#1063: Life is Like a Lake

RECORD STORE TALES #1063: Life is Like a Lake

Over the course of 51 years on the shores of Lake Huron, I have witnessed the power of nature and the change it brings every season.  Change is the one constant in life, isn’t it?  For better or worse, everything changes.  Nothing can remain static.  Things wear and decay, and are eventually replaced by newer, younger things.  This is obvious every spring on the shores of Huron.  The coast changes, the rocks, the trees, everything.  In a way, life is like a lake.

When we returned this spring, much had changed.  The seasons are unrelenting.  We found several large rocks, freshly cracked, and sharp like blades.  Over the summer and fall, water found its way through microscopic cracks in the stones.  Over winter, it froze and expanded, breaking rocks clean in half.  The remnants are like ancient stone cutting tools, sharp and jagged.  In a way, that’s parallel with relationships.  Sometimes things set in, year after year, until they eventually expand and crack the relationship in two.  I’ve experienced this recently.  The edges that cut are still painful.

Things die over the winter.  Some young trees do not survive.  Older ones fall, only to become firewood for the coming year.  Just like life, and the losses we experience more and more as we get older.  It never gets easier.  It’s a matter of picking up the pieces are carrying on.

The only constant at the lake is change.  Eternal change.  This is especially obvious when you look back at old photographs.  The lake levels change, the beach is covered with rocks one year, and sand the next.  The changes cannot be predicted, except that the land will change.  Where men once pushed the forest and weeds back, now they encroach again when left untended.  It’s quite amazing how quickly nature can retake a patch of land left untouched.  Just like life.  Neglect an aspect of your life, be it physical or mental, and you will notice the difference.  Life must be worked, at constantly, or you will lose what you gained.

Some years, there is more life than others.  Some years, wild turkeys.  Other years, foxes.  Perhaps the foxes scared away the turkeys.  Once in a while we’ll have a dear, or a bear.  Raccoons, porcupines and skunks are common.  When the animals disappear, you can only guess as to why.  Kind of like being “ghosted” in life.  Sometimes they return unexpectedly.  Always a delight.  Like a friend returning after a long absence.

One thing that is clear at the lake:  You cannot return to the past.  The past is gone, like the ghost of a memory.  Things only move forwards, not backwards.  The massive winter ice sheets we used to get are gone now, likely never to return in my lifetime.  The rivers carve away the landscape, leaving different shapes.  The cliffs we used to walk as kids no longer exist, or are now on inaccessible private property, built over and paved.  There is no return.  Those things are gone.

And that’s life in a nutshell.







#971: Facebook Memories

RECORD STORE TALES #971: Facebook Memories

While I’m sure that “Facebook Memories” are Zucking up my brain in some way, in this brave new Metaverse…I kinda like them.

For those of you who prefer to stay out of the Metaverse or social media in general, “Facebook Memories” are a daily feature that shows you what you posted in the years prior.  While not every day is solid gold, I find that most days have at least one cool memory that I would want to post again.  Something funny, something cool…occasionally something sad.

The early years of Facebook memories seem to be nothing but me posting what I’m currently “rockin’ to”.  Dear God there were a lot of those “rockin’ to” posts.  Interesting nonetheless especially when I happen to be rockin’ to the same artist on the same day years later.  There were also a lot of early video blogs that were not very good (but were very young).  In that tradition, as I write this now I’m rockin’ to Slash Puppet’s Studs & Gems.

I didn’t start using Facebook on a regular basis until 2012 when I launched this site.  I found that most of my hits were coming from that platform, but not Twitter, so I made a choice and stuck with it.  Memories start picking up in 2012.

In the winter months, I see a lot of complaints about driving conditions.

Frequent memories of co-workers pranking my office.

In 2016-2017, nearly daily postings about the shenanigans of one Donald J. Trump.

In January, with memories from different years, it seemed like I was constantly sick.  The flu, the man-cold, whatever.  And it also appears that each time it was the “worst one ever”.  This does not bode well for the next time I get sick.

Also in January, in the year 2018, come the bad memories.

But I still want to remember them.  Not necessarily first thing in the morning with my first Nespresso, but I do want to see them.  I don’t want the minutia lost.  Maybe I won’t always feel that way, but I won’t deny that we are still grieving.  And it helps the grieving process to see some of these old electronic thoughts.

Of course, this means Zuck knows my entire life story for the last decade-plus, but so do you.  I made a choice a long time ago to write personal shit in public.  At the end of the day I don’t think I’m interesting enough to attract unwanted attention, and what’s done is done.  While the Metaverse expands I may have regrets, but at present I’ve made some friends doing what I do.  I’ll take it as a win.



NOTE:  The LeBrain Train will be on Saturday night rather than Friday!

#556: Shazam Kazaam! It’s a Fire in the Sky!

GETTING MORE TALE #556: Shazam Kazaam! It’s a Fire in the Sky!

Do you recall a 1996 kids’ movie called Kazaam starring Shaquille O’Neal as a genie? If you’re like me, the answer is “no”, because you’re too old.  From browsing the shelves of your local video stores, over the years you may have seen the VHS or DVD for Kazaam. It was a legendary flop, but not enough to kill Shaq’s movie career permanently. In 1997, he starred in DC Comics’ Steel (technically a Superman spinoff).

Something strange started happening a few years ago on the internet (home of the strange).  People came out of the woodwork remembering a completely different movie: Not Kazaam, but Shazam, starring Sinbad instead of Shaq, as a genie. A simple case of convergent movie making a-la Deep Impact and Armageddon? Not this time. Sinbad says he never made such a movie, and there is no record of such a thing ever being made, anywhere by anybody.  Not in this universe.

