This did not age well. The comment about hoarding toilet paper is funny. I remember my dad didn’t like this video. He found it too “angry”. It did start the whole “VoiVod!” thing with Rob Daniels though! This is just after lockdown began, but before the LeBrain Train launched. Interesting from a certain point of view. Where’s that Queen shirt now? Can’t find it anywhere!
RECORD STORE TALES #964.0: The Year in Review – Part One
Today, some reflection. Tomorrow, the lists!
While certainly not the worst year of my life so far (2018 takes the crown there), the latter half of 2021 was pretty poopy here at LeBrain HQ. There was plenty of new music, which we will discuss in greater detail tomorrow when we run down the Top 11 Albums of the Year. Great music in fact; some deeply impactful albums and important reissues. I also didn’t think that 2021 would be the year for new Guns N’ Roses music, or for me to get a 42 CD Judas Priest box set. But here they are!
2021 started off strong. We have Superdekes to thank for a series of great interviews on the LeBrain Train. More on those for tomorrow’s list. Not to be outdone, John T. Snow hooked us up with one of the best interviews I’ve ever been involved with, which was Paul Laine. But for me, by summertime burnout had set in. I’d been doing the LeBrain Train without missing a single week since lockdown began in March 2020. Sometimes doing two interviews in a single weekend. Sometimes I got stood up by a rock star, sometimes I got stood up by the same rock star twice. By the end of the summer, I needed a break. Badly. It was harder and harder coming up with guests, as we slowly emerged from our Covid cocoons and resumed life. I had to pull the brakes.
Then I had a flood in the house. I had to cancel an interview with with Jack Frost and take a more extensive break from everything. Trying not to snap, I bought a Metallica box set to cheer myself up. Great way to boost myself while crippling my bank account at the same time, but I won’t complain.
Personal highlights of the year:
A fantastic summer at the lake
Meeting and interviewing some true rock greats
Collaborating with creative friends like Meat, Harrison, Deke, Tee-Bone, Rob, Kevin and John Snow
Other interesting happenings included making an enemy out of John “J.D.” Roberts, an aborted attempt at doing re-runs on the LeBrain Train, and Harrison’s baffling stance on Queensryche.
This isn’t much of a “year in review” post. Nothing commemorating the many musicians and celebrities we lost this year. Nothing talking about all the great tunes we discovered. This is not the way the year was supposed to end! It remains to be seen how this plays out next year, but at least we still have our Friday nights together. The LeBrain Train will roll into January, because it looks like we need the LeBrain Train once again! When I “pulled the plug” back in August, I did it with the George W. Bush “Mission Accomplished” meme. Because I knew Covid wasn’t really over. I knew the mission wasn’t really accomplished. What I didn’t know was just how badly things would get by the end of the year! I really didn’t think we’d be isolating again this New Year, but that’s exactly what many of us are doing. For the second time.
Big day tomorrow: The end of year lists, and the LeBrain Train New Year’s Eve special. Because Covid needs its ass kicked once and for all, and since we’re all doing the best we can under difficult circumstances, we deserve a night to party. See you tomorrow.
RECORD STORE TALES #961: Christmas in the Hamster Wheel
I always wanted a hamster when I was a kid. I used to love looking at the neat setups that other kids had in their homes. Hamster wheels, tunnels, all kinds of neat stuff for the little guys to run around in. I never saw them use the hamster wheels. They seemed to sit idle near the back of the cage. A forgotten amusement.
These days, the hamster wheel in my head is running overtime. Is this really the second Christmas of Crap?
One thing that’s concerning to me. The last two years have blurred together in my mind. I used to pride myself on knowing exactly when any life event occurred. If I could remember the life event in terms of the music I was listening to, or a movie I was into, I would always be able to pinpoint the year. But with the last couple years being such a blur, I find I can’t tell 2021 memories from 2020 memories a lot of the time. That’s worrying to me. Remembering these things is important.
