RSTs Mk II: Getting More Tale

#825: Klassic Kwote – Carnival of Souls

GETTING MORE TALE #825:  Klassic Kwote – Carnival of Souls

 

We were encouraged to put stickers on CDs to draw attention to them at the Record Store.  When Kiss’ Carnival of Souls was released in 1997, I put a sticker on there that read “FINAL ALBUM WITH BRUCE & ERIC”.  Because why not.  Other stores did things like that.  Stickers are fun.  Bosses didn’t like my stickers, but I was the store manager and I wanted to make stickers.

A dude picked up the CD and asked me, “What does this mean?  Final album with Bruce and Eric?”

I didn’t know how to respond so I simply answered, “It’s the final album with Bruce & Eric.”

“Oh OK,” he said and put it down.

Ask a stupid question?

 

 

#824: “I’m Outta Here!”

GETTING MORE TALE #824:  “I’m Outta Here!”

A sequel to Part 287:  Closing Time

Name one person who doesn’t love closing down for the day.  Work completed, clock ticks 9:00 pm, and the doors are locked.  Time to go eat some dinner and unwind.  At the Record Store, we got paid until 9:15 pm, the approximate amount of time it would take to cash out and close.  Sometimes we could do it in 10 minutes, sometimes far longer.  It was always considered a victory if you could completely close out in 10 minutes, and get paid for 15.  Small triumphs.

My favourite location to close was the original mall store at Stanley Park.  It was probably my favourite for closing because I was working alone.  Closing a store by yourself gives you a greater sense of responsibility.  Plus you could listen to whatever (metal) you wanted.

Listen, I don’t care where you work, everybody wants to go home and get refueled.  It’s a basic right.  Once you stop getting paid, you’re a free human being again.

There was one occasion at the mall I’ll never forget.  I was closing up normally and had just returned from the bank to drop off the night deposit.  I shut down the lights, packed up my stuff and locked the door.  As I was heading to the parking lot to meet my dad who was picking me up, I spied a group of three or four kids down the hall heading to the store, arms loaded with CDs to sell.  Just loaded — the group must have had 100 discs altogether.  I stealthily sneaked out of the mall via a seldom-used side entrance, hopefully unseen.

Close call!  The last thing I wanted was to have my dinner delayed by a group of kids needing last minute (booze) money after closing time.

This kind of thing still bugs me.  When I’m out shopping I’m very conscious of closing time.  I’m not going to get some sales rep to perform handstands just before closing, and definitely not after!  Some kids don’t know any better, but they should.  Didn’t they have their own part time jobs that they didn’t like to stay late for?  Did they get paid extra if they had to stay late?  We didn’t.

I was glad to say “I’m outta here!” at closing time even if there were still people wanting to come in.  Maybe we could have made more money if we did stay open, but none of it would be coming my way.

 

#823: A Cure for The Cult

GETTING MORE TALE #823: A Cure for The Cult

The Cult were big in highschool. “Fire Woman” debuted in the spring of ’89. It was an instant hit. Their momentum continued through the fall with “Edie (Ciao Baby)” and into the following year with “Sweet Soul Sister”. There was no stopping The Cult! With a new unknown drummer named Matt Sorum, The Cult toured the world and cleared up any remaining confusion that this was indeed a rock band.

The only Cult confusion that remained might have been with my friend Danesh.

Ian Astbury

I discovered that we both liked The Cult. I recall his amusement at the lyrics for “New York City” off Sonic Temple.  In particular he thought the aggrandizement “Hell’s Kitchen is a DMZ” was pretty funny.  It might have had something to do with the annual school trip to New York, that we didn’t attend but a friend of ours did.  Their bus was broken into and they had their stuff stolen.  Not particularly funny in and of itself, but I think we were amused because of who it happened to:  The legendary Brett Bowerman of Brett-Lore fame.  Indeed, in our highschool comic strip, the Geography teacher Mr. Robinson went to New York City to find a missing Brett!  This was inspired by us assuming Brett would get lost in New York and left behind.  In our sketches, Ian Astbury himself made a cameo.  This happened in a chapter titled “Brett Lore III:  Brett Takes Manhattan”.  In one panel, we find the Ayatollah Khomeini, a dead cat, and Skid Row (presumably because I didn’t know the difference between New York and New Jersey).  The Cult’s logo was scrawled on a wall, but scratched out.  Hell’s Kitchen is a DMZ after all!

Note that Elvis visited New York in 1989, apparently.  I also like that you can actually identify each Skid Row member by appearance alone.

Adding to the comedy, I recall that Brett purchased a samurai sword in New York.  I don’t remember if it was among the stolen possessions.  I think it probably was.

