Sunday, January 29, 2012

Many songs, Many voices

So last night I was on itunes late at night, in a nostalgic mood for winter 1984/1983 era, with a little 1985 and earlier 1980s thrown in. It was a very specific craving. Usually when I am in an impulsive itunes nostalgia mood, I end up downloading albums. However, last night, I was determined to make a really nice, extensive list from this particular time. While I have tons of stuff from this era on my OTHER ipod, I unfortunately can't get it on my new ipod because the old ipod was on an itunes on my old computer, and I haven't been able to get that stuff off of that computer as of yet because it takes 4 fucking hours to frigging BOOT UP, and the mouse doesn't work, and yada yada. One day, I'll figure it out - but for now, I'll slowly build up the empire from the ground up.
Anyway, let me preface all of this that I wasn't under the influence of anything, so I can't blame anything on that, like I did the time I HAD to have the Scorpions and Big Country's Greatest Hits. Yes, Big Country. Yes, apparently they had more than one hit. Or so I thought at the time. LOL, I remember thinking that night "OH, they also had that GREAT song from some EP - I don't know what it's called, but i'm sure it'll be on the GH." I don't think it was. Basically, they are from a big country, wear kilts without any knickers, and eat sheep intestines. God bless the Scottish.

So, these are a few of last night's favorite things:
Kansas - "Fire With Fire"
Deep Purple - "Perfect Strangers"
Frida - "I Know there's Something Going On"
John Lennon - "Nobody Told Me"
Shannon - "Let the Music Play (12" mix)"
Olivia Newton John - "Twist of Fate"
Billy Squier - "Rock me Tonight"
Billy Squier - "The Stroke"
Chaka Khan and Rufus: "Ain't Nobody"
Chaka Khan: "Through the Fire", "This is My Night", "Stronger than Before"
Motels: "Remember the Nights"
Platinum Blonde: "Not in Love"
Corey Hart: "Waiting for You"
Corey Hart: "Eurasian eyes"
Rick James: "Cold Blooded"
Eddie Rabbit: "Someone Could Lose a Heart Tonight"

And then I added a bunch of stuff to the playlist that I already had. You know, those 80s bands must thank the Lord each and every day for the invention of the mp3 and the internet, because without these things, 40 s0mething year olds like me would have no late night outlet to purchase their music YET AGAIN to live out our nostalgic memories of listening to their music in our bedrooms with the cracked plaster and smoking contraband cigarettes, with our ashtrays resting on the radiator, while blowing smoke out of the window.

I added Michael Sambello's "Automatic Man" (it sounds so.... well... gay... but this song is so catchy)
-- Christine McVie's "Got a Hold on Me" and "Love Will Show Us How"
-- the Motel's "Only the Lonely", "Suddenly Last Summer", and "Shame"
-- Flock of Seagull's "Wishing" and "I Ran"
-- Depeche Mode "Everything Counts" (12 ")
-- Tony Carey "A Fine, Fine Day" & "The First Day of Summer"
-- Tina Turner "One of the Living" and her version of Robert Palmer's "Johnny and Mary"
-- Talk Talk "It's my Life"
-- Style Council "Shout it to the Top" and "My Ever-Changing Moods"
-- Stevie Nicks' "Nightbird" (which makes me think of my mom and always gives me the ugly cry), "Stand Back", and "If Anyone Falls"
-- Sheila E. "The Belle of St. Mark"
-- Manhattan Transfer "Spice of Life"
-- Los Lobos "Will The Wolf Survive"
-- Lindsey Buckingham "Go Insane"
-- joe Jackson "You Can't Get What You Want"
-- Joan Jett "Everyday People" & "Fake Friends"
-- Jackson Browne "Lawyers in Love", "Tender is the Night", "For a Rocker"
-- Human League "Fascination" and "Mirror Man"
-- The Fixx "Sign of Fire", "One Thing Leads to Another", "Saved by Zero", "Red Skies" "Less Cities, More Moving People", "Are We Ourselves?"
-- Def Leppard "Photograph", "Rock of Ages", "Foolin'"
-- Duran Duran "New Moon on Monday", Union of the Snake", "The Reflex"
-- Patti Labelle "New Attitude", "Stir it Up"
-- Marvin Gaye "Sexual Healing"
-- Marilu Zahalen "Just one Turn of the Wheel"
-- Anne Murray "That's Not the Way It's S'posed to Be"
-- Rolling Stones - "One Hit (To The Body)"
-- Robert Plant - "Big Log", "In the Mood"

I also downloaded the latest album from Marv and Rindy Ross of Quarterflash. I love those two. I picture myself as their pseudo-child, what with them being from the 80s and all. And they are from Oregon, my obsession.

