Monday, November 28, 1994

Stuffing It

Well, I trust you all survived what many have termed, "the busiest shopping weekend of the year." Thanksgiving is one of the few holidays that I truly look forward to and enjoy. I think it's the feastivities of the day. I also like the concept of taking time to count one's blessings, to feel appreciation for the things that you might otherwise take for granted, and which you really should be thankful. This Thanksgiving was no exception.

After I finished working on my Harvey Keitel body, I parked myself on the couch and listened to the conversations. One of the them that caught my ear was of the recent crimes being committed in the northern and western suburbs: A series of robberies accompanied by arson. These were hideous crimes, robbing families of their possessions, of memories and memorabilia, of the things a lifetime of work allowed them to accumulate seemed a cruel and tortuous act of terror. To also rob them of their sense of security, to violate their private worlds and to top it off by robbing them of their homes, was horrific. I asked my father if he had heard of any progress made towards a conclusion of the crimes. No, he hadn't. Someone mentioned arson is one of the most difficult crimes to solve. How do you gain any insight from leftover ashes?

So, as I sat down to put this week's newsletter together, and had the evening news on, it was of great pleasure that I heard the fine folks at our Fridley store helped facilitate the capture of some suspects in the crimes. The news people reported that three suspects were apprehended after they tried to sell some "allegedly stolen merchandise" and some "alert sales clerks" at Cheapo used some information distributed by the "Arson Task Force" to call the police.

WOO! Week after week, I read in these pages of employees who execute a difficult part of their job, and use their observational skills to remain alert to suspicious behavior. This is a hard thing to do. It's easy to dismiss a problem, or the appearance of a problem, look away and try and let someone else deal with it. It takes dedication and effort to make sure people adhere to rules and laws.

Community service is the duty of all of us. It's an obligation that sadly, most of the time goes unrecognized. So it says volumes about the quality of our employees when our Fridley store helps its community in such a substantial and newsworthy way. It is something for which we should all feel proud to be a part of. I know I for one, will be sure to proudly mention the efforts of our employees to any family member or friend I engage in a conversation. Yes, damn it, I WORK for that company...


Every once in a while, a song will hit the airwaves that somehow manages to seep its way from one's soul and encapsulate a personal moment into the lives of many. Such a song proves that an individual can be separate from, yet emotionally join an entire community; it proves that human experience is both a solitary journey and a bridge that connects us all. Madonna's latest single, Secret is just such a song.

Secret is Madonna's best song since 'Til Death Do Us Part from her Like a Prayer LP. Like that song, it is a heartfelt response to events in her life both public and private. It begins with a simple yet lovely acoustic guitar introduction. It blossoms into a tribute to one's contribution in reaching another. The lush arrangement brings out the timelessness of the ballad. It's the type of song you can hear in the malls of suburbia while shopping for knee pads with a friend and comfortably, yet secretly share a experience with a soulmate.

Being human is the every day struggle of trying to deal with life's many complex dichotomies. The value of a secret is the privacy, the power that comes from soleknowledge. To share that with someone else is to be inspired by the intensity of intimacy. Think of all the shared moments that occur daily between two people.

Secrets are everywhere within everyone. "Happiness lies in your own hand, it took me much too long to understand, how it could be, until you shared your secret with me." There are many unspoken things in day to day contact. Sometimes we are lucky enough to share those "secrets" with another. More often they remain hidden until it's too late and the meaning and time are lost. Madonna somehow captures all that in a four minute pop song. What an amazing accomplishment! Such a piece of art can/should remind us we are all in the business of music. Time after time, it can be proven that is the most powerful business of all.

Monday, November 21, 1994

Lost in the Fire

In Star Trek: Generations we get to see some of the following:

*Spot's movie debut

*Kirk enjoying a slab of cheesecake

*Data, in sheer terror, using profanity

*Scotty brushing his teeth

*An answer to the question of what becomes of the press in the future

*Data singing a little ditty about his love of searching for "little creatures"

*Dr. Crusher playing like Mrs. Robinson and seducing a younger man

*Picard having an Acid like dream/ hallucination

*Kirk dying, not once, but twice

You would think with some of the above occurring, the movie would be a more enjoyable experience than it actually is. There was the hope that since the last year of the series was so weak, the jump to the big screen would provide needed rejuvenation and energy. Unfortunately that isn't the case. The overriding question after viewing Generations, is why was this made into a movie? What would have made an average weekly episode doesn't translate very well into the much anticipated motion picture.