I feel like Jen and I haven’t been able to catch many breaks at Christmas in the last five years. 2017…she had cancer. 2018…first Christmas without her mom (also cancer). 2019 was the one where I felt like we were getting back on our feet a little. Then the carpet got pulled from under us in 2020 for the weirdest Christmas ever. 2021 looks a little better in some ways, a little worse in others.
I haven’t been as creative this Christmas as I was in past years, including 2020. We do what we can. I have my annual end-of-year list that I’ll be posting on the 31st. I have the LeBrain Train drop-in New Year’s Eve party (message me if you’d like to join the fun). I’m still working on the Def Leppard review series (15 parts written). I’ll also be starting a Judas Priest box set review series in the new year. Spoiler!
Y’see, I asked my parents if they’d be willing to part with a lot of money and buy me a Priest box set. And, my dad let the cat out of the bag. Even if 2021 is a bit of a downer compared to past years, it’s going to be pretty awesome opening that bad boy. A know a certain Kontrarian (Kopp) who is eager to see inside its contents. I’ll be showing off that box set and other goods on the New Years Eve live stream.
Things I’m grateful for:
Health. Nobody in our family has had Covid (knock wood).
A roof over my head.
If I were to add a 6th thing to that list it would be “thank God I’m not working retail during Covid.” I think I would have snapped long ago.
Michael tells me that retail during Covid is much better working at the Record Store than it was at Giant Tiger. Gratefully, they will be closed Boxing Day this year. I had to work 80% of Boxing Days over the years, and truthfully they were one of the hardest. Stock on everything was pretty picked over by then, and of course you had people doing returns and selling boxes of CDs for store credit. Big sales, big crowds. Including putting up signs and taking them down at the end of the day — a very long one.
So I’m grateful for that.
Merry Christmas everybody. See you on the other side. And please, join me New Years Eve for a rock and roll party! Again!*
* I’m even re-using the exact same art as last year.
Always look on the bright side of life! My wife may be sick, but during a global pandemic, that makes her a priority. And as her primary caregiver, that makes me a priority too. Small blessings.
I met Jen at the pharmacy after work (the big clinics are gone now). The pharmacist is a good friend of ours. I filled out the paperwork and Jen went ahead, just as I was starting to have an anxiety attack. I really hate needles.
It’s funny, but I was listening to Kick Axe on the way to the pharmacy, and the song “Just Passing Through” came on. I couldn’t help but think of the lyrics through the lens of what I was about to do.
“Steppin’ out into history.”
Yes, we are making history every time we go for our vaccines. Whether you are pro or con vaccine, this is a universal truth. We’re making history as we do things never done before.
“Caught inside the revolvin’ door.”
It sure did feel that way as I rolled my sleeve up for shot number three.
“I’ve got to figure out this mystery, Ah too many questions I can’t ignore.”
I would love to know all the answers. I want to know how this ends. I want to visualize the endgame. But we’ll just have to wait. The universe tends to unfold as it will.
Ironically the song “Just Passing Through” is about how temporary life really is. “Just passin’ through, we all may be back someday.” OK, so I’m scared of needles, no big deal. But sometimes the Facebook doctors and Twitter trolls start to take a toll on you, just from reading their poison. But then I remember: I trust my doctor. I trust my pharmacist. It’ll be OK.
I hadn’t told my pharmacist how bad my anxiety could get, but I paced the floor a bit until I was ready. I needed something to look at while he gave me the needle. He let Jen come in the room to take a picture of me. I just looked at her Aerosmith shirt until the moment you see in the picture.
Now I’m boosted with a Pfizer-Moderna-Pfizer combo, an effective mixture against Covid19; so say the studies. I’m glad that this is done just before the holidays. I’ll be at maximum efficacy right around the time we go out to dinner to celebrate Jen’s birthday, almost to the minute! As always, I promise I’ll update the world if either of us experience any adverse effects.
In in update to this week’s story, #916: Oh My, I’ve Been Shot! (Again), I am pleased to provide all the nitty gritty details of getting a second jab in the arm of the ol’ mRNA vaccine.
