RSTs Mk II: Getting More Tale

#566: Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!

GETTING MORE TALE #566: Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!

1998. I had just moved in with the legendary T-Rev. Two Record Store managers under one roof. Can you imagine the CD collections? We used to marvel at the wall of discs. Two CD towers, massive ones, side by side. We’d boast that nowhere else in town would you find two copies of Metallica’s Garage Days in the same place. Same went for many of our rare singles and imports. Finding one was difficult enough, but with our combined collections we often had two. You could come over for a drink and end up spending hours just going through our collections.

Collection samples

T-Rev and I had a lot of fun, although as it turned out, I wasn’t the right guy to have a roommate. I’m a real early to bed, early to rise kind of guy and our wake/sleep cycles didn’t really work out. Having said that, I wouldn’t trade those months for the world! I’d never fallen asleep on the floor before, but we had some pretty epic parties. It was also the first time I’d woken up to find girls in the apartment! Yeah, we had good times. When we weren’t partying, we’d be playing video games on the good old N64. Goldeneye was a staple. Duke Nukem and Top Gear Rally were regular go-to’s.

Another thing we had fun with was our answering machine. We couldn’t just have a normal answering machine message. One weekend, Trevor went out to see a Britpop band who I can’t remember. Supergrass? One of those. They met the manager Andy who kept on hitting on the girlfriends. So Trevor came home and did an answering machine message with a British accent. “You’ve reached Trevor, Michael and Andy! Leave a message after the beep!” That confused a few people. “Who is that British guy who is living with you?”

T-Rev was also a big fan of Jerry Springer. I’d never really watched before, but T-Rev was into it. The fights, the yelling, the chanting of “Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!”…we found it all terribly entertaining. In particular, I liked Jerry’s “final thought”. That’s the part of the show where he somehow simultaneously agrees with all parties on the episode.

Our enjoyment of the chaos of the Jerry Springer show led to a couple tributes.

T-Rev came up with a sign idea, and I wish he was able to put it up in the store. It was a “no shirt no shoes no service” sign that said:

Because highschool is free,
And Jerry Springer does not work here,
Shirts and shoes must be worn in store.

Yeah, shirts and shoes were an ongoing summer issue. When I once asked a guy to put on a shirt, his answer was “Why, are you serving food here?”  I just didn’t want to watch that bead of sweat dripping off his nipple ring.

It only made sense that we should honour the mighty Jerry Springer Show with a new answering machine message. I did it up:

“Thank you for calling the offices of the Jerry Springer Show! If you’re a white trash mother who’s pissed off at your little white trash daughter, press one! If you’re a white trash daughter who can’t stand your bitchy mother, press two! For all others leave a message after the beep!”

People were used to bizarre answering machine messages from us by now.

The best response to it came from the boss at the old Record Store. He called one evening we were out, and left a message asking if one of us could cover a shift. And he ended the message by saying, “Oh, and I’ll take option two. Thank you.” He was a good sport.

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#565: The Price We Gotta Pay

GETTING MORE TALE #565: The Price We Gotta Pay
(And All the Games We Gotta Play)

I was reminded of this story recently, when J from Resurrection Songs asked about pricing schemes for new release albums.

We had a pricing schedule, created by the manager that I have called “The Bully” in these pages.  I’m sure she did a fantastic job of purchasing, pricing and stocking goods.  She was horrible at managing people, and never should have been in any position of power over others.

The pricing schedule was pretty simple.  Any time we’d get a shipment of brand new stock, there would be an invoice packed with it showing our cost on each title.  The Bully made up a pricing schedule based on cost, so we could price incoming items easily.  For example, if the cost of the item fell between $10.40 and $11.60 (plus shipping), our sell price might have been $13.99.  (That’s not an actual pricing scheme, that’s just an example of how it worked.)  This way, all of our stores would have consistent pricing across the board.  That was important.  It also made it easy for us to price things on our own without having to ask for too much direction.

The pricing scheme was created and implemented during one of the periods when The Bully was no longer speaking to me.  Who knows why anymore.  A manager who stops speaking to her direct reports is the very definition of unprofessional.

