Monday, December 27, 1993

Best of 1993

Best Movie: "Hard Target". Bodies were falling everywhere. The acting was wooden (Jean Claude Van Damme emotes less than me) but John Woo's picture was the one I enjoyed most this year. Maybe it was because it was the only movie I went to with someone else, and thus was reminded one of the benefits of the "big screen" experience is sharing the wonder in a communal setting.

Best TV Show: Barry Manilow's "Best of Me" shown recently during PBS's pledge week. To some, Barry was the seventies and to see him arrive in the nineties with a rendition of a Garth Brooks' song, plus a killer version of "Mandy" made me weep and remember a junior high romance. This is a subjective pick, I missed Roger Whittaker's special the following night.

Best Line: The premise-the Simpsons are attending a self helplself improvement seminar (a nineties type thing to do). The presenter ("I may not have the fancy degrees, but I do know about pain") was giving advice about taking care of the "inner child" and not always worrying about taking care of others, that it is "OK" to do something for' yourself. "If you're not a human being, you're a human doing." To which Bart replies, "I'm a human going," as he tries to escape from the hell.

Next Best Line: Philadelphia Phillie's first baseman, John Kruk, when asked what it felt like to be facing a "sudden death" scenario: "If you're going to die, I suppose it's best it be sudden. "

The Dan Quayle Award: Family values, a friend, and Max the cat continuing to show what a companion can be. The complete picturelpackage, the time-feeling continuum and writing for and about, talking to and at.

Best Trip: An excursion to our nation's Capitol, proved to me life on the road, traveling, is the best inspiration of all, made even better by family and friends.

Best CD: Paul McCartney's "Paul is Live". I bought this out in DC impressed with the wacky cover. Two days later, I finally got the real joke; Paul ain't dead, he's live. " And they say I'm losing my sense of humor. . . The nostalgia is a bit sad, but two of what were my least favorite Beatle songs, "Drive My Car" and "Paperback Writer" are now among my favorite because I got to "share" in the experience of the writer being able to "enjoy" his work. Ten years after Paul learned he was a lover not a fighter, he learned he is a performer not an artist.

Best song: Soul Asylum's "Runaway Train". The kids got popular, and the video was just hype, but the song is wonderful nonetheless.

Best Couple: Lyle and Julia. Worst Couple: (Tie) Joey and Amy or John and Loreena.

Best Energy Saving: Tip: Car pooling. It can work. Second place: Bike riding. What a gas.

What's HOT: Hats, Holly Hunter, Snapple, Smoking, Dilbert, Magritte, memorials.

What's < LUKE WARM: Malls, voice mail, E-mail, fax machines, Freddie "the Beedle" Barnes, movies made from books, getting back to one's "roots", wild card baseball races.

Monday, December 20, 1993

Sucking Big

We all know the most difficult decision to make in life is trying to choose a video taped movie to watch with another person. It begins with agreeing on the category: comedy, drama, musical, documentary, foreign, new releases, so many to choose from. Once the genre is decided, there has to be a choice made on whether you want a movie a) neither one has seen b) one has seen but the other hasn't c) the other has seen but the other hasn't d) both have seen and liked e) a movie both have seen and one liked etc. . .

There are several big name, big budget movies due out soon. Among these is the top grossing picture of all time, Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park. A two word review of the movie would read, "It bites."

Spielberg's best movies are filled with wonder, made from the hand of an expert filmmaker, one who loves the magic of the medium itself. All Jurassic Park lacks is not only that sense of wonder, but a sense of drama, of humor, of fun, and of any entertaining qualities whatsoever.

The problems begin with the premise that humans would bring back dinosaurs solely for commercial purposes. In real life this may very well be true but one of this movie's objectives is to suspend reality. To give in to the cynicism, the heavy handed message (humans playing God: "God made dinosaurs, God killed dinosaurs, God made man, Man killed God, Man made Dinosaurs)-ruins and robs us of any reason to watch Jurassic Park.

The one thg that could have saved the movie, its special effects, fail to excite. There is nothing particularly spectacular about the dinosaurs. We're expecting to be awed but we're not. These days we can see just about anything in the movies, so a re-creation of something that we bring in pre-conceived notions, has much to live up to. David Letterman called them "mechanical lizards" but they're more like big elephants. Save your money- go see a hippo at your local zoo.

Compared to the humans in the movie however, the dinosaurs at least have a little personality, looks and beauty. With the exception of the Jeff Goldblum character, everyone else is a twit. Whenever there is a bad move to make, a stupid decision to arrive at, the humans undoubtedly move quickly. These characters make their counterparts in the old Godzilla movies look llke tactical geniuses.

And that is the underlying problem with the movie. Spielberg never decides whether he wants to make another wondrous science fiction "amazing" story or whether he wants to make a horror picture. We are told the dinosaurs are not monsters, they're just doing what they do. Yet the last third of the movie is standard stuff old monster movies of yesteryear were filled with. Add to that a pseudo political, psychological message (what would motivate someone to steal a dinosaur embryo?) and the whole experience is a wretched exercise. I guess if you make things big enough, it doesn't matter how much they suck. Proves what hype and marketing can accomplish. This movie is a monstrosity, or should we say, a dinostrocity.

Santa in Atlanta, Like an Icon

Seasons greetings from your friends on the newsletter staff. We sincerely hope you are enjoying a safe and happy holiday season, while somehow surviving the stress of the shopping rush.

The hustle, bustle and tussle, the traditions that you must follow, can cause one's blood pressure to be hotter than a paper plate inside a microwave oven, not to mention the mood swings that become wider than Uncle Smokey's hips. Just remember to take the time to enjoy the spirit of the many festivities going on as well as reflect on the "true" meaning of the season.

Last week for example, we attended the K-3 Christmas presentation of St. Rose of Lima's Church in Roseville. Our young artist pen pal, Katie (see back page, original art work used by permission of guardian), did an extra special, extraordinary, fabulous job as the second wiseman. A great time was had by all (sorry we had to miss SK's holiday bash that probably out bashed them all).

Also thanks to we discovered a TV show called "Allo Allo" played on Friday nights between 10- 11 on Channel 2. It's a British comedy based in a Frenchman's pub, about his relations with the Germans and British during World War 11. It's a much better version of "Hogan's Heroes. " Check it out.

We want to take this opportunity to thank the many who contributed to the newsletter this past year. We enjoyed hearing from you, and appreciated all the effort and hard work. Also, thanks to those who have already gotten their end of the year lists in. So far all the contributions have been hn reading and entertaining. Next week's issue will be most excellent. A reminder for those still making your list and checking it twice, please get it to the warehouse by Sunday, December 26. The fax number is 644-8566. We truly hope to hear from everybody.

This week's issue is one of our sporadic "theme" efforts that has won us awards in the past. We take a long look at those wacky prehistoric creatures, the Dinosaurs. We hope you learn something as well as laugh and cry. . Enjoy the journey.

Monday, December 13, 1993

GnR Covers Manson

You'll have to excuse me if I'm in a surly mood (Dave in a bad mood, Surprise!), but the production of the newsletter this week has been difficult. Does anyone know Pagemaker? Could you please assist me? Hep me!

There's something else in my craw and you probably know how painful that can be. Maybe it's ignorance, maybe it's insensitivity but can someone explain to me what the brouhaha over Guns and Roses' decision to record a supposed Charles Manson song is? What is the issue?

No, I suppose we shouldn't be rewarding mass murderers. You kill someone, you lose some privileges others in society get to enjoy. I can go along with that. No use giving criminals any kind of motivation. Rather, I would agree we should set up some pre-determined deterrents. No one should profit over breaking the law (right Mr. Milken?)

Yet. . . throughout history, artists have often been tortured souls. Who would disagree Charles Manson must have some intriguing view on the human condition? If Billy the Kid was a poet, or Jack the Ripper a painter, or Adolph Hitler a sculptor, wouldn't it be historically significant to see their work? Wouldn't it help us understand the isolated insane?

Yes, it probably isn't right that Manson might be in line to receive some royalties from the song. But it is only money. If the system works, Manson himself won't be able to enjoy any benefits no matter the amount he might receive. And the rest of us might learn something along the way.

Maybe the issue is letting Manson get "his" message out to a large audience thus giving it some type of legitimacy. But the song is hardly one that proposes violence against others. It's quite literally just another song. Unfortunately the boys in the band, especially Slash and Axl have decided to give in to the controversy and back away from their decision to include the song on their CD.

Art isn't something that has defined morals. Even a member of the Supreme Court once defined obscenity as ". . .knowing it when I see it." The best art is often created by outcasts, by people who don't fit get 'his' message out to a large audience thus giving it some type of in with the rest of society. (Having never claimed to be an artist, 1-for one would jump off that bridge if the rest of the people did it.) The best art takes a creative often times unusual mind, and allows the rest of us to understand (if only briefly) the thoughts of one who thinks very differently.

For me, G'n'R has done much more offensive work. That they can relate to the mindset of Manson shouldn't surprise anyone who has followed the history of the band and particularly Axl. The new CD is pretty damn good and the publicity the one song has gotten unfortunately takes away from the rest of the work.

Monday, December 6, 1993

What I Learned In DC

"Many works of feminist ethics and theory suffer from problems of essentialism and related exclusions. Such theories tend to look for that which is essential to women's existence but excluded from male centered theory. Even when this essential core of women's experience is not regarded as unchanging, in an analysis along the single axis of gender, not all women fit into the category of 'women'."
-Occidental College Professor Donna Maeda

"The essence of woman debate places women in the peculiar position of having to insist that all women are the same or else that, as Kristeva says, strictly speaking, there is no such thing as woman."
-Emory University Professor Wendy Farley .

"She sure is bubble gum for the eyes."
-Certified Goofball David Maeda

Society as we know it, has its problems. Social injustice, oppression, discrimination, power games are among a sliver of what groups of "minorities" (and others) have to face in addition to all the day to day hardships of human existence.

