Month: October 2016

making the people dance

I remember going to the bar with my friend Dave. Dave owned a piece of crap Disco system, and was hired to play a wedding for a friend of his….a very pretty friend of his. I agreed to help him out, but what I really did was discover how much I wanted to be Mr. Cool DJ.

This was back in ’93. Soon after, I went and bought my own ‘system’. Visiting the old Radio Shack store, my money ( all $5000 I borrowed from the bank) and I were soon parted. I arrived home with every piece of equipment my loan money could handle.

The salesman (a former Disk Jockey) said Ross Sound was the equipment that would last a lifetime. A set of  400 W speakers and an amp that cranked out even more wattage, this thing had a great sound. He threw in a mixer board, two cassette decks, and two CD decks. My dad and I made wooden boxes to hold everything. I couldn’t wait to start playing dances.

My first dance was for a dart party at a local bar. The crowd were used to the regular DJ, but since he was sick that night, I filled in for him. Armed with 29 music cassettes, I learned a valuable lesson…I didn’t know squat about DJing.

Luckily, the club owner used to DJ in his younger days. “You have great equipment, that stuff will last forever; it’s your music that sucks.” Sound advice (pun intended).

As soon as I got home, I joined Columbia House. They had a special on where you received 10 CD’s if you purchased one. I joined ten times. I made up names, I used my brother and sister’s names, hell, I even used my cat’s name. When all the tapes arrived, I was in heaven.

This was the beginning of a long career (try 23 years and counting) in which I was the guy who made people dance…like in the song.

In no time, I had gathered over 500 cassette tapes and CD’s, and soon made the move to digital.

One night, I spent hours transferring my cassettes and CD’s to mp3 files. When finished, I had over 5000 songs, some good, some not.

My next few gigs were easier than the first. I actually had a few songs people requested. In the years that followed, I took advantage of music downloading, using such ‘then legal’ methods as Napster, Sky Rocket, and eventually Torrents. I hit all the yard sales, and gathered whatever music I could find, and transferred those to digital as well. In the first ten years I played, I had amassed over 10, 000 songs. currently I have over 70,000 songs.

I was doing two gigs a week, and spent most of my young adult life in bars and night clubs. sometimes the room was so smoke filled, I had to crouch down to see if people were dancing. I put up with jeers, threats, and boos, but also a few ‘yays’. I was hit on more than once by pretty but drunk ladies, some offering to take me home for the night. I was offered free drinks and even a few joints, and one night, some guy offered me a white powder. Of course I always kept it professional, and turned down the booze and the drugs, and sometimes even the women.

These days are much different. A struggling economy meant many of the club goers have already left town in search of more money and stable jobs. This little town once boasted over ten night clubs, now there are only two. And nobody seems to want to go out and have a good time.

Still, from time to time, my wife and I take a gig. It is fun for us to sit and watch as the crowd dances and hoots and hollers, and every now and then, we get up and dance with them. Two years ago I played my best gig ever. I played my own wedding.

It took me three months to create the perfect playlist. I studied our guest list, and tried to remember  peoples’ favourite songs. When I finally compiled the list, I played it at another dance I was hired to do, and it went great.

On the night of our wedding, there was no DJ sitting behind the equipment. Everything was pre-programmed into the computer. We were able to spend the evening walking around talking to our guests while the music blared from the speakers. The dance floor was packed all night, from 9:30 until closing time at 2:00. Best gig ever!

I still do a few dances, maybe one or two per year. I enjoy playing the oldies. I don’t have much use for that ‘new stuff’, even the country songs have gone to hell…no way to dance to the stuff.

I thought about selling my stuff off, but having played for over 20 years, I feel my music is a part of me. So is the equipment, which is still exactly the same stuff I bought back in 1993. He was right, it does last forever.



it’s a colour thing


PHOTO PROMPT © Peter Abbey

When the Douglas’ bought their first home, they were ecstatic. A beautiful Cape Cod with a spectacular view, in a nice neighbourhood.

Despite the overall appearance of the home, the basement was a complete letdown. The previous owner covered the bare cement walls with an ugly green paint. Cynthia Douglas demanded Albert do something quick.