I came in one Tuesday afternoon, which is when the brand new stock arrived.  Remember New Release Tuesdays?  I began pricing the new releases using the pricing scheme she made.  Suddenly she broke her silence and started going at me.

“You’re pricing these all wrong!” she yelled.  Unfortunately nobody was in the store to witness the exchange, so you’ll just have to believe me.  I looked down at the paper in front of me.  “But this is the price right here on the new pricing schedule.” I looked at it again to make sure I wasn’t wrong.  I wasn’t.

She paused and yelled again.  “Forget about that!!”  Then she stormed into the back office, slammed the door and stopped speaking to me again.  No witnesses, no apology either.  An updated pricing schedule was issued shortly after.  I never reported this behavior.  As discussed in a prior chapter, I had brought up her abuse before and didn’t see any changes.  I just sucked it up until I couldn’t anymore.

Some may doubt these stories, which is understandable, but I’m the guy with the journals.  I’ll never forget the way I was treated by one very unprofessional jerk.

 

#564: The Smell of Home

GETTING MORE TALE #564: The Smell of Home

What does your home town smell like?

I may complain a lot, but I do actually love this town.  I was born in Kitchener.  I don’t want to live anywhere else.  It’s certainly not the greatest town in the world, but it’s mine. Kitchener isn’t known worldwide for its burning hot music scene (polka music at Oktoberfest time excluded).  That said we have produced a few local legends:

  • Helix (formed 1974) was based out of Kitchener for many years.
  • Errol Blackwood and Messenjah are our claim to fame in the reggae community.
  • Singer/songwriters Paul MacLeod, Danny Michel, Rob Szabo and Steve Strongman all hailed from here.  You also may have heard of one of the greatest bass clarinetists in the world, Kathryn Ladano.
  • Bluesman Mel Brown wasn’t born here, but he made it home.

Not a lot to boast about, but better than a kick in the pants.

Kitchener also is not known for its arts (that would be Waterloo) or its education (also Waterloo) or sciences (Waterloo again). What it does seem to have in plenty is a number of distinct smells.

Driving up Victoria street, you can smell the Weston’s bread bakery cooking up lots of delicious scents.  My dad has a song he used to like to sing when driving by:

“Weston’s bread,
Is full of lead,
If you eat too much,
You’ll surely be dead.”

That was a nice smell, but I remember a far worse smell in the Record Store days.

I spent the majority of my years in the Fairway Road area of town.  I remember taking the garbage out on many, many nights and smelling the same unexplainable smell.  It only happened during the summer. I don’t even know how to describe it properly.  I used to call it “grape flavoured urine” smell.  It was a weird mix of grape and pee, and in the evenings taking out the garbage, it was everywhere!  What the hell was it?  Nobody knew.  I haven’t smelled grape flavoured urine in a long time…but I remember it clearly any time I take out the garbage on a warm summer night.

There was an even worse smell when I was transferred to “the wrong side of the tracks”.  The garbage bin there was behind a diner.  Back there it always smelled of dirty cooking grease.

I hope your town smells better than “grape flavoured urine”, although you don’t have Messenjah or Helix….

Oh and that red poo-shaped sculpture?  Nobody has a clue what it is!

#563: ID3 Request Error – Check File

GETTING MORE TALE #563: ID3 Request Error – Check File

Ever seen one of these errors on your media player of choice?

Let’s start by talking about what an ID3 tag is, in case you didn’t know.  If you play music files, then you use ID3 tags.  These tags contain the metadata about your song files.  You know that info that automatically pops up on your player?  Artist, album, cover art…that’s from your ID3 tags.  There is free software out there to edit your songs’ tags, although such features are bafflingly not standard in Windows.  I use a combination of two:  Audio Shell, and Mp3tag.  They have different user interfaces, but more or less have all the features you need.

Sometimes my Sony Walkman mp3 player can’t pick up the cover art, but that is rare.  The tracks will still play.  The error that has caused me problems for years comes from my factory installed GM car stereo.  Otherwise, it’s a great player, but sometimes it hits an ID3 tag it doesn’t like and I get an error message.  It reads:

 

ID3 Tag Request Error
Check File

 

When I get this message, the songs will not play.  I first ran into that issue about four years ago.  When it does happen, it’s usually on something that I recorded with Audacity, like vinyl or cassettes.  Audacity can write the ID tags for you when you export the files to mp3.  The error message here doesn’t give much detail.  It’s not the cover art; that was the first variable I checked.  I’ll get this error message with or without cover art.  It’s frustrating when you can’t play an album in the car, and only the car.