Here it comes.
Are you ready?
I’m not kidding around when it comes to this stuff. All the nitty gritty details.
Jen and I have experienced an eventful week since getting the second dose of Covid-19 vaccine. On Tuesday night, about four hours after being shot in the arms, we experienced hunger, so we decided to order in. We selected Italian, and both ordered the same: aglio e olio with steak strips. We each finished about half. Later on that evening after watching American Dad, I experienced tiredness so I went to bed. In the morning, the first thing I noticed was that I was hungry, so I was naughty and finished my aglio for breakast. Around 10 that morning I went to Toys R Us and bought some Transformers, some Marvel Legends, and Star Wars Black Series figures. I then had an odd tingling sensation, of being lighter in the wallet. At the same time, a forgotten feeling in my chest emerged — the symptoms of joy from having scored cool stuff in a store once again.
Everything from this point on is simply a blur. I didn’t know what to do, so I enjoyed the day off I had booked for recovery, wrote a review, and had a generally awesome holiday.
In other words:
Jen and I experienced no side effects. Sore arms don’t count — that’s pretty much a universal complaint. I had an amusing moment when I was changing around my box set display. I was lifting a Def Leppard box over my head when I realized — oh shit, I can’t move my shoulder that high. I discovered through the day that if I used my arm only from the elbow down, I was good to go. I just avoided moving that shoulder. Went to work the next day. All good.
Jen and I had Pfizer in April, and Moderna this week. No side effects.
It feels good to be over and done with this (until the inevitable booster — or not). Now in a little over a week I’ll be at maximum immunity and I will be celebrating a birthday with my family. I want to sit down in a room and watch TV with my dad. That’s an activity I truly miss. His channel surfing accompanied by grumping and complaining was the highlight of every visit. I look forward to socializing with my family, playing board games, and maybe even going to see the next Marvel movie in a theater.
Oh! Speaking of Marvel — watched Black Widow last night, not bad. Widow was never my favourite Avenger; she and Hawkeye never resonated with me the way that Tony or Steve Rogers did. Having said that, Scarlett kicked it out of the park with a family-focused storyline and some serious action sequences. This was her Marvel tour-de-force and she had some intense one-on-one scenes. The final confrontation with Russian General Whatever-akov (Ray Winstone) was cool because it was different for a Marvel film. Rachel Weisz and Florence Pugh — also some fine performances and not the last we will see of Pugh. And finally David Harbour. You just want to hug that big dirty smelly Russian teddy bear Alexei. This Marvel film was high on action, but also featuring slow and dramatic character scenes. A pretty fair balance. There were a couple neat twists, some cool shout-outs to the Avengers, and of course the obligatory post-credit scene. We have now seen four entries of the MCU’s Phase Four. Black Widow comes closest in scale to Falcon and the Winter Soldier, but far grittier. It’s closest in the sense that it’s character-driven, Earth-bound, and without magic or space aliens coming into play. And as to how this fits in with the future of the MCU even though it takes place in 2016? Watch the post-Blip, post credit scene.
All is well. Admittedly, I was worried about side effects. A couple of my good buddy co-hosts on the LeBrain Train experienced a day or two of uncomfortable side effects. So I listened to their experiences, planned ahead, booked a recovery day off work, and hoped for the best while preparing for the worst. We got lucky this time, which seems miraculous for Jen given her complex cross section of medical conditions. We rarely get lucky, but this time we did. Jen is much more social than I am, and she needs to be able to go out and interact socially with her friends. Me, I’m usually happy just to stay in and listen to music. Jen and I are good this way. So she is eager to rejoin society in whatever capacity given Ontario’s state of re-opening.
On last night’s episode of the LeBrain Train, I gave Covid-19 the finger for killing John Prine.
