Sh*te Photies

#840: 40 Years in Photos

GETTING MORE TALE #840: 40 Years in Photos

According to Ye Olde Photo Album, we began building the cottage in the summer of 1980.  Until then we stayed in a log cabin down the road with Grandma and Grandpa.  It was a tight squeeze.  Grampa had a bunk house out back where he spent the night.  Grandma had a bedroom where Little Baby Kathryn Ladano slept in a crib.  My mom and dad had a room.  That left me to sleep on a cot in the living room.

Many of my memories of that cabin are Star Wars memories.  The Empire Strikes Back had just come out.  I remember reading the comic book and the collector’s cards by the little front windows.  My mom bought a whole box of Empire Dixie cups for the lake.  Our action figures were always there with us.  I didn’t have a Boba Fett yet, so in the meantime I used a Micronaut with missile-firing backpack.  The cabin had structural support cables running from front to back, and they were great for hanging Star Wars figures in precarious adventurous positions.

There wasn’t much room in that little log cabin so eventually we needed to get a place of our own.  My parents bought a vacant lot nearby and began clearing the land.  We had no phone, no cable TV, nothing other than what we brought with us.  That was usually our Star Wars guys and sometimes a little Fisher-Price tape recorder to play cassettes.  But all my Star Wars soundtracks were on vinyl.  My grandfather had a record player at the cottage but we didn’t play Star Wars records.  Just country!

The land was cleared, a foundation was poured, and flooring laid.  Insulation was installed under the floors and that’s when it rained.  Insulation had to be re-done, a messy job.  The construction attracted attention from local cottagers and a curious little boy named Cyril became my first cottage friend.

Cyril was not only my first cottage friend, and not only my first black friend, but also the first black kid I’d ever met in my life.  Growing up in Catholic schools in Kitchener Ontario was a very white experience.  I’d never even see a black kid before that wasn’t on television.  The picture of Cyril checking out the brand new window delivery was typical.  That was as exciting as things got.  There were always trucks dropping off mountains of lumber.  Like all other little boys in 1980, Cyril was a Star Wars fan.  We got our figures together and played.  I remember freezing Han Solo in a glass of water.  It was the best way to make a “frozen Han” back then!

Funny thing about Cyril.  He had an older step-brother.  Eight years after meeting Cyril, his older brother was my science teacher:  the legendary Mr. Marrow, one of the greatest teachers I ever had, and a guest star in my “Nothing But A Good Time” music video.  He played – surprise surprise – the teacher!  And he nailed it!

I’m not sure what happened to Cyril or Mr. Marrow as their family sold the cottage long ago.  I did see Cyril once as an adult.  He towered over me, and apparently developed a love of Phil Collins!

By 1981 we had a space we could live in.  The interior was not finished, and we used an old folding table in the kitchen.  The back yard was nothing but dirt and stones.  My mom’s ashtray and cigarettes sat on the kitchen table.  It took years to finish the inside, room by room.  The wall slats went up and the ceiling was eventually finished too.  Soon, front and back decks went on.

The next photos come from Easter of 1986, an occasion I’ve written extensively about.  Easter fell in March that year, and we spent it at the lake.  The water was still partly frozen, but a few leads opened up in the ice and we took out the canoe for a trip.  You can see my little sister hunkered down in the middle while my uncle and dad paddled.  Later on in the back yard, I could be found playing air guitar on my favourite weapon – a badminton racquet.  If there was a tape deck on the back porch, it would have been playing “Turbo Lover” by Judas Priest.  The video had just come out and I recorded it to tape so I could listen to it whenever I wanted.  Naturally “Turbo Lover” was followed by “Locked In”.  I wouldn’t get the album itself until September.

One of the most interesting things to me about the older photos is the lack of puppies.  The first Schnauzers arrived in August of ’86.  We had two to choose from – Gentle Ben and Crystal Belle.  I connected with little Ben as the photos show.  I thought he might like to listen to some Triumph on my earphones.  But we chose Crystal (I was outvoted 3-1), and she was our puppy for the next many years.  I’ll be honest and admit that the stories you’ve heard were true.  At the time, I did not want a dog.  I didn’t want a dog because my sister did, and I didn’t want her to have her way.

