Monday, November 27, 2017

Obsession . . .

So if you are connected to me on Facebook, you probably know by now that my most recent hobby is collecting records. My current obsession is Vikki Carr, who I am listening to at high volume as I type this. For those of you who are too young to have heard of her, she was super popular in the 60's and 70's. She is one of very few people that I'd be willing to compare to Barbra Streisand - yeah, she's that good.  
(If you don't know who Barbra Streisand is, then you need to get the hell off of my blog, because we don't have anything to talk about.)
Anyway, I've found quite a few of her records in the last six months or so and I am in complete awe of her incredible and confident voice. I wonder what it would feel like to know for absolute certain that when you open your mouth to sing and express your feelings, that something awesome is going to come out of it?
Obviously I travel a lot, and it's a real bear trying to carry a phonograph, records, and amplifier with me, so I've been trying to make digital recordings of some of the music that I really love and want to enjoy while I'm traveling. It really is a major pain in the ass to digitize these things though, so I went looking to see if I could download these albums from ITunes instead of spending hours cleaning records, recording them, then cleaning up the digital recording to remove some of the clicks and pops, etc, etc. Anyway, two things kind of surprised me as I was searching Itunes for Vikki Carr music:
1 - While they do have some of her more popular songs, none of the records that I have are available on ITunes. Considering the obscure and odd stuff that you can find there, this sort of surprises me.  
2 - She had a lot of Spanish albums. I’m not sure why this surprised me, but it did. Just for shits and giggles, I googled her and came across her real name, which sort of explains the Spanish music: Florencia Bisenta de Casillas-Martinez Cardona. Sort of rolls right off the tongue, don’t it?

One of the cool things that records had going for them, is that they often printed stuff about the artist or the music on the album covers to let you kind of get to know something about them. I had to giggle as I was reading the cover of one of her albums. Here is this prim and proper lady, apparently the very definition of class and sophistication, and yet one of the acknowledgements she makes is to thank Cheech of Cheech and Chong for allowing her the use of his home. I'm still trying to imagine Vikki Carr hanging out and getting stoned with Cheech and Chong but it just doesn't compute for me.

If you really enjoy powerful vocals, you should consider checking these Vikki Carr songs out:
It's not terribly impressive vocally, but "Make it Rain" is a fun song too. If you have ever dated an asshole, that song will make you smile. 

I've too many years working as a metrologist, where being fussy and particular are considered vital assets, and so it really annoys the snot outta me when some of these beautiful recordings had distinct distortion every time the music gets loud and powerful. I spent the better part of an entire day and a half tearing my stereo apart, cleaning contacts and connectors, adjusting my stylus angle and weight, and swapping wires and components trying to find the source of the distortion but all to no avail. Over three decades of experience at trouble shooting all seemed to indicate that the distortion was coming from the records themselves, but I couldn't believe that so many records would all have the same flaw. Ultimately I asked one of my friends on Facebook who has a HUGE record collection for his advice. I'm pretty sure I could hear him laughing all of the way from Ohio as he confirmed that it was entirely likely that the records themselves were at fault. Decades of being played on old systems with worn out needles apparently damages the recording and is a common problem. 
Live and learn. . . 

So the other weekend I loaded my entire family up into the truck, along with my floor buffer, and we headed out to help my sister in law strip, clean, stain, and seal the concrete floor of the home they are building. We were almost all of the way there when we passed a Goodwill thrift store. 
"What do you think - do you think they would have any records?" I asked my wife. 
"It doesn't matter because we don't have the time to stop," was her reply.
"You know, that's what I thought you were gonna say!" I told her with a grin and then pulled into the parking lot anyway. She just rolled her eyes.
"We will wait here." She said with an exasperated sigh, because let's face it, there was no point to her arguing with me about it. We both knew damned good and well that I wasn't going anywhere until I looked to see if they had any musical treasures hidden away in there.  

Happy happy joy joy, because not only did they have records, but they had good records! I got a few movie soundtracks to include "My Fair Lady", about 10 Barbra Striesand's, a Spanish Ray Conniff, and about two dozen other records. Sixty dollars later and I got to watch my wife break out laughing as I approached the truck with a heavy load of records in my arms. My decision to stop despite her misgivings was entirely vindicated when I repeatedly heard her ooh and awe over the records as she went through them while I drove. Normally I pick them out and then examine them for damage before buying, but I didn't have the time to inspect them as my sister in law was waiting on us, so I hope like hell that they are in good condition. I won't know until I get home from this service call though. Keep your fingers crossed for me. 

