Record Store Tales

#967: Dilemmas of Buying

RECORD STORE TALES #967:  Dilemmas of Buying

Mixing friends with work is always a tough balancing act.  When you work retail, it’s even harder.  The friends come to you, and they’d like to do business with someone they are familiar with.  Who wouldn’t?  At the Record Store, it was particularly difficult to maintain a stable counterbalance when buying used CDs from people who consider you to be a friend.

One thing always said when training new staff on buying used CDs was that “every customer thinks their CDs are gold.”  They don’t really understand why certain ones are worthless to you.  When buying from the customer, we went into detail explaining the why’s and wherefore’s of the offer, breaking it down disc by disc.  “These ones I can’t take because I already have two or more copies of each right now, and the other stores are well stocked too.”

When it’s a friend coming in to sell their discs to you, they don’t necessarily expect any special treatment, but they do expect you to “do your best” with your offer.  And that wasn’t always possible.

Upper management really kept an eye on my interactions with my regular customers.  They often complained to me that I paid too much for stuff when it was somebody I “preferred”.  That may be true in some instances, but I believe that upper management were too focused on dollars and cents, and not maintaining good relations with a regular customer.  A customer — somebody who spent money in our stores or supplied us with used stock that we in turn sold and made a profit on.  The managers were always hammering us on COGS – Cost of Goods Sold.  We had targets to aim for, and strategies for buying stock.  Unfortunately, this ran contradictory to “doing your best” when buying stock from somebody who knows you.

Just because somebody considers you a friend doesn’t mean they won’t go somewhere else to sell their discs to get better money.  They will.  They did!

“Come on Mike, this was twelve bucks when I bought it from you!  You can only give me three?”

“Fine, fine, I’ll give you four.  Just don’t say anything.  The bosses really hound me if they see me giving more than I should.”

Another factor is that every customer felt their CDs were in great shape even if the store didn’t.  That was another source of conflict.  We had a regional manager who was so picky that she would deduct money from a customer’s total for the lightest hairline scratches, even off the actual playing surface of the disc.  When you answer to someone like that, it was hard keeping your regulars happy with your offers.

And they really did watch me.  More than once they gave me shit for treating my regulars better than they thought I needed to.  Conrad, for example.  The guy bought in so many Japanese imports.  I don’t know how he had so many, but I tried to give him the maximum.  He could have taken them downtown, but he came to me.  He chose me because we both liked heavy metal (especially Bruce Dickinson) and both understand the value of Japanese imports.  He pissed off management because if I wasn’t working, the person who was usually offered him less, which he would complain about.

To me it didn’t matter that my COGS would take a hit by offering Conrad top dollar.  What mattered more was keeping Conrad loyal.  Where in Kitchener are you going to buy Japanese imports?

At Encore Records, that’s where, if Conrad thought he wasn’t getting enough money.

I’m sure, given the opportunity, the old management could run off a litany of reasons why I’m wrong.  But the fact is they had their own preferred customer.  They called him “Scottish Man” and only a limited number of employees dealt with him because he expected top dollar.  Now, upper management would always tell you that “Scottish Man brought in better stock and was more pleasant than gum-chewin’ Conrad.”  That sounds like a bias against heavy metal and chewing gum to me.

Just my opinion.  Just my opinion from my position at the front counter.

Let’s just say that if Conrad was bringing in rare Van Morrison and Stones imports instead of Axel Rudi Pell and Helloween box sets, their opinions might have been different.  With or without the chewing gum.

#966: Crossing the Line

As hinted in the past, there are many Record Store Tales that have gone untold.  Some I have been asked not to share.  Some I’ve waited years to write, in hope that the past two decades will put some distance between the events and the people concerned.

RECORD STORE TALES #966:  Crossing the Line

It took time for the world to catch up to my needs.  As an introvert, I hadn’t had much luck meeting girls.  I said stupid things, I put my foot in my mouth, I didn’t know how to introduce myself.  I’d tried going to the bars with friends, I’d been set up on dates, but I had no success.  Thanks to the internet, I was soon able to make a better first impression, online.  There I could take my time with my words and hopefully make a connection with someone.  It was the summer of 1999, when I met a local girl named Jen online (not the one I married, I must like the name).  We got along great so she decided to meet me in person.  I was not hard to find, working at the local Record Store.

