music

#605: “Hey, you got a message, use Western Union!” 

GETTING MORE TALE #605: “Hey, you got a message, use Western Union!”

Featuring guest essay by John Hubner

“A lot of bands mature, which means they get square; they start delivering messages. Hey, you got a message, use Western Union.” – David Lee Roth

When David Lee Roth made that legendary statement, he was talking about rock and roll bands who take things too seriously.  Might as well jump?  This is course is a matter of taste.  I enjoy Van Halen and ZZ Top, but I also enjoy the more cerebral works of Marillion and Dream Theater.  In music there truly is room for all tastes and styles.  Few genres are as diverse as rock and roll, even lyrically.  If a writer is a strong enough to embed personal messages in their words that might go undetected by the listener, then this kind of lyric should be celebrated.  On the other hand, fans are sometimes turned off when the messages are too overt.  U2 have faced some backlash over this.

So, rock bands:  by all means, feel free to tell us all about climate change, globalism, big pharma and Wall Street.  If you do it well, the fans won’t mind.  On the other hand, there is no shame in rock and rolling all nite and partying every day.  As Paul Stanley once said in one of his many stage raps, “We all came here tonight to escape from the world! Tomorrow morning when we get up it’ll be just as screwed up as it is today. We might as well have a little fun!” And that is certainly one very valid reason to rock.

Even here, in these very virtual pages, I’ve taken a few liberties where I’ve veered slightly off course.  I’ve preached a little bit about the plight of the Indigenous Canadian.  Other tangents included mental health, stigma, religion, tolerance, and even the rights of service dog owners, with music as the common thread.  I hope I haven’t offended anyone with these fairly benign notions.  I try to be careful.  As a writer, I founded myself with two projects:  my reviews, and Record Store Tales.  Most of you got here because of the music, and so that’s what I deliver.  I don’t need to bore you with social justice or environmental ideals.  I don’t want to bore myself, either.

Speaking of Record Store Tales, one of its many focuses was to relay lessons I learned from a decade of retail management.  Any time I walk into any record store, I could make mental lists of things they are doing great and others for Continual Improvement.  That goes for a lot of retail in general too.  Back to the subject at hand…and this should be patently obvious to most sensible people…leave your personal politics out of your customer service job.

Mrs. LeBrain and I were up at the cottage a couple years ago, and we stopped at Shoppers Drug Mart to pick up some bathroom essentials and some candy.  There was only one cashier on duty and she was a chatty one.  There was a problem with the person in front of us; something wasn’t scanning right.  It took forever to fix, and this cashier would not stop talking.  I had a feeling we’d be in for some chatting when she finally got to us.

I was right, and it didn’t start well with a “How are you today darlin’?”  Fine…thanks.  “Would you like a bag for this?”  I glanced at Mrs. LeBrain who nodded yes and said, “Yeah a couple bags.”  Her response threw me for a loop.

“Well have you seen the landfill?” she asked me in a condescending tone.

“Ummm…no?” I answered, very puzzled.

“Well,” she began, “There’s no room left in the landfill and the birds are choking on plastic from garbage bags…”

I politely let her finish, and then explained, “OK, but we have dogs here at the cottage, and these bags will be used for them.”  There were in fact three poop factories (Schnauzers) at the cottage that weekend.*  Stoop and scoop, people.  Stoop and scoop.

It’s none of her business why I wanted those bags, I didn’t need to explain myself and I certainly didn’t need to be lectured about reusing and recycling.  I went through highschool at the start of the green revolution.  I do my best to be a responsible inhabitant of Mother Earth.  Rest assured, I am not some littering jackass who doesn’t give a shit.  Sometimes you just need a couple plastic bags, goddammit!

I thought about being “that customer” and complaining about the talky cashier, but decided to live and let live, and instead save it for this story.  Consider my wisdom, young padawans.  You don’t know your customers as well as you think you might.  Say too much, and you just might lose your customer, or find them complaining about you to your boss, as happened to me once when I made a snarky comment about Radiohead!**

So ends today’s lesson, friends.  Do you agree with this experience and advice?

We asked Schnauzer expert John Hubner for a “message” about how awesome Schnauzers are.  He sent us the following treatise:


Klaus. Dieter. Helmut. Otto.

No, these are not the names of former members of Kraftwerk. Nor are they the names off the guest list to Angela Merkel’s surprise birthday party. Those four names are the miniature schnauzers that have had a profound effect on my life. “Miniature schnauzers? What?” Yes, those sometimes salt and pepper, sometimes gray, sometimes black, and occasionally blonde yippy terriers that bark bloody murder at you every time you pass by their house(the bark is usually followed up with a crazed “KNOCK IT OFF!” from the same house.) Those dogs with the short stature, manly beard, and a nub for a tail. They have personality for miles and loyalty till the end. They’re the go-to pooch for old ladies and your great aunt that doesn’t like men all that much.
How did I end up miniature schnauzer poster boy? I was a sick kid who suffered from allergies. When I asked my mom why we couldn’t get a Boxer she said it was because of my allergies. But not long after that a book on miniature schnauzers showed up at our house and I was told if we ever got a dog it would be a schnauzer. When I asked why my mom said “Well, schnauzers have hair like your dad’s hair, while a Boxer has hair like your uncle Chuck.” “We never see uncle Chuck” I said. “Exactly, because we’re allergic to him” my mom replied.
Regardless of that bizarre exchange, a miniature schnauzer ended up at our house when I was 8 years old and the rest is history. Growing up with a mini schnauzer I grew to love their loyalty but need for personal space. They weren’t goofy and sloppy like bigger breeds; but they weren’t standoffish like poodles and cats. What I came to realize is that miniature schnauzers are a lot like me. They can laugh and joke and rub elbows for awhile, but eventually they need to retreat from the crowds and the chit chat. Every mini schnauzer I’ve ever known mingle for a bit, then they say “See ya” and head for the comfort of their favorite spot on the couch. I love that about ’em. I respect that.
Miniature schnauzers are better than your dog. Sorry, it’s true. They’re like grumpy little people that don’t take crap from nobody and they’ve got an awesome beard to prove it. They’re loyal, temperamental, prone to anxiety, and do NOT like people knocking on the front door. They like to nap and will tell you what they want when you’re in the kitchen. They howl when left alone in the house and they keep the couch from floating away for a greater part of the day.
I think I’m part schnauzer.

