The Guess Who

#655: Guns, Guns, Guns

Some of you may wonder why I’ve been quiet about the school shooting in Florida last week. Controversial rocker Ted Nugent has had plenty to say, but I try to keep politics to a minimum here.  The truth is I have said nothing because I’ve been too upset – a toxic mixture of sadness and furious anger.

I’m not a parent, but I cry for all the children whose lives have been cut short simply because they went to school that day to get an education. I cry for the kids who will never, ever get over the trauma of seeing their friends cut down.  And what about the kids of the future, who may never know what a normal, happy, unarmed classroom is like?

I’m not American, but I weep for the country that continues to bury dead children, one tragedy after another, while doing absolutely nothing about it.

I’m not anti-gun, but I shake my head the most ridiculous defences for potential killers to easily buy AR-15 rifles. Don’t pretend they’re “tools” and you’re GI Joe.

I love a good conspiracy theory, but I boil in pure frustration that Ted Nugent and others are calling these children “crisis actors” who are a part of an anti-gun conspiracy.

Student Emma Gonzalez has become the voice of the victims

In short, it’s taken me a while to stop being upset, and get clear enough in the head to write something.

I grew up around guns. My dad taught me how to shoot safely before I was even allowed to ride my bike out of the neighborhood. I was such a good shot that he nicknamed me “Deadeye Dick”. He encouraged me to get my Firearms Acquisition Certificate, and I did. I used to love going to hunting shops with my dad to look at weapons. Lake Huron Rod & Gun in Underwood, Ontario was our stop. My mom and aunt would look for knick-knacks at a store called The Chapel while we looked at guns.

I don’t know what the solution is to America’s gun problem. And yes America, you do have a gun problem. It’s obvious to everyone except you, because you can no longer see the forest for the trees.

You don’t have to worry about fighting off the Red Coats with your muzzle-loaded muskets anymore.

Nobody needs to worry about Obama taking over the country, he’s enjoying his retirement.

And let’s not forget, Hillary lost the election. She’s no longer the scary anti-freedom monster under the bed.  She’s an old lady and she can only write books now about “what happened”.  She never wanted to repeal the Second Amendment in the first place.  That was just Russian propaganda that many people fell for and still believe.

I understand that your Second Amendment guarantees you the “right to bear arms” (muskets?) to protect your country and family. I think that’s just fine and I support you. What I am asking you to do is look really hard at the world around you, and ask who you are really afraid of. Right now, it looks as if you’re afraid of a bunch of 17 year old kids who are sick of being shot at and pushed aside afterwards.

If the Founding Fathers could see what the Second Amendment has wrought, I can all but guarantee you that they would go back in time and word it a little differently.

It’s different here in Canada.  We still have lots of violent movies, rap music, and video games. We have guns, but we do not have mass shootings every two weeks. We do not have or want a lobby organisation like the NRA to tell us what to think. Our country was not founded upon revolution like yours. We didn’t worry about the British coming back to take over. We didn’t worry about someone declaring themselves King. In fact the only invaders we worried about were Americans. (Look up “Manifest Destiny” and you’ll understand why.) Yet we didn’t give in to fear and arm everyone in the neighborhood.

The point is, America took the Second Amendment and went a little far with it. Canadians managed to make it this far without worrying too much about deep states or elites taking over, and we’re doing OK. We’re not perfect. We are not likely to forget the École Polytechnique massacre in 1989. But we don’t do it every other week.

What’s the difference? I think it’s our very different history. You had a revolution to escape from monarchy, and have been worried about tyrants taking over ever since. We had a couple rebellions and slowly gained sovereignty, like a teenager eager to move out of their parents’ basement.

What’s the solution? At this point…I no longer even think there is one. After speaking to many Americans, I think the divide is simply too wide to breach. It’s far too easy to say “it’s a mental health problem”. We have mental health problems here, too. That lazy answer isn’t it. Token restrictions on guns or bump stocks won’t help either because you’re too far down the rabbit hole now. Something else has to change. Something evil and elusive has infected the country and it’s not going away.

