There was no way I was letting Mrs. LeBrain throw out this treasure. A vintage New Kids on the Block pillow case from 1989! A keeper forever.
GETTING MORE TALE #726: Misplaced
I lost my favourite flash drive. It’s around here somewhere. Maybe I left it in a shirt pocket that ended up in the laundry. Flash drives can survive a go in the wash, that’s no big deal. It has 32 gig of various music on it, and it’s my handy dandy go-anywhere music solution. Most recently it had the complete studio albums of Black Sabbath, Van Halen, Deep Purple, and many more. Losing it (temporarily we hope) meant putting some tunes on another flash drive instead.
This time, I loaded it up with some AC/DC, Faith No More, Led Zeppelin, Rush, Joe Satriani, Whitesnake, and more. Jen had a day of errands to run, so I decided to use a vacation day and help her out.
Our first mission, for most people, was no big deal. In the lives of Mike and Jen, it requires planning and preparation: getting your photo ID at Service Ontario. You know those lovely pictures that look like mug shots because you’re not allowed to smile or show any facial expression at all? Those are an obstacle and a half for Jen. Why? Because she’s epileptic and can’t have her photo taken with a flash. Just another day in the Mike and Jen Show.
Since this wasn’t her first rodeo, Jen knew what to do. She learned the hard way last time. I know what you’re thinking. “Why don’t they just take a photo without a flash?” They can’t. Those cameras are hooked up in such a way that they cannot turn the flash off. Last time Jen had to do this, the staff at Service Ontario were absolutely stunned. This time, we called in advance and booked an appointment. Jen told them of her condition and made sure that they were prepared for her. Then she went to Walmart and had some photos taken without a flash. We picked the most bland-faced one of the bunch, and she had it printed up in various sizes and finishes so we’d have lots of options.
“Print it?” you’re asking. “Why not just give them a card with the pictures on it?” Yeah, they can’t do that either. So what we do, and it’s quite ingenious, is take the Walmart photo and tape it where you’d normally stand to have your picture taken. Then, they take a picture of that, while Jen looks away. It took a few tries but we got her photo ID today with no hassles. That was a first for Jen! Mission accomplished.
Then we hit the road for Mission #2. I loaded Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap up on the flash drive. The mission this time was really simple. We were going to visit Jen’s best friend Lara in Brampton for lunch. It was a lovely day for a drive and AC/DC kept my pedal to the metal. We both had a chuckle at the lyrics to Big Balls, with me remembering what it was like to be 10 years old and laughing every time Bon Scott said “balls”.
When Dirty Deeds ended, I threw on Rush’s Moving Pictures. On a recent episode of Eddie Trunk’s radio show, Geddy Lee left no doubt that Rush is over. Neil Peart has not only retired from Rush, he said, but from drumming altogether. The physical toll that those 40 years took on Peart’s body means he needed a permanent vacation. Rush will never play again. That was running through my mind when I selected Moving Pictures, but soon I was immersed, rushed down “the river” like a modern day Tom Sawyer.
We picked a cheap steak place for lunch called Chuck’s roadhouse. Surf & turf for $20? Sure, I’ll try anything once. Better than a fast food burger. My steak was overdone but I haven’t had a lobster tail in years! The sweet taste of lobster and salty butter was almost too much to bear. I could have cried with joy. Lobster is the ocean’s steak. That was the easiest $20 to spend, ever. I’d go back; maybe next time the steak won’t be over cooked!
We had a great lunch. Jen broke a plate, but like a true friend, Lara took the blame. We dropped her back off at work and headed home to Led Zeppelin’s In Through the Out Door. It’s a quirky one and that’s why I love it.
As we rocked to “Fool in the Rain”, Jen remarked on how much her musical taste had improved over the last 10 years. “I’ll always love Nirvana and Stone Temple Pilots, but now I like Led Zeppelin too.” Hey, I’m glad to have been a positive influence!