This isn’t one or two people who say they’ve seen the nonexistent Shazam. It’s hundreds of people (so they claim), and some have vivid memories. A man named Don, who used to work at his uncle’s video store, says he distinctly remembers the two copies he had in stock. He claims that he had to watch it many times, because customers told him it was defective and he had to check.


This kind of mass delusion has been called the “Mandela Effect”, named for the strange phenomenon of multiple people who remember Nelson Mandela dying in prison in the 1980s. Some think they may be transplanted natives of an alternate universe where the movie did exist, or Mandela did die in prison. Some think the movie (and every written record of it) was destroyed on purpose (somehow). Of course the truth is, these folks are just mixed up. They’re confusing something that Sinbad did with the Shaq movie, and people have even found pictures of Sinbad wearing a genie-like turban (from a 1995 Sinbad the Sailor movie marathon he hosted) that may have increased the confusion. No alternate universes necessary.

The simplest explanation is that memory is very fluid, and I have had my own experience similar to this. It too involved two movies with similarities.

In 1993, the sci-fi thriller Fire in the Sky was released and I was an instant fan. Alien abductions are such a neat subject, and Fire in the Sky depicted one of the most famous. Travis Walton disappeared in 1975. When he reappeared, he told a tale of being taken on a craft by strange beings. The movie elaborated on this with a scene set on the alien space ship.

The harrowing scene had Walton on an operating table with all sorts of alien mechanisms ready to poke and prod. The scene came to a terrifyingly sudden end as a sharp metal needle-like device made its way to his open eye. It touched the very surface of his eye…and jump cut to Travis waking up back on Earth!

The sequence seared itself into my memory. What a scare! I remembered the whole thing very clearly.  How could you forget it?  A few years after, I bought a used copy on VHS. I watched the whole thing on the edge of my seat. I cringed and waited for the spaceship scene with the needle and the eyeball.  I remembered vividly. My minds eye could see the needle indenting the surface of his eye….

But that wasn’t on the VHS version. The needle never touched his eye. The scene cut away prematurely, and ended before that happened…but I REMEMBERED!  I had seen it.  I knew what I had seen, because I have an “eye thing”, and stuff touching eyes generally grosses me out.  I don’t wear contacts for that reason.

I returned the tape to the store and explained it was an edited version with some content removed. I put myself on a waiting list for another copy. Perhaps the widescreen version would be un-edited.

Every copy of the VHS was the same. None featured the full contact eyeball scene.  Can you guess why?

Because the shot, as I remembered it, wasn’t in that movie.  It existed…but it wasn’t in Fire in the Sky.

It was in Star Trek: First Contact. In the flashback scene when Picard is abducted by the Borg, he is operated on. A needle makes its way to his eye…and actually touches the surface before Picard awakes. Picard was just dreaming! But that was the origin of the eyeball-touching that I had misremembered as being in Fire in the Sky. I was so sure that I returned every tape that didn’t have the shot, but it was me that was wrong!


Two science fiction movies, two alien abductions, two eye-related medical procedures (both on the right eye)…combined into one memory.

I can understand the confusion of the Shazam/Kazaam people. I have experienced it myself. You can be absolutely certain of something until confronted by the real memory, as I was. If anybody else saw the same two movies I did, then I bet at least one of them confused the same two scenes too.

Personally, I’m happy to not live in a universe where Sinbad made a genie movie.


#489: I Forgot To Remember To Forget


GETTING MORE TALE #489: I Forgot To Remember To Forget

Here are five short stories about forgetfulness in the old Record Store Days!

1. The Boss Man lived his life via one of those day timer books. Everything was in there – all his contacts, all his notes, where he had to be, when he had to be there, everything. So it was quite difficult for him when he left the book on top of his car and drove off! Needless to say he had to buy a new day timer and start over.

2. In my last year, I totally forgot I was working a morning shift. It was during the Christmas rush, and we had two people opening:  me and one other guy. Since my reputation was that I showed up at least an hour early for an opening shift, my absence was noted before we actually opened. My co-worker Kam called me. “Did you forget you were opening today? You’re usually here by now.” Quickly covering for myself, I answered “Nah I was just doing some banking, I’ll be there really soon.” Saying this as I pulled on my pants trying to get out the door….

3. Ah, daylight savings time. Spring forward, and fall back! One day the Boss Man called me from our store in Waterloo.  Keep in mind, I always got to work early except for that one time!

“Mike, have you heard from [“Bully” – name redacted]?” She’s not here at the store yet.”

I answered him no, but that she’s not usually in that early in the morning anyway, and not to worry. She’d surely be in before opening.

“But she’s late!  I had to open the store!”

But she wasn’t late, and the store wasn’t supposed to be open. The clocks had turned back, but the boss forgot to change his. The boss got there early without realizing it and opened the store early anyway! We had a good laugh over this misunderstanding.

4. They had me running all over the place. I drove all the way to open a store in Oakville, Ontario one morning, only to discover I forgot the key to that store at home. Thankfully the boss man wasn’t far away and within 20 minutes he was there to open the door for me! Crisis averted again!

5. Once, and only once, somebody forgot to lock the door at closing time. I opened the next morning and was shocked to find the door unlocked. Obviously nobody had tried the door during the night or the alarms would have gone off. That was scary! My dad always taught me to lock up the doors when you leave a place. In fact there were times – many times – on my drive home when I couldn’t clearly remember locking the door, so routine had closing become. So I would drive back and check. I never left the door unlocked, but I also never would have been able to sleep at night if I didn’t go back to check!