Meg had confirmed us a noon teetime at Ahlgrim's, the funeral parlor with the mini golf course in the basement. It was originally intended to entertain kids who needed a break from grieving, but provided there's no service, the course is free and open to the public. There are also several free-to-play arcade games like Galaga and Space Invaders, a pool table, a pinball machine, and a couple of other table games as well.
We headed to breakfast at a place we drive by on the way in every year, called Omega Restaurant and Bakery. Apparently every year I make the same joke about wondering where the Alpha Restaurant is, and then say we should eat there, but I don't remember doing it so it's still funny to me. This year we finally ate there, which made me wonder why we waited so long. The food is fantastic, and they even give you an appetizer of fruit and a piece of the best coffee cake you'll ever have. We vastly overestimated both how long it would take to eat, and how long the trip to Ahlgrim's would be, so we went to kill some time at the Best Buy across the street, and when we got back in the car, something was interfering between my butt and the seat. The hell? I don't remember leaving anything in the...oh, right. Flesh.
Ahlgrim's was a good deal of fun, and we killed a couple hours there between golfing (I won) and video games (I lost). On the way out, we were saying our thank you's to the director, and he stopped us and asked if there was a Bryan in our party. I'm particularly ashamed of this one, as I walked right into it. Malorie had been posting pictures of our game to Facebook while we were doing it, so I thought maybe one of the other BMMB groups had arrived early, saw that we were golfing, and left a message for us to contact them. But no, I was told Mr. Ahlgrim had left a package with instructions to give it to Bryan. As soon as he handed me the package, I knew it was Flesh number five, but the zinger was a pamphlet from Ahlgrim's called “Coping With Your Grief”.
After Ahlgrim's, Tim, Sean and Meg were bushed, but we had some shopping we wanted to do. Every trip, I like to make sure Malorie gets a couple things just for her. It's her vacation too, after all. We'd already been to TJ Maxx, and now we were off to Ragstock downtown. She made quite a haul. Shocked as I was to be spending money in that place, I found a cool old leather jacket for $20 that looks like the one Indiana Jones wears, and a couple of nice flannel shirts for dirt cheap. I was informed later that the jacket is now considered trendy, but since I was oblivious to that and buying it to look like Indiana Jones, I think I get a pass. And I know flannel is trendy, but you know what? It's also soft and comfy, so fuck all you hipsters. A quick stop at a record store yielded the new Electric Wizard, and some surprisingly cheap used copies of Exodus's live record, Fire Up the Blades by 3 Inches of Blood, and the new Skeletonwitch.
We were out of time on the meter, but didn't really have enough time to go somewhere else either, so it was off to Superdawg to reunite with the Telstar crew and meet E. Mark “Skip” Mitchell and his daughter Gaz for supper. How appropriate that my tenth anniversary of B-Fest should see so many of our goals from a decade ago fulfilled. Not only had I been wanting to make Superdawg a part of my B-Fest experience since I first read about it, but I had never had a Chicago-style hot dog at all. Turns out, they really know what they're doing, although I'm a little bummed that the almost ritualistic cult built up around them does not allow for turning them into corndogs, which are awesome. I got to sate my desire for a good crunchy corndog at the greasy spoon run by my elementary school music teacher when I got home, but it's not quite the same.
Back to the room, and soon to bed, for tomorrow promised to be another big day.
Thursday morning saw breakfast at the ever reliable Seven Brothers (and thanks to Mal for putting her hand over the crepe section of the menu for me [go read last year's recap if you don't know what I mean]), which is also conveniently in walking distance of the hotel. Then it was off to the Museum of Surgical Sciences, which was less horrifying than I had hoped, but still plenty educational. I had never heard of the portable x-ray shoe sizers, for example. Hey, your shoes fit great, but your feet are made of tumors now! And putting a leather cap on a patient and hitting them in the head with a hammer actually used to be an acceptable form of anesthetic! And before the advent of anesthetic, a samurai once endured surgery by playing a board game to take his mind off the pain! And you used to be able to buy heroin in the Sears and Roebuck catalog! And...well, you get the idea. Crazy medical facts. The museum ended with an old-fashioned apothecary shop, where they had displays of bottles of various snake oil. There were also special lozenges in a bowl, made of honey and peppermint and catnip. I should have known better. “Hey, they used to put all kinds of random nasty crap in medicine because they didn't know any better! Wanna try some?” “Sure, I'd love to have my mouth taste like old grass clippings and barf for the next two hours.”
