#1053: I Have Beaten Covid

RECORD STORE TALES #1053: I Have Beaten Covid

Well, my battle is over.  Jen’s still positive.

I stated in previous chapters, my battle was nothing.  I never got sick beyond a sore throat, and feeling really, really tired.  I do still have a recurring headache.  For those curious, this is my vaccination history:

  1. Pfizer
  2. Moderna
  3. Pfizer

Jen had the exact same combo as me, but she suffered a lot harder.  She’s on the upswing now, but her symptoms included sore throat, mild cough, lots of body pain, congestion and fatigue.  I believe I brought it into the house from work.

I wanted to write this Covid journal to keep people informed, let them know what Covid is like.  Fortunately this journal was a bit of a bust!  No complaints from me.


#1052: The Covid Chronicles Continue

RECORD STORE TALES #1052: The Covid Chronicles Continue

I’ve stopped testing.  Jen is still suffering pretty hard.

I worked from home for most of this week, which both sucked, and didn’t.  Because I didn’t have to do the usual stuff – shower, pack a lunch, drive, wait – I had a lot more free time at home and got some extra creative projects done in the mornings which I like to do.

I also explored un-ripped parts of my music collection, as seen below.  The “G” section was easy to access, and so I grabbed a stack of discs that I had not played in over 10 years.  Much much longer in some cases:

  • Peter Gabriel – Shaking the Tree – Sixteen Golden Greats
  • Marvin Gaye – The Very Best Of
  • Girl – Pure Greed
  • Giuffria – Silk & Steel
  • Roger Glover – Butterfly Ball
  • Glenn Gould – Goldberg Variations – 1955 version
  • Glenn Gould – Goldberg Variations – 1981 version
  • Glenn Gould – Beethoven/Liszt Symphony #6
  • Green Bullfrog Sessions

Rediscovering Glenn Gould was a delight; I especially like when you can hear him humming or singing along to his playing.  Green Bullfrog was funky and cool!  Blackmore really wailed and I could absolutely hear that it was Ian Paice on drums.  Butterfly Ball was surprising fun.  Giuffria was way, way, way more Journey-like than I remembered.  Sounds like they were really going for a Journey vibe, especially with David Glenn Eisley’s vocals.  Peter Gabriel and Marvin Gaye were fun re-visits with a lot of great songs.  But the real surprise was Girl, featuring Phil Lewis and Phil Collen.  I loved hearing Collen’s trademark shred, but Lewis is an underrated singer.  Girl was the favourite of this batch.  Sorry Beethoven.

Back to Covid.  Jen is suffering, not gonna lie.  I have zero symptoms, but this morning I did cough up some phlegm.  Kinda like you often do several days after a bad cold.  Except I never had the bad cold.

Jen’s experienced dizzy spells and general, all around malaise.  She wishes her nose would stop running.

I experienced a troll on the “Let’s Get Physical” Facebook group who commented that Covid wasn’t real, when I posted my Covid listening list.  I told him to “eat shit” and blocked him.

Just another day in Covid land.


#1051: Covid Chronicles 4

RECORD STORE TALES #1051: Covid Chronicles 4

Day Four

Back to work, and I am tired.  A couple hours of work are enough to make me feel it.  Legs are tired too.  Maybe because I’ve been on my back all week.  I have no cough, nothing wrong with my lungs…I got lucky.

Jen is less lucky.  She has the symptoms.  A bottle of Sprite tasted like fish to her.  And I feel bad because it was clearly me that brought it into the house.

I only go one place.  Work and back.  I’ve been nowhere else.


#1050: Covid Chronicles 3 – Sharing is Caring

RECORD STORE TALES #1048: Covid Chronicles 3 – Sharing is Caring

Day Three

Fatigued and restful, I did need more sleep.  What I did not need was to pass this Covid on to Jen.  Our pharmacist advised it was inevitable that I would, given our small living space.

She has a scratchy throat, a cough, and now her sense of taste has gone completely out of whack.  Sprite tastes like fish.

