The Blogoff - "Awesome Memories"

(Day one of the "Blogoff" begins!  The topic for today is "awesome memories".  The game is simple - read my entry, and then read the entry over at Trinity's page, and decide which one you like more.  Vote either here or on his entry, and they'll get tabulated next friday to see who wins round one.  Let the battle for newthood begin!).


Today's topic is "Awesome Memories", and I've had more than my share.  Despite the gaggle of amazing memories, many of them legal, I found myself staring at the wall... wondering to myself "Just what sort of awesome memory should I talk about?"  After all, it had to be a memory that really says a bit about Crazy Newt's formative years, right? 

Oh, I could go on about all of those usual "firsts", and I've had great times for most of them - first kiss, first sexual experience, first "I love you", first time I got drunk, first concert, and so on.  But really, who wants to read about the time I got fondled by a kissing hobo backstage at a Creed show, right?  Especially because I barely remember it - that hobo's breath was one hundred and seventy proof.  And to this day, I don't know if he said "I love you, too", or "I love U2".  He was, after all, a roadie. 

But to be serious, all of my firsts, while generally pleasant, were also tempered with a sense of fear of the unknown.  They were "holy fuck, I can't believe I'm doing this!" moments which prevented me from sitting back and actually enjoying what was going on.  I'm sure most of us have had those thoughts - "am I doing this right?  Is this the proper way to do things?  What if I get caught?"

Instead of all that usual "coming of age" garbage, I'm going to talk about the first time I saw an awesome guitar up close and personal.  Because I'm a music dork, and this is one of those important moments in my life.  So sit down, and shaddup.

My friend Nny* and I were once, way back when, in a band.  We called ourselves "Charlie C-16", and I think everyone wanted to play guitar - at one point, we had three guitarists.  This was around 1998 or so, and we figured we were the next great metal band.  Of course we did - we were teenagers, and the world was our oyster. 

Really, though, the band was just a front for a bunch of kids that obsessed over guitars in the same way that most teenagers obsess over girls, or sports, or grades, or making out with hobos at creed concerts.  Nny and I were the type of people who were always putting forth "A or B?" questions and then debating the merits of both sides.  One would ask the question, and we'd argue until we found a common ground.

They were always silly elitist questions, too.  "Marshall amps or MESA boogie?", "Les Paul or Stratocaster?", "Digital or Analog effects?" and so on.  And, for the record, Nny was a Marshall boy and I was a MESA boogie addict (though I've changed sides in my old age), we both preferred Les Pauls, and he has always been digital and I will always be Analog.  But that's neither here nor there.  It might be over there, somewhere, though.  Maybe underneath the couch?

Our crazy guitar adventure wasn't something that was announced, which is generally how amazing memories start.  If you walk into a situation going "this is going to be an amazing memory", it's a pretty good chance that you'll walk away subconsciously thinking about the ways that memory could have been even better.  Creed could have chosen a better encore - possibly something not performed by Creed, for example.  I could have worn prettier underwear.  That hobo could have brushed his teeth.  That sort of thing.

Rather, our guitar adventure began because one of us - I forget who - broke a guitar string.  And, in the tiny little town we lived in (about a 45 minute drive outside of Victoria), there was only one store that sold guitar strings.  It was one of those crappy thrown-together music shops that had no quality gear and made a living by lying to unknowing customers, and had picked on us stupid, unknowing kids more than once.  The guy that ran the place was overweight, had a combover, and seemed to always begin and end his sentences with "trust me".  We had learned, the hard way, that trusting him was a bad idea that usually wound up in us buying "high quality" mexican-made guitar strings for 14 bucks (in 1998!).  And, for a long time, we didn't know that guitar strings weren't "supposed" to break after only a few hours' worth of use... because, fools that we were, we trusted Captain Combover. 

So it was well worth the trip into Victoria to pick up strings.  While it took an hour and a half bus ride (each way!), we were kids - what else were we gonna do with our time?  For the price of one set of defective Mexican strings from the local shop, we could travel to Victoria and back, and pick up two sets of decent D'Addario strings. Strings that are so decent, in fact, that I use them to this day, when I'm wiser and (at least on paper) wealthier. 

We made the trip, Nny and I, spending the busride debating the merits of humbucker pickups vs. single-coil (humbuckers, all the way).  We made our way downtown, and popped around Guitars Plus for a while - a typical guitar store, run by a hawaiian father/son combination that overcharged a decent amount.  It was a  decent place, but it only sold Ibanez guitars... which meant that Nny and I were only ever exposed to middle-of-the-road instruments.  Imagine really loving cars, wanting to buy a car, and seeing great cars on TV and movies... but only ever being able to walk onto a Hyundai carlot.  Sure, Hyundais can be alright, but they're not really a classy vehicle, y'know?

I mentioned to Nny a pawnshop a few blocks away that sold cheap guitar strings, and we headed on that way.  We figured, if we were lucky, there would be some nice guitars being pawned off that week - maybe a Jackson flying V, or even a left-handed Telecaster or something.  We cut down the Victoria streets, avoiding eye contact with the homeless (who were just beginning their domination of downtown Vic's streets), to a neighbourhood that straddled - then as now - the divide between "posh Victoria shopping country" and a place best described as "the underbelly".  As if the yellow line in the center of the road were a demarcation line, there were well-kempt specialty shops, coffee stands, and clothing boutiques on one side of the street, and pawn shops, bargain hotels, and second-hand stores on the other.  Natch, we cut into the pawn shop.

And there it was.  A 1996 Paul Reed Smith guitar.  Tiger-striped green, with the golden eagles flying up a rosewood neck.  Gold hardware.  Tremolo bridge.  24 frets, lovingly crafted.  Nny and I saw it, looked at each other, and our jaws dropped.

