#934: What Now?


I sound like a broken record at the end of every summer.  It’s tough to keep the spirits up at this time of year.  It’s likely I’ve taken my last swim of 2021.  Next time we get to the lake, the sun will be down by the time we arrive.  And then will come the day it is covered with snow, and empty for the winter slumber.

Music helps – music always, always helps.  So does writing.  But it is an annual challenge.

When I was a kid, the end of August would signal the start of the “sad times”.  The back-to-school ads.   Reminders that I was going to have to spend another year with a bunch of bullies again.  Then the colder weather started to roll in.  Our family would take two weeks of vacation in August but back then, they were two cold, rainy weeks. (Not like today.)  You had to start dressing in long pants and sweat shirts.

Shopping for notebooks and new school clothes.  Realizing that a few weeks of warm freedom were about to be replaced by 10 months of misery.  I hated Labour Day weekend.  Back to the “hell hole” as my sister would say.  These feelings stick with me today.  I can’t flip the calendar from August to September without them.

Even though I’m not in school anymore, the heavy heart returns.  I now know that I have Seasonal Affective Disorder and it’s something I need to fight every fall.

Last year was a success!  I avoided the seasonal depression.  I spent my summer making lots of videos, to take me back there in my mind when I needed it.  I also had the show, the LeBrain Train, to look forward to every weekend.  This year is different.  The videos and photos don’t have the same impact two years in a row, and since May the LeBrain Train has become more of a burden than a joy.  I need something new to keep my spirits up this winter, and I don’t yet know what that is.  It is true that we have a long September ahead, warm but shorter days.  I hope this mitigating factor helps.  I think what I really need is some new creative spark to keep me looking forward.  Last year it was the LeBrain Train but the burnout factor has ensured that I need something fresh that I can look forward to from September to May.

What used to cheer me up at this time of year?

As a kid I used to be excited for a new season of the Pepsi Power Hour which hasn’t existed in 30 years.  I don’t watch a lot of TV these days, but fortunately Marvel has constant content forthcoming on Disney+.  We have a new Iron Maiden album to look forward to, but the idea of new music from my favourite bands doesn’t have the same excitement factor as when I was 15 years old.  Yes I’m happy there is a new Iron Maiden coming, but compared to the sheer expectation of Seventh Son coming out in ’88?  No chills.

It feels like…work?  Like I haven’t finished digesting The Book of Souls and here comes another one.  I can’t remember how half that album goes, and now we have a new one to get to know.  It’s not like in the old days when I felt literally starved of Iron Maiden because I’d played all their albums over and over and over.  Now, there are so many that you don’t necessarily even play them all in a year.

Back then, getting a new Iron Maiden album felt just as amazing as a new Star Wars or Marvel movie today.  Something you have been anticipating for a while.  Music videos were like movie trailers.  We’d watch repeatedly, we’d pause, and we’d slo-mo trying to glimpse details.  Costumes, instruments, stage sets, all of it.

When I was working at the Record Store, I still didn’t know that this seasonal depression thing was real and not just me.  It often came and went in spurts.  I used to call them a “big blue funk”.  2003 was a very “funky” year for me.  I’d been dumped (twice) by my Radio Station Girl, and even with a new Iron Maiden in my back pocket (Dance of Death, and also a new Deep Purple called Bananas) I still felt like I needed to do something to help me get through the winter.  And there was something I used to do to pick myself up back then, especially if I had my heart broke.  Yes, broken hearts are for assholes, but I chose to get new holes.  On September 3, I went to Stigmata in Guelph and got my nose pierced.

It was my third visit to the tattoo studio that year.  After Radio Station Girl dumped me, I got my lip pierced at Stigmata.  A couple months later I got my tragus pierced — that piece of cartilage at the opening of your ear.  A friend of mine named Lois Sarah had just started piercing there and if I remember the details correctly, I was a guinea pig.  It’s fun to go back and read my notes!

Lois asked if I was ready. I said yes, and she asked me to take a deep breath and exhale….

I said, “Wow, I didn’t feel a thing.”

Lois said, “That’s because it’s not through yet.”

