LOST GENERATION FOUND…WHODDATHUNK!

September 28, 2014

Silent Found

I have often been accused of being aloof and sort of out of touch sometimes.  In fact, after a few years my one boss began making it a point of telling me things directly because I had built this reputation of “always being the last to know.”  After today I have decided that is an apt phrase to hang on me.  What happened today?  I found my generation.  I what?  Yeah, I found my generation.  I never thought I had one and now, almost 70 years in the making, I have found my generation.  Worse yet, it was there all along; I just hadn’t discovered it.  See, “always the last to know.”

Okay, I guess I have to explain this a bit further. It’s all a matter of timing and, in this case, it had to do with my parents’ timing since my birth date is the determining factor.  I was born in 1945, four days after World War II ended in Europe and another three months before it was over in the Pacific.  My parents’ generation became known as “The Greatest Generation.”  This is the label that stuck after newsman Tom Brokaw’s 1998 book by the same title.  He declared those who came of age during the great depression and went on to fight World War II as being of the greatest generation.  This generation, after coming home when the war was over, got busy making a whole new huge bunch of people.  These folks were later designated as “the baby boomer” generation since there were so many of them born within a short period of time beginning in 1946.

So if you were born before the war you were among the greatest generation and if you were born after the war you were declared a baby boomer.  But what about me?  1945 was right in the middle of these two clumps of humanity.  There has never been a designation for my generation.  I have wandered around this good earth all my life as a man without a generation, a man on his own, a man with no direction home, a complete unknown…like a rolling stone.  Sorry, I got carried away.

So get this: today, I’m reading a random excerpt from an obscure random book and there it is—right there on the description of the book—it talks about “The Silent Generation. This generation, it says, were the kids born 1926-1945.  See that: “1945” is actually stated.  It’s no longer left in limbo dangling between the greatest ones and the boomers.  1945, indeed, has a generation of its own and it was ….silent!  That explains exactly why I never heard of it; it’s been silent all these years.

Now I’m hungry for more information so I start poking around.  It seems the silent generation got its name from two different reference points, depending on which one you want to go with.  One source points simply to the fact that these kids were the well-behaved ones.  They were the children “seen but not heard.”  Hence, the silent generation.  Well, that certainly describes me because I’ve always been well-behaved.  The other attribution credits the Joe McCarthy years of social paranoia in this country.  McCarthy was a U.S. Senator who went on a crusade declaring just about every celebrity and well-know American as being a member of the Communist Party.  He was so successful in creating a national rage that many folks of my generation simply clammed up.  We allegedly became reclusive and avoided socializing for fear of being labeled as a Communist.  We were…silent!

Well, I really don’t care how the term originated.  I am simply elated to finally have a known generation that I am a part of.  And what a cool generation to belong to.  I come from greatness and I lead into the big boom!  True, once again maybe I’ve been the last one to know about all this…but I shall not be silent about it any longer!

*****

Do you like the sound of children laughing?  Then get them a copy of

lateraltitle copy

“It was an amazing book.  I loved it!  It made me laugh so many times.”     Madison Dunbar, 11, Texas

*****


WE WON WHAT? ARE YOU CRAZY!?

September 24, 2014

MovingVan

My wife Rosemarie has developed a heretofore dormant desire to move. I am not sure if she is just in want of a little change like moving the furniture around, or if she is truly in dire need to reestablish our entire environment.  HGTV is not helping.  They are currently running two contests that Rosemarie is entering as often as possible. One is for some fancy foo foo two-thousand square feet located thirty-some stories up in a downtown Atlanta condo.  Then, there is one of those cable TV shows whereby a couple is selected and they go house-hunting with a realtor. The latter will attempt to convince them that their list of must-haves is a joke and they better choose which of three houses they’ve toured into which they want to sink a mortgage by the end of the last commercial break.  Oh, did I mention that this particular real estate opportunity is in Hawaii?  Yeah, the very same place where Rosemarie has been wanting to live since she conceived the idea while we danced at her prom back in the 1960s.  Yes, that’s true, I was her prom date that long ago.  You’d think I would have moved us to Hawaii by now.  I am such a jerk.

Okay, it goes without saying that we have never won anything much more than a free lottery ticket.  Oh wait, I have to correct that.  I once won an expensive fire-engine-red leather golf club bag with Coca-Cola’s logo on the side.  Everyone at the business luncheon that day wanted to win it and I am surprised a fight didn’t break out when I held up the winning ticket.  I didn’t dare mention to anyone that I thought the golf bag was God-awful gaudy not to mention I have never played golf and didn’t intend to either.  The bag sat in my closet for a few years and then I finally donated it as an auction item for a charity event.  Cancel the jerk reference above.

