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:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/hitchhikers/guide/.

Otherwise, hello, and welcome.
Mail Trillian here<





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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
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or Search by State

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Contact The Media
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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.)

Quasar
Hyperbole
Amenable
Taciturn
Ennui
Prophetic
Tawdry
Hubris
Ethereal
Syzygy
Umbrageous
Twerp
Sluice
Omnipotent
Sanctuary
Malevolent
Maelstrom
Luddite
Subterfuge
Akimbo
Hoosegow
Dodecahedron
Visceral
Soupçon
Truculent
Vitriol
Mercurial
Kerfuffle
Sangfroid




























 







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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

Slanglish

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?!)

CellStories

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.

Shag

Kii Arens

Tim Biskup

Jeff Soto

Jotto




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
Single/Zero

 
Friday, February 19, 2010  
Here's a new low.

I call it the unemployment limbo. The bar keeps dropping lower and I have to work harder to fit under it.

And my life(?) remains in limbo.

Go a little lower, now...

I had another interview today.

Rock on, right?

Welllllll. You tell me. Is interviewing for a job stocking grocery shelves three nights a week, 10PM - 2 AM, rock on worthy?

Yes. I had to interview for a job stocking grocery shelves. Apparently there's a skill set required for putting canned peas on a shelf. And an art to properly shelving cereal.

Actually. I know there is an art to it. Product placement on store shelving is a HUGE marketing deal. Huge. There's a lot of strategy and some pretty cut-throat competitive bidding in the shelf-war marketing game. Companies vie for premium positioning (eye level). Some stores rent shelf space and others "auction" it to the highest bidder. And of course the products themselves have to be positioned such that their snazzy graphics are displayed front and center. And the products have to be neat and orderly. People don't like to hunt around for their groceries. Most people don't spend a lot of time at the grocery. They want to go in, grab their Corn Flakes and Heineken from the easiest shelf to reach and get the heck out of there.

See? I'm perfect for the job! I know a lot about marketing and consumer behavior! I just had to convince my would-be manager of that.

I showed up for the interview expecting an informal chat with the store manager. Instead there were four of us in a small dismal room sitting on metal folding chairs. (the kind used in Baptist church fellowship halls - I know this because I once went to a wedding reception held in a Baptist church fellowship hall. don't ask.) It was: A teenaged boy, a woman who spoke very little English, a guy who talked on his cell phone during the entire "interview." He tried to muffle/whisper parts of his conversation but it was a small, quiet room and it was obvious he was making, erm, "deals." Apparently he's looking to augment his narcotics income by stocking grocery shelves at night. Or hey, maybe he's trying to go legit.

Finally a woman with an ubiquitous clipboard entered the room and affected a Marine drill sergeant demeanor. She flipped through pages on her clipboard and called out our names. I thought we were supposed to respond, you know, like roll call. So when she called out my name I said, "Present!" and raised my hand.

Hey. I'm new to this kind of "interview." And I was eager to make a good impression. I wasn't clear if there were four stocking positions available or if the four of us were vying for one job so I wanted to shine bright among my potential competition.

You read that correctly. I wanted to make a good impression for a job stocking shelves at a grocery store three nights a week and was worried about beating my competition for the job: A teenager, a non-English speaking woman and a drug dealer.

Where and when did my life(?) make this turn for the weirder?

Oh, right. When I was laid off.

I'm not saying I'm too good to stock shelves at a grocery store. Obviously I don't think that - I applied for the job. If I thought I was too good for the job I wouldn't have applied in the first place. I want to work and earn money. Period.

Sure. Ideally I would like to land a job using my college degrees and years of professional experience. But, uh, heh heh, funny thing about that. Not a lot of job openings for college educated professionals with loads of professional experience.

Had I known my life(?) was heading here I never would have spent all those years and money on college. And I certainly would not have endured the long hours, absurd deadlines and stress in my previous jobs. Had I known the jobs I would need at the most critical time in my life would be skilled labor jobs I would have skipped college and fast-tracked myself down a career path of retail and skilled labor jobs.

I have no idea if I'll be considered for the shelf stocking job. The drill sergeant told us about the job, the importance of arriving on time, being a team player and properly stocking the shelves correctly - according to the prescribed shelving plan. She showed us a shelf plan sheet with the names or mini graphics of the products diagrammed onto the shelf drawing. We had to read the product brand name and what it was. "Corn Flakes. Cereal." She said we didn't have to know the aisle number location yet but after a few weeks on the job we'd be expected to know the aisle location for products. There will be a test. Benchmarking goals, you know.

The non-English speaking woman struggled with the product type names. She could read the brand names off the chart but when it came to describing them...well...yeah. I mean, maybe they don't have Corn Flakes in her native country. How could she know what they are? Or why they have premium positioning on the cereal shelves? Or maybe she knows what they are but can't remember how to say cereal in English. I felt sorry for her. I sat there hoping there were two job openings and that she and I would get them. I vowed to befriend her and help her. I tried to make a deal with the Universe: "Give both of us jobs and I'll help her learn English."

