#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.







#1055: Sex Sells (But Fur Sells Better)

RECORD STORE TALES #1055: Sex Sells (But Fur Sells Better)

Long story “short”:

Recently, Deke started getting decent views on his YouTube Shorts.  I think the idea originated within the Community from Brent Jensen, who likes to make short clips from the highlights of his Thursday Night Record Club videos.  So Deke tried it, and had some success.  Jex Russell said to me, “Hey man, you should try YouTube Shorts too!”

Sounds good!  But how?  I asked Deke, and he advised me to check out some Google tutorials as that could explain it better.  I stumbled through it, and eventually got some videos to work.

I started with a couple shorts.  Like Deke, I chose highlights from the live Grab A Stack of Rock shows.  I chose two to start:  both with my co-host MarriedAndHeels showing off her shoes.  Let’s face it:  even though the videos were not “adult”*, sex still sells and heels are sexy.  I had some moderate success.  I was excited to get a few hundred views on each.  I kept going!  I uploaded an Alice Cooper clip from MuchMusic to my Youtube Shorts, got a couple hundred more views.

Then a MarriedAndHeels video of her lovely Easter manicure went crazy and broke 1800 views!  I knew I was onto something!  A video of her hot T-strap heels got similar views.

I have a tricky problem.  It’s the same problem I have here on WordPress:  No direction.  I started out talking music, but that got stale (and the hits dried up).  I decided to cover toys, games, soda pop, nature, and of course, high heels too.  So there’s no actual direction.  Nothing for a subscriber to latch onto and say “I like this channel”.  But that is my problem, a self-made problem.  I like lots of different content myself, and there’s no point in starting multiple channels.  So this is the bed that I made.

Here’s what I didn’t expect.

It is true that I wanted to exploit heels for views, and it definitely works.  MarriedAndHeels gets five times as many views when she’s on Grab A Stack of Rock than any other guest.  She gets double the views of any rock star I’ve interviewed.  The only guest who ever got more views than her is Martin Popoff.  So, yeah.  I cynically said “Let’s get the Instagram Queen of Heels on the show and see what happens.”  But, on the other side, she is truly a friend, and one who I wanted to work with creatively since the day we met.  I’ve been wanting to get her on the show since last summer, because I knew we would be great together.  And I was right.  I don’t even fully understand why she thinks I’m cool or wants to be on my show, but I’m learning to just accept it without the questions.  The fact is, we are a great creative team.  Everybody thinks so.  People who don’t even care about the heels, enjoy watching us chat.  So that was successful from an artistic point of view, not to mention the friendship.   The numbers are a nice bonus.

But I found something that sells even better than sexy nails and heels.

I uploaded a chipmunk.  That got 2000 views.  I uploaded another.  That got 3000 views.  Then, a raccoon.  2000 more views!

Sex sells – but furry critters sell even more!

Good thing summer is coming!  There will be lots and lots of cottage critters to upload to YouTube Shorts, and lots more heels with my friend.  I’ve probably made a total of about 10 cents from all these videos, but everything adds up!

YouTube is tricky, and you have to constantly feed it new content or everything dries up.  With the help of several furry friends, and one in high heels, this will hopefully be easy to do this summer!


* On every MarriedAndHeels short, YouTube flagged them as adult content even though nothing was adult.  I won every review.


VIDEO: Windy Weekend

You don’t have to feel obligated to watch this video.  These videos are more for me than anyone else.  This time I wanted to keep intact the camera audio from the weekend.  The sights and sounds (and smells, natch) of the countryside are preserved here.  Instead of mixing my still and moving pictures as I usually do, all the stills can be found in the latter part of this video accompanied by the track “Masked” by Dr. Kathryn Ladano.

I saw a lot of birds this weekend (including geese and a family of wild turkeys) and managed to capture a bit on video. Nature lovers will enjoy the wildlife and greenery, the stormy skies and the churning lake. There are some seriously breathtaking pictures of the sky in this video, as well as a blooper and cameos by Sith Lords and Sausagefesters.

Wind and rain aside, it was a lovely weekend full of music, live streaming, barbecuing and the beach.

