Amazon

#899: Gathering

RECORD STORE TALES #899:  Gathering

It was a beautiful day today.  In the afternoon I got the ol’ laptop dusted off, and brought it out onto the patio to listen to some tunes and watch some YouTube.  The laptop is at least a decade old, probably older, and has served me well as my travelling machine.  Today, it could barely do two things at once.  Obviously it will not serve me well for live streaming this summer at the lake.  It did a stand-up job last year, with Streamyard and video editing.  This year it simply will not cut the tomatoes so I pulled the trigger on a new HP.  I didn’t want to go down in screen size so I ordered a 17.3″.  I always get nervous when buying a new computer, and I’ve never bought HP before.  I’m excited though.  Whatever happens, it cannot be worse than a decade-old Acer.  It could be here as early as Tuesday.  Wish me luck — this summer’s future LeBrain Train episodes will depend on this laptop!  Meanwhile the old one will be brought to Sausagefest — if there will be such a thing this summer.

The laptop is delivering by Purolator, which is totally safe.  Amazon unfortunately is not.  Their couriers leave the parcel at the door and that’s that.  Because there is so much theft of Amazon parcels in these parts, for the last six months or so, I have been having everything sent to my mom and dad’s address.  I am still working from the office and they are home all the time.  Jen has appointments that usually has her out of the house when Amazon come knocking.  As a result, I have to pick up my parcels from them about once a week.  And, according to Ontario’s current regulations, having an outdoor socially distanced visit with them is currently illegal.

“Hey, would you guys like to come out back for an illegal visit?” asked my mom.

“Sure,” I shrugged.

We’ve all been vaccinated with the first shot and are at 50% immunity.  We distanced.  Well, my dad got a little close as he sometimes does.  But it was nice.  Something almost normal.  I would like to go down into the basement and look for some of my old sketches from when I was a kid, but we aren’t taking any chances.  We stayed out.  Doug Ford can suck it.

Ironically, one of the things I was picking up was a cheap pair of computer speakers.  Every time Doug Ford goes live on TV to open his big mouth, I can’t hear him.  It’s too quiet.  Annoying.  So I ordered some cheap Amazon branded speakers so I can actually listen next time he opens his big yap.  And they’re my speakers, so if I want to use them for my new laptop, I’m good there too.

Some music also arrived.  We will be interviewing Paul Laine soon on the LeBrain Train, so I grabbed his Zokusho album by the Defiants.  Looking forward to that.  In a previous order, I received Long Distance Voyager by the Moody Blues.  Uncle Meat told us that it was his dad’s favourite album, and he would love if we listened to it or even reviewed it.  So I listened to it, loved it, and ordered a CD so I can listen properly for review.  I’m happy to do that for him.

I have also completed my set of Whitesnakes Red, White & Blue trilogy.  In hand are the recent compilation CDs The Rock Album, The Love Album, and The Blues Album.  All tracks have been remixed and updated, while unreleased songs are also included.  John Snow over at 2loud2oldmusic did a fantastic job of reviewing them all.  The Blues Album came from Encore while the other two are Amazons.

We talked current events, we talked family matters, we had a few laughs.  All is well, more or less.  This is the first pandemic for everyone present.  In the five stages of grieving, I think my mom is at the anger stage.  Last week on the phone, when I told her that us visiting would be against the rules, she said “I don’t give a damn about the rules!”  I don’t know the last time I heard her that angry!  Let’s face it, we the people of Ontario have been getting jerked around.  She has a lot to be mad about.  I love my mom.

My dad, on the other hand, decided to watch a documentary about Ozzy Osbourne on A&E.  Excitedly, he told me all about his history with Black Sabbath and as a solo artist.  “He had a lot of success on his own, when no one thought he would!” he explained to me.  But it wasn’t easy for the Ozzman either.  My dad told me all about Ozzy’s son Jack, and the role that Sharon played in his success.  It was one of those moments you cherish.  I love my dad.