In a photo from fall of 1987, she can be seen looking for cookie scraps as we lounged on a hammock.  I was wearing an Iron Maiden “Trooper” shirt that I don’t even remember owning at that age.  Later that fall we went on a big hike, following the lake north.  Shortly after, I painted that black vest with flames, and it became part of my Alice Cooper Halloween costume.

During the school years, I stayed home more often.  I didn’t want to miss any WWF wresting, or Much Music Power Hour music videos.  The absence of cable TV and a telephone made it feel like you were really out of contact with the outside world.  Of course, that was the point, but when you’re in your teens that’s not a point you really feel like making.

In the winter, my parents would go for day trips while I would stay home and get into mischief with Bob Schipper.  A photo was snapped of my dad shooting one of his guns on one such trip.  I stayed home to make cardboard guitars with Bob.

Time flew – and so did we!  My dad had a good friend named Jack, who was an airline pilot.  Because of Jack, any time we were going on a flight, he could made arrangements with the pilot to let us come up to the cockpit.  I felt like the kid in the movie Airplane!, meeting Captain Oveur.  Jack was a customer of my dad’s at the bank and that’s how they met.

Jack also had a small plane over his own.  When he came to the cottage for a visit, he didn’t drive.  He flew.  Summer after summer we always looked forward to his visits.  He’d take us all up two at a time if we wanted to.  It was pretty wild being able to see the cottage from the sky.  Too bad we didn’t think to take pictures from the air.

The 80s turned into the 90s.  I’ve written extensively about the summer of 1991, and the photos show change!  The old brown back deck was never meant to be a permanent fixture.  In ’91 we designed and built a bigger and better deck.  It was my job to cut out holes for the trees to grow through and you can see this in the photos.  Or at least you can see me goofing around for the cameras in my beloved Jon Bon Jovi Blaze of Glory T-shirt.  I bought that album there, on cassette the previous year.  The “bloody” scene was caused by a bottle of ketchup, cropped out of the photo (but left in on the original print).  Neon pink was in at the time, by the way.

1991 was a special summer because it was the last summer that Bob came to stay, and the first one that my buddy Peter came for.

Seasons passed and hair grew.  I had pretty good long hair when my Aunt came to visit in 1992.  You can tell it was 1992 by the Wayne’s World shirt.  I just had to have one.  Wayne’s World was everything in 1992.  I started talking like Wayne, using words like “spew” and “not”!  The tape deck that summer was loaded with Queen, Iron Maiden, and my favourite band Kiss who was out for Revenge.  We still have those old plastic deck chairs too!

What is really amazing to me is how quickly the time has gone by, especially those early years.  It felt like ages to finish the cottage.  It seemed like the unpanelled walls and temporary furniture was forever.  Even into the 1990s, our closets were not finished.  You could find the words KISS and NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK inked into the wooden 2x4s framing our closets.  Archaeologists will be able to determine whose room was whose based on hidden graffiti.

I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane and can imagine what it was like to be a kid at the lake, playing Star Wars, and later rocking the air guitar badminton racquet to “Turbo Lover”.  Maybe next time there I will break out the racquet for another go.

 

 

#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

#808.5: “Rare Rush”

Many years ago…I think I was still living with my parents…there was an amazing website with mp3s of just about everything Rush that you could imagine.  The site went down soon after, and I was unable to download any full concerts.  What I did get was all the singles and bonus tracks they had available.

I burned these tracks to a double CD and called it Rare Rush.  I printed the tracklist on brown paper so it would somewhat match with Chronicles.

Most of these tracks are alternate versions, some from promo releases.  The website had all the details, so they are now lost.  However I know some of these are very special versions.  “The Weapon” is the famous single version featuring Count Floyd (Joe Flaherty).

 

The quality varies from track to track depending on the original source (some are from cassette).  All are interesting to obsessive Rush fans.

Who wants to read a review of Rare Rush?

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Gallery: Cheap Trick, Kitchener Ontario, 6/10/2019

Dr. Kathryn saw Cheap Trick at the Centre in the Square and has returned with photographic proof.