But I'm concerned I blew the "interview."

I thought my marketing background might give me an edge. I tried to impress the drill sergeant by asking about the store's guidelines regarding "facing" and "noting" and the store's facing valuation ratings v. revenue ranking.

Yeah. I know. I kind of got a little caught up in her "stocking shelves is serious business" attitude and ran with it. Hey, I know about visual marketing, placement strategy, I know that stuff, man, I know it. When I had a career I used to get excited about it and worked tirelessly on imaging. And placement is a huge factor in the marketing visuals.

But in my zeal for marketing and quest for a job I think I went too far. And blew the interview. Usually I think I blow interviews because I don't know enough, that I'm not good enough to nudge out the competition. Lately I think I've been blowing interviews because I know too much. That's a difficult concept for me to wrap my gray matter around. Spending my entire life expected to push myself harder, learn more, work more, be smarter, savvier, deeper, wiser, more creative, more knowledgeable, more driven has obviously affected me. The only way I know to function is by striving to learn and push to excel. It's been drummed into me since kindergarten. Use your brain, learn all you can, don't be stupid, don't just pass the tests learn the material, get good grades, get into good schools, learn the material, prove it, get a good job at a good company, don't be stupid, use your brain, don't be stupid, prove yourself...it's how the world works, right? Wrong. I'm learning that too much knowledge can be a bad thing.

After the "interview" I realized I might have gone a bit too far. Maybe I shouldn't have tried so hard. Maybe I shouldn't have let on that I know about facing and noting and shelving placement and marketing strategy and revenue statistics. Maybe I should have played dumb.

Crap.

I keep forgetting to do that.

Limbo a little lower, now.

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9:41 PM

Thursday, February 18, 2010  
"If I have given my all and still do not win, I haven’t lost. Others might remember winning or losing; I remember the journey." Apolo Ohno

Amen to that. I think Apolo and I woke up under the same influence today.

It's a process not an event. Sports...careers...life...love...whatever. It's all a journey worth remembering.

2:55 PM

 
What with me in a permanent state of singleness (Please, be upstanding for the mayor of Singleton) and the recent Valentine's Day avoidance success I've been thinking not so much about why I'm single, or the romantic failures, but the results, the where I am now and what those relationships mean, or not, now.

It's easy dismiss those men, especially HWNMNBS, as insignificant others. They are insignificant in my day-to-day life. Sure, sure, buried deep in my psyche there are good lessons learned and scars on painful wounds. Sure. But. Really, generally, other than collectively forming the part of my history that is the romance chapter they have no bearing on what I do or how I am now.

They didn't lead me to conclude that I'm better off alone and collecting dust on The Shelf. I made that decision. I chose to stop trying. I chose to eliminate all hopes of romantic love and companionship from my life. I chose to get off the emotional roller coaster of trying to date and mate. I accepted the role as mayor of Singleton.

But. Those choices are based on numerous failed attempts and failed relationships. So. Are those past boyfriends, significant others of my past, as insignificant as they seem in my day-to-day life? Welllll, there's a kettle of psychology fish.

Here's what I've concluded.

For a long time I wanted HWNMNBS to be insignificant to me. I sarcastically referred to him as my insignificant other. I thought saying it often enough might eventually make it true. Because I thought if and when I could honestly render him insignificant I would be triumphant, victorious, over him.

Silly girl. Silly, silly girl. What I know now is that getting over him was a matter of accepting the disappointment of losing what I wanted for us, for our future. Not a matter of rendering him insignificant.

The fact that I loved him and liked him enough to want to spend my life loyal and dedicated to him and to our would-be marriage is not insignificant. And never will be. The facts that I have the capacity for that depth of feeling, that strength of conviction, that willingness to support someone else, that steadfast loyalty are not insignificant. The fact that I am viable when it comes to love, at least in terms of capability, is extremely significant.

I know, I absolutely know that all of us have the capacity to love. It's merely a matter of choosing to explore and develop that ability. Some of us have deeper capacities than others, and some of us have pivotal situations that impact our choices regarding love. "Daddy didn't love me..." "Mummy didn't hug me enough..." "In seventh grade Jessica made fun of me for liking her..." "he left me for a 23-year-old with fake boobs" on and on and on it goes in the therapists' offices. But those issues have nothing to do with love. They're about blame and insecurity and anger. Choose to accept responsibility, choose to not be angry, choose to revel in your strengths, choose to love and voila!: Therapists join the ranks of the unemployed.

Easier said than done, I know, believe me, I know.

Big words coming from me, right? Hey, I have issues, I know. Never said I didn't. But. The incapacity to love isn't one of them. I know I love and can love. Thanks to my former beaus, I know without a doubt, that I can love and feel love. And thanks to them (among others) I know I'm not an angry person. To this day I have yet to have a moment of anger at HWNMNBS. I've been hurt, but not angry. And one more time with feeling: That's why he's not insignificant.

