#700: How Are You Doing?

GETTING MORE TALE #700: How Are You Doing?

It’s been a week since we lost Mum…and we are doing OK.  Jen’s been focused like an electron microscope on getting things done for the funeral.  My job is scanning photos and preparing music…and catching up on laundry.  Attempting to put a dent into the pile of clothes I call “Sock Mountain”.  I’m assuming reality will hit us later.

For music, Mum would have liked if we used something by my sister Dr. Kathryn.  I hope I can find something appropriate, perhaps from her Stealth CD.  At least one track.  For the reception after, I’m using Mike Slayen’s awesome acoustic guitar album DUDE.  Don’t let the title fool you!  If Mum was well enough, I know she would have been enjoying this album with us.  Probably in the car on the way to the cottage.  She would have loved it.  Me, I would have loved just having Mum with us.

This has been a very hard year for us, and I know the power of music is such that you always associate certain tracks or albums with periods in your life.  Music also has the power to raise the spirits, and it did that for me quite a few times this summer.  On every shitty drive to Toronto on the 401, to every dismal hospital parking lot, my stereo was on.  A lot of albums were repeat listens, and I worry:  “Will I always associate the Bosstones or Blotto with this shitty summer?”

I might.  And that might make the Bosstones or Blotto hard to listen to, down the road.  I think we have to try and make more memories of those bands later on.  Maybe when we finally do return to the cottage.

That aside, we sure did devour a lot of music on the road.  Just last week, between Toronto and the work commute, I polished off Marillion’s The Singles ’82-’88 (12 discs), its followup Singles Box Vol 2 ’89 – ’95 (12 more discs), and a third “box set” of eight more singles. A whopping 1.5 gig of music.  Basically all their singles and B-sides in one massive weeklong stretch.  Meanwhile, back at the office, I had my Kiss flash drive.  Basically, everything I own by Kiss in one place.  I’ve been focused on the studio albums, and each one has been spun more than once.  I realised this:  I never seem to get tired of Kiss!

Whether it was Lick it Up, Hotter Than Hell, Dressed to Kill, Love Gun, Rock and Roll OverDynasty, Unmasked, Creatures…even Asylum got multiple plays in the last couple weeks.  When a band has been your favourite for over 30 years and you can’t explain why, I guess you can just keep playing those albums in rotation.  The later albums…admittedly less so.  The emotional attachment isn’t quite there.

Get this!  While I was bopping to Kiss Unmasked one afternoon, the guy in the office next to me put on “Summerland” by King’s X!  How cool is that?  When was the last time you heard King’s X in the office?  The guy even knew the names of the members.  Said a friend recently turned him onto King’s X, but all he had was the Best Of.  Gotta start somewhere!

Thanks for checking in.  We’ll be OK.  I think we’ll manage to make it through this, but not without the support of friends and loved ones.



  1. Mike,

    I just want you to know how much what you do means to me. And I’m not just talking about your music reviews or record store tales or anything like that. You’ve put your life out there and your tales are so relatable to me that it makes me feel like I’m not quite as alone in the world. I know it’s not easy to make things like cancer or your fear of crowds public, but I hope you realize that you’re touching so many people that maybe weren’t ready to deal with such things themselves. We share common musical tastes sure, but your ability and willingness to open up about your fears and hardships just says so much about the strength of your character, and your kindness to strangers and your readers really means a lot to me and many others.

    This is far more than just a music review site, it’s almost like an international community. While some of us have never met in person, I feel as though I know each and every commenter like family. For you posting my guest reviews, I am really so grateful. Seriously, thank you so much for opening up the site to my contributions and trusting me with the Kix series. You don’t know how liberating this creative outlet has been for me. I’m contemplating starting my own little blog, actually all thanks to you and your kindness to me. I’d love any pointers you could give me, and I wanted to know if you think my reviews are good enough to turn into a full site?

    As for the Styx situation at the moment. I feel like I owe you both an apology and an explanation. I lost the ability to drive because of crippling anxiety issues that make it hard for me to even go out in public places, or operate heavy machinery. The post office is about 3.6 miles from my house, but in order to get there I would have to cross an entrance and exit ramp for a major interstate and a huge highway which is incredibly dangerous on foot. I really want to send you this CD, but the logistics of me getting down there are so hard. I don’t expect you to pay for postage, I’ll handle all the costs when I get out there. But really Mike, thank you so much. Your blog is such an escape from the humdrum, and it has been a daily reading from me for a while now. I’m not sure if this is the right place to post this comment, but I needed to get this off my chest and express just how much you mean to us all, even those who have never met you in person. I hope one day I can travel to Toronto and go recording hunting with the famous Lebrain.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. I couldn’t begin to tell you how much music has done for me and, while some albums are attached to certain times, there has never been a need to make new memories for them… they will stand up as albums that were there for you. Like good pals, really.

    As Dillon says, thanks for sharing all you do on here, Mike.