Back to the Cult.  Danesh was getting into rock music and wasn’t as well educated in the fine art of electric guitar as I was.  I think it’s very possible that he accidentally bought Disintegration by The Cure, confusing them with The Cult.  I do know that Danesh was terribly embarrassed about owning that Cure CD.  Compact discs were a new thing, and he owned up to having The Cure when we were listing some of the CDs that were in our collections.  I asked if he owned any discs that had “bonus tracks”.  The Cure did — two in fact.  That’s when he told me about it.  But he refused to tell me how he got it.  I had the Cure/Cult mixup theory, but he never confirmed nor denied.  To this day, 30 years later, I still don’t know!

Danesh really hated that Cure album.  When my family had a garage sale in 1991, he handed me the Cure CD to get rid of.  The garage sale was his only hope.  I put a sticker on there that said “BONUS TRACKS” and priced it at $12.  That was about half as much as you’d pay new.  But too much for garage salers.  I dropped it to $10 but no go.

Danesh was heartbroken when I returned the disc to him the following Monday.

“I would have been fine with a lower price if you called to tell me it wasn’t selling.”

Well, shit.  Sorry man.

I did feel bad.  I would have preferred selling it for him too.  But he still wouldn’t tell me why he owned it!  Was it a gift?  Did he like one song and then hate the rest?  Did he freak out when he saw what they looked like?  I remember his reaction the first time he saw a photo of Night Songs-era Cinderella.  It wasn’t positive!  The only album he owned was Heartbreak Station.  He didn’t know about Cinderella’s glam past and he wouldn’t let it go!

But these are just guesses.  For whatever reasons, Danesh would never tell me why he owned Disintegration by The Cure, nor would he tell me why he was ashamed of it.

As a final explanation, I’m going to go with the Cure/Cult mixup and consider this case closed.  An understandable mistake like that can be easily forgiven.

 

#822: Record Store Daze – Gallery #6

As time goes on, old photos are more and more fun to dig up.

This batch dates back to 2004-2005.

First up, I have a feeling a marillion.com order came in!  I was one of thousands who pre-ordered the double Marbles album and got my name in the credits.  In the following picture it’s the singles for “You’re Gone”!  Two CDs and a (UK) DVD.  I had to have them all even though I couldn’t play the DVD back in 2004.

 

Ahh, this is a good one.  Sarge from Metal Fatigue in Bournemouth, England was visiting his friends The Legendary Klopeks in Canada.  That’s Josh “Sweet Pepper” Klopek holding my hand.  Hey man, I’ll take any support I can get when a bald British dude is shoving a needle through my flesh.  Sarge did the piercing in my home, the first and only time I have had such a comfortable piercing experience!  Josh has a black eye because of the onstage punishment he took nightly.

These two photos were taken with cardboard standees with webcams, but for the time, they looked pretty good.

Just some goofing around.  I was doing some live streaming, it looks like.  And the Wheaties box may have been done by Sarge!

WORST.  MASCOT.  EVER.

 

Finally, these last two pictures are really special.  They were taken the day before I met Jen.  It’s strange that they are the only ones timestamped.  But I would have known the date regardless.  The Bob Marley and Slash shirts are obviously new (you can see the tag) and I bought those shirts the day before I met my wife.  I bought them at St. Jacob’s farmer’s market, on a date with another girl.  It was memorable because it didn’t go well.  She was really hurrying me along when I was looking at shirts.  I knew it wasn’t going to work out.  The next day I met Jen.  She wrote about her side of it in Getting More Tale #434:  The Man in the Bob Marley Shirt.  If I had chosen the other shirt to wear that day, maybe the story would have been called The Man in the Slash Shirt!

 

 

RECORD STORE TALES Part 171:  Record Store Gallery
RECORD STORE TALES Part 279:  Record Store Gallery Deux
RECORD STORE TALES Part 280:  Record Store Gallery III – Furry Friends
RECORD STORE TALES Part 311:  Record Store Gallery IV (Shite Photies)
GETTING MORE TALE #607:  Every Picture Tells a Story

#821: The Lost Chapters – “Top Ten Bad Albums by Great Artists” (2004)

GETTING MORE TALE #821: The Lost Chapters
“Top Ten Bad Albums by Great Artists” (2004)

 

I found this previously unpublished entry in my old Record Store Journal. Not sure how I missed it during Record Store Tales! This came via a challenge from Dan Slessor of Kerrang! magazine. Have a read. A few of these albums would still make my lists today.


Date: 2004/10/03 

Dan asked me to throw together a top 100 crappy albums list, but I just couldn’t do it. Instead he asked for a top 10 bad albums by great artists. I threw one together in about 10 minutes. So while this is not my DEFINITIVE list, it is a fun read.