My mom also loved The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which concluded on Friday.  We talked about Sam and the new Captain America.  To my dad, there is only one Captain America and it’s not Sam Wilson or Steve Rogers.  It’s someone I’ve never heard of — Grant Gardner, district attorney and the 1944 version of Cap that he grew up with.  He has no interest in the new Cap, while my mom was really drawn into the storyline.  Hopefully next time we visit illegally, my mom will have seen Captain America: The Winter Soldier which I told her to watch next.

I realize I have incriminated myself and my family with this story, and to that I say:  oh well.  We were safe and respectful of common sense.   When this pandemic eventually ends — and history has shown that eventually it will — I will have these chapters as a document of the weirdest times of our lives.  And that has more value than a fine.

 

#897: Spam

RECORD STORE TALES #897: Spam

Making a long-ish story short(er):  before launching this site in 2012, I was an active reviewer on Amazon.  On a good day I could finish two or three.  Those reviews became the bulk of content when I launched my own site.  I must have written so many that I ended up on the Amazon Canada “Hall of Fame”.

From my Amazon profile, you can get to this site. I figured, “Hey, if somebody liked my reviews enough to click my name, then maybe they’ll like the ones I have on my site even better”.

It took me a little while to put two and two together, but a year or so ago, I started getting bombarded with emails asking me to do Amazon reviews.  The emails would come through the contact page here.  The requests would be for USB cables, lights, HDMI cables, you name it.  Anything but music.

The first few requests were vague.  “Would you like to write some Amazon reviews and get the product for free?”  I would respond, “Sure, I am looking to review the new Metallica album,” and that would be it.  I wouldn’t hear back.  They clearly didn’t check to see what kinds of products I was reviewing, which were almost exclusively CDs and DVDs.  They just saw “Hall of Fame” and jumped.

Some of the requests were more detailed — like a form letter.  I would have to buy the selected product myself, but after posting the review, they would refund the money and I keep the product.  Some of the emails specified a “positive” review.

I don’t need extra clutter, and am generally uncomfortable writing reviews on request like that.  I know a lot of those products and I would be writing a negative review on some of the USB cables and lights.  The whole thing seemed kind of shaky to me.

The requests kept rolling in, so I put a disclaimer up on the contact form on this site:  “no Amazon review requests”.  And the request emails immediately stopped…

…Only to continue on my Instagram and Facebook pages.  I have to admit the first one to come in on Instagram surprised me.  (Nothing on Facebook surprises me.)  An Instagram one really bugged me by calling me “dear” repeatedly.  I blocked that one, and then suddenly mysteriously was contacted on Facebook by a  seller who called me “dear”.  Persistence like that only earns the Instablock.

The last request was for an electric toothbrush review.  Eventually I figured out that I needed to put the disclaimer directly on my Amazon profile — “no review requests please”.  That was a couple months ago and I haven’t had a single request since!

This message came in at 1:57 AM!

 

One small victory against spam.  Then again, maybe I really blew it.  Maybe I could have had the best USB cables and lights.  My teeth could have been whiter and shinier than ever!  I don’t know anyone who’s gone for one of those review deals, so if you have any insight or feedback, let me know.

Just don’t ask me to review your damned electric toothbrush!

Adventures in Epilepsy – Live LeBrain Train with Guests

Episode 30 – Adventures in Epilepsy

A few technical difficulties with the Facebook feed, but a good show all around.  A more personal show this time, if you ever wanted to know how epilepsy can change lives, then you’ll want to check this one out.  No more concerts, no more movie theaters — such is the new reality that my wife lives in.

But we did more than just talk about epilepsy, much more in fact.  Unboxings, books, and guests — it’s all below.

The live stream feed is much choppier on Facebook so I encourage everyone to watch on Youtube from now on.  The Youtube feed was solid.   People on Facebook were reporting freezing video, so in an effort to fix that, I stopped the feed and started over.  That’s why there are two Youtube videos below.

