Saturday, April 28, 2012

“Retrophonic Review, Part Three”

c. 2012 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Note to Readers: I have written much in this space about my long-distance friendship with legendary California guitarist Davie Allan. It has become a personal tradition to open each of his new releases and immediately write down free-form poetry as it comes to mind. What follows here is my stream-of-consciousness overview of his newest disc.

First Impressions: ‘Retrophonic 3’ by Davie Allan

1. STILL GRUNGY AFTER ALL THESE YEARS – A hard ride through desert sands. Turntable spins on rubber bands. Throttle twisted, digging grooves on a platter. Roll the dice, it does not matter.

2. APACHE – Echoing drums, of a war cry sent heavenward from the tribe. This is our creed. That ain’t no lie. Fingers fly. An arrow splits the sky. The king is safe on his throne. Rock & Roll will never die.

3. SURF TREK – Voyages beyond the stars. A trek most unusual, taken in the vastness of dark. Ramble, rumble, Link Wray, Dick Dale and such. Hear me now, humble servant. I love you that much.

4. NIGHT CRAWLER – Fuzzy foolin’ around. Sidewalk surf with wheels rollin’ across the hard squares. When you arrive in the dark, I’ll already be there. Crawl and careen toward the next blessed sunrise. The King of Fuzz will never die.

5. JACKHAMMERED – Concrete slabs submit to the groove. I’m a gunslinger babe, with somethin’ to prove. My axe is rough, six silver strings in all. I am the tuneful troubadour. Never gonna fall. Crack and crumble, beneath the beat. My fingerprints strike the dirt. My dragon-breath burns the street.

6. POLYURETHANE – Tones dance, take a gambler’s chance. You can see the sheen of a modern movie scene. I am smooth and slick, watch me shimmer and gleam. Like an episode of ‘Then Came Bronson’ I fill your head with dreams.

7. FUZINATING RHYTHM – A caustic counterpoint, rock this joint, your head I will anoint. Join the priesthood of fuzz, pluck the plectrum, my humble servant of the buzz. That will be enough. Raise the cup, let the praises go up. May the force be with you, in a big bowl of intergalactic stew.

8. WE NEED A LITTLE CHRISTMAS – Deck the halls, from corner stand to shopping malls, the King of Fuzz has electric balls. Amplified and double-tracked, once you feel the fire, you’ll never go back.

9. THE WILD ANGELS PROMOS – Announcer’s voice excites the wild boys. Wolf pack rides, rubber rips the road. Hug the demon, kiss the toad. You have no escape, except for a roll down Batman’s cape. The dark avenger holds sway. Bootheels kick the dirt. We ride, away!

10. PARTY GIRL – Dancing, falling, it’s outta-sight. Heels in the sand. Girl, it’ll be alright. I want you forever. Don’t get frozen with fright. It starts on a trip, into the eternal night.

11. WE’LL CONCENTRATE ON LOVE – Dual-track in the outback. A voice cries out for love with no doubt. Kiss me quick, this is no trick. My heart yearns for you, like the morning dew. I need what you are. Be near, not far.

12. QUIET AS AN INDIAN BRAVE – A spiritual prayer, to guide your soul. Stroked strings sing out with praise, from times of old. Warrior dance, and nature’s romance. The trees boast of he who is the most. Our chief among men. Our hero among friends.

13. IT’S ONLY BEEN FOREVER – A sweet ballad of the sunset. Tell me again, I will never forget. We began in the age of man. We end with a vow to honor the plan. Resurrection is the way. Fuzz friends will rule the day.

14. PEOPLE – Acoustic strums, without the bustling beat of drums. A song sweet and pure. A sailing ship on a course steady, and sure. People are my way. Wake up and face the day. I reach out for you. Let me prove what I do.

15. NOBODY’S THERE – Nobody sees, there’s a song on the breeze. Nobody hears, there’s a melody in my ears. Stumble, bumble and two-step. I am the last chance you get. Words flow into tomorrow, I sigh with sorrow. I feel so misunderstood, life never goes as it should.