So what are the options to deal with the burdens of every day living? One can attempt to fight the established unjust walls of all the ills hoping to make a dent, hoping the effort will lead to a better way of life for all who might follow; and glean some meaning and satisfaction in the struggle itself.

One can also fight through the troubles, lending a voice where the opportunity presents itself. Playing the part of a passive, part-time activist, you make the justification spending a lifetime of work fighting an uphll battle isn't desirable.

The last option is to give in to the system; to give in to cynicism. You move forward admitting an individual can't make a difference, can't change the years of an immoral set of rules. You close your mind to troubles that obviously exist, choosing consciously to find meaning in day to day life or even more eternal issues of right and wrong; a belief that justice will prevail when it all really matters.

One can't endorse what is up to the individual to work through. As the man once wrote, "People do what's most convenient than they repent ..." Maybe some of us thmk about ideals when night falls and the glow of the day's embers dims, but generally the pile of green tags in the comer left to price is more of a pressing issue.

One of the hardest traps to escape is trying to attach meaning to all that goes on around you. You have to continually ask what does this mean? but you also have to sometimes realize it doesn't mean anything. Things just happen. To allow another's opinion help shape your own, to let what "society" thinks, influence thinking is to become a victim. Sometimes that's another one of those "easy" choices. Sometimes it's a matter of too much thought; other times it's a lobotomy, of not thinking at all.

The struggles some women face, the problems some people of color deal with, are too large to group into categories. In a sense "women" don't exist. Debbie might, as might Melissa. But they aren't generically the same. What is the definition of a "woman"? The problems are deepened when to understand another, people begin to "identify" groups of "similar" people.

A disturbing trend that has become too prevalent is that of "marketing" to or trying to "appeal" to demographically separated tribes of "like" people. It's an insult to lump people in with others that might look the same, might be the same age, might have similar backgrounds, as if similarities mean we are the "same" people. Individual perceptions, individual thoughts and feelings? What do they matter?

Experts or as Sid would call them, "geniuses" exist everywhere you look. Concern and "right thinking" or political correctness are fashionable at the moment. It's better to be sensitive caring 90's type person than to admit what goes on out there doesn't really matter in the end. Just read Ecclesiastes. "Political activism" is trying to make a fashionable comeback.

"Binary thinking silences real speech. And we must ask why we are speaking. In the patriarchal and academic world, the speech of one is privileged over another. Speech is a form of silencing opponents. Debate and criticism are modes of attacks."
-Angela Graboys

"I and I the creation where one's nature neither honors or forgives. "
-Bob Dylan

I don't pretend to understand women (ain't that stating the obvious) or more specifically "women's" issues. Some of the more identifiable concerns are the pressures culture places upon many "women". Newsworthy "stories" of eating disorders, sexism, discrimination, harassment, the over emphasis on "fashion" are all items that have gotten attention from the press and the elite "concerned". (Is it better to be blissfully, by choice, unconcerned or to involve oneself for guilt's sake?) To sort the "truth" out is to become numb to all that segments of our population must face or worse, endure.

"Feminism" is a threat because those in "power" lose control. It's equally a threat because it creates another category in which to identify "women". It stifles original thought like any label inherently does. But it also gives comfort, a way for a group to find reinforcement in self identified similar beliefs. Thus the danger becomes relying too dependently on another's viewpoint to give some type of self credibility to one's thinking; the most subservient submissive mind set one can buy into. People for whatever reason seem to need the constant stroking of knowing original thought somehow co-exists with a larger collective. To be accepted is all some strive for.

Whatever one's "religious" convictions may be, in the end, to many another's perceptions and opinions mean as much as what one has managed to accumulate. It would seem all that matters is whether one has done what one set out to do, or what one was meant to do.

Putting it all into some sort of acceptable perspective is a lifetime task. But it is also an individual, sometimes solitary bridge we all must eventually cross.

Monday, November 29, 1993

Mr. M Goes to Washington

So anyway, I headed toward our nation's Capitol, determined to change perceptions and opinions. I somewhat succeeded. We got NAFTA and the Brady Bill through, but failed on statehood for the DC area. (Is it legal to have two states named Washngton?)

POLITICAL FUN FACT (Source- Washington Guidebook by John and Katharine Walker, 1963) #1: "What to Wear-Ladies should leave at home shorts, toreador pants, slacks, halters, and all lounging or beach wear. Such dress is inappropriate for sightseeing and is a mark of disrespect for our national monuments."

C'mon now, if you will, and let me take you on a trip, not just any trip, but my trip. Bouncing between skepticism and cynicism, turbulence and nervousness, my plane landed at Washington National, late in the morning.

I stepped into the airport and was greeted by a strange woman. What a town! I thought, they provide personal greeters for those traveling by themselves (or in my case, alone). But wait ... The woman merely wanted my money in order to help save the lives of tortured Iranian babies. I told her I wouldn't give her money, but if she wanted to send me information, I would look it over and consider donating to the cause. "By the time you get it in the mail, two babies will be killed," she informed me. So Dave began his vacation by killing two babies. Swell, just swell.

POLITICAL FUN FACT #2: "Tipping-Tip from 10%-15% of your total bill at meals; checking your coat and hat calls for a tip of $.lo-$.25. If you tip your cab driver, $.lo for a $.50 ride is adequate. You NEVER tip government employees. Your spoken thanks will suffice."

I took the Metro to the Sheraton where I was told it would be four hours before my room would be ready. So, I hung around the lobby with a bunch of career academics, pompous, stuffy and eyeing me like I was the misplaced newsletter editor that I was.

But soon things were to pick up. I met my friend for dinner (average American pseudo-Mexican food). Good conversation, her presence mucho enjoyed after having been mucho missed.. "Sont les mots qui vont tres bien ensemble."

My sister and her friend arrived in town a short while later and the vacation had officially begun. Over the next few days we went to: The Washington Zoo (saw a Panda Bear, Ying Ying or Sing Sing or Ding Ding), the Washington Monument, the Smithsonian, the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial (under rehabilitation), the grave of JFK, Bobby and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (witnessed the changing of the guard), and the Vietnam Memorials (with the newly arrived female nurse tribute).

POLITICAL FUN FACT #3: "Don't be nervous about taking the elevator or standing at the top. Although the Washington Monument may be the tallest stone and masonry structure in the world, it is very stable. In a 30-mile wind it sways only one-eighth of an inch. In the last 30 years it has settled a mere 2 inches.

At the Vietnam Memorial, my sister and I were approached by an elderly lady with a runny nose. "What nationality are you?" she asked.

"American," my sister replied. The woman looked disappointed. I think she was looking for someone Vietnamese.

She proceeded with her questions anyway. "Can you explain why our soldiers went there and lulled those poor people?"

We tried to point out that perhaps her blame was placed upon the wrong people. Perhaps she wanted to question her government rather than those who did what they were told, serving their country. How do you explain, interpret a war? Was it my job because I looked like a victim of something?

POLITICAL FUN FACT #4: "What is Past is Prologue" But that was a down right pleasant confrontation compared to the one I had on my way to dinner one evening. I was approached by a man who wanted me to donate to help him cure the AIDS epidemic. I continued walking and he told me not to ignore him, which was one of the problems of "his" country. I apologized but refused to give the man money. Call me a selfish unfeeling tightwad. He walked away with the remark, "That's why so many of us black people want to lull you Asian Americans." Oh yeah? Well I killed two Iranian babies just days before fella ...

The best part of the trip besides friends and family was the food. It was a FFF feast (in a feminist setting). We sampled Italian, Thai, Lebanese, Indian, Mexican, and Roy Rogers. All these were within walking distance from our hotel in a neat little area called Adams Morgan. Next trip: Ethiopian, Greek, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Baskin Robbins.

POLITICAL FUN FACT #5: "...serves an estimated 50,000,000 meals a year to visitors in addition to filling the dining out needs of a metropolis of two million."

The plane ride back was bumpy and long as Captain Billy was forced to keep us in a holding pattern. Behind me sat two Macalester people who for some reason felt the urge to discuss plane disasters they had heard about. What did I bring back to the Twin Cities with me besides a bevy of good memories, a great time with my sister and a deeper appreciation for a dear friend? Plenty of souvenirs for the kids. Also a sense of what makes this country great. A shot of redemption. Where else can you go and spend a night in a strange area playing a game of cable trivia with other lifeless hotel patrons? (And win on top of that!) Where else can you go to see a man urinating in front of you as you try to down your Ben and Jerry's ice cream or see a woman with plenty of space on either side, decide to sit on a bush? But seriously what I did bring back was a mission. What this area needs is a Metro system, a mass transit operation like they have out there. Easily confused, often times lost, people like myself could even follow the color schemes and clearly drawn out maps. "They're made for people who don't speak any English," my friend said. And still I was able to figure it out.

A person could consider living in the area. My friend even said it would be "good for me" to move out there. For once I don't disagree. A transplanted Midwesterner? Talk to Brandon and Brenda Walsh.

Thursday, November 18, 1993

November Rain

Your car is slowly breaking down. Time has that effect on things. But good news!
It ain't your C-V joints, it's merely your back tires causing your car to wobble. You borrow your parents car, get your's tuned up, return your parent's car. You park it in their garage, but forget to set the brake. A short time later, your dad checks to see if you've closed the garage door and he notices the car isn't in the garage. He looks further to see if you've parked it in the driveway, but it isn't there either. He looks farther and sees the car resting uncomfortably in the neighbor's frontlawn across the street. Rolling out of control?

Your VCR is still in the shop waiting for a mysterious part to arrive from Japan. You brought it in last July, and it's been so long you can't even remember what the problem was.

Your TV is on the blink. You turn it on and all you get is one line across the screen about a millimeter wide, with the intensity of a star going nova. For awhile you could fix it by pounding it ala' Fonzie and his jukebox. But remember the Happy Day's episode where Fonzie lost his touch and the jukebox wouldn't start up? That's exactly what's happened to you, you're losing it.

