Monday, January 25, 1993

Larry Kinging Through the Week

Can someone please define for me what a hash brown is? I recently ordered some at Burger King and what I was served seemed to me more of a huge tator tot. Is there no difference? I say we must be careful when we mix genres, even if it is in the fried food area.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I didn’t get enough of Barbra Streisand last week (Pete N’s poster girl). MORE BABS PLEASE! Her rendition of "God Bless America" sent tingles through parts of my body I didn’t know still existed. Let’s hope the Academy doesn’t snub her again! Her return to the public eye was even more exciting than the one we can only hope for: Fast Freddy Toliver.

Point to ponder: How did record albums pick up the nickname "wax"? Were they once made from the stuff? Will candles one day be made from vinyl?

In the biggest rock merger since Guns ‘n’ Roses, it is reported the group Cinderella (performers of that classic, "Don’t Know What You’ve Got ‘Til It’s Gone") were so swept off their feet after hearing Adam and the Ants, "Prince Charming" that members of both groups have begun to record together (reports indicate their first session ended around midnight). I can hardly wait to hear the results.

I’ll never get tired… of seeing our new President blow his sax with some other funky musicians. I hope we see and hear a lot more in the next four!

Just a Thought… What groups or singers qualify as "R & B"? While perusing the stacks at our friendly neighborhood Landfill Store, I saw several albums that either had rhythm, or they had blues but most only had one or the other (is Prince blue?). Maybe we should re-title the section Rhythm or Blues. Just a thought…

News from the past… Forty five years ago, CBS President William Paley lured comedian Jack Benny away from NBC radio, where he had been a fixture since 1932. A top draw, the comic felt NBC was taking him for granted. "Getting Benny away from NBC seemed like getting Quebec away from Canada, so fixed had he been, and for so long, in the heaven of that richer and bigger network," wrote one CBS radio writer at the time.

To sign Benny, CBS did more than pull a few violin strings. His $4 million package would be worth more than $23 million today. CBS even helped Benny avoid high personal income taxes by buying his production company, leaving the comic to pay only capital gains taxes. While the IRS fought the arrangement for years, Benny eventually won. Meanwhile, CBS wanted to keep its new star from seeming too money hungry and played with an ad line: "Benny is coming to CBS for the free parking".

Future Rolling Stone Cover? By far the most prized and precious moment from the inauguration festivities: Bill Clinton standing next to Stevie Nicks. Isn’t that what makes this country great?

Body of Evidence

What do you do when you have your first day off since 1992? With a friend’s advice, Whizzer decided to go see a movie. It was a great opportunity to see one of the movies he had meant to see but just hadn’t had the energy or the time. Unfortunately most of the movies in 1992 fit that bill.

Seeing the reason he was off was because of Martin Luther King Day, Whizzer decided to see "Malcolm X" for politically motivated reasons. However he discovered it was only showing in one theater in St. Paul, and for one show only. He checked his social calendar and say he couldn’t make it. He also knew that at his advancing age, any three hour movie that began after 8:00pm, he had nochance of staying awake for the entire show.

He then went for the next logical choice: Madonna’s "Body of Evidence". A picture made in the same spirit, wink wink… He had read nothing but harsh reviews of the movie. Walking in and purchasing his ticket, Whizzer looked at the other people around him. Based solely by their appearance (and what would MLK say to that?) he felt like he was attending an X-rated show with a bunch of Paul Reuben wanna be’s.

As the movie unfolded, he discovered one thing: the reviews had more to do with the popular Madonna bashing, a new pastime, rather than with the actual quality of the movie itself. It’s a movie, Whizzer thought, on par with many movies he had seen over the course of many hours in the dark.

The movie reminded him of last year’s "Basic Instinct", a movie he did not enjoy at all. "Body of Evidence" was slightly better only because William Dafoe is a better actor than Michael Douglas, and although Sharon Stone our Madonnaed Madonna, the difference in roles is minimal. Their parts require them to look good, which they did. Easy on the eyes, Whizzer thought.

Despite what his friend, Peggy said about the sex scenes, (they’re so hot) a.k.a. "the good parts", he thought the strength of the picture was in the court scenes. The judge had such a fresh attitude. Besides, there was nothing in the "good parts" he had not seen many times before. The prosecuting attorney, played by Joe Mategna, elevated the movie to another level. Dafoe and Madonna did their part to generate some excuse to keep watching.

The weakest part of the movie was the ending. Like so many movies made in Hollywood, the conclusion seemed like an after thought, something tacked on just for the sake of stopping the movie. Chances are, "Malcolm X" didn’t have the same problem. Of course, the real criminal had to pay in the end. And while it was clear what motivated the characters to do what they did, what motivated the people who made the movie? Was it just money? Nah, that was a cheap shot, Whizzer thought; he refused to be that cynical. He recalled a quote from another movie of a while back, paraphrasing the famous line muttered to Jake: "Forget her Jake, it’s only a movie."

