A to Z Theme 2016

For my 2016 A to Z theme I used a meme that I ran across on the blog of Bridget Straub who first saw it on the blog of Paula Acton. This meme is a natural for me to use on my memoir blog. It's an A to Z concept and it's about me. No research and nothing complicated. I'm given twenty six questions or topics to discuss that are about me.

In April I kept my posts short and uncomplicated. In the midst of it all you might learn a few things about me that you didn't previously know.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

My Own Personal Newspaper

English: New York, New York. Newsroom of the N...
 New York, New York. Newsroom of the New York Times newspaper. Reporters and rewrite men writing stories, and waiting to be sent out. Rewrite man in background gets the story on the phone from reporter outside. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My Own Personal Newspaper

         I've had this fascination with newspapers since early childhood.  My parents always had newspapers in the house and I liked to look through them.  There were the comic pages of course, and the advertisements, but once I learned how to read a whole new world was opened to me.

        The photojournalism was what often attracted my attention.  Some dramatic image would arouse my interest enough for me to read the story.  Then there were all the other curious little stories that were short, but filled with enough information to get my young brain working to figure out the rest of the details.

         Then, starting in fourth grade, current events became a standard assignment on Monday mornings.  We'd be required to clip an article to present to the class.  The presentation part would make me nervous, but I loved searching out the strangest stories I could find.  There was often duplication of stories among the other students, but rarely did anyone bring in the same story as I brought.  I didn't care much for major world events or politics, but I relished finding anything that was kind of "out there"

        Sometimes for fun I would put together my own newspaper.    Once, inspired by the animated television show The Flintstones I created my own version of a prehistoric caveman era newspaper.  The artwork was all drawn in colored pencils--yes, this was an advanced newspaper all in color!  On another occasion my newspaper edition was a facsimile of what my vision of the newspaper of the future might look like.   Maybe my thinking wasn't too prescient in that the edition was still on paper rather than some electronic type media, but it was easier to use paper in order to write the stories and draw out the illustrations.

          In a way, my discovery of the medium of blogging is like being able to have my own publication.    Much like a newspaper or magazine I can present stories and add images.  I'm both reporter and editor.   The control of managing my own blog allows me a far greater creativity than composing a publication by hand.   The best part is that the potential of actual readership is far greater than those single copy "newspaper" editions that I would pass around to my friends and family to read.

        Blogging has opened a fantastic new world of possibilities to all of us who have longed to see our words on published pages and to have readers who actually let us know they've read what we've written.  And even if the readers aren't there, the digital evidence is there to be potentially found by readers someday in the future.

          Of course, I'd much rather be published in an actual printed edition of some mass produced and distributed newspaper or magazine.  That would be the greatest thrill of all.  For now though the blogging will have to do.    Actually it's not all that bad of a way to be published.  And it is practice for that future publication position that I long to one day have.

           Did you ever create your own homemade newspapers or magazines when you were a child?   Did you work on a school publication?    Do you treat blogging as your own personal publication?

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Messages from the Past

       Recently a fellow who was my best friend back in junior high school sent me a newspaper clipping of a story about my family that  I had sent him when I was in high school.  He had lived in Indiana at the time and I had moved to East Tennessee.   We kept in touch for a few years corresponding on into our college years.  Then after a while we lost touch.

        I'd been aware that he had moved to Arkansas and had gotten married, but I knew little else about what he was doing until we reconnected about ten years ago.  After that point of reconnection we once again began calling and emailing each other.

         He told me that he was looking through some of his old scrapbooks and photo albums and happened upon the newspaper clipping.    Since that story appeared in the paper nearly 50 years ago he thought that I might not have a copy.   He made a copy for himself and then sent me the original.  Actually I still do have an original copy in my own scrapbook, but it was interesting to receive the copy I had sent to him.   The copy he sent contained messages from the past.

        When I say "messages from the past" I don't mean the story itself, but the things I had written on the back of the article.  Besides humorous comments, on the back of the article I wrote commentaries about the photo, my current interests, and questions about what he was doing.   It was almost as though I had written a short letter on the back of the article.  I now don't recall having done that, but it was common for me to do such things back then.

         Having that annotated copy of the article has provided me insight of what I thought and felt at the time.   I've found other similarly marked items such as school papers, notebook entries, cards, and so on that were almost like messages to my present self from my past self.   It's interesting to come across items like these especially since I never kept anything like a diary.  In my mother's keepsakes I found other items that were from me to her and now they were back in my hands.   It was a blessing that she had kept these items over the years.

My copy of the article with picture

         Have you received anything back from somebody to whom you had originally given it?   Do you have a tendency to write off the wall messages in odd places?   Where have you found a message from the past that you had written?

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Radio Havana Is on the Air

The RCA Strato World Shortwave radio that I got for Christmas in 1967 and sold in 2010.
This is the actual photo I used when advertising it on Craigslist.