This baffled me for years.  “Check File”, eh?  I did – many times.  Changing this, changing that.  Writing the ID3 tags with different software.  Nothing worked.  Googling solutions wasn’t very helpful.

I recently came across the solution, and it was so obvious I don’t know why I didn’t think of it earlier.  Probably because I was looking for something easier.

Just erase all the ID3 tags – all of them – and start from scratch.  Both Mp3tag and Audio Shell have easy features to do exactly this.   Most ID3 editing programs will allow you to completely clean all tags from the file.  Once that is done, start over, manually.  By hand, enter the song titles, artist, album title, artwork and (very importantly) the track sequence.  You’ll want to make sure you get that right.  Once you’ve done that the mp3 file will play just fine, as seen below.

Enjoy the music!

Before & After

 

 

 

#562.5: The Sunrise Returns

GETTING MORE TALE #562.5: The Sunrise Returns

I was very saddened when Sunrise records shuttered most of their stores nationwide, including my regular outlet at Fairview Mall.  Not so much when the HMVs started closing.  I haven’t spent any money at an HMV in years.  Recently, Sunrise announced they would be taking over several of the old HMV locations, including the one at Fairview mall.  Yes, Sunrise has finally returned to Fairview.

Sunrise re-opened a few days after Record Store Day in a case of bad timing, but they still had some RSD stock.  I set aside my Saturday morning to immerse myself in their inventory.  As expected they had plenty of vinyl, displayed front and center when you enter the store.  It’s a good selection of the usual suspects priced in the mid-$30s.  Their vinyl catalogue selection was much better than the same for CD.  Flipping through the Kiss LPs, they had 15 or so titles from the catalogue including some of the lesser known ones such as Carnival of Souls.  Then I flipped through Deep Purple on CD.  Disappointingly, they had five copies of the hits disc Icon, one copy of In Rock (standard edition) and one copy of The Very Best Of.  The same issue plagued many artists in the CD section:  five copies of Icon, but very few actual albums on CD.   This wasn’t the case across the board.  There was a healthy Metallica section and they had all the Oasis deluxe editions.  One deluxe that I was looking for was the four disc Black Sabbath Paranoid reissue, but all they had was the double CD (and 180 gram vinyl of course).

They staff were friendly and passed the test.  They approached me and asked if I needed help, I didn’t need to ask them, and they waited a reasonable amount of time.  Unfortunately their system isn’t quite up and running yet.  No inventory lookup.  But they tried.  You can’t judge a store too harshly a few days into their first week.  They had a promotional sale on:  Buy something on vinyl and get $5 off a T-shirt.  They had a lot of cool T-shirts, (a lot!) but if there is one thing I don’t need right now, it’s more T-shirts.  They even had brand new Star Wars turntables.  Star Wars turntables?

The one surprise I saw was in the Mr. Bungle section.  They had five copies of their legendary debut album, at a steal of $5.99 each.  Compare that with $21 on Amazon.

I hope Sunrise does well.  They made a few sales while I was there, and the store was never empty.  It was funny to listen to the people browsing.  “Is that a CD?”  “No, it’s a seven inch record.”  “NO WAY!”

Way indeed.  Welcome back Sunrise.

SUNRISE SCORES:

Four finds from four different genres.

Brant BjorkTao of the Devil CD – $18.99 (compared to $24.28 on Amazon.ca)

OasisBe Here Now 3 CD deluxe – $32.99 (compared to $31.45 on Amazon.ca)

KissMusic From the Elder 180 gram LP reissue – $32.99 (compared to $33.79 on Amazon.ca)

Steve Earle & the DukesThe Continental Club 7″ RSD 2017 single – $11.99 (not available on Amazon.ca)

 

 

#562: Adventure!

GETTING MORE TALE #562: Adventure!