I felt the needle go through at least 3 distinct layers of cartilage. Each one hurt more than the last. On the last layer, I said, “FUCK” and both my legs shot out. 

Lois did a great job and it’s the one piercing that I do still have.

But September 3 2003 was just my nose, nothing too painful.  It was Labour Day weekend once more, and I decided to go for it.  Normally I went to get a piercing with a “wingman” but this was my first time going alone.  I distinctly remember wearing my Iron Bitchface T-shirt.  An uber-cool looking guy with a massive afro shot me an approving glance, so I felt good from the get-go.

I was led to the back room, but not before washing up my hands with disinfectant gel. I sat down in the Very Big Chair, as I liked to call it, and Lois prepared the goods. She marked my nostril with a dot and got the position right where I wanted it. Then she applied some iodine to the area, both inside and out. She tested out the position of the receiving tube, and finally asked me to take a deep breath.  As I exhaled, the needle went in no problem. Almost no pain at all. I’ve been pinched harder.  (By your mom.)

The rest of the year still sucked, nose ring or not.  It was the year of working with the Dandy, a manchild that drove me slowly mad as he sucked up to the big-wigs.  Work was miserable and not getting any better.  But at least I was proactive, and did something that I thought would help.  Something that helped in the past.

I’ve been there and done that with piercings, and though I like the look of them, I don’t enjoy the upkeep.  I prefer to spend my money on something more permanent, like a tattoo.  That’s something to consider, but I think I need to look elsewhere for a bright spot this winter.  Maybe I will find my joy in the live show once again, but I can’t count on it.  Truth be told, I haven’t been feeling it as much since May.  I remember telling Deke that I was struggling and he suggested back then that I take a break.  But I didn’t feel like I could take that break until the end of the summer.  And here we are.

So now I search for some new slant on my creative outlet to revitalize me.  Something to look forward to regularly.  I was very lucky during the winter of 2020-2021.  I hope I can pull it off again!




  1. I hope you can find a good creative outlet again this year in addition to the writing, and I hope the breaks between the shows do you some good too.

    It won’t surprise you I’m sure to find out that I have digested The Book of Souls, can tell you each song goes, and am somewhat optimistic for Senjutusu as a welcome addition to the discography. I don’t expect it to top The Book of Souls, but if it can offer something that The Book of Souls doesn’t, then I’ll be satisfied with it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just checked my Iron Maiden folder — 70 subfolders. Each one might be said to be a CD. If I gave them all equal time and played one a day, I could only play Book of Souls five times in a year. But I have thousands of discs so the math gets even worse for newer albums.

      Meanwhile, Seventh Son, I played several times a week when I was a kid, because I only had 200 or so tapes at the time.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes. Despite the other factors, the main difference between music now and what we heard when we were young was that we had just a few albums so heard them each many times. No way to go back to that without simply not hearing a lot of stuff.

        For people at what I guess is the average age here, and assuming that we have about 2000 CDs, then if we listen to one per day we can listen to each one five times before we die.


      2. True. My collection is a fraction of the size, and The Book of Souls was one of the first Maiden albums I bought, so it is to me what Seventh Son is to you.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I’m still not sure just exactly how I feel overall towards the whole album. I want to give it more time to sink in. I do find myself slightly preferring the first six songs that make up disc 1 to the four closing ones.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Me too but not with Maiden. I remember shocking Aaron by dropping my Book of Souls review the morning after and I can’t let him down this time either! It’s not morning here anymore but I can still get it done. Deke may also have dropped his Book of Souls review immediately too. I believe Brendan Snyder and a few others have released their reviews.

          Liked by 1 person

        3. Wow. You guys like to be speedy. I know you did Live Chapter the day it came out, or shortly after. Must get good hits on those reviews. I’m looking forward to reading it, and it looks like I won’t have to wait too long.