      It was Christmas of 1967 when I received an RCA Strato World Solid State 6 Band Radio.   I was in high school at the time.  For some time I had wanted a short wave radio.  I had first seen one in about 1962 at one one of my friend's house when we were living in San Diego.  To be able to pick up radio stations from around the world intrigued me.  By the time I received mine as a Christmas gift the transistor models had apparently gone down in price enough to where my parents felt like they could buy me one.

      As I began to explore the capabilities of what exactly my radio could do, I soon became somewhat disappointed that everything that was mentioned in the owner's manual was not that easy to find.  For one thing I never was able to find police or emergency bands.  On the long wave band I did find the weather reporting from the airport, which was initially interesting, but something that quickly became a bore to which to listen.  There were various "stations" emitting weird pulsating sounds and other unidentifiable noises as well as other stations with jabber that didn't make much sense to me.

       The short wave bands had a bit more content but it was not long before I discovered that the stations from around the world broadcast for only short periods of an hour or so at regular broadcasting times throughout the day.  Fortunately the radio came with a station guide that told what stations and times the broadcasts in English would occur.  

         Mostly I would just scan the bands to find random broadcasts.   One of the most interesting to me was the regular evening broadcast from Havana, Cuba.  This station came in more clear than most, but of course they were closer to where I was.  Every evening the English broadcast would come on for an hour starting about 8 PM if my memory serves me correctly.  I became a nightly listener.

         The broadcast consisted of a combination of Cuban music and talk.  This was my introduction to a Cuban orchestral style that was similar to some of the music I had heard by band leaders like Desi Arnaz or Xavier Cugat, except more melodic and less "babalou" and fast percussive rhythms.  The sound was heavy on piano, strings, and flute with occasional vocals.  The music was beautiful and I was entranced by it though there was never enough for me.

          The other thing that I found oddly compelling was the duo of broadcasters who delivered the news with a Cuban bias and the propaganda about the success of the Revolutionary state.  The male and female radio hosts would take turns delivering the Cuban spin on what their government wanted the world to hear.  Their voices were mellifluous and reassuring, speaking impeccable English with an peculiar accent unlike any I had heard before.  Somehow they made me think of George Orwell's 1984.

         To listen to the broadcast you'd think that Cuba was heaven on Earth.  I almost wanted to be there experiencing the glory of the revolution and the solidarity of the people.   I'd never heard the word "solidarity" before that time, but it was a word they used regularly every night.  There was something about the way they said "solidarity" that made Cuba sound so wonderful.

          I knew it was propaganda, but it was fun to listen to and even educational to some extent.  Much of what they said was based on truth though maybe somewhat exaggerated.  If only they had talked a little less and played more of that exquisite Cuban music, they might have had me convinced that Cuban was indeed heaven on Earth.

           Have you ever listened to short-wave radio?   If so, did you have any favorite broadcasts to listen to?    Do you think you might be taking a Cuban vacation in the future now that relations are being normalized?
Be sure to visit my Battle of the Bands post at Tossing It Out on Monday June 15th!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Arlee's A to Z Road Trip

 Coming Soon to a Town Near You!

       I just might be near you this summer and I'm going to have some time on my hands at certain points.  What a great opportunity to meet up with some of my blogging friends!   While many of us are taking the virtual Road Trip through the A to Z Challenge list, I'll actually be out on the roads of America.

       My tentative route is shown below on the map and some planned destinations with approximate dates when I'll be in those areas.  It's short notice I know, but maybe some of you can figure a way to meet up.  Ideally we could set up some group meetings at coffee shops, libraries, or other similar types of places.  Maybe you'd like to even host something at your own home.

       Since I'll be on the road I'd have to leave it up to you to set up meeting arrangements  Just let me know so we can confirm everything first.   Also, if you'd be interested in having me meet with your writing group or some other type of group I'd be willing to consider that as well.  I'd be delighted to offer a presentation on "Blogging for Author Platform" (a presentation which can easily be adapted for other purposes besides writing) or "Why You Should Consider Blogging from A to Z in April."   I can also adapt a program especially to suit your needs.  Let me know if you're interested and if it fits into our mutual schedules we can work something out.

        I'll be plenty busy this summer, but if I can get a chance to meet you I'd like to try to put that into my schedule.   Take a look at my route and schedule and then if you think we can coincide our timing let me know in the comments and we can see what we can come up with.

My Tentative Route

My Approximate Schedule

Houston, TX June 22-28

June 28-July 1 en route to Knoxville, TN (passing through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama--my route is flexible)

July 1 - July 12 Maryville, TN (near Knoxville)

July 12- July 16th traveling to NJ with stops in Charlotte, NC; Danville, VA; Richmond, VA (again my route is flexible)

July 16-August 11 Jersey Shore ( I can travel to points near that area including Philadelphia and NYC)

August 11 -August 16 return to Los Angeles with probable stops in Rapid City, SD and Yellowstone Park, WY.

       Do you see any potential meet-up points?   Will you be going anywhere this summer?