Comments:

“Cheap Trick were great! They played for about an hour and a half straight with no encore. It was a good mix of old songs and new. There were a bunch in the middle I didn’t know. Robin Zander can still sing pretty well, but his shortcomings were very obvious when he started to sing ‘The Flame’ with just himself on guitar. When he has all the other players behind him, his voice sounds much better and you can’t hear where he’s lacking. There was an extra guitar player (Robin Zander’s son Robin Taylor Zander) in the back and Tom Petersson played a twelve string bass. Rick Nielsen threw picks into the audience and I caught three!  Looking back, I didn’t get any close ups of Robin Zander! He was right in front of me plenty.”

Setlist:

  • Hello There
  • Way of the World
  • Oh, Candy
  • Big Eyes
  • California Man (The Move cover)
  • On Top of the World
  • Stiff Competition
  • Downed
  • Ain’t That a Shame (Fats Domino cover)
  • High Roller
  • Lookin’ Out for Number One
  • Stop This Game
  • I’m Waiting for the Man (The Velvet Underground cover)
  • The Flame
  • I Want You to Want Me
  • Dream Police
  • Surrender
  • Clock Strikes Ten
  • Goodnight Now

Gallery: LeBrain Day Fun

Another spin ’round the sun, another basket full of goodies!

Thank you everyone for the birthday wishes.  Here are some of my favourites.  You might recognise some of these people!

 

 

 

 

 

Had a lovely dinner at Borealis with the family & Dr. Kathryn.  And so we get to the gifts!

First up!  A signed first edition copy of Dr. Ladano’s The Improvising Musician’s Mask:  Using Musical Instruments to Build Self-Confidence and Social Skills in Collective Free Improvisation.  That’s a mouthful and a generous gift.  These books aren’t cheap, even for her!  The funny thing is that when I grabbed the wrapped hardcover-shaped package, I said “I hope this is a copy of your book,” but I didn’t actually think it would be out so soon!

Dr. Kathryn also gifted me some music.  Ho!  It’s Derek Smalls’ debut solo album Smalls Change!  Appropriately considering the occasion, it is subtitled Meditations Upon Ageing.  I can’t wait to spin this one.  She also got me this nifty Worf (Star Trek) not-Lego head.  These look great in the office.  I have Spock as well.

The lovely Mrs. LeBrain was amazing to me as well.  She trekked up to Encore Records where she met my old pals Al “The” King and Chris Boyne.  They hooked her up with some live Ghost, on vinyl.  This is my first Ghost vinyl.  Ceremony and Devotion is a great album, and the vinyl has two “exclusive” songs…that are also on the CD!  Anybody know what’s up with that?

It doesn’t really matter.  Double live albums have a certain intangible quality that almost always makes them better on vinyl.  Scientists have been trying to figure out why that is since the advent of digital media.

Since my wife also dresses me, check out the cool shirts.  I think I’m going to wear that getup to work tomorrow.  Han Solo and BB-8 look awesome together.

Thanks again everyone for the happy birthday wishes.  I keep getting older, and you keep getting awesome-er!

 

 

Gallery: TFCon 2018

TFCon in Toronto has become another tradition of Sausagefest-scale epic-ness for me. Coming the weekend just after ‘Fest, it help blunts the withdrawal. Jay and I left Kitchener promptly at 8 am. We planned to buy the “early bird” passes that got us onto the dealer floor two hours before general admission. That’s what we did last year, though it’s not really necessary.

I hoped to pick up a specific Toronto exclusive: Maketoys’ “Maestro” (a third party version of Generation 2 Jazz complete with deco), and that was first mission accomplished ($140 from The Chosen Prime). Its lovely clamshell packaging is an homage to its 1993 “G2” counterpart. There was no line for this particular exclusive, and they had lots left by the time we departed around noon.

Maketoys Maestro (aka G2 Jazz)

As usual we had a great time, but with a couple gripes. Last year the early admission came with a shaving kit and a bottle of water — this year nothing! (I’m only partially griping, but I heard two other guys having the exact same conversation as us. And just like us, “I still haven’t used that shaving kit.”)

Our other complaint were the people with the fucking backpacks.  Everybody under the age of 30 seemed to be sporting backpacks of varying practicality, but weren’t seeming to be buying things to put in the backpacks.  Just as bad:  the people in stupid outfits that had nothing to do with Transformers.  We saw some witches and some things that were probably anime references, and a few people sporting swords.  There was only one Bumblebee, one Prime, and one Ratchet.  Optimus Prime’s dad was dressed as Sparkplug Witwicky.