Speaking of this service call, I'm on the way to Philly way too damned early for a Sunday morning. I rarely fly on weekends but this is a huge customer of ours and she all but begged me to please be there on Monday as they desperately need their FTIR up and running ASAP. So yeah, I'm on a plane. On Sunday. Again. 

I've really got to get my mental shit together because I'm not gonna last much longer at this rate if I don't. I feel absolutely exhausted and really didn't want to get on a plane, and really didn't want to leave my family. When I apply my logic, I know that I need to stop my internal whining and bitching because I've got it good and I know I've got it good. There are people that would kill to have my job, and God knows it beats the hell out of physically busting my ass off out in the weather like just about everyone else in my extended family. I just feel mentally worn out I guess, like I could just sit down and never get up.  So yeah, I need to get my mental act together. . . 

There's a guy sitting in the row ahead of me wearing a veterans hat, and I made the mistake of striking up a conversation with him. I say it was a mistake because I decided pretty quickly that he is full of shit and probably never served, and if he did, he probably didn't last long. If you are a veteran, you have probably come across someone like this at one point or another, who tells you his grand stories of the things that he has done and of telling off superior officers who were so deeply impressed by his super manliness and competency that they allowed him to get away with his disrespect. Once I struck up the conversation, the guy is so desperate to share his bullshit that I couldn't get him to shut the hell up. Finally I played the headphone card by pulling out my iPad and earphones and turning Vikki Carr's "One Hell of a Woman" up nice and loud. Good song by the way, did I mention that you should listen to it?

That evening I met Sophie and Linda for dinner at the King of Prussia mall. We started off with our traditional shot of Whiskey. Perhaps not the most lady-like of traditions, but it’s ours none the less. I don’t remember how the tradition started, but I’m pretty sure it’s Sophie’s fault. As I always do when hanging out with these two, we shared a laugh or two before I cried exhaustion and bailed out on them. I’m glad I did call it a night early as the repair the next day turned into a nightmare that ended up forcing me to stay an extra day waiting for unanticipated parts to arrive.

On the way back to the hotel from my customer that night, I drove by a large thrift store and followed my standard procedure of raiding it for records. Much to my delight, they had a large collection of them and so I hunkered down and started going through them. I got through about 75% of them when this guy walks up and starts going through them as well, and we struck up a conversation as we looked for treasures. He was looking for money makers – records that he can buy cheap and then turn around and sell, and he was telling me all of the things that you should look for to help determine if they are worth anything or not. His advice went straight in one ear and out the other though, because I have no interest in collecting records for money. My only interest is in the joy of the music. I don’t care if it’s a first printing or the last, as long as it’s in good shape and I can enjoy the music. He pretty much just encouraged me to work my way through the pile just a tad faster to be sure that he didn’t grab anything I might have loved. As it turned out, I was a little too successful in my record hunting because I ended up with 35 of them – far too much to carry in my suitcase! Realizing this, I bought a cheap bag right there in the thrift store to carry the records in, but I blew it and got one that wasn’t up to the task. As I was putting the bag full of records into the trunk of my rental car before heading to the airport, the bag slipped, and the handle tore loose when I grabbed for it. That necessitated a stop at Target, where I had to spend more on a backpack to carry the records, than I spent on the records themselves. Oh well . . .

On the flight home, I was intrigued to note that the young teenage lady sitting across from me was almost certainly transgender. I’m not positive, and I wasn’t about to ask, but I’m pretty sure. She was sitting next to what I assume were her older brother and father, and I couldn’t help notice that she was carefully watching me as I was going through all of the records that I had collected and reading their covers and inserts. About the tenth time I saw her staring with great interest at a record in my hand, I decided to speak to her.