Okay, where was I?  Oh yeah, like I said, we have never won anything much.  So I figure one of these prizes will finally be it—either the dazzling condo in Atlanta or the tropical paradise in Hawaii.  I don’t know where in Hawaii the prize is for, but if we have a choice I will select Maui.  That’s because a high school classmate of mine lives there.  I figure it’s always good to know someone nearby when you move to a new, strange place.  This past year my classmate friend and I have exchanged e-mails every now and then, leading me to the comment that we have talked more to each other in the past few months than we did in four years of high school.  Fact is, I was surprised she even remembered me since I was such a low-profiler back then…still am.  She, on the other hand, wasn’t.  She was a hottie foo foo cheerleader with multiple pictures in the yearbook.  Imagine that–now after all these years, we could be neighbors if Rosemarie wins the prize, if the realtor finds us a house by the last commercial break and if all the other gazillion pieces fall into place.  I may even try to get my friend a cameo appearance in the TV show.  I wonder if she still has her pompoms.

Now, all this is fun speculating about moving somewhere new, but let’s face it, that’s the big cog that jams up this entire wheel—moving.  We’ve been in this house for 18 years.  That’s the longest we’ve been in one place since we got married…and you know how long that’s been!  The mere thought of having to purge and pack up this house is enough to set my arthritic hands into long-term tremors.  I like to think of myself as flexible and not set in my ways, but the older I get the more ways declare themselves set.  The only move I’d be agreeable to right now is one that goes inward toward the table for dinner at a nice restaurant.  Followed thereafter by a long period of immobility.

As you can see, all this has me a little anxious.  Every day Rosemarie puts another entry into these two contests and now she’s beginning to go through the initial mental list-making of things we have to do to get ready for the big move.  She figures it’s a good possibility given the number of entries she’s been stuffing into the HGTV website.   Meanwhile, I have been going back and forth trying to decide which location would be the lesser of the two evils, should we win of course.  Atlanta is a hell of a lot closer than Hawaii and I don’t mind living in a sexy downtown hi-rise as long as the neighbors are nice.  But then, Atlanta will be a lot colder than Hawaii and I hate the cold now that I’ve been living in Florida for centuries.  Plus, there’s another negative about Atlanta now that I’ve had time to think about it.  There’s no pompoms there.

*****


MY THOUGHTS ARE ON THE LOOSE…HERE THEY GO!

September 20, 2014

 

random

I think I shall ramble a bit on today’s post.  I was sitting in my thinking chair for only a few moments this afternoon so it was hard to get a coherent thought stream flowing.  We’ve had rain every day for what seems months.  It doesn’t last long; sort of like having mini-monsoons coming and going continually throughout the day and night.  So the weather has kept me inside without my thinking chair which results in my mind hop-scotching all over the place.

The first place I landed was on an incredible story out of Austin, Texas.  It seems the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has decided to withdraw a proposal that would have allowed the sale of alcoholic beverages at gun shows.  Seems there were even enough cowboys in dem dar parts who spoke up saying they didn’t think that was such a good idea.  “Dern tootin!” is what I say.  In fact, I’d be happy to make the posters in case there was going to be a demonstration.  Mine would have said “Alcohol and guns don’t kill people; drunk people with guns kill people!”

Being among the children of the last generation to feel the brunt of his father’s boot or the sting of a belt on the butt, I cannot help but wonder if most of the parents of my generation would wind up in jail today for some of the physical remedies they dished out for a child’s bad behavior. Like any normal person I certainly don’t condone physical abuse of a spouse or child, but personal history tells me being physical with a child is not always being abusive.  I got to thinking about all this after all the child abuse turmoil in the National Football League this past week. Times has changed.  I remember my mom being so angry with my brother and me that she took a full swipe at us with a soup ladle she happened to be armed with at the moment.  My brother took the brunt of it and I just picked up the tail end of its whizzing by my cheekbone.  I know we must have hit her tipping point with whatever it was we did.  But truth be told, I’d pay a million bucks to relive that moment just to have the chance to see her again. But that kind of physical reprimand seemed to work in my childhood days when one of us kids went too far.  And guess what? …we got over it and still loved our parents.

I am happy to report that, as discussed in a posting last week, that all my annual humongous bills are arriving on time.  I have gone ahead and started paying them and I am pleased that I have had to rob only two banks this week.  I did take a break, however, and put the remainder of the bills back in the drawer to marinate for a few days more.  Maybe they will reduce down a little and become more checkbook friendly…though I think not.   I dutifully informed the household that peanut butter and jelly sandwiches would be the kitchen’s featured item for all meals over the next several months.  The cost of cold cereals has become prohibited.

