Gordon ‘Felix’ Mills was a highly successful composer-arranger-conductor during the Golden Days of Radio in the 30s and 40s. Choosing to retire rather than fire a few band members during the Red Inquisition, he built a home in Morro Bay, California to pursue his favorite hobbies, sailing and slide photography. Then he designed and built a 26 ft travel trailer with the help of his wife Thelma (and an expert) so they could start across country to visit well-known national parks and some that were relatively obscure.
The slide shows he assembled bore little resemblance to the normal home movies that visiting grandchildren would run screaming from. I would gladly miss favorite TV shows or postpone a night out with teenaged friends to take a trip to amazing places – accompanied by my grandfather’s in-depth information and whimsical comments about each slide. ‘Pappy’ frequently included my grandmother (Mayma) in his photos of colossal natural wonders to show how small she was in comparison.
Whenever interesting slides got eliminated from his shows he tossed them into a shoebox labeled ‘things and stuff.’ Unable to throw them away for one reason or another, he eventually assembled a retrospective of these ‘orphaned photos’ in the early 70s. Then he scripted a narration and recorded an original musical score by performing individual orchestra parts on a Thomas organ while learning to use a reel-to-reel eight-track recorder. The finished product called for an elaborate 2-projector system for cross-fading the slides in order to launch a unique show he called ‘Things 'n Stuff.’
‘Pappy’ passed away in 1987 and the family self-published his memoirs, ‘From the Back of my Brain to the Point of my Pencil.’ Thelma agreed that ‘Things 'n Stuff’ should also be shared with family and friends so it was transferred to VHS. This captured the content of the slideshow but failed to do adequate justice to the creator’s photographic talents. (Unfortunately, using a projector is what does the most damage to transparencies.)
In 2004 my uncle (J. Mack Mills) provided the original slides, 144 in all. From those I made high resolution scans, using Adobe Photoshop to touch up the color and clean up tons of dust burn to restore the images to their original brilliance. Luckily, my other uncle (George Mills) had a well-preserved VHS copy that allowed me to boost the sound and use as a visual reference to the original presentation, so ‘Things 'n Stuff’ could be resurrected by using Apple's Final Cut video editing software. The video on this site is the latest revision of my original edit. It remains faithful to the original show but was enhanced with movement that was inspired by Pappy’s music and then reformatted for 16:9 widescreen.
The program is available on DVD with standard definition that will upconvert very nicely on Blue Ray or upconverting players. This was done so that Gordon’s love for nature’s beauty and life's oddities can be enjoyed well into the coming millennium. Special Editions will include an extra CD of high res JPGs of the slides, plus a version of the show that will play on iPods.
To get a copy on DVD, click here and email me with the subject THINGS 'N STUFF! If you are family members there is no cost. All others, I am grateful for donations of $10 to support further family endeavors yet to come. NOTE: Depending on your internet connection, you may experience "hangs" as the video is loading; if this happens just pause it for a moment until you see the progress bar advance further. To watch the video online, you will need
a current version of QuickTime Player. Mac users already have it:
If you're on Windows and you're not sure,
click here to download the player for free:
Otherwise, click here to enter the theatre, and enjoy
Gordon R. Mills' THINGS 'N STUFF, version 2009.