#849: Indoor Day

Sunday was what we call an “indoor day” at the lake. This is what I did with my indoor day.

The video took me most of the day, because my poor old laptop (10, this year) couldn’t handle all of the large files at once. So I started over from scratch and figured out a workaround until I was done about 7 hours later. I cooked, I went outside, I played with action figures, and I drank coffee until it finally saved without errors.

This video should scratch itches for a variety of people including:

1) Max the Axe fans – the full song “Randy” is included.
2) Dr. Kathryn Ladano fans – the full song “Masked” is included.
3) Those who enjoy driving videos. This is my first extensive use of my dash cam.
4) Nature buffs. You will hear real lake noises, rainstorms, and waves. You will see more cool underwater footage from the beaches of Lake Huron, and the legendary Greatest Sunset in the World.
5) Marvel / action figure fans. Look for a special “Build A Figure” Hulk.


You will not get:

1) Audio of me singing “Kissing Time” by Kiss; this was lost with the first version of the video.
2) Any of my pork chops.

But you can freely:

1) Live vicariously through me and absorb the good vibes through your monitor and speakers.

While visitors showing up on our little private road was not unexpected on a long weekend, it is disappointing when they show such little respect for the people who live here. A guy parked his ATV on our grass and said “Don’t get your knickers in a bunch” when my mom asked several times for him to move it. This came after arguing that he had the right to park there due to a “snow allowance”. There is no such thing.

Then we had Kenny the fireworks guys shooting off a “truck bed” full of firepower at 9:30 Saturday night. That was…distracting. As much as I love this place it certainly has changed in the last 45 years. Enjoy the video — the good the bad and the ugly!

#682: Shady Street

GETTING MORE TALE #682: Shady Street

I like where I live.  It’s quiet.  There’s lots of green.  There’s a park across the street.  In the summer, baseball teams play there.  Most people here are seniors.  Not a lot goes on.  I’m probably the loudest neighbour, and that’s not saying much.  You can usually catch me cruising home after work, some Kiss on the car stereo.  That aside, there’s only a little noise pollution.

Down at the end of the street, let’s call it “Shady Street”, there is a meandering roadway that leads to a dead end.  This is my favourite place for morning walks.  The tree cover keeps it cool, and you never have to worry about traffic.  Therefore it’s a perfect stroll for hard rock on the earbuds.  Because it’s so secluded, you can throw in some air guitar if you have a good song going.  Nobody’s going to see you.  There’s nothing down there.

Well, almost nothing.

At the very end, right next to the dead end sign, is an old security camera.  It has been there for years.  To the left, a single long driveway dotted with multiple imposing “NO TRESPASSING” signs.  At the top of that long driveway, a large house with seemingly no occupants.  Many years ago, I read a story about a grow operation that was busted on Shady Street.  I assumed it had to be that house.  In the yellow pages, the address is listed as “Shady Street Electronics”.  But you rarely saw any customers, or inhabitants for that matter, going down to the very end of Shady Street.

Clearly suspicious, but the grow operation was a long time ago.  Walks down Shady Street have continued to be pleasant, with or without the earbuds.  Air guitar is still optional.

This spring, however, I have observed some unusual activity.

Two weeks ago, a group of three teenagers on bicycles sped down Shady Street and did not turn around at the end.  What would three teenagers on bikes be in such a rush to do down the dead end road?  It struck me as odd immediately.  I’ve never seen that before.

Last week, I crossed paths with a dirty guy on a bike heading down there, carrying a large black garbage bag.

I wonder if that house at the end of Shady Street is back in business again.

This is my neighbourhood, and I’m going to take my walks where I take my walks.  But I might leave my earbuds at home next time, if traffic is indeed picking up….



