January 17th, 2016

I remember having to be at the ready at a tape player to hit record when the song you wanted came on the radio. I honestly don’t remember a lot of what I was trying to record; the earliest memories I have of this are in the 80’s, some with my Aunt Wendy babysitting I think. I do remember Bruce Springsteen being one of the artists I wanted to capture, however.

It was probably something from Born in the USA, given its popularity in the mid-80’s and all. I didn’t really know much about The Boss then, though, and wouldn’t really look into him much at all until high school.

While I’m not certain if it was Grade 11 or 12, I do know it took place during a period of Canadian History, which was a mandatory course back in my day. We had a substitute teacher, Mr. King, and not a lot was getting done. It was probably near the end of the day, or maybe even a Friday, because I remember him jotting down song lyrics and having us try and guess what they were.

One of the songs he chose was My Hometown from Born in the USA and he told us about why he’d picked it. For some reason that stuck with me, and later that day or the next I found myself at a local second-hand store with my father. I saw a copy of Born in the USA on cassette for cheap and picked it up.

That was the start of what’s become a lifelong interest in The Boss and the denizens of E Street. This was shortly before he released Human Touch and Lucky Town at the same time, both of which I think I got through Columbia House on CD, but prior to that I worked my way backwards.

I remember being so excited discovering about and getting my hands on Greetings from Asbury Park and The Wild, The Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle; everyone knew about Born to Run but listening to those first two albums before he “made it” made me feel special for some reason, like I’d discovered him all on my own.

Complete and utter foolishness, I know, but I was just a teenager so sue me.

At any rate, ever since then I’ve picked up everything by him I could get my hands on, including every album up to and including Tunnel of Love on vinyl even though I don’t actually have a record player. This includes every boxed set, save for his most recent one which I will get eventually, and even greatest hits / essential collections when they’ve included material not otherwise available.

I distinctly remember borrowing money off of my buddy Brad to buy the Tracks boxed set when it came out. I was living in Burke House with him at the time and attending MUN, and I just didn’t have the money. He knew how much I wanted it and loaned it to me, which I haven’t forgotten to this day.

That boxed set still blows me away; four discs of previously unreleased material, and we’re not talking about each disc only having a half dozen versions of / variations on previously released music either. While there were some demos on them, the vast majority of it was songs he’d simply just not put out for whatever reason, all polished, produced, and ready to go. It blew my mind back then and it still does now. Especially since he’s still doing it; witness the Darkness on the Edge of Town and The River collections from the last few years and how much original stuff was on both of them.

Entwined with my fascination of Springsteen is my learning to play the guitar, which probably helped with my love of both. I’m listening right now to Wild Billy’s Circus Story and I remember trying to figure that one out back in the day. The internet was still pretty young back then and guitar tabs were not nearly as prevalent or as easy to find, but if I couldn’t find them I’d try to figure them out on my own.

In fact, I remember during the short span of time I was fortunate enough to take guitar lessons from Duane Andrews I brought him a copy of Born to Run to ask for his help in learning how to play Jungleland. He was so fascinated by the saxophone solo in it, which changes key from the main song, and I’ll never forget being able to bring him something he enjoyed hearing, as he was (and still is, see his plethora of ECMA awards) such a phenomenal musician himself.

If I could ever be in a tribute band, it would most definitely be a Springsteen one. If anyone’s looking to start one up, let me know, yeah? I should start working on a pun-ny name right now, hmm.

So yes, discovering Springsteen at that time in my life, when I was transitioning from high school to university, from living at home to being on my own (kinda, as I was in residence after all), it really hit home for me. It’s never left, either, and I highly doubt it ever will.

I’ve been fortunate enough to see him in concert just once so far, though I’d love to see them another one or twenty times. It was on his Wrecking Ball tour of 2012, March 28th, the first of two shows in Philadelphia. I actually bought a pair of tickets for both nights but I don’t think my wife was up for two, so I sold my second set on Craigslist to a man who turned out to be a police officer. Not that selling them was illegal or anything, but when I met him on the parking lot of the Rite Aid next to my wife’s then apartment building I must admit I was a little freaked out. I sold them at cost, which I would’ve done for anyone; I was honestly just so amazingly pumped to be seeing him at all, though I’ll admit I would’ve gladly gone twice. He was grateful too and it was a nice moment for me, I suppose; being a hook up for a blue collar fan of The Boss to one of his shows seems almost poetic and certainly appropriate.