Beast Wars Megatron and Sparkplug Witwicky

To us a lot of people seemed to be there to be “seen” rather than be there for the awesome Transformers.  90% of the floor space is dedicated to collectable robots that turn into stuff.  Know what kind of event you’re going to, people!

Bitching aside, we both did well.

Jay bought the cool hologram-looking lights seen in the video above, one each for his two boys. You can hear the creator discuss pricing in the video. Jay also got a great price on a black Encore reissue of G1 Ironhide, just $20.

Jay’s best score:  he picked up Fanshobby “Megatooth” (third party G1 Repugnus), a figure I had been eyeing myself. It has chromed plastic mandibles and claws, which is considered a premium finish for figure collectors.

Fanshobby Megatooth (far right)

A look at my purchases below:

  • Takara Masterpiece MP-15/16-E Cassettebots vs. Cassettetrons.  Compatible with MP Soundwave in cassette modes.
  • KFC Kingzilla (third party MP G1 Snapdragon) with headmaster and triple-changing.
  • Fanstoys Spindrift (third party MP G1 Seaspray)
  • Maketoys Maestro (third party MP G2 Jazz)
  • Hasbro Hun-grrrr, which completes the set I only began last Friday at the beginning of Sausagefest!  Hun-Grrr becomes the torso of the combining Terrorcons, forming the evil Abominus.

Check out some of the cool sights below.  In this gallery:  prototypes of figures yet to come, and some customs as well.

And finally, some of the best of the cool stuff for sale.

Jay knows how to do this stuff.  I saw him negotiate $20 on a red B.A.P.E. Optimus Prime, and it was done with…art, really.  There was an art to it and both guys were happy with the outcome.

With us, we do TFCon right.  We won’t make you dodge our backpacks.  We’re smart about it.  When we buy a couple large items, we take them to the truck and go back in.  It’s a Transformers convention, not a campout.  And I sure as fuck wouldn’t dress up as a Jedi if I’m going to TFCon.

But whatever!  It was fun as these photos show.  Can’t wait for next summer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Intermission: Mail Call!

The mailman has been busy this last week or so.  Just look at the goodies!

LED ZEPPELIN – “Rock and Roll” / “Friends” Record Store Day single

DEF LEPPARD – Live at Abbey Road Studios 12″ Record Store Day EP

RAINBOW – Memories in Rock II Japanese CD – 2 bonus tracks

STRYPER – God Damn Evil Japanese CD – bonus track

STEPH HONDE – Covering the Monsters 

DALE SHERMAN – Mel Brooks FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the Outrageous Genius of Comedy books – one for me, one for my dad’s 80th birthday!  SHHH don’t tell.  He doesn’t read this!

 

 

 

 

 

Gallery: Marillion Christmas Comes Early

It’s that time of year again!  When Marillion fans gather around post boxes and anxiously check on message boards.  “Has it come yet?  Do you have yours yet?”

Yes, it has come, and yes we have ours now!  What is “it”?  Why, the annual Marillion Christmas release and Web UK Magazine of course!  Since 1998, Marillion have offered free Christmas exclusives to those who sign up for the fan package.  This year’s is a DVD:  Christmas at the Club.  This was a private fan gig at the band studio The Racket Club.  It was an invite-only crowd, treated to live versions of the latest tracks from 2016’s Fuck Everyone and Run.  Tracks like “The Leavers” and “Living in FEAR” sit among old favourites like “The Great Escape”, “Splintering Heart” and “Real Tears for Sale”.  Can’t wait to get this one on the big TV screen.

The magazine is also a treat.  Marillion recently conquered the Royal Albert Hall, and inside is the glorious photographic proof.

The Christmas season never feels like it has begun until the Marillion CD or DVD arrives.  I am happy to announce that it has now officially started!  Time to enjoy some Christmas at the Club.

 

#607: Every Picture Tells a Story

GETTING MORE TALE #607: Every Picture Tells a Story

 

If you’re like me, you probably look at childhood photos and are immediately flooded with a million memories. Music, pictures and memories…they all go together don’t they? One triggers another and all three merge together in your grey matter. With that in mind, put on something nostalgic and join me with some short stories about some old pictures. If you can’t think of something to listen to, here’s Bryan Adams doing “Summer of ’69”!


