When I was a kid, my dad had this transistor radio that got AM, FM and several short-wave bands and I used to lie in bed at night and reel through the stations and press the little button that lit up the dial.

Just kidding. I mean, not kidding, he did have a radio like that, and it played an important role in my young life. I mean, kidding that I’m going to do another appliance post this… ok, either you get the joke or… if I explain it it’s not funny.

Maybe it’s…

Enough cellos and enough appliances for a while, is all I’m saying.

I didn’t write anything because I… for several reasons. Mainly I was in too good a mood until yesterday, when I was too cranky. And we had a three-day weekend here, and I don’t do weekends.

And I was busy doing stuff. Fixing the flowerbeds in the yard. Flattening my left index finger with a sledgehammer. Well, not a sledge hammer, just this blunt, about eight-pound hammer I use to hammer in stakes and stuff.

I used to work… I worked in a cannery summers when I was in college, for a while. Squirting big machines with a high-pressure hose, mostly, washing off the algae that grew so fast in that hot, moist, deafening climate. Every now and then I let a dead mouse ride past on the conveyor belt because then the ladies found it as they picked sub-standard green beans out of the other beans and we all got a ten minute break as the heavy-duty cleaning crew came in and disinfected everything.

I was… so long ago and I remember my job title: nubbin-grader operator. There were these big rotating bins with perforated sides; sliced-up beans fell into them and were sorted by size.

There was this one guy there, a boxer, little guy with solid, big arms, told lots of stories about beating people up in bars and driving grain threshers east of the mountains, and harvesting corn and coming out covered with red mites.

One day the boss praised me as I left, for doing whatever constitutes a good job as a nubbin-grader operator, not falling off the catwalk and not getting your hand torn off by the hypnotically-rotating drum I suppose, and I was so pleased by his praise that I stepped into an open drainage trench in the concrete floor and nearly broke my leg.

Since then, I’ve noticed that I take praise poorly. It makes me unwary, and I stab myself in the hand with a chisel or hit my finger with a big hammer so hard the tip ruptures and blood squirts. It was actually kind of cool. Blood dripped onto my other hand and I wiped it onto the injured finger on my way into the house to get a bandaid, and I noticed it made the finger look even scarier, so I wiped it around a little more to make it look even worse before showing it to Alpha, nonchalantly. “Eh, hit myself with the hammer again.” Drip, drip. She disappointed me by remaining cool.

I don’t know. Other people’s opinions shouldn’t matter so much. Someone says something nice, I send them a mail playing dumb and asking them to elaborate, just to drag it out. They say something nasty, I ban their ISP and delete their comment, or whatever the real-life version of that is. Or not. And besides, I’m far too nice, no one ever says anything nasty to me.

I used to listen to various preachers on that radio as my family slept. The dial glowed blue and they talked about redemption or sin or whatever. Later I found a station that played Alan Watts. The summer I was 17 they played the Ramones and the Sex Pistols and I thought, Wow.

10 responses to “Radio

  1. Could you pipe down a minute?… I’m trying to get the Sex Pistols on the radio…

  2. wfmu (online at used to broadcast the Alan Watts lectures … but now they don’t, I found just now. but here’s a page that gives info on who’s airing it now:

    I am aching to praise this post, but I don’t want to be answerable for personal injury.

  3. mig

    Thanks for the Watts link. Don’t worry about the injury, it’s not so bad – the finger I mashed with the hammer this weekend was already numb due to me severing some nerves in that hand a few years ago with the chisel, so I really have to squeeze it to make it hurt.

  4. paul

    Talking about the radio reminded me of a really bad habit that my dad had of shushing us when the traffic reports came on the radio, even though he was home for the evening and wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon…

    Now I still get pissed when people ignore other people (and most especially when they ignore ME) to listen to some mass media instead..

  5. John Emerson

    I just thought that this would be the right moment to tell you that you’re my favorite blogger of all time.

  6. mig

    That explains all the cars trying to hit me on my commute this morning.

  7. TH

    The best thing in radio used to be radio tirana late at night. I was a travelling salesman once, selling CDs with software nobody needed and everybody just downloads nowadays to Media Markts all over northern Germany. So I was out 2 or 3 weeks a month and home in Vienna 1 or 2 weeks.

    But anyway, I very quickly got sick of the all the music stations. I mean, when you listen to radio 10 hours a day, a station has to be pretty offbeat to give me music I haven’t heard 5 times already that day.

    So I chased the word radios. Listening to features about obscure philosophers and the state of the dairy industry – usually not in the same feature, though.

    Late at night, on those long drives, when I had decided that I didn’t want to stay in a hotel and drove down from, say, Rostock home to Vienna, the words grew sparse on the radio. It was usually easy listining until morning. dreadful easy listening. I still have that craving for Katja Epstein and Truck Stop sometimes.

    Well, the car radio I had was one of the few that had shortwave. And deep at night, shortwave reception was actually quite good. So I surfed the shortwave and got stuck at Radio Tirana and listened to american evangelical preachers telling me about hellfire, damnation and the saving power of generous giving.

    Fun. Most of all though I wondered why the most communistic, atheistic radio of Europe would yield it’s broadcast stations to *american preachers*.

    I never found out why. But I did enjoy the various preachers. Got even good at telling different ones apart. Never remembered a single name, though. And I think the subliminal carrier waves of Tirana made sure I stayed agnostic.

    Anyway, shortwave radio is cool. Just wanted to say.

  8. paul

    We in America know that the American God is the God of Money and he shall righteously use collection money that could go to poor people and instead buy air time whereever air time shall be sold. So sayeth the Lord…

  9. Since Trackbacks are now dead technology, I’ll place a manual link here:

    Wrote this and only afterwards came here to discover mig’s article. Spooky case of synchronicity.

  10. D

    Having sat here and just read every post on your front page after far too long an absence I have to reiterate that you’re one of the finest writers I have the good fortune to read, published or otherwise.