Total Perspective Vortex
What really happened to Trillian? Theories abound, but you can see what she's really been up to on this blog. If you're looking for white mice, depressed robots, or the occasional Pan Galactic Gargleblaster you might be better served here:

Otherwise, hello, and welcome.
Mail Trillian here<

Trillian McMillian
Trillian McMillian
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Women, The Internet and You: Tips for Men Who Use Online Dating Sites
Part I, Your Profile and Email

Part II, Selecting a Potential Date

Part III, Your First Date!

Part IV, After the First Date. Now What?

"50 First Dates"

Don't just sit there angry and ranting, do something constructive.
In the words of Patti Smith (all hail Sister Patti): People have the power.
Contact your elected officials.

Don't be passive = get involved = make a difference.
Find Federal Officials
Enter ZIP Code:

or Search by State

Find State Officials
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or Search by State

Contact The Media
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or Search by State

Words are cool.
The English language is complex, stupid, illogical, confounding, brilliant, beautiful, and fascinating.
Every now and then a word presents itself that typifies all the maddeningly gorgeousness of language. They're the words that give you pause for thought. "Who came up with that word? That's an interesting string of letters." Their beauty doesn't lie in their definition (although that can play a role). It's also not in their onomatopoeia, though that, too, can play a role. Their beauty is in the way their letters combine - the visual poetry of words - and/or the way they sound when spoken. We talk a lot about music we like to hear and art we like to see, so let's all hail the unsung heroes of communication, poetry and life: Words.
Here are some I like. (Not because of their definition.)



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11/17/13 12/1/13 - 12/8/13 12/15/13 - 12/22/13 12/29/13 - 1/5/14 6/29/14 - 7/6/14 9/14/14 - 9/21/14 9/21/14 - 9/28/14 10/12/14 - 10/19/14 11/23/14 - 11/30/14 12/7/14 - 12/14/14 12/28/14 - 1/4/15 1/25/15 - 2/1/15 2/8/15 - 2/15/15 2/22/15 - 3/1/15 3/8/15 - 3/15/15 3/15/15 - 3/22/15 3/22/15 - 3/29/15 4/12/15 - 4/19/15 4/19/15 - 4/26/15 5/3/15 - 5/10/15 5/17/15 - 5/24/15 5/24/15 - 5/31/15 6/14/15 - 6/21/15 6/28/15 - 7/5/15 7/5/15 - 7/12/15 7/19/15 - 7/26/15 8/16/15 - 8/23/15 11/6/16 - 11/13/16 6/24/18 - 7/1/18

Highlights from the Archives. Some favorite Trillian moments.

Void, Of Course: Eliminating Expectations and Emotions for a Better Way of Life

200i: iPodyssey

Macs Are from Venus, Windows is from Mars Can a relationship survive across platform barriers?
Jerking Off

Get A Job

Office Church Ladies: A Fieldguide

'Cause I'm a Blonde

True? Honestly? I think not.

A Good Day AND Funyuns?

The Easter Boy

Relationship in the Dumpster

Wedding Dress 4 Sale, Never Worn

Got Friends? Are You Sure? Take This Test

What About Class? Take This Test

A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Far Away, There Was a Really Bad Movie

May Your Alchemical Process be Complete. Rob Roy Recipe

Good Thing She's Not in a Good Mood Very Often (We Knew it Wouldn't Last)

What Do I Have to Do to Put You in this Car Today?

Of Mice and Me (Killer Cat Strikes in Local Woman's Apartment)

Trillian: The Musical (The Holiday Special)

LA Woman (I Love (Hate) LA)

It is my Cultureth
...and it would suit-eth me kindly to speak-eth in such mannered tongue


It's a Little Bit Me, It's a Little Bit You
Blogging a Legacy for Future Generations

Parents Visiting? Use Trillian's Mantra!

Ghosts of Christmas Past: Mod Hair Ken

Caught Blogging by Mom, Boss or Other

2003 Holiday Sho-Lo/Mullet Awards

Crullers, The Beer Store and Other Saintly Places

Come on Out of that Doghouse! It's a Sunshine Day!

"...I had no idea our CEO is actually Paula Abdul in disguise."

Lap Dance of the Cripple

Of Muppets and American Idols
"I said happier place, not crappier place!"

Finally Off Crutches, Trillian is Emancipated

Payless? Trillian? Shoe Confessions

Reality Wednesday: Extremely Local Pub

Reality Wednesday: Backstage Staging Zone (The Sweater Blog)

The Night Secret Agent Man Shot My Dad

To Dream the Impossible Dream: The Office Karaoke Party

Trillian Flies Economy Class (Prisoner, Cell Block H)

Trillian Visits the Village of the Damned, Takes Drugs, Becomes Delusional and Blogs Her Brains Out

Trillian's Parents are Powerless

Striptease for Spiders: A PETA Charity Event (People for the Ethical Treatment of Arachnids)

What's Up with Trillian and the Richard Branson Worship?

"Screw the French and their politics, give me their cheese!"

Mail Trillian here

Trillian's Guide to the Galaxy gives 5 stars to these places in the Universe:
So much more than fun with fonts, this is a daily dose of visual poetry set against a backdrop of historical trivia. (C'mon, how can you not love a site that notes Wolfman Jack's birthday?!)


Alliance for the Great Lakes

Hot, so cool, so cool we're hot.

Ig Nobel Awards

And you think YOU have the worst bridesmaid dress?

Coolest Jewelry in the Universe here (trust Trillian, she knows)

Red Tango

If your boss is an idiot, click here.

Evil Cat Full of Loathing.

Wildlife Works

Detroit Cobras

The Beachwood Reporter is better than not all, but most sex.

Hey! Why not check out some great art and illustration while you're here? Please? It won't hurt and it's free.


Kii Arens

Tim Biskup

Jeff Soto


Get Fuzzy Now!
If you're not getting fuzzy, you should be. All hail Darby Conley. Yes, he's part of the Syndicate. But he's cool.

Who or what is HWNMNBS: (He Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken) Trillian's ex-fiancé. "Issues? What issues?"

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Smart Girls
(A Trillian de-composition, to the tune of Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys)

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

Smart girls ain’t easy to love and they’re above playing games
And they’d rather read a book than subvert themselves
Kafka, Beethoven and foreign movies
And each night alone with her cat
And they won’t understand her and she won’t die young
She’ll probably just wither away

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

A smart girl loves creaky old libraries and lively debates
Exploring the world and art and witty reparteé
Men who don’t know her won’t like her and those who do
Sometimes won’t know how to take her
She’s rarely wrong but in desperation will play dumb
Because men hate that she’s always right

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

Life(?) of Trillian

Thursday, May 14, 2009  
Whew. Okay. Glad that's over.

I don't have to deal with LOST for a while.

It's kind of like a troubled relationship. There are problems...I'm losing interest...but when it's good, it's really good so I think there's something salvageable there. And there's no denying the physical attraction. I mean. You know. Let's be honest, this relationship is mostly physical.

Plus I know what the alternative is and I'd rather be in a mediocre relationship than none at all.

What I need is a couple new vices to give me the strength and confidence to end things with LOST.

That's really what the issue is for me. Vice.

I used to have some good vices. I kept the list short in order to really indulge in the vices. Really wring the most vice out of them. If you have too many vices it's difficult to dedicate yourself to them as fully as necessary to make them, well, vices. Better to have a short list and indulge in them with passion and zeal.

I enjoyed my vices. I was proud of my vices. I embraced my vices virtuously.

Loud rock and roll. Decadent (scandalous) shoes. Lusting after men. Vodka.

Often all at the same time.