Anyway, the show was amazing. I am not a religious person by any stretch, I’ll be the first to admit, and at the risk of sounding sacrilegious it truly was a religious experience for me. Which is exactly how he presents it and performs it, and he did not fail to deliver. The extra layer of reverence was unfortunately due to the passing of two members of the band, Danny Federici some years prior and Clarence Clemons not too long before, and on this tour during their performance of Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out he’d pause to have…

Ok, this bears further explanation. During each show he’d vamp for awhile and would intro each member of the band, saving The Big Man, Clarence Clemons, for last. Each tour he’d mix it up and use a different song for this, and on this tour, the first post-Big Man, that song was Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out. There’s a part in it where the fourth wall is kinda broken with lyrics of “when the changes came up town and the Big Man joined the band *cue sax riffing*”, which has a natural pause before it, so that’s where he’d stop to vamp. And he saved Clarence for last, asking the audience to cheer loud enough for him to hear us wherever he was. And I’m getting a little misty eyed thinking about it now, honestly. I went and got myself a nightcap of Talisker, partly because I want to dammit and partly because, yeah. Rest in Peace, Big Man.

So, yeah. Religious experience. Life… not life changing, that’s the wrong word, but life affirming? Reaffirming? Something along those lines, at least. It was truly the greatest concert of my life and right up there as one of the best moments period. What’s the second best you might ask? Vampire Weekend at The Orpheum in Boston, turning around to see the upper deck literally bouncing as the people in it cheered and sang along, but that’s another story for another time.

There are many other stories I could tell – signing in for my 1st year English class at CONA as Vinny ‘Mad Dog’ Lopez (an old Springsteen drummer) because I knew my prof was a huge fan too, how The Ghost of Tom Joad lead to me reading and loving The Grapes of Wrath, how I included one of his songs in a paper I wrote on law and music for my Law and Popular Culture class in law school – but I’d be here all night. While that sounds like an awesome proposition, as I’m listening to his albums as I write this (The Wild, The Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle is almost over now), I do have to get up early in the morning so this is as good a place to end it as any.

So I’ll leave off with the best (worst?) pun-ny name I could come up with for an NL Springsteen tribute band: Fish ‘n Bruce? Eh? Eh?

Sorry.

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January 16th, 2016

We watched The Martian today, which I had previously seen when I was in Saskatchewan. I saw it in a fancy theatre with motion activated chairs, but it still holds up as just as exciting and entertaining when watching it at home. I still prefer the book though, without going into too much detail for people who haven’t enjoyed one or the other as of yet.

I also decided to give Season 5 of Diablo III a shot today. It looks promising and I decided to try another Demon Hunter, which has been fun as well. That was the very first class I played way back when and I’ve levelled at least one of every other class to 70 since then, so it’s been a while since I’ve played another from scratch. That helps with keeping it interesting, along with the season challenges and the new changes in 2.4.0.

The only other things of note today were my allergies bugging me in the morning, which I solved by taking a Reactine, and my self-diagnosed misophonia bothering me more than usual. Which includes while typing this very post, because typing is one of the most annoying sounds for me, at least at times. Given how much time I spend on computers, that’s pretty weird, but it’s true.

The sounds of typing and people eating are what really set it off for me, but thankfully that’s not an all the time thing. Well, ok, the latter may be, but typing doesn’t always affect me so badly. Today though it’s been annoying, my own being the worst, maybe because I’m not wearing headphones as I usually do or the TV is lower or something, it just seems louder today for some reason.

Meh, it’ll be bedtime soon enough so it’s all good. Maybe I’ll go kill some more demons for a bit before that.

January 15th, 2016

I was looking at board games today, as I found myself in St. John’s and decided to pop into one of the local gaming shops, Timemasters. This was partly inspired by listening to a podcast that mentioned Betrayal on the House on the Hill and how it’s apparently sold so many copies they’re having a hard time making more, so much so that future editions will cost more.

So of course I thought I’d try to find one and “save” money by getting it now instead of paying more for it later. Because clearly that’s how you save money, right?

At any rate, no copy was to be found, which is probably just as well. I already own a number of games that I’ve never played because there’s just no one around to play them with, at least not usually. I think the last time we tried was when my sister-in-law and her hubby stayed with us the summer before last in 2014. So no matter how awesome that game looks (seriously, check it out in action on Tabletop) I probably shouldn’t buy it.

Then I think about trying to start a game night amongst friends of ours in the city, or getting my cousin to play some of the two player games I’ve got – including this DC deck building game he gave me a few years ago – something like that could work perhaps.

I also came close to buying another D&D book but I’ve got so, so many of those that I’ve never used, including a lot of 4th edition ones (the current edition is the 5th). Instead of buying something else I probably won’t use, I may just try my hand at some world building with what I have, see what I can come up with and if anyone’s interested in giving that a shot.

