Tuesday, May 20, 2008

It's Here!!!

New album is finally out. Impressions to follow once I've taken it for a spin...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Well, most of my posts (for the one of you that actually ever even reads this poor excuse for a blog) recently have centered around getting images of a coffee cup hosted on the web so I can post the pictures on a chat board I contribute to frequented by other devotees of this band. But, dear reader (you know who you are), you are in luck, because I've managed to unearth a hidden gem from the archives which provides me with a ready-made blog. My apologies for formatting issues from pasting it into the blog.

Herewith, I present my letter of complaint sent to Denny's corporate a few years back after a particularly unsatisfactory breakfast. Enjoy.

I'm writing to you today to provide some feedback on my dining experience at the Denny's located at 2173 Northampton St. in Holyoke, Massachusetts. I'm assuming that the emails and letters you receive from satisfied customers get framed and placed on the walls at HQ down in South Carolina or at the very least get sent to some distribution list or another within the company.

This is not one of those emails.

I will begin by citing some of the content I found on your website which struck me as ironic. According to the site, Denny's strives to provide the following: 1. Great Food -- High quality, prepared to each customer's satisfaction. 2. Great Service -- Prompt, friendly, courteous and efficient. 3. Great People -- Considerate, helpful, respectful, willing to go the extra mile.
As I relate the details of our meal at Denny's, please keep those principles in mind.
We arrived at about 1pm on a Sunday and were seated promptly. Our waitress came over to take drink orders from the six of us while we looked over the menu. We ordered four cokes, two coffees, two OJ's, and waters all around. We got the waters and a (one) coke when the waitress came back to take our orders. Orders taken, we began to talk amongst ourselves while we waited for the remainder of the drinks to be delivered.

This was the last we would see of our waitress or any beverages for the next three quarters of an hour.

That's forty-five minutes.

We eventually had to send out an away-team to ascertain the whereabouts of our food. The team returned to report that the food had been located, and was sitting on the ledge outside the kitchen getting cold. Fifteen minutes later, the food began to arrive. Of the six ordersplaced, none were correct. Sandwiches with 'hold the onions' specified had lots of onions. Breakfast sides never arrived. Eggs were not prepared correctly. No one received coffee or cokes despite friendly reminders to our waitress. I say friendly, because we were still willing to give herthe benefit of the doubt. I have myself waited tables and know that it's not the easiest job in the world, so I consider myself to be more patient than the average customer: it took a lot to push me far enough to take time out of my day to write this letter.

Our waitress became openly hostile about the missing and incorrect items and, of course, never returned with coffee or soda or any of the other missing items. She was unapologetic about the lateness of the food or the fact that the orders were wrong across the board, and not even in the same neighborhood as warm. So, we were left to consume a breakfast that distantly resembled what we had ordered. Nobody enjoyed it, or felt that anyone involved in its preparation or delivery gave a tinker's cuss about the tenets of Great Food, Great Service or Great People.

When the bill finally arrived, it clearly showed that some of the items had never been sent to the kitchen in the first place. Some of those that HAD been ordered with modifications (e.g. no onions) were logged correctly on the bill, and therefore had been delivered with those caveats to the kitchen staff who had evidently taken great pleasure in disregarding the special orders or regarded them as 'if you feel like it'. To our waitresses' credit, she did manage to faithfully record each of our six requests for glasses of water as individual line items on the bill. In short, it was agreed by all that this was the worst meal anyone had ever had at a restaurant, period.

It wasn't just that the food was late, and nobody got what they ordered, it was that the impression was clearly conveyed that nobody working at Denny's cared. When we went to the register to pay the bill, I commented to the hostess that we were not happy with our dining experience and requested that she remove items on the bill which never made it to our table. She could have saved the day, by making some sort of apology, offering not to charge us for the meal, etc., but she didn't. She simply sighed, and said, "O.K." in a manner I can only describe as 'grudgingly' to our request to removei tems from the bill, and that's it.