Convenient, yes.  Smart, no.

Though I was at the end of my shift and it was OK for me to chat, my boss did not like the looks of Jen.  She was exceptionally tall, and worked as a bouncer at Oktoberfest because she could physically handle herself.  But that wasn’t the boss man’s problem.  His issue was that she had a piercing in her bottom lip.

I know, right?  In 1999, a labret piercing wasn’t as common, and my boss absolutely hated piercings.  He flat out told us once that he would not hire a guy that might have been fully qualified for the job because he had a ring in his nose.

He warned me against “crazy girls”, and then proceeded to tell one of our customers all about it behind my back.

The customer that we called “Tony Macaroni” was in one day and wanted to check out some newer metal releases.  (I was always trying to sell him on Bruce Dickinson who he found to be too “Satantic”, thanks to the Chemical Wedding album.)  Tony said to me, “So your boss tells me you’re dating a…” he paused looking for the appropriate words.  “A different kind of girl.”  He probably meant to say “freak” or “weirdo”.

“Huh?” I responded in confusion.  Jen and I never actually got to dating, but I knew what was up.  The boss was telling Tony about this “freak” he spotted me with in the store.  I guess he found that amusing enough to share.

I really should have spoken to the boss then and there about privacy and overstepping his bounds.  But I found him intimidating, and so I said nothing.  As a business owner in charge of dozens of people, he certainly should have known better.

The funny thing is that I’m still friends with that Jen.  We never hooked up romantically, but she’s a solid human.

The next incidents happened in 2003.  Again, he involved himself in my dating life.  I had recently turned 30 and for the first time in my life, was getting turned down by girls in their mid-20s for being “too old”.  29 was fine, but 30 was apparently over the top.  Unable to turn back the clock, I was not happy when this started happening.

I had one weakness back then.  I liked to talk.  Some of the other store managers were friends, and I would periodically call them up and ask for advice.  The boss absolutely hated when we talked on the phone to employees at other stores.  It meant that during the phone call, there were two people not working.  I did this too often and got caught.  The next day he pulled me into the office for a chat.  Then I made another mistake.

The correct course of action would have been to keep my mouth shut and accept a slap on the wrist.  Instead, I opened up.  I told my boss about how I wasn’t enjoying turning 30, how I just found a gray hair, and how this girl I was seeing decided to break it off because she was 24 or 25 and her parents wouldn’t like that I was 30.

“What’s her middle name?” he asked me.

I could not remember her middle name.

“Well she couldn’t have meant that much to you if you don’t even know her middle name.  What are her parents’ names?” he continued.

The meeting ended with him handing me a slip of paper with a phone number written on it.  I consider this to be the second time the line was crossed.  “Give these people a call, it’s counselling”.  It wasn’t an EAP program, it was a piece of paper with a phone number written on it and I felt very uncomfortable.  Legally and ethically, no lines were crossed.  But I left that meeting feeling pressured.  Later on, he did follow up and asked if I called the number.  I had tossed the paper out.

The third and final time he crossed the line with me, it was unambiguous.  I have no idea what his issue was this time, because I only heard about it after the fact.  Behind my back, he had called my parents!  My parents!  He called them to tell them that Mike was “used to doing things the old way,” and not adapting to the “new way”.  I am not sure exactly what he was on about.  There were lots of possibilities.  Maybe it was the time I did some employee reviews on the “old” forms because I didn’t have any of the “new” ones. Or maybe it was when I got piercings of my own.  Nobody knows anymore, but when he made that one phone call, he went a step too far and my dad isn’t quick to forgive.

Over the years, I’ve been accused of being unfair and too harsh towards the store ownership.  I don’t think so.  Not when you know the context.  Best thing I ever did for myself was quit.

* That was my fault.  The copier was right next to the office bully‘s desk so I probably neglected to copy the new forms out of avoidance.

