Friday, June 24, 2005


On Wednesday I adopted Russell (Russell is his middle name, Kurt is his first), a 21-pound, 4 1/2-month-old puppy. I believe that he's part Jack Russell or Fox Terrier, and the humane society had him down as a lab mix (he's all black and has long legs) although I'm not sure about that. Anyway, he has kept me quite busy and I haven't been able to write updates for the top 100 list. Please forgive me. Next week Laura will be living in Lincoln and she will do most of the care for the little guy, so I should have time to catch up on the list.

A little about Russell:
I believe that I potty-trained him within two days, although there is always the chance for another accident. He was kennel-trained within an hour. In other words, he is very smart and extremely eager to please. I've yet to see him angry and I've only heard him bark a couple times, all very quietly. He loves to play fetch (although he's getting a habit of not bringing the ball back) and tug-of-war, but his favorite thing to do is make his sheep toy squeak. He has knocked over my friend's two-year-old twice while playing, but he's learning to be nice to her (she needs a little more work to be nice to him).

Monday, June 20, 2005

Monday, June 13, 2005

Old Motörhead Videos

On Saturday I watched Motörhead’s video for the song “Killed By Death,” from their release Deaf Not Blind (I’m not sure the year of release). Anyway, it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. Classic 80’s beginning: a girl dresses like a slut and her dad tells her she can’t go out. But then, Lemmy comes to save the day, by driving a motorcycle through the wall. Hell yes! But that’s not the best part. The cops catch Lemmy in the video and put him in the electric chair, and then it goes to his funeral, with everyone standing around over the grave and laying flowers on it. At this point, you expect him to rise from the grave and freak everyone out, and Lemmy does not disappoint—but he rises from the grave by driving his motorcycle out of it. That’s right. Let me repeat it: he drove his motorcycle out of the grave. If that is not the coolest thing you have ever even conceptualized in your mind, then you must be taking some very strange drugs.

I would put this video up against any of today’s videos (including Black Label Society’s “Suicide Messiah,” which is also cool because they ride around on choppers and the video doesn’t make any sense with all the freaky steel helmets and contortionist girls).

I also watched Motörhead’s video for “Hellraiser,” which was apparently on the soundtrack for the movie Hellraiser III. In this one, Lemmy sat down for a game of cards with Pinhead, and once the Ace of Spades comes up on Lemmy’s side, you know he’s going to win. Then I think he flips Pinhead off, and Pinhead’s scared of him. You know, if I was some crazy demon bastard like Pinhead, Lemmy Kilmister would be one of the few people I’d be scared of. Him, Zakk Wylde, Glenn Danzig, King Diamond, Ozzy, Kerry King of Slayer, and Kurt Russell. That’s the whole list.

In fact, I’ve come to the conclusion that Lemmy Kilmister just might be the coolest man ever to walk the earth (runners up being Machiavelli, Kurt Russell, and Jesus). Even though he’s the one of the ugliest bastards in the world with that huge freaking wart, you know he’s going to have his way with your daughter (regardless of whether she has reached the age of consent). He gambles, not caring whether he wins, and he rides around on motorcycles (driving them out of graves no less). Not that this is a good thing, but he also has enough meth in his system to kill about six horses (and he used it before it was “cool”).

Friday, June 10, 2005

Top 100 Metal Songs, 80-71

UPDATE 1/5/2010: Check out my new list, The Top 50 Metal Albums of The Last Decade

In case you missed them . . .
Introduction, 100-91, 90-81

#80: “Angel of Light” by Mercyful Fate
Time (1994)

King Diamond and Mercyful Fate have had an immeasurable influence on heavy metal music since their debut in the early 80’s, cited by such monsters in the music world as Metallica and Dave Grohl. King Diamond’s over-the-top Satan-worshipping lyrics, in a scary low growl and incredible falsetto, are here in spades, in the company of the band’s signature rhythm and top shelf guitar solos. He believes in all that he has seen, and he has seen the Angel of Light: Lucifer.
This is from Vincent Jeffries, All Music Guide:
As always, the distinctive frontman King Diamond leads the way on Time with his epic (if a little silly) lyrics and bizarre vocal range that defined the group's sound. Often overshadowed by Diamond's theatrics, the other bandmembers (guitarist Hank Sherman, bassist Sharlee D'Angelo, and relative newcomer Snowy Shaw on drums) do their usual fine job cranking out retro and near thrash metal riffs with biting precision.

He fails, in his review, to mention this song of worship.