I was at a funeral recently, for an old family friend.  Sandor was a neighbor since I was little.  I grew up playing with his three kids: Rob, Michelle and Steven.  It was sad but nice to see them again.  We chatted about games we used to play as kids.  Atari 2600, Lego, the Game of Life.  The best games we played were the ones we made up ourselves.

One game that I invented with my best buddy Bob was called “Double Bounce Volleyball”.  It was just a good way to play with a volleyball on the street with no net.  I wrote up some rules on WordPerfect.  What I wouldn’t give to see those again!  What was not in the rules, but happened frequently anyway, was me throwing down some street moves.  I tried to do the spinny-spinny-jump dance that Paul Stanley used to do in the “Thrills in the Night” music video.  I could do it, but it didn’t look right anyway without the tassels on the pants!  Personal acrobatics aside, it was a great game because all you needed was two people, a street, and a volleyball.

Another game we invented was a live action version of the 1979 Atari classic game, Adventure.   Due to its poor graphics, it was once considered one of the worst video games on the market.  Since then it has somehow become a cult classic, despite the fact that your little “man” was just a square floating around.  You had explore mazes and three castles, and eventually bring a chalice back to the yellow castle.  The random setting for the game placed objects everywhere on the field so no two games were the same.

Atari Adventure man with sword and yellow key

The main objects in the game were three keys (one for each of three castles), a sword, a magnet (useful for grasping objects out of reach) and a bridge (pretty useless).  There were also some creatures to avoid:  three dragons, and a bat who would steal whatever you are carrying, and sometimes replace it with something less useful.  For example, the bat can and will steal your sword and replace it with a dragon!

A group of kids would gather together in somebody’s back yard.  Depending on how many kids there were that day, we might have used multiple back yards.  Someone would hide the chalice (a drinking glass) and other objects.  I had a neat classic U-shaped magnet that was perfect to fill that role.  We’d usually use clothespins for the keys.  A plastic lightsaber was our sword.  Then we’d all become adventurers, dragons or the bat!  We’d run around the yard finding objects and generally having a blast for the whole afternoon.

I think our live action game was better than the real Adventure!

One afternoon, another kid from another neighborhood joined us.  I don’t know why Allan Runstedtler was wearing a cape, but it suited!  Another time, we couldn’t remember where my magnet was hidden, and I really wanted it back!  We eventually found it and decided not to hide actual valuable objects again.

Do kids even go outside and play anymore?  Almost everything we did was improvised.  A badminton racquet wasn’t just a badminton racquet.  It was also a guitar for “air bands”.  Bob turned a neck brace into a Texas Chainsaw Massacre mask.  We also did a live action version of the video game Berzerk.  We were all very lucky to grow up in a tightly knit and safe little neighborhood.  Everybody’s parents knew everybody else’s.  We played video games (everybody on the street had either an Atari 2600, or a Commodore Vic 20), but then we went outside when that got boring.  It wasn’t just a neighborhood with families.  It was an extended family of families that we were fortunate to experience.  And a hell of a lot of fun.

 

#561: (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?

GETTING MORE TALE #561: (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?

In November 1995 I was going through another breakup.   A big one — my first really serious girlfriend.  After some soul-searching, I thought this would be a good time to expand my horizons a bit, including musically.  By 1995, heavy metal music was not doing well.  It was on life support.  I wanted to check out other forms of rock and roll.

Working at the Record Store was the perfect environment for exploration.  Christmas 1995 featured a lot of store play for Oasis, who my co-working buddy T-Rev was a huge fan of.  Their new album (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? was beginning to take off.  It also appealed to a metal head like me.  It had a bit of everything:  rockers, ballads, and hooks.  It was a breath of fresh air, and loud as fuck.  Grunge bands had dominated and carried with them cloudy skies for the early 90s.  Oasis brought back fun aspects of rock and roll, and were right in synch with the Beatles resurgence happening at the same time with the Anthology series.  Oasis were almost a poor man’s Beatles.

I mean, they really wanted to be The Beatles, didn’t they?