** Freed of the shackles of the Record Store, I can say I like Radiohead enough to own a couple CDs, but still find them so very pretentious. 

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Sunday Chuckle: Meat vs. Loaf

 

#588: Broken Hearts are for A**holes

GETTING MORE TALE #588: Broken Hearts are for Assholes

What music do you seek out most when your soul needs soothing?

I remember my first “real” breakup in 1994.  Upset and confused, I sought solace in music.  I had just ordered a new release from Columbia House.  The Alice in Chains Jar of Flies EP hit me right where it hurt.  Why music resonates the way it does with certain feelings in specific people, nobody knows for sure.  If they did, there would be a perfect formula for writing perfect songs, but there is not.

It wasn’t the lyrics on Jar of Flies that affected me.  I didn’t consider “Hey ah na na, innocence is over, over,” to be particularly revelatory.  It was the music that got me.  While soft, Jar of Flies was also very dark and soaked with emotions.  Perhaps a lot of this had to do with new bassist Mike Inez.  Jar of Flies was one of the first things they wrote with Inez.  According to guitarist Jerry Cantrell, “He plays the nastiest, darkest shit but he’s got the sweetest heart in the world.” Both the weird darkness and the heart can be heard on Jar of Flies.  That EP stuck to me like glue.  Play it once, flip it over, play it again.

We got back together and broke up again a couple months later.  This time it was final.  I remember trying music again to feel better.  I put on “Love Song” by Tesla.  This time, this music only made me feel worse.  The line “Love will find the way,” didn’t seem real to me anymore.  So I put on something angrier.  In 1994, I was very much into Motley Crue.  I put on “Primal Scream”.  I felt the tension; I felt the frustration, and the seething.

Broke dick dog,
My head slung low,
Tail knocked in the dirt.
Time and time,
Of being told,
Trash is all I’m worth.
When I was just a young boy,
Had to take a little grief,
Now that I’m much older,
Don’t put that shit on me.

This had nothing to do with the breakup, but digging into my anger brought with it a lot of baggage from being bullied as a kid at school.  “Primal Scream” helped bring that to the fore.  It was the beginning of a long period of self-discovery and realizing that trauma as a kid can carry forward.

Breakup #3 happened in November of 1995.  Different girl this time.  I didn’t want to get angry anymore.  I decided to try to re-ground myself and get back to who I was before this.  I started hanging out with my family more.  I was listening to more old music like the Beatles.  The Anthology had just come out.  Via the Beatles (and co-worker T-Rev) I discovered Oasis (see: Getting More Tale #561: (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?).  These new bands like Oasis weren’t that much different from the old ones.

What really clicked with me this time were bands from the extensive Deep Purple family tree.  (See:  Record Store Tales Part 141: When We Rock, We Rock and When We Roll, We Roll). I was playing British bands with a blues base.  Whitesnake, Purple, Rainbow and so on.  Why these bands resonated with me during this breakup, I don’t know.  Maybe it was the male posturing and testosterone.  Whatever the reason was, for a little while Deep Purple and Whitesnake really helped me put the pain out of mind.  I felt more or less normal and I think the tunes had a lot to do with it.  This kicked off a huge Purple obsession with me.

It’s strange but every breakup had its own music.  There was a girl named Jasmine in the year 2000, and the music for her breakup was Marillion.  “So here I am once more, in the playground of the broken hearts.”  Both Fish (first singer) and Steve Hogarth (second singer) are real poets.  With Marillion, both the music and lyrics seemed to fit.  I was becoming a little bit of a broken-hearted douche bag, but I had to do what I had to do to get by.

Perhaps what I really needed was some Frank Zappa.

 

Some of you might not agree,
‘Cause you probably likes a lot of misery,
But think a while and you will see…
Broken hearts are for assholes,
Broken hearts are for assholes.

#586: Adventures with Aaron (Three Different Ones)

GETTING MORE TALE #586: Adventures with Aaron (Three Different Ones)

 

When my buddy Aaron started his own site telling his own life story, it brought back a flood of memories for me too. We met in 1994 and had quite a few adventures of our own. Many of these tales are lost to the sands of time…but a few have come back.

I’ll start by saying that it was the beginning of a weird time. Both of us had started exploring the online world of computer BBSing (bulletin board systems). We made some lasting friends, but there were a few unsavory characters too. Remember Silent Knight? He (and his wall ‘o porn) was just one of the misfits I encountered.

There was Doug, the home-schooled Jehova’s Witness who planned to get rich from BBS subscriptions in 1994. Judging by his appearance, Aaron and I theorized that his white legs had never seen direct sunlight.

I’m not likely to forget Gray, an older guy who thought he was psychic. When I briefly dated and broke up with Aaron’s sister, Gray predicted using his “psychic powers” that the split was only temporary. That messed me up for months.