#79: “Another Brick in the Wall” by Korn
Greatest Hits, Volume 1 (2004)

I never thought I’d say it, but Jonathan Davis covered a song much better than Layne Staley did. Classic song done flawlessly (as opposed to their rendition of Metallica’s “One”) in Korn’s signature style, and Jonathan’s vocals sound more like they did in the movie Queen of the Damned, which is a very good thing (not necessarily the movie, I mean his vocal style in the movie).

#78: “The Heretic Anthem” by Slipknot
Iowa (2001)

Everyone thought Slipknot would soften up after their first CD to widen the audience. The Des Moines nine-some (nonet?) said “Fuck you” and instead got even heavier, with this song a big highlight. The whole song is at a crushing pace with Corey Taylor’s powerful voice screaming “If you’re 5 5 5 I’m 6 6 6!” In effect, I believe, accusing others of being commonplace and generic.

#77: “Passive” by A Perfect Circle
eMOTIVe (2004)

Wow. This is probably APC’s best song, very hypnotic and powerful. So why did they put it in the middle of a big pile of shit hippy war-protest cover songs, a terrible remix, and a very poor cover of Zepp’s “When the Levee Breaks”? And why did they put it in the pile of shit movie Constantine? Despite all the shit piled on this song, it definitely does not stink. Billy Howerdel’s unique guitar style and Joshua Eustis’s sparse drumming definitely allow Maynard’s voice to shine on this one.

#76: “Blast off to Nowhere” by Powerman 5000 featuring Rob Zombie
Tonight the Stars Revolt! (1999)

Despite Spider’s insistence that he not be known as “Rob Zombie’s brother,” he brought the sib in for what Mr. Zombie made into PM5K’s best song (which it will probably remain, since their latest album sucked). Spider’s low and scary voice is accented by Rob’s very scary (and, my fiancée says, sexy) voice, and the guitar solo (a rare thing these days) is well-executed.

#75: “Trouble” by Danzig
Thrall-Demonsweatlive (2003)

Glenn Danzig (who, according to my fiancée, also has a sexy voice) claims that his biggest influences are Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley. On this one, he pays homage to the latter, and he does it well. This was still in Glenn’s early solo days (if you don’t count Samhain) and so he had not yet given over to the industrial or nu-metal stylings of his later work. The lyrics seem to be custom-made for the man who is known as possibly the evilest of all musicians, and the riff/solo translate well into John Christ’s guitar.

#74: “Bleed” by Soulfly featuring Fred Durst
Soulfly (1998)

This is the highlight of Max Cavalera’s first effort post-Sepultura, and it’s very good (and probably, in retrospect, embarrassing). It hits hard, and the chorus is a responsive “Bleed! Bleed! Bleed! Bleed! Bleed!” Very, very violent, and Durst’s monologue toward the end doesn’t manage to ruin it.

#73: “Bring Her Down (To Crippletown)” by Rob Zombie
The Sinister Urge (2001)

What’s that? Electric organ music? As with most Zombie songs post-White Zombie the chorus is what makes it work. The hook is very fast and addicting, as a hook should be, and the electric organ is a very nice accent in Zombie’s 50’s-horror-movie/heavy metal style.

#72: “By Demons Be Driven” by Pantera
Vulgar Display of Power (1992)

As if “A New Level,” “Walk,” “Fucking Hostile,” and “This Love” haven’t already beaten your body into a bloody pulp by this point in the album, these Texas boys just don’t stop. It’s definitely signature Pantera style with the high accents to the bottom-heavy riffs always bringing “Cemetery Gates” to mind. The solo is a little weak, (sorry Dimebag, RIP) keeping this one low on the list.

#71: “O Fortuna” by Carl Orff
Carmina Burana (1936)

What’s that you say? Latin chanting by a choir with a classical orchestra without electric guitars does not qualify as “heavy metal?” I dare you to say that again. This is heavy metal before Tony Iommi played with a broken amp. In fact, if Orff had been born 50 years later I suspect that he would have wanted to play with the Sabbath. This song builds more adrenaline than almost any “heavy metal” song out there, and overall, if heavy metal were played on violins and sang by a choir, this is exactly what it would sound like.

I told you there’d be a surprise on the list. Log on next week for a (slightly) smaller surprise.

Jump to . . .
70-61, 60-51, 50-41, 40-31, 30-21, 20-11, and the Top Ten

UPDATE 1/5/2010: Check out my new list, The Top 50 Metal Albums of The Last Decade

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Storm Pictures

Here are some lightning pictures I took two nights ago:

And the other day Lancaster County was in a tornado warning. This is what the sky looked like:

This thing was rotating over, I think, about 48th and O streets. I was half-hoping, half-fearing that it would spin a little faster and turn into a tornado, but no such (luck/misfortune).