The computer that you've been waiting for patiently for about two months, still hasn't arrived. They either can't get the proper parts or the parts they get don't work. Reality sets in, and something you were excited about, and looking forward to, is another painful reminder that things often don't work out in the end.

Your quest for a different career is frustrating and as you were warned has turned into another full time occupation of your thoughts and time. So instead of working seven days, 56 hours a week, you are reminded of the Simpson's episode where Homer works 23 hours a day to pay for Lisa's horse. The latest news? You didn't get the job but they were impressed enough to ask you back to interview for another position. But it comes with strings pre-attached so you wonder if you should even bother.

The news incidents from the past week concerning a local coop hit a little too close to home. You used to live near and shop at the quirky little store, and your image of that time, that area has developed into a fuzzy little romantic period which has now been awoken with the loud crash of gunshots. World gone wrong.

Finally, you are awoken by the cough and difficult breathing of a cat hacking up a hairball right there in your cozy little bed. The purrfect conclusion.

But today's a brand new day! You spent last night making a tape of all your favorite songs and that cheered you up a little, plus you got your ticket to DC, to see an old friend, and meet up with your sister and above all get away even if its to the murder capital of the world and even if you haven't seen this friend for a couple of years and you're a bit nervous, at least you're not scared or yella and your friend even sounds excited that you are coming to visit! Life goes on and the blank pages of another newsletter need to be filled...

Monday, November 15, 1993

Cleaning Out My Desk

I don't want to sound pompous in my name dropping because my thumbs are peeling like the next person's. Gross. But... how many can say Secretary of State Joan Anderson Growe sang to them on their birthday?

In an impressive going away bash, even the most cold hearted cynic would have to be moved by being rewarded for three years of hard and difficult work. 102,517 calls!!! One question: Where the hell was Arne? But seriously, they threw me one heck of a shindig. Now the impersonation of Ikiru continues.. .

The lesson learned is the importance of making the employee feel like they have made a difference. The motivation, the satisfaction makes some of it worthwhile. A good organization wants to make its employees feel like their work is appreciated. This doesn't always require an elaborate effort. Just a small thank you is often appreciated.

With the turning of another calendar year, one is forced to ponder the significance of growing just a wee bit older. Why are birthdays such an ordeal for some people?

I looked in the mirror and another gray hair appeared (my third) a difficult reminder of what is to come. As various body parts (hair, gums) recede, one has to marvel at the effects of time. A birthday for whatever reason is a time to reflect on your state of affairs (so to speak) ... Just you watch, this next year will be the best ever. At which age did you realize you were getting old? The newsletter wants to know.

I too, me also, was impressed by DIN and MUSE. Dittos to Al's comments. Excellent job! Imagine a professional publication coming out of our company? What a concept!

This week's newsletter is a very special one that you'll want to bring home and savor. It's our big ACTIVITIES issue. For those who feel their writing has the punch of plumber's handkerchief, who feel their command of metaphors is as useful as a pork chop in a synagogue, we have provided a writing assignment. And for those of you who enjoyed our last crossword puzzle (see issue number 4) we have another! Enjoy.

As for next week's newsletter, it too promises to be extra special. That is because the editor, is taking a leave, a much needed respite from his day to day activities. For those interested he is going out East, where he will get together with his sister and a former feisty friend (who is chewing gum for the eyes if you know what I mean) and enjoy the comforts and dangers of the nation's capitol. Anyway for our regular contributors (you two know who you are) if you don't see your efforts in next week's issue-don't take offense. There will be plenty more pages to fill in the future. Bon Soir!!!

"The adventures we seek, the footprints we follow, may not be together but they will always be shared."

Monday, November 8, 1993

Frankly Speaking

Yes that was a writer from St. Paul dancing in the middle of a circle of eight married women last Friday night. But he only did it with a great deal of self consciousness and embarrassment. Yes, he was out of his element, but so were all the other solitary figures in that location that night. A memorable occasion, a once in a lifetime event. Sacred vows, on broken cows. The DJ played all of the favorites, "Mony Monyl' , "Twist and Shout", "Cream", "Achy Breaky Heart". We could have danced all night and for a while there, I thought we might. Songs for Swingin Lovers. ..

So.1 went back home and put on the new CD and the man took me to the place where the embers glow on reflective waters like a fluorescent kitchen light on a diamond, strapped into its secure wedding band.

Those of us looking to the Chairman of the Board for a little guidance and direction have to be a little confused by his new release, Duets.

Billed as the "Event of the Century", Duets is Frank Sinatra’s first new studio record in nine years. Sinatra, now 78, still has remarkable abilities in interpreting a song and making it his own. Yet the project is a bit disappointing in its wide variety of quality and lack of a clear cohesive whole.

Sinatra has already proven his independence, charisma and style throughout his career; he doesn't need to share the spotlight with lesser weathered, and ineffective artists. Unlike most, Sinatra has always called his own shots, followed his own map, thus one wonders what we can take from a recording (much of it literally phoned in) that relies so much on the talents of others.

There are restraints all of us place upon ourselves to conform to the mores of society. It is indeed a sad day when even Francis Albert succumbs to this.

Even that other great Italian artist once sang, "Life is a mystery, all of us must stand alone…” In the end that is what we all face and some would argue the sooner we own up to that, the more satisfying our life will be. September of Our Years...

Yet that criticism might be a tad harsh. Sinatra has done it all (and done it his way) so if he wants to enjoy a song with a bevy of friends, he for one, has earned it.

A few weeks back in this very publication (a little less faded) we wrote about the challenge of making a career/job change. Getting a new job, is a difficult thing to subject oneself to, but it is equally hard making the change once the opportunities are presented.

With a routine comes familiarity. With familiarity comes complacence. With complacence comes security. With security comes comfort. With comfort comes a paralysis. And from there Frank sings to only the lonely.

I for one have no idea what any of this means, as I turn to leave yet another behind. Alls I know is Frank is back, I'm gone and somewhere we'll all meet again in the middle.

Monday, November 1, 1993

Point Counterpoint

EDITOR'S NOTE: Here is a brand spanking new feature we hope to run periodically. It's called Point/Counterpoint Debate Discussion over Liner Notes. Here is the premise: a major star writes their own liner notes to their new CD and we take the time to respond. Yes, we realize there is vast potential for major league geekdom, but that hasn't stopped us before...

Okay, Bob the jig's up. For over 30 years now, you've played the role of the outsider, the cynic commentator on our society. Doesn't matter the phase you were in, folk, rock, country, gypsy, gospel, crack pot, and now blues, you've always been able to point out what is wrong, but isn't it a much more difficult task to point out what is right, or offer alternatives? Easier to tear down than build up?

Although your latest tirade is the best thing you've written since, oh say, "Series of Dreams", and the best liner notes I've seen in quite a while, it still is bile from a hateful, contemptful mind. Are you putting us on? Lighten up pal.

You look out across the land and see corruption and poverty of values, a society crumbling. I look and see the joys of Cheez- Whiz. uummm, cheez-whiz.

You look to the youth and see a lack of belief in anything other than themselves. You want religion back in the schools.

I see the kids of Beverly Hills 90210 doing pretty well for themselves.

You see phoniness, privileged people posing. I see the benefits of a good aerobics dance session.

Truth is shadowy, "strange things are happening like never before," you say. I say there is free downtown parking on the major holidays. The opportunities know no boundaries.

Misunderstandings, violence, judgmental people trying to fit all into pre-conditioned notions? Well how about the soothing purr of a drooling kitty? How do you answer that?

The dust and pollution of city dwelling and vast areas of land being stripped of their essence? How about the blooming lilacs in June? And the tasty treat of a refreshing Lemon Sunkist?

You see Bob, you can continue to try and play the part of the old, wise bluesman but the role that suits you better is one of a lil' clown on Halloween night. Life can be enjoyed if you only let yourself. To spout off alarmist metaphors is to lose sight of all that is right about this country.

PS-The new CD is good, damn good.


Hey all you Star Trek fans? Have any of you caught the repeats of Hill Street Blues (Channel 23, llPM M-F)? So far we've seen Jonathan Frakes (William Riker) as a drug dealer and Brent Spiner (Data) as a sexual deviant. One of the intriguing parts of Hill Street was they kept the city anonymous throughout the series. Well, now we know it was the City on the Edge of Forever. Har har, snicker snicker... Nothing like a good trekkie joke.

The Jig is Up

Dazed and confused? Perhaps you didn't inhale so you can't stop thinking about tomorrow, as it were.

Perhaps you are one of the many who find there's too much month left at the end of the money. And your problem isn't the way you ration your resources, it's that you don't get enough scoops to begin with. You do like your parents told you and you save for a rainy day only you're living in your own private Seattle and every day is a rainy one...

But the longer you delay saving the bigger impact it will have on how much you have when you are 65. Do you believe in social security? hah! There are economic principles like the "Rule of 72" (where you take the interest rate you are getting and multiply it by 72 to tell you how long it will take your savings to double). The effect of compound interest is amazing. The impact of postponing your savings for five years is stunning.

Options? Let's brainstorm shall we? You could stick your money in a bank where you'll get 2-3% interest. This is "safe" in that your money is insured and there is minimal risk of losing it all, but it's not much of an investment.

You might purchase a "whole life" insurance policy which includes a "forced savings" plan-but it has been shown to me those types of programs are wrought with consumer fraud.

You could do like some and become educated in the fine sport and thrills of equestrian wagering. Problem is even the best fail (as proven in prior issues of the newsletter) and to become knowledgeable enough takes a lot of time and studying. If you are willing to put that much effort into your investment, you might as well go for something a bit more secure.

You could go to one of our state's many fine casinos where you'll find many of our state's fine senior citizens, many of whom probably wish they were your age and had the opportunity to invest there money somewhere wise other than the land of screaming reptiles.

In the same line of thinking you could go to Vegas (sniff) and bet on sporting events: If even a Macalester alum like myself who hasn't seen more than 20 plays all season long can pick at a 70% accuracy rate, it can't be all that difficult. Problem is I've picked a lot of favorites and if I were actually betting, the odds and spreads probably would not have paid for my plane ride back home.