16. WHEN WE FIRST FELL IN LOVE – Remembering when we joined as soul-mates, you and I, on that first date. Kisses sweet, with no regrets. I recall it now, when we first met. Love forever. Love in hand. You were my woman and I was your man.

17. HOOKED ON YOU – Can’t turn away, I’ve just got to say. Your spell is upon me, I can’t ever get free. For a thousand years, I’ll still proclaim, your love is my target, I cry your name.

18. THE FASTEST GUN ALIVE – A wanderer, with a weapon carved of wood. Your six-string is powerful, that is well understood. Tuneful, toneful, a plectrum pole carried like a gun. Sunset on the horizon. Your day is done.

19. LET’S NOT THROW IT AWAY – Goodbye. A sad sentiment I wish to deny. Take hold of yourself. I have a story to tell. Let’s not abandon what lives. We have much love to give. Your heart is alive. And I want to ride.

20. I’M GONNA LOVE YOU FOREVER – Chorus chimes like the echo of a chapel service. There is true love between us. Like a dream come true, I am hungry for you. Soaring angel, I will love you forever. Your heart is pure. There is a song on my lips. I am floating in bliss.

21. LOS CABOS – A humble hideaway, tucked in the hinterland. A place where this guitar rebel will make his stand. Amid the bleached bones of another age, I quickly turn the page. Sun shines and winds sift the sands, until tomorrow wrecks our plans. We are dreams that have failed, we are ships that have sailed.

22. IS THE GRASS REALLY GREENER – Fate gives the final judgement. We bow lowly, praying on the pavement. Kneeling now before those who hold sway. Those of privilege claim the day.

Postscript: Find out more about Davie at the website.

Comments about Thoughts At Large may be sent to:
Visit us at:

Saturday, April 21, 2012

"Capitol Call: Part Three"

c. 2012 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

My friend Ezekiel Byler-Gregg, of the Burton Daily Bugle, is a rowdy fellow.

I have written here in the past about his recovery from financial woes that came in part because of the nation's 2008 economic meltdown.

Ezekiel seemed to find a sense of calm after calling the White House, and lodging a long-distance protest with one of the switchboard operators over his tax situation, last year.

But recently, my old friend became irritated again, after negotiating to rebuild his credit standing with a local bank.

What follows here is a transcript of his latest rant-by-wire:

OPERATOR - "May I help you?"

EZEKIEL - "This is Ezekiel Byler-Gregg. I am calling from Burton, Ohio."

OPERATOR - "Good morning. How may I direct your call?"

EZEKIEL - "I would like to speak to the president, please."


EZEKIEL - "President Obama, please."

OPERATOR - "Sir, you can't just call and speak to the president..."

EZEKIEL - "Miss, we are not talking about a king here. Our president was elected by a big ol' majority of voters. Therefore he is subject to us, not the other way around."

OPERATOR - "Mr. Gregg, I think you are confused."

EZEKIEL - "Ahem! That's Byler-Gregg!"

OPERATOR - "There is no need to shout, sir."

EZEKIEL - "Elected officials serve the people in America. Haven't you ever read our constitution?"

OPERATOR - "Mr. Gregg, you need to calm down."

EZEKIEL - "I want to speak with President Obama about the banking situation that faces everyday Americans. Recently, I tried to re-establish my credit standing after the meltdown of '08. It literally involved a process of begging and groveling before the people who supervised our country's financial collapse. I have to prove, longterm, that I possess the discipline to use a line of credit. Do you think Goldman Sachs had to do any of that? How about AIG, or General Motors? Didn't they all effectively prove their own incompetence with financial matters? Isn't that why the government had to bail them out? Why don't they have to prove anything to us, the American people?"

OPERATOR - "Sir, I answer telephone calls. Not questions about the government."

EZEKIEL - "Then let me speak to the president."

OPERATOR - "You can't do that, Mr. Gregg."

EZEKIEL - "Byler-Gregg, dang it!"

OPERATOR - "Sir, you need to control your temper."

EZEKIEL - "I am a citizen of the republic! Of course I can talk to my elected officials! Whoever they are!"

OPERATOR - "Wait... do you work for Fox News? Those people are crazy..."