I think every music fan likes to share their favourites and hope it connects with somebody else. The car is my favourite place to do that. Thanks, Zep!
It has been a long hard road for Jen and I this whole year. It’s Sunday though, and that means a Sunday Chuckle, not a Sunday Mope! A few days ago, Jen finished cleaning out her mom’s house. We found some incredible stuff there. One of the books (from her dad’s collection) is over 200 years old. A few others were dated from the 1800s. Lots of cool stuff, but….
Also some not-so-cool stuffs.
In the penultimate episode of Record Store Tales (Part 319: The Musical Crimes of LeBrain), my wife made fun of me for owning one song by Nickelback. The controversial Canadian quartet appeared on the ZZ Top tribute album A Tribute From Friends, performing (of all songs) “Legs”. Quite badly! She mocked me by writing, “Three words: MIKE OWNS NICKELBACK!” [Bold and underlining are hers.]
This is what I found in her old bedroom. You can tell it’s hers by the rainbow wallpaper.
There you have it. I had a song, but you had the poster, baby. You had the poster.
Still love you most though!
I took Friday March 16 off work to take Jen to her neurologist appointment in Toronto. We left Kitchener at 9 am and arrived shortly after 10. The receptionist told Jen that her appointment was for April 16, not March….
Feeling oh so terrible about it, she said to me, “I’m so sorry, you can watch all the Star Wars you want this weekend, I won’t even watch the Leafs vs. the Habs if that’s what you want.”
I said that isn’t what I wanted. I just wanted to post this story as the next Sunday Chuckle!
It’s a busy time of year when you have Christmas and birthdays in the same week! I always felt bad for people who have birthdays at this time. They always seem to be overshadowed. So join me in wishing Mrs. LeBrain a happy birthday today! She surely deserves it.
Don’t worry about gifts. All she really wants is for the Leafs to win the cup! (For Christmas or her birthday — either one will do!)
Currency is a method used to pay for goods and services in the country or region where these good and services are provided. Its denominations are very specific and exact. Often, the customer cannot pay the vendor an exact amount so the vendor is required to return the difference to the customer to complete the transaction. This action is commonly referred to as making “change”.
Money is highly recognisable to its users. Larger denominations are made of universally sized paper and plastic sheets referred to as “bills”. Smaller denominations are metal pieces with a circular shape in a variety of sizes known as “coins”. The different sizes typically indicate value so they can easily be detected and assessed by their users. Many nations have ‘coins’ very similar in colour and shape, but with the value of these coins being so small, most users cannot be bothered to examine these pieces closely to confirm authenticity.
A common coin in Canada is known as a “quarter” which has a value of 25 cents. (1/4 of a dollar) To put this into perspective, my daily coffee costs about eight quarters and an ass-kicking rock CD would cost Lebrain about 80 of these things.
One afternoon, after having a morning coffee with one of my girlfriends, we decided to visit the “Golden Arches” for a quick and unhealthy lunch. The order came out to $11.25, and for once I had EXACT change (woot!!!). I reached into my purse and pulled out my ten dollar bill, my one dollar coin (known in Canada as a ‘Loonie’) and what I thought was a “quarter”.
The cashier and her supervisor examined the coin closely and gave it back to me.
McD: “What is this?”
Me: “A quarter.”
McD: (In a rude, shaming tone) “No it isn’t and we can’t accept it from you”
I took the coin back and gave the cashier a fifty dollar bill (making her provide me with a lot of change to complete the transaction. It turns out the “quarter” was a Swiss Franc with an exchange value of $1.27 CAD.
Their loss, my gain. I just hope they didn’t spit in my fries.
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 #555.5: A Short Visit to Sonic Boom
Yesterday I took Mrs. LeBrain to Toronto to see a neurosurgeon. It was a great meeting; very positive, but we will get more into that in a future tale. (Look for an upcoming Getting More Tale story called “Seize the Day” if you want to know more.) After the meeting with the doctor, she had some tests. I didn’t need to be around for the those, so with a couple hours to kill, I went down to Sonic Boom on Spadina. I was accompanied by Mrs. LeBrain’s Mom, who insisted we cab to the store. It was a rainy miserable day outside. Wet, cold, windy and unpleasant. The cab ride wasn’t unwelcome.