Don't get me wrong, I don't still "love" him in the longing sense. I just don't see any point in anger. What would it prove, or do? It would only make me bitter and old, fast. I'd still be the mayor of Singleton up on The Shelf collecting dust. But I'd be angry and growing old, quickly, and no fun to be around, either. And even though I'm partnerless, I do have friends and family who I like and respect and don't want to alienate myself from them. Anger has a way of doing that - alienating people - and I certainly do not want that. I'm lonely but the thought of the loneliness without my friends and family is horrifying.

Some of the residents of Singleton live here only because of their anger. They're so angry and self righteous that they alienate themselves from people...and love. The sad part of this is that they have the capacity to love yet they choose blame and anger instead. As Mayor of Singleton I struggle with how to help them help themselves. I'm just smart and insightful enough to grasp the situation but I'm too stupid to know how to help. Telling them doesn't help - typically they're already aware and they just get more angry when someone points out the obvious. Or they think I'm nagging them with trite clichés or that I'm naive. Or chemically altered with medication. So I try to lead by example. You know, the whole Snuggie® of compassion and sympathy thing. Giving understanding and hope without expectation or desire for anything in return is so much easier and healthier than doling out anger and being disappointed because expectations weren't met.

What separates us from animals is: Emotion. And the big deal of emotion is: Love. It matters. It's significant. And exploring it, letting it happen, embracing it, taking the chances and risking heartache are all important. And significant.

So it's inappropriate to render the exes insignificant.

Different from blame: life plays on and because of choices I made - to be with HWNMNBS and while we were together - other paths were not taken and so I am where I am now. But that's not his "fault." I made those choices. But since he was a factor in those choices he is significant. But not to blame.

He is part of the cause of some of the now, but he's not part of the effect.

But that doesn't mean I'm not over him. I am. And no, me dost not protest too much. I am over him and have been for quite some time. I don't think about him that often, rarely, in fact. It's funny, as I write this I'm trying to remember the last time I thought of him and I can't recall exactly. A couple months ago, maybe? In that respect he is insignificant.

On behalf of the people of Singleton I'd like to make that world aware that we, the people of Singleton, are not lovelorn lost souls incapable of love, commitment or lust.

Actually, we're some of the lustiest people you'll ever meet.

Ahhhh, the significance of lust. Are my crushes on young Harrison Ford, Johnny Depp, John Cusack, Hugh Jackman, and 90% of the male cast of LOST insignificant? They seem so, I mean, not gonna happen in real life, no way, no how. And I probably wouldn't want them to happen. The significance of lust is that it's a fantasy with a visual catalyst. I have no idea what the men I lust after are like in real life but that's insignificant. I'm visually attracted to them and my emotional and physical desires fill in the rest. Without a real partner those objects of desire help my imagination fill in where reality leaves off. They are insignificant but they, the collective imagination catalysts, are significant. They keep the libido thumping, the hormones on alert, and prevent a total passion system shutdown. I have a vivid imagination (you should see what my imaginary Josh Holloway does...it's scandalously delicious...and my imagination insists that John Cusack is just waiting for the right woman: Me) but without some visual stimulation my imagination would eventually struggle to keep things interesting.

Without someone to think about, fill the void of reality, I'm pretty sure my imagination would end up conjuring bland, generic cookie cutter automatons performing the same rudimentary functions a la those creepy AI robot people. Not that Jude Law is bland or generic, mind you, but, he was pretty creepy in AI and not in a good way. You get my point.

Insignificant lustful celebrity crushes aren't entirely insignificant. They're visual rocket fuel for the imagination. As long as no one becomes obsessed or confuses the boundary between a little imaginary diversion in the long, dark lonely nights and, well, reality, then they're a nice anonymous way to keep the libido blood pumping.

Yes. It's merely filling the void where reality falls short. But for those of us who have tried, repeatedly, to fill our reality with reality and failed, repeatedly, and now live in Singleton, filling the reality void with imaginary diversions is a way for us to stay in touch with our passionate and emotional capacity. And hey, for those lucky residents of Singleton who move to Coupledom, think of the all the things the former Singleton will have backlogged in their lust inventory. Some pretty lucky recipients will benefit from those imaginary trysts. To the victor goes the spoils.

Not so insignificant now, eh?

My sister insists that "all you need is love." As her smart-mouthed little sister and the Mayor of Singleton it's my responsibility to counter that with, "Tell that to Eleanor Rigby." Sarcastic poignant quip aside, I contend that love is not all you need. You also need trust, respect and the willingness to choose love, no matter the past, no matter the outcome, and overcome anger.