I think it’s fear and hate. Too many Americans now distrust and hate other Americans. The media and political instigators stoke the fires of hate, and now it’s too late. If there is a solution, it has eluded me. Empathy needs to return to the United States.  It’s your only hope.

America, you are my neighbor and you are my friend. But you’re becoming that scary friend that I don’t want to be alone with anymore. And I’m telling you this as a friend – you have enough guns. More won’t help. Open carry won’t make this go away. A lot of these shooters put the gun in their mouths when they’re done. They don’t care if they die – they often want to go down like Harris and Klebold did. And the “good guy with a gun” fallacy won’t work because you can’t identify who the good or bad guys are until it’s too late.  “Good guys with guns” have made very little difference because this isn’t a Hollywood movie.

While I have no answers, Ted Nugent’s certainly not helping. I’m not surprised, seeing as this is a guy who once called for the nuking of Iraq. Shame on you, Ted, and shame on all those attacking the victims.

Maybe empathy really is the answer.  How to get there?  That is a whole other problem.

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DVD REVIEW: Superbad (2007)

SUPERBAD (2007 Columbia unrated extended edition)

Directed by Greg Mottola

While the Apatow Company’s best films are behind them now, in 2007 they were coming off the dual hits 40 Year old Virgin, and Knocked Up.  Those films featured a core of recurring actors, including Bill Hader, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, James Franco and the whole gang that we are all familiar with today.  Then, this kind of comedy was fresh.  Today, Superbad is the only Apatow I can still watch regularly and laugh like it’s the first time.

I love a movie with a great rock soundtrack, and Superbad features Van Halen (“Panama”), Motorhead (“Ace of Spades”), and Ted Nugent (“Stranglehold”).  There’s even The Roots! Even better, and incorporated into the comedy, is the Guess Who’s “These Eyes” as performed by Michael Cera.  It is a case 0f mistaken identity and Cera’s character Evan is in a spot.  I’m cracking up thinking about it. “He’s Jimmy’s brother, the guy! The singer! He’s the guy with the beautiful voice that I was telling you about!” And then, “My brother came all the way from Scottsdale Arizona to be here tonight. And you’re not going to sing for him? You sing, and sing good!” The last song I would have chosen to sing under such circumstances would have been “These Eyes”, but that’s why this is a comedy movie.

Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera) are highschool versions of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who wrote this movie, but were too old to play the parts. It’s the end of highschool, and together with their friend Fogell aka “McLovin” (Christopher Mintz-Plasse, who absolutely nails it in his film debut), they aim to score some liquor for a party. Once they have booze, they will be like heroes to Jules (Emma Stone) and Becca (Martha MacIsaac) at the party, and possibly score some coitus. McLovin has the fake ID, but acquiring the alcohol is only the first of many stumbling blocks.

Seth Rogen and Bill Hader play incompetent cops, but their intentionally stupid scenes will make you groan rather than laugh. Bad decisions by all the characters may have you shaking your head asking “why?”, but you have to put your mind in the hormones of a highschool kid aiming to get his first touchy feely. Guys do stupid things not unlike the people in this movie. I know guys who’ve done things like this when they were kids. I’ve made plenty of stupid decisions while chasing someone of the fairer sex. Granted, I’ve never been hit by a car and then talked into not calling the cops in exchange for going to a badass party where I can steal some booze. That exact situation has never happened to me or anyone I know. But it’s fucking hilarious.

The most enjoyable comedy usually comes from the banter between Hill and Cera. Their blunt vulgarity has a certain art to it. I can still quote lines from this movie, and people know which ones I’m talking about. “Something like 8% of kids do it, but whatever.”

In this film, Seth and Evan are going to different colleges and there is a tension between the two characters over this.  Both of them feel differently about it, and this is the most relateable part of the movie.  The end of highschool feels like the top of the world for a brief moment, but then in the fall friendships split up, sometimes forever (until Facebook came along anyway).  Superbad  is basically a movie about two guys trying to get some, but the tension in the friendship is ultimately what drives the story to its conclusion.  Cera and Hill are funny indeed, but the friendship they portray seems real.