Let’s get this pandemic in the past. Whatever you are currently doing to keep yourself safe, you’re doing a good job, keep it up! We all live in different regions with different situations. Me, I live in Hot Spot, Canada. Stay out of the hospital. There is one LeBrain Train guest whose name I will keep private. He is a Covid long-hauler. He has felt shitty for 16 months. Any time something like that happens to someone close to me, it hits home. I’ve been saying this for 16 months: don’t be stupid. Stay safe. You matter.
At an age that seems like a another lifetime ago, I refused to get vaccinations. I wasn’t anti-vax by any means. I was actually quite pro-vax, but simultaneously, a chickenshit. As soon as I was old enough to make decisions for myself, I stopped with the needles. Then about 15 years ago I decided to get the flu shot. My reaction was so bad that I swore off needles once more.
A global pandemic has a way of forcing you to get over your fears, and so I’ve just had my second shot. My arm is just starting to get sore as I write.
When we last caught up at the vaccine clinic, they were administering Pfizer. This time it’s Moderna. Canada has approved the mixing of these two brands, as they are so similar. As for the side effects, I guess we’ll find out soon enough.
As before, things were fast and efficient. We were in and out in 45 minutes, including the 30 minute wait afterwards. There appeared to be about four times as many people, but the massive facility didn’t feel any more full than last time. Good to see us getting on top of this. I like being in the percentage of people who are double vaxxed in Canada.
As before, the volunteers were excellent — the perfect mixture of professional and friendly.
You know what? None of us here are scientists. (If you are, raise your hand!) We’re just music fans trying to make the best of a worldwide crisis. This the first global pandemic for any of us, unless you’re 103 years old. We are living through history and we are even making history.
16 months ago, near the start of this pandemic, I predicated and hoped that we’d see creativity blossom in new ways. I think we have seen that. Our friends in the band Suicide Star are a great example. They recorded their new album Isolation during lockdown, learning to work in new ways, and finding a bloom of creative sparks. Elsewhere, Styx were also working on new music. Lawrence Gowan was able to use some vintage and not-very-portable keyboards on this album that he never thought he’d play on a Styx record. How cool is that? On the other side of the coin, the new Dennis DeYoung album 26 East Vol. 2 has several lyrics directly addressing the pandemic, such as “St. Quarantine” and “Little Did We Know”.
We have suffered, we have lost, and we have sacrificed. With this second shot in my arm, I hope that I am doing my part to get this behind us. If that makes me a guinea pig, so be it. You can thank me later. I have a birthday coming soon, and my whole family will be double-vaxxed by then. Does that mean I can actually have a birthday party this year?
I miss walking into record stores and toy stores. I miss my grandma. We all hope this is slowly but surely coming to an end. After so many false hopes, it seems somehow unlikely, but hope I shall. Wish me luck with the side effects and I’ll be sure to let you know how I’m doing.
Every once in a while, Jen’s disabilities don’t entirely suck. We get the best parking spots when we go out, which admittedly isn’t often these days. She was also eligible for the Covid vaccine due to her high-risk health category. In a twist of fortune, as her caregiver, that made me eligible too. I was very concerned about “line jumping” so we called and confirmed multiple times that I was allowed to get the shot.
Ironically, we were scheduled to get our ‘rona shot at the old Rona location in Cambridge.
It used to be a huge warehouse, and now it is a huge clinic. Very organised, with multiple checkpoints, and ample workers to guide you. We asked plenty of questions and they were all answered. For me, the whole process took less than 30 minutes. Screening, registering, sitting with a doctor, getting the shot, waiting for any sign of reaction, and then finally release and followup appointment. Jen took an extra 15 minutes due to the complexities of her health, but we were out the door in 50 minutes total.
The sitting area for the wait after the shot was vast, with many chairs, all separated by a good distance. It was kind of funny, seeing all these chairs facing the same direction as if waiting for a show that would never come. Here there were workers to answer questions too.
“No movie?” I asked jokingly.
“No movie, no bands,” she answered. “We should get bands,” she continued. “I know lots of bands who would love the chance to play here.”
I laughed and said “Well maybe in a couple months they’ll jazz it up.”