#965: The Collector’s Disease

RECORD STORE TALES #965: The Collector’s Disease

There’s no question I have the disease of a collector.  It’s undisputed and quite obvious.  I like to have not just one of a thing, but many.  I couldn’t just start with one Kiss album, I had to get more.  The goal was to get them all.  Having one GI Joe figure wasn’t enough.  You had to have as many as you could afford.  It’s marketing genius that this common psychological flaw was exploited guilt-free for so long.  Where did it start with me?

Perhaps my collector’s nerve was first tickled by Lego.  The more you get, the better stuff you can make.  Every year, new pieces were introduced.  In 1978 they launched the “Space” theme of Lego.  Prior to that came the new “Technic” pieces.  Right as I was hitting the perfect age for creating things made of Lego, they upped their game in a way that completely meshed.  I remember getting quite a few Space sets and several Technic too, including one where you build an 8-cylinder engine.  All you needed were more pieces to fully realize your creative visions.

At the same time, Star Wars had hit theatres and we were starting to collect the action figures.  This planted a seed.  Cleverly, Kenner included pictures on the back of every figure package:  Each Star Wars figure, numbered in a checklist style.  This was cribbed from trading cards, like Topps — another Star Wars merchandising brand we tried to collect.  Something about a checklist is an itch that begs to be scratched by certain personality types.  Hasbro recycled the checklist gimmick with their in-pack Transformers catalogues in 1984.

As I’m happy to recount the tale, I discovered Kiss in 1985.  Their new album Asylum was out.  The next door neighbour George had a bunch of rock magazines, and one of them (perhaps Faces) had a big full page Kiss ad.  The famed “Accept No Imitations” Asylum ad.  Simple branding, like Coke or Pepsi.  The “real thing”.  They were really promoting the new Kiss in North America as the 20th in a series of records, including the four solo albums, two live albums, and Double Platinum.  Laid out in two rows at the bottom, checklist style, were all 19 of the previous album covers, including their release dates.

Like bells going off in my head, the collector’s itch needed to be scratched.

Gene Simmons is a lifelong comics reader, and he knew as well as anyone that Marvel had a monthly checklist near the back of each book.  He would have had many trading cards in his youth and was surely familiar with the concept of a checklist.  Whether that’s a connection or not, that Kiss ad really set off the fireworks in my brain.  I stared at it, studying each individual album cover, and the frequency of release.

I’ve detailed, many times, my process in first recording all the Kiss records from George or Bob.  The desire to have a complete set, buying as many as I could find while recording the rest.  The need to include the “forgotten” Kiss Killers album in the count.  I displayed all my tapes, either recorded or originals, in order by release date, just like the ad I had seen, except my taped collection numbered 22, including Killers and Animalize Live Uncensored.  Eventually in highschool (1987 precisely) I discarded the recorded copies and acquired a complete set on tape.  In the Record Store years, the process would repeat on remastered CD.

But wait….

While all of the above is the truth, and nothing but the truth, it is not the whole truth.  Kiss were not the first rock band I sought to “collect”.

Before I had that Kiss epiphany with the checklist, I can remember having a specific earlier conversation.  It would have been Easter of ’85, several months before the September release of Kiss Asylum.  My mom asked me what I wanted for Easter, and I told her “the new Quiet Riot” because “I want to have all their albums.”  I thought they only had two, and it would be an easy collection to complete.  But there it was:  the desire to have “all” of something.

Strange how the concept of collecting only latched onto me in some ways.  Atari games looked pretty on display in their coloured boxes, but we had no desire to get all the games.  Just the “good” ones.  Even with comic books.  I would buy issues of current books off the newstands, but did not go back to buy older issues, because they could get insanely expensive, and numbered in the hundreds.  Since comics always referred back to previous and concurrent issues, they really made you want to buy them all to get all the backstory.  But I didn’t — couldn’t.  This is exactly why Bob preferred only to buy limited series, like movie adaptations.  I guess my collector’s desires only extended as far as I could reach, in a monetary sense.