  • I started with some cool unboxings — Japanese imports and vinyl.  Go to 0:05:10 of the first video to see some metal goodies and rarities.
  • For the start of the epilepsy show, go to 0:18:25 of the first video.  It continues at 0:07:15 of the second video.
  • Old pal and author Aaron Lebold came on to talk about his own history with epilepsy, and his new book Genocide at 0:41:15 of the second video.
  • Kevin Simister aka Buried On Mars stopped in at 1:06:35 of the second video to talk about crappy Amazon shipping and to do a CD unboxing.
  • And finally Rob Daniels came in at 1:20:45 of the second video to hang out, talk music, and his own show Visions in Sound.  He has lots of fun planned for October!

Thanks for watching the LeBrain Train episode 30!

First video – start of show

Second video – continuation and conclusion

#839: Stop Thief!

GETTING MORE TALE #839: Stop Thief!

I’ve only been a victim of theft a couple times, but both times it felt like such a violation.  My car was broken into about 20 years ago, and my old Discman was swiped, along with my CD of Kettle of Fish by Fish.  I always hoped the thieves learned to like some good music because of me, but in reality they probably ejected the disc from a moving vehicle.

I’ve worried about mail theft over the years, but never failed to get a refund if a parcel didn’t show up.  It’s trickier now in the days of Amazon.  They have their own delivery drivers, and when they drop a box on your porch, they take a picture of it and call it “delivered”.  There is nothing to protect you if someone grabs it after the driver is gone.  Amazon won’t refund it.  You’d think paying for Amazon Prime delivery would offer you some protection, but it does not.  You’re actually better off having something sent in the mail.

I ordered a parcel from Amazon recently, and it was stolen right from my door.  Our condo has a controlled front entrance, but anybody can get in if they wait for someone to open the door for them.  My theory is that this is what happened.  Perhaps the Amazon driver was delivering a package, was buzzed in, and let someone else in with them.  Typically an Amazon driver will be delivering to multiple residents in one trip, and only one has to buzz them in.

Nobody was home at that time, so the driver left the parcel at my door, and took a picture of it.  That’s all they have to do.  I’ve never had a parcel stolen from my door, until this week.

When Amazon showed my parcel as “delivered”, with that nice little photo attached, I knew someone had snatched it while we were out.  Jen began making phone calls to get security footage reviewed, and then suddenly she received a call from the police!

Whoever stole my parcel ditched it, unopened, in a park nearby.  Someone else found it and called the police, who returned it to us!

I am comforted by the fact that the bad person who stole my parcel was balanced out by a good person who also could have stolen it, but didn’t.  They did the right thing and because of them, I have my Captain America action figures.

Captain America figures?  Is that what all this fuss is about?

I ordered Cap & Peggy Carter, Captain Marvel, and Ghost & Luis.  I’d been looking forward to them all weekend.  But that turned to pure anger when I thought they had been stolen right from my door.  The violation made me furious but when the police returned it, I was so grateful. Thank you Waterloo Regional Police Service.

There are lots of other people who live in this building, and any one of them could have lost a delivery too.  Highly unlikely that it was just me.  I understand they caught the thief so I hope all my neighbours can sleep better tonight.  I feel better now.

 

Related stories:

 

 

Covideo #5 – Feedback required!

Enjoy the video, and for those who also enjoy the live streams, your feedback is requested!

Another F’n Covid Video

A brief followup to my first Covid-19 statement.

LeBrain’s Covid-19 Message

A humorous but important message regarding the current pandemic.

Sunday Chuckle: Mandalorian…WTF?

If you happen to find a 6″ Mandalorian Black Series action figure, snag it — those things are going for crazy money in resale.  As of this writing, Amazon.ca is asking $80 for one (ridiculous).

I continued scrolling, looking for a better deal.  What I found was…chuckle-worthy.

Mandalorian Handjob by “Harlotte Sometimes” is available to read, but only on Kindle!

“Fapper Oden Zero sets off on his first Galactic adventure. From his home planet in the Gamma System, the young man sees opportunity; Coruscant and the Core Worlds promise riches for the quick and the clever when the Republic finally falls.  Oden signs on with a freighter. One last night of freedom tempts him. ‘Who is that innocent, sexy, seductive blonde?’ he asks. ‘Did she really just wink at me?'”