“Have you ever seen a record before?” I asked her with a smile. She didn’t say anything, just shook her head “no”, and so I handed her the one that I’d been looking at. It was a Doris Day album that despite being well over 50 years old looked like brand new. She took it a bit hesitantly and then inspected it with curiosity.
“Yeah, that’s from a bit before your time huh?” I asked with a giggle.
“So, this is from the 60’s then?” she asked, at last actually saying something.
“Actually I am pretty sure that one is from the 50’s!” I replied with a laugh as I accepted the record back from her. For the record (pun again intended) she was technically correct as it came from 1960. The first record she has ever held and the little shit already knows more about them than I do . . .


  1. The traditional shot of Jack Daniels began the first time we met. I asked what you drank, you said JD, so I ordered us two shots. I knew that was the beginning of a beautiful friendship!

    I was thinking about that as we ate that night. We were sitting maybe 200 yards from where we first met (in the restaurant across the drive.) That night, I was drab and you were gorgeous. The other night, you were drab and I was in a dress. (We met in late February 2009, btw.)

    It made me think about how things change over time. My life has completely changed since that night at Fox & Hound. Yet, you are still there- a constant in my life. :)

    Love you!

  2. Kimberly

    Wonder if you have come across Shirley Bassey in your musical explorations?

    “I am what I am”



    1. Sure! I've got a couple of hers:
      "Shirley Bassey's Greatest Hits"
      and one song on this album:
      "Music To Read James Bond By"
      I'll bet you can guess which song she sang on the Bond record. LOL

  3. I believe that Charity (or as you call them Thrift) Shops started here in the UK in Wolverhampton in the 19th Century. They have certainly come on since that first shop selling stuff made by local blind people.

    I buy most of my clothes and books in Charity Shops, but have always been a bit nervous of second hand records on my precious turntable. Maybe I should be a bit less precious and try out a few. Our musical tastes are very different but there are some classic recordings of great music that have not made it to CD.

    1. It is relatively rare for me to find pop music from the 60's and up - the rock and roll stuff. I LIKE it, and I WANT it, but you don't find much in the thrift stores. I'm pretty sure that it comes down to the meaning of the word "Pop"; "Popular". Being so popular, the other record collectors have had decades to snatch that stuff up long before I came looking for it. I'm fortunate that I am one of the last people on Earth that really enjoys the soft music, when so many wonderful orchestras and their "crooners" were at their prime. For decades, most everyone else has left these records behind for me to now claim. :-)

  4. I ditched a large portion of my albums since I no longer play them but Vikki Carr was one of my favorites due to her unusual voice and the fact that she also sang in Spanish. In fact, I credit her with helping me well along the way towards gaining an understanding of the Spanish language by listening to her songs, singing and learning the translations! I kept my two favorite albums of hers which were "Vikki Carr En Espanol" and "Vikki Carr Live at the Greek Theatre". Haven't played them in perhaps 30 years but I keep them for sentimental reasons.

    I was fortunate to see her in concert once but her voice really wasn't of Barbra Streisand quality - even though I'm not a fan...sorry. :-) Hang in there and value those who love you first.



    1. Did you know that she supposedly lives in San Antonio Texas? Not far from me. She also apparently still performs, but I'm a little hesitant to try and see her as I'd rather keep the memories of her in her prime.

    2. I would be afraid that it would be like Frank Sinatra who wouldn't quit even though his voice was shot... It's sometimes better not to revisit the "old days" and keep your memories.

  5. I don't know if you're aware Kimberley, but there are ways to download the music you like straight off YT. It's a helluva lot easier than trying to digitise it yourself.

    1. I know that methods exist, but I don't have them and hesitate to use them. I at least TRY to do things the legal way, where everyone hopefully gets something for their work and their art.

  6. FYI LadyLike magazine was published in King of Prussia, maybe the best magazine for crossdressers ever. Joann Roberts sold a ton of stuff via mail order back in the 80s/90s, Angela Gardiner (who took over in the mid 90s) still runs the TG Forum site.

    Not that I was around then, I just like history. I'm transitioning MTF and began reading your blog a few years ago, when I began crossdressing in middle age after a long dry spell. You look beautiful! And I've been obsessed with vocalists like Doris for years now too. Happened to get curious about Vicki Carr recently, too, as it happens. I have tons of this stuff and you can listen to just about every artist on Earth on YT for free, if you're so inclined, like Janet says. I still have mountains of LPs though, can't beat holding that foot square cover in your hands!

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