All images © 2005 Kelly Hoffart

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Static-X Video: "I'm the One"

Here's the new Static-X video, "I'm the One"

I haven't watched it yet, but the new album comes out on the 14th (I think I posted early that it was the 16th). The whole thing can be heard at (yuck) in "The Leak."

Novel Thoughts

Just for a little ruler for my own use, I typed a page from one of my favorite books (War of the Twins by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman) to see how many “words” it is. Turns out, it would be over 150,000 words. That’s crazy: as I’ve posted before, the average, let me repeat this, average book is 50,000 to 75,000 words. That means it’s at least long enough to be two books, and could in theory be four. But as I think about it, there’s not really any more story in it than mine, just a lot more little things. They took two whole chapters to do little more than make a cup of tea.
Perhaps I was wrong about older books. It seems Frankenstein is about 75,000 words. Fahrenheit 451 is about 60,000.

But in all honesty, I don’t think there’s any less story in my book than in any of these. I certainly wouldn’t even dare to criticize the craft of these masters (all of them are better than me, Shelley and Bradbury probably by a long shot). So what is it that makes my book so much shorter? I anticipate that by the time I’m finished, it won’t be over 40,000 words. I think this is it: although people drink coffee in my book (rather than tea), they don’t do it a whole lot, and they definitely don’t make a big production out of it. So I trim about 60% of that kind of fat. Why different from Shelley? Have you read Frankenstein? The language in the book is incredible—certainly not the dialogue that comprises a large portion of my book. It also describes every single emotion that each character felt, (well, at least the captain, Frankenstein, and the monster) at each stimulus, in minute detail.
Why different from Bradbury? This is more difficult. In fact, my writing style is quite similar to his (although he has long been master of the near-stream-of-consciousness), I think, and he’s probably been a large influence on my writing. I think a big chunk of this difference is that I need to add some more fat.
Maybe I should be comparing myself to amateurs instead, but these are the books I have. Maybe tomorrow I’ll have the curiosity and ambition to type a page from a less well-known author to see what I can see.

Actually, now that I think about it, there may be a rib or two missing from my story, and I’m thinking of ideas for new scenes right now. For one thing, nearly every scene is written from a first-person, present tense perspective. There is exactly one flashback, a few dreams (or at least dream-like sequences), and a few letters/journals. I could review a scene or two from another perspective in the past tense (I’m thinking of one in particular right now) and add a couple more flashbacks/dreams, if for nothing else but for pacing and characterization. One of the last things I want is for a reader to feel gypped or unfulfilled. That’s not as bad as someone putting it down before finishing it, but it’s probably the second worst thing.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Finished with the start

I wrote this yesterday:

Well, I’ve written 32 pages (give or take—I’m not quite sure how much was done at that point) since my last post about the book, and the skeleton of the story is done, along with most of the muscles and tendons, and a good deal of skin. There’s a very satisfying sense of closure now that I know exactly how it ends. Add that to the short appendix that I wrote to figure out the mechanics and rules of the world I’ve created, which I’ve adapted for the book, and it’s 147 pages (not counting the title page). With the new math, that adds up to 36,750 words. Not counting the appendix, it’s 35,500 words, or just over my original goal.

Word tells me the whole thing is just under 30,000 words.

The reason I could do so much work in such a short time is twofold: I worked almost constantly over the last week (I didn’t take a shower today—don’t worry, I didn’t go anywhere or see anyone—and I hardly ate anything), and I planned the last story arc extremely well in advance. In retrospect, I’m glad I did all the planning or I would have screwed things up. The story near the end was very difficult, and had to happen in a particular order.

This makes the whole thing a particularly short novel, by modern standards (although I believe that older novels are, in general, much shorter). This is actually a good thing because shorter books are easier to get published, and this being my first book I have a large hurdle to jump ahead of me. Everything I write (with the exception of this post, it seems) from legal memoranda to essays to, apparently, novels, ends up being short. I don’t like to put a lot of bullshit in them.

There’s still a lot of work to be done. I have a whole page of notes I wrote down on things I need to change or add to earlier parts of the story, and it’s still possible that I could go back and add another scene or two. After that I’ll have to put it down for a few weeks to a month and then come back to it to edit and just make it better. Then I’ll be off to find other writers to help me edit (of course it would be reciprocal) and, after applying some of the changes that they suggest or getting ideas from their suggestions, then I’ll wait another month or two before coming back to edit it again. You have to wait between edits, and especially between the initial writing process and editing, or you won’t find anything that would make it better.