That might be what I do with my Saturday. For now I’m off to give the new season of Diablo III a shot I think.

January 14th, 2016

Finally finished watching Making a Murderer tonight. I have a lot of thoughts but it’s going for midnight and I kind of just want to sleep. So that means tonight’s entry is just filler, sorry.

I will enter a short list of topics that have popped into my head lately upon which I can elaborate in future posts: Springsteen, misophonia, how I started playing guitar, the Lore podcast, to name a few.

So, yes, sleep for now and I will write something more substantive over the weekend. I know, I’ll make not one but two bigger than usual entries, one each on Saturday and Sunday, there we go. Goals set.

And now I sleep!

January 13th, 2016

So I think today is going to be another filler day. It’s been a long one and I’m really too tired to think of anything interesting to write about unfortunately.

What I did think about when I came home was pretty random, namely looking for a laptop skin for my MacBook Air. I think I’ve been seeing some in use on various TV shows lately and that’s why it’s on my mind, but a.) I don’t really need one, and b.) while it’s still pretty awesome this laptop’s not the newest, so who knows how long I’d be using it anyway? I’ve been looking at them to pass the time regardless though, because that’s just how I roll apparently.

I’m also browsing through the strategy guide I got yesterday for Pillars of Eternity, though I’ve yet to start playing it. I was waiting for the guide so I should start it now that it’s here, and yet. I’m as bad with games as I am with books. And movies. And TV shows. And… well, everything, I guess.

That makes me look to one of the many piles of media stacked throughout the room, especially the copy of Assassin’s Creed Unity (picked up November 2014) that I’ve yet to finish and the copy of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate (picked up November 2015) that I’ve already purchased without having finished its predecessor. Whoops.

Oh hey, now I know what I can look for: Assassin’s Creed laptop skins. See? Full circle, awesome.

January 12th, 2016

We explored more of Making a Murderer tonight, watching episodes four through six before Sara had to call it a night. Hopefully we’ll finish it off tomorrow night because wow. I’d read some reviews by other people that talked about yelling at their TVs and laughed, but I’ve done my fair share of that so far.

I mean, I don’t know much about American law but some of what I’ve seen so far is just universally stupefying. I don’t even know where to start, and I won’t until I finish because I know there’s going to be a lot more to see and comment on before we’re done. I also don’t want to post here without a warning or anything because I don’t want to spoil things for people, especially since I haven’t been spoiled myself (unlike with The Force Awakens sadly).

While driving today I also listened to the two latest episodes of Serial, which was interesting, the second last episode of Welcome to Night Vale, and the two recent Mike and Tom Eat Snacks episodes that just came out much to my pleasant surprise. Michael Ian Black and Tom Cavanagh are just too damn funny together, I was laughing out loud by the time I got home. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, I’m sure, but it was laughter I really needed today so I appreciated it more than usual.

Lastly, but not least, we received the end of our Christmas presents today, which for me consisted of two books from my sister-in-law and her hubby, thanks guys! One was pretty deep on the old wishlist and the other is a book in a steampunk series I’ve been enjoying. I also forgot to mention receiving season one of Black Sails from another friend lately too, thanks for that as well!

Lots to read and watch for 2016 indeed, and on top of that a strategy guide I ordered for Pillars of Eternity arrived today too, so if anyone hears me say I’m bored please feel free to kick me in the behind.

January 11th, 2016

I managed to catch up on some podcasts today for the first time since Christmas break, which was nice. I listened to the second episode of the new Serial and was pleasantly surprised to find I have not one but two more episodes ready to go now.

I also listened to an older episode of Wil Wheaton’s Radio Free Burrito (which can be found here) wherein he reads an article about the disappearance of Elisa Lam (the article itself is here).

I hadn’t heard about this before, or, if I had, it was in passing and so long ago I don’t remember it. Hearing Wil read the article today however had me captivated for the entirety of my drive. I admit to looking up the video in question once I got home too and yeah, I can see how the internet got off on all sorts of tangents in this case.

The article nails it though, on how fascinating the case is, the urge to want to find out more, and then the feelings one has near the end of looking into everything. For me it does anyway, as always your mileage may vary, but it was pretty interesting all the same.

And in that light, Sara and I watched a few more episodes of Making a Murderer tonight. We’re on episode 4 next I believe and I think we’ll jump right back into it as soon as we’re both home tomorrow. I’m getting that same feeling watching it, of fascination, followed by deep interest, and I’m wondering if the end of the series will bring the same feeling as the above case.

Time will tell, and no spoilers please for those who’ve seen it all.