I got to listen to the CD a lot in store, but we had a long waiting list for used copies. Because of that it would be a few months before I was able to get my own copy of Morning Glory.  T-Rev was on top of things, and had been collecting Oasis singles.  Oasis had a knack for B-sides, and often saved their best tunes for singles.  This was rare; in 1995 it was unheard of to save good songs for single B-sides.  Oasis didn’t care and did it anyway.  My first Oasis purchase was actually the CD single for “Don’t Look Back in Anger”.  T-Rev made sure it was stocked, even though we rarely stocked any singles.

So “Don’t Look Back in Anger” was my first Oasis purchase ever.  Buying a new copy of the single was more expensive than buying a used copy of the album, but that’s just the way it goes sometimes.  I dug the piano part ripped from John Lennon, and the bright melody with a hint of shade.  It really felt like an homage to the Beatles.  And the B-sides weren’t half bad either.  “Step Out” and “Underneath the Sky” were both top notch songs each with their own flavour.

The track that really sold the single for me was “Cum on Feel the Noize”.  T-Rev asked, “Why would they cover that song?”  I explained it was originally by Slade, not Quiet Riot.  Oasis’ version is more authentic to the Slade original.  The song was a perfect bridge between my heavy metal past and my Oasis present.

Oasis quickly became my favourite “new” band in 1996.  That was the year that we opened up the branch of the Record Store that I managed.  I thought Oasis would be a good band for store play, and while some customers enjoyed that, no staff members did.

Oasis did their part to keep the single alive in the 1990s.  They issued box set after box set, re-releasing their old singles to those who missed them the first time.  The coolest of these were the “silver” and “gold” boxes.  They were plastic hard-shell box sets, one for the Definitely Maybe singles and one for Morning Glory.  They included an interview disc (same one in both boxes) and made it easy to get caught up on Oasis’ CD singles.

These were good times.  Though a breakup with a girl was the trigger, Oasis was the remedy.  Some songs, like “Cast No Shadow” had me wallowing in my own pity, but it was hard not to feel good things with “She’s Electric” and “Roll With It”.  For that reason, although there may be better Oasis albums, What’s the Story remains the most personal to me.

TOP FIVE REASONS TO LIKE OASIS:

5) Lars says it’s OK .

4) They had a member (Paul “Guigsy” McGuigan) who looked like Mr. Bean.

3) Noel frequently refers to Liam derisively as “our kid”.

2) Wibbling Rivalry

1) Liam Gallagher’s unibrow.

#560: Seize the Day

GETTING MORE TALE #560: Seize the Day

It started in early 2008.  It probably really began much earlier than that, but January 2008 was when I knew something was very wrong.

Jen and I were looking forward to getting married in August.  She was still living in Brampton, and coming to visit me in Kitchener on weekends.  Things seemed fine, until they weren’t.  She seemed tired a lot.  She slept a lot of the days and was up until late in the night.  She seemed depressed.  Then one day I noticed something really, really odd.

We used to enjoy playing Nintendo Wii all the time.  Her favourite game was called Find Mii.  It was a simple “Where’s Waldo” style of game.  You had to find certain people in crowds.  Jen was the master of Find Mii.  I saw her finish the game a few times.  She was unbeatable and had several winning strategies.  There was one level where you had to choose a particular Wii character, and then a few levels later, you would have to identify that person in a crowd scene.  It made sense to pick a character who stands out in a crowd, like one with a colourful hat.  When Jen hit that level she picked the most generic character to find later.  I thought that was odd.

Find Mii

“Why did you pick that one?” I asked.  “That will be hard to find in a crowd.”

She didn’t answer.  She didn’t even notice I was speaking.  I just sat and watched her.  She continued playing.

When she got to the level where she had to pick out the character she had chosen earlier, she was very confused.

“What?” she said.  “I didn’t pick anybody yet.”

“Yes you did,” I answered.  “Don’t you remember?  I thought it was strange that you picked such an ordinary looking character.”

“No I didn’t…” she answered but there was worry in her voice.

I had my suspicions.  I got with her parents and we eventually talked her into going to see the doctor.  She was very resistant.  I can understand this.  Nobody likes finding out there is something wrong with them.  It’s frightening.  But so is watching someone you love suffering.