One change I will make is switching all the Bible quotes to the King James Version. Although I found the copyright information on the New International Version, the Catholic Church figures large in the story and it’s more likely that they would use the older KJV.

One thing that I expected from the beginning, but is still interesting, is that each successive major story arc (I split it into three “books”) takes fewer pages than the one before. This is partially because there is less need for character development and staging, which results in fewer scenes that do little to advance the central storyline. Also, the first story arc includes the entire short story that started the whole thing, and that particular work contains a lot of really cool stuff that does a lot for characterization and setting the mood, but does nothing to advance the plot. Perhaps I will add some of this kind of thing to the rest of the book.

If I ever write another book, and I intend to, I will probably do extensive planning beforehand, detailing characters and their habits, locales, and every scene in the story before I start to write. I believe that this will alleviate the need to dedicate large shots of time to the actual writing process, and it may allow me to type the story rather than handwriting it and then retyping it. It may also allow me to plan a longer book.
As a side note, assuming this book is published, then my next book will be a sequel. In the interim, I may find the energy to write short stories, but I plan to read a lot in the next few weeks to re-energize the right half of my brain.

If anybody knows of cool quotes or a good website with cool quotes please let me know. I’ve put 18 quotes in the book (I need one more and there’s actually room for three on top of that at the moment), but 12 of them are from the Bible, including something like the last 9. I’d like to mix it up a little more, even though I am pretty much married to a few of them.

In other news, I’m starting my new class the day of this posting: Corporations. This is the major reason that I worked so hard to finish the story (10 hours this Sunday to crank out 18 insane pages—it was just like when you read a book and you can’t put it down when you get close to the end). So far, the reading assignments for the class are quite dull, and I could never be an accountant. People think lawyers are tricky . . . .

Now, as I type this, I’m freaking tired and my shoulders are sore from writing by hand and leaning over the computer all day. I think I’ll retire about an hour earlier than usual. By the way, the new Family Guy was funny, but I get the impression that they were trying to stretch the episode out with all the songs.

By the way, this post is 1,000 words in both actual word count and manuscript format after I add this phrase to make that true.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Top 100 Metal Songs, 90-81

UPDATE 1/5/2010: Check out my new list, The Top 50 Metal Albums of The Last Decade

In case you missed them . . .
Introduction, 100-91

#90: “Hellraiser” by Motörhead
March or Die (1992)

Everything about this song is simply cool, from the drum and bass beat with guitar accents to the guitar solo. It’s not fast-paced, but it doesn’t have to be. Ozzy also did this song, but Lemmy wrote it and he does a much better job with it.

#89: “Space Lord” by Monster Magnet
Powertrip (1998)

Another cool, middle-paced song. The bass and drums make the song, and the muted guitar riff does not detract. The chorus rocks in an unusual way. As with all Monster Magnet songs, the lyrics are very cool but they make no sense.

#88: “Bloodline” by Slayer
The Dracula 2000 soundtrack (2000)

The intro says “heavy.” It builds up to a chugging riff and Tom Araya’s always-scary, adrenaline-pumping voice, with his frightening lyrics: “Bleed your death upon me, let your bloodline feed my youth.”

#87: “Mr. Tinkertrain” by Ozzy Osbourne
No More Tears (1991)

The song starts with a frightening music box and children’s voices, and then goes directly into Zakk Wylde’s signature heavy riffs and pinch harmonics. The verses are toned-down, but always rock into the heavy chorus. The mellow part in the middle can’t hold back Zakk’s expert solo.

#86: “Until It Sleeps” by Metallica
Load (1996)

A very unusual-sounding Metallica song, with a lot of string-bending my Jason Newstead. The lyrics are haunting, “I’ll tear me open make you gone, no more can you hurt anyone, and the fear still shakes me.” The low-key solo allows the listener to relax for only a moment before James hits hard again and allows the song to conclude naturally.

#85: “Passenger” by the Deftones featuring Maynard James Keenan
White Pony (2000)

Excellent! The riff is signature Deftones, and Maynard’s voice complements Chino’s quite well in the responsive verses. They complement each other so well, in fact, that it’s unclear which one is singing on the chorus. In any case, it’s some of the best vocal work done by either of them.

