You’ve read the story, now you can hear the song! Getting More Tale #488: Almost Cut My Hair described a song that my dad likes to sing, called “Shittily Shittily La La La”. Have a listen to my dad’s biggest hit.
Yesterday my mom got home from a vacation in China. She went with my Aunt and some friends; my dad stayed home. She kept us posted every day via email. Facebook is blocked in China, but her emails came in steadily with pictures attached. In one email from Beijing, she said that the following day they were flying out to see the famous Terracotta Army.
Even my dad was impressed.
“Did you read that your mother is going to see the Chocolate Warriors?” he asked me.
Terracotta dad, not Chocolate! Although a Chocolate Army is one I wouldn’t mind sinking my teeth into.
My sister, world-travelling bass clarinetist Kathryn Ladano, is in Scotland!
This should surprise no-one, but one of the things she is doing in Scotland is drinking beer.
As luck should have it, on her first day, she had a fall at a pub. I am assuming alcohol was involved, but that’s not important to the story. She spotted a black Scottish Schnauzer, and jumped up to see it. She bumped her head and injured her shoulder. In her email to the family, she said, “I have a lump, but I didn’t have to go to the hospital.” Glad she’s OK!
My dad read this email first, and he immediately announced to the family that “Kathryn had a great start to her vacation…got a concussion, dislocated a shoulder. In a hospital.”
Talk about misreading! My dad has been known to 1) stretch the truth, and 2) immediately go to worst-case scenario, but I’ve never seen anything like this before! She specifically said she didn’t have to go to the hospital, and she made sure to put that up front so my dad wouldn’t worry too much. Well shit!
“SHIT LeBRAIN’S DAD SAYS” presents…
GETTING MORE TALE #472: The Fellowship of the Ring
My old man took me to a lot of movies as a kid. The tradition was, I had to see every Star Wars movie in the theater three times. That also went for Raiders of the Lost Ark. When those movies were new, you couldn’t just wait for them to come to home video. You had to see them in the theater and memorize every moment. As he got older, my dad liked going to movies less and less. Actually, he liked going anywhere less and less. He’s also not fond of the loud volume level at a modern movie theater. We can’t drag him out to movies too often. My sister managed to get him to see The Force Awakens. Before that, my last success getting him into a movie theater seat was Avatar.
Now, let’s go back in time 15 years. Peter Jackson’s incredible Lord of the Rings trilogy had finally begun, with Fellowship of the Ring. My dad wasn’t familiar with Tolkien. I was just starting to read his books, starting with Fellowship of the Ring. The movie was obviously going to be a must-see, and it had several actors he liked: Sean Astin, Ian Holm, and especially John Rys Davies. I know we didn’t go opening weekend, so we probably went to see it the following weekend. The theater was busy, packed full of nerds waiting to whip out their preciouses. My dad doesn’t like crowds much so that didn’t help his mood. My mom and I dragged him out, and he was definitely letting us know he wasn’t going willingly.
We got our tickets, found three seats together, and sat directly behind some Tolkien fans who were more excited about it than my dad. Continuing with the complaints, he asked the first question of the night. “How long is this movie?”
I answered casually, “About three hours.”
“Oh dear God. Oh Jesus Christ,” he responded with his head in his hands. “Three hours. Dear Jesus.” He didn’t seem that enthused as he muttered loudly. I could feel people staring at the back of our heads.
He complained through the trailers, but a strange thing happened over the course of the movie. He started to like it. It’s undeniable that Sir Ian McKellan was the Gandalf that everybody wanted to see. He liked seeing old guys like Christopher Lee still on the screen. He liked Frodo. He liked Sean Bean and Viggo Mortensen. But he didn’t know one little minor detail about the film….
We neared the end. The final Orc battle was impressive; expertly orchestrated and shot. It was a marvel to behold at the time. Unfortunately, the Fellowship was now fractured. Boromir was dead. Frodo and Samwise were all alone. Merry and Pippen had been captured by Orcs. All seemed lost. Roll credits.
“That’s it?!” my dad howled. “Why didn’t he just throw the goddamn ring into the fire?!” Now, two girls in the row in front of us were staring him down. “What kind of ending is that? I thought they had to throw the ring in the fire!”
I exlaimed, “They’re still going to throw it in the fire! There’s two more movies still! It’s a trilogy.”
