cottage

#987: The Summer Awakens

RECORD STORE TALES #987: The Summer Awakens

It’s official:  the earliest swim on record for any summer at the lake is May 13!  If you don’t believe in global warming, then I can tell you that past weekends in early May, we were snuggled up in jackets and long pants.  This year, early May was as warm as early July used to be.  What an incredible weekend.  Clear and sunny until late Saturday.  By then we were indoors waiting for the Toronto Maple Leafs to once again exit the playoffs in the first round.  But I’m jumping head of myself!

Traffic was light but the music was heavy.  Albums for the drive up:

As expected, both were awesome on the road.  There was no clear winner.  Interestingly, Jennifer liked “Roots In My Boots” by Scorpions, which I considered a bit of a throwaway.  Regardless, both albums did well on the highway and rocked us safely to the cottage in two hours.

First music on the porch:

  • Kathryn Ladano – Open

Not a new release, but since the good Doctor was next door, it felt right to serenade her with some of her best music!

From there we settled in with the first hot dogs of the year, and I began to prep for my show that night (Top 11 Star Wars movies) by watching The Phantom Menace.  10 years ago, the only way to do that would be to bring a DVD and watch it on the laptop.  If we wanted to watch a Star Wars movie 30 years ago, we needed to bring the tape and a VCR!  Everything is so easy now, but dependent on a good internet connection.  That connection enabled me to do the first cottage show of the year, and a success it was.  I experimented with some new lighting and it worked way better than last year after sundown.  A successful show — and one of the best we’ve ever done.   Certainly one of my favourites.

It’s always hard to sleep after a caffeinated show like that.  I got four or five hours, and was up and at ’em early Saturday.  It was so quiet.  Most cottagers have not opened yet — their loss!  They were not able to listen when I rocked Kiss on the front porch on Saturday.  Kiss albums this weekend included Dynasty, Kiss, Hotter Than Hell, Peter Criss, and Rock and Roll Over.

I made fish for breakfast (trout) and went to go pick up my new bass from neighbor Donna.  Her brother was Don Simmons of Helix, and this bass used to belong to him.  It is my honour to play it on the porch in his memory.  Although I use the word “play” very loosely.  I have never played bass before and can only “barely” play guitar as it is.  It took some time to get used to the size of the body.  Even the neck felt huge.  But it sounded great and really rumbled the porch.

I made chicken and steaks on the barbecue and burned up a bunch of old wood — without losing my glasses this time.  After being on my feet all day Saturday, I took it easy in the evening, missing the bright orange sunset.  I had been on my feet all day and it felt good to rest up in the evening.

We departed for home early Sunday.  Albums for the road home:

These albums, Priest especially, gave me some serious retro vibes, as if I had stepped into a time machine and was 16 again.  I had this happen numerous times last year, and I wrote about that feeling in multiple previous chapters.  It’s a very intense feeling, as if I was no longer living in the year 2022, but had stepped into 1987 again.  It felt as real as the steering wheel in my hands.  Looks like this summer will be no different.  Lots of flashbacks in store!

An excellent start to what I hope will be an amazing year.

VIDEO: May 13-15 Weekend / Max the Axe “Space Marine”

Amazing weekend at the lake once again, and you can see it all right now, to the tune of “Space Marine” by Max the Axe from Trillion Dollar Threats!  This short metallic blitz of a song is a condensed and concentrated rewrite of “Hard Drive” from their 1995 EP Bodies of Water.  It’s a fantastic tune from Max with another killer riff.

This year represents the earliest “first swim of the year” on May 13, a record.  A sign of a hot summer to come.

In this video you will see my new Fender acoustic bass.  This originally belonged to Don Simmons of Helix and I am fortunate enough to have bought it from his sister Donna.  This will provide many hours of summer entertaining at the cottage as I slowly become acquainted with this lovely instrument.  Tomorrow you’ll get the full story of the weekend in Record Store Tales #987:  The Summer Awakens.

Sunday Screening: Last Day of April 2022 / Max the Axe – “I’m Glad Now”

Visual accompaniment to Record Store Tales #985: Do You Know How Quickly a Pair of Glasses Melts in a Fire?

 

Music:  “I’m Glad Now” by Max the Axe, from Max the Axe (2004)

#985: Do You Know How Quickly a Pair of Glasses Melt in a Fire?

RECORD STORE TALES #985:
Do You Know How Quickly a Pair of Glasses Melt in a Fire?

The trip up to the lake was blissful.  I picked up my dad, loaded the car, and hit the road to short-sleeve weather and zero traffic.  You could see for kilometers ahead with no cars in sight.  Blissful.  With 2 terabytes of music on the hard drive, I selected a folder called “Tee Bone Tunes” by Tee Bone Erickson.  Songs my dad knew from the show.  But it was just background noise as we discussed every subject under the sun for a solid two hours.  After the Tee Bone songs, I played John Williams’ soundtrack to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, which was awesome and brought back lots of good memories.

