight that happened before the kids were even born. Much effed-up Shyamalaniness ensues.

Creep - First impression: "Oh no, not another low budget, first-person shot, crap horror movie with a $20 budget..." WRONG. Definitely worth a watch. A guy goes answers a classified ad to he;p someone shoot a film. It turns out that the subject of the film is chronicling the life of a terminal cancer patient (the guy who placed the ad) so that his unborn son can get to know him - you know, like that Michael Keaton movie My Life. Then it gets creepy to say the least. Very creepy. Only two people are on-screen throughout the whole film, but their performances are very convincing and the threat is real, present and palpable. My heart was in my throat a couple of times.

The Boy - Yet another person answers an ad, this time it's an American woman (Lauren Cohan of Walking Dead fame) traveling to the UK to play nanny for a British boy. When she gets to the remote estate, she finds that the elderly parents actually want her to nanny a four-foot, poseable porcelain doll as though it's alive. They seem convinced that it's not actually even a doll, but that it is in fact their human son, Brahms. It's silly, right? But they're paying her major bankroll, so she stays. Then it turns from silly to creepy. Then it gets downright supernatural, and finally, dangerous. I really liked this one more than I expected to. I was totally along for the ride, and I experienced every revelation along with the main characters. It's not the most original, I'll admit; I've seen a lot of the plot devices done better elsewhere, but they were recycled efficiently.

The Witch - I'll start by saying this one is NOT for everyone. And I'll give that caveat when it starts renting on May 17. It's not a "smack-you-over-the-head-with-scariness" horror movie. It's a subtle, slow creeper that builds methodically toward a horrible crescendo. It's a period film set in the mid-1600's New England, and as such, so is the language. If thou art not ready for language that speaketh as though it hails from a far distant time, thou ought not partake in this drama. A family makes their home on the edge of a forest after being ejected from town after the father committed a crime. The kids come to believe a witch lives deep in the forest. Shit starts happening that backs up that theory, not the least of which is the unexplained sudden disappearance of the baby from under his eldest sister's nose during a game of peek-a-boo. Psychological and supernatural tensions rise as the family deals with their predicament, and as the shite hitteth the fan, I squirm and want it to be over. Without spoilers, I love the final scene of this movie. I can't wait to give this film another viewing next week. Another killer soundtrack too. This one is minimal with frequently dissonant, sometimes screeching strings that brings to mind portions of Kronos Quartet's fantastically jarring Black Angels album. Add to that an occasional layer of Damien-worthy choir vocals and some extremely agitated chanting, and you have Mark Korven's deliciously creepy complement to this cinematic creepfest.

Don't Breathe - Not a supernatural horror picture, but rather a more plausible-in-real-life sort of storyline. Normally I have a hard time relating to film characters when they've displayed criminal behavior. In this case, we have a small group of young adults who decide to rob an old, blind hermit whom it's rumored has a large sum of cash in his house. Turns out this dude is a former marine and he's kinda like an old, pissed off Daredevil. He locks everyone in, secures the house, shuts out the lights, and chases these would-be criminals around the house, hunting them down one by one. It's hard not to be on the side of the millennial loser wannabe crooks by the time they become the victims. This is one nail-biter of a film that I've recommended countless times lately.
So anyway, there's a handful of recent thrillers that I'd recommend checking out. They're sparse treasures among the glut of common, low-budget dreck that litters the video store wall. Have fun with them! I'll have more recommendations for you another time.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Shark Island returns...Kind of

I just discovered a true gem on Apple Music.

Back in 1989 I acquired a cassette copy of what will always be one of my favorite soundtrack albums, that of the soundtrack for Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. Through it I was introduced to several new bands, the first of which was, of course, Big Pig, with their opening track "I Can't Break Away," which led me in turn to buy their album, Bonk, which subsequently stunned and impressed me with such great, heavily percussive, alternative(? I'm not sure there's a genre to describe Big Pig) tunes as "Big Hotel," "Hungry Town," "Devil's Song" and so many more.

That, in turn, led me to re-purchase that particular album on CD when the tape wore out. I also bought the followup CD years later. Not as good, but still managed a few good tracks. Great band. Sorry to know that they are not only defunct, but I can't really find anything substantial any one of them has gone on to do in the music industry.

But this entry is not about Big Pig.

This soundtrack also introduced me to Extreme. "Play with Me" was a blisteringly fast, melodic rock song that really blew me away. Their debut and sophomore albums were amazing and among my favorites of the era, and unlike Big Pig, they quickly found relative commercial success, but lost me along with that. Don't even get me started on Gary Cherone in Van Halen.

This post isn't about them either.

Tora Tora and Nelson both made solid appearances on the soundtrack as well (though the latter appeared as "Power Tool" due to a contract arrangement prior to their debut album release), as did a couple other even lesser-knowns. But it ain't about them either.