And then, his final complaint. “Two more movies? Oh dear God. Oh Jesus Christ. I have to do this two more times just to see him throw the damn ring into the fire? Why the hell didn’t they just go there and throw it in? I was expecting him to throw it in the fire and that’s it!”
If eyes could shoot daggers, then at least 20 daggers were fired in his direction. I awaited popcorn missiles. We managed to get to the minivan without being attacked by swarms of Elves or even worse, Cave Trolls.
The really amusing denouement is, my dad actually loves Lord of the Rings today. But he loves it right where he likes it: On his widescreen TV, in surround sound, in front of his favourite chair. And that’s alright by me.
COMING SOON…Shit LeBrain’s Mom Says…at mikeladano.com.
RECORD STORE TALES Mk II: Getting More Tale
#344: Childhood Recording Sessions
When we were kids in the 1980’s, pre-internet, pre-downloading, the only avenue we had to share music with each other was taping. If a friend had an album you wanted, you could try to record it. For example my next door neighbor George had all the Kiss albums, on LP. All he was missing was The Elder. What Kiss albums I didn’t own myself (which was most of them) I gradually taped one by one from George. I’d write down the song titles and make a cassette cover. When George wrote down the songs, I couldn’t always read them. When he did get The Elder in ’86, he made a copy for me. For a little while, I thought Kiss had a song on it called “Escape from the Ish”.
One Sunday afternoon in ’85 I went over to his place with a 60 minute tape, intending to record Unmasked. George dusted off the LP, dropped the needle and hit “record”. At the same time, he also decided to play bass along to the whole album. Somehow, his bass bled through to the tape recorder.
I didn’t find an original copy of Unmasked for two more years. Until that time, all I had to listen to was my taped copy, complete with George’s bass “overdubbed” on top of Gene’s! If I think back and remember really hard, I can still hear in my mind how George kept playing through the song fade outs!
Other recording sessions were far more elaborate. When George acquired Kiss’ Animalize Live Uncensored on VHS tape, he brought it over along with his own VCR, so we could dub a copy, VCR to VCR. On other occasions I would bring our VCR over to my best friend Bob’s place, and record there. My parents hated it when I disconnected the VCR! My dad always seemed to fear we’d never get it hooked up properly again! Or that we’d lose the controller, or worse, break it. But then, if we were recording at my house, my dad would always walk in and mock the bands. “What’s wrong with that man?” my dad said of Bruce Dickinson. “He keeps on screaming as if he’s in terrible pain!”
Copying music improved greatly in the 1990’s. The durability of the blank tapes improved, and dubbing from CD was infinitely better than recording tape to tape. Because of the improvements in quality, the cassettes we dubbed in the 90’s are still playable. Still, there is no comparison in sound to a CD. Finally in 2001, I purchased my first CD burner, enabling me to create the best possible sounding copies of music.
None of those improvements in technology, nor the advent of the CD-R, swayed me from owning an original CD or LP. I may have had a burned copy of the Sultans of Ping F.C., but there’s nothing better than an original. Somebody could send me a CD rip of some amazing rare bonus tracks by bands I like, which is great…but not as great as owning the original.
I don’t really know. Certainly I have plenty of friends from every age group who are content not to own any CDs. They don’t need to own it in order to listen on an iPod. That’s not good enough for me. I want the whole experience. I want the cover art (on paper, not a computer screen), I want the liner notes. I want to file the new CD on my shelves in the right order, and then gaze upon my collection of a given artist. I like to handle the artwork, the CD, and take a hard squint at the pictures. It’s hard to explain. I can justify it by saying CD just sounds better than an mp3. And as good as CD gets, sometimes vinyl can sound even better.
Even though I don’t need them anymore, I miss the old days of the Sunday recording sessions. I miss the social aspects of friends gathering in somebody’s basement or living room to share and discuss and enjoy music (all of which I later bought, anyway). I miss that feeling of heading home with some new music to listen to, right out of a friend’s collection. But I don’t miss having only enough money to buy blank tapes, instead of originals. I’m much happier now with my collection of well loved physical, original music.