After that, it was off to Bucket O' Blood, one of the places I was most excited about this year. It turns out that excitement was rather unfounded. Now, I'm not trying to crap on the owners, because it's a neat little shop, and clearly they're living out their dream and power to them for it. All I'm saying is, if you're going to advertise your awesome metal selection, it needs to consist of more than a used Cradle of Filth CD (and one of their really shitty ones at that), a used Black Sabbath record, and a bunch of Aerosmith and Van Halen vinyl, because anyone under the age of 60 who comes into your shop is going to have certain expectations that you are just not prepared to meet. The comparatively large collection of fuckawful indie rock and new wave just added insult to injury. But I found a bunch of books, including a couple of overpriced Dr. Who Target novelizations, a Guy N. Smith book, and an uncorrected proof of an as-yet-unreleased Brian Lumley novel, so it wasn't a total loss.
Then it was off to a little diner for a late lunch. Mal and I were trying to eat light because we were going to the legendary Kuma's Corner heavy metal burger bar for supper. I ordered a bowl of soup, which was exactly what you'd expect. A nice bowl of non-filling soup. Mal ordered a chef salad, figuring it would be a regular plate of salad. When the waitress (I feel odd calling the boisterously lovable grandmotherly lady who brought our food a waitress, but waitmatron sounds dumb) came to the table with the enormous serving bowl of lettuce and cheese and tomatoes, I figured she was going to dish up the salad from the bowl. And then she just put the bowl down and left. Seriously, this thing was at least one whole head of lettuce, an entire tomato, and probably half a pound of cheese. That's what I love about little diners. They do not fuck around.
Despite my best efforts, we couldn't talk any of the other newly arrived BMMB factions to come to Kuma's. Something about not wanting to pay $13 for a hamburger named after a black, death, or doom metal band they've never heard of and wouldn't like if they did. Pfff. Psshhh. Their loss, it was amazing. When I walked in, heard metal blaring over the stereo, and saw a bunch of dudes who looked like Zakk Wylde eating cheeseburgers, I felt right at home. It was an odd dichotomy between choosing the burger named after my favorite band (Clutch), or the one that sounded the most delicious (Yob, which had roasted red peppers, bacon, smoked gouda cheese, and garlic mayo). I eventually opted for Yob, and it was the best burger I've ever had by several orders of magnitude. The thing was nearly the size of my head, so you get what you pay for, and the house-made chips it came with were great as well. All that, combined with the menu openly making fun of vegetarians and Die Emo Die written on the chalk board behind the bar, made this a fine dining experience that I will definitely be repeating next year.
Then it was back to the hotel to ride with Tim and co. to the Hala Kahiki. Fistula also joined up with us at this point, and it was nice to be able to celebrate our tenth (that is, tenth year since we started going, not tenth Fest – we've missed a couple here and there, but it still counts, dammit) together. Once again, we got the back room (although I found out one of our cohorts reserved it, so it's not as much fun as imagining they just stick the noisy nerds in the back on principle), and I got to explain the running Flesh gag about twelve times. We forged alliances through displays of generosity when we presented El Santo with a $500 Amazon gift card to replace some of his possessions that were destroyed when a freak earthquake busted his plumbing.
And I drank four goddamn drinks and still only got minimally buzzed, whereas most everyone else had two and were apparently feeling no pain. So maybe their drinks really are strong as fruity tropical drinks go, and I'm just a raging alcoholic. I did once wear a different coat to the liquor store by our house, and the clerk started to ask if I needed help until I turned around and she said, “Oh, you know what you want!” The waitress brought our ridiculously huge bill and my sixth copy of Flesh, and it was back to the hotel with El Santo and Juniper (Tim and Sean bowed out early), to convene in Chad Plambeck and Mike Bockoven's room for more booze and The Howling II: Your Sister Is A Werewolf. There is absolutely nothing not to love about that movie. Mal also made some Rice Krispy bars with peanuts and candy corn, which went over well. My bottle of Terrible Belgian dark ale amused everyone, and then made us all happy by not living up to its name.
I also gave Santo a copy of John Messman's The Deadly Deep, because everyone needs to read that (Tim also got one in the box of books I brought for him, which wasn't as awesome as the one he gave me, but it did have the hardcover collection of Jill Thompson and Evan Dorkin's The Beasts of Burden in it, which is one of my favorite comics, and a Buddy Holly DVD). I know it's a little creepy, but I really wish I could just sit in a chair across from Santo and watch him read that stupid book to see the expressions that will cross his face. If you haven't yet, pop over to the review for it and see just what he's in for.
At this point, we're all feeling pretty good, but we need to get some sleep and not be too hung over, because tomorrow is the big day...