VHS Archives #69: Friday Night on the CBC (1993)

Kids in the Hall, Ralph Benmergui, and Larry Sanders. We had exciting Friday nights in Canada, did we not?

Sunday Chuckle: It’s Patrick, he took out life insurance!

Surely, Canadians of a certain age remember this ad from the 1990s! I found this ad on one of my tapes, when I was recording a CBC show called Ear to the Ground. It was a special on Bob Rock’s band Rockhead, that I hope copyright law will allow me to post in full.

Enjoy this routine phone call between Patrick and his parents, about life insurance.

#511: That Night in Kingston

GETTING MORE TALE #511: That Night in Kingston

What are you doing Saturday night?

Never mind; we already know.


It has been a very emotional summer for fans of The Tragically Hip, but it all ends tonight.

A few months ago, nobody ever thought this would be the last summer of the Tragically Hip.  Gord Downie’s brain cancer diagnosis came as a surprise to all.  We can only imagine what Gord and his family are going through, but fans have been mourning in their own ways.  Mostly, they’ve been trying to go and see Gord one last time.  As StubHub jacked up ticket prices to ridiculous highs, fans scrambled to win contests or find any way to see the Hip live.

The good news is, everyone can see the Hip live, anywhere.

Locally, there is a lot going on.  You can join the gang from DaveRocks at local pup Bobby O’Brien’s for a Hip celebration.   They will be showing the last Hip concert on a big screen.  Lots of bars are doing the same thing — check your local listings.  Some families are having backyard and pool parties with the neighbours, with big outdoor screens.  All over Canada, fans will be celebrating separately, but together.

Not in Canada?  No problem.  There are viewing parties in major US cities such as New York and L.A.  They will even be watching the Hip in Rio de Janeiro as the Olympics close.  And it will be streamed worldwide.  The CBC has all the details.

How are you planning to enjoy the Hip show?  Here at LeBrain HQ, we are going to make some food, order in some gourmet chicken wings, and watch the Hip in 5.1 surround sound.  It will be a turbulent experience.  We don’t know much about Gord’s cancer except that it’s not treatable.  We don’t know how he feels.  All we know for certain is that we have been told this is the last tour, and that more than likely means this is the last show, forever.  The band has not done any press, nor said much to address the many questions.  It is like a giant elephant in the room.  But tonight, I want to put all that out of my mind and just enjoy the music.  I don’t want to think too much about what it all means.  There will be plenty of journalists doing that.  Tonight is for the fans, so let’s enjoy it, for us.

And for Gord.



Yesterday and today, if there’s one thing that drives me nuts, it’s people trying to sell us something. You know the feeling: You answer the phone, not looking or not recognizing the number, only to be asked if you want to hire a shady “duct cleaning” service that has a loose grasp of the English language.

Here are some of the methods we have used and things we have said to dissuade duct cleaning companies from calling us:

1. “Have you met Jesus?” – works every single time.
2. “Oh I’m sorry, we don’t own any ducks.” – gets them a little confused.
3. Speak back to them in French only. “Où est la poutine?”
4. I also enjoy asking them to help me solve the Tedious Tiresome Trivia question on 105.7 Dave FM.

Or, just hang up. That works too. The method you choose may depend on how irritated you are.

Reminding them that you are on the “Do Not Call” registry won’t help you.  Many of these scam artists are calling from overseas, according to the CBC.

At the Record Store, we had to put up one of those “NO SOLICITORS” signs but I don’t know why since every solicitor ignored it. Never once in my time at the store did I see someone come in trying to sell me shit, look at the sign, turn around and leave. Never once.  Are you surprised?

People around student age would occasionally pop in with boxes full of junk, and a big smile on their faces. They’d usually come in pairs. “Have we got some deals for you here!” they would say open entering, or something like that. They didn’t much like it when I would ignore their sales pitch and try to sell them some CDs instead. “I have a better deal for you,” I might have said. “New Cher album for $12. Do you believe in life after love? I’m the only one in this store who’s going to do any selling to anyone.”

I witnessed one guy wielding his box of junk playing chicken with an automobile in our parking lot, trying to get him to stop. He stood in the middle of his lane with his box, and moved to the right and left so the car couldn’t swerve around him. Then he went up to the driver’s window with his box. Needless to say, the driver bought nothing from that idiot.

From boxes of junk, to golf memberships, to Jehova’s Witness fliers, I have had just about everything shoved in my face at the Record Store. It was irritating, but not nearly so much as the daily phone calls from duct cleaners.

What is your favourite method for dealing with solicitors? Share in the comments.


Part 191 / REVIEW: Respighi – Pines of Rome

RECORD STORE TALES Part 191:  Respighi

In the early 2000’s I was very interested in growing a little bit of a classical music collection.  Classical music can be had in reasonably priced but expansive box sets, but I wanted to be a little more discerning.  There were some things I knew I wanted to get just based on reputation, such as Niccolò Paganini and Glenn Gould.  I knew the CBC had a lot of classical programming so I used to tune into them driving home from work after the night shift.

The first time I did so was a turning point.  I heard some music, but I didn’t have a clue what it was.  It sounded dramatic and soundtrack-esque to me.  I could picture a sprawling epic such as Spartacus unfolding in front of me.  It wasn’t until I stopped at the red lights that the announcer came back on the air and told me that the piece I heard was “The Pines of Rome” composed by Ottorino Respighi.  Respighi…Italian!  My countryman!

I went into work the next morning, and checked the computer for anything by Respighi.  Turns out, we had one in stock, a London Records recording of Pines of Rome.  It was my first true classical purchase, not counting movie soundtracks.  Working at a record store enabled me to cheaply expand into any genre of music I wished.  I’m strongly in favour of trying new music, no matter what section of the store you find it in.

RESPIGHI FRONTOTTORINO RESPIGHI – Pines of Rome / Fountains of Rome / The Birds (1969 Decca / London)

Reviewing classical music is tough for me because it’s way out of my zone of expertise.  All I know is what I like and what sounds good to my ears.  This old recording, conducted by István Kertész, fit the bill for me.  “The Pines of Rome” is such an incredible piece.  Apparently this is considered a “symphonic poem”.  In other words, the classical music equivalent of a concept album!  It has majestic moments that phase into romantic interludes; scenes, basically.  By the end, it is a triumphant anthem worthy of the most awe-inspiring movie soundtrack.  You can easily visualize the sun rising over the tall pines; apparently that was the composer’s intention.  It works!

“The Birds” starts as jaunty piece, perfect for a fancy dinner or event!  What I enjoy about music like this is that it enables me to travel back in time, in my mind.  It is easy to place yourself at the hearth of a warm fire, almost 100 years ago.  This piece’s different sections attempt to transcribe birdsong into a musical arrangement:  doves, hens, nightingale, and the cuckoo.  I can’t help it, I like the cuckoo best.  It’s whimsical.

“Fountains of Rome” is another symphonic poem, this one beginning at daybreak.  The second movement sounds like a summoning, as creatures begin to frolick.  The piece paints a picture, allowing the listener to really just sink in.

Great gateway album.

4.5/5 stars

Next time on Record Store Tales…

Do you still have the first mix CD you ever made?