There are of course, many other options, like government bonds, the stock market, starting your own business, buying your own business, raising show bunnies, buying fine art, cars and all the other collectibles.

What I, your personal investment planner would suggest would be to look at a good solid mutual fund which would give you 10- 12 (an easily attainable figure) percent return on your investment. You may not become a millionaire, but with a little common sense you'll be better off. Which leads us to our final cliché of the day: let's yet your money working for you, rather than you just working for your money.

Monday, October 25, 1993

Feline Financial Planning

Max the Cat gets four scoops of Science Diet "Light" food every day. Meal time is of course, his favorite part of the day.

We have tried many different arrangements in how he gets his food. When I first got him, I used to feed him breakfast lunch and dinner. Three square meals a day. I would feed him after I had finished preparing my own food. This became a problem however, in that every time I went into the kitchen, Max thought it was time for food and his hopes would be dashed as I returned to the living room with a mere glass of water.

Later on we tried a different approach. I fed Max two scoops before bedtime, and two scoops when I got up in the morning. This however gave him the incentive to get me up in the morning. Just who among us can growl louder?

Now we are attempting to learn the art of saving, of planning ahead. I give Max his four scoops in the morning and it is up to him to ration them throughout the day. If he eats it all in the morning, he'll be hungry come night time. Max was slow to catch on to this philosphy. So I initiated a program of "forced savings". I separated the four scoops into different dishes, and put the dishes in various places around the apartment. (This also sharpens his instincts for hunting.)

Besides once again proving I'm a little goofy, I share this story because it is an example, a microcosm of a lesson that is a valuable one, yet difficult for many of us youngsters to grasp. Never let it be said I make my cat do something I wouldn't do myself.

I used to think the worst lyrics in any song were to Simon and Garfunkel's-Old Friends. "Can you imagine us years from today? Sharing a park bench quietly, how terribly strange to be 70." My friends and I used to sit around and ponder and philosophize but I doubt any of us ever thought about being an elderly citizen feeding the pigeons somewhere. Though the day will be here sooner than any of us want, there's no time like now to start planning. But why save for tomorrow when there's so much to do today?

That's why forcing yourself to save, to think about tomorrow is a prudent if not darn difficult course of action. By golly there's more than one type of CD out there, and it's time we all started thinking about that. Things don't just take care of themselves in the end. You have to plan.

In baseball some teams play it safe in the early innings, sacrificing an out for an early run and lead. Instead of waiting for a three run home run, some teams will "manufacture" a run or two and hope the pitching and defense can hold on. The other way to play of course, is to wait for the big inning, play it station to station until the big bopper comes through.

Financial planning can be a similar experience. But as long as you are aware of the different strategies, you are ahead of the crowd.

Monday, October 18, 1993

Career Evaluation Time

Being the editor of this publication, it is my job to know everything about the business. and when I say business, I mean the industry of course.

As those who know me can testify, nobody loves to share his insight more than I. Thus this week I thought I would pass along some knowledge gathered along the way.

Every so often it's an excellent idea to sit down and evaluate your career. What do you like about your job? What do you dislike? If the negatives outweigh the positives, perhaps it is time to consider making some changes.

A career rearrangement is a big step to take, not one to be taken lightly. Once you jump you can't go back. Directionless? Adrift? Just a change in scenery for a change in scenery's sake can sometimes be a mistake. You have to think about whether you are simply looking for something different than the status quo, or if a change will actually improve your situation. Consideration and feedback is sometimes prudent.

The first step to update a resume is like a visit to the dentist. No one enjoys it but it is sometimes a necessity. What about that five year gap?

Most of us have been to at least one interview; if not, how exactly did you land a job with this company? I've recently gone on a few so here are some tips:

Though you can never know what will be asked of you, you can anticipate the tone of the interview. In most interviews you will be asked some standard questions. For example, you will be asked what you consider to be your strengths, and what you thank are your weaknesses. You will also probably be asked what you would bring to the job. So, you can prepare for the experience/ordeal by anticipating what will be asked. For my last few interviews, I've studied hard by watching as many different TV talk shows as I could. (Paul Schaffer is not a dork- he just plays one on TV.)

Say you're interviewing for a position in the Department of Agriculture, where you would help in the regulation of weed control. You learn there are 10 "illegal" weeds in Minnesota. You've also learned more than you ever wanted to know about illegal weeds. Being a city person you wonder if your lack of knowledge of farm life will be a strike against you. No problem, just be honest but earnest; you've always wanted to regulate weeds, you've just never known how to go about it.

How to dress? You don't want to over dress. You don't want to show up in a suit or a dress if a suit or a dress will never be worn on the job. But you don't want to under dress either. Spandex probably isn't appropriate. YOu lso have to keep in mind while you don't exactly want to work for someone where appearances matter to such a degree, the company is probably going to interview several siimlar candidates and every little thing done to impress them will make a difference.

One thing I learned is to remember it is a business interview. Don't think the interviewer is oging to care one hoot about your personal life. Swapping recipes will not get you the job.

A job search is difficult. Eight hours a day for 50 years, what a cheery thought! Good luck!

Monday, October 11, 1993

MJ vs. KC

"Such a feeling's coming over me. There is wonder in most everything I see. Not a cloud in the sky, got the sun in my eyes and I won’t be surprised if it’s a dream.”

The Carpenters "Top of the World" is one explanation as to how we should approach our lives. For many people, it is the single philosophy they have been taught, and it is the only way they know how to proceed.

A little girl, who would later grow up to work for Cheapo Records for a while, used to perform her rendition of "Top of the World" for her family. She told me it was one of the fonder memories from her childhood. Singing and dancing, it would not be the last time she would entertain someone. She had a naturally nurturing spirit.

Not exactly the most ambitious type, what were her dreams? During the time our paths crossed, she encouraged me to look forward to was ahead, the potential of things, rather than back at the past to the way things used to be. I never did figure out her philosophies, the way she lived her life, the decisions she made. Somehow I always thought she could just tell what I was thinking and feeling, yet the more I think about it, the more I doubt that was true. Dreams can be wishes, desires, fantasies; they can also be rooted in reality-the road we wish our lives to follow. They can keep us going in difficult times, or delude us into following a dead end route.

“Everything I want the world to be. Is now coming true especially for me. And the reason is clear, it’s because you are near. You’re the nearest thing to heaven that I’ve seen.”

A new acquaintance, a new business associate, a new friend, told me she, unlike her husband, is not a dreamer. She has, at least in my mind. been blessed with the ability to approach things with a more practical point of view, looking at things rooted in day to day realities. This has its advantage or not allowing the mind to become distracted and discouraged by things that may or may not happen.

After a nice conversation with her, I thought back to what I had learned, or what she was trying to tell me. Among many topics we discussed was how a gate will sometimes swing open, and an opportunity will present itself in disguise, in a fashion that we are leery of, and the skepticism prevents us from moving. Instead we merely react to circumstances and it all passes us by.

Last week Michael Jordan joined B.B King and myself in losing the thrill. But in that very admission, the burden of something he's held close for a long time could finally be let go That freedom can be very uplifting. Michael showed us another way to approach life. Despite losing the passion for what he has done so well for so long, the decision walk away was a noble one. And not one that many people could have made.

"I'm on the top of the world, looking down on creation, and the only explanation I can find, is the love that I've found ever since you've been around. Your love's put me at the top of the world. "

One of the best feelings in the world is to control your own destiny. To have the choice of whether to stay or walk away, may or may not matter when the final polka is played, but it's better than having someone else make the decision for us.

But most people do need the crutch of a second opinion. Most people do need to be reassured that what they are doing is OK with somebody else. It may only be a myth, but it is a comforting one-something we all need.

"Something in the wind has learned my name. And it's telling me that things are not the same. In the leaves on the trees and the touch of the breeze, there's a place and sense of happiness for me. There is only one thing on my mind. When this day is through I hope that I will find, that tomorrow will be just the same for you and me, all I need will be mine if you are here. "

Next Week: Hippocrates vs. Johnny Cash

Monday, October 4, 1993

H.E.L.P. is on the Way

"Stark naked in front of the mirror, an ugly person did appear."
-Brian Wilson

Hey Pat Nistler, new local celebrity extraordinaire, and all you other aspiring writers, singers, performers, artists out there- I've got a question for you: What makes you do it'? What is the purpose behind your creativity'?

One of our favorite rock stars once said, "We got in it for the girls and money." Another said, "I did it because no one told me I couldn't." Those are as good of explanations as I've heard, but I still want to know what drives so many people to put their insides, their neurosis, on display for all to dissect and judge.

I ask this question after having submerged myself these past few weeks in the new Beach Boys' box set, "Good Vibrations." The most intriguing thing about the collection is being able to hear and understand how one man has used his talents, his unequaled voice, as a release from some of his darker demons.

One aspect of the beach Boys' appeal is the contradiction, the duality, between their music and their image. The vast majority of the public probably sees the group as the fun loving, surf crazy, conservative, California crew with those sunny harmonies. But as you delve deeper into Brian's music (for he was the creative force, the genius behind the music), you begin to see a different, darker picture.

As simple as some of the songs seem, the melodies and song structures are almost always complex. One could argue there has never been as ambitious a group. As infectious as the harmonies are, the lyrics more often than not are brooding and self searching. Much has been written about Brian's decline from being eccentric to being emotionally disturbed. As the box set proves, it isn't as simple as that.

Many artists collapse under the weight of their own achievements, from F. Scott Fitzgerald to Orson Welles, from Wendell Anderson to Tiffany-but Brian's obsession with creating the ultimate song is as entertaining as it is disturbing. What is impressive is the amount of brilliant work he has achieved. His contributions as chronicled in the set, are truly remarkable.