Fast Freddy was another, a guy I befriended when I was single and we both had something to moan about. When I got a new girlfriend I no longer had something to bitch about and had an acrimonious parting of ways with Freddy.

Aaron and I had a lot in common, such as music, action figures and movies. This led to a genuine friendship which in turn provided some adventuring. The first time we hung out as friends and not just with his sister was a “taping session”. We taped CDs off each other. Then we walked up to the library to photocopy covers. I showed Aaron how to make a tape cover with a photocopy. That’s how I got my first copy of Soundgarden’s Superunknown – taped it off Aaron. Another one was Duff McKagan’s Believe in Me album.

Aside from the usual stuff, like looking for CDs and movies, I’d like to share three stories involving Aaron:

1. The Monkey Boy Incident

One evening in September of 1994, Aaron his sister and I decided to get some fries at McDonalds. They have the best fries, don’t they? His sister decided it would be fun to throw pennies out the car window at street signs…and other cars.

One guy didn’t like that very much and gave chase. I didn’t know where I was going and got cornered. As Aaron and I cowered in the car waiting for an ass whoopin’, his sister got out of the car and confronted the other driver, who she dubbed “Monkey Boy” for the purpose of storytelling.

“Why the fuck are you following us?”

“You threw shit at my car!”

I’m not sure how but she managed to defuse the situation as the two of us sat in the car being scared! What brave guys we were.

2. The Mud Bath

The following spring, Aaron and I were out again, with a couple friends named Nick and Denise. I had the hots for Denise. Unfortunately what I did not have was any clue how to flirt or even ask a girl out properly. It was raining like mad outside, and we stopped in Waterloo Park during the storm. Aaron and Nick dared me $2 to run around in the torrential downpour for a minute. I thought to myself, “Hey, what a great way to impress Denise! She’ll think I’m fun and cool!” Because I’m smart like that.

I leapt out of the car into the storm, ran around in front for a bit, and then promptly slipped right in the mud. They wouldn’t let me back into the car until my time was up and I earned my $2.

I’m not saying that running around in the mud had anything to do with it, but I did succeed in dating Denise for a little while. I think it totally had to do with me falling in the mud.

3. The Ronald McDonald Invasion

Aaron had a fear of clowns. At the same time, he had very curly hair which, for a while, was dyed red. What attracts clowns more than curly red hair? A guy with curly red hair who also had a fear of clowns!

As if Aaron wasn’t having it rough enough, this time he was the one doing $2 bets. A night out again with Nick ended at a McDonalds where Aaron had an ice cream. We then dumped salt, pepper, ketchup and vinegar into the melted remains of his ice cream, and paid him $2 to finish it. Which he did! But that is where his triumph ended.

Wouldn’t you know it? A Ronald McDonald was there that night. You don’t see it very often, but sometimes McDonalds would have a Ronald clown there to entertain kids. Aaron’s red curly head attracted Ronald like bees to honey. And of course Aaron was terrified as Nick and I giggled. Aaron earned his $2 that night, and then some!

As Aaron continues forward with his story I am sure it will trigger many more on my part. Stay tuned.

 

CODA:  Integrity Mix 1995

A few years ago, I compiled an “integrity mix” CD of a lot of the tunes I was listening to during that period.  I distinctly remember getting most of these songs in 1994 and 1995.  Varga was a Christmas 1994 gift.  Kiss came from an LP that I had special ordered in at the Record Store.   Yes, vinyl in 1995.  Two copies — one to play, one to keep sealed.  Slash’s Snakepit came out that year and Aaron was really into Slash and Guns.  That Soundgarden track came from a CD single that Aaron had and I taped.  Rush came from my very first Rush studio album.  2112 was a birthday gift, and I’m quite proud of putting all of side one on this CD!

#585: Days Full of Music

Getting More Tale #585: Days Full of Music

I might not rock and roll all night, or party every day.  I do, however, sleep well at night because I rock and roll most of the day.

I play music every day.  I have played music every day with only a few exceptions for the last 30+ years.  A grade 8 weeklong Catholic school retreat at Mt. Mary meant a week of no music, so I listened to as much Kiss as I could beforehand.  I hoped to have the tunes in my head all week.  Unfortunately that’s not a substitute for the real thing, but I did survive Mt. Mary.

I have always said that listening to the radio at work is a much better fate than listening to whatever was popular at the Record Store in the later days.  Better for me, anyway, rather than being force-fed Franz Ferdinand, Alicia Keys, or Big Shiny Tunes all day.  I’d much rather check out what’s on the local rock airwaves.  The higher-ups at the Record Store didn’t like my kind of music much, so when they were around I stuck to the stuff they wanted played.  I didn’t want to get in shit for playing Kiss in store anymore.

Below you’ll find what a typical happy day at work sounds like today.  I used July 5 2017 as a sample date.  There are a few readers here who listen to the same radio station I do (107.5 Dave Rocks where I have done guest shots in the past) so some will know these songs well.  Then there are others who loathe the radio (which is fine) and they can skip this one.

I started my daily commute that day with the second disc of Rush’s 2112, the 40th anniversary edition.  The drive to work consisted of the cover tunes by Foo Fighters, Billy Talent, Steven Wilson, Jacob Moon and Alice in Chains.  On this trip I was struck by how little like Alice in Chains they sounded.   I was also very impressed (as usual) with Jacob Moon.  I’m almost embarrassed to add that Billy Talent is gradually growing on me, and this Rush cover doesn’t hurt their case.

When I got into the office I turned on the radio to hear One Bad Son.  They are a new hard rock band from Saskatoon, but they sound international.  A band to keep an ear to the ground for.  The day went on as you see it below.  I have marked all Canadian Content songs with a red CC, since radio stations in Canada must play certain percentages of CanCon.

