Monday, June 16, 2008

Falling Down the Rabbit Hole – Psychedelic Wanderings

One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you
Don't do anything at all
Go ask
When she's ten feet tall

“White Rabbit,” Jefferson Airplane

On Father’s Day I talk to my father. He describes the accolades he got at the end of the 15 weeks of a senior improv class he “led” at National Lewis University in Chicago. Now he’s gotten approval to “lead” a course about comedy writing using the Brad Schreiber book WHAT ARE YOU LAUGHING AT? HOW TO WRITE FUNNY SCREENPLAYS, STORIES AND MORE.

Then my father, who blogs at, tells me the following “Alice down the rabbit hole” story:

He called the publisher of Brad Schreiber’s book. The phone operator says the book sells for $19.95. My father says he wants to buy multiple copies. The phone operator says, in that case, up to nine copies will get a 44% reduction on the price.

My father asks about buying more than nine books. For 10 and more books there’s only a 20% discount. My father – still a practicing CPA at the age of 83 – says that doesn’t make sense. The phone operator says he knows that. My father asks if he can order nine books one day and more books the next day. The answer? He can order the books on the same day – as long as there are two separate orders – to get the 44% discount.

Thinking over this story reminded me of the time when I was leaving for my freshman year at Michigan State University in the fall of 1966. My father loves music, and he wanted me to have a good record turntable to take with me. We didn’t have a lot of discretionary income, but we saw in the window of the Singer sewing machine store in our small town of Elgin, Illinois, that a good record turntable was being sold at a terrific price.

We went into the store and the clerk said that the price was only for the record turntable in the window. My father said: “We’ll take that one.” The clerk said: “No, we can’t sell you that one. It’s only for the window display.”

I won’t repeat the whole conversation here. Suffice it to say that we walked out of the store with the record turntable from the window at the price advertised in the window. And, of course, the store “retired” that false advertising sign.

I actually thought of that record player only a few days ago in connection with how new bands are discovered. In the summer of 1966 I visited a family in Sausalito, California, and we went to a Jefferson Airplane concert at the University of California, Berkeley.

Although I had never heard of the group, I loved the group’s sound and bought an album. That fall at MSU I played the album on my new record turntable and introduced my dorm hall to the psychedelic rock of the Jefferson Airplane.

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waxwing said...

Great story and good for your dad to push the issue. Crazy policies!

Steve said...

See Phyllis - not only did you get the turntable at a great price, you became the vanguard for your dorm by introducing them to psychedelic rock, helping to change the mindsets of the traditonal college students of that time who were going through their own emotinal and social changes couple with growing and anti-war sentiment. What a catalyst for change you are!

-- Steve

Phyllis Zimbler Miller said...

Your comment made me laugh - if you could only see how backward we were at Michigan State. No anti-war sentiment or anything of the kind. The SDS president wore monogrammed shirts presumably ironed by his mother (I tell this story in MRS. LIEUTENANT: A SHARON GOLD NOVEL.)