A lot of the residents of Singleton get annoyed with the overcoming anger aspect. They feel wronged, and in many cases they were wronged. They're mad about that. They get mad at me for not being angry. "HWNMNBS was a prick to you! I'd be furious if someone did that to me! You should do x or y or z. Why aren't you mad at him? What's wrong with you?" Hmmmmm. Well. For a start I know that anger will not resolve anything and will make me feel worse. True, Daddy should love you, Mummy should hug you a lot, junior high school kids shouldn't tease each other, and 45-year-old men shouldn't leave their wives for 23-year-old girls with fresh boob jobs. But those are their issues, their responsibility. How we choose to react is our responsibility. Expectations. Ugh. There's a hornet's nest of emotional complication. Accepting the significance of people in the past, romantic or otherwise, without blaming them for now and embracing the people of the present and future without expectation is a level of enlightenment that we the humans can attain because we have the capacity to love. We can do it if we choose. It won't ensure romantic success, it won't make us feel less lonely, but it will make us happier, healthier people.

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9:33 AM

Wednesday, February 17, 2010  
It’s a story as old as time. As long as there are siblings, there will be arguments.

Those of you saying, “No, that’s not true, I love my siblings, we’re very close and we get along great, we never argue,” I say this: “Wait’ll your parent(s) start downsizing the family home and getting rid of their accumulated stuff.”

I’m not saying my siblings and I spent our lives in a blissful state of eternal camaraderie. But since we’ve become adults we’ve each worked out our own ways of dealing with each other so as to avoid serious arguments. I’m not saying my brother and sister don’t hurt my feelings. From time to time they say and do things that really hurt. That’s siblings for you – no one knows the places to hit that hurt the most like siblings. And to be fair, I can reduce my sister to a defensive, insecure teary-eyed shrew in two sentences and I can lay heavy layers of guilt on my brother that burden him under their weight for weeks, if not months. But I don’t do those things. I could, but I don’t. I don’t want to upset them because it serves no purpose. And generally they keep their hurtful daggers tucked away from me.

But every now and then a little cat fight breaks out and the word weaponry is brought out, dusted off and put to use. We’re all equally armed so it’s a “fair” fight. Generally the skirmish quiets down in a few minutes and we resume our regularly scheduled lives.

But the business of sorting and eliminating and doling out the stuff my parents amassed during their marriage and raising us kids has stirred up more than memories and dust.

My brother and sister have been MIA for much of the sorting and purging. A fact that really annoys the crap out of me. Sure, my brother lives thousands of miles away, I understand that. But, then, if he can’t or doesn’t want to make the time to come to help then does he have any right to be upset about not laying claim to the long forgotten things he didn’t know he wanted until they ended up in my possession?

Never in a million years could my imagination have conjured the drama that is unfolding over, get this, Firesign Theater albums. I kid you not. Firesign Theater albums.

Way back in the olden days before cable people didn’t have Comedy Central, The Simpsons, or the VH1 skanks to provide them with humorous entertainment. I have vague recollections of those days. They weren’t as bleak as they sound. But what did people do when they wanted a laugh? Well, they went to Las Vegas to see comedians, they watched variety shows on TV and…they listened to something known as “comedy albums.”

My parents liked a good comedy album. Over the years they amassed quite a collection from the golden heyday of the comedy album. You might think listening to the same comedy bits over and over would get, erm, boring. Why would anyone buy a comedy album? After you’ve heard it once it’s not new and funny anymore. Well, true in some cases but back then comedy was smarter, funnier, more layered, more nuanced. And let me answer that question with a question: How many times have you watched Seinfeld reruns? Monty Python? The good seasons of SNL?

When my parents had a party it was an inevitability that at some point (usually after a few rounds of cocktails) the jazz and swing music on the hi-fi was replaced by a comedy album or two.

We had a groovy rockin’ hi-fi with a long spindle that could accommodate a tall stack of albums. This was the early caveman rudimentary form of a playlist. You stacked up the albums you wanted to hear and the hi-fi would play through them one at a time. (Albums are 12” black vinyl discs with grooves cut into them, that, when a needle is dragged over them at 33 1/3 RPM melodious magic comes out of the speakers.) Though my dad was all for superfluous multi-functionality in appliances (the more buttons, knobs, speeds, lights, gauges and dials the better) he was not a proponent of stacking records and using the auto-play feature on the hi-fi. When more than one album was in the stack the top album, on-play, had a tendency to slide on the album below it, causing the on-play album to “slide” which set the album into a speed other than 33 1/3 RPM and creating audio distortion.

In our house audio distortion was the 11th Commandment Moses couldn’t fit on the tablets. “Thou shalt not knowingly commit audio distortion.” Every time my dad hankered over the latest in music technology he used audio distortion as an excuse to procure it. “The old turntable motor can’t be tweaked anymore, the best I can get out of it is 32 1/3, the audio distortion is getting worse, time to replace it.” We had a black and white television far longer than I will publicly admit. When my friends came over I made sure we only watched reruns of really old shows that were in black and white because I was mortified that we didn’t have a color television. But what we lacked in living Technicolor we made up for in the latest symphonic audio technology. I didn’t appreciate this when I was really young, but as I grew into an amps at 11 Clash blaring pre-teen I was silently grateful my dad spent money on stereos instead of televisions.

Okay. So. One of the other reasons my dad didn’t like to stack records on the hi-fi spindle was because the albums kind of plopped down onto each other. My dad said this caused scuffs. Not scratches, scuffs. Those were the 12th and 13th commandments. “Thou shalt not scuff a record album,” and “Thou shalt not, ever, ever, scratch a record album.” Scuffs weren’t as bad as scratches, but to my dad a scuff was enough to banish an album to the “scuffed and scratched” area of the record shelf. Those records were taken out of regular rotation and usually banished to the basement after a year or so.

So stacking records was a no-no in our house. Unless my parents were having a party. That was the one time my dad would risk breaking some commandments and stack records. He’d spend all afternoon sorting through the albums and stacking them in what he thought was the perfect order for the party. (Like playlists or mix-tapes, the order of the album stack was crucial for setting the right mood at the right time.) About mid-way through the stack he’d place some comedy albums.

My dad was a huge fan of ‘60s and ‘70s comedy giants, the monsters of comedy albums: The Smothers Brothers, Bob Newhart, Mike Nichols and Elaine May, George Carlin and…Firesign Theater. Kids used to line up outside record shops the day a new album was going to be released by their favorite band. My dad used to be like one of those kids when a new Firesign Theater album was released.

I was far too young to understand the jokes or the type of humor, but, my parents used to sit around listening to those albums laughing so hard they’d cry or even beg for mercy because their stomachs hurt from laughing. I didn’t get the jokes, but I knew they were funny and I knew a measure of my maturity would be the day I “got” the jokes on those albums. I couldn’t wait for that day to arrive. I couldn’t wait for the day I was old enough to understand the jokes so that I could laugh as hard as my parents. Every now and then I’d come home from school and play one of those albums. “Funny yet? Nope. Okay, try again in a few months.”

Imagine my surprise when, in my junior high school years, I dragged out some of those albums and realized the jokes were about…drugs. Sex. Religion. Government. Topics “we” didn’t joke about in our house. Or so I thought up to that point. The albums that made my parents laugh so hard, the jokes that brought them to tears, were, gasp, naughty. Disrespectful. Insubordinate. And maybe even treasonous. I was shocked. And embarrassed. My parents understand drug jokes?! They’re laughing at jokes about God and Jesus? God and Jesus? They’re venerated, holy and should never, ever be deemed funny, right? And, oh God, no, please, no, not sex, not sex jokes, too!

I never thought of my parents as counter-culture types. Though looking back on it there were clues. They did refuse to accept the US news media spin on Viet Nam and watched only CBC and BBC news during the ‘Nam years, a habit that still remains. My mother wore a couple paisley halter dresses and tried yoga with one of my aunts back when yoga was viewed as too California and only for hash-imbibing hippies and kooks like Gomez Addams. They read banned books and allowed us kids to read them, too. My dad did grow out his curls one summer and affected a shorter, moderate version of the Robert Plant ‘do.

And the real proof of their antiestablishment leanings was laid out before me in the comedy albums they found side-splittingly funny. There in our living room on that fateful afternoon of my awareness there was a big, permanent shift in the paradigm of my parents. Everything I thought I knew about them was called into question. Everything they taught me, all the rules, the lessons, everything about them, was suspect and up for cross-examination.

Thank you, Firesign Theater, for making me realize my parents knew about drugs, sex and politics. And more than that, thank you, Firesign Theater, for educating me on the same topics.

So, obviously, I wanted those albums. They mean a lot to me. And my brother and sister didn’t express any interest in them and from what I recall they thought my parents were square and stupid for listening to them over and over.

Apparently I misread their opinions. Because when my mother mentioned to my brother that I came across all the Firesign Theater albums he immediately called me and accused me of absconding them before he and my sister had a chance to lay claim to them.

Okay. Now. They’re welcome to have them, there are enough of them that we can divide them between us and we’ll all have a hefty collection. But. The insinuation that I covertly absconded the albums really made me mad. And moreover, if he wanted them so badly why didn’t he make more of an effort to spend a few days helping sort and purge the contents of my parents’ house? Where was he when I was wearing my asthma inhaler like a SCUBA tank because of the dust and water damage to all the stuff in the basement and attic? Where was he when our mother came across something so sentimental that she lapsed into gasping crying jags? Where was he on all those schleps to the donation centers?

I know, I know. I’m up on a high horse. But here’s why. I was feeling bad, guilty, about not sending some of the albums to my brother (even though I had no idea he wanted them). And then he pulled the fatal kidney punch at me. After a heated discussion about the time and effort I've put into helping my mother sort through stuff, he said, “I don’t have the luxury of unemployment, I have to work, I can’t just spend days and weeks doing nothing but helping clean out the basement. I don’t have that luxury.”

Whoa. Wait a minute. He honestly used the words unemployment and luxury in the same sentence? Cleaning out our parents’ basement and attic are luxurious activities? Whoa. Whoa. Okay. Gloves are off, now. The first punch was thrown and even though I tried really hard to respond with a Snuggie® of compassion, ceci est mon frère and c’est la guerre.

