Billy Idol

#644: On the Road with Peter and Ozzy

GETTING MORE TALE #644: On the Road with Peter and Ozzy

Peter started coming up to the cottage with us in the summer of 1991, after we both finished highschool. Peter didn’t pack light. On any given trip, Peter would pack the following items:

  • Baseball gloves & ball
  • A football
  • Nintendo games
  • At least a dozen movies
  • Food, food and more food
  • Several tapes for the car

Peter’s favourite artist for cottage road trips was Ozzy Osbourne. During the summer of 1992, No More Tears was in the deck. Peter skipped the ballads. No “Mama I’m Coming Home” for him! We also enjoyed Billy Idol. Peter made a special mission to pick up Whiplash Smile before a road trip.  I can recall going to Fairview Mall, and opening the tape in the car.  We were also into a band called Transvision Vamp who had a couple great car tunes – “Baby I Don’t Care” was one.

When he had a car CD changer, we played a fun guessing game. We’d throw in Nirvana’s Nevermind, and Weird Al Yankovic’s Off the Deep End. Peter hit shuffle. When we heard the classic chords to “Smells Like Teen Spirit”/”Smells Like Nirvana”, we had to guess who it actually was before the vocals began. It took a while to hear the difference.  Eventually I could tell.  Weird Al tends to do spot-on covers, instrumentally speaking.

Ozzy was good for passing other cars. Nothing like passing people going 150 kph on the highway, with Ozzy cackling “Crazy Train” out the windows. Black Sabbath was also handy. While visiting Frankenmuth Michigan, Peter scored a three CD Sabbath box set called The Ozzy Osbourne Years.  It had virtually every song from the first six Sabbath albums, only missing instrumentals.  I can distinctly remember passing cars to “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”. Peter tried to synch up passing the cars to Ozzy shouting “You bastards!”

When we weren’t rocking, we were laughing. Peter had an extensive collection of comedy tapes and CDs. Andrew Dice Clay was a favourite. We liked his “Christmas song”:

“Suck his dick, til the veins are blue…
Suck his dick, til you take his goo…
Merry, merry Christmas….”

Dana Carvey also had a hilarious rock opera spoof song about choppin’ broccoli.

But the food! My God. Peter did not skimp on the food. He liked to treat the whole family to a chicken stir fry. He brought all the food and equipment. Once he even made his own chicken balls from scratch, with his mom’s special recipe. Noodles, bean sprouts, chopped veggies, and all the fixings: nothing was missing. Sometimes he’d bring a dessert, and always a bottle of wine.  Choppin’ broccoli indeed.

We were never hungry nor bored. When available, we would run into town to buy fireworks. When we ran out, if Peter hadn’t got his fill, we’d go back in town to buy more. My mother used to joke that there was no downtime with Peter. When done one activity, he’d move right on into the next one. And if we had a building project on the go, he’d be there with his tools, in the fray helping out.

Car trips with Peter were unforgettable. Try passing a car while Ozzy shouts “You bastards!” out the window and you’ll have an idea what it was like to hang out with us.

 

 

Part 180: Google

RECORD STORE TALES Part 180:  Google

We first got email and internet at the record store in the late 90’s.  One of the big fears back then was the dreaded computer virus, but of course we also had to deal with internet abuse.  I remember coming in to work one day to find our computer’s MSN Messenger still active from the night shift; Spoogecakes left herself logged in.  Myself, I was never that fussed about MSN, I was more an email guy.  I got busted emailing a few times, I had verbal warnings, but I never did anything like leaving myself logged into MSN!

The powers that be were concerned about time wasted on the internet, and the viruses. This put into effect a strict internet policy.  Part of that was blocking nearly every useful site on the internet.  There were only a handful of sites available to us.  There was a secret password override, which made the rounds once leaked.  The guy who figured out the password decided to share it on his very last shift.  His name shall go down in hallowed halls, somewhere, someday.

Some of the sites that we were allowed to access included Canoe, so we could print out the charts, and Allmusic so we could do album lookups.  Allmusic was next to useless, being so slow and inaccurate.   I preferred Google.  The beauty of Google was that you didn’t have to use it to actually go to another (potentially shady) site, you could use it just to answer a simple question.  For example:

CARLY RAE JEPSEN

So there’s your answer, without even having to click on one of those shady lyric sites.

Now, I showed my bosses how to use Google to answer the toughest customer questions.  Often, a customer would come in and say, “I’m looking for a song, but I only know a few words.  Can you help?”  This was long before you could hold up your iPhone and use an app to do it for you.  You had to ask the folks on the radio, or at the record store.

Google was the easiest most accurate way to answer these questions.  So, here’s a question you might get:  “I’m looking for a song by somebody that goes, ‘in the midnight hour, I want more more more'”.

Plug it into Google like so, and you get your answer.

REBEL YELL

Again, you don’t even have to click on the shady lyric sites.  Then once you know the artist (Billy Idol) you could just run over to the shelves and see if you had that song.  If you didn’t, Allmusic could tell you which album you want, now that you knew the name of the song and artist.

I showed them this trick, but they would not budge on the block policy.  They insisted that Google be blocked.  They thought you could use Google to visit a blocked site.  Just clicking the link, they thought, would bypass the block.  They thought the block only applied to the address bar.

I explained this but the answer remained “No.”  Google was to remain blocked, purely because they didn’t understand how Internet Explorer worked.  Essentially, we were blocked from a simple tool to answer common questions.  At least many of us secretly had the override password, but before that leaked, we couldn’t access a search site like Google.  I had a customer say to me, “Can’t you check the internet?  The guy at HMV can.”  And no, technically I couldn’t.  Allmusic didn’t have a feature to look up song lyrics, and its search engine was pretty shitty as it was.

With today’s technology you can do this easily with a cell phone, that was unimaginable to us 10 years ago.  Regardless of the policy, I used the password to use Google and answer questions.  And I checked my email, too!

NEXT TIME ON RECORD STORE TALES…

Part 181:  Jim Carrey’s clone