Here was my music for the day of July 5:


Car:  Rush – 2112 40th anniversary edition (first half of disc 2)

1. One Bad Son – “Raging Bull” – Great rock reminiscent of Skid Row! CC
2. Spacehog – “In the Meantime”
3. Alice in Chains – “Check My Brain” –Killer track, it’s been a while.
4. April Wine – “Weeping Widow” – I’ve never heard this smoking track before. CC
5. Motley Crue – “Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)”
6. Age of Electric – “Ugly” – Vintage Canadian alternarock! CC

7. The Cars – “Just What I Needed” – I will never get tired of this.
8. The Struts – “Kiss This” – I  absolutely hate this song.
9. The Tragically Hip – “Fully Completely” CC
10. Bon Jovi – “Born to Be My Baby” – Old classic back in circulation.
11. Soundgarden – “Rusty Cage”
12. U2 – “Beautiful Day”
13. The Guess Who – “American Woman” CC
14. Bryan Adams – “Kids Wanna Rock” CC
15. Foo Fighters – “All My Life”
16. Bachman-Turner Overdrive – “Hold Back the Water” CC
17. Papa Roach – “Help”
18. J. Geils Band – “Love Stinks”
19. The Trews – “So She’s Leaving” CC
20. Aerosmith – “Back in the Saddle” – I did air guitar in my office for this song.
21. Metallica – “Until it Sleeps”
22. Harlequin  – “Thinking of You”— A great old tune that deserves your attention. CC

23. Monster Truck – “The Enforcer” CC
24. The Kinks – “You Really Got Me”
25. Sublime – “Santeria”
26. The Killjoys – “Today I Hate Everyone” CC
27. Led Zeppelin – “Night Flight” – Points for a more obscure song!
28. Pop Evil – “Footsteps” – Sorry Pop Evil fans. I can’t get into this band at all.
29. The Cult – “Wildflower”
30. The Wild! – “Living Free” – Tyler Generoux is into these guys. CC
31. Kaleo – “Glass House”
32. Moist – “Resurrection” CC
33. Guns N’ Roses – “You Could Be Mine”
34. Rush – “The Big Money” CC
35. The Rolling Stones – “Rocks Off”
36. Soundgarden – “Burden In My Hand”
37. The Who – “I’m Free”
38. Blink 182 – “Bored to Death – I’ve really been enjoying their new songs with Matt Skiba.
39. Nirvana – “Breed”
40. Neil Young – “When You Dance You Can Really Love” CC
41. Sloan – “She Says What She Means” CC
42. Our Lady Peace – “Supersatellite” CC
43. AC/DC – “Rock N’ Roll Train” – It’s nice to hear “newer” Black Ice material.

44. Led Zeppelin – “Four Sticks” – The second Zep of the shift.
45. Stone Sour – “Bother”
46. Scorpions – “The Zoo”
47. Jimi Hendrix – “Fire”
48. Metallica – “The Unforgiven”
49. ZZ Top – “Sharp Dressed Man”
50. Nickelback – “Feed the Machine” – First and thankfully only Nickelback of the shift. CC
51. Max Webster – “Paradise Skies” CC
52. Sam Roberts Band – “If You Want It” CC
53. Foo Fighters – “D.O.A.” – Second Foo Fighters of the shift.
54. Van Halen – “Hot For Teacher”
55. Hole – “Awful” – Ironically not awful!
56. Rush – The Analog Kid”  – Second Rush of the shift. CC
57. The Guess Who – “Bus Rider” – Second Guess Who of the shift. CC
58. 311 – “Down” – I hated them then, and I hate them now.
59. The Glorious Sons – “Mama” CC

60. Big Sugar – “Dear Mr. Fantasy” CC
61. Led Zeppelin – “Rock and Roll” – Third Zep for the shift and the most typical.
62. The Offspring – “Gone Away” – A band I never ever liked.
63. Def Leppard – “Hysteria” – Their greatest ballad ever.
64. Bon Jovi – “Lay Your Hands On Me” – Second Jovi of the shift and second from New Jersey.
65. The Trews – “Lotta Work Little Love” – Second Trews of the shift. CC
66. Soundgarden – “Blow Up the Outside World” – Second Soundgarden and second from Down on the Upside.
67. Triumph – “Lay It On the Line” (remixed) CC
68. The Rolling Stones – “Gimme Shelter” – Second and best Stones of the shift.
69. Green Day – “Revolution Radio”
70. The Clash – “Rock the Casbah” – Booooring.
71. The Standstills – “Orleans” – Great Canadian blues rock duo.  Check them out.  CC

72. Van Halen – “Unchained” – Second Van Halen of the shift.  It’s the Craig Fee Show!
73. AC/DC – “Who Made Who” – Second AC/DC of the shift.
74. Bryan Adams – “Summer of ‘69” – Second Bryan of the shift. CC
75. Big Wreck – “You Don’t Even Know” CC
76. Foreigner – “Hot Blooded”

And that was it.  That’s 7:30 to 4:30 right there, not a bad shift to work.  I went home resuming the Rush, and that got me to the door.

Car:  Rush – 2112 40th anniversary edition (live songs from disc 2)


How do you like that day?  There were very few stinkers in that list of songs.  I could leave behind the Nickelback, the “Rock the Casbah”, and the Struts among others.  Those tracks aside, this was a very solid day of great rock and roll, new and old.  No repeat.  Only a few bands had more than one song played.  A good number of songs were off the beaten track.  Pretty good for a full day at the office, right?  I count my blessings every day, believe me!  I am very grateful I get to listen to such great music at work.