Today, musical artists exploit this common need to collect at lengths never before seen.  We’re still out there, trying to make it through an adult world, but now we have disposable income.  It used to be you’d want all the albums, and if you discovered single B-sides, you wanted those too.  Then it became the bonus tracks, the deluxe editions, the super deluxe editions, and all the different colours of vinyl you get for just about every release these days!  That’s how they get us.  Next thing you know, you just dropped a grand or two on a Gene Simmons Vault, or $800 on a Judas Priest box set.

And we go along with it, time and time again.  Once the itch has been scratched, and the soothing radiation of a complete collection rolls over you like waves…the itch inevitably returns.

And so it ends?  It never ends.

 

#964.0: The Year in Review – Part One

RECORD STORE TALES #964.0: The Year in Review – Part One

Today, some reflection.  Tomorrow, the lists!

While certainly not the worst year of my life so far (2018 takes the crown there), the latter half of 2021 was pretty poopy here at LeBrain HQ.  There was plenty of new music, which we will discuss in greater detail tomorrow when we run down the Top 11 Albums of the Year.  Great music in fact; some deeply impactful albums and important reissues.  I also didn’t think that 2021 would be the year for new Guns N’ Roses music, or for me to get a 42 CD Judas Priest box set.  But here they are!

2021 started off strong.  We have Superdekes to thank for a series of great interviews on the LeBrain Train.  More on those for tomorrow’s list.  Not to be outdone, John T. Snow hooked us up with one of the best interviews I’ve ever been involved with, which was Paul Laine.  But for me, by summertime burnout had set in.  I’d been doing the LeBrain Train without missing a single week since lockdown began in March 2020.  Sometimes doing two interviews in a single weekend.  Sometimes I got stood up by a rock star, sometimes I got stood up by the same rock star twice.  By the end of the summer, I needed a break.  Badly.  It was harder and harder coming up with guests, as we slowly emerged from our Covid cocoons and resumed life.  I had to pull the brakes.

Then I had a flood in the house.  I had to cancel an interview with with Jack Frost and take a more extensive break from everything.  Trying not to snap, I bought a Metallica box set to cheer myself up.  Great way to boost myself while crippling my bank account at the same time, but I won’t complain.

Personal highlights of the year:

  • A fantastic summer at the lake
  • Meeting and interviewing some true rock greats
  • Collaborating with creative friends like Meat, Harrison, Deke, Tee-Bone, Rob, Kevin and John Snow
  • Getting back into the movie theater
  • Record-high hits and views

Personal lowlights of the year:

  • Then the hits and views took a nosedive
  • Burned out
  • Grandma in the hospital, flood, mental breakdowns
  • Lost people
  • Moved offices, twice
  • Omicron

Other interesting happenings included making an enemy out of John “J.D.” Roberts, an aborted attempt at doing re-runs on the LeBrain Train, and Harrison’s baffling stance on Queensryche.

This isn’t much of a “year in review” post.  Nothing commemorating the many musicians and celebrities we lost this year.  Nothing talking about all the great tunes we discovered.  This is not the way the year was supposed to end!  It remains to be seen how this plays out next year, but at least we still have our Friday nights together.  The LeBrain Train will roll into January, because it looks like we need the LeBrain Train once again!  When I “pulled the plug” back in August, I did it with the George W. Bush “Mission Accomplished” meme.  Because I knew Covid wasn’t really over.  I knew the mission wasn’t really accomplished.  What I didn’t know was just how badly things would get by the end of the year!  I really didn’t think we’d be isolating again this New Year, but that’s exactly what many of us are doing.  For the second time.

Big day tomorrow:  The end of year lists, and the LeBrain Train New Year’s Eve special.  Because Covid needs its ass kicked once and for all, and since we’re all doing the best we can under difficult circumstances, we deserve a night to party.  See you tomorrow.

 

 

 

#963: Birthday Man

RECORD STORE TALES #963: Birthday Man

At some point in the mid-80s, I realized my little sister had crappy birthdays.  She was a December 28 baby and it seemed she got decent gifts for Christmas, but only boring dresses and clothes for her birthday.  So I decided to invent a new character to the pantheon of imaginary gift givers:  Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy…and now, enter Birthday Man.