Yes, the special effects are impressive, but what Trekker goes to the movie wanting to be dazzled by special effects (wasn't that the lesson learned way back from the first Star Trek movie?)? If you want that, you might as well go to Stargate. And yes, the meeting between Kirk and Picard is fun. But the very problem of the movie is that Kirk is the only one that seems to be having any fun at all. Star Trek always has the tendency to take itself way too seriously, and this movie suffers big time from that affliction.

Movies are bigger than TV. They claim to hold more of a connection to artistry. Maybe the creative forces behind Star Trek, would be wise to keep that in mind. On a weekly television series, the characters (always the show's strongest point) are allowed to develop and grow. In the movies they have to pretty much stay the way the audience (many dressed in Starfleet uniforms) expect them to be. Ultimately a movie has to strive to accomplish or say something.

With the large ensemble cast, the movies overlook much of the interaction because they are forced to focus on the "stars" above all else. This was a problem for the cast from the first show, but not as much so since many of those characters never were fleshed out much on the original series. With the Next Generation's crew, one has to wonder if the movies will ever be allowed to focus on anyone other than Picard and Data.

"Time is a fire in which we burn," the evil Dr. Soren tells Picard. This series increasingly suffers from its history and having to live up to the standards set before. What used to be a series steeped in imagination and creativity now seems bent on repeating itself, only on a bigger scale than it's ever gone before.


In 1982, one of the first used records I bought at Cheapo Records was a fair condition copy of Frank Sinatra's ambitious, 1970 effort Watertown. The record is comprised of ten songs, thematically linked to create an achingly sad but beautiful story of a man whose wife leaves him and their two boys.

Last week I went to my friendly neighborhood Applause store to buy Sinatra's latest recording, Duets II. I also happened to pick up the recently released CD version of Watertown finally put out nearly twenty five years after its initial release.

Sinatra's last three studio albums have been disappointing not only because his voice isn't nearly the interpretive instrument it used to be, but because he seems to have finally lost his creative ambition. In contrast, the voice on Watertown isn't the Voice of the Columbia or Capitol years, yet there isn't a singer alive who could have gotten or said more out of the song cycle that paints such a sparse, bleak, yet ultimately moving landscape.

While it's nice to hear Frank still putting out music, one wishes he would maintain the risk taking on which he built his entire career. To hear him re-record his classic songs into "contemporary" duets only goes to show how much time has passed. At the same time, listening to a sadly overlooked 1970's effort and the reading of a quintessential Sinatra song like Goodbye, sung in a way so perfectly Frank "There is no great big ending, no sunset in the sky. There is no string ensemble and she doesn't even cry. Just as I begin to say that we should make another try, she reaches out across the table, looks at me and says 'goodbye'" makes one realize that it isn't so much the physical skills that have gotten old, it's the emotional ones.

Monday, November 14, 1994

Punky's Dilemma

At the earliest peak of sunlight, as the sun creeps its way over the horizon, it's time for some sleep, but first I must go to my dish for one last drink.

The water tastes good. Perhaps it would taste even better if I dropped one of my morsels of food in it. There. No, now the water doesn't taste good any more. How can I get more?

I'm not that thirsty, I'll just crawl back into bed. I need a warm body to lie next to. Damn I want to lie in the middle of the bed. How do I get him to move over? I'll just sit on his head until he rolls over and then inch by inch I'll make my way towards the middle. Did I hear something out in the living room?

Let's see if I can explain this to you, my understanding of the contract I have here. For free room and board, with all my meals provided, all I have to do is greet him at the door, purr while I sit on his lap, don't urp up my food or hack up too many hairballs, and make sure I use my box. Excuse me, I must lick myself now.

He's getting up now. I'll go sit outside the bathroom door, and wait for my food. Wait, was that a dust mouse I just saw? Wait here, I'll be back.

He's in the kitchen now, I hear a can opening. Damn it ain't for me. Why do I just get this dry stuff? Oh well, won't complain now, too hungry. What's that he's fixing? Man that smells good. Wish he'd just share once in a while. I'll just stare at him until he gives me some. C'mon.

He's reading the newspaper. He needs to pay more attention to me. I'll just go and sit on top of the paper. There, that's comfy.

Hey I smell something. I'll dart to the window so fast he'll be worried. See that kitty out the window there? I can whip its ass. And it better get out of my territory. It's lucky I'm trapped up here.

That sure was a piece of art I left in my litter box, think he'd reward me once in a while. I need a good brushing damn it. Oh well I'll try to get some of this excess hair with my tongue.

Well, it's been a busy morning. Time for a nap. I better find a good spot. The sun isn't up yet so I'll just crawl under the sofa here. Finally, he's going. Now I can get some serious sleep.

