GETTING MORE TALE #676: Cry For Help
My best impression. Based on true events.
GETTING MORE TALE #676: Cry For Help
My best impression. Based on true events.
Big thanks to Craig Fee over at 107.5 DaveRocks for this one!
During Craig’s live “Tedious Tiresome Trivia” segment on the Tuesday afternoon show (on which he takes live phone calls), he received a call from Ray at “Visa Mastercard”. The entire thing went out on the air, live, just as you hear it below. There’s nothing Craig loves more than messing with a solicitor calling into his show. Needless to say, things go wonky very quickly.
What I learned from “Visa Mastercard” on this call is that, apparently, your credit card number is not personal information. It’s right there on the face of the card, so that makes it public…apparently. “Anyone can see that or memorise that,” according to the “Visa Mastercard” rep (“not a third party!”) that unwittingly called a radio station.
GETTING MORE TALE #657: Operation: Van Halen (Derek’s Story)
Guest post by guitarist and songwriter Derek Kortepeter
Alright, so I’m pretty sure all of us can relay some embarrassing moments from our teenage years. I dunno if it’s the changing hormones or what, but we tend to be pretty damn stupid in these formative years. I have been thinking about my teen years a lot recently, most likely since my high school 10 year reunion is coming up in 2019.
I don’t if it’s nostalgia or what, but I have suddenly been reliving a lot of moments from this time. Here’s something you have to know to know about me first before I start my story. I spent most of my education in public schools in Southern California, namely elementary school and college (two years at a Pasadena City College and then three at UCLA as a transfer student). I switched to a small Christian K-12 school for middle and high school because of bullying (cops got involved, nasty stuff). While I was a working class kid of a single mom, this small school had scholarships and financial aid that made it possible for me to attend.
It is at this small school in “SoCal” that my story takes place. This story involves a CD; well, two CDs to be exact. You see, music has been my obsession my entire life (it eventually became what I studied in college). I had a far ranging interest in all kinds of music from around the world but as a teenager rock, namely punk and metal, amped me up the most.
Above all bands was Van Halen.
Pretty much every person that knew me also knew how obsessed I was with the band. It didn’t matter what incarnation of the band, I owned every damn CD and cut my teeth as a guitarist on all those records.
So while I was a teenage metalhead and punk, what went along with that was that I was a bit of…let’s say, a social anomaly. I didn’t really fit into any clique, but most knew me as a decent guy who was just a tad obsessed with Eddie Van Halen. To go along with this, I was horrifically shy around girls I found attractive.
Awkward doesn’t even really cover it, but holy shit did this come to a head in a hilariously embarrassing way with a girl I liked from age 14 to age 15 (this story ranges from late middle school to early high school). Let’s call this girl “S” so that this never makes it back to people I know. Remember how I mentioned that I was a bit of a social misfit? This girl S wasn’t. In fact, she was popular.
My dumb ass had the bright idea to get a crush on a (future) cheerleader who hung around (future) jocks that hated my guts (incidentally I did play starting right tackle on the high school football team) and boy was I about to make my mark. Remember how I mentioned that I was shy around girls? Yeah, that meant I couldn’t hold a conversation without my voice cracking from nerves.
So I had a plan to say something without too many words. I was going to go old school and make a mix tape for her since my conversations were very limited. “Oh man S, is going to so dig this! She’ll love that I shared this amazing band with her,” I thought to myself. The thing is, it was my 8th grade year in the early 2000s so cassettes weren’t the thing anymore. As such, I made her a mix CD.
Not just any mix CD though. A VAN HALEN mix CD.
All the classic Roth and Hagar love songs were there man, it didn’t matter that S was more of a Mariah Carey fan, I figured NOBODY could deny the mighty VH.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA BOY WAS I WRONG.
Once I made the CD I approached her locker shaking like my apartment during an earthquake and the conversation went something like this.
Me: Hey… uh… hi S!
S: Oh hi Derek.
Me: So uhhhh…I really like Van Halen…and I…uh…(reaching into my backpack) made this CD for you.
Me: Yeah…soooo…let me know what you think…k bye!
A day passed and I approached her again towards the end of the day. I figured “OK dude, this is it, you’re gonna find out how much she dug it!” Cue scene:
Me: So… how did you like Van Halen?