1. AC/DC – Blow Up Your Video
OK, this is understandable. Malcolm Young was so ill he didn’t do the tour for this record. Angus even suffered exhaustion on this tour. It was just a boring, bluesy, slow AC/DC record with only a couple notable singles. Slow AC/DC just doesn’t cut it, does it?  [Still disappointing, but not an all-time worst today.]

2. Motley Crue – New Tattoo
Even worse than Generation Swine, New Tattoo proved that it was Tommy Lee in fact who made the Motley Crue sound, NOT Vince Neil. Without Tommy, the band produced a piece of less-than-mediocre, soundalike crap. Randy Castillo (RIP) could not save this band, nor could Samantha Maloney. Weak songs, weak production, weak drum and guitar sounds.  [Would still make my list in 2020.]

 3. Black Sabbath – Forbidden
The final Sabbath studio album was recorded in a few weeks, and sounds like it was written in those weeks too. Ernie C (a guitar player from Body Count) produced it like a demo, and brought in Ice T to rap. I’m serious. [Would still make my list in 2020.]

4. KISS – Hot In The Shade
It was Gene & Paul aiming for the goal posts again, and featured a harder rock sound and three great singles. What it also featured were 12 bad songs, and demo-like production. No wonder! Most of the album WAS a demo. [Would still make my list in 2020.]

5. Jimmy Page – Outrider
WOW. Maybe it’s not so bad on the surface, but coming from the greatest rock songwriter ever, this is just sub, sub, SUB standard. Robert Plant lent a hand, for all the good it did.  [Been too long since I’ve listened.]

6. Vince Neil – Carved In Stone
“Rock n’ roll hip-hop record”. That’s all you need to know. [Not significant enough to make my list today.]

7. Guns N’ Roses – The Spaghetti Incident?
A covers album is a tricky deal to start with, and Guns at least picked 12 interesting covers. A 13th “hidden” Charles Manson tune marred the whole thing, as did the lacklustre performance and production. Really, only one song has any spark, and it’s actually a solo track by Duff! [A covers album would not make my list today.]

8. Deep Purple – Abandon
Maybe it’s unfair to include it in this list, but I was colossally disappointed when it came out. The previous record Purpendicular was so good, it felt like 1970 again. Abandon felt like a tired band who had given up trying to write good songs. Nothing could be further from the truth of course, but the results still left me underwhelmed. [Would not make the list today.  I’ve warmed to it since 2004.]

9. Geoff Tate – Geoff Tate
When a singer from a God-like band puts out a solo album, it had better shine. Geoff Tate of Queensryche instead chose to do a dancey, new-agey synth album which completely alienated his fans and may in fact prove to be the nail in his career coffin. [Still pretty awful but not really significant enough to make my list anymore.]

10. Halford – Resurrection
I’m gonna catch hell for this one. I stand by it, however. The lyrics are worse than juvenile (Priest’s are only mildly juvenile) and the songwriting and production are so generic. Thanks a lot, Bob Marlette! You proceeded to wreck so many albums…let’s not forget Alice Cooper’s Brutal Album Planet [Still cheesy but not bad.]


Wanna know this list in 2020?  That’s another story for another day!

#820: No More Tears (Coda – 1991 Was the End and 1991 Was the Beginning)

GETTING MORE TALE #820: No More Tears
(Coda – 1991 Was the End and 1991 Was the Beginning)

Part One:  The Last Note of Freedom
Part Two:  1991 Was the End and 1991 Was the Beginning
Part Three:  1991 Was the End and 1991 Was the Beginning (continued)

Here’s a bold statement:  I feel that personal rock history is a part of the greater body of work that is the history of the genre.  In other words, I think that stories of people like me, buying and listening to rock music, are important components of the greater gestalt.  When we publish our stories permanently, they are assimilated into the collective history.  Writers like Martin Popoff and Chuck Klosterman are often at their most entertaining when talking about their own tales of childhood musical discovery.

When a memory comes back it can be as vivid as the day it happened, and I try to capture that.  The 1991 trilogy (quadrilogy?) has taken a couple months to come together and who knows, there might be another instalment if more memories surface.  I won’t lie — it’s been an emotional process!  No more tears?  Maybe for now!

It’s important for me to recognise somebody who was there on the periphery of all these happenings in 1991.  Peter M. Cavan didn’t do things the way the rest of us did.  He began working immediately with the goal of becoming an electrical apprentice and eventually an electrician, which he did.  He didn’t disappear after highschool.  The first time he came to the cottage was in the summer of 1991 and that kicked off a serious friendship and many, many years of cottage trips.  Peter worked hard but Peter also played hard, not letting time go by without doing something.  Whether it be throwing a ball around, cooking a meal, driving into town to buy fireworks or frisbee at the beach, Peter kept moving.