That was the last straw, and as we left, I don't mind telling you, we proclaimed to all and sundry that we had just had the worst dining experience of our lives, and about a dozen people who had been waiting in the lobby for tables under the delusion they might get an enjoyable breakfast with a novel name, high-tailed it out of there.

I have come to expect that Denny's is not going to provide the same level of service I would get at say, an Applebee's. This time, though, our meal was an utter disaster. You need to seriously reassess how your franchisees are representing your brand because whatever quality control measures you currently have in place are a joke.

And your customers aren't laughing.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

My latest effort

The teamonsters coffee mug. Thanks to Martin over at the scopitones forum for the image...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Great news and a new art project

Still reeling from the announcement of the retirement of Dr. David Thorpe, the cosmos has seen fit to balance the scales by delivering into my inbox a piece of very good news: my favorite band, The Wedding Present has recorded a new album, set to be released May 8th. Even better, the band has acquired the services once again of legendary producer (sorry, engineer) Steve Albini to record the album. Apparently, founding and only original remaining member David Gedge (front) has been living in L.A. for the last year getting in touch with his inner rock star. He seems a very un-L.A. sort of guy, but I guess this is his way of dealing with the mid-life crisis. In any case, this is fantastic news (for me, at least). Albini also produced their 1991 masterpiece, Seamonsters which has to go down as one of the most underrated albums of the 1990's. Expect lots of guitars. The album is apparently titled, El Ray which I believe is a nod to a music venue in L.A. It also features a song titled, "Spider-Man". My favorite band writing a song about my favorite super hero. Doesn't get much better than that. Unless of course it sounds like "Sucker", one of their weakest efforts.
But the last album was very good, so I have no reason to expect they've lost the touch. Seamonsters featured some of the coolest artwork of any album in my opinion, and even had two different variations of sleeve art (I've uploaded all the artwork from the US release for your consideration). One version released to the rest of the world on RCA, and a different version along the same theme released in the U.S. on the now sadly defunct First Warning label. I like this artwork so much, in fact, that I have long wanted to make it into a triptych art print to display at home. The artist, Hitch, seemed to have dropped off the face of the earth though as I couldn't find anything about him on the web.
Recently, however, I determined that he's now teaching at some university in England and has more or less retired from art. Furthermore, he does notown the artwork for any of the things he did for the band; they now belong to RCA. So any hope of getting camera-ready stuff directly from him is basically gone. Which means if I want to to do this project, I'm going to have to get creative. The US artwork (some of which is shown above) is only available in CD format (as opposed to the other version which, at least is available in larger LP format as well). So I'm going to have to get creative and find a way to clean up what I've got as well as find a company which will create the actual series of images for me to mount and/or frame.

If any of my legion of loyal readers can recommend a Boston-area company I could talk to about this project, I'd appreciate it. Now we wait for May 8th! If you are unfamiliar with the band, I recommend checking them out.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The End of and Era

OK, so my first blog that I didn't actually have to force because I'm fired up about this. My favorite internet blogger/music critc/curmudgeon (in other words, the only person I read on a regular basis), David Thorpe a.k.a. Dr. David Thorpe is, for reasons unknown, hanging up his spikes. A brief history:

I discovered his columns a few years back when he was Dr. David Thorpe, writing for the geek website
Something Awful
. A friend of mine who works in the music business (and knows far more about music than I could ever hope to (and I'm a pretty big music snob) sent me a link to one of series of columns, Your Band Sucks, and I was hooked. It came out every two weeks, and it was the most anticipated event on the internet for me to read one of his new columns. His Field Guide to North American Hipsters Vol. I, Readers Respond, and Vol. II are required reading, and his three part series "How to Fake It" Vol. I, Reader Advice (,maybe the best of the bunch, actually), and Vol. II are instant classics.

If you have any interest in music at all, you owe it to yourself to read these blogs. I cannot recommend anything written on the internet more highly.

When not writing specialty columns such as these, he'd pick a random sacred music cow to excoriate, and it was hilarious. Even if you liked said band.