Monday, January 18, 1993


What Paul McCartney Has To Do To Recapture His Greatness
By the Record Doctor

I’m not really a doctor but I play one in the newsletter. I just heard Paul’s latest single, "Hope and Deliverance" off his upcoming Off the Ground album which put me in my most philosophical mood (look out!) The song was another pleasant McCartney dittie backed by a (and pardon my Latin, which means Spanish in this case) nice little carumba rhythm section. So I decided what I would do is prescribe for Paul what he has to accomplish on this next album to re-establish some of his tarnished reputation.

Diagnosis #1: He could be murdered by a deranged fan (who will receive plenty of exposure on ABC’s "20/20") and thus become a martyr for all those leftover 60’s people or:

Diagnosis #2: Follow up his best studio album in years ("Flowers in the Dirt") with less Beatlesque material. Sure a rival St. Paul merchant declared "Flowers" to be the best album of the 80’s, but frankly what Paul needs to do is get back to a more personal style of writing. I have in mind efforts like "Dear Friend", "Little Lamb Dragonfly", and "Here Today" (his of so elegant tribute to Mr. Lennon) where he let down his increasingly annoying flip side to show some genuine deep felt feelings. Heck it wasn’t that long ago he wrote that confessional line, "I’m often accused of giving too little, it’s got me confused, I’m split down the middle." But it’s been way too long since he wrote the equally appropriate, "What’s the use of worrying? (No use)." How does it feel to survive the latest world tour without restoring yourself to former greatness? How does it feel to be the richest entertainer ever" But more importantly how does it feel to be with the lovely Linda, and how has that endured for 23 years? How does it feel to be fifty? What goes on in that hemp infested mind?

WHAT WE MOST LIKELY WILL GET: Another album of silly love songs. But that’s ok, I’d rather hear that than 1/3 of the pap Lennon produced and I’d for sure rather hear that than the stuff former mates Wiblury George (the fifth ELO?) and Ringo are doing. No one can top Paul in writing those haunting melodies, and his partnership with Elvis Costello seems in retrospect a good idea. But how about some of the charm of "McCartney" (which did pop up in his appearance on "Unplugged")? or the experimentation of "Ram" and "Press to Play" (or "Sgt Pepper" for that matter)? How about some of the cocky sure handedness of "Red Rose Speedway" and "Band on the Run"? or some of the maturity of "Tug of War"?

The sun rises again on February 9 and the proper fork will be chosen, by all, by that time.

Monday, January 11, 1993

Lex the Lemur

Lots of my lemur friends come up to me and say, "Hey Lex, who do you think you are? What makes you think you can spell your name with an ""e" instead of a "u"? What’s that all about?" I tell them that as a "consumer" advocate the letter "u" is too exclusive; it can mean just you and me. An "E" on the other paw stands for everything and everybody, which is of course, the most important philosophy to keep in mind in the retail industry/business.

Speaking of which, there is absolutely no truth to the rumor I used to work as a shill for the Schlampp Fur Company, turning in my friends for the coats off their backs. Everybody knows lemur fur doesn’t make as nice a coat as our cousins, those weasels, the ermine. The timing of my hiring and this company’s major recent investment was purely coincidental.

What can good customer service do? It can create repeat business. It can be powerful enough to make one break a pledge. Last year, I resolved to cut down on my excursions to White Castle. One Saturday, I got a hankering for some sliders, so despite pleas from my stomach I had five White Castles with cheese (didn’t try their new offerings topped with my favorite nitrate, bacon)/ The young man who served me through the drive thru was pleasant and cheerful as opposed to average mono-syllabic service I’m accustomed to at fast food places. When he wished ma a "good day" with a note of sincerity, I actually felt good I had stopped by. And I went back the next day. Unfortunately, this time around I got the more typical "What the hell do you want here?" sneer. Haven’t been back since.

CELEBRITY SPOTTING: I was withdrawing money from a cash machine in Rosedale, and I looked at a gentleman seated on a bench nearby. I said to myself, "Say that looks a lot like Christian Laettner." But I thought, nah, couldn’t be. But he stood up and his 6’11" frame erased any doubts. I watched as he strolled into "Hot Dogs & More." Hey gals! He’s as advertised: definite GQ material.

SuperMom called and asked if I was interested in going to the Inauguration since Bob Dylan is playing. She said she thought she might be able to "score" some tickets. So I said, "Sure". She called back a bit later and said she was wrong, it was by "invitation" only. I’m sure it was but an oversight on Bob’s part. Either that or he figured a lemur would make them squirm. What do you think he’ll play? "Wiggle Wiggle"?

Another benefit of good customer service- The Impulse Buy. I was in a pet store purchasing food for my cousin Max (who I know wants to be a lemur, it’s so much cooler and he already has the stripes). I couldn’t find his brand, so I asked the clerk. I was standing right in front of it, but he didn’t make me feel foolish for asking, which I greatly appreciated. As I was walking out, I saw a cat tree which I knew Max, the simpleton, would enjoy. $50. I said what the hell, I felt good, why not?… Musical question of the week: If Jimi was alive would he play unplugged…till next time.