Nobody was particularly surprised when she was diagnosed with epilepsy.  It fit what we were seeing.  What I had witnessed was what the doctor called an “absence seizure”.  I call it “zoning out” because that’s how it looks to an outsider.  It looks like someone has completely spaced out, staring at nothing.

I thought, optimistically, that a neurologist would put Jen on some medication and she would be OK.  Most people are.  I had a friend who also had “zone out” seizures, but when he took his medication he was fine.  When it comes to Jen’s health I always try to be optimistic.  It could, after all, have been a whole lot worse.  Unfortunately my optimism was misplaced.  This was not going to be an easy fix.

There have been so many ups and downs since that day in 2008.  From the happiness at finding a neurologist, to the despair of side effects and pills just flat-out not working.  From people who don’t understand and mock epilepsy, to accidents and injury.  There have been so many.  These incidents have taken their toll not only on Jen, but on me.  People forget that the role of the supporter is no easy task.

As 2008 went on, the wedding loomed closer.  Jen prepared to move to Kitchener and start her new life with me.  One of her former co-workers at Brampton Transit thought epilepsy was terribly amusing.  “Wouldn’t it be funny if she had a seizure at her wedding!” one said, not knowing she was overheard.  As if getting married and moving wasn’t stressful enough!

But we made it.  We had an awesome wedding, and no seizures.  We were very fortunate to be surrounded by the best of family and friends.

Jen moved to Kitchener and three months later had full time employment with Research in Motion, aka Blackberry (before they went tits up).  She worked really hard and was very proud to get that job, and rightfully so.  One of the perks to working there (of many including a custom R.I.M. Monopoly board that we treasure) were their company concerts.  They had thrown private parties featuring Aerosmith one year, and the Tragically Hip another.

Their next employee concert wasn’t a private one, but still free:  U2.  U2 had signed a big endorsement deal and were on TV every night advertising Blackberry phones.  Jen was very much looking forward to seeing U2, but with their light show, could she even go at all?  Imagine her heartbreak when her doctor told her it was very unwise to go and see U2 in concert.

Concerts in general were a problem.  She hasn’t been able to go and see one since we saw Russell Peters early in our marriage.  We tried to see the Trailer Park Boys too.  As soon as cameras started flashing, she had a seizure.  She was taken out in a wheelchair and we didn’t see the rest of the show.  Movies were also impossible.  We had to leave The Muppets before the show even started.  It has been difficult getting used to what we can and cannot do with her epilepsy.

She cannot drive.  But she has to get out and have a life.  Staying inside all day is a sure recipe for depression.  She does her best.  She takes busses, taxis and Uber.  Unfortunately seizures can happen anywhere.  Over the last few years I have received dozens upon dozens of phone calls telling me that my wife had a seizure on a bus.  Off to the hospital we go, where we’d wait several hours for a discharge.  Now, if she is able, she tries to insist on not being taken to the hospital.  They cannot do anything for her there.  We know this from experience.

Unfortunately seizures on a bus sometimes mean falling on a bus.  Jen has had so many injuries from seizure related falls over the years:  concussions, twisted ankles and knees, and a fractured knee.  She’s no longer able to walk without assistance.  When on a bus, she has to fight for a disabled seat.  If she’s not seated on a bus, it’s not safe.  And too many entitled children (and adults) refuse to move for her.  A couple weeks ago she was told to move from the accessible seat to make room for a bloody shopping cart.  An inanimate object.  It is frustrating.  When she falls, it is heartbreaking.

One evening (December 11 2011) after a bus seizure, one of those entitled kids (old enough to know better) thought he needed to take pictures of my wife on the stretcher for his friends.  He is lucky that I don’t believe in physical confrontation.  If I did, there would have been two people on stretchers.  Jen’s mom said, “What is that kid doing?”  I went over to speak with him as he was walking away.

“Hey!  What are you doing?” I shouted.  He ignored me and continued to walk away.  “Hey you!  What do you think you’re doing!” I repeated as I followed.  For a second time he ignored me.  Once again I shouted, “You, taking the picture!  What do you think you’re doing?”

“Taking a picture for my friend,” he answered.

“Why, because it’s really funny?” I asked.