This is about Shark Island, one of the most underrated melodic hard rock bands of the late '80s. This group, along with Babylon A.D., has one of those non-success stories that kind of sickens me, because they were really good yet practically ignored, and I place the blame squarely on their labels. Both bands had incredible debut albums boasting a solid selection of songs with no filler, but suffered horribly from a lack of promotion and airplay.

Law of the Order was Shark Island's major label debut album, releasing the same year as the Bill & Ted soundtrack, as did Extreme's eponymous debut, and Tora Tora's Sneak Attack. It was a fantastic set of music, start to finish. Great riffs & catchy melodies abound, and Richard Black's vocals were spot-on throughout. This album should have been a huge success. It's a crying shame that Epic just let such genius material sit and rot.

FFWD>> to 2007, and I'm still listening to the album with some regularity. In August that year Shark Island released a new album. They'd apparently gotten most of the original band together to bring to fruition a bunch of old material and demos they'd had sitting around in the vault. This was exciting news. Unfortunately, the prospect was far more exciting than the final project.

Gathering of the Faithful is a great album title, and it makes a fan of the band think, "Wow, this is an album dedicated to me, one of the faithful who recognized the genius of the first album and waited faithfully for 18 years for an amazing followup. I'm finally gonna get my reward." Sadly, what you get when you play the album, no matter whether you're a fan or not, is a bunch of castoff material that shouldn't have made it to an actual album release. There's a reason they didn't record this stuff 15 years earlier. It kind of sucks. And, insult to injury, the production value sucks too. The band sounds like they haven't played together for almost two decades. Major disappointment.

Today I discovered on Apple Music that there's other Shark Island material out there as well. In 2004 an independent French label had the good sense to re-release Law of the Order in 2-disc format, adding a disc of live material recorded at the Whisky A Go Go in July 1989, five months after the release of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, when these guys were raring for takeoff after having slogged along and slowly built up a pretty decent following after 10 years on the L.A. rock scene.

Shark Island: Alive at the Whiskey - July 14, 1989 Bastille Day on iTunes

That disc is now available online. Though you'll shell out $60 or more for a secondhand mint-condition LP, you can now own a digital copy through iTunes for a mere 8 bucks. It's worth every penny. Even though most of the tracks are just live versions of the same material on Law of the Order, they are done with such energy and passion that each selection is given new life. If you happen to be a fan of this band looking for additional listening, I would recommend the live versions of the stuff you already know on Alive at the Whiskey long before I'd recommend the sloppy-seconds original material you'll find on Gathering of the Faithful.

There is kind of a heartbreaking moment buried in the glee I was feeling in enjoying this fantastic resurrected material. As the band finishes the final notes of "Get Some Strange" and they soak in the applause and cheers, singer Richard Black slips out of the rock star persona for a second and you get the sense that he suddenly truly noticed the crowd reaction and the fact that he was on this great stage with his band, getting major exposure on a really successful film soundtrack, and things were beginning to finally happen, that all their work was finally paying off. He shouts to the crowd, "Unbelievable!" Followed up with, seemingly more to himself, "My dreams have come true."

If only he had know how badly his record company was going to fuck him over. Such a waste.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

A Coaster Compendium - UPDATE

My list now consists of 69 coasters! 
Added two from Six Flags Great America--one is new, and the other is an old one I had completely forgotten about ever having ridden. Also, I finally got to ride Justice League 3D at Six Flags St. Louis a few times.
First there's Goliath, the most badass wooden coaster ever. Rode that one at the beginning of this season. Twice. Had to wait a very long time but that coaster was the only real reason I was there. It broke down three times the first time I was in line, but come hell or high water I was riding it. 
SO worth the wait. It's really sort of a hybrid if you ask me. There is obviously some very slick steel track embedded in that wooden framework because it rides like BUTTER. Smoothest coaster I've ever ridden, steel or wood, hands down.
Speaking of "hands down," one particular feature of this coaster is that there is no kind of handhold whatsoever. There's a lap restrain and a shin restraint to keep you in. No shoulder harness, and no bar on the back of the seat in front of you. If you're one one those "hold on tight til it's over" people, you're gonna have real trouble figuring out what to do with those hands. I'd suggest put 'em up.
Goliath is the fastest wooden coaster in the world, at a blistering but completely smooth 72 mph. Additionally it set records for the tallest drop and steepest drop on a wooden coaster--180 feet beginning at an incline of 85 degrees.
And second is the no-longer-there Tidal Wave, which consisted of a lead up track and a single, enormous loop. For my age when I rode it, that thing was pretty amazing. Kinda wish it was still around, but I guess it just lost its impact when looping coasters became so commonplace. Only thing is, that damn loop was tall. I'm sure it was taller than any other loop I've been on since.
Finally, there's Justice League Battle for Metropolis 4D at Six Flags St. Louis, which replaced the Scooby Doo Ghostblasters laser target shooting boat ride.
Eventually my patience was rewarded and we have ridden this one four or fives times so far this season. It's an indoor target shooting game that incorporates 3D effects, lasers, fog, a six axis rotating coaster car on a linear track, and complex animatronics for a really immersive experience.
Here's a few pics, including my personal high score after three rides on it. I scored in the top 10% of all scores registered thus far, the ride informed me at the end!