“The pen, Henry!  The pen is mightier than the sword!” I quoted, in my best Denholm Elliott impression.

We discussed Indiana Jones and Back to the Future.  “Only the first and third movies,” we said of both series.

We spotted a wild turkey on the way and noticed a few new businesses.  Every year is different, I reminded myself.  You never knew what new things you would see, or how the beach would change from year to year.

This year, the beach is covered with stones.

“Good,” says my dad.  “It’ll keep the Sooners away.”  Hopefully, anyway.

We opened up the cottage in record time.  No snags, no hitches.  Got the water going, the hot water tank a-boiling, and the cable and internet were both running perfectly.  I installed four new phones to replace the dying ones that should have been replaced last year.  Four new phones…there used to be no phones!  Phones used to be considered a hindrance to the relaxation at the cottage.  Now you wouldn’t be without one.  Landline, cell phone, and laptop computer are now the norm.

After getting the barbecue out of the shed and setting up it, the next step was to burn all the brush that had fallen over the winter.  It was a windy winter and this was evident by the amount of fallen branches, needles and bark.  My dad got out the leaf blower while I swept.  The plan was to burn up all the scrub, so I got out some cardboard and started a fire.

The fire grew large and hot very quickly, gobbling up the now-dry wood and needles.

I can see the next moments in slow motion.

To preface, I will admit that my glasses, which I need to drive and do basically anything, have grown loose.  I kept putting off getting them adjusted.  “I could live with it for now,” I would reason to myself as an excuse to not go to the mall.

Well I no longer have to live with it.  In one smooth, liquid motion, my glasses fell off just as I was throwing an armful of brush into the fire.

I searched the ground frantically, hoping they just hit the dirt.  My dad joined me, both sweeping and searching.  Giving up hope, I began to dig through the fire.  I found nothing there either.  I searched the ground again, still nothing.  I can’t drive without my glasses.  Hell I can’t watch TV without my glasses.  I can barely use the computer without them.

We kept looking.  I called Jen to see if she could find my spare pair at home.  I knew a couple places to look.  No luck.  I dug through the ashes of the fire, spreading them out on the patio stones.  Nothing!  And then I saw it.  A thin stick that was too undamaged to be wood.  I reached down to find one remaining scorched arm to my glasses.  The lenses and assorted plastic had melted away.  That was all I could find in the detritus of what had been up to this point an awesome day.

I went to go sulk on the couch a while, tired from the search and miserable that I would have to spend the next day or two unable to see clearly.  Then I thought, “You know, I haven’t looked inside the glove box in a long time.  I don’t remember what’s in there.”

I went out to the car and emptied the glove box, and there it was:  an old hardshell glasses case.  Joy!  I couldn’t even remember my old glasses.  But there they were, and they would do for now.  I could see!

But I was severely rattled by this near miss, and had to chill out.  My dad and I went into town to have lunch and see what was open.  I realized that I had not been in downtown Kincardine for two and a half years.  In fact there were many things I did this weekend that I have not done in two and a half years.

It was my first time inside a Boston Pizza and the old Fincher’s Leisure World since before the pandemic.  I missed Leisure World.  For decades it was our main spot for model kits, art supplies, toys, games, books and magazines.  On this occasion I bought a Lego Star Wars Dagobah diorama for my sister as a surprise gift.  She’s recovering from a severe concussion and I thought she’d enjoy it.  Which she did!

It was nice to see Boston Pizza still there, and Fincher’s as reliable as ever.  My dad and I had a great lunch and an enjoyable afternoon out.  We headed back to the lake to meet up with Dr. Kathryn and my mom who arrived separately.

After a little more organising and relaxing, my dad and I headed back home.  We decided to go home a slightly different way, and we saw one of the weirdest sights we’d ever seen in cottage country.  And we’ve seen gaggles of wild turkeys.  On a stretch of road in the middle of farmtown, we saw a castle.  A brand new castle, with two turrets and a full-on stone rampart.  The imposing wall of rock could have housed a dozen archers!  Somebody had obviously decided to build their home in the shape of a castle and I daresay, they did it.  They really did it.  The windows may be glass and the driveway may be asphalt, but that there be a castle.  I’ll have to stop and take a picture next time.

The drive home was accompanied by the music of Jon Lord, with his Concerto for Group and Orchestra, featuring Bruce Dickinson singing the second movement.  That was some cool, lively music.  I was dead tired at this point but the music and conversation kept us going.  After this, I selected Johnny Cash’s American III: Solitary Man.  Another great album, this one with the outstanding Neil Diamond title track, and a cool rendition of “I Won’t Back Down” with Tom Petty.