    Sending good vibes to you guys.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I would by no means consider myself a huge pop music fan, but I remember my freshman year in High School my Dad and Mom were fighting. My Dad had been a real dick to me and refused to take responsibility for his actions. He pretty much refused to work, so my Mom kicked him out and only let him visit a few days a week. It got so bad that my Mom wanted to file a restraining order, and I just remember my old man bursting into my room and blaming me for ruining his life and the impending divorce, despite that it was his actions of violence against me that started the whole thing. He would never have touched my mom, so he took his violence out on me because I was his oldest kid and also a son. He liked to tell me I was a pussy for not taking his abuse, and accused me of trying to tear the family apart by speaking the truth about it to my mom and uncles. I remember listening to No Jacket Required by Phil Collins repeatedly on my walks to school that year. It’s such a dated, generic pop album, but that upbeat melody was exactly what I needed at the time. It was such a fun album, and the 12″ remix of “Take Me Home” is SO much better than the album version, and a legitimately great song. That album and Peter Gabriel’s So got me through that rough period, and I listened to Judas Priest’s Turbo and Priest…Live! constantly that winter, they had such a wintery vibe with all the technology. It felt as cold as I did inside and out. I had a lot of fun going to school that year, but going home was something else. When that White Lion song “Broken Home” came out a few years later it almost moved me to tears, and I never cry. That song hit so close to home. LeBrain has said that he thought the song ruined the flow to Big Game because it’s a downer, but that song was really important to me. My situation wasn’t nearly as bad as the one described in those lyrics, but it was still incredibly poignant.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Jesus Christ! I hardly remember posting that. See kids, that’s why you don’t go on a bender. I stand by the first post, the second is the definition of TMI. Wow. Sorry for all that.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Wow what a story…classic abuser blaming the kid too. I’m really sorry to hear this! You are always welcome to share, this is a music site after all. LOL But since music has so much to do with memories….

        Broken Home is a pretty unique song. I used to think it was too…I dunno…graphic? Blatant? Realistic?


        1. I remember walking home that freshman year in a blizzard that had started right before class let out listening to Unleashed in the East on my headphones. They let all the people who drove go first so they only wrecked themselves and not into anyone else. My friends and I lived pretty close to each other and we were only about 1.3 kilometers from the school, so we usually walked home together and just had fun doing stupid shit young teenagers do. We didn’t often walk to school together, as getting up in the morning wasn’t fun for any of us. Walking home was much easier. We had to cross the train tracks into our quasi-shitty neighborhood. That freshman year of high school was pretty much the last stand in friendship ever being as strong as it was. Something about this sense of male bonding that doesn’t really last throughout the teens. It’s like that Stand by Me quote about no one ever having friends like when they were twelve. It’s the truth. I remember summer days upwards of 100 degrees Fahrenheit sitting under trees together or playing in the creek and coming home with thirty mosquito bites (not hyperbole, my max at one time was 28 total!). Give us a stuck and the outdoors and we’d be entertained for hours, which doesn’t happen nearly as much anymore for kids because of technology.

          This one time we found this water sprayer that you’d pump. You pulled it out to suck up the water and pushed it to spray it out at a pretty good pressure rate. There was this ditch at the side of the rode filled with muddy water next to the sewer that my friend and I used to piss in when we didn’t want to go home (he even shat in it once). We were sucking up that water and spraying it everywhere (not at each other, though he did accidentally hurl his shit at me one time when he didn’t know I was in the creek, it missed though). This white truck drove by that lived across the street from me. We were about ten at this time, and we wanted to mess with him. So I sucked up some of the mud water mixed with little rock pebbles and tried to spray it right behind his truck for laughs. Well I did, but then the wind hit it and it plastered the left rear of his shiny white truck. We hid the water sprayer and ran like hell. It’s youthful stories like that that are sadly becoming extinct. Parents are too rigid now, trying to manage kid’s time all the time. We need a healthy dose of parental apathy in today’s climate, just a little.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. The Canadian equivalent to that might be how we pelted cars with snowballs in the winter. You’d freak out and bolt any time a car stopped!

          There was this mean old landlord nearby that wouldn’t let kids cut through his parking lot. Since we’d been doing it for years, we didn’t think he should have the right to block our route. So, we pissed on his car naturally. I peed on the door handle. Bob didn’t want to take a chance doing that, so he peed in a bottle and poured it all over the windshield.

          To this day I don’t even know if the guy noticed.


  3. Good to have you back on the site Mike! Keeping you guys in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. Music is my lifeblood. It helps me through every situation imaginable and I can never get enough. And yes, Kiss never gets old!!! Okay, the guys are getting old, but not their music!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Some songs, just out of the blue for no real reason, are hitting me hard! This one in particular and I don’t know why. We never listened to this song together or watched the movie Harold and Maude together…but this one Cat Stevens song has been resonating for weeks!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Funerals aren’t easy but you seem to be coping well. Remember Mike, while we might not be there in the flesh, you have lots of us out there who are here to give moral support. (See previous comments). Music can be a healer and I loved the song you posted here, a blinder of a guitar solo.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. My socks lay claim to small parts of the house. Sometimes by my chair, desk, couch or bed. They do so in the name of “sock land”. They will usually get a couple of weeks there until we have to break up the party.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I almost snapped a photo today you would have been keen on. The meeting I was at spoke of ordering Lego for a lesson. There were theories about why they arrived so late including US Border issues.

      The slide presentation had a picture of Trump, with a box of Lego that read “Build Your Own Trump Wall.”

      I was so tempted to snap a photo. Rules be damned.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Absolutely music is tied to people, places, events, memories. Could probably make a map of a life just in songs. I am glad you’re coping enough. You have each other. Just do and be and let things happen. We’re here if you need us!

    Liked by 2 people

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