Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I finally ate at Litton's! Several years ago, I saw a Food Network show highlighting some of the nation's best burgers, and one of the places featured was Litton's Market and Restaurant in Knoxville, Tennessee. Since then, I've wanted to check this place out, and I finally got the chance while visiting my folks last week. If you find yourself in the Fountain City district of Knoxville, be sure to visit Litton's.

Otherwise, today was a day of sunshine, but I was blue... as in "the blues"... as in I certainly had them. Lunch at Phoenix Noodle House was the highlight of the day. Browsed around Media Play and Best Buy tonight, but even that didn't help. Oh, well...

Saturday, November 19, 2005

As a business matures, it should endeavor to maintain its level of service. Woo-hoo, don't I sound very Business Week here?

I visited the Avril car wash today ($20 inside and out, plus tips), a place where I've often made blog entries at the PC provided for customers to use while their cars are being washed. But today, the PC was nowhere to be found. In fact, the cashier was nowhere to be found, at least for five minutes after I arrived. This is odd, since Avril has for years been a hopping neighborhood establishment with excellent customer service and a good reputation for getting a car cleaner than most of us could on our own.

Now, I am an honest person, but it struck me how easy it would have been for someone to escape with a free car wash, no questions asked, since when a car wash is finished, you are supposed to just amble out there, get in, and drive away. For that matter, imagine how easy it would be for someone to steal your car!

Atlanta is a rapidly-growing area and has been for years, so I see this often -- a new business (restaurants are the most frequent culprit, it seems) starts up with a bang. The service is excellent, and the product is great, but over time, someone somewhere gets lazy, and the result is almost always a shutdown. Over the years, we've lost some great establishments to this tendency, many of which had no visible competition at the time.

Businesses need to become more aware of the continuity factor and how to keep track of things and, especially, people or the lack thereof. No matter how much we might fuss about red tape and paperwork, it seems that there is a time and a place for everything. I wish someone at Avril had asked if it was my car that I drove away -- of course, it was.


Saturday, November 12, 2005

Excuse me, but I must talk about Isaac Hayes... especially for those of you who only know him as "The Chef" on South Park. Isaac Hayes literally defined the soul music movement in Memphis in the early 1970's. His 1969 release Hot Buttered Soul revved up nationwide interest in well-produced R&B and soul, and it was followed a couple of years later by the time-honored Shaft, the title track of which spawned some of the most fabulous wah-wah pedal guitar playing ever heard. Even today, when you visit Guitar Center, one of the nation's leading music stores, you'll often hear "Theme from Shaft" playing overhead.

I was fortunate enough to have had a personal connection with Isaac Hayes, in that one of my dad's good friends in Memphis, Perry Allen, was Isaac's business manager in the early 70's. Perry himself hosted a jazz/blues radio show in Memphis (a tall task, that, given the local blues scene) in the late 1970's and owned a record shop on Vance Avenue. Perry was a great guy -- quite an original. If you can recall Cab Calloway's character in The Blues Brothers, you'll have a pretty good mental picture of Perry Allen. I think Perry is on the West Coast these days, and I certainly hope that he's still connected.

This morning, as I browsed the iTunes music store, I was happy to see that almost all of Isaac Hayes' albums are now available. For those of you who may be too young to remember (after all, this music was released before many of my friends were even born), Isaac introduced a form of rap on his 70's albums, although what was produced in those days bore no resemblance to today's rap. Black Moses featured a series of "Ike's Raps", with the husky-throated singer pleading with his ladies to cut him some slack, to see what a good man he was, oh yeah, baby. Each rap segued into a soulful ballad, and whether the songs were original or covers (as many of the Black Moses tracks are), Isaac's innate ability to emote came clearly through. Even if you don't consider yourself a fan of "soul music", you owe it to yourself to browse a few of these true originals.

And with that, I must bid adieu and see what Saturday holds in store. Have fun, brothers and sisters. And y'all...I mean that in the truest way I can say.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

We're having that weird fall weather again. Almost every year, generally in late October or early November, we have this extremely warm weather in Atlanta that descends on us and makes us generally ill at ease, ill of body, or some combination of both. The reason we become ill is that many of us have moved here from colder climates where this does not happen, and our systems respond negatively to the infusion of 80 degree temperatures when there are leaves all over the ground (although the smell of warm leaves is not bad). It makes for some beautiful days, and some dastardly sinus issues.

Last night, I had an enlightening experience with 5.1 surround sound. I somehow lost the signal on the center speaker a few weeks ago, and only last night did I realize that I have not been able to hear what the people on TV were saying. (I have some hearing loss, so I didn't think much of it.) It finally dawned on me that the center speaker carries the frequencies most often used in human speech patterns. I was listening to the Dave Matthews Band: Listener Supported DVD, which should have been aurally perfect, but the highs were off. Anyway, after a complete reset of my "audiophile" receiver and some dangerous tweaking of exposed wires, the center signal was back, and I persuaded Dave to sing a few more tunes with his critical frequencies restored. that's how it's supposed to sound.

Monday, November 7, 2005

I started using the GuitarGrid method for improving my guitar technique. I'm not sure how well this works, given that I actually have knowledge of music theory, but we shall see. Hopefully, it will provide a nice refresher upon which I can build. I have been called on to play several times recently, and although I am still comfortable performing for people, I'd like to limber up a bit and improve my scale work. More posts on this as it comes along.

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

There have been many nights of interesting dreams lately. Night before last was a most pleasant dream (although, for the sake of brevity and propriety, I shall omit the details) and last night's was also enjoyable, since it involved a relaxed swim in the Pacific (in warm water, nonetheless) with the Golden Gate Bridge in sight. Being somewhat curious about this recent spate of imaginary nocturnal adventures, I Googled and found the Dream Moods website at, which has some interesting interpretations of various things you may experience in dreams. I explored a few of these, and I must say that the interpretations were, for the most part, accurate and telling. If you're curious, it's out there...