I like speed, too. Fast cars, fast boats, fast bikes, fast ice skates. I used to have two speeds: Fast and off. Then my gearbox was updated to include neutral. Which was good. The speed thing was, um, well, not always safe. And learning to accept and embrace neutral came in especially handy when I broke my ankle and foot. And since then I've come even further in seeing the merits of a more steady, even pace.

Ahhh, maturity.


I still like to drive fast. And if my foot were magically healed I would lace up the blades and hit the ice faster than you can say Chuck Yeager.

But I have more gears, now, and I'm happy with that.

Yep. I kissed the speed vice good-bye.

Shoes? Yeah, well. Not so much. I took three boxes of decadent shoes with scandalous heels to the charity shop a few months ago. 18 months post-surgery with another surgery looming it was obvious those shoes with their three and four inch heels, straps and balance challenging designs would not make it out my door anytime soon, if ever. One day I realized they were mocking me. Sad reminders of another woman, someone who is no longer me. And poof! just like that, away went my decadent scandalous shoe vice.

I have long feet so my gift to the charity shop in a predominantly gay neighborhood was surely well received. I feel alternately happy and sad that my former instruments of delight and passion are undoubtedly on drag club stages. I mean, you know, someone should enjoy them, it would be a shame to let them go to waste. And not that there's anything wrong with that. But. I dunno. They're my shoes. They made me happy. Sublime, even. No matter how ugly I looked or felt, no matter how utilitarian my clothes were, I put on a pair of my decadent shoes and I felt baaaaaad. I felt confident. I felt worthy. I felt a lot of things. Yes. My shoes made me feel things. I know that's wrong. Passions "shouldn't" be stirred, self worth should not be gained, and confidence should not be had from things, inanimate products bought at stores.

But that's vice for you. Which is why my shoe vice was perhaps my truest, purest vice. It was just wrong on every level. And it encompassed many of the deadly sins: Lust, gluttony, greed, envy, sloth, and pride. Find a way to throw in some wrath and you've got a vice full of sin.

Funny, though, I don't feel virtuous now that my shoe vice is no more. Though it's given way for another vice and wrath is coming into play.

I'm not sad someone else is wearing them, I'm jealous. The shoes I wear now are best described as sensible, sturdy, supportive and comfortable. They have to accommodate my orthotic insoles. Mainly I wear the same pair of industrial strength supportive sneakers. They're not cute or funky or hip or fashionable. They're industrial strength sneakers. Serious shoes for serious support, balance and shock absorption. If I were a runner I might get some nods of approval from other runners. But I'm not. I'm a limper whose biggest marathon is the trek to and from the train station.

I'm jealous of the girls I see wearing decadent scandalous shoes. And I resent the drag queens undoubtedly wearing my shoes. I'm mad that I can no longer wear my shoes. And I'm mad that someone else gets to enjoy my shoes. Wrath: The other vice.

I take a lot of medications, now. I try to keep them to a minimum but unless it's the weekend and I can spend the majority of the day with my foot elevated on ice, medication is required. I don't think I'm addicted to pain killers - I can, and do go without them. I wait until the pain is absolutely unbearable before I take them. Acupuncture was helping, a lot. Acupuncture rocks, by the way. But it's too expensive to have done a regular basis so pain meds and anti-inflammatories are the alternative. My foot runs a fever, yes, my foot has a climate all its own, so I have to ice it and/or take something to reduce the fever. The reason I'm sharing all this is that it's the reason why my booze vice has come to a screeching halt.

Mixing alcohol with those kinds of medication (almost any kind of medication for that matter) just ends up causing more problems. So as long as I need those medications there's no alcohol crossing my lips.

Okay. Full disclosure. I'm a cheap drunk. I enjoy a glass or two of wine because I like the flavor. Ditto champagne. I've never imbibed in those libations with the purpose of getting drunk or even buzzed. The second I start to feel a little zippy on wine or champagne is the second I stop drinking it.

Vodka and rum on the other hand...see...the thing is...I like mixed cocktails. And the problem, the vice, in that is that by the time you realize you're feeling the affects of the alcohol in those drinks you've probably had one too many. Fortunately for me one too many is typically the third one. So. While I wholeheartedly enjoy throwing back a few drinks on a night out in my decadent shoes at a loud rock concert, three or four is my outer limit. And it doesn't require a lot of alcohol to get falling down drunk in those shoes. So my booze vice was actually kind of lame.

But I miss it. I've never needed alcohol. It doesn't give me confidence or lower my inhibitions. But I like it. I enjoy a drink or two now and then. I didn't think it would be a big deal to forgo alcohol. And it's not - I don't crave it or get the shakes when I see a Captain Morgan billboard. But it's a simple pleasure of life that's been taken away from me.

So that leaves loud rock and roll and lusting after men. Unfortunately standing around for three- four hours at a small, dingy concert venue is problematic for me, now. Even in my sensible, sturdy sneakers with orthotic inserts. Consequently my loud rock and roll vice is limited to blaring it in a car or through my headphones. (I would never in a million years blare my stereo to annoying levels. I'm not that kind of neighbor.) My friends, even my died in the wool rocker friends, are all mature adults, now. They don't like to go to concerts much these days. Even when they forget they're mature adults and consider going to a concert, the reality of their mature adult lives imposes itself on them and limits their ability for a night out at a concert. Let's say my foot is feeling okay and I'm packin' medications. The likelihood of my friends being able to get a babysitter and the desire to come "all the way" into the city is slim. If I want to go to a loud rock and roll show I'm on my own. And while there's a certain intrigue in the aloof chick on her own at a dingy club with a loud rock band, I'm not that chick. Especially not with my sensible sneakers and bottled water and fever reducing medication.

Poof! There goes another vice.

Men. Lusting after men. Well. There it is. One of the few vices I have left. I used to do a lot of my lusting at concerts. (see above, dingy bars, alcohol) Nothing makes my libido thump like a guy with a loud guitar and attitude. I know, I know. But I'm talking purely about lust. It's porn for me. Personality, stability, ability to function before 2 in the afternoon are not factors. And I don't act on that lust. It's a visual treat for a few hours. Then I go home and forget about him. Or them. Life porn.

LOST, for all it's stupidity and frustration, has filled that void. It's man-o-rama. Every week it fills my lust bank. And that makes me feel like me. One of my vices, one tiny piece of me still exists. So I cling to it. I cannot wait for LOST to end because, well, it's trying too hard and I'm bored with it. Yes. Really. For all the twists, turns and weirdness of this season, I'm bored with it. It's just, well, overkill. The big "Jacob" issue? Meh. Whatever. And much as I like me some grimy Josh Holloway, bloodied and swollen Josh Holloway just doesn't it do it for me. Sayid's intensity, which used to be soooo beguiling, is turning annoying. The Jin and Desmond scenes have been great this season, but they've been too sparse to really sink my libido into. (well, okay, there was that one Desmond episode that fueled my lust bank for a few weeks...but more would have been better...keep in mind I'm very, very, very single and it's, um, been a long time, so it doesn't take much to fill my lust bank, other women, normal women, surely are not getting enough Desmond and Jin) And Charlie, poor Charlie, gone. Charlie arrived in my life at the perfect time. Just when I had to curtail my loud rock shows at grimy clubs, along came Charlie. A grimy, guitar slinging rock and roll guy. Like an angel sent from Saint Hendrix himself. And then they killed him.

So. Yeah. LOST. I love it and hate it. And it's over for several months.

And poof! there goes another vice.

So now I'm thinking I need to either forgo vices altogether or come up with some new vices.

The thing is, I need to be passionate about them. And in trying to sort out my passions I realized: I'm boring. Virtuous, but boring. My passions are, well, not exactly sinful. Some of them are even, gasp, healthy.