S: (nods slightly, forces a polite smile) Yeah… it was… pretty good.
Me: Cool! I, um, yeah cool see ya!
Later on I found out that she didn’t even listen to the damn thing. Friends of mine standing near the “popular group” heard that she didn’t even want the CD and tried to hand it over to guys in the group that liked metal. Major bummer.
But I wasn’t finished embarrassing myself hooooooooo boy I was just getting started.
The 8th grade year ended and I continued to make awkward conversation with S and left a couple of really geeky messages on her home answering machine (FUN FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY). On the last day of the end of the year I was risking my neck by wearing a Van Halen t-shirt (band shirts were banned by the fascists at my school). I wore it in rebellion of the fact that we were going to have to wear uniforms starting my freshman year of high school. That day I got her to sign my yearbook and she wrote, I’m paraphrasing more or less, “you’re awesome, never change <3 –S”
DUDE SHE PUT A HEART OMG.
You see I didn’t realize at the time that girls just do that sort of thing, so I figured I still had a chance. Anyways, I got made fun of quite a bit by the jocks for the whole Van Halen thing, but still liked S. Come freshman year I was a starter on the football team (still not a jock…just was a great lineman), and S had recently had her birthday.
Operation Van Halen part 2 was on.
This time I made a pastel artwork for her (I was a decent artist back then) and… also made another fucking mix CD. This time it was mixed with some more recent bands popular at the time, but still had Van Halen and also some solo Roth and Hagar as well.
Conversation follows here:
Me: So… I have something for you, wait here (I run into the athletic locker room and get the gift).
Me: (hands the artwork and CD over) Happy birthday S.
S: (stares blankly) Oh… you didn’t have to do that (gives awkward hug).
Me: (freaking out that she hugged me) Yeah…uh happy birthday, bye!
In the year that followed this solidified my place in the pantheon of stupidity as the hostility of the jocks increased since I continued to try to pursue a chick outside of my social standing. Eventually I gave up and moved on with my life. Van Halen became a running joke among the popular crowd (one jock grabbed my yearbook and wrote VAN HALEN SUCKS just for “lolz”).
Joke was on them though, I eventually became a really great guitarist (I’m sure Mike can testify to this) and performed frequently in front of the school. My senior year the leader of the worship band asked me to play this Steve Vai piece; I won 2nd place in the talent show for (most people thought I was robbed of 1st). Incidentally, I was placed right in front of S and her pals for the performance.
I wonder if she remembered those stupid CDs I made.
Long time readers know that LeBrain’s dad is a unique and hilarious individual. That’s why I have an entire category dedicated to “Shit LeBrain’s Dad Says“. One of his quirks is refusing to call things or people by their proper names. Therefore, “Lady Gaga” is “Lady Googoo” and he never called any pet we owned by their proper names. Crystal = “Gozer”. Ani = “Johnny”.
His latest name invention belongs to Jen’s surgeon, Dr. Sugimoto. It came to me as no surprise when he asked, “So what does Dr. Quasimodo think of Jen’s recovery?”
Sorry, Dr. Sugimoto, that’s just the way my dad is! It’s easier for him to remember names if he just makes them up.
Sunday Chuckle was a new feature in 2017 — just something to read over your morning coffee to make you smile. Would you like to see the Sunday Chuckle return in 2018?
Here in one handy-dandy location are all the 2017 Sunday Chuckles. Some are still funny, some are duds, but here they are! Thanks for reading along this past year.
A followup to Sunday Chuckle: Clear Eyes
Took my early morning walk recently. One of the roads we like also happens to be a hideout for teenage stoners. I found a “Clear Eyes” dropper for those red stoner eyes last time. This time, I think the stoners were rolling blunts!
Here’s a very special story for a very special day. September 18th is the day I met my wife! Happy “meetaversary” sweetie.
GETTING MORE TALE #598: “Seven”
When dating, there are many rites of passage on the road to a long term relationship. For either sex, one of the usual hurdles is meeting the “best friend”. If the best friend doesn’t like you, your whole relationship could be doomed. It happened to me and it could happen to you!