The unrated edition is loaded to the gills with bonus features, and honestly a good chunk of them are worth checking out. You can skip the “Cop Car Confessions”, but definitely watch “Everyone Hates Michael Cera – The Unfortunate True Story”. And of course, don’t miss “The Music of Superbad” either. Bootsy Collins and Lyle Workman put together an unexpectedly cool soundtrack.

4/5 stars

#469: Stump LeBrain (Getting More Retro!)

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GETTING MORE TALE (Retro) #469: Stump LeBrain Week, by Aaron!

“Getting More Retro” is a sub-series of my music stories Getting More Tale.  I posted this back in March in 2012, when nobody was reading except Aaron and my old boss from the Record Store.  Before that, Aaron posted it on the KeepsMeAlive (Feb. 19).  And now, for the third time, here’s Stump LeBrain Week!

I had become such a dominating force on the 4 O’Clock 4-Play, my favourite music contest on 107.5 Dave Rocks, that listeners were now writing in 4-Play quizzes specifically to stump me!  For a while there it seemed everybody wanted to be the one to put an end to LeBrain’s reign!

Craig had me in the studio for the contest, live on the Craig Fee show, during what he dubbed “Stump LeBrain Week”.  Each day that week, I came in at 4 o’clock in order to play the contest on the air.  Craig selected five 4-Plays, one for each day.  If I answered correctly, I won the prize (I Mother Earth tickets).  If I was stumped, the person who wrote the 4-Play question would win the prize.

At the end of the week, I sent Aaron audio CDs of all my appearances minus commercials.  He was kind enough to document it in the written word for history.  Since very few saw this when I re-posted it at the launch of this site, I’m re-posting it once again for you!  Re-use and recycle, baby!

Big thanks to Aaron for listening to all five shows and writing it down, and of course thanks to Craig for giving me the opportunity!  Here we go.  Ready?

 


Four-Play #1 (submitted by Chris Cottingham)

01 Motley Crue – Shout At The Devil

01 Mike’s Guess: ‘tracks that were not singles’ (no)

02 Rolling Stones – Brown Sugar

02 Mike’s Guess: ‘bands that have toured with guns ‘n roses’ (no)

03 Bruce Springsteen – Cover Me

03 Mike’s Guess: ‘special lp packaging’ (no)

04 Loverboy – Working For The Weekend *

04 Mike’s Guess: ‘album covers featuring pants’ (yes!)

* at this point, before Mike’s last guess, it was exposed that the Motley Crue song was supposed to have been Live Wire, which changed everything, and he got it from there.

Comment: He still got it, even with a wrong song played. Improbable? Never! The man is a machine.

Score: Mike is 1/1.

 

Four-Play #2 (submitted by The Crook in Elmira)

01 Motorhead – Ace Of Spades (live)

01 Mike’s Guess: ‘artists who’ve done duets with Ozzy Osbourne’ (yes!)

02 Alice Cooper – School’s Out

03 Dio – Holy Diver

04 Lita Ford – Kiss Me Deadly

Comment: He nailed this one before the first song was even over. Jeez.

Score: Mike is 2/2.

Four-Play #3 (submitted by Kathryn Ladano, Mike’s sister)

01 Rush – Subdivisions

01 Mike’s Guess: ‘album covers with dogs on them’ (no)

02 Neil Young – Rockin’ In The Free World

02 Mike’s Guess: ‘all Canadian artists’ (no)

03 Guess Who – Runnin’ Back To Saskatoon

03 Mike’s Guess: ‘songs about Canadian cities’ (no)

04 Loverboy – Turn Me Loose

04 Mike’s Guess: ‘all artists who sang on Tears Are Not Enough’ (yes!)

Comment:

Broadcasted live from Chicopee ski resort. This was not the Four Play that Kathryn had wanted played, so her confidence at being able to stump her brother was pretty low, at the outset. It shocked me that Mike had never heard the Guess Who song before. I thought everybody knew that song.

Score: Mike is 3/3.