I’m glad I shaved my beard down to a goatee the other day, because almost every dude in that store looked the same. Bearded hipsters buying vinyl, left right and center, lookalikes all! I tuned out the background noise and focused on the cool. Upstairs they had two colouring books I almost considered getting. Do you know anyone who is a huge fan of either James Franco or Benedict Cumberbatch? If so, I am happy to report that Sonic Boom had colouring books of both. (They also had Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation.) I spied the new Mastodon among the new releases, but headed downstairs where the real treasures usually lay.
Although I put in a Herculean effort, there was little to be found. Maybe I have too many CDs, because everywhere I flipped it seemed to be “got it, got it, got it, got it…” Aaron asked me to look for Danny Michel and a few other titles. Nothing to be found. I was struck by how just about everything seems to be reissued on vinyl today. The Spice Girls’ first album, Spice. I fail to comprehend. It doesn’t compute. I considered buying some Kiss reissues, but I didn’t really want to come home with something I already owned.
With some persistence I did liberate three titles:
- The Sword – High Country (CD, used, $9.99)
- Queen – The Game (2 CD remaster, used, $9.99)
- Rush – Agora Ballroom, Cleveland Ohio, May 1975 (vinyl, new, $32.99)
The Queen set was in the recent arrivals, and that is a nice score. I’m nowhere near complete with my Queen remasters, but when I can pick them off one by one, used? That’s the best way. The Rush on the other hand is something of a chance I’m taking. This is a radio broadcast vinyl, and I’ve never bought one of those before. They had several available. I don’t have anything live from Rush in 1975, so that was the key factor. Also a non-album track: “Bad Boy”, a Larry Williams cover. 180 gram coloured vinyl to boot. Should be good times.
Not a knockout shopping excursion, but not a waste of time either. We walked back to the hospital (although Mrs. LeBrain’s Mom would have preferred a cab) and got soaked, but it’s good to stretch the legs when it’s a long day of driving and sitting. Besides, we enjoyed looking at the Toronto scenery. The fruit and vegetable markets smelled great. They even had bonsai trees.
Back in the hospital waiting room, I was able to do a little research for my Kiss Re-Review series in progress. Guess which album I have to write up next.
I don’t want to use the word “disappointing” for this Sonic Boom trip, because I am very pleased with my new albums. I told Uncle Meat I wanted some more The Sword, and Sonic Boom delivered. I’m more surprised than disappointed that I was only able to scrounge up three finds this time. Every visit is different, and I’m sure that next time I return (either in the fall with Aaron, or sooner for more tests) it will be another story. Sonic Boom is still an absolute must for any music fan visiting Toronto. Don’t miss out, and be sure to check out the new arrival bins. They are often the key to many great finds.
As always Sonic Boom gets 5/5 stars. And so does Mrs. LeBrain for being a tough-as-nails trooper.
GETTING MORE TALE #512: Shit LeBrain’s Wife Says
As readers here know, when I can get away with putting the minimum amount of effort into a story, I’m going to go for it. This one is lifted directly from my Facebook posts, a couple months after Jen and I got married. Her ongoing education in rock was just beginning. I can proudly say that today, Mrs. LeBrain knows the difference between Van Halen and Van Hagar. But in 2008?
Oct 9 2008:
TOP TWO QUOTES FROM JENNIFER TODAY:
#2 Some background, I was playing the track “Me Wise Magic” by Van Halen, an obscure song with David Lee Roth singing. I said to Jen, do you know who this is? And she responded:
“Yeah…is this Van Hagar?”
#1 “Wow is your beard ever grey!”
But I’m still gonna stay married to her anyway.
It’s even more grey today.