#572: VIDEO – A Weekend at the Lake

GETTING MORE TALE #572: A Weekend at the Lake

A new summer, and new tech! My beloved BlackBerry Z10, bought over four years ago in early 2013, has bitten the dust.  That Blackberry was responsible for most of my Sausagefest and Mike and Aaron Go to Toronto videos, not to mention the hundreds of photos it provided for this site.  In that time, my BlackBerry required no service at all.  So to all those who told me not to buy a CrackBerry:

My new weapon is a Samsung (not the kind that explodes) and so far I’m very pleased with it.  This past weekend I had a chance to give its camera and video abilities a test run.  Needless to say the quality of both exceeds my four year old phone.  I was so happy with the quality that I decided to edit together a little video and post it for you.  I’ve done this for a few good reasons:

  1. It’s another excuse to showcase the excellent music of Stealth, featuring Kathryn Ladano and Richard Burrows.
  2. I have a chance to give my Samsung a dry run before using it to create the 2017 Sausagefest video in July!
  3. This video ties in nicely with Getting More Tale #567:  Creatures of the Night.  I wanted to give you a feeling for what it actually sounds like at the lake, and I captured a bit of a nice rain storm.  In this video you’ll get that, some nice crashing waves, and a raging river at near-flood levels.  In fact the water level at our location on Lake Huron has returned to its 1980s level.  Old-timers there always said the water levels rise and fall over decades-long cycles.

Please enjoy some of the music of Stealth, and the sounds of pure nature.  Look for a cameo by my dad, up to no good prob’ly.  Leave your comments below:  What do you think LeBrain’s dad is up to this time?


DVD REVIEW: Goo Goo Dolls – Live In Alaska (2002)

GOO GOO DOLLS – Live In Alaska (2002 Earth Escapes DVD)

I bought this for myself the week after I broke up with Radio Station Girl, looking for some new music to soothe my soul.  This DVD hit the spot for two reasons: the music and the scenery.  I like a lot of Goo Goo Dolls’ albums, and I really love the icy landscapes of the north.  Live In Alaska delivers on both.  From a series called “Music in High Places”, the DVD takes us all the way to Arctic Circle among the glaciers.  The band don’t play a traditional concert.  Instead they made videos in unusual locations, such as outdoors next to a partially frozen lake in the tundra.

That is the scene for “Black Balloon”.  There must have been some serious technical challenges to record there.  There are scenes of people arriving by small plane and air drops of equipment by helicopter, and then getting into position via rubber dinghy.   Wouldn’t it be hard acoustically to record songs in an open expanse?  I don’t know, but they did it and I like it.  The visuals add another element, and it surely must have been inspiring for the band to play in such a clean, isolated environment.


Up next, the Dolls get to participate in the sport of dogsledding on Punchbowl glacier.  Lead singer Johnny Rzeznik says, “I have a really cool job. I get to do stuff like this,” and I’m jealous!  It’s warm enough for just short sleeves.  He is then taken by helicopter to an even more beautiful and remote location.  Standing on an ice island in the middle of a sparkling blue lake in the middle of Knik glacier, Rzeznik sings “Acoustic #3”, and it’s haunting.  It’s also a sight to behold.  The frigid water is bluer than anything you have seen before, not to mention this is one of his most beautiful songs.  You can hear the water gurgling faintly behind.

The band reconvenes in Hope, Alaksa at a tiny little bar to play the hit “Broadway” acoustically.  If the locals know who they are, they don’t let on, but one does play harmonica with them.  This is one of their best tunes, and I like the sound of it in this environment.  Only one thing pisses me off, and that’s interrupting the damn song to edit in some interview footage!   Bad editing.  I don’t know why some videos do this — splice interviews into the middle of the song.  Fucking stop it!  I hate that!  Fortunately, one of the DVD bonus features is something called “just the music”, where you can watch the song uninterrupted.


Going mudsliding looks like a ton of fun.  The Dolls had a blast playing this game with kids, and getting absolutely covered in mud in the process.  (Rzeznik after cleaning: “It looked like a mud bomb went off in my bathroom.”)  Another cool concert location is on a train, where “Here Is Gone” is performed.  I must wonder if this was a technical nightmare to record.  The train appears to be moving extra slowly, perhaps to reduce noise.  I am sure this scene was meticulously planned.  The train was a special charter for the Dolls, and they could start and stop as they pleased.  The band are in a coach car with a glass dome roof.  The train enters a tunnel mid song, and things get dark, before it emerges in the light again at the end of the tune.  Really cool shot.