And Peter’s favourite artist happened to be one of mine:  Ozzy Osbourne.

It’s safe to say that No More Tears was one of the biggest albums of 1991 for Pete.  When we hung out he always drove.  We played the shit out of No More Tears in that car.  We always skipped “Mama I’m Coming Home” — always.  I didn’t buy my own copy for months because we were listening to it so often.  When I did buy No More Tears, it was strange to listen to it without Peter!

Just as I happened to be really ramping up my interest in Black Sabbath, here comes Peter into my life who was also beginning to buy old Black Sabbath.  At school, Rob V was teaching me the ins and outs of Black Sabbath and Deep Purple’s discographies.  Meanwhile, Peter began travelling to the States a lot for work.  Rob V told me of a rare (here anyway) Sabbath track called “Evil Woman”.  Peter returned from the US with Black Sabbath’s The Early Years including that very track.  I told him he found something special.  Today, of course, you can painlessly get all that Sabbath stuff on readily available deluxe editions.  You couldn’t back then, if you even knew they existed.

While it is true that life after highschool was lonelier than before, I did have Peter.  He was the one guy who never went away.  Peter and I went on many adventures in the early 1990s, some of which featured Ozzy or Black Sabbath in the tape deck.  Peter is a part of my personal rock history and therefore part of the greater whole.  Somewhere out there is a family who wonders to this day why Ozzy Osbourne was yelling “YOU BASTARDS!” at them while Peter and I passed them in our car.  It’s because we synched it up that way thinking it would be funny.  And it kinda was.  We were adults, sort of.  He was learning to be an electrician and I was becoming acquainted with the history of 18th century Russia.  But we still laughed at fart jokes and blasted the Ozzy because why not?  Why do you have to leave that behind?

You don’t.  Celebrate your personal rock history and the rich tapestry of memories that comes with it.

#820: 1991 Was the End and 1991 Was the Beginning (Part Three)

GETTING MORE TALE #820: 1991 Was the End and 1991 Was the Beginning (Part Three)

As monumental as 1991 already was terms of massive change, a big one was still to come:  finally learning how to drive!  The time had finally come when I had to, and so I did.  I cut my teeth driving to and from University during the winter.  You can get pretty good pretty quickly that way.  Most importantly, I discovered the pleasures of listening to music alone in the car.

Choosing an album.  Turning it up as loud as I could handle.  Listening to the whole thing from start to finish without complaints.  It was…a revelation.  My parents used to be able to hear me coming home from around the corner, so loud was I blasting it.

It was an ’89 Plymouth Sundance, but all that really mattered to me was that it had a tape deck and I was allowed to drive it.  Upon arriving at school, I can remember putting the tape case on the dash board so the parking control guy could see how cool my music was.

Jesus, I was weird.

Still am?  I guess this website is just me putting my tape cases up on the dashboard of life.  Right?

With new music on the shelves by Europe and Tesla, and a monolithic new slab by Guns N’ Roses to enjoy, I was keeping myself busy.  Then and now I believed in giving new releases multiple listens, and I always played the Guns tapes as a set.  There was no point, I reasoned, in listening to one more than another.  They’re really one album so that’s how I played them, every time.  Late ’91 was a Guns-heavy time.

Although first year of university life was a lonely time, I did make some new friends.  I had two night classes.  One thing I enjoyed about night classes was that there was only one per week — a big three hour chunk.  You could cover a lot of material in one class, and have a week to absorb everything for next class.  My first night class was Sociology, and next to me sat big Rob V, who quickly became one of my Jedi Masters of Rock.  He educated me on Whitesnake, Deep Purple and the Black Sabbath discography.  Then he taped for me a number of rarities, and they were treasured by me for many years.  Those tapes were only replaced when I finally scored original CD or vinyl copies for myself.  We weren’t the cool guys in Sociology class, but we had a lasting friendship.  Rob lived not too far from me, so I was happy to drive him home after school.  He would often have commentary for me regarding my musical selection for the car.

My favourite night class was Thursdays — Anthropology 101.  I hated the professor initially.  He was a ponytail guy.   Our school had a couple ponytail guys.  Also a few socks-and-sandals guys, which blew my mind.  “What the fuck is the point of that?” I asked myself rhetorically.  All psychology professors, those guys.  But ponytail-Anthropology guy (gosh I wish I could remember his name) won me over very quickly with his entertaining, though factually dense, teaching style.  There was a lot to cover each night.