I’m the office Milton. I even have the red stapler.

#582: Erasure

GETTING MORE TALE #582: Erasure

Fixing CDs is a delicate business. You need a steady hand, the right tools, and patience. A buffing wheel with the right textured attachment works, and you also need an abrasive to gradually smooth out the scratched plastic of a disc. We used to use a special wax but found that regular hand soap and water worked better.  That’s all the abrasive you need.

In short: Yes! You can fix some scratched CDs. There are two factors that might make a CD impossible to fix, however: deep scratches, and top scratches. A deep scratch that you can feel with your fingernail probably won’t be fixed. It’s just too deep. A top scratch happens on the top layer of the CD and goes into the aluminum, destroying the data encoded in it.  Pinholes weren’t usually a problem.

The best way to fix a surface scratched CD

I spent a lot of time talking to the guys we contracted out to fix our CDs. We used one Toronto-based company for a few years, until one of our guys cracked the secret of fixing discs. Once he had a method, he went into business fixing discs himself. This gentleman (now actually a Sausagefest attendee himself) shared a lot of interesting info about fixing discs.

One thing I learned was that if you had a bunch of scratches close to the outer edge of the disc, and you went too deep trying to buff them out, you could lose the ability to play the last songs on the CD. The information would still be on the disc in the aluminum layer, but your laser can’t read it due to the excessive buffing of the plastic. The plastic layer would be no longer perfectly flat, and your laser won’t read through it.  When playing, it sounds like the music fades into static and then disappears. The end effect is that it sounds like the last few tracks have been erased. This happened rarely, but it could and did happen.

Customers could come to us to have their CDs fixed. We charged them a fee and their CD would be back in a week or two. One of my regulars named “Kitchener Rangers Al” had one of his discs fixed. Unfortunately it was buffed too deeply on the edge and he couldn’t play the last tracks. It didn’t skip anymore, but you couldn’t play it to the end either.

I remember when Al came in with his CD after it was buffed. He was helped by the supervisor that I refer to as the “Bully”. Other people used other words that are not as nice, but she could be very difficult to deal with. That went for staff and customers both. Unfortunately Al was treated like a liar when he came back with his CD.

“Bully” heard his story: He brought the CD in to be fixed, it no longer skips, but it also now won’t play to the end. He said “I think the last songs were erased.  That’s what it sounds like.”

The “Bully” dismissed Al’s complaint. “It’s impossible to erase a CD,” she said. I heard all this and kept my mouth shut. I learned from experience that correcting her, especially in front of other people, was as dumb as kicking one’s own ass. I didn’t feel like dying that day. She sent Al home with his useless CD that he paid to fix, that we failed to fix. She didn’t even listen to it to test it. She just insisted, mockingly, that he was wrong and sent him away. Quite frankly, she treated the customer like he was either an idiot or a liar trying to scam us, and he didn’t deserve that. I thought to myself, “If she caught me talking to a customer that way, she’d really let me have it.”

I chose to stay out of it, because I learned from the past. This “Bully” was a vindictive bully and it would have been a no-win situation with her again. I didn’t want to spend another three weeks of her abuse, as was par for the course when she exploded on me.  Roughly three weeks.  I just minded my own business, even though I absolutely knew 110% that she was wrong.

Al wasn’t stupid, and he came back when “Bully” wasn’t in. Al had dealt with her before. He told me the story directly, and I explained to him how the end of a CD can come to be “erased” due to buffing. I refunded him the fixing fee, and he was happy. He said he’d come in and buy another copy if we saw one. Customer retained.

I’ve been criticized by other former employees for not speaking up. That’s fair and all I can say to them is, if you walked in my shoes all those years, let’s see how willing you’d be to jump into the lion’s den. I don’t know what it was about us, but she had an evil place in her soul reserved just for me. Other people had felt her sting before, but nobody I have asked ever experienced the brutal treatment I got. She’d explode on me periodically, year after year after year, right to the end, when I removed myself from the circle permanently.

No thanks to “Bully”, Al got his refund and kept coming back. He had been there since Day One, and I hope he still shops there today. As for me, nobody knows the role I played in keeping that customer. At least they didn’t until now! You can, technically “erase” the songs at the end of a CD, or at least make them unreadable. Not exactly the same as erasing, but the end result is a wrecked disc no matter how you look at it.

#580: Music for Your Mental Health 2 – R.I.P. Chester Bennington

GETTING MORE TALE #580: Music for Your Mental Health 2 – R.I.P. Chester Bennington
A followup to Record Store Tales Part 239: Music for Your Mental Health

 

No preaching, no lectures.  Just personal feelings, regarding another sad rock and roll suicide.

I wasn’t a Linkin Park fan, though I do own the Stone Temple Pilots EP.  That’s all irrelevant.  I’m a human being, and as a human being, I grieve the loss of one of our own.  I don’t know the personal battles that Chester Bennington fought.  Nor do I have to.  It’s none of my business.

Taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical body.  You need both your mind and your body to survive.  Injuries and damage to your mental health can be hard to see, even for the one experiencing it.  There are resources out there, and there are people to talk to who can help.  It’s not necessarily easy to access all the help available and you may need help and guidance to navigate the system.  There are other human beings out there who love you.  Who need you.  There are even strangers willing to help.  People who have been through it and understand the pain you may be feeling.

We don’t live in an easy world, or even a friendly one.  It is easy to believe you are alone.  You are not.  You are never alone.  Chester Bennington was not alone, but whatever was killing him inside probably made him feel isolated and helpless.

