mother’s day

Mother’s Day Sunday Chuckle

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!  Life has been tougher than usual these days and you deserve a big huge pat on the back.  Or, to use a popular cliche, celebrate wine o’clock.

Today we’ll be visiting my 95 year old grandmother!  Distantly, through a window, but she understands.  I thought for this Mother’s Day, I’d share a favourite story about her.

My grandma always gave us good gifts for birthdays and Christmas, but because she didn’t really know what kids were into, started giving us money instead.  We were just as happy with that, but I’ll never forget something thing she wrote in my Christmas card one year.

“Dear Michael, Merry Christmas.  Use this gift to buy yourself a CD record.  Love Grammie.”

A CD record!  The phrase still makes me smile today.


#752.5: Treat Your Mother Right

We are about to head off for our first Mother’s Day without Jen’s mom.  It’s been a tough weekend but remembering the good times helps.  Soon I’ll be cooking chicken and steaks for my mom and grandma.  I love cooking for them. I have a few friends who are missing their mothers today. If you are one of them, we’re all in this together.


Check out some of these previous posts for Mother’s Day content:

#677: Rock Clocks (Happy Mother’s Day!)

No Sunday Chuckle this week — a special post instead.


GETTING MORE TALE #677: Rock Clocks (Happy Mother’s Day!)

My mom has always been creative.  Ever since we were kids, she’s been making things.  In my earliest memories, she learned how to make ceramics at home.  A prized possession of mine is my Darth Vader lamp.  It’s made of two ceramic pieces, the base and the Vader bust.  It has coloured lights in his chest, and his lightsaber lights up as well.  I got Vader, while my sister had an R2-D2.  I still have that Vader and she still has her R2.  Then she even bought a kiln so she could fire her ceramics at home.  My dad called it “that damned kiln” or “that god-damned oven” while my mom expanded to teaching ceramic classes in the basement.  She even started making stained glass ornaments!  My dad hated that we had a cottage industry in the basement, and her stuff always fought for space with my Transformers boxes.  But dad had to admit one thing, which is the ceramics not only paid for themselves, but also my mother’s annual vacations.

Vader lamp, far left

When I started working at the Record Store, one of my mom’s more successful creations were functional clocks.  You could buy a clockwork and put it in anything really, but CD clocks looked cool.  I convinced her and the Boss to work out a consignment deal.  I brought home a bunch of defective CDs that were written off in the back room.  I had her make a variety of clocks — Pink Floyd CDs, Bob Marley’s Legend, or anything with a cool picture on it.  We also had a few basic ones with just numbers glued to a blank CD face.

They weren’t great sellers, but she moved maybe two dozen over the years.  It didn’t cost the Boss anything to stock them, maybe 18″ of shelf space behind the counter, but it was more of a favour than a business move.  As cool as they were, they got dusty up there on that shelf, and were tricky to clean.  The little metal hands bent easily, and if you wiped too hard you could mark up the clock face, or remove one of the numbers!

One gimmick came up with was allowing customers to buy custom clocks made.  They could either a) bring in a CD to be made into a clock, or b) use one of the defects in the box in our back room for a clock.  We did a few of those, though it meant my mom had to go out and buy more clockworks.

I’ll never forget this one guy.  He came in one day but it wasn’t for a clock.

He approached the counter and asked “Do you buy CDs?”

“Yes we do!” I responded, and he pulled a CD from his jacket pocket.

I looked at the cover and did not recognise the name.  I flipped it over and looked at the back.  No label, no bar code…definitely some unknown artist.

“I’m sorry,” I said as I began explaining the part that I hated explaining.  “I’ll have to pass on this one.  We just generally don’t buy things like this because they tend to just sit on the shelves for years.  I can’t find a record label on the back, I don’t know this artist, and there’s nothing under this name in our system.”

“Oh, well that’s me,” he answered.

“Oh this is you!  Well, that’s cool, but still, it’s just not the kind of thing we would buy for stock.  The best I could do is offer to sell it on consignment here for you.  But I’ll be honest, we don’t sell a lot of consignment CDs here unless it’s a pretty popular local band.”

“Can you make it into a clock?” he asked while pointing at my mom’s CD clocks.

“You want to make it into a clock?  Yes, absolutely we can do that!”

That took a twist I didn’t expect!  “I want to give it to my wife as a gift,” he said.

Well sure, why not!  I took his order down in a little yellow receipt book.  He chose the style of hands and numbers (gold coloured) and a week or so later, he had his clock.  Two AA batteries not included.

Here’s another clock memory for you.  Can you guess how often people looked up at the clocks and said, “Woah!  Is that the time?”  More frequently than you’d think.  No, those clocks don’t have batteries in them, they’re for sale and they’re all showing different times, you dumb ass.

