Birthday Wishes

Posted by Jim on Nov 23rd, 2009
Nov 23

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Bull Moose.  I’m not sure of the actual date the first store in Brunswick opened, but since mentions of the anniversary have become more frequent, both at Bull Moose’s site and in the media, I figured the time was right for me to post some memories of my favorite music/movies/video games/etc. store.

I’m pretty sure that my first visit to a Bull Moose was in the spring of 1998.  Some friends and I left Waldoboro to drive into South Portland to do some shopping in the mall area.  On our way through Brunswick someone decided we should stop to visit a record store I had never heard of before; the only music store in town I was familiar with was the chain store at Cook’s Corner.  I remember walking in and being impressed with both the huge selection of music, but also with all of the other merchandise, as well as the cool music playing and interesting stickers and posters covering the walls and windows.  This wasn’t slick or corporate, it was like visiting a cool friend’s basement rec room.  I knew that in a few months, when I started attending Bowdoin, that I would be spending a lot of time at this quirky shop right down the road (it wasn’t until a few years later that I learned the founder of Bull Moose was a Bowdoin grad; I began to love the store even more).

I don’t have the receipt of my purchases that day, but I do know one of the discs I walked out the door with was Old and In the Way’s self-titled release.  I was getting into the Grateful Dead over the past year and had recently been introduced to Jerry Garcia’s diverse side projects.  This bluegrass effort seemed like a promising album and eleven years later, I still consider it one of my favorites.  Besides the CD I purchased, I do have one other memento from that day.  I signed up for my frequent buyers card during that visit, and I still have the same card in my wallet.  It’s been in my pocket longer than any other card I carry, and I’ve had to repair it with packing tape to keep it from breaking in half, but it is still the one card that I don’t leave home without.

Beaten and broken but still earning me points

Beaten and broken but still earning me points

I’ve had a lot of great experiences at the various Bull Moose stores, here are some of my favorites:

Walking down the stairs and into the Old Port location to find myself in the middle of a very low key El Vez live performance.

Spending a gift certificate for my birthday on The FeeliesOnly Life” album and being told by the cashier that “every time someone purchases a Feelies reissue an angel gets its wings.”

Being called out by name when I accidentally left my frequent buyer card behind at the counter.  Sure, maybe the only reason the girl working new my name was because she had just scanned my card, but I’d like to think it was because I was visiting the Brunswick store an average of two to four times a month.

Buying a copy of Johnny Cash‘s Unearthed box set (in pristine condition) from the used section and being complimented for my good taste in music while also being chided for buying it before any of the staff had a chance to set it aside for themselves.

I was in the Brunswick store late on a Saturday night when I was kicked out because the store was closing.  I was having somewhat of a tough time at college at that point, and this was one in a long number of Saturday nights I hadn’t done anything exciting.  I had decided to go cheer myself up with a music purchase.  The store was about to close and I didn’t want to leave empty handed, so I grabbed the Talking Heads Remain in Light disc.  I had never heard the album, and only knew that it was supposed to be good (Phish had covered it in its entirety and that was enough of a recommendation for me at the time).  The guy working who was kicking me out told me I had made an awesome choice as he rung me up. Unbeknownst to him, that little compliment made my day.  That disc also turned me into a devoted Talking Heads fan.  I now own all of their albums, all purchased from various Bull Moose locations.  [For years, the first thing I would do when I went to Bull Moose was check the used section for any Talking Heads CDs I didn’t own; about three years ago I finally found a copy of Little Creatures, the elusive holdout in my collection.]

As I implied above, in college I was a pretty big Phish fan.  The band was playing two nights at the Cumberland County Civic Center in December of 1999 and I wanted tickets for both nights.  I had quite the scare when I went to buy my tickets at Bull Moose.  I don’t know if the cashier hit a wrong button, but when I first tried to get them, he told me the show had just sold out (the people in front of me in line all got tickets).  Luckily for me, he tried again and was able to secure my tickets for the shows.

In one of many musical discoveries, I remember being at the Scarborough store with my then girlfriend, now wife, and hearing some impressive rockabilly/bluegrass/awesome music over the loudspeakers.  After about 15 minutes of listening while browsing, we had to find out what we were listening to.  It was Langhorne Slim‘s When the Sun’s Gone Down album, a copy of which we promptly bought (and have been fans of ever since).  [Which reminds me, I need to come in and get his latest release!]