Anyway, what have YOU downloaded lately?

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Tale of Two Countries through the Eyes of a Walmart shopper

Well, this has nothing to do with anything, but Someone ( if i didnt link this right) posted about being stuck behind a rotton-toothed hillbilly with a heart of gold in Walmart, and really, it's made me think about what you can expect from certain Walmarts. You see, the Walmart where she lives sounds just like the one here in Butcher Holler. I despise our Walmart, but I must say that the Walmarts of our neighbors to the south are hunky-dory for the most part in comparison with Canadian Walmart.
As all y'all know, I love me my American Walmart Supercenters. Of course, while I realize that this is largely because of the insane number of things available in the USA that we can't get here, like Cherry Coke/Diet Cherry Coke/Cherry Coke Zero, cheese in a can, Mentadent toothpaste... oh, the list goes on and on. Anyway, the point is, while I do love me the crazy selection of STUFF in the American Walmarts, and the insanely cheap prices on so many things available there, the Supercenters are actually nice -although they each have their own quirks.
While I love me some of the crazy shit you see on, I gotta say that for the most part, I've seen pretty normal people in the American Walmarts I've been to. Here's a review of some of the ones that have stuck in my mind:
Minot, North Dakota: Probably one of the nicer Walmarts I've been in. It may have changed since the oil boom in ND has hit hard, but before that, it was typical of Minot - clean, orderly, well-stocked, cashiers had no missing teeth/no neck tattoos/no mullets or perms. When you walk in, there is this great sign saying that, because of the State's "Blue Something-or-Other Law", this 24 hour store must close from midnight Saturday until Sunday morning. I think I took a pic of it. Anyway, the store is unremarkable for hillbillies/freaks. If you are in Minot and are Jonesing for that crowd, by all means, head to the Super K-Mart there. Fuck me in the ear with a rotten Q-Tip, but MAN, that's a depressing place. It has an old Woolworth smell to it, and it's really run down and sad, and the people in there are just... well... it's like a Roseanne and Dan type of place, except it's real and not tv. However, my hard-to-buy-for kid found perfect jeans there, and this was the only fucking place I could find the old-school Lysol - you know, the concentrated stuff in the brown bottle that smells like band-aids and hospital? Well, they don't sell it in Canada anymore, and sometimes, I just like to make things feel sanitized and smelly like a hospital. Don't fucking ask me WHY - it's probably some nostalgia shit, and my mom probably soaked my dirty diapers in it and it all represents me trying to get back to the womb (just pulling out some of the crazy psychoanalytic bullshit from my university days - I spent too much time having to study all of that shit. But anyway...)
So back to K-Mart in Minot. Complete sad place - but the Walmart? Ain't bad, mofos.....

Ditto for the Walmart in Idaho Falls, Idaho. This one was really nice too - clean, well-stocked, new, full of average people. I didn't spend all that much time in this one. I think I just ran in to pick up breakfast foods for our drive, but it was nice. It was located right in the same lot as a Harley Davidson store. I wanted to go in there and get some bad-ass shirt or something, because that's how I roll. However, since I don't think I've ever touched a bike, and I pretty much know that, if I ever had to ride as a passenger, I'd feel trapped and have a big fucking panic attack, and would tip us, or spill us or whatever the lingo is, and we'd all be road pizza, so I couldn't walk in there and fake it. But you know me - always trying to play the role of the cool kid with the pumped up kicks. So yeah, this was a nice Walmart there. Of course, it's a nice town, and it's in the heart of Idaho's Mormon belt, so what do you expect?