The only problem was at that young age I didn’t own any money.  So I’d re-gift little things for my sister.  “To Kathryn, From Birthday Man”.  She believed in Birthday Man for as long as I could find pencil erasers or pens or other assorted “gifts” for her.  She did question me as to why none of her friends had heard of Birthday Man.  She seemed to be the only one.

Even as we got older though, I wanted to make sure she got good things for her birthday.  It did appear in my experience that kids with birthdays around the “big holiday” seemed to get shorted.  So I tried to outdo myself every year, getting bigger and grander birthday gifts for my sister.   I hope 2021 is no exception!

So happy birthday to Dr. Kathryn Ladano.  Hopefully we can see you soon.  Enjoy some takeout, Nintendo and the company of furry friends.

#962: Santa Came!

Good morning and Merry Christmas!  It sure looks like Santa Claus was here.

As usual I’m the first one up.  Jen is happily snoring away, while I play with my new Kenner action figures – Johnny Storm the Human Torch, and the Silver Surfer complete with board.  Probably my favourites thus far.

There’s still lots of Christmas to come, but even if there wasn’t I’d be pretty happy right now.

For Christmas Eve, I had a traditional Christmas activity of playing some classic Atari games while passing the time.  Then we went over to mom & dad’s for a visit while Aunt visited Grandma in the hospital.  It all worked out OK.  I got to watch some TV with my dad which is all I really wanted.  We were going to watch the Mr. Bean Christmas episode, but the one with him in the hotel started playing, and so we had to stick with that one.

I normally don’t post on Christmas Day but this isn’t really a normal year, is it?  Besides, even though we’re kind of on Christmas vacation, we’re not on vacation from connecting with friends.  So I say to you my friends:  Merry Christmas.  I hope you’re safe, sound, and happy this year.

 

#961: Christmas in the Hamster Wheel

RECORD STORE TALES #961: Christmas in the Hamster Wheel

I always wanted a hamster when I was a kid.  I used to love looking at the neat setups that other kids had in their homes.  Hamster wheels, tunnels, all kinds of neat stuff for the little guys to run around in.  I never saw them use the hamster wheels.  They seemed to sit idle near the back of the cage.  A forgotten amusement.

These days, the hamster wheel in my head is running overtime.  Is this really the second Christmas of Crap?

One thing that’s concerning to me.  The last two years have blurred together in my mind.  I used to pride myself on knowing exactly when any life event occurred.  If I could remember the life event in terms of the music I was listening to, or a movie I was into, I would always be able to pinpoint the year.  But with the last couple years being such a blur, I find I can’t tell 2021 memories from 2020 memories a lot of the time.  That’s worrying to me.  Remembering these things is important.

I feel like Jen and I haven’t been able to catch many breaks at Christmas in the last five years.  2017…she had cancer.  2018…first Christmas without her mom (also cancer).  2019 was the one where I felt like we were getting back on our feet a little.  Then the carpet got pulled from under us in 2020 for the weirdest Christmas ever.  2021 looks a little better in some ways, a little worse in others.

I haven’t been as creative this Christmas as I was in past years, including 2020.  We do what we can.  I have my annual end-of-year list that I’ll be posting on the 31st.  I have the LeBrain Train drop-in New Year’s Eve party (message me if you’d like to join the fun).  I’m still working on the Def Leppard review series (15 parts written).  I’ll also be starting a Judas Priest box set review series in the new year.  Spoiler!

Y’see, I asked my parents if they’d be willing to part with a lot of money and buy me a Priest box set.  And, my dad let the cat out of the bag.  Even if 2021 is a bit of a downer compared to past years, it’s going to be pretty awesome opening that bad boy.  A know a certain Kontrarian (Kopp) who is eager to see inside its contents.  I’ll be showing off that box set and other goods on the New Years Eve live stream.

Things I’m grateful for:

  1. Health.  Nobody in our family has had Covid (knock wood).
  2. A roof over my head.
  3. Jen
  4. Family
  5. Friends

If I were to add a 6th thing to that list it would be “thank God I’m not working retail during Covid.”  I think I would have snapped long ago.