Jen likes both Van Halen and Van Hagar now, and she’s perfectly capable of telling the difference. She counts “Jump” and “Why Can’t This Be Love” as her favourite VH songs, tied for the #1 position. Considering that in my dating days, girls used to insist on listening to MuchDance95 in the car, I’m a very lucky man. I dodged some musical bullets, and somehow ended up with the best girl in the world.
A sequel to Record Store Tales Part 111: The Girl in the Sam Roberts Shirt.
Guest Shot by Mrs. LeBrain
GETTING MORE TALES #434: The Man in the Bob Marley Shirt
10 years ago was a very interesting part of my life. I had been out of college for a few years, and took a promotion at a company that I had been working at for some time. I was single and enjoying my life as a woman in her mid-twenties doing a lot of volunteering and making great friends. A lot of my friends from earlier years were getting married and having kids, but that didn’t seem like a part of my future at that time. Until September, 18th.
I had made a friend through the world of social media who lived an hour down the highway in Kitchener Ontario. We were spending a lot of time using Messenger to chat and occasional phone calls on land lines. One day this friend was having a bit of a bad day. He had been on a first date the day before with a woman he found on the internet who he described as creepy. He was having a bad day at the job he no longer enjoyed. In our chats I invited him to make the drive up the highway to Bramalea Ontario. He accepted and we made plans for him to pick me up at my family home.
He told me that he wanted a laid back evening with a walk in a park. I told him that I could handle that, but in actuality, I was scared shitless. I had never gone on a single date with anyone from the World Wide Web. I had heard horror stories of serial killers and this guy wanted to walk in parks on a Sunday night. Not the smartest of ideas, but for some reason I went with it. Something was telling me that things were going to be okay.
When he arrived at the house in his green neon I was outside having a cigarette. I approached the car and opened the door. Inside was a very cute guy in a grey Bob Marley t-shirt and a blue sweater. Very cute. We drove around for a bit turning on a lot of streets that started with the letter A so I could get him a bit lost (Bramalea is divided into ‘sections’ where streets are all named with the same first letter after UK communities – I figured if he was a serial killer, I could out run him and call 911, telling the police there was a green neon, lost somewhere on Aberdeen.
We took a walk into the park and played on some swings before making our way down to a creek to talk about our lives. He told me that he was starving and saw a Wendy’s. He asked if we could grab a burger there. For all burger aficionados, Wendy’s is at the bottom of the totem poll. I told him there was a much better burger not too far away. We got back in the car and drove to Sonny’s, a drive in burger joint around since the 60’s. We ordered two hamburgers with ‘funky onions’ (a fried onion with paprika seasoning) and other toppings too our likings. We shared a large poutine and talked a lot on the hard to get picnic table. (The joint is so busy, you usually can’t sit – a picnic table is a prime piece of drive in real estate). We talked so much, that we didn’t even give our burgers a try. We left them in their wrappers to eat at a later time.
After our first dinner, we decided to go to another park to hang out some more. I directed him to Gage Park in Brampton Ontario. This is more of a romantic park that girls like to hang out in. We walked around the park, talking for a while, and then moved to a knoll of grass to sit and do more talking. After a few minutes, the man in the Bob Marley t-shirt leaned in and gave me our first kiss. It was ground-breaking. All bets were off.
After a bit more time of kissing in the park, Bob Marley boy realized that he needed to get home because of an early work start. He drove me home, kissed me one more time in the car and drove back to his home in Kitchener. I entered the house to my half-asleep mother. She asked me how my date went. I sat on the reclining chair next to her and told her that I met the man I was going to marry.
She stood up, looked at me and said “You’re just like your father”* and went to bed. That was September 18th in a nutshell.
I love you LeBrain.
* In 1976, Jen’s father was in a Florida hotel. He saw Jen’s mother for the first time in the lobby and went to the phone where he called his best friend and said “Graham, I just saw the girl I’m going to marry. Now I just have to figure out her first name.”