My favorite disc out of the five, is number three which contains some of the group's lesser known work. In "Ti1 I Die" from Surf's Up, the writer questions his direction, comparing his condition with a cork on the ocean, a rolling stone, a blowing leaf, and comes up with the affirmation that being adrift and full of uncertainty is what makes life so intriguing and rich.

In "Busy Doin' Nothing" from Friends Brian's wit is in full force-"I wrote her number down, but I lost it so I searched through my pockets but I couldn't find it, so I sat and concentrated on the number, and slowly it came to me so I dialed it, and I let it ring a few times but there was no answer, so I let it ring a little more, still no answer so I hung up the telephone. got some paper and sharpened up my pencil and wrote a letter to my friend." OK on the surface those are rather mundane lyrics, hardly stuff for a classic song, yet the way they are presented is brilliant; both funny and uncomfortable. Quintessential Brian Wilson. Is this guy for real?

From start to finish, "Good Vibrations" is an outstanding collection. Although it doesn't contain my favorite two Beach Boy songs, "Solar System" from Love You and "Here Today" from Pet Sounds, I've already listened to this set more than any other I have purchased. The music is deep and rich, simple and inspiring; and it makes one want to go out and create something. Or at the very least, go to the beach.

What does it mean when I don't even understand the graffiti spray painted on our walls? Am I totally out of the loop?

BOB'S Quote of the Week: "Bill Monroe once said he got his best thinking done while other people were talking. I always liked that. "

Monday, September 27, 1993

Trouble with the Police

A young, Midwestern lad was dropped off at a small, Midwestern liberal arts college. He arrived at his dorm room where his two roommates were already busy unpacking. On the stereo played the Police's "Roxanne. " The young lad noted that one of his roommates had a slight resemblance to the members of the rock group (he had the hair).

For the next few months, the young lad endured many an evening watching his roommates and their friends crank up "Roxanne," and had the pleasure of witnessing a room full of burly freshmen air guitaring along with the Police. This was the ritual of his college initiation. At night, he attended dinner with these people, listened to their conversations which consisted of alcoholic tales and grading and commenting on the anatomy of various young (nubile?) co-eds at the college. On a good evening the two topics became one, as the young lad learned they certainly weren't mutually exclusive.

Occasionally the young lad would come back to his dorm late at night only to discover one of these young women in his room, enjoying herself with one of the judges. Always in the background were the sounds of the Police (although nothing illegal or illicit was happening, as these same occurrences played out at various colleges throughout the continental U .S. (for who knows how long.)

Cut now to this same young lad's junior year at this college. Next door lived a sometimes emotional, sometimes insecure acquaintance, who's ideal man happened to be Sting (the bass player, singer/ songwriter of the Police). This young woman eventually reaffirmed in the young lad that love was different than what he witnessed in his freshman year, and in gratitude he ended up naming a newsletter after her.

The relationship between the two was often strained. The young lad's roommate was even heard to mutter, "One of you is always mad at the other." One could tell when things were not flowing right when the two students would be isolated in their own rooms, one playing Sting (who the young lad thought was pretentious), the other cranking McCartney (who the young woman thought old), as if a musical war was better than a war of words. In the end, the rift grew too large and the differences broke the relationship apart.

Many years later this young lad, now graduated, was working at a local record store where the entertainment was provided by a free jukebox- thus the same ten songs played over and over throughout his eight hour shift. Among these songs was Sting's "Russians." Each time it played it cut like a dagger, a sensory reminder that made the young lad a little sadder. Everywhere he turned she was still sort of there.

Now days, this same lad is sometimes able to look back at all those days without a grimace. Still, music is the most painful reminder and when a Police song is played, the hidden emotions sometimes creep back from their buried place. Time may not heal all wounds but it does change us. Recently, the young lad made a tape for a friend. The second song he put on the tape was none other than "Russians" surely Sting's most pretentious effort. The prominent placement of this song perhaps suggests a step forward, perhaps a step backward, but a step nonetheless. Although he probably would not admit it. the lad now likes the song. I guess we can say he has been "Stung."

Monday, September 20, 1993

Talk is Cheap

If you’re anything like me, a young, amiable, male (YAM), you probably are eating up this late night talk show fest. But there are only so many late hours in a day, and only so many of us insufferable insomniacs to enjoy them. So here for your convenience, is a guide to what you should watch and what you can let pass:

The Arsenio Hall Show: The best thing that can be said about this man is that he is a black Merv Griffith. The worst thing that can be said about him is that he is a black Merv Griffith. It’s as if he didn’t experience the 80’s and the breaking away from conventional talk show structures. He schmoozes with his guests and if you happen to be an attractive young starlet, or a heroic young athlete, watch out because the sugar level will kill a diabetic. On one appendage, the show is rooted in self-promotion and self-indulgence. Does Arsenio realize his guests have absolutely no importance, and thus neither does he? That it’s only show biz? On the other appendage, being so steeped in the culture of Southern California gives the show its appeal; it’s the show to watch if you want to keep up with the kids. Hip, trendy and fashionable.

Late Night with Conan O’Brien: He is trying so hard to be funny that at times it is painful to watch. He needs to lose the gum and the giggle (a young Rupert Pupkin?) Like Letterman, his references are steeped in recent pop culture; both mocking it and giving worship to it. Already we’ve heard jokes about the Flintstones, Gilligan, the Partridge Family and Hogan’s Heroes. Many of the bits from the first week were simply not funny. He opened with "Small Town News" an old Letterman bit, the twist being the stories were made up. But it wasn’t absurd, unrealistic or silly so it was just plain dumb. The same problem exists with the sidekick, Andy. He seems to be there to mock the role Ed McMahon played, yet he only makes one appreciate the durability of Johnny’s partnership and how watchable those two men were together. What’s needed is a caricature like John Candy’s Edward B. on SCTV’s "Sammy Maudlin" show. Conan did come up with the funniest moment last week: his duet with Tony Randall on "Edelweiss".

The Chevy Chase Show: One either likes Chase’s smugness or can’t stand it. I happen to like Chevy’s "Saturday Night" personae, the clumsy self-depreciating everyman. But he lacks Letterman’s wit, Len’s observational humor, and Arsenio’s ability to establish a dialogue with his guests. What does Chase add to this genre? Slapstick? Chaplinesque comic ability? This show can’t seem to make up its mind whether it wants to be the "Tonight Show" or "Saturday Night Live". Dennis Miller did it better.

Tonight Show with Jay Leno: He is a great stand up comedian, yet his nightly monologue has taken the edge off his comic focus. Still Letterman’s decision to lengthen his monologue plays to Len’s strength. Jay is better at that part of the show. At the same time, Dave has always gone for the one liner, the joke even if it’s at the expense of his guest; Jay’s approach is much more sheepish and thus he is not as entertaining an interviewer. Leno has gotten better, more relaxed, more "himself" since becoming the permanent host, but Johnny’s shadow still lingers and Len’s decision to be a "kindler and gentler" host has been detrimental to the show.

Late Show with David Letterman: When he started off eleven years ago, his show was an anti-talk show, a mockery by example. The sarcasm, the not knowing if he was putting us on, whether we should take him seriously, what was real and what wasn’t – gave the show its innovation. Over the year’s Dave’s personality has become more of the focus and thus the show has become the talk show it strived not to be. Yet Dave has developed as a performer, mixing his dumb hut style effectively with a biting skepticism and he is the most skillful host among the lot. So far the "Late Night", doing far less prepared material. Instead they have relied on taking the camera outside and seeing what Dave can make fun of – and thus the show seems more and more glitzy and conventional. Still, Paul is my favorite late night bandleader and having been at it the longest, Dave seems to know what he wants to accomplish.

It’s nice to find out I wasn’t the only kid in America tuning in every night to Johnny, thinking to myself, that’s what I want to do. So what if all those others have their own shows and I do not. As Conan O’Brien said, "My friends told me, Conan, the day you get your own talk show is the day there will be peace in the Middle East." Anything is possible.

NEXT WEEK: Phil and Oprah, Geraldo, Sally Jessie, Maury, Faith, Jenny Jones, John and Leeza, Regis and Kathie Lee, Montel and much much more!

Results of last week’s football picks: Jason S. went 5-9 to make his season total 14-14. David went 7-7 to make his season total 17-11. A three game lead! Can the youngster catch up? Or is the wily, grizzled prognosticator too much to handle? We welcome Jason Mock to the club. Stay tuned…

BOB’S QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "Music can save people, but it can’t in the commercial way it’s being used. It’s just too much pollution… My feeling is that the guy who’s taken up modern music is what you hear in Wagner. Wagner, to me is like one of the archcriminals of all time. Like Beethoven would be the antithesis of Wagner, and Beethoven you didn’t hear very much. Wagner makes you feel gloomy and depressed, but he’s popular too and he dictates the music of the day whether you like it or not?

Monday, September 13, 1993

The Uncomfortable DJ

You're responsible for providing music for the masses. How do you select the samples you are limited to? What is appropriate in store music?

I was asked to make a hold tape for the business information lines to the Secretary of State. This music is heard by over 700 people a day. How did I make the best tape I could for my audience? What was my selection process?

Initially I wanted to make the cliche hold tape, full of muzak. I myself am starting to dig elevator music. Last week I heard a killer version of Dylan's Bucket of Rain back to back with an instrumental interpretation of Madonna's Papa Don't Preach. Whew, talk about being lifted to another place! Imagine my excitement when I learned this muzak was provided by a company whose job is to play background music for various offices across the land. Where do I sign up?

Think of the challenge: the music has to be pleasant, a background sound, catchy without being too sugary and annoying. That's a hard order to fill. For my tape I originally thought I might try all classical music. But I wanted to give our office a more hip, more up to date, image.

So... I added some jazz to the mix. Couldn't be too far out though, had to be plain enough where people wouldn't notice. I also looked for some "soft' rock that everyone could enjoy. College? MOR? Blandness is an offense in itself.

Another idea then crossed my mind: how's about an all Minnesota artist tape? No way. Somehow a mixture of Dylan, Prince, and the Mats probably wouldn't be acceptable to the vast majority.