  • American Eagle (Six Flags Great America) [details]
  • American Thunder / Evel Knievel (Six Flags St. Louis) [details]
  • Avatar Airbender (Mall of America) [details]
  • Batman: The Ride (Six Flags St. Louis)
  • Batman: The Ride (Six Flags Over Georgia)
  • Batman: The Ride (Six Flags Great America)
  • Bizarro / Medusa (Six Flags Great Adventure)
  • Blackbeard's Lost Treasure Train (Six Flags Great Adventure)
  • Blue Streak (Cedar Point)
  • Boomerang / Flashback (Six Flags St. Louis) [details]
  • The Boss (Six Flags St. Louis)
  • Cedar Creek Mine Train (Cedar Point)
  • Corkscrew (Cedar Point)
  • Dahlonega Mine Train (Six Flags Over Georgia)
  • Dark Knight Coaster (Six Flags Great Adventure)
  • Dark Knight Coaster (Six Flags Great America)
  • Demon (Six Flags Great America)
  • Disaster Transport (Cedar Point)
  • El Toro (Six Flags Great Adventure)
  • Fairly OddParents Fairly OddCoaster (Mall of America)
  • Gemini (Cedar Point)
  • Georgia Cyclone (Six Flags Over Georgia)
  • Georgia Scorcher (Six Flags Over Georgia)
  • Goliath (Six Flags Great America) **NEW**
  • Great American Scream Machine (Six Flags Over Georgia)
  • Green Lantern (Six Flags Great Adventure)
  • Iron Dragon (Cedar Point)
  • Iron Wolf (Six Flags Great America)
  • Justice League Battle for Metropolis 4D (Six Flags St. Louis) **NEW**
  • Kingda Ka (Six Flags Great Adventure)
  • Little Dipper (Six Flags Great America)
  • Magnum XL-200 (Cedar Point)
  • Mantis (Cedar Point)
  • Maverick (Cedar Point)
  • Mean Streak (Cedar Point)
  • Millenium Force (Cedar Point)
  • Mind Bender (Six Flags Over Georgia)
  • Mr. Freeze (Six Flags St. Louis)
  • Mr. Freeze Reverse Blast (Six Flags St. Louis)
  • Ninja (Six Flags St. Louis)
  • Ninja (Six Flags Over Georgia)
  • Nitro (Six Flags Great Adventure)
  • Opa! (Mt. Olympus Indoor Theme Park)
  • Pandemonium / Tony Hawk's Big Spin (Six Flags St. Louis)
  • Pepsi Orange Streak (Mall of America)
  • Ragin' Cajun (Six Flags Great America)
  • Raging Bull (Six Flags Great America)
  • Raptor (Cedar Point)
  • River King Mine Train (Six Flags St. Louis)
  • Rolling Thunder (Six Flags Great Adventure)
  • Rolling Thunder [bobsled ride] (Six Flags Great America)
  • Runaway Mine Train (Six Flags Great Adventure)
  • Screamin' Eagle (Six Flags St. Louis)
  • Shockwave (Six Flags Great America)
  • Skull Mountain (Six Flags Great Adventure)
  • Space Mountain (Walt Disney World)
  • Spongebob Squarepants Rock Bottom Plunge (Mall of America)
  • Superman: Ultimate Flight (Six Flags Over Georgia)
  • Superman: Ultimate Flight (Six Flags Great America)
  • Tidal Wave (Six Flags Great America) **NEW** I'd forgotten about this one!
  • Top Thrill Dragster (Cedar Point)
  • Tornado (Adventureland)
  • Twister (Six Flags Great Adventure)
  • V2: Vertical Velocity (Six Flags Great America)
  • Viper (Six Flags Great America)
  • Whizzer (Six Flags Great America)
  • Wicked Twister (Cedar Point)
  • Wile E. Coyote Canyon Blaster (Six Flags Over Georgia)
  • X-Flight (Six Flags Great America)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Wah wah wwaahhhhh...

Grrr! Justice League is still under construction, even two trips to into the season. We will be returning to the park for July 4th and I'm very confident the ride will be open by then. Stay tuned...

On a related note, this week I'll be adding Goliath to my list of conquests. Stay tuned for more on that as well...

Thursday, March 19, 2015

More coasters coming!