I met Mrs. LeBrain on Sept 18 2005. We made contact like most people these days, first online and then in person. Meeting people online in 2005 wasn’t as mundane as it is today. Jen had never met someone from online before. We’ve told the tale of meeting before – from both perspectives. Mine was Record Store Tales #111: The Girl in the Sam Roberts Shirt. Her version was Getting More Tale #434: The Man in the Bob Marley Shirt. Needless to say, music is important to both of us.
There was one thing Jen failed to do, and that was inform her best friend Lara that she was meeting someone over the internet. She knew Lara wouldn’t approve. Once we started dating regularly, she had to come clean. As predicted Lara wasn’t impressed that she would go and meet some random internet dude without telling her. She was in trouble! And so was I, just for existing secretly!
Jen arranged a coffee meet up. We picked up Lara and her friend Dave, and headed over to the nearest Tim Horton’s. I was pleasantly surprised by Lara. Jen had made her out to sound evil and dangerous. She seemed anything but! Funny, smart, and clearly someone who cared deeply for her best friend. We got along immediately.
At one point in the evening, Lara asked me, “On a scale from one to 10, how pissed off would you be?”
I didn’t understand. “Pardon?”
“On a scale from one to 10, how pissed off would you be?” she answered.
“Well, I’m a pretty easy going guy, so I’d say about a three.” Hypothetically, of course.
Secretly, inside, Jen was worried what this meant. She said nothing, nor did Dave.
We continued to drink our coffee and chat. Lara liked science fiction, so we had that in common. In Canada, sitting around a Tim Horton’s all night drinking coffee (or tea in Lara’s case) is a pretty common pastime. My wife can really drink coffee like a champion. If there was a Stanley Cup of Coffee, she would win it every season.
We made tentative plans for a future meet up, when suddenly –
Lara reached over, grabbed my soul patch hair, the part right below my bottom lip, and YANKED HARD. I looked wide-eyed to see my own facial hair in her fingers.
She asked again, “On a scale from one to 10, how pissed off would you be?”
My answer was immediate. “SEVEN! DEFINITELY SEVEN!”
And that is why to this day, all of Lara’s kids and their friends call me “Uncle Seven”. My nickname became Seven, irreversibly and permanently. It’s been over ten years and I’m still Uncle Seven. In fact, here is an actual conversation that I had with her son Tyler, and his girlfriend. It was Tyler’s 19th birthday:
Tyler: “OK Seven.”
Girlfriend: “Wait…your name is Mike? I thought it was Seven.”
Mike: “…You thought my real name was Seven?! Who the hell would name their kids a number?!”
Girlfriend: “There’s a girl named Eleven.”
Mike: “Yeah! On a TV show! And it wasn’t her real name!!”
The fact that I took Lara’s little “test” as a joke meant that our friendship was solidly guaranteed. I passed! We’ve been tight ever since.
GETTING MORE TALE #587: Blocked!
In the pre-Record Store 1980s, it was not this easy.
In late 1987 and early 1988, a kid from school named Bobby was getting a bit too clingy. He was even a bigger nerd than I was. Way bigger nerd. His prized possession was a massive multi-volume copy of the Oxford English Dictionary. His stalking didn’t begin until grade 10 French class. I was never very good at French. I can’t really explain why I took it again in grade 10 when I didn’t have to. It was my worst class. Bobby and I would study together over the phone. It helped so we continued our phone studies. That’s how it started.
Soon after, Bobby began calling for non-school related reasons, which was still OK, but it picked up speed. The calls became very regular. First, they were every other day. Then they were daily. Then twice a night, and more. He started inviting me to go to church with him.
I was a young kid with no idea how to handle the discomfort I was experiencing. Talking on the phone was fine, but every night? I was getting smothered, except I didn’t know that was the word for it. I wasn’t sure if this was weird or not, or how to deal with it, and I didn’t want to confront him. I decided the best strategy was to start avoiding his phone calls. There were two problems with this:
I made sure my mom knew that Bobby was calling too much and annoying me, but she wouldn’t play ball! “I won’t lie for you!” she said. I can remember her answering the phone, while I’m telling her “I’m not home!” only for her to hand the phone over to me. I was furious but she wouldn’t budge on her lying policy. New techniques had to be invented.