Another quality that night classes had was a higher number of adult students.  I enjoyed speaking to them, but one poor older lady really struggled in Anthro-101.  I’ll never forget her because although she slowed the class down, I just felt badly for her.  She dropped the course by the second semester.

The teacher liked to use examples to illustrate a point.  I can’t remember the exact details, but he was using a current TV ad as his example.

“I don’t know these modern TV commercials!” she said in frustration.

“OK, no problem…here’s an example from your generation.  On the original Star Trek in 1969 there was an episode where they beamed down to this particular planet…”

Then he lost her even further!  He tried though; lord did that professor try.

While I was making interesting new friends in 1991, an old friend became more special.  I took my studying very seriously and because of that I had to stay home for Thanksgiving instead of going to the lake with my parents.  I couldn’t study there.  Too small a space.  So Peter invited me to have Thanksgiving dinner with his family.  That was something that meant a lot to me.  I wasn’t going to be alone and I had a hot meal to look forward to.  I even put on a nice shirt and shaved my peachfuzz.  Peter had an incredible family.  His mom and dad were always welcoming, making me feel at home.  Same with his sister Joanne.  Over the coming months and years, Peter and I would grow closer and hung out every weekend.  Where I had friends that were Jedi Masters of Rock, Peter was more like my Jedi Master of Movies.  He had a huge collection.  I think as a collective, comedy was our thing.  Peter was also my Jedi Master of Comedy.  I might never have seen Slap Shot if it wasn’t for Peter.

At the end of 1991, my Christmas list took care of some of the last new releases in music that I needed.  Poison’s double Swallow This Live was, not surprisingly, a letdown.  I was also underwhelmed by the Operation: LIVEcrime box set by Queensryche.  Too many backing vocal tapes.  But for a long time I had looked forward to Motley Crue’s Decade of Decadence.  Back in the summer of 1990, Vince Neil was talking about this album.  Finally I had the tape in my hands!  (It’s a shame I spent so much time in my collection lingering on the cassette format, but the car tape deck made it a natural choice.)  I loved the new heavier sound of “Primal Scream”.  The new remixes were just added value to me.  I eagerly awaited whatever heaviness Motley Crue were working on, without realising that the band were working on firing Vince Neil!

Although worlds seemed to be ending when highschool did, somehow life was still going on.  Many things did come to their natural conclusions, like friendships, rock bands and the Pepsi Power Hour, but other things had started to bloom.  Peter and I were to trek onto many 1990s adventures, for the human adventure always continues.

 

#820: 1991 Was the End and 1991 Was the Beginning (Part Two)

GETTING MORE TALE #820: 1991 Was the End and 1991 Was the Beginning (Part Two)

Part One:  The Last Note of Freedom

In the annals of rock, the year 1991 is one of the most significant in the entire history of the genre.  No year since 1969 had been so singularly important.  1991 featured the newfound domination of (for argument’s sake) a brand new sub-genre.  Countless influential bands released their breakthrough records that year.  The overturning of an old order had begun.

And highschool had come to an end.  The very last locker posters had come down.  I said goodbye to my friends as we all went our separate ways.  We moved onto different universities and our little group was broken up forever.

1991 was a shock to the system, both personally and musically.

A year before, my Jon Bon Jovi Blaze of Glory T-shirt was cool as hell.  In 1991 it was stuffed in a drawer.  What the hell was going on?  I couldn’t relate to these new bands.  Kurt Cobain was baffling to me.  What was appealing about not washing your hair?  Say what you will about the merits of Bon Jovi, at least when you saw a photo of him, he had bathed and was wearing clean clothes.  I also couldn’t appreciate the musicianship of these grunge bands; not when the groups that were breaking up boasted such virtuosos as Steve Vai and Vito Bratta.  After studying serious players through the 80s, there was nothing about Cobain that I could get behind.

Even my access to mainstream hard rock was becoming limited.  The final episode of the Pepsi Power Hour aired in 1991.  The very last host was veteran Michael Williams.  It was filmed at a welding shop in Calgary, Alberta.  Williams played Metallica’s “One”, and “Hunger Strike” by Temple of the Dog.  The shape of things to come.  The very last band ever played on the Pepsi Power Hour was Van Halen, and the the very last song was “Runaround”.  The Power Hour was then replaced by the inferior Power 30.  It was a significant change for me.  I rarely missed a Power Hour.  The Power 30 was often not worth catching at all.

The sea change in music paralleled a similarly massive shift in my life.  Out with the old, in with the new.  I didn’t know anyone in my classes.  There I sat in the World War II history classroom (really a huge auditorium) by myself.  I overheard a conversation behind me.

“Have you heard of Pearl Jam?  They sound like Black Sabbath.”