We made it home safe and sound, and we celebrated with some Chinese food.  New glasses this week.  I wonder what they’ll look like?  We’ll see soon enough — pun intended!

 

VIDEO: Last weekend at the lake, music by Dr. Kathryn Ladano

#948: Post-script

RECORD STORE TALES #948:  Post-script

In this life, at least since 2018, we have learned to take nothing for granted.  We treat every trip to the cottage like it’s the last, but I really didn’t expect to get back this late in the season.

With some Judas Priest on the stereo (Sad Wings of Destiny), we made one more uneventful trip up north.  The weather forecast was not good, but the Friday was still lovely.  We arrived early afternoon and I set up my laptop and speakers on the front porch for what really might be the last time in 2021.  I did not waste a note of music.  It was raining but the overhang kept me dry.  Listening to song after song, I chose my Top 5 best album closing tracks for that night’s show.  Finalized!

The best office you could want, rain or shine

I can’t remember the last time we made it to the lake this late in October.  Friday I wore shorts.  Saturday was another story….

I woke up early Saturday morning and went for a walk in the pitch black.  It was wet from the rain but otherwise warm and dead quiet.  A few hours later, the wind and rain picked up and Saturday became an “indoor day”.

I went down to the beach for a few moments to capture some video but I couldn’t make it further than the treeline.  The wind was blasting the rain right through my clothes.  It’s been many years since I’ve experienced that kind of weather.  We battened down the hatches and prepared for a cold one.  It was a good day for movies, music and toys.  The heat went on and so did the long pants!

You can feel this picture

Sunday was the really interesting day.  The reality was hitting me that it could possibly be months before we saw this place again.  I was trying to really absorb the sounds, sights and feelings.  I had two flashbacks, and they were intense.

The first happened in the early morning.  I was cleaning the kitchen and put on some tunes to work to.  I chose Rock and Roll Over by Kiss, as it had the classic Kiss vibe I wanted and strong cottage memories associated with it.  The first time I heard Rock and Roll Over was there at the cottage – it was the last Kiss studio album I needed.  I would have been about 15.  As I was washing the dishes, singing and dancing to “Mr. Speed” I suddenly had the first flashback.  I was in that very kitchen with my best friend Bob and I was a teenager again.  We were doing the dishes and rocking out to Kiss.  It was entirely in my imagination.  We never washed the dishes to Kiss that I can think of.  Yes the parents would usually ask us to help with the dishes, and any time we had company over, I conceded because I didn’t want to look like a spoiled brat.  But we never did it with music playing, that I can remember.  But we would have if we could.

It was such an intense feeling that I needed to stop what I was doing and take a breath.  I could literally see us both, washing the dishes and rocking to Kiss.  It probably never happened that way but my flashback didn’t care.

Once that intense experience had passed and the kitchen was clean, I went outside to wander and take some last pictures.  My 49th season in this place.  An awesome season and truly one of the very best.   It was then that I had the second intense flashback.

49 years

I was walking around the side of the cottage, thinking about how awesome it was to be walking around shirtless in this paradise all summer.  And then suddenly – I was.  For a brief moment the sun was blasting my shirtless skin.  And then it was over.  It was like when Will Byers suddenly flashes into the Update Down on Stranger Things.  In a blink it ended and was gone.  I just enjoyed the experience.  I’d like more flashbacks like this to happen.  It’s all about the setting and the mindset.

Once Jen and I had finished packing, I was locking up and I noticed her at the end of the driveway staring at the lake.  It is her favourite place in the world; she calls it her “safe place”.  I joined her and asked if she wanted to take one more look around.  We walked down to the windy beach one more time and just drank it all in.  The sight of the churning lake, the sound of the crashing waves, and the feeling of the wind on our skin.

And that was it.  With heavy heart we started the car and hit the road.  If that was the end of the season, by God we had a good one!  Some of the best tunes, meals, swimming, live shows and videos were had this year.  An unforgettable summer, interviewing rock stars from the comfort of the front porch with Lake Huron before me.  Top that, 2022.

 

VIDEO: Misty Weekend (with Max the Axe )

A visual supplement to Record Store Tales #944:  Mosquito Song

Playing around with faster editing to suit the musical track:  “Thirsty and Miserable”, the new Black Flag cover by Max the Axe, from the Oktoberfest Cheer EP.  Enjoy a good look at some wild (and probably poisonous) mushrooms!  Cameo by Classic Loki.

 

VIDEO: Last Summer Weekend at the Lake 2021 / Max the Axe – “Pygmy Blowdart”

Now that the new Max the Axe EP, Oktoberfest Cheer, has been released, I am happy to present to you their new never-before-heard original “Pygmy Blowdart”.  Lead singer Eric Litwiller stressed to me (more than once) “I did not write the lyrics”.