Four-Play #4 (submitted by Greg Laughtenschlager)

01 Megadeth – Hangar 18

01 Mike’s Guess: ‘science fiction, aliens, conspiracy theme’ (no)

02 Quiet Riot – Mama We’re All Crazy Now

02 Mike’s Guess: ‘books (1984, Roswell)’ (no)

02 Mike’s Extra Guess: ‘stripey pants’ (no)

03 Iron Maiden – The Trooper

03 Mike’s Guess: ‘bands that opened for Sabbath’ (no)

04 Dio – Rainbow In The Dark

04 Mike’s Guess: ‘all four albums covers were paintings with mascots’ (yes!)

Comment: Definitely a HEAVY set, which I thoroughly enjoyed. And Mike nails it. So cool.

Score: Mike is 4/4.

Four-Play #5 (submitted by Nick Byerjean sp?)

01 KISS – Beth

01 Mike’s Guess: ‘songs that originated as b-sides’ (no)

01 Mike’s Extra Guess: ‘no members of the band played on the track’ (no)

01 Mike’s Extra Guess: ‘crappy songs from great albums’ (no)

02 Guns ‘N Roses – Used To Love Her

02 Mike’s Guess: ‘single monikered album titles’ (no)

02 Mike’s Extra Guess: ‘songs with unusual percussion’ (no)

02 Mike’s Extra Guess: ‘songs people think is about one thing, but it’s about something else” (no)

02 Mike’s Extra Guess: ‘acoustic ballads’ (no)

03 Aerosmith – Angel

03 Mike’s Guess: ‘bands led by duos’ (no)

03 Mike’s Extra Guess: ‘bands who shortened their name from something longer (no)

03 Mike’s Extra Guess ‘all are bands from America’ (no)

04 Slash with Andrew Stockdale – By The Sword

04 Mike’s Guess: ‘songs released in even numbered years’ (no)

04 Mike’s Extra Guess: ‘all albums released in leap years’ (no)

04 Mike’s Extra Guess: ‘songs released in Canadian-hosted Olympic years’ (yes!)

Comment: OK, that was RIDICULOUS. Hearing him work through that last one was incredible. Even with all the extra guesses, that answer was from so far out of left field. Wow.

#466: Clap for the Wolfman

 

“Another lovely day begins, for ghosts and ghouls with greenish skin. So close your eyes and you will find that you’ve arrived in Frightenstein. Perhaps the Count will find a way to make his monster work today. For if he solves this monster-mania, he can return to Transylvania! So welcome where the sun won’t shine, to the castle of Count Frightenstein!”Vincent Price

GETTING MORE TALE #466:  Clap for the Wolfman

I surely cannot be the only person in the world who heard of rock and roll because of the legendary radio DJ Wolfman Jack…although mine was in a roundabout way!

The irresistibly gravel-voiced Wolfman Jack was born in 1938 as Robert Smith.  A love of classic horror led to the creation of the Wolfman character.  He played rock and roll records from a high-powered transmitter on the Mexico border.  So powerful was the signal that Jack claimed “Birds dropped dead when they flew too close to the tower.”  On a clear night, listeners in the Soviet Union could hear the Wolfman half a world away.

Killing birds and eating records, the Wolfman really came to fame when tapes of his broadcasts were used for radio syndication.  By selling his tapes world-wide, Jack could be heard on over 2000 stations at his peak.    The Wolfman character became synonymous with rock and roll no matter where you lived.

American Graffiti: Richard Dreyfuss and Wolfman Jack

I was too young to know of Wolfman Jack directly.  I was even too young for American Graffiti, the 1973 George Lucas classic about the cruising scene in Modesto California circa the summer of ’62.  Wolfman Jack made a memorable appearance as himself, and did radio DJ intros for most of the tunes through the movie.  This however was preceded by a 1971 Canadian kid’s comedy show called The Hilarious House of Frightenstein. Similarly to of the syndication that made the Wolfman a smash success, Frightenstein was on TV well into the 70’s and 80’s, even though all the episodes were made in 1971.  Via Frightenstein, I learned who the Wolfman was.