What?  What the — no they don’t!  But Seattle was being compared to early 70s Sabbath quite readily, probably due to Soundgarden and the multitude of new riffs that were emerging from the city.  The bands didn’t sound like Sabbath, per se, but the riffs and heavy doomy gloom vibes were reminiscent of the band from Birmingham.  Who were in the midst of a reunion with Ronnie James Dio, but would ultimately fail to overthrow the new grunge kingpins.

I really wanted to turn around and tell the two guys behind me what Black Sabbath were actually about, but that probably wasn’t a good way to make new friends.  University was a lonely time.  Not until second year did I meet new people to hang around.  My love of hard rock was not something I shared with my classmates.  I remember sitting in one of my history classes writing down lyrics for a song I was working on called “Clones”.  One of the lines was “Ball cap, turned back, you’re all clones.”  I couldn’t find a pathway to bonding with any of these people.  Not until I met some fellow Trekkies.*

1991 was significant for me in another way.  It was the year I became obsessed with Star Trek.  I had always watched and even had a lil’ “red shirt” when I was a toddler, but The Next Generation was hitting peak popularity.  It was always good, but five seasons in, it was becoming quite great.  This sadly coincided with the death of Gene Roddenberry in October of that year, but that only served to make Trek even more popular.  In November, The Next Generation pulled in its biggest viewership numbers since the 1986 series premier:  the two-parter “Unification” featuring Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock himself.  Pardon me — Ambassador Spock.  And if that wasn’t enough, in December Trek returned to theatres with The Undiscovered Country, the sixth and final movie with the original crew.  All of this coincided with the 25th anniversary of the original show.  It was a bittersweet but absolutely massive time to be a Trekkie.

And it just so happened that Wilfrid Laurier University was a hotbed of Trekkies.


The years that followed were all Trek-heavy in my life.  I was began buying individual episodes on VHS.  (My first tape was “Balance of Terror” featuring Mark Lenard in the debut appearance of the Romulans.)  I built model kits, I collected the books, and I pieced together a full set of Star Trek stickers from Hostess potato chips.  There was a Trekkie girl in history class named Lee that I really liked.  Lee Ditchfield.  A group of us would get together after class on Fridays to watch Monty Python and Star Trek.  (Or even study sometimes!)  The nucleus of the group was Tim Solie, a guy I knew from highschool and reconnected with in second year.  That guy could (and would) talk to anyone!  Ice broken, we formed a small little group of friends, including Lee.  But she had a boyfriend back home in Woodstock and I just didn’t even try.  I blew it.

My precious metal was not cool at Laurier, not anymore, but Trek was.  I had at least two professors that used Star Trek references in class (Anthropology 101 and European History).  I had a psychology professor whose personal philosophies mirrored the optimistic future that Gene Roddenberry instilled in his work.

After the successful Leonard Nimoy episodes of The Next Generation (“Unification” parts I and II), they were bound to try something like that again.  The following season, in an episode called “Relics”, James Doohan reprised his role as Scotty.  I overheard two professors discussing it in a stairwell.  “They did it without time travel,” said one to the other.  “And they did it reasonably well”.  He was right!

I collected a full set of these.

As time (and Trek) went on, I felt more and more comfortable at University.  By ’93, my sister Kathryn was getting ready to choose post-secondary schools.  I invited her to come to class one Friday morning to sit in and see what it was like.  I chose my Ancient Roman history class as I knew she’d find it interesting.  She was already getting nervous about starting university.  “I bet it’s nothing but Star Trek geeks and losers there!” she said.

“No, no.” I assured her.  “Nothing like that.”

So we walked in, headed down a corridor, turned a corner and walked right past a skinny Trek geek, standing there in the middle of a hallway, digging a Trek sticker out of a bag of Hostess chips.

“I knew it!” she said.

The unfortunate thing about University is that friendships are even more temporary than highschool, and it soon it’s all over.  I didn’t have any classes with Lee or Tim Solie ever again.  In fact I only saw Lee once in passing after that year.  In my third and final years, it was all new faces in every class.  And just as quickly as it started, school was all over…and so was Grunge.  Kurt died during my third year and the best work of most of those new bands was now behind them (Pearl Jam being an exemption).  In hindsight it seems unfair that this massive musical change had to coincide with these critical school years.  Like a cruel joke, metal peaked and crashed when I needed it most!  If it wasn’t for Star Trek, it would have been a far more lonely time.

*I am a Trekkie; I’ve been a Trekkie since my date of birth.  I think “Trekker” is a silly term and people look at you funny when you use it.  But if you identify as a Trekker and want me to address you as such, I’m happy to oblige.

