Make A Note Of This…

About 5 years ago while interviewing for a job, I was diligent about collecting business cards from everyone I interviewed so that I could follow up with a thank you note via e-mail.  However, I forgot to get the card from the one guy who could potentially become my boss and who, in the end, would decide whether or not to hire me.  Since I was at home with no email address, I pulled out one of the personalized note cards that my parents had given me as a graduation gift a few years before and sent him a hand-written note, thanking him for his time.

When they eventually hired me, he mentioned that the personally hand-written note made me really stand out among the candidates and it influenced his decision.   If he only knew it was a last-ditch effort (I eventually told him about it and we had a good laugh over it and complimented me on my ingenuity).

This article from the International Herald Tribune talks about how stationary and old-fashioned hand-written notes are becoming slightly more popular as a counter-trend towards email, text messaging and instant messaging.  All this instantaneous electronic messaging means that a note that someone has taken the time to write by hand really stands out.   

The article discusses some pretty high-end stationary options, but it doesn’t need to be hand-made paper to be a good experience.  Paper with a good feel and that absorbs ink well and feels good while writing – a slightly scratchy (but pleasantly so) tactile feel is ideal – makes it a pleasure to write and helps to slow your writing down, so that you actually think about what you’re writing.

Careful, It’s Catchy!

TV Land has created a list of the "The 100 Greatest TV Quotes & Catch Phrases."

The list is an interesting assortment of cultural catch phrases, and I am intrigued to see which is considered to be the top one.   Personally, I don’t agree with a few of their choices, just because they were one-off things, like "Ask not what your country can do for you…" or "Do you believe in miracles?". 

Yes, they happened on TV, and became part of the American lexicon, but they belong in the "greatest political catchphrases" and "greatest sports catchphrases" of all time, but not necessarily here.  Also, "Oh, my nose" is in the list, attributed to Macia Brady, when we all know that "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia" is the far more popular quote from the Brady Bunch.  They mention it in TV Land’s page for the upcoming event, but it isn’t on the list in the news story

Overall, I think that the omission of "eat my shorts" by Bart Simpson is a travesty.  Anyone who grew up in the 90’s saw that phrase on bumper stickers, t-shirts and posters everywhere.   "They killed Kenny" is listed for South Park, but I think that "You will respect my authority" is right up there as well.

Adding Fuel To The Fire…. Let’s Burn Paris!

On this All-American of holidays, how much more of an appropriate article to link to than this one about the Paris Hilton Phenomenon.  I hate Paris Hilton as much as anyone AND I don’t find her attractive, so the article really resonated with me personally, and I’m sure it will with others.

I think that one interesting fall-out of Paris Hilton doing… um… whatever it is she does is that I think that there’s a definite backlash against the "hot chick.’  I find myself doing it, assuming that if a woman is good looking and made-up, she’s probably dumb, selfish, self-centered, and/or slutty.  Paris is doing a real disservice to her fellow females and any woman who obsesses about her goings-ons should be aware of that.

Do You Know Where You Are!?!?!?

I’ve been to a lot of concerts featuring a wide range of genres of music, from Judas Priest to Peter, Paul and Mary.   And out of the more than 140 concerts and 200 artists I’ve seen perform, I don’t think that there is a single better song to open a concert with than "Welcome to the Jungle" to open a Guns n’ Roses concert.  The initial riffs of the song are a rock idiom that are instantly recognizable and signals the seething power that lies in wait behind the rest of the song.  In concert, those echoing notes are repeated over and over, teasing the audience into a frenzy, making them want the release that only Axl Rose’s wail and screaming guitars can bring.

Last night was the second time I’ve seen Guns n’ Roses.  I’ve never seen them with the original lineup, but fortunately, both incarnations I’ve seen have delivered a great and entertaining show filled with classic songs.   When a band has a catalog as small as Guns n’ Roses, it is remarkable that they do have so many songs considered "classics" and so many that are just so good.  I don’t need to inform you of the fact that we’ve been waiting for years for the new GnR album, Chinese Democracy and who knows if we’ll actually ever see it.  Luckily, in concert, they concentrate on Appetite for Destruction, playing 9 out of the 12 tracks on the record. 

Axl hasn’t gotten over his own self-importance since the last time I saw him back in 2002 – the band came on stage around 11:45 p.m. and played until two in the morning.  No complaints about the set list or the length of the concert, but it is the epitome of inconsideration for their fans who have to work to pay the money they spent to see the band in concert.  Good thing the show is good! 

The only major complaint is that there were simply too many guitar solos that went on for too long, including a disturbing rendition of Christina Aguileria’s "Beautiful" which is an odd choice for a guitar solo at a Guns n’ Roses concert, to say the least.   A better choice was  the other guitarist’s (I seriously don’t know who’s who any more in the band line-up…) solo guitar rendition of the GnR song "Don’t Cry" which was a great way of showing off good guitar work and fitting in another well-loved song.