It’s funny — we have a friend named Michael who has been on the LeBrain Train a couple of times.  (We call him Max the Axe’s stunt double.)  He is absolutely thrilled to be working at the same Record Store chain that I used to work for.  His uncle Tom used to own a branch.  So things have come full circle in the world of the Record Store.  25 years ago this Christmas was my first one managing my own store.  I had a tradition of wearing a tie every Christmas Eve.  It was something the Boss originated that I liked.  So I kept it going.

Michael tells me that retail during Covid is much better working at the Record Store than it was at Giant Tiger.  Gratefully, they will be closed Boxing Day this year.  I had to work 80% of Boxing Days over the years, and truthfully they were one of the hardest.  Stock on everything was pretty picked over by then, and of course you had people doing returns and selling boxes of CDs for store credit.  Big sales, big crowds.  Including putting up signs and taking them down at the end of the day — a very long one.

So I’m grateful for that.

Merry Christmas everybody.  See you on the other side.  And please, join me New Years Eve for a rock and roll party!  Again!*

* I’m even re-using the exact same art as last year.

 

#960: Spoilers? [Spoiler-free]

RECORD STORE TALES #960:  Spoilers?

How do you like to enjoy a movie?  Do you prefer to go in stone cold with no spoilers?  Or do you like to be hot with anticipation, awaiting every mega-moment that you have seen leaked on Reddit?

Spoiler alert:  I like spoilers.

Gimme them spoilers!  Movies today are so predictable anyway.  But I have zero tolerance for jagoffs who post this stuff in public.  It’s inconsiderate.  Therefore, this will be a spoiler-free chapter about spoilers.

We’ve all seen the classic Simpsons episode, am I right?  Homer walks out of The Empire Strikes Back, saying aloud, “Who’d have thought Darth Vader was Luke Skywalker’s father!”  Everyone in line was furious at him for revealing the big one.  More recently came a douchebag who spoiled a Harry Potter book for all the faithful waiting in line to buy it.  “Snape kills Dumbledore!” he yelled from the safety of his car as he drove by like a true coward.

I think it’s safe to say that whether you are pro or anti spoiler in your personal lives, nobody likes an asshole like that who goes out of their way to ruin an experience for everybody.  Go back home to mommy’s basement, spoiler-troll.

When we were kids, we never went to see movies in their first weeks.  Our family waited until things had died down a bit.  By then we’d already bought the Marvel Comics adaptations.  The Empire Strikes Back was the last Star Wars movie I saw that wasn’t spoiled.  My dad bought the Marvel comic adaptation while we waited in the lobby.  It was just the two of us.  The big reveal had less an affect on me — I simply assumed Vader was lying, as did most of us kids.  We’d already seen him lie to Lando.   Then, starting with Return of the Jedi, pretty much every Star Wars movie I saw was spoiled in some way.  I discovered this didn’t hamper my enjoyment of the films at all.  In fact it made me want to see them even more, and savour the moments when they came.

Phantom MenaceSpoiled by Lucasfilm themselves, on the soundtrack CD to the movie.  Attack of the Clones?  By this time, Ain’t It Cool News was getting regular clicks.  I just can’t resist the allure of spoilers!  The internet has made it hard to keep a movie secret in any way.

Look at Spiderman: No Way Home.  The film’s not even out yet.  Pretty much everything has already been up on YouTube before Sony could take them down.  (And taking them down, they are!)  So I’ve seen everything.  I’ve seen all the villains.  I’ve seen the end credit scenes (both).  The heroes, the cameos, the big moments.  All filmed on some shitty, shaking cell phone where you can barely hear the dialogue.

My sister has rules about spoilers.  She doesn’t want to know anything that isn’t in the official trailers.  I think that’s a sensible policy.  For her.

These glimpses don’t spoil movies for me.  I still got the shakes, watching the terrible YouTube videos.  My tear ducts got a little wet when I saw…nevermind.  And based on past experience, it’ll happen again when I finally see No Way Home in theaters.  Whenever that will be.

See, that’s currently the problem.  With the latest Covid variants, who knows when I’ll be back in the theaters.  Originally I planned to see Spiderman during Christmas holidays.  Now I’m not so sure.  I have to play it by ear.  My grandmother (age 97) is in the hospital right now, and seeing her is more important than seeing Tom Holland and his new friends on the big screen.