Sun's up. I'll just stretch out here. One nap over, time for the next. OOPS someone opened the door downstairs. Better bellow, meow as loud as I can just to let them know I'm here.

Where the hell is he? I better finish up my food so he'll fill up my dish when he gets home. I'm really not that hungry but as long as there's food out, I might as well eat it. What if he never comes back? Who'll feed me?.

Finally, he's home. Of course he's interrupting my nap, but I better greet him just to let him know my dish is empty. A pat on the head? That's all I get? Oh all right, put me down, let's not get too sentimental here, you've only been gone all day. Wait, do I hear something in the other room? I better check it out.

Where exactly does he go every day? All in all, he's a pretty decent guy, a real trend setter. As he gets older and more conservative, the rest of the country seems to follow suit. That's political analysis you can put in the bank.

One thing he does do that irritates me is every week he'll drag this vertical, upright contraption out of the closet and it's the loudest goll darn thing I've ever heard. He runs this thing through the entire apartment. I go to all my usual hiding places, under the bed, under the sofa, on top of the sofa underneath the afghan, but he has to hit every spot. If he's trying to chase me, he's awfully, and I mean awfully slow. I don't get the purpose of the thing. It just plain sucks.

Let's see if I can confuse him by meowing a lot. I won't shut up no matter what he does. Hah it's working. He's picked me up, he's filled my dishes with food and water and now he's getting the brush out. Scratch my belly. Ah, that feels good.

I'll hide under the bed for now. Boy something smells different here. I'll sniff it for a while. Boy that's tiring. Better sleep for a while.

He's on the phone now, I'll just meow and stand far enough away so he can't reach me. Don't yell at me buddy. Better go to the window. Those damn wildcats outside. I better let them know who's the boss. Yeah buster, you're lucky I can't rip your tonsils out from up here. Time to clean myself.

That smell I was telling you about? That was the toy in my toy box. Catnip. Man I feel drunk. Time to lie down. It's been a full day. I'm very sleepy. Excuse me I must lick myself now...

Monday, November 7, 1994

30 Good Reasons to be Alive

I haven't learned all that much along the way. I have learned that life is like a box of chocolates. Sometimes the best way to tell what it is, is to let somebody bite into it first. This comes to mind as I cross the line past youth and become a wily, grizzled veteran. With age comes experience, wisdom, knowledge, maturity, and receding gums.

You are only as old as you feel. And some remain lucky enough to feel at all. They say the first thing that goes are the eyes. Mine went in the third grade. The next thing to go are the ears. Mine were never the same after the tornado of '81. The next to go are the legs. Mine betrayed me sometime this past summer. The hair? Went goofy in junior high. The mind? Still as sharp as a tack.

At some magical point in the time line, things change, and they change over night when you're not looking. A job becomes a career, dreams become fantasy and the intangible stuff you one day wished for take on a whole different flavor. A shooting star is replaced by a decent, working fluorescent desk light; moonlight on the water is no more desirable than luke warm, soapy bath water; red sails in the sunset seem pointless compared to hitting the stop lights right on the way home; a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow can't compare with having the proper change stacked on top of your futon frame for laundry night.

With the passing of time, you can learn to better appreciate what you are lucky enough to have. We live in a wacky country during its wackiest time. Only in America, can a man named Newt grow up and become an influential political figure. The hustle and bustle, the rapid changes that are taking place every day all around us, this can be a confusing time, especially for us older folk. We sometimes need lists to help us organize and remember things. With this in mind, I have compiled a list of thirty things that have touched the untouchable, that have disturbed and affected the life of one individual. Let's hope that one day, there are thirty more.

Frank Sinatra's Young At Heart


There used to be a game called baseball

Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits Volume 3, featuring the smash hit, Dignity (Will there be a volume 4?)

Sandra Bullock and her predecessors

Liz Phair's Super Nova

Bicycling to the moon

A best friend

Babylon Revisited

Old Weller

Dr. Beverly Crusher

Pulp Fiction

Yes, Prime Minister


Pistachios and the cool refreshing taste of Lemonade Sunkist

Paul McCartney's Little Lamb Dragonfly

The Maeda Family


Worldwide Pants

Nicholas Cage

Wise Blood

Patrick Reusse

Zippy the Pinhead

A Keys Everything Omelet

Captain Furillo

Working for the Phatest Music Company in town

Elasticity in the old boxer shorts

John Hiatt's Straight Outta of Time

Simpsons repeats every night

A kitty that drools

(Get well soon Alex)