The easiest was taking the phone off the receiver. Leaving it “off the hook” would give any caller a busy signal. No such thing as voicemail. I began taking the phone off the hook during Bobby’s usual calling hours without telling my parents. The only problem was that the handset then started making a very loud beeping sound when you left it off the hook. So I buried the receiver under blankets and pillows so it could not be heard. Of course we wouldn’t be getting any calls at all from anyone, but I figured that was the price my mom had to pay for refusing to lie! Later on, I learned how to remove the ear piece so that it wouldn’t make any noise.
The other method of Bobby-blocking required the help of my best friend Bob, not to be confused with Bobby. One night my parents were out and Bob was over, when the phone rang.
“That’s Bobby calling,” I said. “Answer the phone and tell him he has the wrong number?” Bob obliged me. He was willing to lie for me! He answered and told Bobby he had the wrong number, but it was a little more complicated than that. Bobby said, “But I have this number programmed in my phone!” It was 1987. Nobody had numbers programmed into phones…except Bobby. Bob insisted that he still had the wrong number and hung up. Sure enough the phone rang again as Bobby called back. This time we didn’t answer.
Things with Bobby came to a head twice. The first time was over the phone, one of those nights he called multiple times. He asked me to go to church with him again and I said “No” very firmly. I said we had our own church to go to and I just didn’t want to go to his. To my shock he started bawling on the phone and hung up on me. He then called back, apologized and asked if I’d go to church with him again. I accepted his apology but declined church again. He started crying again and hung up again. He was Lutheran, in case you’re wondering if he was evangelical or something more obscure. Nope, just Lutheran. Pretty mainstream.
Bobby and I patched up the friendship and boundaries were re-established. There was another incident towards the end of 1988 and it was the final one.
I had 11th grade math class with Bobby and the year started fine. He sat next to me. One morning in class he took my pencil case and wouldn’t give it back. I had been drawing band logos on it, so Bobby took it upon himself to take it (and all the pens, pencils and erasers it contained) away, as if he was a parent and I was a child. I was getting more and more angry and when he finally returned it after class, I was furious. He acted like it was funny, but I wasn’t laughing. I was really pissed off. I went to the cafeteria at lunch, and I told Bob what happened. He said, “Well we just won’t let him sit with us at lunch.”
I met Bob and our group in the cafeteria for lunch, and we made sure to take up all the bench space. When Bobby arrived, Bob informed him he’d have to sit somewhere else because I was still mad at him for taking the pencil case and not giving it back until after class. That was pretty much it. Bobby and I stopped speaking completely after that, even though we sat next to each other in class. It was awkward but a certain amount of peace and quiet returned to my life.
I remember shortly after that, I caught a ride home from school with Bob. He drove a shit-brown Chevette. We were driving home when I spotted Bobby up ahead. Bob slowed down his car and followed Bobby without saying anything. He just slowly, slowly followed, at walking speed, in his car. This time it was me who found it funny, but Bobby was not amused and yelled at his neighbors to call the police! (They didn’t.)
Bobby changed schools the next year, and a mutual acquaintance told me that he “hated” me now. I accept the part that I had to play in it, but I would also suggest that where I was concerned, Bobby was obsessed. He was not gay, he was just fixated. It wasn’t going to end well no matter how it ended. One thing for certain though, the obsession had to end, because if it didn’t, my wits would.
I can’t help but wonder if much of this could have been avoided if only my mom would have played along and told Bobby I wasn’t home! We’ll never know now. Thanks, mom.
Coming home from TFCon, traffic was typical Toronto congestion. Stop and go, stop and go. Change lanes, stop. Change lanes, go! I had to pee real bad.
When we got back to my place, Jay stepped out of the truck for a smoke. Jen came out to visit, and I still really had to pee bad. I did the easiest thing possible: I snuck behind his truck and took a leak. There was nobody around who could see me.
But then I heard a woman’s voice, and close by! I looked to the left, to the right, and back again. I kept hearing the woman’s voice and couldn’t figure out where she was, so I decided to cut myself off mid-stream. Nobody likes doing that. Not the greatest feeling in the world.
I heard the woman’s voice again, and then figured it out. It was my cell phone. I had butt-dialed my own voicemail and that was the automated voicemail talking to me. At least I didn’t get busted peeing outside!
* The photo above was taken during the summer of 1990 and is just a water balloon!