Flying to Kotzebue, Alaska the band are greeting by a cheering crowd.  The local news crews are out for this major event!  The next concert location is a bridge, where they play “Big Machine”.  This song isn’t as strong acoustically.  The album version with its electric riff is more interesting, but hey.  It’s the outdoors in Alaska in the summertime.  What more do you need?

Taking a break from performing for a moment, the band next get to enjoy some native culture and music.  But then it’s back to work, and they play “What A Scene” right there on a stoney ocean beach surrounded by the townsfolk.  10% of the population turned out for it!  This track works a bit better acoustically to my ears than “Big Machine” did.  Some of the kids in town are into it, some look bored, but soon it’s back to fun and games.  People are hurled into the air via a huge trampoline-like skin.  Robby Takac volunteers and gets pretty high up there!  But he only does it once!

The final song of the DVD is “Slide”, another huge favourite of mine. This is performed by the full band, on another chunk of ice in the middle of a lake.  You could not imagine a more perfect setting for such a bright, melodic song.  Once again I wonder about the technicalities of recording this performance but it sure looks and sounds 100% live.  Behind the scenes shots show giant boom mics and cameras on cranes.  Great tune to close on though, a highlight of this set and their career.

GOO GOO_0003The DVD has some very cool bonus features.  These include a terrible text bio that nobody will ever read.  The others include behind the scenes documentaries about Kotzebue and its inhabitants, and the Alaskan railroad.  Some of this material is included in the main feature, but it’s not really about the band.  It’s about the people and the scenery, but that’s cool in its own right. Interesting fact:  Even though the sun shines all night in Kotzebue in July, they still have fireworks on the 4th.  They’re not as cool, but they do have ’em!  They also have warm sunny swimming at 1 am, and the local radio station gets calls for requests all the way from Russia.

Not listed on the back of the package, but more important than the other features, are two bonus songs.  These can only be found if you happen to check out the “just the music” section.  “Sympathy” is the first, performed acoustically on the train.  Great tune.  “Do You Know” is the second, on the beach on Kotzebue.  This is Robby Takac’s only lead vocal (and it was cut from the main feature)!  This song reflects the Goo Goo Dolls punk rock side, from which they originated.  Robby’s vocal is raspy and ragged, just like I like it!

For Goo Goo Dolls fans, I can’t recommend this DVD enough.  The cool thing is that even if you’re just a casual fan who knows the hits, you’d dig it too.

4.5/5 stars

VIDEOS: The Cottage in the Woods 3

WARNING:  These videos contain 0% Rock.  However the water was nice and choppy this past weekend.  In addition, I saw a cute family of ducks surfing near their nest!


Enjoy the videos below.

See also:

RECORD STORE TALES Part 308: The Cottage in the Woods
The Cottage in the Woods 2

VIDEO: The Cottage in the Woods 2


If you missed the original story about the Cottage in the Woods, please check out Record Store Tales Part 308.

Another long weekend in Canada has come and gone.  This time we came with a side mission: visiting Condor Fine Books in Kincardine, Ontario.  We’ve been going there for years, and the owner is a really nice guy.  He has a crazy selection of old and interesting books, with a healthy section on UFOs and the paranormal.  That’s alright by me.

I hope you enjoy my latest video, with book finds and lots of scenery.

Part 308: The Cottage in the Woods (VIDEO BLOG)


RECORD STORE TALES PART 308:  The Cottage in the Woods

As bad as the stress used to get, there was always one place I could return and truly recharge my batteries:  the cottage.

I’d pack a dozen or so CDs (tapes in the early days) and go on long walks with my Discman.  Eat some steaks.  Check out the water, rivers and funky bridges.  The phone never rang.  Heck in the early days there were no phones here.  No cable TV, no wi-fi.

Today, I created, edited and posted the video you’re about to see in one day, entirely at the cottage.  How unimaginable to me back then.

I tried to re-create the experience of being here visually — probably the most peaceful place in the world.  I hope this gives you a taste.  Enjoy