While not happening in the store, nor exclusive to a single event, I need to list this decidedly Bull Moose occurrence.  If you are like me, and love to spread your love of Bull Moose, I’m sure you’ve had a similar experience.  I love watching the reactions of friends and family members when they unwrap a gift to discover a dreadful looking CD, only to open the case and realize what they are actually holding is a Bull Moose gift certificate.  [Also, I have to celebrate that Bull Moose still offers gift certificates in “bad cd” form; it’s so much more fun to give or receive than a gift card.]

All of these moments stand out enough in my mind for me to recount them here, but I think the small, insignificant experiences that blend together are the ones that I  remember most fondly.  I don’t know many times my friends and I have walked into a store and spent literally hours browsing, trying to decide which or the thousands of great discs we should spend out money on.  At this point in my life, my collection is too large to remember where each CD came from, but I know a number originated as a discovery in the used section.  Usually when I find a great disc for a pre-owned price I think about how lucky I am, but once in a while I feel sorry for the person who had to give up such great music.  I can’t think of another store that makes something as mundane as shopping into such a wonderful experience for me.

I’m really glad that Bull Moose is still with us (the full 20 years for some of you, 11 for me).  We hear a lot about how the recording industry is changing and that it is impossible for independent music stores to survive.  At this time of the year, when we think about all the things we are grateful for, I am very thankful that Bull Moose has proven to be successful in spite of what is occurring in the words of music and movies as well as in the face of such difficult economic times.  I hope it is around for a long time to come.  I can’t imagine buying my music, movies, or video games any place else.

Lastly, a collection of some of the words of wisdom printed on my old receipts:

  • steely dan makes me weep.
  • experience the awe of the moist gumball
  • beck really wants you to dance
  • harry potter books not sold here
  • ask chad why he’s called “chadmatoes.”
  • harry connick mowatt jr.
  • …hang on to the sasss…
  • dinosaurs once roamed here—never forget
  • I was negative 2 in 1985
  • how many times can you watch zombies?
  • my lips feel like warm cheese
  • pathetic attempt to sound indie
  • it’s not a glow-stick, it’s a slim jim!
  • what about the voice of geddy lee?

Tweets in the Sidebar

Posted by Jim on Nov 17th, 2009
Nov 17

I spend more time on Twitter than I do posting to this blog.  Ever since I integrated my Twitter stream to this blog, there have been fewer and fewer blog posts and more and more collections of tweets showing up as blog posts.  I’ve decided to disable the tweets as blog posts feature; they will no longer show up in the blog feed.  My five most recent tweets will still be visible in the sidebar.  If you do want to keep tabs on my twitter thoughts, you can subscribe to them via RSS, but the best thing to do would be to sign up for a twitter account and follow me!

Twitter Updates for 2009-11-17

Posted by Jim on Nov 17th, 2009
Nov 17
  • Spending my afternoon with Dimitri Shostakovich and Kinky Friedman #

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Slightly off-season reviews

Posted by Jim on Nov 16th, 2009
Nov 16

I reviewed two beers over the weekend, a winter ESB and an Irish Red.

Clipper City Heavy Seas Winter Storm ‘Category 5’ Ale

B+ / 3.95
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | drink: 4

Served from a cellar temperature bottle into a pint glass. The beer has a dark copper color, almost brown. There was about a finger of tan bubbles when first poured that quickly dissipated. There is a strong hop presence in the aroma; it evokes grass and caramel. It’s quite pleasant. When you first taste the beer you’re greeted by a smooth maltiness. This quickly gives way to bitter hops. The bitterness lingers on after you swallow and evolves to a slightly burnt flavor. It’s complex and interesting. The beer has a fuller body than I expected; it really coats your mouth. There’s also more carbonation than I thought there would be. I find the Winter Storm to be very drinkable. It isn’t a beer I’d want to drink quickly, but it has some great characteristics that make me think I could slowly enjoy a number of bottles over the course of an evening.

Saranac Irish Red

B / 3.75
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drink: 4

Poured from a cellar temperature bottle into a glass mug. The beer is a brown/ruby color and has a significant amount of head, made of small tan bubbles. The aroma is a good mixture of pine and herbal hops and toffee malts. The flavor seems to taste strongly of toast; I imagine the yeast ued to brew the beer has imparted itself to the flavor. There is also a hint of bitterness form the hops. It has a medium body and noticeable carbonation. It can be felt on your tongue as you swallow. This is a pretty drinkable beer. It isn’t exceptional, so I would be tempted to order something else after the first round, but I certainly wouldn’t complain if I was faced with a six pack.