Our shots (Pfizer for those curious) were administered by doctors, and I peppered mine with questions. I was concerned about side effects, although neither of my parents felt any.
“Younger people have much stronger immune systems,” he explained. “Theirs get revving up much stronger. When you feel the side effects, that is your body creating those antibodies. So the side effects are actually a good sign. They should taper off after a day.” I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.
Well, except for the live bands — maybe that lady was onto something!
Have any questions about the shape I’m in? Just ask!
If you have been watching my videos or live streams, I’ve occasionally shown off my new masks. Now, I don’t wanna get into the whole “issue” of masks. I just want to talk about masks in terms of music, marketing, and keeping businesses alive in 2020. No matter your political affiliation (I consider myself unaffiliated and flexible enough to change who I support), then if you are reading this then I think we can all agree on three things:
We love music.
We want businesses to survive in this difficult year.
We need to do things that make us happy, especially now.
I’ve been saying for months: every band, brand, and icon needs to put out branded masks, pronto! Many of us are going to need masks for at least the next six months. I have five Kiss masks currently. I don’t know how long these things last, especially if you wash them as frequently as you have to, so I assume we’ll all need replacement masks in a little while too. It makes sense to put out your own branded mask right now. I love that I can put on a Kiss mask and go out and do my shopping. It’s like wearing a T-shirt. In 2020, the mask is the new T-shirt. Especially in winter time when, in Canada, we will be wearing heavy jackets on our backs like a tortoise shell. T-shirt weather is far behind us. Bonus: though they fog up my glasses, the mask does keep my nose warm in the morning chill.
To Kraft Dinner: I would love to buy a mask from you that has your delicious cheesy noodles on my face!
To the estate of Frank Zappa: I’m looking for a mask with his trademark moustache and beard. Does such a thing exist?
Dear ZZ Top: You know exactly what I want! One of those longer “goiter” masks with your beards!
And local clubs, restaurants and businesses: I would love to be able to buy a mask with your logo or website address on it. We need to support each other in this time, I firmly believe, and that starts at home with our venues and clubs.
Sceptics might ask me, “Will any of that actually make the life-or-death difference for a business?” I don’t know. I didn’t study business or economics in school. I just know that I am (somewhat) in a position to help (a little bit), and…I have to try.
I practice what I preach and have thrown a bone or two to some local businesses and music venues. I’m not saying this to show off what a super guy I’m am, I’m saying this so I can lead by example. I’m not wealthy though, and what works best for me is if I can buy some merchandise. That way I get something I need while helping somebody else out. I would rather buy official than knockoff. I need more masks, and if there are enough cool ones, I could even give some as gifts to certain family members.
For the next six to twelve months (who knows?), masks are going to be in our lives. Like it or lump it, I suppose they say. Maybe I’ve just been more successful trying to have a positive attitude in 2020, but I’ve been able to…have fun?…with masks. We gotta support each other to get through this damn pandemic, and to play on the words of my man Jon Bon Jovi: I’ll Be There For You! These five words I swear to you. If you sell, I’ll buy a mask from you. I’ll mask up for you!
Yes folks is my first “Covideo” since April. Why? Why not. C-19 is back in Ontario for a second wave, and so are my Covideos!
In this video you can check out a couple Amazon unboxings (one toy, one CD) and get updated on the live streaming. Just a fun video, with hopefully improved production values over the ones I made in March and April.
Over the course of five lists, you will definitely find some tracks to check out for the first time, or just for a fresh listen. The discussion was brisk and entertaining as hell. You might even see cameos from Boba Fett and Thunder Bay’s own T-Bone Erickson. What songs did we pick? Was Aaron disqualified? You’ll have to watch to find out.
In addition to the AC/DC lists, we tackled a few other topics. Check the video times below to skip to the following:
An Amazon parcel & special Sven Gali swag unboxing – 0:09:30
Some praise for Max the Axe and Eric Litwiller – 0:26:00
The AC/DC lists – 0:30:50
For the after-party, general music and current events discussion – 1:55:25