Sifting through my clunky collection was a chore in itself. I pulled various records and CDs off the shelf. The next problem was somehow mixing the different genres into a cohesive whole. McCartney ended up next to Mozart, Coltrane next to Sinatra. Perhaps the key was to provide as broad a selection as possible, pleasing as many different people as I could. Depending on when you called, you would hear a piece of great music. No one could complain, no one could find fault with the quality of music. I had created the best damn hold tape ever!

Or so I thought. But I should've known better. You can't please everyone. I was surprised by the first complaint- against a Rachmanioff piano concerto. A classical piece and not a rock song? The next dissenting voice was against the "crying geese" soundof Coltrane and Miles Davis. And not a word about John Hiatt. How do you figure?

So having compiled my version of the best hold tape in the state (296-2803), my next project was a traveling tape for my new car pooling partner. Another hard to know what to include task. Her's is an opinion I value so just a tape of my favorite tunes would not suffice because my choice in music has driven more than a few away. The tape I made for my last car pooling companion was filled with nasty messages, or so she was convinced.

So rather than trying to make a tape for my new driver, I didn't compromise my soul this time; I made a tape I liked and hoped she respects me enough to like it too or at least appreciates the thought that went into the selections. It's good music darn it.

Monday, September 6, 1993

Continuing Saga of Blackjack Davey

As me and the Mrs. Get ready to send Mandy and Melissa back to school, (can you believe lil’ Mandy is all ready to start the third grade!?) I am reminded that some of our finest citizens are former food service employees from Iowa.

Seriously, the summer flew by so fast! Where did the time go? I don’t know if any of you have heard but there is a new show on at 10:35 PM that is worth catching. It’s called "Real Stories of the Highway Patrol." We get to follow the fuzz, as they perform their ever-entertaining duties. Last week, we got to see them bust a woman who had a few ounces of cocaine on her person. As the camera leered at her, we got to hear of how the man she was living and sleeping with gave her the dope, but she hardly knew him, therefore she shouldn’t go to jail. She didn’t, as our heroes let her go with a mere warning. Riveting. The mixture of reality with TV didn’t confuse me too much. TV like most modern conveniences makes things more clear.

Speaking of modern conveniences, it occurred to me I’ve come full circle. When I began at Cheapo many, years ago, it used to be a running gag between me and my co-workers, about my discomfort in answering the phone. A member of our company’s hall of fame, former Cheapo East Manager Brian Haws, used to spend hours mocking my resistance to that part of my job description. But I did have a legitimate reason for my phone phobia.

So now it’s a bit ironic that I spend my workday answering the phone for a living(?). Among the thousands of faceless callers, I’ve had the pleasure to meet a handful of people (the most interesting encounter happened right here at Landfill, where I met Steve from the Department of Revenue; he didn’t know I knew it was him, but it was quite obvious from his voice and personality). This past week I finally met PG, a long time caller and one nifty person to boot.

Mixing reality and fiction, finally being able to put a person, a face behind the voice was a disjointing. It was like finding out that TV’s Richard Anderson, Oscar Goldman on the "Six Million Dollar Man" is the voice of either Beavis or Butthead.

Do the voices I hear all day long in my head mean I’m insane? No. Is my job? Good question.

Another phone call. I’m in the process of a major personal purchase, a personal computer. Knowing little of what I should be looking for, I ordered a specific piece of equipment only to find the company I ordered it from installed inferior hardware. So the question is, were they trying to rip me off or did they make an honest mistake? Wouldn’t it be good customer service on their part to alleviate that question by offering me something in return for their mistake? It’s an inconvenience at worst, a distraction at best. But eventually it will make our newsletter, "Bigger, Better, Faster…"!

Special thanks to Scott for offering me tickets to go see that feisty, festering rivalry between our fighting Twins and those ever intense Indians. Instead of enjoying those festivities, I endured another night of softball where I accomplished the nearly impossible – grounding into two double plays! Woo!

Monday, August 30, 1993

Answers to a Man Named Alias, A Week Gone by, A State Fair Performance Review and Much More

"I'm not saying they should be censored, but it would be nice if there were some kind of quality control. A lot of stuff out there is just not meaningful. The record companies shouldn't be involved, but maybe the artist should be made to sign a contract asking, 'Do you mean it?'"
-B. Dylan (the same fella who once said he didn't like watching women rock stars perform because they just "whore themselves."

"I was sitting home alone one night, in L.A. watching old Cronkite on the seven o'clock news..."

The man finally acknowledged his audience Friday, despite being shrouded in darkness. "It's always nice playing in my home state... Thankewe everybodeeeee!!!!"

His performance was neat. I especially enjoyed Tangled Up in Blue, Boots of Spanish Leather, You Gonna Quit Me, and God Knows. Dylan's vocals, guitar and harmonica playing were most excellent.

Of course, just about anything would have cheered me up on this evening. A few nights before I was called a "scrawny little wimp." (I'm sure it was only meant in the most positive sense of the words.) My softball career resumed? and the team's best player was batting when one of the other players said to me, "In high school he used to be your size, just a scrawny little wimp." Meanwhile I went ohfernine and made two incredibly dumb plays in the field doing my best to immitate Jeff Reboulet. All this sans my softball partner extraordinaire.

True or false? Can one skinny dip without removing one's clothing? Reminds me of a staff meeting we had at the state once, where a former supervisor began the proceedings by asking us, his beligerent minions, what the definition of "in" was. Putting aside our dirty thoughts, what his question referred to was why no one was using the "in/out" board. If you weren't at your desk were you in or out? A few weeks later he was laid off which meant he was out I guess.

So I got home and had a scare. I though Max might have rabies. Turns out he had just gotten into a container of Kool Whip.

I endured. Survived. Sang along with all the other Santana fans I found myself surrounded (and touched by) dancing, singing/chanting "Oye como va" and imagine the delight of all: a live version of Black Magic Woman! So when the other scrawny little Minnesotan finally hit the stage sometime after nine well my heart went pitter patter and a smile worked its way on my face and it didn't matter that there was an audible come down from the dancing Santanites and the merry, peppy musical world tour he had led us on.

Answers? Stevie Wonder never sang Cats in the Well. Neil Young who never carries a light bulb, or sings a Ballad in Plain D, but still needs a Shot of Love and as proven Friday, Bob is still among us like his Twin Peaks namesake.

Monday, August 23, 1993

The Moral Majority Rules

Was it lbsen that once wrote something to the effect that the majority of the populace can never be right? That the person who stands most alone always holds the moral truth?

I was traveling with my old car pooling partner awhile back, when we got into a "discussion" about who had more influence during the 1980's, Ronald Reagan or Bill Cosby. Surely, I argued, Cosby had a larger audience, thus had the ability to reach more people. Besides who among us still believes in the power of any politician? Haven't we become too cynical for all that?

Currently, there is a debate raging among the intellectual community in our country (or in other words, the people with way too much time to waste i.e. our Congress); that being-has television become too violent, too dirty for the young impressionable minds of this once great country

To state that television is an evil force in the downfall of our society isn't exactly the most controversial stand to take. Conservatives attack the liberal bias of Hollywood while Liberals bad mouth the conservative corporate dominance of the current network structure. But it is important to remember that Socrates once warned of the dangers of the written word, and the printing press was once described as the single most corruptive invention by the Catholic Church, before one condemns television as de debbil in our society. Technological advances are almost always feared. What has to be questioned however is the determination and acceptance that violence and sex are somehow equal and that television is solely responsible for the downfall of our moral fabric.

The argument goes something like this: Network TV over stretched the boundaries, and children these days are exposed to sinful, corruptive ideas way before they are ready. Violence may not lead to violence, but it desensitizes us all. Exposure to sex leads to lustful, promiscuous behavior,

But how can anyone possibly measure densensitivity7 I watched more than my share of television as a child. My brother and I used to play cops and robbers as well as its now politically incorrect cousin, cowboys and indians. Neither one of us is a mass murderer to my knowledge; in fact, these days I can't stand to watch any type of pop culture created violence. I recently saw the movie Cliffhanger and could hardly stomach the violent scenes. There is no entertainment value in watching another human endure any kind of physical suffering.

It's true that television takes the easy way out whenever possible by entertaining us with violence. But to place the blame on TV while all but disregarding current gun control laws, or spousal, child, or drug abuse, and the hopelessness of inner city living, is a simplistic view to take. Does anyone actually believe the increasing rate in violent crime is mainly due to watching too much television?

It's equally puzzling how one can lump violence and sex together into one corruptive category. I'm no expert but maybe the blonde from my past, CJ, was correct when she called me a pervert for complimenting (the one time I ever did it in my life) her choice in fashion. When did making love become equal with blowing someone's head off (no pun intended)? How can anyone possibly equate the two?

That's not to say television doesn't influence us. While house sitting two kitties, I find myself addressing them in an accent similar to the one Carroll O'Connor uses as the southern sheriff in The Heat of the Night (don't ask why, I only know it's really annoying). But to say the reason anyone acts the way they do is because of the values they learned by watching television is hard to believe.

Because something is popular doesn't automatically mean it is devoid of value. It's too easy to criticize the biggest target available without looking for the actual root of the problem. To impose an atmosphere of unilateral self editing, or governmental control of ideas is truly a dangerous step to take. A parent can always tell the child to shut the TV off. We don't need Donald Wildmon for that. Censorship is much safer than risky artistic expression. While not all pop culture can hold some type of (if any) moral value, the risk in restricting that far out ways the chance in losing a creative, unique expression of the human condition.

Truth or Dare

Midway through Madonna's Truth or Dare, Warren Beatty sits looking a bit bemused and annoyed and makes the statement taht Madonna doesn't exist when the cameras are turned off. He can't believe she is allowing every moment of her life to be filmed and at the same time criticizes her for manipulating the people and events around her. A bit later on one of her dancers points out that all Madonna is looking for is someone who can be "real" with her. That duality is what makes Madonna one of our greatest cultural entertainers, and makes the movie worth watching.