EZEKIEL - "I am a newspaper editor from Burton, Ohio."

OPERATOR - "Someone from the Rick Santorum campaign, then? I know they are desperate for media attention..."

EZEKIEL - "I am a journalist. And a patriot!"

OPERATOR - "And I am a switchboard operator. So, how may I direct your call?"

EZEKIEL - (Clearing his throat) "President Obama, please."

OPERATOR - Sir, we've already had this conversation."

EZEKIEL - "Yes we have."

OPERATOR - "Very well then. Have a good day, Mr. Gregg..."


OPERATOR - "Sir, there is no point in continuing this conversation."

EZEKIEL - "Miss, our president ain't like Vladimir Putin of Russia. He can't be a monarch or a dictator. He is a public servant."

OPERATOR - "You are skilled at stating the obvious, sir."

EZEKIEL - "He's an official placed in power by a democratic vote. So I want to ask him why he has been willing to hand free money to banking institutions, while regular people like myself are forced to jump through hoops to survive?"

OPERATOR - "The president inherited a gigantic mess, sir. He is trying to repair the damage done by his predecessor."

EZEKIEL - "And feed us all cowpies in the process! Not one banker or insurance mogul received discipline for ruining the country's financial system. Instead, they have all been coddled while average people like me struggle to get our houses in order."

OPERATOR - "I will make a note of your comment, sir. Have a good day..."

EZEKIEL - "No, no, no! Wait!!"

OPERATOR - "Did you have another question, Mr. Gregg?"

EZEKIEL - "I want to know why President Obama claims to represent Main Street over Wall Street, when his actions clearly favor those of wealth and privilege, like most other folks in Washington?"

OPERATOR - "Please! Would you rather have Mitt Romney as president? He's obviously a big-business millionaire."

EZEKIEL - "Miss, I voted for Ron Paul in the Ohio Republican primary."

OPERATOR - (Snickering) "Even Fox News doesn't like Ron Paul. He's a perennial loser."

EZEKIEL - "Loser? I think not. He is a genuine conservative."

OPERATOR - "I will add that to your comment. Thank you..."

EZEKIEL - "Wait! I still want to chew the fat with our president."

OPERATOR - "Sir, for the last time, you can't speak to President Obama."

EZEKIEL - "I want to ask why he talks like a working class hero, while tipping his hat to the same ol' crowd of Washington fatcats! Who'd want to vote for a rascal like that?"

OPERATOR - "Wake up and smell the coffee, Mr. Gregg! Our president is going to be re-elected, if for no other reason, because his eventual opponent will be someone Americans trust even less than himself."

EZEKIEL - (Sighing loudly) "I give up. Just tell Big O that I called."

OPERATOR - "Very well. Have a good day, sir!"

Comments about Thoughts At Large may be sent to:
Visit us at:

Thursday, April 05, 2012


c. 2012 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Recently, I read a list of terms at work that had been catalogued into a company-style “Wikipedia” document. While useful for those who might be new to the retail industry, it failed to include many descriptive words and phrases that are routinely used in the business.

To correct this oversight, I created my own colorful dictionary of slang terms. What follows here is a catalog of retail-speak gathered from personal memory:

Apologize Profusely – Standard technique to placate an unhappy customer.

Attaboy/Attagirl – A compliment given for work well done.

Big Cheese – A manager or supervisor.

Boned – To be cheated or treated unfairly.

Busted/Busted Down – Demoted for cause. Punished.

Bust It Out – To do work; to finish a task or project.

Carry – To include an item in the regular store inventory. (Also: To make up for the poor performance of a weak employee by squeezing more productivity out of others in the same department.)

Cater – To please someone with an excessive amount of care. (Ex: “He catered to her with the schedule.”)

Chain Call – The process of spreading an important message by one store calling the next. Now, largely superceded by e-mail messages.

Cheese Wedge – Subordinates to a manager or supervisor.

Close to Open – A late shift followed by an early shift, offering little time to rest.

Company Hack – Someone employed directly at the corporate office.

Company Visit – To call on a store for purposes of enforcing corporate guidelines and procedures.