Within an hour of the argument with my brother my sister sent me a scathing email. My brother wasted no time telling her about their dirty rotten little sister absconding the comedy albums.

“You weren’t even born when those albums were made. What do you want with them? You can’t possibly care about them. You can’t even understand the jokes.”

Whoa. Wait just a minute there, sis. True, many of those albums are older than me, but just how naïve and humorless do you think I am?

I’m not proud of what happened next.

You know in Harry Potter when there are spell-offs? Wands zapping as spells are hurled back and forth, lightening and thunder crashing around the wizards as they try to out-do each other with their spell prowess?

Yeah. Well. That was my sister and me hurling drug and sex knowledge back and forth at each other, trying to top each other with our knowledge of sex, drugs and what constitutes humor within those topics. Unfortunately for me my sister is older and did come of age in the late ‘60s. She does know a heck of a lot more about LSD than I do. Then again, is that really brag worthy? Fortunately for me, though, I’m a culture history buff and because I didn’t take LSD I’m clear headed with quick recall. Still. Not exactly brag worthy.

Taking a step back from all of this, I see the humor in the fact that we’re arguing over who gets the comedy albums. Other siblings argue over expensive jewelry, the heirloom silver, things of monetary and ancestral value. Us? We’re arguing over comedy albums that aren’t worth much, if they could even be hawked on eBay. Funniest of all is that what we deem of ancestral value is a stack of comedy albums from the ‘60s and ‘70s. The legacy we all cherish are my dad’s comedy albums.

Not a bad legacy to leave your children – laughter – but I gotta wonder if, upon review of his accomplishments in life, my dad would list, “Left a large collection of comedy albums for my children to fight over.”

And of course it’s not about the albums, it’s about what they represent. Laughter. Good times. Parties. Our parents spending an evening in fits of laughter in the living room. Our parents and their friends retelling the jokes and having yet more laughs. Our dad clandestinely elbow-nudging our mom and saying just a few key words of a joke rendering her weak in the knees laughing.

That’s why we all want those albums. And of course, taking another step back, it’s “easy” to rationalize that the albums aren’t important. It's the memories that matter. And us kids all have those memories.

I didn’t abscond the albums and I’m happily dividing them up and sharing them with my siblings. They’re not worth the low-blows and punches we've lobbed lately. The albums may not be the legacy my dad wanted to leave us, but I’m certain arguing and hurting each others’ feelings isn’t a legacy he wanted to create.

The idea that we could reach the point of not speaking to each other, starting a long standing feud, over comedy albums is not without an ironic twist of humor but it's not a path any of us want to take. I realized the real issue is that we're having to learn share. We're so different and so apart in ages that we never really had to share anything with each other. We weren't interested in each others' stuff. Very strange to realize that at this stage of our lives we're just now figuring out how to share with each other. The fact that what we all want, what we have to share, are laughs is a legacy worthy of our parents.

11:36 PM

Tuesday, February 16, 2010  
Woohoo!! I survived Valentine's Day 2010!!! Rock on to that, eh?! AND, even better, I don't have to breathe in the stench of rotting roses in the office as the days after February 14 progress. See? Unemployment does have some advantages.

So, as you noticed, I'm full of Twit, now.

And since I'm trying to be all hip with the latest technology the cool kids are using I took a spin on the Rock Band wheel.

I know. It seems like I would have done this long before now. What with the air guitar shredding and all. But I haven't had access to an XBox and the game.

Well, everything's changed, now. One good thing about all my friends getting married, having kids and moving to the suburbs: All the expensive stupid junk the kids want (and their indulgent parents buy) is at my disposal.

Enter: Rock Band for XBox.

Oh rock on.

Rock. On.

Or not.

Unfortunately my Rock Band experience wasn't as mirthful as anticipated.

A little history of me and the guitar is necessary to fully grasp what happened on that fateful XBox Rock Band day.

When I was a very little girl my brother's bedroom was down the hall from mine and my sister's. I shared a common wall with my sister so I was constantly, and I do mean constantly, barraged by the Beatles. If my sister was home she was playing a Beatles record. Even when she slept. (Hence my deeply rooted loathing and contempt for the Beatles.) One day I heard the siren call from down the hall. It lured me toward my brother's room. His door was closed but I could hear it. I sat on the floor in front of his door, spellbound, seduced, by the intoxicating axe grinding emanating from my brother's room.

I thought his room was a portal to Heaven or Hell. I wanted to go either place. Wherever that music came from was where I was meant to be. I knew it. I just knew it. And if it was the sounds of Hell, then so be it. (Jesus was still my imaginary friend so I thought I was covered if it turned out to be Hell.) It spoke to me, deeply. It didn't touch my soul. It reached in, grabbed it, put it in a choke hold and has never let go.

The seducer, my salvation from the Beatles, my savior and demonic possessor? Jimi Hendrix. I'd sit outside my brother's door for hours in a wide-eyed, near drooling reverie. Occasionally my brother, who was learning to play guitar, would jam along with Jimi. That bothered me at first because my brother kind of sucked at guitar and his cacophonous guitaring interfered with the message my seducer was sending me through his music.

To his credit, my brother did improve and eventually I didn't mind so much. I honestly thought Hendrix was in my brother's room, teaching him how to play. The fact that Hendrix was dead alluded me. But when my brother scoffingly made me aware of that fact I simply assumed that Hendrix, like Jesus, was resurrected and giving guitar lessons behind closed doors of teenagers' bedrooms. Of course. Duh.

I patiently waited for my turn to learn to play guitar. I figured in the mean time I'd take in every note of every song so that when it was my turn to learn from Jimi I'd be ready. I'd know the songs so "all" I'd have to do was learn to play guitar and then I'd be a rock goddess. Of course. Duh. I was pretty sure when Jimi showed up in my bedroom he wouldn't be impressed with the Beatles (Jesus hated the Beatles so naturally I assumed Jimi did, too). When my brother cast off some of his boyhood ephemera I absconded some of it, especially the classic Hendrix poster. I put it on the back of my bedroom door. I thought that poster was some sort of sign to saintly Jimi. "Hendrix welcome here, Jimi, stop this way."

When Jimi didn't show up, guitar in hand and offering music lessons, I blamed my sister and her Beatles. I though Jimi came by to teach me guitar, heard the Beatles from my sister's room, mistook it as emanating from my room and thinking I was a lame Beatles fan, passed me by and went on his way to some other kids' room. (And you wonder where my contempt and loathing for the Beatles comes from? Issues? What issues?) So much for learning to play guitar from resurrected Jimi Hendrix.

Suffice it to say I have yet to learn to play guitar and I am not a legendary rock goddess. I play a mean air guitar, I shred air with the best of them. But put an actual guitar in my hands and it's disturbing and wrong on levels I can't articulate. I suck. (Flinching from the bitter pain of a broken dream. Lip-quivering whimpering, "but, but, but..." and a single, poignant tear makes its way down my cheek.)

My parents gently suggested a more age and eye-hand coordination neutral instrument so I opted to learn to play clarinet in the school band. Whatever. I knew it was lame then, I know it's lame now. But it turned out that I had a bit of natural aptitude for the darned thing and spent my formative years in first chair in various school bands and orchestras. Laugh all you want. Make the Kenny G jokes. Go ahead. I'm laughing with you. It's lame and only proved to enhance my reputation as a five-star geek in my already awkward teenaged years. Especially since I kicked it up a notch and learned the oboe and Kenny G's instrument, the soprano sax, too. Yes. I was very woodwindy. It doesn't salve the wound of my broken rock goddess dream, but hey, at least I can play something.

Ahhhhh, but...Rock Band! Perhaps salvation? Bwa ha ha. Exzcellent.

Or not.

Straight onto the stage there was a problem. The same problem I encountered when I attempted to learn to play a real guitar: Discrimination. Bias from the right majority. And I don't get that. There are left handed guitar players. Even a few good ones. Jimi, my lord and savior, of course, and one of my latter day saints, Kurt Cobain, are left-handed players of note.

With real guitars there are workarounds for left handed would-be guitarists. Learn to play right handed. Or. Buy and learn to play a guitar specifically made to be played left handed. Or re-string a right-handed guitar (not as simple as it sounds since guitar strings are different diameters). Or, just flip over a right-handed guitar and play it upside-down and backwards.

Unfortunately my forays into legendary guitar rock goddessing were all thwarted by issues resulting from all of those methods. I can tell you from painful experience that none of those alternatives is a "good" solution. Even a left-handed guitar is only as good as the instruction you receive. Having a right-handed guitarist teaching a left-handed student is fraught with complications.

Oh. And apparently I have no natural ability to play an actual guitar. (Oh yeah, that.) I made several attempts that ended in frustration, tears and depression. And in one case, a huge fight with my brother that he still uses to lord over me. Whenever it's apparent I can do something better than him and he feels threatened by his little sister he turns to me (his little sister) and says, "So, did you ever learn to play guitar?" Translation: "Remember all the times I tried to teach you how to play guitar and you were too stupid to figure out how to play right-handed or upside-down and backwards? Ha ha. You suck and I don't because I can play a guitar."

The realization in my late teens that I might have to get a real job because my plans to be a legendary rock guitar goddess might not work out as I hoped was a crushing blow. (Little did I know there would be a willing audience for Kenny G, even if it is the dentist office Lite FM audience, Kenny G is a God among that crowd.) Lessons with real guitar instructors and my learn-on-my-own sessions all ended with me in a lip-quivering moment of disappointment, a poignant tear rolling down my cheek, and me meekly whimpering "but, but, but, Hendrix...he's left-handed...but, but, but, I was going to be a legendary rock goddess..."