Because of the endless re-runs, there was no way for young Canadian kids to miss it.  Before we had cable, it was one of the few shows we could reliably get, both at home and at the cottage, as it was broadcast from Hamilton Ontario.  Billy Van played almost every character himself: Grizelda the Witch, the Librarian, Dr. Pet Vet, Bwana Clyde Batty (a British explorer who ran the “Zany Zoo”), and many more.  Van’s most memorable character however had to be The Wolfman – an actual wolfman radio DJ inspired by Jack, down to the gravelly voice and wolf howls!  The Wolfman would spin classic rock and roll records each show, accompanied by psychedelic images of him dancing and playing air guitar with the character of Igor, played by Fishka Rais.  (The huge Rais was one of very few additional actors on the show.  Vincent Price and Professor Julius Sumner Miller recorded all their parts over the course of the summer of 1971.  And let’s not forget Guy Big, as the Midget Count!)

When the Wolfman’s segments would begin, you would know it immediately.  His theme song was “I Wanna Take You Higher” by Sly and the Family Stone.  “I am the Wolfman!  Ah-oooooooo!” he would howl at the start of his show.  He would play “golden oldies” by the Stones and other classic rock and roll artists, on his radio station “EECH”. He would tell callers that he was “fangtastic”.  (The “golden oldies” concept was brilliant.  Even if he was playing a fairly recent Stones single, he’d call it a “golden oldie”, thus ensuring that the show seemed current even when being broadcast in, say, 1986.  Planning and syndication!)

One of the few Youtube clips featuring original audio and music.

So there I was, a young kid sitting on the basement floor during Canadian winter, playing with Lego and watching  this pretty low-budget kid’s show, when suddenly this wolfman appeared!  “I am the Wolfman!  Ahooooooo!”  I didn’t know the music.  I’d never heard Sly and the Family Stone.  They were great!  I was hooked.  I even made my own tapes of the Wolfman.  I played the Wolfman…and all the other characters.  I had him battling Star Wars composer John Williams for chart superiority!  Fortunately, these tapes no longer exist!

I had no idea yet that Billy Van’s Wolfman was based on a real person.   That came later, probably through my parents, as I learned more about rock and roll.  All I knew was that he was a fun character who played good songs.  “I Wanna Take You Higher” was an early favourite.  The Stones made a strong impression.  He also played Mungo Jerry.  I didn’t like the slow songs.  Unfortunately due to the legal rights involved, “I Wanna Take You Higher” had to be replaced on the DVD versions.  Rights could only be obtained to release a few episodes on disc. (Most of the Youtube clips you will find are overdubbed versions with different music, and a new voice, since Billy Van had passed away before the DVDs were released.)

Wolfman Jack himself appeared on many television shows and records over the years.  After American Graffiti, he appeared in the ill-advised sequel, which flopped.  TV loved him; he even guested on Battlestar Galactica’s spinoff series Galactica 1980.  Notably, in 1974 he appeared as himself on The Guess Who’s classic single “Clap for the Wolfman”, a memorable tribute featuring plenty of the Wolfman’s trademark growl.  His influence trickled down, creating waves far exceeding the radio broadcasts that once reached Russia.  Via these tributes to his accomplishments, the Wolfman served to introduce rock and roll music to new generations, either via TV and movies or Billy Van’s character inspired by him.  Clap for the Wolfman indeed!

Part 316: Oh What A Feeling

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RECORD STORE TALES Part 318:  Oh What A Feeling

In 1996, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Juno Awards, a box set titled Oh What A Feeling was released.  It was four CDs loaded to the gills with Canadian music, from all corners of the country and all styles of music.  It was a great set and one which sold regularly in our stores.  The original run of the set sold out briskly.  We had a hard time keeping it in stock new, and a few years later, used copies were somewhat scarce.  We sold it at a very reasonable price of $19.99, used.

We had one customer, who I never gave a name to except for “Eastern European Guy”.  He had an accent and broken English so that worked for me.  He pulled Oh What A Feeling off the shelves and asked to listen to it on one of our six crappy listening stations.  I popped in all four CDs, handed him the headphones and remote, and left him to listen.

