The Shapiro Files

Friday, January 02, 2009


Last year I posted this entry about writing our first holiday newsletter. I talked about agonizing over the first paragraph, as I had to trim a fair amount of out of it to get the whole newsletter to fit on one side of one page. As a result of the edit, I felt that the irony of a deliberately wordy introductory paragraph to what was otherwise an highly-succinct annual summary was lost.

This year I had another expository challenge with no less vexing results. In one of the newsletter bullet points summarizing some of the highlights of our year, I talked about doing several music recordings for Marcie’s business, Life Visions Productions. I closed the bullet with a pop cultural joke stating that my next musical endeavor would be recording a medley of songs by the band who recorded “The Safety Dance” in the 80s (you know: “You can dance if you want to/You can leave your friends behind/And if your friends don’t dance if they don’t dance/Well they’re no friends of mine”). I knew this was a pretty esoteric reference so I decided to do a second version of the reference where I state that my next project is a medley of Liberace hits. I actually agonized over this alternate version because I wasn’t sure if people would even get that reference. I had even toyed with making the reference to Barry Manilow, but thought there was a chance that some people would think I was being serious (not there’s anything wrong with doing a medley of Manilow hits!).

As a result of having two versions of the newsletter, I had to carefully go through our entire mailing list (150+ addressees this year) to determine who would get the “Safety Dance” reference (mostly people who came of age in the 80s like myself) and who should otherwise get the Liberace version of the newsletter. This was an extra burden to an already complicated mailing.

But here’s the ironic part. In my absolute confidence in the hipness of my pop cultural reference, I named the “Safety Dance” band as “Men in Hats.” However, it wasn’t until all the newsletters were printed and mailed that I learned (courtesy of my much hipper sister-in-law Kim) that the band is actually named Men Without Hats. So not only did I create far too much work for myself than necessary by maintaining two separate mailings, but even those who received the “Hats” version of the newsletter and would have otherwise gotten the reference were probably baffled by the odd mention of something called “Men in Hats.”

Oh well. There’s always next year.

By the way, for anyone who hasn’t seen this year’s full newsletter, you can get it in PDF form here. Yes, it’s the Liberace version.

And for anyone who’s interested in getting on the official annual mailing, just drop me a line. You know where to find me.


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