That evening, Albert covered the walls with Styrofoam insulation, and painted everything a beautiful shade of beige.

The next morning, the Douglas’ were in shock. Not only did the house reek of toxic fumes, but the basement walls were once again….the shitty green colour.

This little lesson in chemistry and colour choices is brought to you by Rochelle Wisoff- Fields’ Friday Fictioneers photo prompt of the week. check on the little froggy for more stories

Corporal punishment in school (or why I hated being a student in the ’70’s)

Although I was never what you would call a rebel, I have to admit, I did receive punishment in school as a kid. Not the kind of punishment kids today get…..none; but real punishment at the hands of the school principal or even worse, the vice principal, who was a nun!

Back then, school officials were allowed to abuse children. When it wasn’t from the half inch thick leather belt, it was a yardstick across the knuckles or a hand across the mouth, or virtually any other form of abuse. The punishments never even fit the crime. Not doing your homework, not being respectful to others, or breaking any of the school rules often resulted in a beating.

My first offense was understandable. After all, I did break the one cardinal rule in a school shared by both Catholics and Protestants. I played with Protestant children during recess. How was I to know they weren’t Catholic? They never wore Protestant uniforms or hats. They never appeared any different than I was, and hell, they even spoke like other kids.

When Sister Kotell ( I once called her Sister Kotex, but this is a different story with a different amount of straps) seen me playing with those kids, she dragged me across the playground and into the office (by the ear) and ordered me to hold out my hands. Of course, being totally terrified, and knowing full well how much it hurt to have your little hands beat with a leather strap, I pulled away. She put so much force across the belt, when she missed my hands, she actually hit herself across the legs. Her next action was to double the amount of straps. Twenty on each hand, and a threat to double that if I pulled away.

All the time she was beating me, she repeated the same line. “You shall not play with children who are not Catholic. They are EVIL”. I wonder what she would say these days, as I am actually married to a Protestant.

I learned a valuable lesson that day. Never play with Protestant children where that old bitch could see us.

I wasn’t the only one abused this way, all kids were. Sometimes I hear people say kids these days have it too good. Some say there are no consequences to poor behavior. I tend to agree, but I think things went way too far back then.

the bone collector

PHOTO PROMPT © Claire Fuller


While eating lunch at a friends house, Tommy was interrupted by the owner of the house. Kenneth, an old man who lived alone with his son, hollered loudly. “Don’t break that turkey neck, it looks like Elvis!”

Tommy was astonished. Kenneth took the bone, washed it, and placed it in a display cabinet he built behind the table.

Kenneth’s son Mike explained to Tommy that since his mom died, his father seemed to lose it, and began collecting bones that look like things.

Kenneth cut in. “My collection won’t be complete until I find one resembling Martha, my dead wife.”

This story of weird collections, and a man’s way of dealing with loss, is my entry into this week’s Friday Fictioneers.

no time for the old stuff

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields


Edgar was a man on a mission. He was always in some sort of rush.

Edgar loved electronics, and anything futuristic. “No time for the old stuff” he would say; his home being an electronic marvel.

Always in a hurry, this morning he was involved in a car accident. His car hit something on Highway 660 and his life was changed forever.

The last thing he remembered was the image of a moose on his dash cam.

These days, Edgar prefers the simple things in life, such as reading by the light of an oil lamp, and napping…lots of napping.

In Newfoundland, hundreds of people lose their lives in moose accidents each year. Some, like Edgar are fortunate enough to escape alive, with some severe challenges. This is my entry into this week’s Friday Fictioneers.

Click on the Froggy for more stories.


Beauty among the ruins



As he looked out the window, he was reminded of the warm Autumn days, with rainbow leaves and calm waters. He remembered the ponds mirroring the skies and the trees, showing off their robust fall colors, and how the cool breeze rustled the leaves as they fell to the ground.

But those were dreams. Today is much different; the calm waters in front of his window are not the ponds of his dreams, rather puddles left by Hurricane Matthew, as the waters washed out his town. Miraculously, he was still able to find beauty among the ruins.