And then there's Maude. Or as the Americans like to call it, Montana. Well, Montana is such an oddball place when you really think about it. It's so beautiful, and there's so much to see. But at the same time, it's all so.... creepy in a way. Not creepy as in a Scooby Doo episode way, where the Mystery Machine breaks down and Scooby and the gang end up performing sexual favours a la Deliverance Montana style, but creepy in a "there's so much poverty and wildness amidst the nice setting" kind of way. So Billings - beautiful city in terms of scenery - all of this "rimrock" all over the place. That sounds dirty, doesn't it, like you'd hear it in some porno movie: "Dick Handful stars in Rimrock 9". Anyway, Billings looks pretty. But then you see casinos everywhere and sad homeless men and their dogs, holding signs at every intersection, and you have to give a dollar to each one you see because it breaks your heart. ANYWAY. Back to Walmart. The one Billings Walmart we went to was great. The other one we couldn't figure out how to get to. But the store was very clean, and and new, and well stocked, and the patrons were a mix of people. There was a bit more of the redneck crowd in there, but more of the cowboy variety. Lots of cowboy hats, lots of twirly moustaches, and next to the Korean Nail place by the checkout, they had a tackle and hunting supply shop. I wanted to get a pic of that, but was too scared, what with all the guns and all. The shitters were dirty though. But whatever.

Then there is the Walmart in Havre. Havre is a little town, and their Walmart is billed as a Supercenter, but really, I think they are just blowing smoke up the locals' asses. The store is a little rough around the edges. It's still clean, still well-stocked, and so on, but the crowd was a little more varied. And the check out people were characters. I remember the one time, the woman helping us was this chubby thing with a loud voice, and we were buying something really gross, like Dr. Pepper ice cream syrup or something, and she was asking all about it.
And the last time, this past summer, we had a cart that was heaped full of crap, and the Mrs. and the kids left me with this young checker dude so they could pee, and he wouldn't stop talking. As soon as my big 5 litre boxes of Franzia went through, he said "it's saying I should ask you for ID, but I am pretty sure that the 4 kids would make you over 21." And he said this with just a titch of doubt in his voice. So then I am all "dude, I'm 41" and then he went into this HUGE story about his "step sister or half sister or whatever she is" and her bad, bad kids. And he says "She's 19 and expecting her THIRD" and tsk-tsked and told this story about babysitting them for a weekend while her and her new hubby she hardly knows went somewhere" and then said how he won't go around when they are there now because they are so wild, and I felt like we should have exchanged email addresses or something. So, yeah, Havre was a little 'Billy, but not in a totally bad way.
And then there's Great Falls. OH, Great Falls.... where hillbillies and meth meet! The Walmart there is a little older, a little sad, like the city, but AGAIN, well stocked. Cleanish. But the crowd? Odd mix. I particularly remember this one fat fuck, with a shaved, tattooed head, stockier than a water heater, with these two girls, one with dyed black hair, the other with thin, whispy, non-descript hair, and he was lecturing them on what lubes are the best. And he's going ON and ON about KY this and Astroglide that, and it was not a private convo by any means. I grabbed the kids a little closer to me and got the fuck out of the stomachache and sex supply aisle. OH, and you can pretty much buy a gun at that store like THAT!
This leads me to the last two American Walmarts I'll talk about - Newport, Oregon and Spokane, WA. Both stores were NOT Supercenters, and both had NOTHING on their shelves. And they were sort of dirty. In Newport, the woman ID'ed me buying beer, and we got to talking and she was saying it was nice to see the store being busy that day because business was so terrible due to the economic downturn. It made me realize how profound it was for them there. And in the parking lot, this homeless dude was begging for money with this sign saying something like "Out of work bank robber". We just honked at him because he was getting business from others, but this other guy, with the sign that said "Obama ain't right in the head", well, he looked so down and out and had a dog, and my wife made me turn around and we gave him 10 bucks. Only at Walmart.