Cry – To complain incessantly; to whine.

Cut In – To make a spot for a particular item, on the shelf.

Cut & Slam – To stock shelves at a furious pace, when store conditions have deteriorated due to heavy customer traffic.

Dinkster – Something small in nature or size.

Dog – A portable step-up used to reach high shelves. Pulled by its ‘tail’ – a length of string or rope.

Dumped On – To routinely receive the worst work assignments. (Also: to be criticized by a supervisor or another employee.)

Eight Hundred Call – A customer complaint via the company 800 number.

File Like A Phone Book – An employee who has numerous disciplinary actions documented in their personnel file; one who has been written-up repeatedly.

Flat-lined – A business with stagnant sales growth.

Gang Bang – Working as a team, in close quarters, rather than tackling needs individually.

Get Popped – To receive formal discipline.

Golden Boy/Golden Girl – One who has seemingly been anointed for greater things by the company. (Generally perceived to have been given this position without merit.)

Hammered – To receive discipline or criticism. (Ex: “He got hammered by the boss.”)

Lay Across The Desk – To receive particularly harsh punishment from a manager, business owner or corporate supervisor.

LIFER – Someone who does not possess the skill level required to perform at a higher level. Literally: Lazy Incompetent Fool Expecting Retirement.

Lost Soul – An employee with no ambition or sense of purpose; one without any self-discipline.

Jamming – Working hard; working at a brisk pace which will achieve desired results.

Mr. Manager – One who takes his title too seriously; one who tries to make himself important above others.

Must Be Done 100% - An admonition that the job be completed to specification with no short cuts; an implied warning against half-measures.

Nail/Nailed – To hit the bullseye; to achieve a goal with expert skill.

Night Crew – Employees who work during the third-shift operation of a store.

Old School – A style of operation no longer in favor. (Often presumed to be inherently superior to modern methods.)

On The Horn – Communicating by telephone.

One Speed – A worker who always moves at the same pace, regardless of store conditions.

Overtime Hound – One who constantly manages to punch out late, thus gaining extra work time; one who always volunteers for extra hours.

Pitch – To throw something away.

Points To Ponder – Ideas offered to spur creative thinking.

Power Of The Pencil – Using the schedule to reward or punish an employee.

Queen Bee – A female manager who is self-absorbed and pompous.

Ram Jam – Fit all of a particular item on the shelf, even if extra measures are required.

Re-model – Freshening the look of an existing store.

Ring Register – To perform the duties of a cashier.

Rocker – A quick employee; one who works at a brisk pace wherever they may be scheduled in the store.

Rug Cutter – An overly large safety knife used to open cases of stock.

Shadow – To follow someone closely, for purposes of observation.

Shipped Out – Transferred to another store.

Sing For Your Supper – To plead for mercy following a major error or mistake.

Skate – To leave quickly at the end of a work shift, implying little concern for completing duties.

Slapped Down – Denied or refused.

Slug – A slow worker; one who lacks motivation.

Step Up To The Plate – To accept greater responsibilities; to meet challenges directly.

Store Cop – A security agent; a plainclothes detective employed by the company.

Target On Their Back – Someone who has attracted disciplinary attention from store management; one who seems likely to be demoted or fired.

Throwing Cannonballs – Ordering wildly, without discipline, which creates unnecessary backstock on items. (Also: implementing policies without careful consideration.)

Trashed – Ruined.

True Believer – One who accepts company doctrine without dissent; one who avoids conflict at all costs; one who rarely accepts new ideas.

U-Boat – A mobile stock carrier; used to move cases of stock around the store.

Valued Customer – A term used at the beginning of almost every company notice; a genuine expression of appreciation for those who patronize a store.

Volunteer – One who quickly accepts new challenges, projects and ideas.

Wanderer – An employee who seems to always be out of their department without cause.

Wood Flat – A pallet, used to ship cases of stock conveniently.

Yo-Yo Ordering – The result of an inexperienced person handling ordering duties; ordering too little, then ordering too much.

Comments about Thoughts At Large may be sent to:
Visit us at: