Highway 401

#700: How Are You Doing?

GETTING MORE TALE #700: How Are You Doing?

It’s been a week since we lost Mum…and we are doing OK.  Jen’s been focused like an electron microscope on getting things done for the funeral.  My job is scanning photos and preparing music…and catching up on laundry.  Attempting to put a dent into the pile of clothes I call “Sock Mountain”.  I’m assuming reality will hit us later.

For music, Mum would have liked if we used something by my sister Dr. Kathryn.  I hope I can find something appropriate, perhaps from her Stealth CD.  At least one track.  For the reception after, I’m using Mike Slayen’s awesome acoustic guitar album DUDE.  Don’t let the title fool you!  If Mum was well enough, I know she would have been enjoying this album with us.  Probably in the car on the way to the cottage.  She would have loved it.  Me, I would have loved just having Mum with us.

This has been a very hard year for us, and I know the power of music is such that you always associate certain tracks or albums with periods in your life.  Music also has the power to raise the spirits, and it did that for me quite a few times this summer.  On every shitty drive to Toronto on the 401, to every dismal hospital parking lot, my stereo was on.  A lot of albums were repeat listens, and I worry:  “Will I always associate the Bosstones or Blotto with this shitty summer?”

I might.  And that might make the Bosstones or Blotto hard to listen to, down the road.  I think we have to try and make more memories of those bands later on.  Maybe when we finally do return to the cottage.

That aside, we sure did devour a lot of music on the road.  Just last week, between Toronto and the work commute, I polished off Marillion’s The Singles ’82-’88 (12 discs), its followup Singles Box Vol 2 ’89 – ’95 (12 more discs), and a third “box set” of eight more singles. A whopping 1.5 gig of music.  Basically all their singles and B-sides in one massive weeklong stretch.  Meanwhile, back at the office, I had my Kiss flash drive.  Basically, everything I own by Kiss in one place.  I’ve been focused on the studio albums, and each one has been spun more than once.  I realised this:  I never seem to get tired of Kiss!

Whether it was Lick it Up, Hotter Than Hell, Dressed to Kill, Love Gun, Rock and Roll OverDynasty, Unmasked, Creatures…even Asylum got multiple plays in the last couple weeks.  When a band has been your favourite for over 30 years and you can’t explain why, I guess you can just keep playing those albums in rotation.  The later albums…admittedly less so.  The emotional attachment isn’t quite there.

Get this!  While I was bopping to Kiss Unmasked one afternoon, the guy in the office next to me put on “Summerland” by King’s X!  How cool is that?  When was the last time you heard King’s X in the office?  The guy even knew the names of the members.  Said a friend recently turned him onto King’s X, but all he had was the Best Of.  Gotta start somewhere!

Thanks for checking in.  We’ll be OK.  I think we’ll manage to make it through this, but not without the support of friends and loved ones.

Advertisements

#358.5: On the Road Again

IMG_20150126_130256

RECORD STORE TALES MkII: Getting More Tale
#358.5: On the Road Again

Today was another day on the highway, on the road to another hospital!  We’re making progress on Jen’s epilepsy and she is currently staying at a hospital in Toronto for a few days as they try to figure out just what’s causing these seizures.  It will be the longest we’ve been apart since we’ve been married, six years ago.

You don’t come here to read mushy stuff, you come for funny stories and to read about the rock!  The drive itself was uneventful.  The eastbound lanes are clear, but a jackknifed tractor trailer on the westbound side left just one lane open to traffic.  It was backed up as far as the eye could see, and I was grateful I was not one of the commuters stuck in it.

IMG_20150126_134648

We had Zeppelin on the ride into Toronto.  With your morning traffic jams that just happen, we listened to all of Led Zeppelin I, the deluxe edition with bonus concert CD, Live at the Olympia in Paris.  As good as this set is — and it is good — it didn’t suit the mood this morning.  I should have started with Queen instead.  I drove home to disc one of the new Queen Forever, and the pop sound and bright melodies of Queen were  better suited to lift the mood.  On the way there, Plant’s anguished screams only heightened my own tension.  On the way back, Freddie’s smooth crooning was just what the doctor ordered.  It was a bright sunny afternoon drive home.

As is par for the course this time of year, my car came home covered in a thick gray coating of sludge and salt.  I almost went through almost half a tank of windshield washer fluid today!

IMG_20150126_115550

If she’s there a while and I have to hang around there, I will definitely be checking out some record stores.  When we passed the Honest Ed’s building, I realized that we were right in the vicinity of Mike and Aaron’s Annual Taranna Record Store Excursion!  It would be weird to be so close and not check out Sonic Boom.

I’m looking forward to video chatting with Jen tonight on our laptops.  She’s got a few days ahead that will be a mixture of boredom, homesickness, and tedious testing.  Me, I’m back to bachelor living for the week.  I’m already bored.

Today’s musical lesson: Queen lifts the mood!

#322: Highway to Hell (RSTs Mk II: Getting More Tale)

IMG_20140914_094438

RECORD STORE TALES Mk II:  Getting More Tale

#322:  Highway to Hell

The big peave that I have today in my current work is my daily commute. It’s not far at all (I can do it in 10 minutes if there’s no traffic) but it can be hairy. To understand this, you would have to see the poor planning that went into the roads in Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge, otherwise known as the tri-cities area.

To get from work (in Cambridge) to home (in Kitchener), there are only a handful of good routes. The trick is getting across the Grand River, and there are only three nearby bridges to access. One of them is Highway 8 into town (two lanes each way but expanding), which is always in a state of construction. Another is the King St. bridge (one lane each way) and another is Fairway Road (a bit too far out of my way). Any accidents can cause jams on any of these routes, but the worst location is what I call the “sweet spot”:

The Tri-Cities "Sweet Spot"

The Tri-cities “Sweet Spot”

The “sweet spot” is on Highway 401, between Hespeler Road and Highway 8 into Kitchener. An accident there at the right time of day (3-4 o’clock) will tie up traffic going into town on any of my routes. Prior to the opening of the Fairway Road bridge, accidents there have delayed me by almost two hours (on a normally 10-15 minute drive). Add in winter weather conditions for part of the year and you’re in for a real good time.

There are accidents on my 10-15 minute drive home nearly every day. Once a month there will be an accident in the dreaded “sweet spot” causing major delays. Last week there were two in a row!  On those days, all I can do is study the traffic map, select a route and hope for the best!

When I first started this commute, all I had was a single disc CD player in my car. Each day I’d pick an album to listen to.  I only had room for one or two CDs in the car at a time.  Length didn’t matter; a Van Halen album would be perfectly fine for my commute on a good day. On a bad day however, you can count on running out of music and having to start over! Fortunately I have since switched to a couple 8 gig flash drives, avoiding traffic tie-up repeats.

On the bright side, a “sweet spot” traffic tie-up informed my review of Sloan’s The Double Cross (which I got to hear twice in one drive), during my drive home.

Other commuting misadventures that I witness on my way home, on a daily basis:

1. Motorcycle idiots passing between two cars. On the highway. Last seen on Friday last week.
2. People passing on the shoulder of the 401.
3. Being cut off in traffic, daily.
4. Idiots on cell phones.
5. Somebody in a Dodge Ram weaving in and out of traffic, trying to make it further along than anyone else, only to get stuck behind a transport truck.

These stories are not so unique. If you live in a major metropolitan area, you witness these same things too. As I progress into the RST Mk II’s, I intend to vent about traffic again in the future. (In fact, I’d like to buy a dash-cam. The video gold I could produce every day would provide endless blog fodder.)

Fortunately, music does soothe the savage beast. Rather, technology does.  Back in Record Store Part 16: Travelling Man, I stated “when you’re stuck in traffic on the 403, in a torrential downpour, listening to Winger, it still sucks pretty much as bad as it would if you weren’t listening to Winger.”  What has changed since then?   Well, I’m not driving that far for one.  GPS and Bluetooth have reduced the stress greatly.  Having 16 gig of albums in the car is also better than five cassette tapes.

What’s your favourite album for being stuck in traffic? Take it from me: Sloan’s Double Cross works really well!