 

#820: The Last Note of Freedom (1991 – Part One)

This is Part One of a series based around the year 1991. In music, culture and my personal life, 1991 was a landmark year. There was life pre-1991, and there was life post-1991. I’ve spent a couple months piecing together details of that critical period. Stick around and enjoy the memories.

GETTING MORE TALE #820:  The Last Note of Freedom
(1991 Was the End and 1991 Was the Beginning – Part One)

After all the hard work, studying and good times, there was only one thing left to do:  attend the big highschool graduation ceremony.  I’d be seeing some of my friends for the very last time.  Shirt and tie on, I was clean shaven and ready to go.  Family arrived at the house and gifts were given.  I remember a new watch.  I even received the novelization of the hot new Schwarzenegger flick, Terminator 2: Judgement Day from my sister Kathryn.

Only this time I wouldn’t be back.  This was it.  The last hoorah.

Blue graduation cap upon my head, I looked like a girl with my long hair.  I barely recognise myself in the old photos, receiving my diploma on that big stage.

Like many graduation ceremonies, there was a slideshow to remind us of all the good times.  The song they chose for the slideshow was an interesting selection:  “The Last Note of Freedom” by David Coverdale, his first solo track in a decade and a half.  Who selected it and why, I will never know.  It was the kind of song I would have chosen myself, but I had nothing to do with it.  I just found the title very apropos:  “The Last Note of Freedom”, and when that last note rings out, we would be cast into the larger ocean of “real life”.  It was a poignant choice even if the lyrics really didn’t apply.  The words had nothing to do with a milestone like graduation, but it sure sounded cool when Coverdale started screaming in the middle of the ceremony.

We need love,
We gotta want it so bad.
We need it now,
So run for it fast.
I know it,
And the world will be cheated.
I can’t go on, in a world where love’s defeated.
I know it.
I can’t go on.

“The Last Note of Freedom” was from the Days of Thunder soundtrack, and I made sure to order a copy from Columbia House forthwith.  It was probably the most commercial track that Coverdale had recorded to date, with a vaguely 80s tropi-synth feel.

I would never see many of my friends again, and I knew it as I walked out of the building with my grad cap in my hands.  I shook hands with Anand “Boboe” Etwaru who I never crossed paths with ever again.  I was pleased to find out, many years later from a mutual friend, that he still had the nickname “Boboe” which I gave him.  (It’s just the ASCII characters for “Anand” with each letter bumped up by one, an accidental discovery I made.)

My parents owned a rental cottage and I wanted to rent it for one weekend, just a final chance to hang out with my friends.  The parents said “no way” and the last weekend never happened.  Instead, a bunch of us just made a run downtown to Sam the Record Man one afternoon.  We walked – none of us had a car.  It was fun and bittersweet.  The new Van Halen sat there on the shelves but the packaging was rather bland.  It would have to wait for my birthday.  Instead I bought some singles:  “You Could Be Mine” (CD), by Guns N’ Roses, and “More Than Words” (cassette) by Extreme.

I can still recall one thing that happened that day.  As our small group walked down Frederick Street towards King, we passed by a little old lady.  As we passed her, she smiled and chuckled an evil laugh!

“Heh heh heh heh!”

Creepy stuff, man!

“We’re hexed now!” someone commented.

I’m glad that a small group of my friends got back together for one record shopping trip in the summer of ’91.  We knew things would be different from here on in.  Many of them were going into serious engineering programs.  Intense, time consuming stuff.  On some of my lonely days that fall, I thought of picking up the phone and calling some of them.  But I didn’t.  “They all have their own lives now,” I reasoned.

An era had ended, and the last note of freedom had rung.  Onto bigger things!

 

#819: Early to Rise

GETTING MORE TALE #819: Early to Rise

I’ve been an early riser since my youngest memories.  It probably has to do with an anxiety disorder that was undiagnosed until my 40s.  It happened mostly on weekends.  I’d be so excited for the weekend to begin, that I would be up at 5 or 6 AM.

My earliest memory of waking up early was Boxing Day, the year I received my Lego 371 seaplane.  The set came out in 1977, and that could have been the Christmas I received it.  It was a fantastic set with plenty of slopes, opening doors and two figures.  I got up at 2 AM to take it apart and put it back together again.  I woke up my dad who came down to see what all the noise was.  He wasn’t happy!

My parents didn’t have much choice.  They had to get used to it because I kept waking up early.  Quite often, I suddenly woke up after a cool dream of making something interesting out of Lego.  I would run downstairs and try to make it in real life.  Sometimes I would try to draw pictures of things I dreamed.  Other mornings I was just excited that it was Saturday, or Sunday, with no school.