Editor’s Kudo to Pete Nordgaard for contributing the article on the following page. Thanks Pete!!!

Monday, January 4, 1993

Consumer Watchdog

EDITOR’S NOTE: We like to wish a hearty newsletter welcome to our newest staffwriter, Lex the Lemer. Lex will be our consumer watchdog (so to speak), keeping an eye out for specific examples of both good and bad customer service. We hope all of you will welcome Lex. And keep your eye out! The store he shops might be your own.

We’ve all survived the holiday season and I learned there was no better gift this season than the gift of love. Here are a few hints for a healthy new year:

Drink plenty of liquids.
Always warm up your Volvo for at least three minutes.
Eggs! Eggs! Eggs!
Moshing and more moshing. If you can’t shake it, at least wiggle it a little.
The customer in front of you probably feels just as tired and run down as you do. Remember it takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile!
Your shift is not over until Elvis leaves the building.
The constant beeping of your store’s cash register will eventually drown out those annoying voices inside your head.

JOTTINGS: On the coldest day of the year, I drove past that balloon palace on Snelling Ave, Aardvark Balloons. Outside their store flew several silver balloons. From past experience I know my balloons go flat in the cold weather, something having to do with helium’s freezing point. So Lex the Lemer wants to know how Aardvark kept their balloons afloat in the bitter Arctic air?

Lex’s most pleasant shopping experience: I was in Kinkos awaiting my order to be processed, when a lady dropped a heavy packet on one of my paws. Ouch it hurt. She didn’t say a word, just mumbled a low toned apology. Just as my faith in humanity was sliding that long sled line down the slopes of spiritual bitterness, another elderly lady approached me. "Can I ask you a question?" she said curiously.

"Sure," I said with all the surety of the most mature lemer.

"Why don’t your gloves have fingers?" (I was wearing my biker gloves, the ones sans fingertips.)

"When I drive I like to feel the steering wheel and gearshift," I said.

She accepted my reasoning as well thought out. Our Harold and Maudish conversation turned to customer service. She told me of previous frustrating experiences with the store we sat in.

"I brought my Doctorate Theses here to be copied and they missed three whole pages," she said. "I wrote to the president of the company ad he made sure they re-did it without charge. But don’t you think whoever was making the copies would check to see they were doing it right" It is so hard to get good help these days. I just was at the University of Minnesota hospital and had an electrocardiogram done. They gave me a video tape and it was defective. They didn’t even apologize. Is that right?"

Lex the Lemer doesn’t think so. It’s one thing to create a dissatisfied customer it quite another to mess with their heart.

Till next time… Happy New Year!

1992 Woman of the Year

The newsletter is all for starting new trends. That Barney the Dinosaur thing we did kind of took off right through the roof. So this year we’d like to start what we hope is another long lasting tradition, our end of the year award aptly named, "Woman of the Year." This award will be given to the person who most closely matches the following criteria:

The winner must have affected/effected our organization in a significant way.

The "Woman of the Year" can be a world, national, local or private individual who we feel stands out most among newsmakers of the year.

Employees of the company, and their family are ineligible to be selected.

Any question as to why our finalist was selected can be answered by the philosophy: "Because that person ‘felt’ right to the editor.
We hope some day people will talk about our pick as much as its Tim Magazine counterpart. The "Woman of the Year" award is meant to spark conversation and controversy. Hopefully it will improve us as people, and as a nation.

1992 Woman of the Year

Picking this year’s "Woman of the Year" was a difficult choice. There a lot of qualified candidates. There was the jury of the Rodney King trial whose decision disrupted the already fragile race relations in this country. There was also Ice T, whose response to the situation was to write an equally disturbing message. There was Sinead O’Connor and Madonna who both continue to challenge by stirring up minor "happenings" with their behavior (and product). Of course on any list has to be God, and this year saw its share of "religious" news along with "natural" disasters like Hurricane Andrew.

All this being said, the winner of this year’s Woman of the Year award can be considered a sister to its "Man of the Year" counterpart. With a major surprise in the outcome of the 1992 election, (who could have thought Bush was so beatable?) America has seemingly changed its direction. The winner of the election wasn’t the most important figure in the outcome. Instead, that little billionaire from Texas, H. Ross Perot changed the frame of the entire campaign. By forcing media devotion to the state of the economy, Perot made the race impossible for Bush to survive. It’s no secret big business has been the driving force in this country for some time; but by seriously considering putting a CEO in charge of things, Americans showed that politics as usual is passe. The resulting election and post election economy shows how little faith this country has in the people in Washington D.C. Ross Perot may not have won the election, but he was the major disrupter of the status quo in 1992. Thus he is our Woman of the Year.