          Liked by 1 person

        4. I’m afraid I can’t answer that. I keep tabs open and check in manually to get my new post fix, or just check in every couple of days.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Hang in there Mike. You will think of something to help you get through the darker times. I am glad Summer is coming to an end as it has been a hot one, I love the Fall, but hate the Winter. I can see how you would hate the cabin time to end as that place looks amazing. And if it makes you feel any better, the new Iron Maiden one doesn’t interest me at all and Book of Souls I know nothing about so big wop dee doo about the Maiden.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like that you call it a cabin! It’s really more like a summer house. My sister has a real legit log cabin. I believe my grandfather built it in the late 1950s. One day I’d like to go over there and do a video tour. It’s amazing the structure is still solid. It needed a lot of work but she takes good care of it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I hope you recover from your seasonal depression. I don’t know if I can’t relate to that. But everyone goes through different things and now that you’re on your break, maybe you can use that time to digest ‘Book of Souls.’ I’m sorry the shows started to feel like a burden for you, though.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well Lana I think it’s something I will always have to deal with. The key is finding strategies every year to deal with it. If I become a billionaire, I’ll move to Australia every winter, solving my problem!

      I think I’m going to be digesting Senjutsu now. An interesting release and I’m not sure how much I like it yet.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s sad you’ll always have to deal with it then. But, at least you’re determined to find strategies that help you cope with seasonal depression.

        I quite like ‘Senjutsu.’ Then again, I haven’t listened to ‘Book of Souls’ in a while, so I can’t compare between the two.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Book of Souls will always be special for two reasons (to me). Tears of a Clown is a really important song. And I think the final track Empire of the Clouds is remarkable and will never be repeated.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. I think everybody did! It was a generational thing. For me he was Mork. For the generation after me, he was the Dead Poets Society. I think he had fans everywhere. He was a special guy.

          Liked by 1 person

        3. Right! Jumanji and Aladdin! I forgot those. He was iconic in Aladdin wasn’t he? And I had no idea he was on Whose Line.

          Check out a movie called The Fisher King, starring Jeff Bridges and Robin Williams. It’s about mental health, the radio, and a quest for the Holy Grail and it’s a brilliant performance by everyone. I’ll never forget Robin singing a song called Lydia the Tattooed Lady. I’m getting a tear in my eye thinking about it.

          Liked by 1 person

        4. Yes, absolutely! Robin was perfect for the role of ‘Aladdin.’ I’m a huge fan of the older WLIIA (I haven’t been watching the current seasons much, but they’re funny too), so I saw a few clips of Robin and he was hilarious.

          A movie about mental health? That sounds amazing. I didn’t know he had more singing roles other than ‘Aladdin.’

          Liked by 1 person

        5. Well it wasn’t a singing role, he just sang a sweet song to someone named Lydia in the movie. It was a very sentimental moment.

          Basically the story is this. Jeff Bridges is a shock-rock radio DJ like Howard Stern. He says something to upset one of his callers one day, who then went on a shooting spree.

          Bridges gets fired for the stunt. He meets a homeless guy (Robin) and the become friends. Robin is clearly not well, he sees monsters and knights and thinks it is his job to seek the Holy Grail. Later on, Bridges realizes that Robin’s wife was killed by the deranged gunman, and that’s how he went crazy and became homeless. It was all his fault so he feels like he has to help him in his quest for the grail. This is all in modern New York city, so it’s surreal that they’re seeking the grail. It’s one of the best movies I’ve ever seen in my life.

          Liked by 1 person

        6. Yes exactly. Excellent film, directed by Terry Gilliam who is one of my favourites. He directed the ORIGINAL Monty Python and the Holy Grail, as well as 12 Monkeys, Time Bandits, and Brazil.

          Liked by 1 person

        7. The actual biblical holy grail! He thought it was in New York. I can’t say more about that or I’ll spoil too much. But he thought the real holy grail from the biblical Last Supper was in a millionaire’s building in New York. He wants to break in and steal it.

          And the irony of course is that the Monty Python film was a quest for the exact same object!

          Liked by 1 person

        8. OK. Well just quickly then:

          The third Indiana Jones movie was mentioned in the Spielberg show, it’s a really fun movie.

          Monty Python were a British comedy troupe known for their absurb skits. Not for everybody, very quirky! But they have lots of music connections, with the Beatles and even Iron Maiden. Graham Chapman from Monty Python was the schoolteacher in the video for Can I Play With Madness.