There was usually not much to do on those early mornings.   In the 70s and 80s, television stations went dark overnight, usually starting the broadcasting day at 6 AM.  Nothing on TV but test patterns or static.  If you waited long enough, eventually the national anthem would begin, to start the broadcast day.  Then came the religious programming.  You had to sit through an hour of TV preachers to get to the cartoons.  I was well familiar with Jimmy Swaggart and many more whose names times has forgotten.

On one occasion, I woke my parents up in glee.

“Mom!  Dad!  Did you know there was a THIRD testament of the Bible?  I wonder when we’re going to learn about that one in school!”

Never, that’s when!  Nobody told me the difference between a Catholic and a Mormon.

Another morning I raced upstairs to tell them more good news I saw on TV.  One of the religious shows was discussing the creation of the solar system, which I sketched out.  But the big part was that Jesus was coming back in the year 2000.  That’s what the show said, and I couldn’t wait to tell my parents.  I was so excited that I actually took notes.

The most irritating of the morning TV preachers was Henry Feyerabend, a Seventh Day Adventist.  He had this condescending smile.  Feyerabend was probably the one who got me all excited about Jesus coming back.  I really grew to hate his face after awhile.  He’d talk about things such creationism, and sing hymns with these other dudes.  I was into science at a young age so the creationism always bugged me.  But there was nothing else on TV.  Not until Bugs Bunny at 7:00.

My early morning TV adventures were not all uplifting ones.  I woke up really early one Saturday, and a channel was in the middle of late horror movie night.  I don’t know the name of the film that I saw, and I’ve never been able to find out.  All I can remember is that there was a mad scientist or doctor of some kind.  He had little voodoo robots that looked like people.  In one scene, one of the little voodoo dolls stabbed and killed a woman with a pair of scissors.

I didn’t even know you could stab a person with scissors.  I wasn’t getting any more sleep that night!  But it would be amazing to find out what the name of the movie was, and see it again.  See how closely it matches my memories.

The last straw for my dad was Christmas Day 1984.  It was the year I got my GI Joe Killer W.H.A.L.E. hovercraft.  One of the best toys in the entire line, incidentally.  I couldn’t sleep.  I went to bed, tossed and turned, and waited.  The adults were all downstairs laughing and drinking.  I waited for that to die down.  Then I could hear the shuffling about as presents were laid around the tree for us.  The parents went to bed, and I decided I had waited long enough.  Sleep was cancelled.  Assembling of the GI Joe hovercraft commenced henceforth.  Once again, my dad trudged down the stairs to see what the noise was.  There I was, ankle deep in GI Joe parts and stickers, so happy to have my hovercraft.

Nobody else was happy, but that hovercraft was the centerpiece of my GI Joe forces for years to come.  It was and is totally badass.


Time went on, I grew up, but early morning rising never really ended.  There were a couple semesters in University when I only had afternoon classes, and my sleep patterns shifted to later in the day, which was really weird for me.  By and large I have remained early to bed, early to rise.

I didn’t think it was much of a problem.  It was “just the way I am”.  When I told a doctor about it in 2012, they didn’t brush it off as I did.  I was having trouble waking up in the mornings on weekdays, but still getting up at 2 AM on Saturdays.  During the week, there was depression.  “I have to go to work.  I’ll just hit the snooze button for 15 more minutes.”  Then I’d hit snooze again until I absolutely had to get up.  On weekends it was the opposite.  The doctors diagnosed me with a bunch of fun things, including obsessive-compulsive disorder.

As shitty as that is, it’s always why I have such a kickass music collection.

I’ve been trying to maintain more regular sleep hours, though I still wake up earlier on the weekends.  I don’t like to wake up before 5 AM on a Saturday anymore.  If I can’t sleep, I’ll get up for a short while, watch some YouTube until I’m tired, and go back to bed.  Sometimes it takes a while to unwind but it’s been working.

Otherwise, on a “normal” Saturday morning you’ll usually find me at 5:30 or 6:00 AM with a coffee in one hand, music in my ears, and pounding out words on a keyboard.  Sometimes Deke is awake, way up in Thunder Bay, and we’ll chat coffee and music.

Mornings are magical to me, much more so than late nights.   Especially Sunday mornings.  There is nobody up.  I can go for my morning walk down the middle of King Street if I want to.  I love going to get a coffee when the drive-thru is empty at 6 AM.  I prefer getting things done in the morning before people are awake.  I’ll do laundry or I’ll review a box set.  It’s just somehow better before the city wakes.

Early mornings aren’t necessarily the best way, but with moderation it works for me.  I’m most creative in the mornings, and I love the solitude.  And my parents can sleep soundly in their house while I putter around mine!