So this leads me to MY Walmart. What does any of this have to do with anything? WELL, I will tell you - the stores I mentioned in the US, while they had a variety of customers, were, for the most part, clean and organized and had WORKERS. The store here in Stinkville? Shithole deluxe! Seriously, it's not a supercentre yet - that happens next year when they build on, but it's a huge store nonetheless, but it is so freaking hillbilly. This is the same store that a woman gave birth in the bathroom and left her baby to die in the toilet, so that should tell you something. ANYWAY. It's always full of hillbillies and baby mamas, and snotty nosed kids and they have NO STAFF. They have like 2 tills open if you are lucky, and they have nothing on the shelves. Now, I am no Donald Trump, nor do I hold any fancy-schmantzy marketing degrees, but I reckon that Sam Walton would say that the key to your store, apart from falling prices, is to STOCK THE MOTHERFUCKING SHELVES when they are empty. And if you notice that you run out of a particular item more than once, by golly, you should order MORE next time! I swear, you take a walk down the food aisles, and it looks like your typical Louisiana Walmart 3 hours before a hurricane hits. There is no milk, no yogourt, no eggs.... and then if you go down the chip and pop aisle, which is a food staple for the patrons, THERE IS NEVER ANY FUCKING POP LEFT, except some freak flavour like Great Value Orange. And if you want Crystal Light? Forget about it. They are always out. if it sells so much, GET MORE!
And the place is dirty. Filthy. And the pharmacy has strange hours. OH, and if you want to buy a watch? Sorry, but the jewelry counter is never operational. It's sort of like a prop, in case Hollywood wants to swoop in and use the store for a scene in a movie - the jewelry counter is there for that purpose!
But back to the tills. I mostly avoid that place now. Only go at Xmas usually, but the other night I had to run in and get parchment paper for my darling wife. Well, 3 tills are working, 2 are express. However, you know how in express the thing will bellow "PLEASE GO TO 5"? Well, it was broken, so the poor girl is yelling "five! come to five! Till five!" It was so sad.
Usually, this is how I bond with people in the Walmart line. The line will be 27 people deep, and 2 people will be working and eventually some old man will say "I can't believe they have only two open. This crazy shithole of a store...." and then everyone near you chimes in and says "uh huuuh" and "amen" and it's like some preaching scene out of 227. So the Walmart line here? A social event for us all. Of course, there was the time I gave the finger to the store and stomped out, but we don't need that story tonight.
Yours in Walliness,

Sunday, January 22, 2012

update #1

Ok, I have neglected this space for so long, I am just going to give a point-form update on everything:

-- Ok, it's not important to finish the last story with the trivial details. Let me just say that after about a week of my Dad going really downhill in the hospital, he passed away on November 2nd. I last saw him on Oct. 30th. I went up to feed him, and he was really out of it, sleeping while sitting, and his ankles were really swollen, and I just sort of instinctively knew that this was it. But I was still shocked the night he died. I just finished putting the last of the kids to bed, when my sister called at about 10:30, and she said that Dad's nurse had called and said his vitals were "all over the place" so they were sending him to emergency and we better come. So I run across the street to get my sister "Libby", who was spending the last evening in her house (she was getting married the following week and was just there to clean out her house, as she was moving to the city). Anyway, by the time we got to the hospital, he was gone. He went peacefully and quickly. I went in first to say goodbye alone. It is such an odd, surreal thing to say goodbye to your parent, even though in mind he hasn't known me for ages and ages. As I stroked his head, kissed the mole on his cheek like I used to do as a child, and hugged him, I kept thinking "he's long gone, and finally he will be back to who he was", but it's still so... awfully heartbreaking to know that this is the last time that you will ever see this person again. And I felt so muted. I had a cry, and me and 2 of my 3 sisters stayed for a bit, and after we got up to leave, I had to go back in there and see him one more time. But I think that because we had been mourning him for so long, I was just out of emotion.
We went to my sister's house, had a glass of this revolting homeade wine she got from someone, and went home.
We weren't sure what to do about the funeral, given that my sister was set to be married in 1o days. Anyway, we decided to do the funeral 6 days later. I ended up writing the obit and eulogy, and my sister and I delivered it. It went ok. I don't remember much of it - it was all such a traumatic blur. But remember when I said, a handful of posts ago, that I went on an antidepressant? Well, I was scared that I had forgotten how to feel. So I decided to get off of it. And that will be my next post, because that shit was bananas, to quote Gwen Stefani.
Anyway, to quote Anna Nicole, I'm baaaaaaccccck......! Sorry, Rox, that this isn't the funny post you wanted to get you out of your funk, but to get from point A to Point B, I had to fill in the blanks. Onward and upward tomorrow!