So I'm shopping for vices.* I don't have enough money (or desire) to gamble. I hate cigarettes. Snarkiness? Yeah, I could be a mean girl. Any given day in my life presents enough material to last me a vice-filled lifetime of snarkiness. I come in contact with lot of stupid and irritating people. But I dunno. Doesn't that put me on the express train for bitterness? And bothersome as some of these people are, I'm not passionate about snarking out most of them. We'll put it in the maybe column. If all else fails, if no other vices pan out I'll revisit snarkiness.

I could get on board with sex but, um, well, that vice requires a partner in vice and this is me we're talking about. So. Yeah. So much for that. If the fate of my vice lies in sex I'm doomed to virtue.

Vices, anyone?

*For those playing along at home: Score another band name. That's two in one week. I'm on a roll. "Friday, May 15, Shopping for Vices with Transistor Radio Discontentment Doors open at 8."

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8:47 PM

Wednesday, May 13, 2009  

On behalf of 28,000 of the 29,000 population of my hometown, I apologize for using federal government money to beautify two miles of a road leading into my hometown. $719,000 seems like a lot of money for new street lights and trees to us, too. And yes, while not the latest, coolest, greenest street lights, the road already has perfectly bright, functioning lights. And some darned nice trees, too. This is an established community with decades-old trees lining the streets.

But the federal government is giving my hometown the money, so, heh heh, the city councilmen are not going to look that gift horse in the mouth!

Okay, sure, that street could actually use repair. Potholes, a disintegrating shoulder and not-so-functional drainage ditch on that stretch of road need repair. But the $719,000 can not be used for road repair. It must be spent on beautification improvements.

I visited my hometown last weekend. I drove into town on the section of road that will be beautified. The oak and maple trees are budding, dotted by lilacs, magnolias and flowering cherry trees. And daffodils line a good portion of the road. It was pretty darned beautiful. The mind boggles at what $719,000 will do to further beautify those two miles of road.

Please, please believe me when I say most of the townsfolk think this is a ridiculous waste of money. They are outraged at the required “beautifying allocations” while a few miles down the road, the next town over, there is a smaller town in bankruptcy hit hard by job losses and foreclosures, dealing with a suddenly large homeless population. My hometown is rich in comparison and would love to help their neighboring town. $719,000 isn’t a lot of money, not enough to solve the neighboring town’s problems, but, it would help.

There are people living in their cars or camping in a park in RVs and tents, feeding their kids on food from church food banks…and 10 miles away there’s a town spending $719,000 on street lights and trees. For a two mile section of road that already has street lights. And trees. And flowers.

I know. I know. Life is not fair. And money is allocated differently…from different budgets…different constituents…but…still.

Multiply this example of government spending weirdness across the country and you begin to understand my concern and the puzzling choices in project funding.

$719,000 works out to ~$25/per resident. What if everyone who lives in my hometown gave $25 to the neighboring town? I know, I know. Life is not fair and why should people pony up $25 to offset the ridiculousness of the $719,000 street lamp and tree windfall that they didn’t even request or know they were getting?

Generosity? Love they neighbor? The Golden Rule? Karma? Because it’s the right thing to do?

Perhaps you’ve been spared such a stark example in contrasts. Lucky you. Ignorance is bliss.

People in my hometown are upset by this. And it’s embarrassing. Those two miles of beautified roadside are going to be a showy taunt to anyone visiting from the impoverished town. “Nah, nah, the government likes us better, they gave us money to beautify our road.”

My mother is embarrassed to go to the grocery in the neighboring town. She prefers that grocery because it’s smaller and easier for her to manage. And they carry the brand of cottage cheese she likes. She was holding her head high, happy to do her part to help the neighboring town’s economy. Now she’s ashamed to represent the town with the $719,000 street lights and trees. She wishes she could apologize to the people in the neighboring town.

My mother’s thoughtful that way.

And I think most of us are thoughtful that way, too. But it’s hard to apologize to, well, an entire town.