I have been rarely dedicated to the television all this past week.  I have been watching the Ken Burns series on the Roosevelts.  As yet one more sign of my growing old, no one, especially anyone under 40, in my surroundings has been interested.  I have watched alone, appreciating every moment of what was probably the most incredible era in my lifetime, albeit I was born at its end.  But in my solitude I have come to realize that not only do individuals fade into history, history itself fades into history.

ToniFiledsmOur cat, Toni, is just off to my left as I write this posting.  She is there just about every hour I am sitting here tapping away on the keyboard.  I’ve had pictures of her on my post before, but here is one more.  This is where she stays at my side, crammed into the top of my file tray.  It is unbelievable that she finds it comfortable.  Toni is not a friendly cat.  She swipes a paw and offers up a hiss at just about everyone who comes near—except me…most times.  I do not know why she has singled me out as the only one she tolerates and “blesses” with her constant companionship, especially since I am the one who was most opposed to her joining the family.  For some reason I guess she thinks me the cat’s meow.  Me thinks she needs a thinking chair to think it over.

*****

 


YO! SHOW A LITTLE RESPECT FOR SELF-PUBLISHERS

September 17, 2014

RejectGraphic

Now that I consider myself a “seasoned” self-publisher (five books), I am growing more sensitive to the traditional publishing industry’s bias toward us DIYers.  I have my share of rejection letters, but no, I am not sour grapes.  I get it—there are a lot of us who can’t land an agent or publisher because the quality of our work doesn’t measure up to that of our traditionally published brethren.  While I may be among these less-than-worthy ones, there is evidence of sufficient talent among us, coupled with today’s new publishing technology, that dictates independent authors/publishers should no longer be ignored, let alone continue being perceived as inferior.

I admit I no longer make any effort to mail off submissions to agents or publishers.  A lottery ticket has better odds, costs a lot less than my submissions package and doesn’t have any built-in prejudice toward me.   So instead, I attempt to seek out and submit materials to anyone or anything that makes sense and has potential of presenting an opportunity.  This is a slow, tedious process as many of you know and I steep in my juices for a long time waiting for a response that seldom comes.   But that’s part of the process, so be it.

What has become difficult for me to accept is the automatically closed door and how some people have no hesitation to slam it in your face before you can even say hello.  Case in point:  bookreporter.com.  This website is part of The Book Report Network which consists of six websites catering to various book reader demographics.  They focus on book reviews or book-related feature material. Their slogan: Where Readers and Writers Click.  Their content and presentation is well done and should appeal to any avid reader.  However, don’t expect to find any reviews or features on self-published books.  They don’t accept them because they feature only “books that are available with wide distribution offline as well as online.”    There are many in the industry who erect this barrier, thinking it justifies their keeping us guys out.

I found this concept perplexing in the case of bookreporter.com and its sister websites since it puts them in the position of dissing the very medium they have built their entire presence on.  All their beautiful websites are insignificant to readers, I guess, since you cannot walk into a Barnes and Noble and pick up a hard copy of their book reviews or feature reports.  That is, after all, the argument they use against self-publishers, claiming our lack of availability on the street is reason enough to reject us.  I challenge anyone who disputes the idea that amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com are not dominant channels for the distribution of books.

In my letter to the editor, I suggested to The Book Report Network that they should actually add yet one more website if they really want to properly represent today’s marketplace—and that’s a website that features self-published books.  It’s 2014, I reminded them, and time to acknowledge the new technology, the new supply of product and finally embrace the medium they themselves call home.

I suggest to all my self-publishing colleagues that you follow through as I have when you see our status being attacked, disparaged or shut out altogether.  Like all start-ups we need to establish ourselves as legit and put folks on notice that we are here to stay.  I know I’m not going anywhere.

*****


MUST BE FALL…MR. GRUMPY’S HERE

September 15, 2014

bills

This is always my grumpy time of year.  Now right away some of my close acquaintances are saying they’ve never noticed any change in my demeanor since I am grumpy all year round.  But that is not the case.  I know I am grumpier in the last few months of the year because that’s when the big bills start rolling in.  And they just don’t come gently rotating so gracefully across the front lawn and up through the mail slot.  Nope, they come thundering in like the proverbial herd of wild horses.

