#614: Believe It Or Not

GETTING MORE TALE #614: Believe It Or Not

Who doesn’t love lists of musical firsts?  I’ve done my own, but here’s a record that I forgot to include.

It wasn’t my first record.  As a kid, I had read-along story recordsStar Wars, E.T., The Black Hole, and more.  The E.T. record was cool because it was read by Drew Barrymore.  I also had John Williams’ music soundtracks, like Indiana Jones.

My first “metal” album was Quiet Riot’s Metal Health.  I had it on cassette.  It changed my life. Going back even further, Styx’s Kilroy Was Here was the first rock album that I ever bought, but technically it wasn’t my first “rock” record.  Technically.  It all depends on how you define “rock”, but for the purposes of this article we’ll include soft rock under the umbrella.

In 1981 there was a new TV show that, by all signs, looked like it was going to be awesome.  It was about a goofy superhero.  He couldn’t fly straight, and he looked silly with his blonde curly hair in a red skintight outfit.  His landings were always crash landings, and what kid doesn’t find a grown man falling down absolutely hilarious?  The premise was that aliens gave the protagonist this super-suit, but he lost the manual and doesn’t know how it’s supposed to work.  Funny, right?

Sadly, the program called The Greatest American Hero never lived up to the premise or the TV ads.  We kids swiftly lost interest in it.  Magnum P.I. occupied our TV time, and The A-Team and Knight Rider were only a couple years away.  The Greatest American Hero was quickly forgotten, except for one minor detail.

The Greatest American Hero had a terrific theme song.  Theme songs are important.  I can hum the themes for the A-Team, Knight Rider and Magnum P.I.  Can you?  The Greatest American Hero had an even more memorable theme song:  “Believe It Or Not”.

I didn’t know the name of the guy who sang it, I just knew I liked the song.  I told everyone it was my favourite song.  So one day, my Aunt from Calgary came for a visit and gave me a copy of the single. I was elated!  The singer was somebody I never heard of called Joey Scarbury, and now I had the record and I could play it any time I wanted!  I did, over and over.

The names meant nothing to me then, but “Believe It Or Not” was written by Mike Post, who also wrote – surprise surprise! – Magnum P.I. and the A-Team!  Though Mike Post is mostly known as a TV composer (The Who have a song called “Mike Post Theme”), he even produced Van Halen III!  “Believe It Or Not” must be one of his most well remembered songs.  It didn’t hurt when it was spoofed on Seinfeld back in the 90s.  Remember George’s answering machine?  “Believe it or not, George isn’t at home…”  Since then, it’s been used and re-used again in TV shows and commercials.

I remember as a kid, flipping over the record to listen to the B-side, which I immediately hated.  The ballad “Little Bit of Us” was not for me.  I tried playing it at different speeds to see if it would make the song any better.  It didn’t and I never played it again.

I don’t actually know what happened to the record.  I know I lost the sleeve (it wasn’t a picture sleeve, just a plain white one) and filed the record in with another 45.  From there, it disappeared.

I may have outgrown “Believe It Or Not” but playing it today still brings a smile to my face.  Not enough to try and re-watch an episode of the Greatest American Hero, and definitely not enough to track down more Joey Scarbury music. Just enough for some nostalgic rememberings.


#425: The Soup Nazi

Dedicated to Sebastien Xavier Meunier

#425: The Soup Nazi

One of the classic, most popular antagonists from the old TV show Seinfeld is the Soup Nazi .  This character, the proprietor of a busy, highly rated soup joint in Manhattan, was eccentric to say the least.  The Soup Nazi had strict rules about lining up and ordering your soup.

Jerry: “There’s only one caveat.  The guy who runs the place is a little temperamental, especially about the ordering procedure.  He’s secretly referred to as the Soup Nazi.”

Elaine: “Why? What happens if you don’t order right?”

Jerry:  “He yells and you don’t get your soup.”

That’s right!  Deviate from procedure, and there’s no soup for you!  Jerry continues:

Jerry: “As you walk in the place, move immediately to your right.  The main thing is to keep the line moving.  It’s very important not to embellish on your order.  No extraneous comments.  No questions.  No compliments.”

As it turned out, George complained about some forgotten bread.  He was given a refund and had his soup taken away!  “No soup for you!”  Elaine ended up with a one year ban!  The only Seinfeld character with whom the Soup Nazi seems to have an understanding is Kramer.  “You suffer for your soup,” says Cosmo Kramer.  “You demand perfection from yourself, from your soup.”

I have always had a…what’s the word?…not admiration, but something like that…for the Soup Nazi.  Envy, perhaps.  Not for his gruff demeanor.  Not for his rude reactions to people.  Not for a badass moustache.  Just for his demand…nay!…his expectation on a nice, quiet orderly line.  I like order.


LeBrain at the counter, circa 1998, going through a box of discs.

You might be surprised to learn that a used CD store can have a very, very busy counter area.  It’s quite easy for things to go sideways if you’re not on top of them.  The used CD store was a place in which you’re performing multiple duties simultaneously.  While you are buying a pile of 50 CDs (which you have organized meticulously by condition and offering price), you could also be looking up inventory for someone else, and doing a sale for someone else.   Is that the phone ringing?

On a busy day, I could have several piles of discs that I’m buying from customers, and also a few more piles that customers want to buy, but have set aside while they look around some more.  It can get very confusing very quickly if there is not order.

Back in Part 274 of Record Store Tales, we took a look at a type of customer I dubbed the “Hawks”.  These are folks with a lot of CDs to sell.  They were the most annoying customers in the world:  sellers who just want to hang out at the front counter, watch what you’re doing, and chat.  They are completely oblivious to the concept of other people.  They don’t realize there is someone else behind them who is trying to buy something, while they lean and take up all the counter space themselves.  The Soup Nazi didn’t put up with that.

Since I wasn’t a Soup Nazi (and had bosses who could fire me and stuff), I would just politely (as I could manage) tell the guy that he has a line forming behind him, and could he please move off to the side?  I’d encourage them to go and get a coffee and come back later if I was going through a lot of CDs for them.

Even worse than Hawks in some ways though were customers who were just nosy.  “What are these?” they’d ask, before jumbling the piles of CDs that I had meticulously arranged earlier.  “Those belong to someone else, I had them all organized so please don’t mix them up.”  Frustration boils inside, fake smiles on the outside!

So yes, condemn me if you wish.  I can sympathize with the Soup Nazi.  I’m sure the following people burned his britches just as much as they burned mine!

  • The ones who are too busy chatting with their friends or on a cell phone to notice they are NEXT IN LINE!
  • Counter leaners who take up the whole thing, while bombarding you with BAD BREATH!  They tend to leave the counter dirty, and/or sweaty.
  • Counter parkers, who decide not to look around the store at all, but just park there and ask questions. They don’t like making room for paying customers.  They don’t even know there are any other customers.  They just have questions.  LOTS AND LOTS OF QUESTIONS!
  • CLINGERS. These people are not your friends, but they don’t know that.  Friends understand that you’re working and they are not, so they don’t bother you too much.  Clingers were usually customers who seemed lonely, and just wanted to hang out.  They like to chat, ask questions, and make it look like that CD in their hand is something they are really going to purchase.  But no, is it all just an elaborate hoax.  They just needed to kill a couple hours, and someone to talk to.  The person behind the counter is a captive audience.  They buy like, one or two discs a year just so they can’t be officially labelled a nuisance.

Looking back on it today, maybe it would have been better for my soul had I just take a few tips from the Soup Nazi.  No discs for you!