So: Sorry. I’m sorry. My mother’s sorry. Her neighbors are sorry. The people in her church are sorry. The nurses in her doctor’s office are sorry. They didn’t vote for, or even know, they were the recipients of $719,000 street beautification funds until the trees showed up and the city council touted the new environmentally correct street lights.

2:25 PM

Monday, May 11, 2009  
A few months after my dad died my mother decided it was “time.”

Time to start going through years of possessions she and my dad accumulated.

So at least two weekends a month I travel to my parents' house to help my mother sort through their life. There's a limit to how much and how long we can keep working. Some days, some things, well, it's just hard. Emotionally draining. Other days we get in a zone, a place of "this is good, it feels good to let go of this stuff."

While not pack rats in the traditional sense, my parents have always selectively kept things. My mother is “in charge” of her family’s heirlooms so she has china, silver, crystal and various items from the old country that no one really wants but no one wants to part with, either. As the older relatives died off, my parents’ house became the repository for anything “of value” or that “should be kept in the family.”

“We,” my mother’s family, aren’t clinging to these things symbolically hanging onto our roots in the old country. We’re just weak, spineless cowards who don’t like feeling guilty. We have a sense of respect and hence a sense of duty to hang onto these things. They were important to our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles so they should be important to us, too, right? I mean, those people lugged that stuff thousands of miles to their new home in a new country. Obviously it was important to them.

When I talk to other children of immigrants I hear that my family isn’t unusual in this respect. We're very much like other children of immigrants when it comes to possessions. It tends to go one of two ways. 1) We don’t have the sentimental attachment to life in the old country, but we have sentimental attachments and respect for our elders. So we feel obligated to hang onto the things that were so important to them. Stories of people surviving perilous journeys of immigration arriving with nothing but the clothes on their back and player piano or trunk full of antimacassars. Or 2) We think our relatives were nuts for dragging certain objects from the old country and smirk at the thought of our family “treasures” and have no problem selling them to the highest bidder on eBay or giving them to a charity shop. (Seriously, anyone want a gross of antimacassars?)

One good thing about being the heir of immigrants who arrived with literally nothing is that there are no objects from the old country hanging around. My dad’s family was one of those families. Nothing. His parents had nothing in the old country so they traveled light on the journey to America. They had to start fresh.

Unfortunately, that resulted in a different kind of possession accrual. My dad never begrudged being a poor immigrant child and he never said or seemed like he felt deprived a happy childhood due to a lack of things. But, lemme tell ya, there is a psychology there. On the plus side, my dad was the most generous person I’ve ever known. The second he started working and earning a paycheck he started giving to people less fortunate. Children's charities, especially. He was all about donating not only money but also time, food, books, toys, clothes, shoes, summer camp, sports uniforms, pet food - anything a kid needs or wants - my dad gave. He never said this, but I know it was his humble childhood that compelled him to make things a little nicer for kids in similar situations to his. That’s the plus side of the poor immigrant child psychology. On the negative side once my dad had a little money in his pocket he splurged on stuff. Usually little presents for my mother or us kids, but, he indulged whims. Books. Toys. Tools. Records. And unfortunately my dad was “handy.” If something broke he’d fix it. If someone else had a broken something my dad would take it off their hands and fix it. If that doesn’t sound like a problem to you, perhaps you know of a use for a hi-fi that plays 33 RPM at 41 RPM? Or maybe you know what to do with a reconditioned outboard motor?

Then there’s the stuff that’s still “good” but not necessary or useful. 20 gallons of paint in various shades of cream and white. Snow chains for car tires. Carburetors. Transistor radios (AM only).

Welcome to my life. Some of the stuff gives my mother and I a good laugh as we lug it to the trash or to the charity collection center. Other stuff is just, well, hard. My dad did listen to those transistor radios. When he worded in the yard he’d have one of them blaring away a ball game.