More often than not, a documentary produced by the subject is something to avoid. Who wants to sit through someone else's vanity project? What makes Truth or Dare different is Madonna's attitude toward the film. She knows the camera is there, she knows people will watch, and what she wants us to see is the very purpose behind the movie. We're not only to jduge her as a performer, but as the person filming what we are watching. Her act after all, is based on its shocking theatrical merits.

None of the events of the "Blind Ambition Tour" are particularly entertaining or unique. Madonna herself shows us just about everything, but by now we are quite used to the exposure. Moments that might come across as shocknig for any other performer are nearly dismissable because they are about Madonna. The titillation, the frank sexual overtones seem almost mundane and at the very least, expected.

Yet what makes the movie intriguing is the juxtaposition between seeing someone who has to perform, and someone wh seems to crave teh need for someone to accept her for who she "is." Madonna's strength is clearly the way she maintains her power in an atmosphere which has led others down the path of self destruction. She has sometimes been compared with Marilyn Monroe and there are scenes where the self abuse is combined with the overwhelming need for the love from others. Though she claims she doesn't care what others think about her, her sole purpose seems to be shaping and "mothering" what everyone around her thinks and does.

Beatty himself gives perhaps his best movie performance since Bonnie and Clyde. He can't believe Madonna is allowing the cameras to film what he obviously has come to accept. At the same time, he can't seem to detach himself from the entire scene either. He is clearly uncomfortable, and yet he sees himself as the "sane" one amidst a sea of troubled performers.

Perhaps we are supposed to be shocked and admire the frank tone of the movie. Yet nothing comes across as spontaneous, it all has a staged feel to it, as though we are supposed to emphasize with what Madonna feels her essence truly is. The moments that might have held some emotional power, like when she lies down on the grave of her mother, are a bit too contrived and sterile. The emotional punch comes from the musical performances themselves. "Live to Tell," "Vogue," and "Oh Father" express deep rooted emotion, and Madonna proves she is someone who can never be totally dismissed. The dancing and what the "show" means to her, is touching.

She doesn't come across as particularly likeable. Yet her popularity is undeniable as is her value as an entertainer. What makes Truth or Dare better than the average rock documentary is the strength of Madonna's personality. You don't have to like this person, but there is no denying how she got to where she is. She has become famous for shocking us sexually, although that part of her act is the part that will eventually, if it already hasn't, wear thin the fastest. But take that away and intriguing aspects remain. The way she is attempting to incorporate her life into her art, the way she expresses her soul through presentation is fascinating.

There undoubtedly will be more projects, more scandals, more outrage. The value behind Truth or Dare isn't in the glimpse of a single moment, a single tour, but in its explanation in defining the process of one artist's work.

Monday, August 16, 1993

To Dee Dee with Love

When Loni and Burt filed for divorce, it sent a warning to my cholesterol burdened heart. Theirs seemed to be a marriage made for Hollywood. If they couldn't work it out, who among us could?

The news struck a little too close to home. These were nearly my in-laws after all. My nearest brush to fame, my very first "girlfriend" (way back in kindergarten) was a young Dee Dee Haselberg. Deidra, of course is Ms. Anderson's now married daughter.

Burt and Loni proved relationships are fragile things. Even the healthiest can disappear overnight. Which brings me to my domestic associate, Max the Cat. Currently, we are house sitting my sister's mansion in Lake Elmo. The place is huge and is occupied by Max's cousin, Mr. Ralph.

Mr. Ralph is a big cat. A fat cat. He is the only cat who makes Max (who is no mite himself) look minuscule in comparison. Mr. Ralph gets to roam the huge acre of a yard that lies behind the mansion. He chases deer, dodges eagles and kills an occasional gopher- all experiences my friend, the declawed Max can only dream about.

I let Mr. Ralph out in the morning allowing him to roam while I go to work. (We're too far away from the nearest neighbor to worry about Mr. Ralph bothering them.) I'm sure Max watches him intently (and dreams) from a window above. When I get home, Mr. Ralph often comes around front to greet me and comes into the house with me. Poor Max watches us and probably thinks Mr. Ralph and I have spent the whole day frolicking in the wilderness together. Can cats feel jealousy?

Max watches as I scratch Mr. Ralph's stomach, and slowly, sadly walks away. I'm beginning to believe that when Max and I are back home in our apartment, he thinks I go cheat on him and play with Mr. Ralph (since the Lake Elmo mansion is the only other place he has ever seen me at). In reality, I'm off at work earning the money to keep us going.

I feel bad for my cat. Mr. Ralph and I go back a long way, but he's only a friend; Max is my pet, my buddy. We are supposed to be &dung on some similar characteristics. Being neurotic isn't something I want to pass on.

I can say all the right things to Max, I can make it appear he's the only cat in my life, but it's useless unless I convey the accurate attitude. That's a difficult thing to do. I spend more time with Max than Mr. Ralph when I'm at the mansion, yet I can't let Max outside other than our infrequent walks. I know he wants to join Mr. Ralph-it's in his blood. Talking doesn't work, because it's not the words so much, it's the tone of voice which I can't conceal. This is a lesson that can be applied to the workplace.

Last week, three consecutive phone callers apologized to me after asking a question. Apparently my voice was coming across too harshly, making me sound impatient and grumpy. That wasn't what I was feeling at the time (one of the rare occasions in my life) so I was a bit taken back by the apologies. I was tired, and I conveyed the wrong attitude even though my words stated a different meaning altogether.

That the way you say something can be more important than what you are saying, isn't exactly an exclusive, earth shaking revelation. But it is an important thing that is easy to overlook.

So just like my talks to Max, if I send my condolences to Burt and Loni, I have to make sure I use the proper tone of voice.

We can only hope that all is well with myself and my domestic associate. And we can only pray that someday we will be able to deal with the sad break up of Burt and Loni. They seemed so perfect. ...

Sleepless in Pseudoattle

The thread that ties together real estate, starting a new business, and being a successful baseball pitcher is, location, location, location. So a few years ago when I gave up on being a major league pitcher, and I wasn’t experienced enough to be a good entrepreneur, I decided to look for the proper place to live. My experience in the southwest wasn’t what I had hoped for so my Midwestern roots took hold and plopped me back to where I began.

Last year, I considered looking to live elsewhere again. I went east. That didn’t work out. Al suggested Seattle, where his wife’s family is located. My own father was born and raised out there so when my family visited the area, I went along with thoughts of a different type of relocation dancing in my head. The way Al described Seattle, it seemed ideal to me. The climate is legendary with its frequent rainfall. I enjoy rain; damp cool, dark weather is my ideal idea of a place to live.

During my visit it was hot and muggy, a period of an unusual dry spell. I was impressed by the city’s ambiance but upon my return I fell back into the same old routine.

I like the Twin Cities although certain aspects can be annoying. This area has long been hampered with an inferiority complex; there seems to be the feeling that the Twin Cities doesn’t get the credit it somehow deserves-that the rest of the country doesn’t properly appreciate who we are. Seattle is one city we have often been compared with. Ask people on either coast where they would rather live and I’m sure the majority would choose the Upper Northwest. So, Money Magazine’s yearly ranking of the best cities in which to live (see previous page), will no doubt swell the collective ego of our great metropolitan area.

Still, you might have noticed, this has been a terribly rainy season for us. Maybe we have been cursed because we sought to be more like Seattle. Maybe this is a sign that it is better to remain who we truly are. Despite my fondness for this type of weather, even I am getting a bit weary of all the precipitation. All we need are coffee shops springing up every block and we will get our wish to be just like Seattle. If I wanted to experience that type of living, I would be in Washington right now. They do have mountains, an ocean and a better indoor baseball team to enjoy.

On the bright side, this weather is ideal for doing business. And it is equally ideal for the music retail industry since people are spending more time indoors. I myself have tired out some of my collection of music. That’s fine but I just bought a brand new mountain bike, and it is either going to get rusty, or dusty and I didn’t lay down good money for that.

We have caught and passed Seattle. It’s time to slow down because next on the chain is a city that made the bottom ten of Money’s list: Davenport Iowa.

Monday, August 9, 1993

Eulogy for a Dear Friend

My favorite section of the newsletter (the part where we get the most participation and voices- the part where you can actually learn something about the people in this company) is Al’s column, "What did you Learn This Week?" I was going to answer the question this week with a lesson my brother in law told me. We were talking about his father who a couple of years back suffered a mild heart attack. "Part of his heart is dead," my brother in law said. I learned you could live without part of your heart. I chose not to use that answer however. I’ve noticed my answers usually are on a completely different plane than everybody else. I’m not really in the ozone, just act like it sometimes.

The universal lesson I do relearn every week is that the nature of most people is they want things/life to be as easy as possible. In the past, people were told they should believe in the absolute benefits of technology. Technology would make life easier, more efficient and more pleasurable. So we put a man on the moon, and invented remote controls (clickers) so we didn’t have to leave our chairs.

People also used to believe that pop culture icons had some messiah-like abilities, that if you listened to the words, the message, you could be saved. Well, I don’t see anyone playing their CD’s backwards or at different speeds trying to find clues to the greater puzzle.

Recently, a kindergarten teacher stopped into the store to look for children’s records. "Can barley keep ‘em still to listen," she said referring to her restless students. Should we blame the shortening of our collective attention spans on technology or on MTV? Or could it be we are no different these days than those in the past?

I’ve noticed a pattern with people I converse with every day on the phone. Each is looking for someone to solve their problems for them. They don’t realize that information can be used towards figuring a possible direction, but rarely will that be enough to completely satisfy their situation. It usually takes a little more work than that.

The curse of being quiet, bespectacled (and Asian?) is that people assume you know more than you do. They assume your depth is greater than it actually is. I couldn’t convince a former associate I was "but a simple country boy"; she thought I was just trying to be secretive, enigmatic and distant. But there is no reason to try and read between the lines. There’s nothing there.