So, yeah, spoil me!  Spoil me rotten — but ask me first.

#959: Boosted

RECORD STORE TALES #959: Boosted

Always look on the bright side of life!  My wife may be sick, but during a global pandemic, that makes her a priority.  And as her primary caregiver, that makes me a priority too.  Small blessings.

I met Jen at the pharmacy after work (the big clinics are gone now).  The pharmacist is a good friend of ours.  I filled out the paperwork and Jen went ahead, just as I was starting to have an anxiety attack.  I really hate needles.

It’s funny, but I was listening to Kick Axe on the way to the pharmacy, and the song “Just Passing Through” came on.  I couldn’t help but think of the lyrics through the lens of what I was about to do.

“Steppin’ out into history.”

Yes, we are making history every time we go for our vaccines.  Whether you are pro or con vaccine, this is a universal truth.   We’re making history as we do things never done before.

“Caught inside the revolvin’ door.”

It sure did feel that way as I rolled my sleeve up for shot number three.

“I’ve got to figure out this mystery,
Ah too many questions I can’t ignore.”

I would love to know all the answers.  I want to know how this ends.  I want to visualize the endgame.  But we’ll just have to wait.  The universe tends to unfold as it will.

Ironically the song “Just Passing Through” is about how temporary life really is.  “Just passin’ through, we all may be back someday.”  OK, so I’m scared of needles, no big deal.  But sometimes the Facebook doctors and Twitter trolls start to take a toll on you, just from reading their poison.  But then I remember:  I trust my doctor.  I trust my pharmacist.  It’ll be OK.

I hadn’t told my pharmacist how bad my anxiety could get, but I paced the floor a bit until I was ready.  I needed something to look at while he gave me the needle.  He let Jen come in the room to take a picture of me.  I just looked at her Aerosmith shirt until the moment you see in the picture.

Now I’m boosted with a Pfizer-Moderna-Pfizer combo, an effective mixture against Covid19; so say the studies.  I’m glad that this is done just before the holidays.  I’ll be at maximum efficacy right around the time we go out to dinner to celebrate Jen’s birthday, almost to the minute!  As always, I promise I’ll update the world if either of us experience any adverse effects.

In the meantime, we’re just passing through.

#957: Star Wars at the Mall 1981

RECORD STORE TALES #957: Star Wars at the Mall 1981

Cast your minds back to a time before the internet.  Before DVD players.  Before we all had VCRs.  Prior to the advent of on-demand TV.  If you wanted to watch Star Wars…you couldn’t!

There isn’t much more to be said than that.  We had our records, to listen to the soundtracks, and “The Story Of…” discs.  We had novels and comic books.  We had our action figures.  If we wanted to watch Star Wars, we had to use the ol’ imagination and memories.

Given that lots of kids would love to watch Star Wars at any given moment, there was a demand.  And nature decrees that a vacuum must be filled.  I remember that there was a Star Wars play at the mall.  A few actors, maybe six or seven total, wearing budget costumes, and doing the best job they could.  I remember it being really bad, but I found a photograph that indicates it might not have been as terrible as I thought.

We can only guess who the actors were.  Students?  A travelling troupe, adventuring from mall to mall?  All to sell toys!  Kenner was king!  Kids flocked to the toy sections, begging mom for a Bossk figure.  Why not have a Star Wars play to promote it?  Perhaps kids can be the harshest critics and this play wasn’t as terrible as I recall….

We only snapped the one picture; film was expensive.  But the costumes don’t appear all that bad.  Sure, it looks like Chewbacca is wearing a sweater.  I don’t remember Princess Leia having gold trim on her gown.  Is that Old Ben Kenobi on the far left?  It’s a shame we didn’t get a picture of Luke or Han, but Vader’s helmet does not look bad, nor Chewie’s head.  At least not from this angle.  Could we have taken a worse picture?  You have to give Leia some credit for the nailing the hairstyle, and a killer pair of boots!

The wall behind looks like the barriers that go up when a store is being renovated.  You can also see some litter on the ground.  Consensus seems to be that this was Stanley Park Mall, due to the familiar flooring.