A few new songs were played, but they were presented unusually.  Typically, when a band plays a new song, they introduce it as such, telling the audience the name of the song and perhaps the name of the album it is off of – a little free advertising to a captive audience of the band’s biggest fans.  Since no one knows when – of if – the new GnR album will be released and the songs have been leaked onto the Internet for so long, they don’t even bother – they just play them as if they have been around for 20 years.

Instead of playing these new songs, I’d love to hear them play a few more deeper cuts off of Use Your Illusion I or II, albums that still regularly make it into my listening rotation and often stay there for a while.  "Breakdown," "Bad Obsession," "Pretty Tied Up," "Perfect Crime" and "Dust n’ Bones" are among my favorites that would be fantastic to hear.   As it was, it was a nice surprise to hear them play something off of The Spaghetti Incident, an album that I think is somewhat underrated by many people.  "Down On The Farm" sounded great live, complete with Rose’s affected British accent to complete the punk image (does anyone know who originally did this song?  I don’t have the CD here and can’t find anything online!).

In the end, it was a long, late night but well worth it to hear so many great songs – some of the best hard-rock and heavy metal songs ever written – performed live.  Axl sounds great, even though he had technical issues.  He may be showing some signs of maturity for actually working through the issues and now storming off stage and inciting a riot.  The band sounds good, though those more attuned to the technical aspects of the original riffs and guitar solos might notice slight differences from the sacrosanct original versions of the song.  If you’re in the market for a great rock n’ roll show complete with lots of lights, explosions, fireworks, loud rock and a great front man, then it is tough to beat Guns n’ Roses.

Voices Carry

Too many people in America take the right to vote for granted.  I’m always amazed when a developing country goes through its first democratic process – often you see lines of hundreds and hundreds of people turning out to vote.   

Here, even though there are some very decisive issues at play right now, you could vote easily and with no wait at all.  That is something that we should appreciate.   

Turns out that it was still a good year for voters, especially young ones, who turned out in droves.   I’m an ardent supporter of registering to vote and then putting it into action, and I’ve been involved with Rock the Vote before, so this makes me very happy.


I have been woefully lax in in reporting a major piece of cultural news: the closing of Tower Records, and the closing of a few major Virgin Megastores. 

The closing of Tower Records is a particularly sad item, as it marks the end of a era for not only music retailers but for music lovers, independent musicians and music geeks like myself.  There’s been a fair amount of talk about it already, and two of the best articles are this one from Reuters which focuses on the effects on independent musicians and this one written by Mike Dreese, founder of Newbury Comics, now truly my favorite music store.

I suppose this makes me a bit of an old fuddy duddy, but dammit, I like going to a record store.  Yes, iTunes and their online brethren are handy and inexpensive, but I still like the experience of flipping through the CD’s, creating a stack that you think you may want and then culling it down (or not…).  Then getting home, opening each up and exploring the album.  Not just jamming it onto a MP3 player, and waiting for it to come on in the shuffle mix, but really listening to it, reading the liner notes, reading the lyrics and the thank you’s from the artist, seeing who wrote what songs and who’s playing what on which tracks.

Not that I have anything against portable MP3 players – I think it is great that it has made a wider range of music available at more times than ever before.  But the more I think about it, the more I think people aren’t really appreciating the music, but just using it as background noise or the soundtrack buried in the back of their lives.


A couple of things that caught my eye today:

I haven’t seen it yet, but apparently the new Jay-Z video features a gold bottle of champagne, and conveniently enough, it will be available before the holidays this year.  I’m sure all the 13 year olds watching MTV will appreciate that. 

There is a Ford commercial that I have seen a few times and the first couple of times I said "wait… was that what I thought it was?" and sure enough it is.  A car commercial that shows the typical American family: dad hanging out with his ex-wife and kid on the weekend.  Of course, he had them drop him off at a nice condo, but what they didn’t show was dad walking 30 minutes back to the half-way house where he and his buddies Jack, Jim and Johnnie help him to cry himself to sleep as he dreams about the cars and houses he used to own before the divorce.

Interesting article about how the iPod just isn’t that big of a deal.  I kinda get his point, but at the same time, I think the article ignores a few other things.  First of all, the iPod was a major part of enabling the current demand for music.  Yes, it started with MP3’s in general, but it also put it into the hands of the common people, not just the geeks.  Apple’s simple design made it possible for everyone to convert a digital sound signal to a compressed Moving Pictures Expert Group 1, Layer 3 file and transfer it via Universal Serial Bus connection to a click-wheel controlled portable 60 gigabyte high-speed hard drive – even if you have no idea what I just said.  Plus, how did the Walkman serve as a plot device in Ghostbusters, Back to the Future and Goonies? Did I miss something?

And last but not least…  Pop Culture Gangster was at the forefront of this, having been at the world premiere of the original Eepybird film, and it continues to expand.  Coca-Cola has a contest for combining Coke and candies.