          Liked by 1 person

        9. Oh shoot! I’m sorry, I did look up Monty Python and it said something about comedy, but I thought you were referring to something else. Sorry, I feel bad we don’t have a lot of common interests.

          Liked by 1 person

        10. Sounds awesome! I’ve been waiting for someone to do a Def Leppard series for a while. Thanks to you, I won’t have to wait much longer (hopefully). Yeah, he and Pete Willis were the bomb together! It’s a shame that never worked out.

          I’ve always wondered what would’ve happened if they worked with Pete on his alcoholism. Maybe, the guys would’ve had a better idea on how to help Steve (since both of them were in a similar situation).

          Liked by 1 person

        11. Well Lana, I spend a lot of time thinking about those “what ifs”. I like to think there’s a parallel dimension out there where Steve Clark is still alive. I really loved him when I was a young fan. Not just his guitar playing (which I preferred to Phil, no offence to Phil!) but also his STYLE. He looked cool, and he had awesome hair.

          Liked by 1 person

        12. Hopefully he’s much happier and rocking it out in heaven. I agree with everything you said! Steve’s playing was so unique and really defined Def Leppard’s early sound. I don’t want to say it was sloppy, but it was different. Partially because he wore his guitar too low. Phil’s a decent player, but his fast playing can get on my nerves. Steve had the look. From his wardrobe to his hair. Now, that I think about it, his hair changed quite a bit since he first joined till the Hysteria days.


  4. Seasonal depression is the worst. Like you, I think end of August going into September was one of the worst times of the year even if the weather wasn’t the worst. I hated going back to school, not because of academics, but because of awful classmates, but on the bright side it was nice to see my friends again, but it would be a while until my family travelled again and travel is what I live for! I miss that! The worst though is 4 PM sunsets in the winter and I’ve spent most of my life living in places where that’s a thing. The time I didn’t was when I lived in Florida, didn’t love living in Florida, but at least there were no 4 PM sunsets. Daylight savings time should just be all year round.


    1. Thanks Angie, I think you nailed down a few of the things I find hard about this time of year. Today is generally my worst day of the year, the day after labour day.

      Like you, it was about the awful classmates.
      Like you, the 4 PM sunsets sucks (so does driving home in them).
      And yes it would be a long time before my family traveled again. We generally only went to the cottage but that was my traveling. I might get one more trip in this year before it’s too cold. Then…I have to wait until May.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. SAD is definitely a thing. You’ll get there. And I’d say think of the new Maiden album as a gift, not work. I mean, BoS dropped 6 years ago so there’s been plenty of time to digest it. A new album, timed just now, is exactly the lift you need to see you brilliantly into the winter months with energy and epicness (for the new album is definitely EPIC in scope). I know I’m an anomaly but I like winter, don’t mind the cold. If anything, it’s the heat that’s my undoing! Letting go of the beach for the year is tough, yeah, but it’ll be there next year. Back to school was something I dreaded too, but not really, because girls and basketball and band were there to distract. And these days it’s exciting because our kids really like school (they’re weird, I know) and will see their friends daily, so I’m excited for them. We just bundle up and greet each day for what it is and enjoy. I mean, we had our second tornado warning in as many weeks last night, all you can do is (if you’ll pardon the pun) weather it and carry on! Up the irons! \m/ \m/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks man. I’m doing my best. As Scotty might say, I’m givin’ ‘er all she’s got! I’m trying to be proactive though and think of winter activities that I will enjoy. Like maybe this is the year to make a winter drive to the lake. I haven’t done that since 2003. Drive up for the day and maybe stay in a hotel (water gets shut off in winter). Just spitballing. But I need to do things in the winter that keep me engaged. A couple years ago I did the VHS archives and sometimes that’s a nice activity in the winter. I might do more in terms of outdoor videos just to take advantage of winter. Our friends in Hawaii and Australia might be fascinated by that kind of video.


      1. Absolutely they would. Go for a walk in a park after a heavy snowfall. It’ll make them hide behind their surfboards! But yeah, I always say the best way to avoid feeling down about winter is to just get out into it. Go shovel some snow, go for a walk. Take up photography of cool ice formations, I dunno. Just be outside in the sunlight when you can. It really helps.


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