A few times he invited readers to send in their demo tapes and CD's so he could rate them. None fared too well as you might expect. His annual year-end awards, "The World's Greatest Dad Awards" (so-named because "there needed to be pre-existing images bearing the name of the award so that I wouldn’t have to do any actual work.", were a roundup of anyone who had somehow been overlooked during the year or who he hadn't quite laid into enough. Sounds spiteful, and it was. But it was oh, so true and oh so funny.

So a little over a year ago, Dr. Thorpe announced he would be reducing the frequency of his columns as he had taken a job writing for Boston's The Weekly Dig. Great, I thought, I can pick it up in hard copy when I'm walking around town. So the columns on SA became less and less frequent until they stopped altogether about a year ago. Problem is, the archetypal music curmudgeon, lost his edge when he dropped the "Dr." title from his name. The columns (now called The Burn Unit) came out weekly now (Wednesdays), but were shorter, and just weren't as good.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, this week he announces that he's dying. Well, he's not REALLY dying, but has either decided to or been asked to terminate his column from The Dig. As far as I know I am the only one who ever wrote a comment on any of his blogs which indicates either general reader apathy for the paper (possible...this is the poor man's Boston Phoenix), or more probably, he didn't strike the same chord as he did at SA.

Either way, he left no forwarding address, so to speak, and I have no idea if he plans to write again, or if so, where he will re-appear. This, I have to say, is a dark day indeed for the internet.

So tip a 40 for Dr. David Thorpe, and lets hope he rises again and pops up somewhere else soon.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Football Catharsis

Now that the NFL playoffs are over, I find myself questioning my football loyalties. Growing up in the NFL no-man's land of Hartford there was no real compelling choice. As far as we were concerned, the Patriots may as well not have existed. Due to a combination of blackouts, distribution deals (or lack thereof), and other factors, they were rarely on TV in the area making getting to know the team in a family not exactly football crazed very difficult.

What we did get a heaping helping of every Sunday was the New York Football Giants. And there was NO way I was going to support a team from New York. So when I was in first grade, my dad went on a business trip to Washington DC, and happened to be eating one night in a restaurant which happened to be owned by one Joe Theisman, who happened to be there that night. My dad, recognizing him, went up to ask for his autograph for his young son (who at the time had no idea who Theisman was, incidentally).

"Of course," Joe said, and snapped his fingers (or at least that's how dad tells it), causing a waitress to appear out of nowhere with a cart of 8x10 black and white glossys of Joe, posed kneeling next to his helmet. Theisman dutifully signed the photo, making it out to me, and my dad returned from his trip with an unexpected souvenir for me.

"Of course," Joe said, and snapped his fingers...

From that point on, and through the better part of the next 15 years, my dad and I were Redskins fans. At least you knew you'd see them at least twice (when they played the Jints) on TV. And I have to say, that worked out pretty well for us with three superbowls won during that time.

Then came the late 90's and my faith wavered. The team became less likable, with punk players making stupid decisions (headbutting the stadium wall, for example), got a thoroughly unlikable owner, and I drifted into the Patriots camp almost without realizing it. Sure, I'd watch when they were on TV, but for the most part I followed the Pats because living in Boston, it's impossible not to since Bledsoe arrived.

I was always careful to point out to people that the Patriots were not REALLY my team, but as a New Englander I was happy to see them do well and certainly didn't DISlike them. But I never once called myself a fan because, as a die-hard Red Sox fan, I always resented the bandwagon fans who are everywhere nowadays. I was somehow afraid that true Patriots fans would find me out, as I always try to test Red Sox fans I talk to to see how long they've REALLY been following the team. "Who played third base for the Sox in 2004?" "What catch is Tom Brunansky famous for?" Because everyone likes a winner. Following a team when they're NOT winning is the true test of being a fan. Like not winning for 86 years.

So I now feel somewhat guilty, almost unfaithful that I've allowed myself to be sucked into turbine of the Patriots hype machine over the last several years. And I'm feeling more guilty that it took a LOSS to make me realize what has happened to me. I take team loyalty very seriously, and I don't honestly feel that I can claim to be a true fan of either team. So what am I to do now?
It's almost too late, but I think I need to return to my roots, and focus on the Redskins. Hopefully they'll have me back.