One thing that always pissed me off was people who constantly need help on the listening stations.  It’s not hard.  Volume controls were right there in front of you.  The remote was like any remote that people would have had at home.  People who couldn’t figure out how to skip tracks pissed me off.  How do you listen to music at home?  I didn’t get it.

Eastern European Man motioned with his hand for me to come over.  “This song…there is a problem with it.  Listen please.”

“Hey, I have an idea. Let’s stick the lead guitar player behind the bassist for this video.”

I placed the headphones on my head.  It was track 1, disc one.  “American Woman” by The Guess Who.  I listened for a few seconds, nodded my head in approving time with the song, and removed the ‘phones.

“Sounds good.  What problem are you having?” I asked as politely as I could manage.

“This song…there is strange sound.  Listen again.”

I placed the headphones back on.  Dah da da da da, dah da.  American Woman, stay away from me-hee.  Sounded fine.  I heard no strange sounds.  I told him I heard nothing unusual.

“There is a sound…ticking sound.  Tick tick tick.  Listen please.”

I put the phones on for the third time.  Finally I got it.  I heard the ticking.  It was the cymbal.

“Oh, OK, I get it.  Yeah, that’s not a defect.  That’s the drummer playing cymbals.”  I made a drumming motion to get my point across.

“No, no.  There is ticking sound.  Tick tick tick.  This not right.”

I explained again, “I hear the ticking sound you’re talking about.  It’s part of the song.  It’s the drummer playing cymbals, it’s a percussion instrument, like this.”  I made the drumming motions again.

“I not like.  Can you order me other copy?”

Man, I freaking hated ordering shit in when I didn’t have to.  There was nothing wrong with Oh What A Feeling.  If I ordered in a copy, it would be coming from another store in our chain.  We carried this item as a used item, but they were all going to be the same.  When we brought in this item from another store, we wouldn’t make any money on it.  The store that sent it to us gets the sale.  So, even if he buys it which was not guaranteed since the next copy would have the same tick tick tick, I would be losing the sale.

He insisted.  I ordered in the box set, we called him, and inexplicably, he bought the new one even though they were identical.  He never even returned it, which I completely expected.

SAM_1244Later on, the same man came in and picked out Bruce Dickinson’s album Balls To Picasso to listen to.  Once again, I brought him over to the listening stations, and left him to listen.  Once again, he signaled me over with a hand gesture.  I made my way to home wondering what the hell could be wrong this time.

“Did you put in correct CD?  I know this singer.  This is…not him.”

I put on the headphones and turned it up.  It was Bruce singing “Cyclops”, track one.

“This is the right CD.  This is Bruce Dickinson,” I told him.

Puzzled, the man said, “He changed his style!”  Well, win some lose some man.  I left him to listen once again.  I got back to my work, I had lots of customers to deal with that day.  About 10 minutes later, he motioned me over once again.

“The player…it not working.”  This happened quite frequently.  Our stuff was used and abused by the lowest scum and passersby who needed to kill 10 minutes while they waited for the bus.  Tire kickers.  They like to try things, but not to buy things.  Eastern European Man was not one of these, he did buy things.  However our stuff took a lot of abuse from others and was always on the verge of failure.

Attempting to joke around with him, I put on a happy voice and said, “Oh, did you break it man?”

Not understanding the humour, he answered, “Ehhh…perhaps.”

He bought the disc.  After a while, I never saw him again.  It’s funny.  You dread people like this coming into your store, and you having to wait on them hand on foot when they want to listen to something.  You hate them constantly signaling you over when you’re busy with other customers.  But, then you miss them.  You miss that eastern European accent because hey, he might have been annoying but at least he wasn’t a dick, and he did buy things.  He might have treated you like a servant to him, but technically that’s what you were.  You might have been a manager but to these guy you’re serving them, and they’re the customer, and that’s it, and I don’t begrudge it anymore.

But what happened to him?  Did he return to Eastern Europe?  Did he go online and start listening and downloading there?  Who knows.  After all, I never caught his name.  He was just Eastern European Man.

CUPFACE