As we mourn yet another great who went long before his time, please try to focus on your own well being.  There are other ways to deal with the hurt.  Chester Bennington was younger than I am, but he had enough.  Many people out there have had enough and don’t think they can take any more.  We are all human.  We have a tremendous ability to absorb pain but eventually it must be dealt with.  There is no shame in it.  You are not weak.  You are stronger than anyone who hasn’t dealt with what you deal with.  The stigma must end.  People who suffer from depression and other mental illnesses are not different or abnormal.  They are regular human beings just like you.  Maybe even more normal than you know.

Rest in peace Chester.

#577: Wedding Tunes Tales

GETTING MORE TALE #577: Wedding Tunes Tales

Mrs LeBrain and I have been married nine years.  It is an incredible feeling, to have found the one made for you.  I thank God every day.  We still frequently talk about the wedding day itself, the most amazing day of my life.  The bachelor night before was legendary, but the wedding was perfect.

Well, except a few minor details.

With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, there is one thing that really bugs me today, and that is our wedding CD.  Specifically, one track on that wedding CD.

I personally selected and approved most of the music for the day.  I was very proud to work Frank Zappa into the reception music (“Peaches En Regalia”).  I also had to make sure I had a Kiss song, so I chose “And Then She Kissed Me” from Love Gun.  We focused on Johnny Cash and the Beatles for the ceremony, killing two birds with one stone on “In My Life” for the signing of the registry.  As soon as we started sending out the “thank you” cards to all the guests, I compiled and burned dozens of copies of what you might call The Official Soundtrack Album to Our Wedding.  I squeezed in everything I could, but Jennifer insisted we include one specific song for her maid of honour, Lara.  [Note:  Lara is not evil, but she will be portraying the antagonist in an upcoming store called “Seven”.  Stay tuned.]  I guess when they used to work together in a video store, they would play “My Own Worst Enemy” by Lit a lot.  Some customer gave Lara a CD with that song on it and only that song…on repeat.  I guess this inside joke meant that “My Own Worst Enemy” was Lara’s entrance music at the reception.  And I guess that justified it being on the soundtrack CD.  That is, by far, my biggest wedding regret.  It never should have been on the soundtrack CD.  It’s the only song I absolutely have to skip every time.  It’s shit.  Sorry Lara, but your tribute song sucks!

Jen has her own decision that she would go back and change if she could.  We had the proverbial “bridesmaid from hell”.  Bridesmaidzilla, or ‘Zilla for short, was drama from start to finish.  Without getting into too much detail, ‘Zilla was at the bottom of the bridesmaid totem pole but tried to manipulate certain things to be about her.  The highlight of these efforts was what we call the “caesar salad saga”.

It’s quite simple, really!  Jennifer has a seafood allergy, and any decent caesar salad dressing has anchovy paste in it.  We never take any chances, so we requested a regular garden salad for the dinner reception.  No big deal, right?  It’s a salad, but most importantly, it’s Jennifer’s wedding.  You wouldn’t believe how this salad became a bone of contention between them!  ‘Zilla looked up recipes for vegan versions online.  The salad was repeatedly brought up, but Jen had never really had caesar salad before due to her allergy.  Why would she suddenly want one for her wedding?  Bottom line, Jen chose the salad she wanted.  And for the record, since that time, she has tried vegan caesar salad and likes it.  But why would she gamble on something like that for her wedding night?  No, pick the salad you want.  Bottom line, end of discussion.

Drama continued right up to the morning of the wedding day.  As maid of honour, Lara was in charge of the bridesmaids and all communication was to go through her to relieve the pressure from Jen.  Lara would take care of any minor details so Jen would not have to be bothered.  Well, apparently a bra was needed on the wedding day, and so I received a 7:00 am phone call about it.  ‘Zilla didn’t want to call Lara because they were not getting along, at all, so they thought it would a good idea to call the groom on his wedding day, about a goddamn bra.  They actually called me to ask where you can get a bra on a holiday weekend.  Are you kidding me?

They must have called Lara and gotten it sorted because they got the bra situation taken care of without the groom having to intervene.  The wedding went off perfectly and the reception was even better.   I did my best to curate some cool music, and as a special treat, my sister Kathryn performed at the reception.  It was a jazz quartet — bass, bass clarinet, drums, guitar.  The crowning moment of their performance was a jazzy rendition of the “Cantina Theme” from Star Wars.  My sister had to order the sheet music which wasn’t cheap.  Her band’s performance that night was her wedding gift to us, and that reminds me that I do have one more regret.  That is, I wish I had filmed it.

After dinner, after the cake was served, and I was taking a rest between songs (I was a dancing fiend) I sat at ‘Zilla’s table for a bit to chat.  Jen’s friend Gordie, who is hilarious by the way, and married to one of the good bridesmaids, was also sitting with a few others at the table.  Knowing full well the drama that had gone down, Gordie mischievously commented, “That was a great wedding, Mike.  Everything was perfect and I am so happy for you and Jen.  The cake was great…the only thing I would change is the salad, if it was caesar it would have been perfect.”  Then the husband of ‘Zilla said, “We even gave them the recipe to make it…”

The last bit of ‘Zilla drama happened later in the evening as they were leaving.  The DJ played one of the special songs I picked, which was “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond.  My mom, sister, aunt and new wife started dancing to it and I shouted “It’s the Ladano girls dance!”  My sister, who was right drunk at that stage, yelled out, “LADANO GIRLS, YAAAY!”  They joined with me in a circle and we danced away to Neil, singing along, having a blast, laughing.  ‘Zilla was, apparently, standing nearby waiting to say goodbye.  I felt a tap on my shoulder and she very bitchily said “BYE!” while making a talkie-talkie motion with her hand.  Yeah, bye!