It turns out that Harlotte Sometimes is a prolific author with 16 titles under their belt.  These include Bachelor in Space and Hard For Hillary.

I’ve only dipped a toe into reading fan fiction, and never the naughty kind.  Maybe I’m missing out.  For those with a pantsuit fetish, I recommend Hard For Hillary.  If you’re more into tall, dark, and heavily armoured, maybe Mandalorian Handjob is for you!

 

#701: Amazon You Bastards

A big shout out to Derek Deke for bein’ around.

GETTING MORE TALE #701: Amazon You Bastards

This is the story of how 18 cents cost me $21.63.

I’m always on the lookout for cheap Star Wars figures.  I collect the 6″Black Series exclusively.  I keep my core collection sealed, but any time I can buy a double for cheap, I go for it.  May as well have an open one for play display.

The other night I was bored and browsing Amazon, as you do.  I noticed they had a couple Black Series figs for under $20 — usually a guaranteed threshold for buying a double.  I picked up Lando (Billy Dee Williams version) for $12.46 for my sister last week.   This week I noticed Liam Neeson, err, Qui-Gon Jinn, for $12.08.  After consulting my sister I decided to pull the trigger.  Qui-Gon isn’t the best character and for a Jedi he is pretty bland, but I like the little toy lightsabers.  He also comes with an extra hand that you can swap out to give him a Force-push kind of pose.

(I like the ability to easily swap out hands.  Dr. Kathryn does not.  Look for a future story on this called “Extra Hands”.)

“Go for it!” advised Dr. Kathryn and so I looked for something else to qualify for free shipping.  I went to my wishlist and remembered Tommy Shaw’s Girls With Guns album.  I’ve loved the title track for eons, but the CD was always somewhat rare.  In fact it ended up on a very primitive version of the old Holy Grail list.  It turns out that the quality label Beat Goes On Records has done a reissue along with the album What If in a single package.  I recently picked up BGO’s reissue of Styx’s Caught In The Act – Live and I was very happy with the audio and packaging.  I added Girls With Guns / What If to my cart at the price of $22.74, a solid buy.

Total:  $34.82.  A measly 18 cents short of free shipping.

Well, fuck!

There was only one copy of Tommy Shaw left in stock.  I wanted to keep it in the cart.  Only one thing to do.  Add another item to the cart to get free shipping.

I browsed and browsed a bit more.  Lots of Black Series figures under $20 (mostly from Rogue One), but I had doubles already.  There were a few just over $20 and ultimately I decided to buy a second Imperial Range Trooper at $21.63, far exceeding the cost of the original Qui-Gon figure that set me off on this particular shopping quest.  And here’s the kicker!  At first I decided I didn’t want to get any figures from Solo.  There are so many Black Series characters now that I had to draw a line somewhere.  But I broke when some of the new figures turned out so good, and Range Trooper is one of them.  He’ll be joining the rest of my opened Imperial troopers soon.

But:  Fuck you, Amazon!  I bet you have banks of computers spitting out algorithms to keep me just under the $35 minimum for free shipping!  Weird prices like $12.08…you think you’re getting a deal but then you buy three fuckin’ things!

I’m on to you, Amazon….

That’s dedication, pal!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’m hard at work on my next series of reviews:  King’s X.  How hard, you ask?   I have eight instalments completed, with plenty more to do.  In fact just to make sure I do an extra, extra good job, I ordered two albums I was missing:  Black Like Sunday and Ogre Tones.  That’s right.  I spent money on two more CDs, just so I could do a more complete series.  That’s dedication, pal!  I must like you all, or something.

Amazon delivered these two discs free of charge.  Way to go, Amazon.

Then, like a bolt right out of the blue, look what arrived from CD Japan?

That’s right.  New Queensrÿche, Condition Hüman baby! Waiting for the Japanese release always sucks, but I have it now. Bonus track: “Espiritu Muerto”.  Also in the parcel, one re-buy: Def Leppard’s live album Mirrorball, with bonus track:  a “different version” of “Kings of the World”.

Yes, I do work hard, but it’s all for the love of rock and roll.  And you!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.