#858: School Days

GETTING MORE TALE #858: School Days

Did anybody really enjoy doing speeches in school?  I dreaded them year after year.  Pick a subject, write a speech, memorize it, time it right, and then it’s showtime.  My first speech was an award winner.  In was in grade three, and I wrote a speech about falling into the Athabasca glacier on my summer vacation.  It was a hit.  But that didn’t get me off the hook.  Year after year, you had to keep coming up with new speeches.

Grade five was Pac-Man, and it didn’t do as well.  Not that I minded.  I wanted to do just well enough, not so well that I had to do it again in a semi-finals.  I was obsessed with Pac-Man that year.  I truly had Pac-Man fever.  In my speech I discussed sequels like Ms. Pac-Man, and how the Atari 2600 version was such a disappointment.

In eighth grade I changed things up considerably and did my speech on Kiss.  I can tell you that the teacher Mrs. Powers visibly reacted every time I said the words Hotter Than Hell.  My speech was like a condensed version of Kisstory, a predecessor perhaps to what I like to do today.  It was actually really good although it was mostly off the cuff.  I knew I wasn’t going to get a good grade because of the subject matter, and I knew a speech about Kiss wasn’t going to make it to any kind of semi-finals, and I really knew they didn’t like the word “hell”.  Name dropping Mick Jagger didn’t help.  But it was really good, natural sounding and I only stumbled a couple of times.

The teachers didn’t really want you to do a speech about rock bands, but I was determined to express myself.  I didn’t want to spend five minutes talking about, I dunno, making steak sandwiches.  I could have whipped up an easy speech on Antarctic exploration or World War II, and gotten a better mark.  The more I look back, I guess I was a teeny tiny bit of a rebel.  But it was the teachers who gave me shit about my Judas Priest shirt that brought it on.

In grade nine I did my speech about Iron Maiden.  I should have diversified.  I could have spoken about nuclear power, Baron Von Richthofen, or Wrestlemania.  To my credit I was always good at telling a story, and I made them interesting.  I just tried to squeeze music into my schoolwork any chance I could.  If the jocks could do a speech about baseball, I should be able to do one about heavy metal.  I do remember one guy had a really well written comedic speech about a blind date.  If I knew fiction was a category I would have tried a hand at that!

In later years I did more expansive independent studies on other subjects, but still managed to work in music.  I did it for a sociology project and a few English ones.  And why not?  I couldn’t do that in algebra, physics, chemistry, or calculus.

These little acts of rock and roll rebellion didn’t get me an A, but I did well enough to be admitted to Wilfrid Laurier University in 1991.  So:  no regrets.  I can still write about Manfred von Richthofen if I want, and I’m fortunate enough that you would probably still read it.  I’ve written about history (tied into music) here a number of times.  I’m sure I’ll do it again.  And why not?  It’s easy to tie this stuff to music; Iced Earth have a song about Richthofen.  Queen have a song about Robert Falcon Scott.  Iron Maiden have songs about everything that ever happened.  The field is wide open.



  1. I remember that speech about the Athabasca glacier. You won in your class and had to compete against older kids in the finals.
    I personally would like you to write a story about Scott. Or maybe Shackleton. Or even the Red Baron!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep Harrison I did that one myself. I wrote about it here in posts called Censor This. As a bit of meta-commentary, the teacher didn’t want me to use Scorpions’ Love At First Sting album cover in my presentation, so I did anyway. Censorship!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I remember reading about that one. It may have even subconsciously affected my choice. I talked about-
        Appetite For Destruction
        The X Factor (in a less cut and dry example)
        Beggar’s Banquet
        Yesterday and Today
        The German cover of Maiden’s Women in Uniform


  2. A similar thing happened to me. Despite all of my social anxiety, I’m a pretty good public speaker when I want to be. I did so well on my first speech (A total rip off of Inspector Gadget but no one seemed to care) that my “reward” was to do it again in front of a bigger crowd. It was extra work that I didn’t want to do. So, I made sure to choose boring, non-fiction topics from then on. Volcanos, lasers, electric circuits. Something to show the teacher that I did some research but not interesting enough to have anyone ever want to hear me talk about it again.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hated speeches.

    And I had an inside book cover like yours with all the band logos I could do. Dokken, Motley (Theater logo), Metallica, AC, Twisted Sister, Megadeth, Anthrax, Poison, Whitesnake 87 logo and many more.

    Great post.


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