Shudder.

The frustration and disappointment took a heavy emotional toll on me. I put the dream on hold for a while, thinking one day I'd find a good left-handed guitarist to teach me and then I could be a legendary rock goddess. I continued with my clarinet lessons, picked up oboe and sax, and had a band teacher who had a restrung cello lying around (doesn't everyone?) and I sated my rock goddess dreams through those orchestral instruments. I wasn't great at cello but I rocked the clarinet, oboe and soprano sax. And no, I don't sit around listening to Kenny G shaking my fist in the air screaming, "It could have been me!" (Squidward, though...Squidward rocks his clarinet.)

But every now and then I'd make another attempt at guitar. There were some lessons from alleged "great teachers." There were boyfriends who tried to teach me. There were books read and a learn-at-home video. Which was more humorous than instructional. Imagine Bob Ross teaching guitar instead of painting. But the end-result always included disparaging remarks about my left-handed proclivities and inability to play a right-handed guitar.

So, this Rock Band thing. I assumed the guitars used for Rock Band were right/left oriented and I assumed there would be a few issues. I knew my friends wouldn't have a left-handed console guitar but since actual strings aren't involved I thought this might be the perfect compromise for my chord challenged hands.

Yeah.

Not so much.

My friends' 5-year-old who's never had a music lesson and probably has never even heard Jimi Hendrix kicked my ass. Okay, that's to be expected. Kids today. Pfft.

And then...it happened. My friends and their 5-year-old fired up their latest Rock Band component. The Beatles. The swutting Beatles.

"Hey, Trill!!! You can be McCartney, he's left handed!" my friend jubilantly proclaimed.

"But without a left-handed guitar it's literally a moot point," I countered.

"Just play it upside-down," he enthusiastically counter-countered.

And so it came to pass that on a dark night in the suburbs I was standing in front of a 6 foot wide screen with an upside down guitar console strapped around me, accompanied by two of my friends and their five-year-old attempting to play "Come Together."

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

And I suck. I can't even play a fake guitar. And there was McCartney staring back at me, taunting me, mocking me.

The five-year-old called a band meeting and I was kicked out of the band faster than Pete Best.

Whatever.

On the up side, though, the Lego game for Rock Band is pretty darned funny. That provided me with hours of sophomoric entertainment and the Super-Easy mode allowed me to play a song beginning to end.

Here's the thing. McCartney is left-handed. I assume he's making gazillions of dollars off the Rock Band game. And yet...my friend informed me there's not a left-handed guitar console available for Rock Band. Huh? Seriously? "Just flip it upside down and change the strap," is the workaround.

On principle I'm now officially mad at XBox.

When, when will the discrimination end??? When will our public shame turn to peaceful coexistence?

But wait. Just you wait. When Kenny G for Rock Band comes out I'm going to kick ass.

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1:18 PM

Monday, February 15, 2010  
So, you may have noticed the Twit box. I’m not sure if Hell froze over or not. At the very least it’s probably a sign of End of Days.

“Trillian, et tu? Really? Et tu? You?! Twitter? First Facebook, now Twitter? Twitter?!

Yeah, yeah, I know. I know.

But. See. Here’s the thing.

I really, really, really respect and admire Apolo Ohno. And I love the Winter Olympics. And Apolo is Tweeting regularly during the Olympics. So. Yeah. I caved.

Hey. It’s a bright spot in my weird life(?). Apolo is such a fantastic athlete and has his head in such a great place that I find his Tweets interesting and inspirational.

While watching the opening ceremony and following the Olympic feed I noticed Christopher Moore (the author, Lamb (brilliant) Stupidest Angel, (funny alt holiday reading), etc.) was also watching the opening ceremony and tweeting his thoughts on it, and, heh heh, yeah. Kinda funny. It enhanced my Olympic home viewing experience, to say the least.

And that’s the thing about Twitter. If you’re judicious about who you follow it can be very interesting and inspirational and, gulp, fun.

I have a confession to make. I’ve been keeping a dirty little secret: I’ve been lurking on a few feeds for a, um, ahem, while. I was in denial for a long time. I played a little game with myself. "I can quit any time." "If you're not signed up you're not really Twittering." I'd check my name of choice to see if anyone took it, and, shockingly, no one wanted to be known as HalfLass on Twitter. I'd tell myself, "Check on Thursday. If it's still available Thursday you have to come out and sign up." Thursday would arrive, HalfLass was still available, and I'd make a new deal with myself. "Next Tuesday night. If it's still available next Tuesday night then you have to come out and sign up..." I'm not proud of the lurking habit. But. Nor am I ashamed. So with the Olympics and Apolo and everything I decided it was time to come out.

So. There. That’s why. Hell frozen over? End of Days? Maybe. Or. Maybe I’m just being honest with myself by openly admitting that I am not above using Twitter. I'm just kinda doing it HalfLassed. Nyuck nyuck.

7:51 PM

 
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