As Six Flags season approaches yet again, I'm gearing up with some genuine excitement because of two impending additions to my coaster conquest compendium:

Six Flags St. Louis opens, as always, on Good Friday. And, as we have done many times in the past, we will be there to secure our season passes. However, the passes will have to wait, as I want to be on the first official go-round of the new Justice League 4D dark ride once the park has opened for the season.
Justice League Battle for Metropolis 4D is billed as the first ride of its kind in North America. It's a "dark ride," similar to the Scooby Doo Ghostblasters boat ride that previously occupied the same space in the park, save for the boat part; this one rides on rails... I think. Either that, or it maybe doesn't move at all, but rather is a more "virtual" experience.

It's also similar to Scooby Doo in that the ride involves offing baddies and various other targets with laser guns attached to the conveyance. But that is where the similarities end.

Battle for Metropolis boasts the best, most high-tech animatronic characters this side of Disney World. In addition, it somehow incorporates "4D glasses." Not sure how that works exactly, but I can tell you with certainty that those glasses are going to be in the best shape of their lives on opening day. By midsummer you'll be lucky to see anything out of them. Unless maybe they're disposables? I don't know. There's an air of mystery about them as yet.

Oh, and Six Flags says this ride has 600+ shooting targets (!) compared to Scooby Doo's pitiful 115. In addition, we know that the ride incorporates five enormous screens, special effects, custom music and top-notch voice acting. JLBFM was designed by Sally Corp. (of Ghostblasters fame) and Oceaneering provides the motion-controlled ride vehicles.

I'm pretty stoked for this one. If it doesn't ride on rails, I'll still be super-excited to ride it on opening weekend, despite not being able to add it to my coaster tally. I'm confident that we'll be riding this one as a family at least two or three times Easter weekend.

The following month, we are planning a trip to Chicago, where I'll be taking in a Laibach concert. Our plan is, as long as we're there, to hit Six Flags Great America the following day (or two). This has me even more excited than I am for the concert, and I've been a Laibach fan for over 20 years, never having been to a show before, The reason this trip has me prematurely creaming my jeans is, of course, the coaster that was new for 2014 but we didn't go last year to ride it - GOLIATH!

Shattering records as the world's tallest, fastest and steepest wooden coaster, this behemoth is the one I've been waiting all my life to ride:


  • An initial 85-degree, 180-foot drop
  • 72 MPH top speed
  • Two overbanked inversions
  • 180-degree zer-G roll twist
  • Inverted zero-G stall
I'm just floored when a wooden coaster goes upside down. This baby does it several times. I cannot wait to board this sucker. I'm hoping the lines will be OK since it's a year old now.

I can't tell you how much I adore the Great America park north of Chicago. It was always my day-trip vacation destination of choice when I was a youngster, and it continues to be. The only pain in my ass now that I'm the dad is all the damn tolls along the way. That's where St. Louis takes an advantage over Great America. Actually, if you want me to be honest, the ONLY way in which Great America is better than St. Louis is in the number and quality of its rides. St. Louis has Great America beat on all other counts, including food, ticket/season pass price, weather, crowding, and the fact that there are a few rides that I'd miss if I had to only go to Chicago instead.

The Boss, American Thunder, and Screaming Eagle are the unique coasters in St. Louis that I enjoy most. Along with Screaming Eagle, the park's other iconic amusement ride is its giant Ferris Wheel, Colossus. We make a point to ride it every trip. It's a great way to decompress after a long day in the sun and on your feet.

But I digress. Obviously I'm excited to be heading to Six Flags once again. I was beginning to feel like an old fart because I haven't ridden a roller coaster in a couple years, and I literally can't remember the last time I flew from the seat of a playground swing. Thank goodness spring has arrived in Central Illinois. I need to get my ass to the playground with my kids, stat. No getting old for me just yet.

Stay tuned for more after Easter. I can't wait to tell you about the Justice League ride.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

March Madness, Metal-Style

Hey, Manowarriors worldwide! I've got a chance for you to stand up and be counted! Speak out for your true metal heroes and make your voice heard! Loudwire is taking the college sports sensation known in the States as "March Madness" and co-opted it for metalheads everywhere. They've created brackets for fans to vote on and find the best metal mascot ever.



The first match-up is Black Sabbath's occasionally used demon known as "Henry" vs. Manowar's ubiquitous "Manowarrior." Face it, folks, the United States is heavily biased toward Sabbath, so my overseas brothers and sisters of true metal are the only ones who are gonna be able to save our beloved Manowarrior from certain defeat at the hands of a part-time mascot whom he could rip apart with his bare hands in a true brawl.



Help me bring our Manowarrior victory! Hail and Kill! Visit this round 1 voting link and cast your vote today! Voting ends at noon on Monday 23 March GMT. Spread the word and take the metal world by STORM!

HAIL AND KILL!