Video footage was taken the last weekend of August, but held on to until I could use some fresh new Max music.  Check out “Pygmy Blowdart” and let Max and Meat know what you think of this new tune in the comments below!

 

Available at Encore Records.

#936: Captain Crash

RECORD STORE TALES #936: Captain Crash

The summer of ’85 was going swimmingly.  We were on summer holidays at the lake and I was still really into Quiet Riot.  With their two albums (the only two I knew of!) on my Sanyo, and with boxes full of Transformers to play with, I was having a great summer.

Earlier that year, my dad bought for me a minibike from a school kid.  It had a lawnmower engine but could get moving at a pretty good clip.  The cottage was the best place for it, since it was all dirt roads and trails.  I had a hockey helmet and that had to be good enough for head protection.  I loved that bike, but it did not love me back.  The chain had a habit of coming loose, and it was always hit or miss whether it would start or not.

Sometimes I’d ride the bike all the way down to Dead Man’s River, others I’d stick to the roads where it was easier going.  I enjoyed the numb feeling in my hands from the vibrating frame after an afternoon riding.  I also liked cleaning and painting details on it.  But mostly I liked the feeling of getting it up to speed.

I was riding up and down our little road one afternoon the summer when I tried to accelerate, but the chain came off again.  Usually it just fell fell off and the bike went dead, but this time it locked up and I went right over the handlebars.  Worse, the chain had taken a chunk of flesh out of my left leg on the inner knee.  The soft spot where the meat is.  There was an inch-long gash packed with grease from the chain.  My knees, elbows and wrists were all banged up and bleeding from the landing.

I needed stitches so the next obvious thing to do would have been to go to the hospital.  This is not what happened.

A neighbour helped me hobble home where my family frantically began fussing over me.  The next minutes or hours are a blur.  A lot of telling me I had to go to the hospital, a lot of screaming and refusing, my dad promising he would buy me a toy if I let him look at my leg.  I would not let anyone near it.

Eventually, however, I conceded to remove my hands from my bleeding wound, though not to go to any damn hospital.  I let my mom and dad mop up the blood and grease, and bandage my leg.  I demanded my new toy, and knocked out hard to sleep.

The rest of the summer consisted of regular checking and cleaning of the wound, which didn’t fully heal for months.  I was not allowed to swim for fear of infection, and I couldn’t run.  I was regularly reminded that this wouldn’t have been the case of I had gone to the hospital.  But I got my toy.  My dad made sure, and my sister made sure I got the right one.

She returned with the Autobot named Swoop, a Dinobot that turned into a pterodactyl.  He was one of the coolest toys of the entire G1 line, with plenty of accessories, die-cast parts and chromed plastic.  He even had landing gear if you wanted to land him like an airplane.  And he made me forget about the pain in my knee.

I can’t believe how stupidly stubborn I was.  And you have to believe I was impossible if my parents couldn’t force me to go to a hospital.  And that was pretty much it for me and the bike.  The irony here is that I named the bike “Christine” after the car from the Stephen King novel that ultimately gets its owner killed.  I regret that decision too!

 

#927: Red Sun, Red Meat, Ready to Rock

RECORD STORE TALES #927: Red Sun, Red Meat, Ready to Rock

When the city traffic finally abated and we were on our way, only then did we begin to enjoy the music.

We had an historic soundtrack for both the trips to and from the lake.  On Thursday night for the drive up we enjoyed:

2021’s musical selections are strong.  Lee Aaron proved she has the album necessary for a good-time summer, and Polychuck played well in the car.  ZZ Top was obviously spun in tribute to the late great Dusty Hill.  When Afterburner concluded, we played “I Got the Six”, and “Sharp Dressed Man”.

On the Sunday drive home, Jen slept while I got nostalgic for the year 1989 with:

  • Aerosmith – Pump
  • Motley Crue – Dr. Feelgood

My feelings this time out were that Dr. Feelgood is tremendously overrated while Pump is not.  Pump is solid and probably the last time Aerosmith nailed it front to back.

On the front deck this weekend, I spun a lot of music.  Most notably Guns N’ Roses’ new song “Absurd” about six times in a row.  I also listened to a new album by group out of Halifax called War & Sin that you will be hearing about.  The album is called The War Within and it hits all the bases, like good heavy metal with diverse influences.  The singer reminds me of Blaze Bayley, but in a good way.  You can check out the album on iTunes.

I had a couple good fires this weekend, and the soundtrack of Kiss went well in that setting.  A cottage weekend without Kiss just isn’t right for my soul.  This weekend I chose Dressed to Kill and Destroyer.  I brought the laptop over to the fireplace and let Kiss do the rest.

It was a solid three day weekend anchored by music, fire, food and swimming.  On Saturday I believe I went for five swims total.  The last was a sunset swim and we got some pretty cool video footage that you can now enjoy with me.