In other beer and Jim related news, I have a few purchases I’m planning on making.  RSVP has two beers available that I didn’t pick up on Saturday that I’m going back for this afternoon: Fantome Hiver and Long Trail Brewmaster’s Reserve Robust Porter.  I’ve never had either, but I’m a fan of Fantome beers and the DIPA that was part of the Brewmaster’s Reserve series was the best Long Trail I’ve ever tried, so I have high hopes for these two.  Also, next Saturday is the Ohio State vs. Michigan game.  Being good friends with die hard Buckeyes fans has made Nissa and I de facto Ohio State supporters.  In celebration of the game, I want to get us some tasty beers from Ohio.  I spotted a six pack of Thirsty Dog Hoppus Maximus at RSVP that I’ll probably procure for the game.  We also have a few Great Lakes singles left over from our road trip this summer; this seems like a perfect opportunity to enjoy them.

Twitter Updates for 2009-11-15

Posted by Jim on Nov 15th, 2009
Nov 15
  • Doing some on-line Christmas shopping and enjoying a @HeavySeasBeer Winter Storm, a great ESB #
  • Expensive beer sighting: RSVP has around 20 Sam Adams Utopias in stock, priced $140 each (if I recall correctly, I didn't buy one) #
  • Ohio State is up at the half, Christmas shopping is going well, and it's warm & dry inside; this is a good Saturday! #
  • @GriffinClubMerv How about the folks who worked on the Black Cauldron? It's basically forgotten by Disney. Even Song of the South has a ride in reply to GriffinClubMerv #
  • Was that Tom Brokaw VOing the Iowa State ad? Wikipedia says he dropped out after studying "beer and co-eds" (his quote [citation needed]) #
  • @robasha Watched the Counterfeiter on your recommendation tonight. It's was really good. Thanks! #

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Twitter Updates for 2009-11-14

Posted by Jim on Nov 14th, 2009
Nov 14
  • This is the first wknd in a long time that I've hard no plans. I'll probably watch the Ohio State game and the Pats, but no other ideas yet #
  • Got my ticket to the @HoneyMakerMead Mead Crawl on 11/19. Much more fun than a midnight showing of the new Twilight movie. #
  • Really glad to see one of the cats at the Mill Creek @kennelshop has been adopted! #
  • The Pride's Corner Flea Market is an underwriter for @WMPG_Radio ? That's awesome. I've found some great stuff there. #

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Twitter Updates for 2009-11-13

Posted by Jim on Nov 13th, 2009
Nov 13
  • @ChrisCavs I once found out I didn't get a job via a blog post, but learning it through a twitter account takes it to another level. in reply to ChrisCavs #
  • @FLWbooks I really liked The Man Who Fell to Earth; I think I'll give Queen's Gambit a shot. Thanks for the recommendation. in reply to FLWbooks #

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Twitter Updates for 2009-11-12

Posted by Jim on Nov 12th, 2009
Nov 12
  • Off to see @robasha complete her Uprising card at Novre Res. 3 out of the 4 of us taking part in the challenge will be done. #

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Twitter Updates for 2009-11-11

Posted by Jim on Nov 11th, 2009
Nov 11

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Twitter Updates for 2009-11-08

Posted by Jim on Nov 8th, 2009
Nov 8
  • Set up some pull'd pork in the slow cooker for the post #mebrewfest dinner. Secret ingredient: most of a bottle of Moxie. #
  • What to do when you have extra Moxie at 9am? Make yourself a taster of Burnt Trailer. It tastes like you'd expect; I won't be having another #
  • Peak has a #mebrewfest exclsive DIPA at 10% abv. Yum. #
  • Casked Prelude and Longfellow at Kennebunkport/Federal Jacks #mebrewfest #
  • Sheepscott has a line across the room. Glad to see it so poplar! #
  • Boubon BA and cask Lake Trout Stout at Sebago. Plus free pretzel stix! #
  • I've gotten my annual “Nice chops man” at the #mebrewfest #
  • Love that Sebago's Kai Adams recognized me from Beer Advocate #mebrewfest #
  • What's with the jerks drinking Monster Energy at #mebrewfest ? Have they never heard of Rock Art? #
  • There are so many guys at #mebrewfest who look like Murray from Flight of the Concords #
  • Finding a stash of drink tickets is the best thing that can happen at #mebrewfest #

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