RECORD STORE TALES Part 245: Metal in my Ears
and bonus “Shit LeBrain’s Dad Says”
Even though ear piercings on men at the record store were against our backwards “body piercing policy”, I thought for years about getting my ears pierced. Thought about it, never really did anything about it. This inaction went way back, even in highschool I just never got my ears pieced. I came close on summer holidays after graduation. Today, My Favourite Aunt still blames me for the day my cousin came home with his ear pierced. It happened like this…
Summer holidays ’91, my cousin was visiting from Calgary, Alberta. By coincidence, my friend Bob had decided to spend a few days at our cottage with the whole family, which was cool by me. Bob was like family. My cousin liked to be active. He was never the type to sit quietly. Or do anything quietly.
He kept telling us that wanted to get his ear pierced. We decided, “Hey, why don’t we all drive into town, and the three of us get our ears pierced?” We found a hair salon on Queen Street in Kincardine, Ontario called The Clan that did ears (gun-style). Somehow, on the way there, Bob chickened out. He said, “You know, I’m starting my new job next week. I don’t think I want to go in there with an earring on my first day.”
“Are you…what are you saying?” I asked.
“I’m not getting it done. You can get yours, but I can’t go to a new job like that.” Bob was standing firm.
Feeling my backbone melt away, I said, “I’m not doing it either.”
“WHAT?!” Bob and my cousin both said in unison. “You’re chickening out?”
“I’m not chickening out!” I protested. “We all agreed to do it. If Bob’s not doing it I don’t have to either.”
My resilient cousin said, “I’m still doing it.” True to his word, he did. The crap hit the fan when we got back to the cottage. Why was he the only one with his ear pierced? The questions came fast and furious. I was accused of “tricking him” and “suckering him in”. But I didn’t trick anyone.
I simply chickened out.
I still thought about getting an ear piercing, on and off, but the point was moot since the record store did not allow piercings on men. Obviously this policy couldn’t stand forever or they’d never be able to hire anybody. Finally after much petitioning and complaining by many, the day came when they changed their policies regarding earrings on men.
I knew the only person who would still give me a hard time about an earring would be my dad. Sometimes people would ask me, “Why don’t you get an ear piercing?” and I’d usually respond, “Because my dad’s retired and I don’t want to give him a heart attack.”
My friend Shannon promised to help me to soften the blow. She accompanied me to Tora Tattoo in Waterloo, where the young lady there (Shelley) pierced both lobes with 10 gauge rings. I was pretty happy with the results. My dad was not. Upon entering the house, his only words to me were:
“I sure hope those things come out!”
No dad, I had them solder them in. Jesus Murphy!
It is my understanding that Daisi, while at my parents’ place, “piss and shit” all over the carpet. Hey, it’s what puppies do. But according to my dad:
“Little Shit is what I’ve named that dog. Because it pisses and shits all over the house!”
Please welcome to our family, Little Shit!
Happy birthday Dad!!
We were in Kincardine, Ontario, on Queen street, or “the main drag” as my dad calls it. We were in this crappy clothing store called Sandy’s that’s not there anymore. But this time, they had a Kiss T-shirt for sale! I never saw any cool band shirts in Kincardine before. We spent much of each summer there, and when I was younger the place seemed kind of dull. Finding a Kiss shirt there, well obviously I had to get it. It was 1992, a Revenge shirt.
My dad asked, “Did you find a shirt, son?”
“Yep,” I answered. “This one is cool, because it has the new Kiss member on it.” [Eric Singer]
“Yeah,” my dad said with a disapproving smirk. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen that bearded guy before…”
Shit LeBrain’s Dad Says: “Beach Creature”
I remember one night at the cottage, I had my ghetto blaster with me, and my sister and I were listening to Kiss Alive II. Cassette, of course. This would have been summer of 1986. Track #3 was “Ladies Room”, sung by Gene Simmons:
I’ll meet meet you in the ladies room
I’ll meet you greet you in the ladies room
For my money
You can’t be too soon
My dad did that thing that dads sometimes do. He stood there with a strained look on his face, trying to figure out the words. Struggling to hear what Gene was singing, my days said:
“A ‘beach creature in the ladies room‘? Is that what that man is singing?”
One day in the winter, I was getting up for another day at the record store. My dad was already up obsessing about the Weather Network.
“Are you going to work today?”
“Yeah dad…why wouldn’t I? It’s Thursday.”
“Well you better be careful, it’s a howlin’ banshee out there today!”
I look out the window, and saw literally two snowflakes floating through the air.