Jen and I will soon be celebrating our anniversary again, and we’ll probably play that wedding soundtrack CD and relive the good memories.  And I’ve convinced her to skip Lit from now on.  Small victories are still victories.

#576: “Why’d You Lick My Pee-noose?” – The Sausagefest 2017 Countdown

GETTING MORE TALE #576: “Why’d You Lick My Pee-noose?”
The Sausagefest 2017 Countdown

By the time it was all over I fairly surmised that, personally speaking, Sausagefest 2017 (the 16th annual) was the best one yet.

There are many reasons for this. One happened by pure change.

The weather reports for the weekend were changing daily. I contacted Uncle Meat on Wednesday to tell him they were calling for rain all weekend. He responded, “No they’re not, are you new?” But they were! And the next day, the forecasts had changed again.

By our Friday departure the skies were partly cloudy, but we’ve seen worse. After we arrived and set up our tents it started pouring for a short while. The old fire pit was flooded. When the rain stopped the decision was made to move the location for the Countdown, uphill on dry land. This was the first time the actual location had ever been changed after 15 years down by the river. It turned out that this was the best possible decision. The new location was wide open, more conductive to mingling and conversation, and as you have seen, provided some beautiful photographs. The new location will be permanent from now on.

I felt one of the reasons things went so well for me was good preparation, but that may not be the case. Uncle Meat also had a great time, and was so ill-prepared that he only arranged a tent to sleep in when we were halfway there! Way to be ready, Uncle Meat!

The vibe was right from the get-go and the Countdown began on time.

Highlights from the first night included some lesser-heard tracks:

  • Queen – “We Will Rock You” – the “fast” version
  • Deep Purple – “Vavoom: Ted the Mechanic”
  • Kiss – “Shock Me” – live version from Alive II with solo
  • The Beatles – “Helter Skelter” – mono version
  • Queen – “My Fairie King”
  • Mercyful Fate – “Into the Coven”

There were lots of cool tunes this year: 87 in total including tributes (more on those later). “Indians” by Anthrax was a perfectly appropriate song this year too, since I pulled a large chunk of my own recorded bits from the Brocket 99 CD, a spoof of Indian reservation radio stations. (I voted for “Indians” as #22 on my list.)

And plenty more! You can check out the Countdown list yourself. It was also a treat hearing Ray Charles’ “Mess Around”, which you probably know from John Candy in Planes Trains and Automobiles. Rainbow’s “Light in the Black” was a personal favourite for my air guitar workout.

The comedy sketches were on-point, and I had tears streaming down my face laughing so hard. The Lord of Lamb, Zach Britton, wrote a sketch regarding my insistence that a Bacon Big Mac is not the same thing as a Big Mac. Bacon is not in the Big Mac song, therefore a Bacon Big Mac is not the same thing. Britton rebutted me successfully, and hilariously. “Loosey Goosey” is now a catch-phrase. As a peace offering, he gifted me a bottle of Big Mac sauce.

The first night it rained, but it mattered not as we huddled in our waterproof tents. We were up by the crack of 10:00 to grab breakfast at the Spatula – not the “Flying” Spatula anymore, please note. They have officially changed the name of the place, but still offer the “Flesherton Fill-up” for breakfast. Not as large, nor as good as it was in the past. On the way up, Uncle Meat yelled “Loosey Goosey!” at anyone we passed on the road.

You have to give credit to our Spatula server Heather. I sat with Max “I’m kind of a big deal” the Axe, and I got to witness him working his magic on Heather the server. He promised her the last CD copy in existence of one of his albums. What a deal! Max told me I had a good singing voice. Was he hitting on me, too? Wayne also had a golden line at the store Top of the Rock, with the girl who was distributing bags of ice. “Are you the ice lady? Ice to meet you!”

There was a new exciting twist this year at the 16th Sausagefest. Submitting lists (aka “paying your rock and roll taxes”) has long been a problem. Some people are always prompt. Those people were rewarded with an extra song, a “tribute” this year. Mine was The Police – “Next to You”. That was a blast for air guitar. You can see by the list at bottom, only eight people got tributes. That means only eight people got their lists in on time without nagging! Due to the amount of time it takes to compile the votes and actually record the Countdown, it was decided that this time, you must vote for 2018’s songs by the end of the weekend. And so Saturday afternoon was spent socially compiling lists. It was weird seeing a bunch of guys at Sausagefest with clipboards and pens, furiously writing, colluding and discussing. It was also successful. All lists are in. There will be a whole year to compile and record for 2018!

The second evening had more great rock. Ghost, Dunsmuir, The Sword, Iron Maiden, CCR, Floyd, Purple, Tenacious D, Sabbath and Zeppelin…all building up to the top ten. Not only building up to the top ten, but also setting up the very first Sausagefest live theater….

There were plenty of fake-out tracks in the top ten, as they pretended they couldn’t read the songs written on Uncle Meat’s upper thigh. Sabbath, Rush and Metallica were played eventually. After the #2 track “The Immigrant Song” (Zeppelin), there was an announcement made.

Tom, father of four, the co-founder, the Captain himself, wanted to take a step back. Recording the Countdown was no longer possible for him, due to family demands at home. This made sense, since the guy does have four rugrats and was absent from some of the top ten due to a supposed argument with his wife about it. They saved the announcement for the #1 spot. Only one person was told in advance, and that was the immortal Lord of Lamb himself, Zach Britton. As the song lyrics state, “He is the reason we still do this shit.” He was given a 20 minute heads-up to collect his emotions.