We ended the clock collaboration shortly after.  At least I tried.  Not all my ideas were good ones.  It wasn’t a failure, it just wasn’t worth the effort after the novelty wore off.  It demonstrated one thing that remains true about retail:  things only have a limited shelf life.  People don’t want to see the same stuff sitting there year after year.  It was true for virtually everything we sold.  Bobble heads, action figures, Simpsons characters, Osbournes figures, accessories and impulse buys…they were all shuffled from one location to another when they were “dead”.  Then you’d sell a few more, and the product would die again.  Shuffle the remains to a sale bin in a third store and you’ll probably clear them all.  One of our stores had the Metallica McFarlane figure set opened up on display with the big stage and everything.  I was aghast!  You don’t open a toy for display, you idiots.  Nobody would buy it.  And guess what?  That open Metallica set was a shelfwarmer, as it slowly suffered from shelf abuse.

The only thing that was timeless and the never-ending star of the show?  CDs.  Music.

I left in 2006 and I know that music stores have changed in the last 12 years.  They’ve all had to diversify, and the old store I used to manage now sells board games and used Nintendo cartridges.  I got out at exactly the right time.  My passion has always been for the music.  The rest is just window dressing.

And that includes CD clocks.  Sorry mom!








MINDS IN MOTION has been rocked!

KA-PLA! (Qapla’ – Klingon for “success”!)  The Mother’s Day MINDS IN MOTION KW Walking Classic is complete! Jen and I did 5km and it felt great

I raised $375 to buy shoes for mental health patients in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. Physical activity is so important to your mention health, but some don’t even have a good enough pair of shoes to walk in. Hopefully today we made a difference.

A big thank-you to:
Zach, Sarca, Joe, Geoff, and Scott the Scot! You didn’t have to but you did!

More big thanks to:
Erin, Michelle, Scott the not-Scot, Peter, Kathryn, my mom, Aunt Lynda, Nicole, Chris, Willy, and Alex.

I hope I didn’t forget anyone! Lastly thanks to Jen’s mom for taking part with us.

We were supposed to have shirts, but all they had left in men’s was 2XL. I’m a large. The 2XL looks like a tent, so I wore my Thunder Buddies shirt since it’s the same colour.


Part 196: Happy Rockin’ Mother’s Day!


RECORD STORE TALES Part 196:  Happy Rockin’ Mother’s Day!

I’m hoping I don’t embarrass my mom too much with this post.  I love my mom.  My friends love my mom.  Everyone loves my mom, they always have.  It used to drive me nuts, actually.  Particularly with my friend Bob, it drove me nuts.  My friends would come over and spend more time talking to my mom than to me!

Joe, who ran one of our stores, was one friend that always enjoyed seeing my mom in his store.  Unfortunately for me, Joe really used to tease me about it, too.  Long time LeBrain readers will remember one story in particular.  Here’s the pertinent text from that tale:

One morning I was opening the store, and my computer beeped the sound that told me, “An order just arrived, please read me!”  So I did.  Only the order looked something like this.

ARTIST:  I’m totally going to

TITLE:  bone your mom.

I was digging through boxes of stuff, as Mrs. LeBrain and I prepare to move to a larger place this year.  In a closet I found a card from the record store.  Joe had signed it.

For my mom…happy Mother’s Day!



What’s on the menu?

Part 39: Mother’s Day at the Record Store

My first Mother’s Day at the store was unique.  We never tried this stunt again, because it was a bit of a waste.  It was spring 1995.  The boss had brought in a bucket of roses.  He said, “I want you to hand these out to every lady that looks like a mother, that comes in today.”  OK, all well and good.  A little on the weird/awkward/unique side, but OK.  I didn’t want to do it but I didn’t have much choice. You had to kind of guess who was a mother and who wasn’t. Not fun! “Do I look that old to you?” was a common response.

I guess the problem is that most mothers didn’t really go out to buy CD’s on Mother’s Day.  A lot of them headed out for morning brunch with the families, or spent the day with the families.  Then you’d have the occasional crackhead mother that I would skip, because they’d probably just try to smoke the flowers.  On Mother’s Day, it was pretty much just dudes.  They were in there to buy the latest Jann Arden, Celine Dion, or Shania Twain for mom.  As my bucket of flowers sat there, I figured I’d throw in a free one to any non-jerky dudes that were buying gifts for mom, too.  I got rid of a couple more roses that way.

Finally towards the end of the day, the bucket of roses still half full, I had a visit.  It was from a girl I liked named Holly.  Holly was a big Depeche Mode fan, and I had some CD singles in stock.  She picked a couple out and I decided, “What the hell?  Worth a try.”

“These are for you, Holly.”

I handed her the rest of the roses.  She was thrilled.  I didn’t get a date out of it, but at least the flowers didn’t go to a crackhead!

Oh!  And I did bring one home for my mom.

We never did the flowers thing again.  Happy Mother’s Day!