It’s an easy trap to fall into. I once rode my bike up the hill, pedaling as hard as I could, using all 21 speeds and the only message relayed by the great guru I tried to reach, is that life is what you try and make out of it. You can spend all your time whining about that which has beaten (and kept) you down but it won’t get you anywhere. And often you will miss out on opportunities you’ll later regret you didn’t see, or didn’t appreciate, at the time.

Monday, August 2, 1993


I seem to have this strong, natural rapport with children. Kiddies just can’t seem to get enough of my natural charisma. That said, I must admit I don’t know how to handle certain situations that occur here at Landfill every now and then. So perhaps some of you seasoned retail professionals can help me out by offering your advice and expertise.

How do you handle a situation where someone brings into the store a couple of screaming, young, playful banshees, who tear around the premises like there is no tomorrow, while their parents remain seemingly oblivious to the public display of unruliness by their young munchkins? Where does your responsibility as a sales clerk come together with having to be someone else’s’ babysitter? At what point do you approach the child, or the parent and ask for a little cooperation? My blood pressure nears boiling point every time a child walks in here and I don’t think that is a good thing.

How do I currently deal with the above? I think one of the best ways to handle any situation is to try and look at it through the other side’s position. In this particular instance, it’s easy to apply that philosophy since kids seem to react and relate to my own maturity level. I am a kid at heart.

Many kids these days grow up at the mall. I was no exception. The mall of my choice, the place where "I came of age" was Rosedale. I actually enjoyed Brookdale more because they had cherry slushies that gave you headaches if you ate them too fast, but that hangout was a bit too far away.

Going back to Rosedale now days is like a walk down memory lane (or is that Penny Lane?). The sights, the sounds, and most of all, the smells bring me back to my youth. Except for one thin: down in the new Dayton’s wing is a wig place.

"Kids seem to react and relate to my own maturity level. I am a kid at heart."

Whenever I walk by, there is someone trying out in all seriousness the most hideous attachment to their head, assisted by a salesperson who herself has a big fluffy thing atop her noggin. It’s beyond absurd, beyond a David Lynch movie, beyond an overload of the senses. Whenever I walk by this place I shudder and mutter to myself, "This is a good old fashioned creep out."

Lest anyone think I’m being sexist, I respond the same way whenever I see a commercial for the Hair Club for Men. Besides Frank Sinatra’s hair transplant, we have yet to come up with a suitable replacement or addition to actual human hair.

But we digress. The point is that the world out there can be very frightening and dangerous for a child. Things can leap out, or tumble down at every moment. Adult supervision is a valuable part of growing up. Where one child might see your store as a big playground, another might see it as a torture chamber where every corner is sharper than a dagger. While you can’t keep an eye out for every possible, potential disaster that might occur, perhaps someone knows a good checklist to prevent catastrophe before it happens?

Monday, July 26, 1993

The Gunfighter

"If I was doing you a favor I'd let them hang you now and get it all over with. But I don't want you to get off that light. I want you to go on being a big tough gunny. I want you to see what it means to have to live like a big tough gunny. So don't thank me yet partner. You'll see what it means."
-Gregory Peck in The Gunfighter

Peck's character, Jimmy Ringo, the quickest, meanest gun i the west, has just been shot in the back by a young gun, whose only desire is to be known as the quickest, meanest gun in the west. "He don't look so tough," the young chap says earlier in the movie.

As Ringo lies dying, the sheriff and townsfolk want to quickly punish the cowardly actions of the young but now famous gunfighter. But Ringo intervenes. He doesn't want his killer to get off that easily. The last years of his life have been hell; every town he goes to, every place he roams, there is some young kid who wants to challenge him. The weight of his reputation collapses any pride, any benefits, any pleasure his life's accomplishments might have held.

He has come to his last and lost chance, seeking his only love, now the town's teacher, who is struggling to raise the couple's child in anonymity. She wants no part of Ringo. She knows life with him is no way to raise a young boy. When Ringo gets to meet his son, we see the sorrow at what might have been.

Ringo also meets a young struggling rancher, and the every day obstacles in that man's life seem so much simpler than one where every moment might mean death. The vurden of fame has turned Ringo into a sullen, broken, isolated man.

Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven paints a similar picture. Eastwood plays a quick tempered, weathered cowboy named William Munny. HIs wife, the person led him off his outlaw, villent, sinful past, has died, leaving him to raise two children.

When a neighboring woman is brutally sliced up by a cowboy, a reward is posted calling for the man's death. Munny struggles with his conscience. He knows his wife would disapprove, yet the road ahead for him and the kids seems too much to bear. With the prodding of another young cowboy, "You don't seem so tough," munny is persuaded to pursue the reward and relunctantly get back into the killing business that he is now a legend in; a legen he has tried to leave behind.

Unforgiven seems to say that the nature of humans is evil. Even the love of an angel, and the abstinence from whiskey, can't erase the demons that drive us all. The sheriff (wonderfully played by Gene Hackman), the artists/writers, the business folk, the prostitutes, and even his children can't escape the pressures of what is expected.

As one man learns to kill, another is killed by the law whose goal is to prevent killing; and who is trying to hold the town together about as effectively as the leaky roof he has built for himself "to watch the sunset."

The message of both films, made 43 years apart is that you can't escape your nature, and the expectations of those around you. To seek a simpler, more peaceful and moral way of life is a futile struggle.

Monday, July 19, 1993

Playing Doctor

Once upon a couple of weeks ago, I went to the doctor for a check up. Dr. Payne (Pain) was the young lad's name. After my examination, Dr. Pain had but one bit of advice: "You should always wear your seatbelt." Is this what we can expect from Parsdent Clinton's efforts to improve our health care industry? That's the exact same advice my ten-year-old niece has told me for the lat couple of years- and SHE DOESN'T CLAIM TO BE A MEDICAL EXPERT!

When the results of my blood test came back from the lab last wee, I was told that my cholesterol which should be around 200 (200 what?), was much higher than that. Figuring I had only a few weeks left to live, I went to bed that night a bit distressed. I was awoken the next morning by a message playing on my clock radio, "Do you have high cholesterol? You might be a candidate for a new experimental drug..." Now I'm all for new experimental drugs, but I decided (once I chilled out) that I would take a more conventional route and try to get myself in better shape.

NO MORE BUTTERING THE OLD BACON. A better diet? You don't suppose all those breakfast burritos might be a contributing culprit? More exercise? Walking the moping Max doesn't always get the old heart a-pumpin. More sleep? Even our own president needs four hours of sleep.

Will I become a better employee what with my new health conscious approach to life? Perhaps. Last week two people on two different occasions approached me and said, "You seem to be in a good mood." I, in my best Cary Grant voice replied, "I'm always in a good mood. I just hide it better sometimes." Living longer isn't necessarily a worthwhile goal but there are several ways to have a bad heart. And even for the emotionally broken, psychologically damaged, being in better shape can't hurt. Wisdom is supposed to occur with advancing age. In my case in most instances, that hasn't happened; yet I can see where now it takes me longer to bounce back from avoidable abuses.

Last week I met a woman frmo Ohio who is spending her time studying pigs. They are her passion. Her family owns a pig farm and when I asked if killing one of them for dinner wasn't a tad bit difficult, she looked at me as if I had violated the code of pigethics. "Of course not, you don't understand, that's what we do for a living." It's true, I don't understand but I pledge here and now that pork consumption will decrease in my life.

YOu can go too far with these things though. Sure that piece of french silk pie I just polished off might have taken a whole day off the end of my life, but damn, it was tasty.

A Bunch of Words Bound Together
Already Read Books
Less Than 1/2 Price Books
Nobles and Barnes
Albino Books ("A" listing)
Ageless Books
Hooked on Books
Once Upon a Time
Read Em and Weep

Monday, July 12, 1993

State of the Federation

Let's see if I have this straight. In our battle with the Borg, we put the enemy to sleep and thus defeated them. Later we captured one of them, gave it an identity (Hugh), had the option of introducing a destructive suggestion/virus into their collective consciousness, but chose to do the "moral" thing and let Hugh go and be re-assimilated. Now led by the Syoon(sp?) brothers, Data and his evil twin, Lor, the Borg have learned to think of themselves as individuals. They no longer wish to assimilate other species, just destroy inferior beings, which includes the Federation.

This has major implications for thsoe of us in the customer service industry. Recently Denny's restaurants have come under criticism because one of their locations had the tendency to serve their white customers before their black customers.

It's doubtful that the Denny's coprorate offices sent a memo to their franchises identifying the order in which different races should be served. This particular incident probably was determined by the one location, maybe even by one or two employees. But the end result was that the entire company got a huge black eye. NOw socially conscious consumers will think twice before they go to any Denny's restaurant.

What is the lesson behind the problems Denny's has faced? Is it that the best companies are the one's that act in a uniform, collective, consistent Borg like manner? That the best run companies may be the ones who have well defined policies, that don't have loose cannons acting on their own so that anarchy doesn't give way to bad customer perception?

I don't think so. There seems to be room for creativity in a successful business. Nobody wants to deal with an organization of uninspired drones, who spout company policy as the reason they won't do any thinking on their own. Our old VIP program operated on the philosophy that employees are the ones who can cmoe up with the ideas that will improve the company (and thus are the ones who should be rewarded for their suggestions).

We should seek individual creativity but at the same time define those ideas in a collective way. Customer perception is based on individual actions, but those perceptions are then applied to the entire company.

A response to Sarah: I for one would choose Dr. Crusher over Dr. Pulaski any day. Yes, the color of her hair changes more often than my moods; and yes, she was at least half responsblve for bringing that weenie, the Mozart of the stars, Wesley into the universe (my sister has an interesting theory that Cap'n Picard is really Wes' father), but she is so easy on the eyes. A space babe.

Next week will be another newsletter with a theme. It will deal with the topic of 'health' so if any of you have anything to contribute, pelase do so. What is the correlation between a good diet, plenty of rest and exercise with the way you perform your job?