As the announcement was made, they said there would be no #1 song this year. They’d play it first in 2018. Instead, they played the traditional “Happy Trails” by Van Halen as Tom clinked glasses and shook hands with attendees. And then Zach got up to make a speech. He was obviously still shocked and upset by this sad turn of events.

His speech began as expected: melodramatic, sad, and stirring…until it was interrupted.

There was a 4 minute 30 second gap built into the Countdown…specifically timed for Zach to start his speech but not finish. All part of the pre-planned “live theater”. Then….

“ZACH BRITTON!” boomed the speakers.

Suddenly the Countdown recording continued, as a pre-recorded Bucky urged Zach to shut the fuck up and sit back down because he had just been pranked! Tom wasn’t retiring. Zach didn’t have a clue, nor did any of the rest of us! We all bought it, hook line and sinker, even though Tom has 12 months to record for 2018. It seemed so believable especially with that supposed “argument” with his wife built into the recordings. So I raised my goblet of Romulan Ale to Zach “the Lord of Lamb” Britton for being a great sport and a diamond geezer! The “live theater”, the first ever attempted at Sausagefest, was a tremendous success. As Uncle Meat said afterwards, “They will never ever trust us again.” It easily could have gone sideways, if Zach didn’t stand up to make his speech. They were counting on him and he fell right into it. Brilliant live theater!

The actual #1 song, played after the live theater, was “Cygnus X-1” by Rush, a fantastic song on which to close.

The following morning, we packed up to go home. As per usual, Uncle Meat kept singing and repeating one sentence. This year, it was a ditty called “Why’d You Lick My Penis (Rectum)”.*

“Why’d you lick my pee-noose…why’d you lick my pee-noose, rectum…” Over and over again. You can hear this on the Sausagefest video.

We made our way home, but for many of the guys, it was time to rock again. Five Alarm Funk played a free show in London on Sunday night, and a few tired ‘Festers trekked out to party some more. Totally fitting, since Five Alarm Funk had three songs on this year’s Countdown.

What a Sausagefest! Best one ever? Until next year, maybe….

 

THE COUNTDOWN

 

1 Cygnus X-1 Rush
2 The Immigrant Song Led Zeppelin
3 Blackened Metallica
4 Heaven and Hell Black Sabbath
5 La Villa Strangiato Rush
6 Sweat Five Alarm Funk
7 Burn Deep Purple
8 When the Levee Breaks Led Zeppelin
9 Atlas Rise Metallica
10 Rocky Raccoon The Beatles
11 Green Machine Kyuss
12 The Chain Fleetwood Mac
13 Quick Death in Texas Clutch
14 Muffin Man Frank Zappa
15 Cloak of Feathers The Sword
16 Sabotage Beastie Boys
17 Consolers of the Lonely The Raconteurs
18 Space Truckin’ Deep Purple
19 Zenith Escalator Five Alarm Funk
20 Pigs (Three Different Ones) Pink Floyd
21 Cocaine Eric Clapton
22 Tribute Tenacious D
23 Wasted Years Iron Maiden
24 Fortunate Son CCR
25 The Mob Goes Wild Clutch
26 Smokey Funkadelic
27 Time Travelling Blues Orange Goblin
28 Supernaut Black Sabbath
29 46 and 2 Tool
30 Freya The Sword
31 Money For Nothing Dire Straits
32 The Lemon Song Led Zeppelin
33 Square Hammer Ghost
34 Hung on the Rocks Dunsmuir
35 Cosmo Bozo Orange Goblin
36 Layla Derek and the Dominoes
37 Electric Worry Clutch
38 Odyssey Kyuss
39 Catholic Girls Frank Zappa
40 Vidage 10,000 Mods
41 Nautical Disaster Tragically Hip
42 Skullduggin Black Joe Lewis
43 Squash That Fly Fu Manchu
44 Holy Wars Megadeth
45 I Should Have Known It Tom Petty
46 Great Gig in the Sky Pink Floyd
47 Heart of the Sunrise Yes
48 Inside Looking Out Grand Funk Railroad
49 Boston Rag Steely Dan
50 Lady Writer Dire Straits
51 Helter Skelter The Beatles
52 My Fairie King Queen
53 Into the Coven Mercyful Fate
54 After the Gold Rush Neil Young
55 Watcher of the Skies Genesis
56 Shock Me Kiss
57 Pusherman Curtis Mayfield
58 Domino Masters of Reality
59 The Soft Parade The Doors
60 Smoke 2 Joints Sublime
61 Cosmic Fiend The Black Crowes
62 London Calling The Clash
63 DeanTown Vulfpeck
64 Light in the Black Rainbow
65 Wha Cha Want Beastie Boys
66 Mess Around Ray Charles
67 500 Miles John Garcia
68 Ted the Mechanic Deep Purple
69 Ripoff T Rex
70 We Will Rock You – Fast Queen
71 Everyday People Sly and the Family Stone
72 (NOT SURE?) (Uncle Meat??)
73 Our Only Master Dunsmuir
74 We All Scream Five Alarm Funk
75 Dinosaur King Crimson
76 She Caught the Katy The Blues Brothers
77 Take Off Bob and Doug McKenzie
78 Indians Anthrax
79 Low Hanging Fruit Tenacious D
     
     
  TRIBUTES  
     
ALFRED Old Time Rock and Roll Bob Seger
LADANO Next to You The Police
MICHAEL Don’t Fear the Reaper Blue Oyster Cult
PHIL Sinner Judas Priest
FRANK Ride Captain Ride Blues Image Ltd.
TYLER W Belly of the Beast Anthrax
RYAN Paranoid Android Radiohead
ROB A Tricky Run DMC

 

*Search terms on that one oughtta be funny.

Sausagefest 2017: The Video