“What do you care?” he retorted.

“That’s my wife!” I said.

“I didn’t take a picture of her face, why are you being rude?”

Rude?  Seriously?   “I don’t care!” I yelled.

“Fuck you,” the little disrespectful dink said, and walked away.  I returned the sentiment, but I could not believe it.  I’m the rude one?

When she’s taking public transit now, we have a routine.  When she is out on her own, she texts me every 30 minutes to check in so I don’t have to worry.  When she can’t get somewhere because of an emergency vehicle with flashing lights, she can text me and we can figure out what to do.  Aside from the falls and injuries, we have had some scares.  I once witnessed her almost wandering straight out into traffic while picking her up from work.  She’s had her shopping bags ripped off at the mall.  She’s had people point and laugh because they think she’s walking around dazed from drinking too much.  We have had to develop thicker skins.

What about all the doctors and specialists?  Her first neurologist couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her and dropped her as a patient.  Finding a neurologist is hard. There are no neurologists here in Kitchener.  You have to go to Mississauga, London, or Toronto.  Eventually we did the only thing we had left to try:  Go to an emergency room in Mississauga where they have neurologists, tell them this girl keeps having seizures, and she needs to see one.  It was her family doctor who instructed us to do this.  Of course emergency didn’t want to deal with that, but that was the only option we had left.  They changed their tune when we told them that she had a seizure right there in their waiting room.  Now we have a new neurologist, and he is in the process of putting her through a battery of tests.  Surgery is the option on the table, but there is a medication we haven’t tried yet that we are going to ask for:  medical cannabis.  That might be the miracle cure we are still hoping for.

In the meantime, we continue to fight on.  We take inspiration from figures like Prince and Neil Young, both epileptics who overcame their illness to perform for millions on stage.  We try to find the humour in life.  We have to.  We don’t have a choice in the matter.  With that in mind, I’ll leave you with some of the epilepsy moments we have been able to laugh at.


When Jen comes out of a seizure, her senses all seem enhanced.  Her vision can be like looking at the world through binoculars.  She can see incredible detail and very vivid colours.  After a seizure the world seems vibrantly bright.  And unfortunately for her, sometimes the first thing she sees after a seizure is my face.  So I can’t help but laugh by some of those post-seizure observations she’s made:

  1. “Wow, your beard is WHITE!”
  2. “Your nose is pointy…and triangle shaped!”
  3. A variation of the above, “Your nose is pointy…and tear-drop shaped!”

I have a glow-in-the-dark Albert Einstein T-shirt that I love.  One night after a seizure, it was glowing away in the dark.  That’s when she observed, “Your tummy is glass…on fire!”  I guess that’s what glowing Albert looked like in the dark!

We will continue to fight this disease, and we will continue to try and see the light side of things.  It’s the only way.  If we didn’t try to laugh at it, it would have beaten both of us by now.  That’s not going to happen.  We have worked and fought way too hard since 2008.

In the meantime, we will continue to raise awareness.  Do you or your kids have any articles of clothing with flashing lights?  Do you take flash photographs in public?  These things can, and will, trigger a seizure.  Try to be mindful of your surroundings and the people around you.  And please, if an epileptic asks you to stop taking flash photos, just turn off your flash.  Don’t tell them to “fuck off” because “that’s not my problem”, as we have been told recently.  Be a good person, and do your good deed for the day.  Do your part to stop a seizure before it happens.

http://epilepsyontario.org/

#558: Easter Eggs

GETTING MORE TALE #558: Easter Eggs

“Easter eggs” – Hidden content that you have to really search to find.  Often refers to hidden DVD/Blu-ray bonus features.  The first DVD Easter egg I heard of was on the original “steelbook” version of Terminator 2.  If you go to the right menu and punch in the exact date of Judgment Day, you can access a super-extra-extended version of the film, only visible in this specific way.  Another great DVD Easter egg was on Fellowship of the Ring.  Click around, and you will find a clip from the MTV movie awards where Jack Black has pierced his own wiener with the One Ring.