I have to admit, much as those swutting transistor radios were the embodiment of my seething teenage angst over my very weird and square parents, there’s something about listening to a baseball game on a transistor radio on a cloudless summer afternoon as lawn mowers buzz in yards down the street and barbecues are fired up that’s, well, I dunno. Good, for lack of a better word. Several years ago I was shocked to discover one of my emotional happy places is a cloudless summer afternoon in my parents' backyard, complete with baseball game being announced from a tinny transistor radio.

But what really, really embodied my transistor radio discontentment* and embarrassment was when my dad listened to the marine and shipping report. Twice weekly the local AM station had a guy who read the shipping and marine reports. Perhaps you read The Shipping News or saw the movie. Perhaps you thought that was some made up thing or quirky Canadian thing. Guess again. I gave my dad the book after I read it and his reaction was, “Oh boy! Shipping reports!!!” He was disappointed that the book wasn’t comprised of lists of, well, actual shipping reports. I dunno. Don’t ask me. He seemed otherwise normal. At least to people who didn’t live with him.

My dad could strip down and repair a transistor radio in minutes flat. He had spare parts aplenty. All of us kids went through a rite of passage: At age 11 we were given a transistor radio kit. So we could build our own transistor radio. Even my sister, who somehow almost always escaped science toys, nerdy how-to kits, and helping with anything mechanical, even my sister was given a transistor radio kit.

When I turned 11 other kids at school were getting Walkmen. I got a transistor radio kit. Now do you see where all this psychosis and contempt for transistor radios comes from? Getting a clearer picture and some sympathy for me? Imagine an 11 year old kid now, today. All the kids have iPods. The 11 year old kid is looking forward to her birthday hoping, longing, knowing that her fervent desire, the one present she wants, the only present she’ll ever need for the rest of her life, is looming on the close horizon. She’s been getting straight As, doing extra chores, not arguing with her seems like all systems go for her birthday wish. She sees the box wrapped and waiting for the big day. The size and shape of boxes that hold iPods. She daydreams and fantasizes about all the songs she’ll download and how cool she’ll look with her iPod, like the other kids at school. The birthday finally arrives. The family gathers ‘round. She excitedly rips open the paper while her parents lovingly watch. He fingers, shaking with anticipation, pull out what she was sure was an iPod and finds...a portable CD player. And not just a CD player, not even a Sony® Discman, but a build-your-own discman.


Insert a Walkman in place of the iPod and a build-your-own transistor radio kit for the CD player and welcome to my 11th birthday. In Hell.

You might think, given my traumatic pre-adolescent experience with transistor radios, that I would take special glee and joy at throwing away all my dad’s transistor radio parts. That the catharsis would be a sweet victory for me. Or, you might think that now, all these years later, I have developed an appreciation for the lessons my dad was trying to teach me. And that I’d be nostalgically attached to those transistor radio parts. But nope - neither. I’m somewhere in the middle. My brother and I keep discussing them, though. Every now and then he’ll send me an email. “I was thinking, don’t throw out all the parts, yet...”

The hardest possessions for me are the books and records. My mother and I just can’t go there, yet. Those were my dad’s favorite things. Hers, too. They shared a love of books and music. Their first real date was to dinner and, I kid you not, a library. And no, they weren't teenagers or college kids at the time. For their second date (yes, there was a second date, even after the first date was at a library, tell me these two weren't a match made in Heaven) my dad upped his game, packed a picnic and took my mother to a concert in a park. I know, awwwww. Together they enjoyed a lifetime of reading and music. And passed it along to us kids.

Over the years I’ve come into possession of a few of my favorite albums. My dad occasionally cleansed and purged his albume collection. I’d visit them and there’d be a stack of records waiting for me on my bed. That’s how I acquired this gem. I was honored and excited to see this waiting for me when I visited my parents a few years ago. I bought a special frame for it and everything. It's hanging in my entry hall, the first work of art people see when they enter my home.

This is one of my favorites for many reasons. Not the least of which is that it's recorded using the Dynagroove system. I recently discovered my dad didn't part with one of his treasured albums when he gave me this. He and my mother have three copies of it. (My parents are big Peter Sellers fans, ditto Henry Mancini.) I don't feel "bad," I'm just happy they gave me one of the coveted copies.