I am grateful that I have not gotten worse, but I feel terrible about this latest turn of events.

#1049: Covid Chronicles 2

RECORD STORE TALES #1048: Covid Chronicles 2

Day Two

I slept for hours!  Lost track of how many hours.  In the morning I was still testing positive.  Jen is still negative.  In the afternoon, my sore throat went away, leaving me only tired and achey.

Monday will be a sick day from work.  I am hoping to go back on Tuesday.  Only the test will tell.


#1048: Covid Chronicles 1

How it happened, I can’t fathom.  I haven’t done much except go to work, and I have limited contact there with anyone.  Jen has been to the hospital a couple times, so my current theory is that she brought Covid home from there without getting sick herself.  I’m positive, she’s negative.

My health has been all out of whack lately, with a nasty stomach bug the week before.  Stress levels are close to all-time highs.  I’m triple-vaxxed, but I had a panic attack the day I was supposed to get a booster and never did the fourth.

So here’s the Covid Chronicles, check ’em out and see how I’m doing.

RECORD STORE TALES #1048: Covid Chronicles 1

Day One

I woke up Saturday morning bright and early with creative juices flowing.  In a long and effortless spurt, I completed 7000 words of Tee Bone Man vs. Edie Van Heelin’, some of my best fictional writing to date.  It took a few hours, and several spins of Night Ranger’s Greatest Hits, to finish.  I had a tickle in my throat, but felt fine otherwise.  Tired, yes, but I only had four hours of sleep, so that was to be expected.

I tested myself shortly after lunch.  I was shocked when the line filled in immediately and strongly.  Covid?  No way!  It didn’t seem possible.  It still doesn’t.

I went to go lie down and caught a couple more hours of sleep.  I talked to a few people and got some advice.  Everyone said to hydrate.  I placed an order with a convenience store for a few gallons of Gatorade, and some ice cream.  Why not?  Why not enjoy something, while I still can.  We ordered drumsticks.  What a delight.  I hadn’t had drumsticks in years!  This one had to be the best I’d ever tasted.  The saltiness of the nuts, the sweet of the chocolate and caramel, and the perfect creaminess of the ice cream.  Suck on that, Covid.

Jen made steaks and carrots for dinner.  They too were also great.  I had the leftovers for breakfast this morning and they still tasted great.

At present, everything smells and tastes normal.  I have some mild body aches, a dry throat, and some fatigue.  I also haven’t slept much; I caught about five hours and two more hours in a couple spurts last night.  I’ve been up since roughly four in the morning. It’s not that Covid is keeping me up, it’s that I feel relatively normal and my creative juices are waking me up.  I had a really productive day yesterday and my brain wants to continue that today, though I want to try and stay horizontal for most of today.

I’ll test again later and keep you posted as best I can.

2 years later: “LeBrain’s Covid-19 Message”

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!

Originally posted March 18 2020.

#964.0: The Year in Review – Part One

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
  • Getting back into the movie theater
  • Record-high hits and views

Personal lowlights of the year:

  • Then the hits and views took a nosedive
  • Burned out
  • Grandma in the hospital, flood, mental breakdowns
  • Lost people
  • Moved offices, twice
  • Omicron

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.




#961: Christmas in the Hamster Wheel

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:

  1. Health.  Nobody in our family has had Covid (knock wood).
  2. A roof over my head.
  3. Jen
  4. Family
  5. Friends

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.

It’s funny — we have a friend named Michael who has been on the LeBrain Train a couple of times.  (We call him Max the Axe’s stunt double.)  He is absolutely thrilled to be working at the same Record Store chain that I used to work for.  His uncle Tom used to own a branch.  So things have come full circle in the world of the Record Store.  25 years ago this Christmas was my first one managing my own store.  I had a tradition of wearing a tie every Christmas Eve.  It was something the Boss originated that I liked.  So I kept it going.

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.


#959: Boosted


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 the meantime, we’re just passing through.