The term “Easter eggs” is common vocabulary today, and has expanded to include secret cameos or information in films too.  Recent examples:  The appearance of the droid Chopper from Star Wars: Rebels in the new film Rogue One.  Or brief glimpse of Lexcorp trucks, in Man of Steel.  They’re designed not to be immediately noticed, but only detected by die-hard fans after repeat viewings.

The old Record Store has Easter eggs too, so secret that I don’t think anyone who still works there even knows about them.  But they’re still there.

When I first began Record Store Tales, I made a decision to never publicly identify the name of the store.  For that reason, I’ll remain vague.  Back in the olden days when everybody more or less got along, at least two Easter eggs were hidden somewhere on the store website.  They were nods and winks at two employees:  myself, and one other guy who had been there a long time.  They are still there, hidden unless you know where to look.  They were never removed even after both of us left.

There is one more Easter egg, that only two people know about:  Tom (co-founder of Sausagefest) and myself.   Tom owned a franchise at the time.  When he eventually moved on to something else, he asked me to do him a favour.  He wanted to leave his mark in some way on the place.  I can understand that.  Tom, T-Rev, a couple others, and I put our blood, sweat and tears into that store.  It wouldn’t be right to call us “original members” or “founding fathers”, because there was only one owner who started it all.  T-Rev and I weren’t owners, we had no stakes.  It was all just pure passion.  We were there in the very early days as we made the baby steps.  We contributed all our energy to that place, helping to build it and make it grow.  I can’t speak for Tom, but I personally am very proud of that.  Tom pushed to be the first one that carried vinyl.  T-Rev helped actually build the stores, putting up shelving and all the works.  I trained dozens of people and came up with the idea of a store newsletter.  It’s not as if they have a “wall of fame” with our pictures on it.  Tom leaving his mark seems pretty justifiable.

So, he asked me to sneak something in there, and I did.  Tom’s little tribute is still on the website.  Only he and I know where to look.  His franchise was always kickass, and he personally supplied me with plenty of great rock from there, including autographed Helix records, some Foo Fighters singles and a rare live Judas Priest.  He had a 25 cent bin of vinyl that always had good stuff in it.  Let’s all raise our Romulan ale to a true rock and roll animal, the mighty Tom.

#557: Just Joking

GETTING MORE TALE #557: Just Joking

Ever heard a joke that made you almost too uncomfortable to laugh?

In my second year of university, I was in a history class and one of the students missed a previous lesson.  He asked if he could borrow some notes, so my friend Tim offered.  “Thanks!” he responded, and then added jokingly, “Hey, who says white people never help out black people?”  Yes, he was black, and Tim and I were white.  We laughed, but a part of us felt like laughing at that joke was taboo.  It clearly wasn’t, he was obviously just kidding, but it hit that grey area of discomfort.

Here is an example from the Record Store.  One of our regular customers named himself “Richard the Indian”.  Super nice guy, usually easy to deal with.  Loved heavy metal.  He had a native status card proving he’s indigenous and entitling him to a tax discount, but he also absolutely looked it.  He had long straight black hair, and wizened eyes.  Even though he referred to himself as “Richard the Indian”, I didn’t like calling him that to his face.  It didn’t seem “right” to me.  So, he was usually just addressed as “Richard”.

He listened to his music on a CD Discman.  He was always have problems with it, and I saw pieces falling off it once. It was “a piece of junk”, according to him.  “This thing must have been made by Indians!” he joked, playing on the stereotype that all Indians are drunk and lazy.

Do you laugh?  I let out a slight uncomfortable chuckle.  Some of the staff felt uncomfortable too.  “I know he’s just kidding, but it makes me feel weird when he makes Indian jokes,” someone told me.  “I feel like I should laugh, but also shouldn’t.”

The ins and outs of retail are labyrinthine.  There have been jokes that flat-out were not funny.  One guy thought he was hilarious with this joke:  Q: What does Marvin Gaye have in common with one of his records?  A: They’re both black and have a hole in the middle.  That joke got no laughs because it wasn’t funny at all.  In other situations, I have laughed and then realized too late that the customer wasn’t joking.

So what do you do?  If you work in retail, when in doubt, don’t laugh.  Do not.  At worst you’ll appear humourless, at best you’ll avoid the wrong reaction!