#84: “Shock the Monkey” by Coal Chamber featuring Ozzy Osbourne
Chamber Music (1999)

I think this is what Peter Gabriel must have originally intended with the song. Ozzy’s presence as a second vocalist always makes a metal song better. This is because of the stark contrast between his voice and the voices of most other metal vocalists. The contrast with Dez’s voice is particularly pleasing to the ear. The riff has a good feel to it when it’s this bottom-heavy,

#83: “Children of the Grave” by Black Sabbath
Master of Reality (1971)

The riff chugs forward with aggressive drums in the background and Ozzy’s voice laced over the top. What more could you want? The guitars emphasize the lyrics with a high chord at the end of each phrase, and Tony Iommi’s solo in the middle is simple, but the solo at the end is his pure blues-style.

#82: “This Is Not” by Static-X
Machine (2001)

“I hate this!” The song is representative of Static-X’s continuing mission to “Keep disco evil.” In all truth, if the beats were slowed down they would make excellent dance beats. But there’s none of that for Static-X. They hit hard and fast through the whole song, with Wayne Static’s excellent voice fitting into the song perfectly with one of his usually hypnotic hooks: “This is not my life, this is not my home, this is not me. I hate this!”

#81: “Enter Sandman” by Metallica
Metallica (1991)

I don’t’ think I really need to go into this song much. I remember the first time I heard it. That was my introduction to heavy metal. Before that day in junior high, I didn’t care about music. After that day, it was time to start saving my allowance to get a CD player. And the first CD I bought? Guess. Everything about this song is awesome, and I know that if anyone’s reading this they’re going to give me flak for putting it so low on the list. But this is my list, and nostalgia has no place in deciding a song’s rank. There are 80 songs on this list that I truly believe to be better, but that’s it. The other 2600 songs on my computer are not. Metallica themselves have many better songs, but none next week.

I hope I put something on here that Todd knows. Log on next week to see two more cover songs, a great original song from a CD full of absolutely terrible cover songs, and another big surprise at #71.

Jump to . . .
80-71, 70-61, 60-51, 50-41, 40-31, 30-21, 20-11, and the Top Ten

UPDATE 1/5/2010: Check out my new list, The Top 50 Metal Albums of The Last Decade

Thursday, June 02, 2005


I just discovered something interesting: manuscript format.
Apparently, it's not actual word count that publishers are interested in. It's an estimated word count. The whole document needs to be in 12-point Courier, double-spaced, with 1-inch margins all around, and you estimate the words by multiplying the number of pages by 250.
After changing my draft to manuscript format, I have 111 pages (not counting the title page) and that means an estimated word count of 27,750. There's a little more to it than that, but when I'm finished I'll figure that out.

I've also discovered that 35,000 words (calculated this way) is sufficient for a paperback book. It looks like I won't have to stretch to get to the goal.

Answer Key

Iron Maiden: metal
Lord of the Rings: fantasy
Iced Earth: metal
Death Gate: fantasy (the Death Gate Cycle)
Hammerfall: both

Dragonlance: fantasy
Dragon Rider: fantasy
Dragonforce: metal
Dragon Bones: fantasy
Dragon Blade: fantasy
Dragon Ash: metal

King Crimson: metal
King's X: metal
King of the Unblessed: fantasy
King Diamond: metal
King of Hell: fantasy

Shadowrun: fantasy
Shadows Fall: both
Shadow Fall: fantasy
Ragnarok: both
Meshuggah: metal
The Swordmaster: metal
Goddess of Desire: metal

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Born Attorney?

Last night I was thinking of a rather odd episode in my young life, one that points to perhaps a predestination as an attorney.
This was maybe a month after we adopted Raider, so I was 11 or 12 and not yet the Full Metal Attorney that I am today (I had not yet been acquainted with what we know and love as metal). Raider also was not the bold doggy dictator of the greater metropolitan Pierce area, ruling with an iron jaw and urinating on objects all over town. Instead, he was a timid pup and I was just a little dorky kid who kept to himself. Anyway, I had Raider on a leash at the local elementary school playground, and I was sitting on a swing. Some kid that was probably a year or two younger than me walked over to us with a ball and asked if he could throw the ball at my dog. Yes, friend, please abuse my animal, you twisted bastard. So I told him that no, he couldn't, and then he asked what I would do if he put his wicked scheme into motion. I did not threaten to beat the crap out of him. No, no, that would not scare him enough. I used the most horrifying threat that one can use: I said that I would sue him. That's right, I said it. Needless to say, his face drained of color and he went on his way. Thus was my first taste of the Power of Attorney, and it tasted like a cold Pepsi mixed with Bacardi and a twist of lime.