I can tell by my hair that this picture is winter of 1989-1990. On the far left, you’ll notice my Darth Vader lamp, hand made by my mom a long time ago (though not very far away). Darth is priceless to me, and I still have him on that very same dresser today. Next to Darth, I notice that I didn’t think to remove the Speed Stick before taking a photo.

That was my first guitar. I just had to have a whammy bar. That thing would simply not stay in tune. In the 80s, you had to have a whammy bar, although Slash was slowly causing them to go out of fashion. My mom found a guitar teacher, a really nice guy named Gary Mertz. He was teaching my sister, myself and my best friend Bob all in one shot. He came to the house, and did 30 minute lesson with my sister on keyboards first. Then 30 minutes with me and 30 with Bob on guitar. I just wasn’t any good at it. I just don’t have the coordination. How my sister got to be such a great musician, I really couldn’t tell you. I got the shitty genes.

A year and a half later, and look at that hair. Sleek?

Second guitar. A flying V I bought off a guy from work.  He was a huge Eddie Van Halen fan, and he customised the V with different pickups to try to emulate Eddie’s brown sound.  I still had to have a whammy bar.  Constantly diving for it made it sound like I was playing something other than random notes.  I was pretty useless on guitar.

A little older now, this is about 1993 and that’s my first beard! Zeppelin and the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701 D) on the same walls as before.  The Enterprise and the Kiss sketch I’m holding were both birthday gifts from my buddy Peter. I still have that Kiss sketch on my wall right behind where I work at LeBrain HQ.

Check out this model kit I build. That’s a Klingon Bird of Prey, a Romulan Warbird and a Ferengi ship. I bought it for the Warbird, truly a beautiful ship design. If you look close enough, you can see where I painted in little yellow windows on the forward section, just like the show. I did the same on the Ferengi craft, which actually turned out the best of the three.

And finally, I don’t know what compelled me to take pictures of all my stuff. Here it is, and all laid out specifically just so. Why? Couldn’t tell you. But there’s some cool stuff there!

With the exception of the cassette tapes, I still own most of this stuff.  Some CDs have been replaced by expanded editions.  The vinyl didn’t go anywhere though, and I definitely hung on to those Star Trek figures.

My collections for each of these bands has expanded so much that I couldn’t fit them all into a single photo anymore.  It’s funny to look back and think, “Wow, that’s all I had!?”

#578: TFCon 2017

GETTING MORE TALE #578: TFCon 2017

Hold onto your scraplets, I have literally a shat-ton of photos from Toronto TFCon 2017!

I’ve never been to TFCon before.  Buddy Jason has been trying to get me to go for years.  This is the first time the planets aligned and I went with Jay with two goals:

  1. Pick out a gift for myself from my mother-in-law (who is awesome that way).
  2. Pick out something smaller for myself.

Jay picked me up around 7:00 am and we hit the road.  We discussed strategies and vendors and I quickly realized that this was going to be epic.

I’ll let the massive photo gallery here speak for itself.  For official and third party figures, I have never seen anything like it before.

The goodie bag you get for paying your $35 entrance fee was kind of crap.  It had some flavoured water and a Schick razor.  The TFCon bag itself will get more use than the Schick.

One of the coolest figures was the Con exclusive from OcularMax. Diaclone Paris Dakar Rally Terraegis is a mouthful, but it’s the yellow truck in the gallery below. Look at the detailed deco. Those aren’t stickers!

They also had prototypes of forthcoming third party figures.  One of these was the giant FansToys Omega Supreme (mentioned earlier here).  Another was a really sharp looking pair of jets for a new Masterpiece Aerialbots set.

The items I purchased were:

  1. Takara Titans Return Wheelie from the fine folks at TF Source! – $25 Canadian.  A real winner.
  2. Transformers Collectors Club Impactor – $120 Canadian.  Cheapest I’ve seen.
  3. Third party company FansToys Phoenix – an homage to G1 Skyfire in Masterpiece scale.  From The Chosen Prime.

I just found a new annual pilgrimage.  Thanks Jay — can’t wait for next year!