Some explanation, here.  In the 90s, Paul Reed Smith guitars were really beginning to come onto the market.  They were the "it" instrument, and many of the great new talents of the era owned one (or more).  They were also exceedingly rare in Victoria - even the high end music stores, like Long and MacQuaide, were not licensed to carry them.  In fact, the nearest you could get to a new PRS was in Vancouver, and they were rare even there.  In 1998, they were the holy grail of sixteen-something guitar boys living out on the fringes of civlization.

So imagine walking into a pawn shop, with a few banged up guitars hanging on the wall in the corner, and seeing the guitar of your dreams.  Right there, in front of you.  Now, imagine the store owner seeing that look of admiration, and saying "do you want to hold it?" 

When the roadie hobo said that to me, at that Creed show, there was a bit of nervousness in the entire situation.  But there, staring at that beautiful green axe**, there was no nervousness.  No trepidation.  Just a longing carress as Nny took it in his hands and stared down upon it like a father upon his newborn child.  I ran a finger down a string, and when we plucked the D-string and listened to it hum, it was the most beautiful sound either of us had ever heard.

Okay, so you non-musicians are probably bored to tears by now.  "What does any of this mean?" you're asking yourselves.  Only this - that moment was the moment both Nny and I realized that there is a world of possibility out there.  And not just a world of musical possibility - but just plain possibility.  For me (and Nny has said something similar over the years) it was this moment that said "yes, the outside world exists".  It was a moment that told me there is more than just my small town and Victoria... that there is the entire world, and with a little bit of luck, it can fall into your hands.

* Obviously, not his real name.  But it was a nickname... and it's better than his other nickname, "Blowcock", a pun of his last name. 
**  For some reason, guitars are often called "axes".  I have no idea why, but it makes us sound cool.   

(Remember - read both this post and Trinity's post, and vote on your favourite!  Every vote counts... and be honest!  May the best newt win!)


  1. Well, I liked this memory. It reminds me of my first comic book experience. FYI, I posted on time but I am going to add the reminder about reading your post too.

  2. After reading both post I have determined .... Trinity wins round one.

    I found his post more interesting as it brought so many memories of my childhood. Weither it be the Candice Cameron crush, the naive childs genius, or the importance of my toys.

    I am eager to read round two... maybe Trinity will get a new fan from this war.

  3. Ok, first up, please don't count anonymous users.
    I'm just going to discuss pros and cons.

    Your pros are that it's informative and good. His is that it's short.

    Cons are, Yours is really long, and, well, it won't fit well with people who... well, aren't too into music. His con is that his SEEMS fake.

    I'll wait for the others to vote.

  4. Sangetta I absolutely agree on the anonymous thing so I hope that commenter will put in their google name.

    FYI mine is completly true.

  5. I enjoyed Trinity's memory the most. his was very enjoyable I was laughing out loud as i was reading. he wrote it so well that i could get a visual of a young trinity and his family as i was reading it.

    i'm not sure if my vote will count since i am anonymous, (i'm not sure why that matters) but i do not have a google name and do not want or have the need for one.

  6. Why does one have to be a registered voter? It's not like I double vote or anything like that.. i could understand the arguement that you can't tell who or how many vote if they are anonymous, but; I'm pretty sure you can figure that out from a little detective work.

    I have no desire to become un-anonymous! The reason Bush won the first election was due to uneligble voters(blacks and minorities) which votes were thrown out.

  7. I definitely liked Trinity's memory better, but Dave's post made me laugh. And I'm all about the witticism. So my anonymously-given-thus-probably-won't-count vote for this round goes to crazynewt.

  8. For the love of GOD where are all of these anonymous people COMING from?!

    I vote for Dave.

  9. My bad, i typed what i was reading. I meant Trinity.

  10. What if the reason someone is voting anonymously is because I... uh, she has a kinky S.W.A.T. Sex blogspot and just doesn't want yous and yous guyses' readers to see it? Because, ya know, a name leads to a profile leads to a site leads to "OH MY NEWTNESS! THAT'S the kind of person who likes MY blog enough to read it every single day?! Double vomit."

    I dunno, merely something to consider.

    I read in another post that identifying oneself could make my former anonymously-given-thus-probably-won't-count vote actually count, so how about: I am Jade, 30-something from VA, USA, and I still cast my ballot for Dave -- will that suffice?

    (Good grief! If people had to go through the same amount of trouble to vote in America as they apparently have to in Canada, maybe we'd've gotten a decent President out of it.)

  11. There we go! I think a signed "anonymous" post is perfectly fine - Trinity and I agreed that would be more than enough earlier on.

    Also, "oh my newtness" is pure win. I'm gonna have to use it one of these days...

    (I actually finally got around to taking a picture of the REAL newt - she wasn't too happy when I took her out of her tank, that was for sure)

  12. Okay so I missed round one, does my vote still count. I don't want to be biased but I am going to have to vote for Trinity on this one! Although CrazyNewt gets points for using the word combo "roadie hobo", his post lends itself more to an essay about the joy and possibities that music can bring instead of a post about an awesome memory. Trinity's was a bit more entertaining and it really did a good job of describing one particular memory. That being said, I think CrazyNewt's flowed a bit better, concerning grammar and structure. Still, my vote is with Trinity.

  13. Just a tally as of today, after totalling up both sets of votes, the score is as follws.

    Newt the Wonder Frog - 10 votes
    CrazyNewt - 2

  14. Am I too late to vote? I think the unreliability of internet in the Middle East should be a factor. And the number of girls I had to fight to get to use it. Just saying.

  15. Sorry. Voting for this round is over, and yours truly lost soundly. Here's hoping round two goes okay, so it can all be decided in the final round!