Last weekend, though, my mother said, “I was thinking. Maybe we could go through the holiday records.”

So we did.

Some we kept - Bing, The Chipmunks, Johnny Mathis, Elvis, The Beach Boys...I mean, those are sacred and they’re not going anywhere unless it’s over my dead body.

But then there are the lesser knowns. Let me back up for a minute. My dad was “bad” when it came to albums. At least once a week he’d spend his lunch hour at a record store. And typically he came home with at least one album. You do the math. Once/week for a lot of years = a ton of records. Adding to the fray was that back in the ‘60s and ‘70s records were a popular give-away or gift-with-purchase.


Like many families we have the entire Firestone holiday album collection.

My dad didn’t like Firestone gas. He said it made the engine knock. He especially did not like our local Firestone station. He didn’t like the way the manager looked at my mother. (turns out my dad’s instincts were bang on, that Firestone manager was later arrested for lewd behavior with a minor, he groped two teenaged girls employed to work the cash register). But during the holidays he’d lower his principles, go to the Firestone station and fill ‘er up just so he could get the holiday album. (In the back seat a wee tot marvels at this phenomenon and voila! a marketing career is born.) I remember those Firestone holiday albums because until a few years ago (when the motor for the good hi-fi finally broke irreparably) those albums were played in the holiday music rotation. My dad would always complain about Firestone gas and engine knock and then a snide comment about the groping Firestone station manager.

However. When my mother and I went through the holiday albums we came upon a couple I don’t remember. Which is weird because, well, as you’ll see for yourself, they’re holiday classics.

We weren’t Kentucky Fried Chicken people. In fact we weren’t fast food people. But I’m guessing like the Firestone holiday albums the lure of a free album was too much for my dad to resist. I shudder to think what he had to eat to acquire this album. But it was so worth the clogged artery.

Note the issue date: 1968. Harland Sanders himself wrote a holiday greeting on the back of the album. I assume he’s alluding to Viet Nam in the greeting when he waxes sentimental and says, “I think of the world at large, hoping that some of the compassion we feel during this season will flow out into the rest of the year, not only for the sake of our country, but for friends and enemies.” Wow. Nice bit of diplomatic posturing there, Colonel. Thinking of future franchise opportunities in Viet Nam, I wonder?

And then there’s the album to end all holiday weirdness. I’m sure my dad got this at work (note the AC logo and sponsor lingo). I’m sure it was his inability to turn down a free record that caused this anomaly to appear in his record collection. I’ll let it speak for itself.

And no, my parents never displayed the album as if the Osmonds were our own personal family.

My parents didn’t like the Osmonds. My mother liked Andy Williams, though. And family lore has it that my parents would change the channel when the Osmonds appeared on the Andy Williams Show. My mother felt sorry for the kids, “Those poor boys aren’t getting to have a normal childhood.” She felt it was child labor and the parents were profiting from them. To wit, the album itself is pristine. Not a scratch on it - I'm guessing it was never played.

I plugged in and revved up the "bad" hi-fi**, taped an extra nickle on the needle arm and gave it a spin. Like my parents, but for additional reasons, I'm not a big fan of the Osmonds, young or old.

But playing their 33.3333 RPM recording on a hi-fi spinning at 41 RPM is comedy gold. Unfortunately one of my nieces took possession of my dad's portable tape recorders so I can't share this Very Special Holiday Moment with you in a manner befitting its station in life. You'll have to use your imagination and take my word for it.

*Transistor Radio Discontentment = awesome band name.

**Funny how the bad hi-fi, relegated to the basement because it turns too quickly and requires a stack of nickles on the needle arm to keep the needle in the grooves, became the only hi-fi once the good hi-fi broke beyond repair. There's a metaphoric lesson in there somewhere.

11:13 AM

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