It begins every September.  First comes the preliminary notice of the annual property tax bill. It’s not due until November, but the local authorities are kind enough to let you know well in advance so you have time to appreciate the increase.  Then comes the next highest bill; this one’s the insurance bill on the house.  It’s accompanied, usually in the same week, by a side bill from another company who wants money to provide me with flood insurance for the house—something the home insurance policy doesn’t cover.   Along with these lovely invoices come bills for automobile insurance, the quarterly homeowner’s association fee from the community we live in, a hefty semi-annual life insurance bill (the bill is hefty not the amount of insurance) and I think that’s it.  Somehow my timing has been really off on contracting all these expenses since they all come within the same 60 day period this time of year.  Oh yeah, and just as I send off the last payment, Christmas arrives in a very untimely fashion.

Each year I pride myself on having been smart enough to have spent the first three-quarters of the year attempting to save up a pool of money to handle this annual fall mother load.  Over the years I have been pretty successful doing this.  But this year is different.  Both my wife and I are now officially retired…officially not working…officially not bringing in a paycheck anymore!  This is the bad part of retirement.  The part they warn you about.  The part you don’t see in those TV commercials and magazine ads with the happy, smiling gray-haired folks walking hand-in-hand telling you how great viagra and a reverse mortgage are.

The only thing that un-grumpifies the situation is that I annually brainwash myself into thinking how lucky my wife and I actually are. After all, there are many people who can’t even afford insurance at all. Nor can they afford to live in a nice community with a nice scenic canal that runs just 30 feet off the back patio…a canal that has never even come close to flooding in 18 years. Others, meanwhile, may not be able to afford owning a car, gassing it up and keeping it insured.  Nope, things could be worse for us.  Even Christmas brings Santa Claus and who doesn’t like Santa Claus?  At least  until the bills come in January.  But by then it’s time to start saving all over again for the big blowout that’ll come next fall.  Uh-oh…I can’t begin saving.  ‘Dem days are over.  I don’t bring in any money to save.  All these big bills we have to pay each fall get paid out of our savings now …and now there are no new funds to replenish the ones we use.  Holy crap…I’m going to be even grumpier than last year.

*****


I MADE A GROWING OLD CHART

September 10, 2014

cartoonMy father said it often and he could not have said it better or more succinctly.  He said:  “Growing Old Stinks.”   No, it is not particularly profound or insightful.  Yes, it is plainly put, simply stated and now that I can relate, probably the most accurate statement I can think of to describe what growing old is like.  True, there are some good moments, sort of, but growing old is a test for even the most optimist of optimist.

I see growing old as a series of more or less. There are more of some things and less of others.  I made a chart so all this stuff is easy to see.  Here’s my chart of the process of growing old so far…more or less…

MORE

LESS

Hurt More

Move Less

Squint More

See Less

Say “what?” more

Hear Less

Sit More

Stand Less

Take more pills

Feel Better Less

Complain more

Tolerate Less

Think About Time More

Watch the Clock Less

Price Check More

Spend Less

Zone Out More

Accomplish Less

Make Lists More

Work Less

I am sure with a little more thought and a little more time spent growing old, I can add to the list.  If you are under sixty, there’s still time for you to move to some other planet where the aging process may work differently.  But if you choose to stay here you will eventually agree that the list is pretty accurate.

If you are one to believe in the theory that “your number’s up at some predetermined time” then it’s all the more unfair that you should have to go through all the stuff on the chart before you get to that point.  There should be some procedure that you are permitted to cut to the chase and not have to pay any dues…sorta like taking the express lane and bypassing all the traffic.  I’ll see you up the road; I plan to be one of those little old men in the slow lane.  Please don’t honk at me–I won’t see well, hear well or remember where I’m going.

 #####

 


TO MAKE A LONG STORY SHORT, USE LESS WORDS!

September 7, 2014

ancientwritter

Don’t think I haven’t noticed.  I’ve gotten back to writing postings that are lengthy—too lengthy.  You’d think I’d know better, but uh-ah.  You may find it hard to believe that I spent a gazillion years working in radio where I was taught to make my writing follow the “3 B’s:” Brief, Bright and Brilliant!  Instead, lately it seems I’m stuck on the “3 D’s:” Decaying, Dreadful and Dull.  I’ve made up my mind.  I need to write shorter.  I am already sitting; can’t get much shorter than that unless maybe I lie down and write (bah-rump-bump).

Then again, maybe I should go back to writing in rhyme.

When I do that it seems I take a lot less time.

Otherwise I find there is always one more thing needs be said

Like when I’m mentioning colors I must mention red.

I guess some writers more than others have a need to be verbose.

They pound out words, sentences and paragraphs by the gross.

It’s okay, I at least acknowledge my aversion to being short

So it is with utmost regret this poem I must abort.

 

There, now isn’t that better?

***

 


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