IT'S MORE THAN JUST A RIGHT; IT'S A RESPONSIBILITY

August 24, 2016

Believe me, nobody will be more happy than I will to see this current campaign season - with all its circus atmosphere and a cast of characters that makes me wonder sometimes if both major party candidates are being funded by Mad magazine -  finally come to an end.   


People complain about “election fatigue” in pretty much every campaign cycle, but I can’t remember a time when my own sense of fatigue has been so pronounced and, at times, downright painful to bear. More than once in recent weeks, as I have watched the national news on television while eating dinner at home, I have found myself fighting off the urge to throw a shoe at the TV screen and screaming in my best imitation of Charlton Heston, “It’s a madhouse! A MADHOUSE!!!!


That said, there is one issue about the election that I find myself feeling somewhat obliged to comment on. It has nothing to do with either of the candidates; I know how I feel on that matter and I suspect more than a few of you do too by now, and if so then I’m sure there’s nothing I can say here that will convince you to change your mind if we don’t happen to agree on that score. And about the only thing I can think of right now to say to those of you who have not yet made up your own mind is to simply consider the question of what kind of world you want to bequeath to your children and your children’s children, and how your choice in the voting booth this November might ultimately impact the answer to that question. 


No, my comments at this point are directed solely at those who have stated, in one-on-one conversations with me or in interviews with various print and broadcast news outlets over the past few months, that they do not plan on casting a vote at all this year.


I understand that some people will always be disappointed that some certain candidate or another did not win their party’s nomination. I’m disappointed that the person I most wanted to see get my party’s nod is not our nominee; I admit there is a certain sense of having to hold my nose and picking the lesser of two evils when I cast my vote in November. 


But it occurs to me that there comes a point when disappointment starts to look like simply being a sore loser. And while some people believe that staying home and not voting is an appropriate way of protesting an election in which no candidate represents them, I’m more inclined to believe that not voting is akin to turning your back on America and saying “Screw it, I just don’t care.”  


I am reminded of a front page article I remember rewarding in an area newspaper back in 1998, concerning an apparent lack of interest in that year’s election on the part of Coal County voters. The article in question (to which I devoted a column in response at the time) had included a quote from a waitress who felt that some residents are “put out” by politics in general.  


“Look at who we’ve put in office,” she told the reporter, adding that she preferred to just “stay out of it until we can do some good.”


Let me throw out a question for folks to ponder: Exactly how are we to “do some good” unless we go out and vote? How can you ever hope to send a message to the candidates you support - and to the candidates you don’t - if you don’t even bother to go to the polls?


Thomas Paine probably said it best back in 1795 when he wrote: “The right of voting… is the primary right by which other rights are protected.”


Consider also the following passage, from what some may seem an unlikely source. It’s a quote from the Prologue of the book version of the first Star Wars film: “Like the greatest of trees, able to withstand any external attack, the Republic rotted from within…”


In the case of the fictional Republic, it was corruption that caused the government to “rot from within.” But it could have just as easily been caused by voter apathy, which virtually guarantees that those corrupt politicians already in office will remain there.


What it all boils down to, ultimately, is that ALL candidates need all their supporters to show up and vote. In the long run, who you vote for is not nearly as important as simply going out and making the effort to vote at all. Only through active participation in the election process will the Founding Fathers’ grand experiment continue to succeed.


Bottom line: get out there and vote, for crying out loud. Support your candidate, even if your wife or your boss or your newspaper supports the other guy (or gal). Even if you’re one of the only five or six voters who actually support the candidacy of Ferdinand Lobomowicz for Superintendent of the Ministry of Silly Walks, then by all means get out there to your precinct polling place and mark your ballot for Ferdie. 


Take part in the process. It’s more than just a right; it’s a responsibility.


Because I’ve got a news flash for you, Bunky. The only wasted vote is the one you don’t cast.


(Copyright © 2016 by John A. Small)

 

A WRITING EXPERIMENT...

August 18, 2016


Okay, so here’s the thing…


Not too very long ago I was talking with a writer friend of mine who told me that he was taking a stab at writing a romance story. When I commented that this was a genre I was not particularly comfortable with, he basically called me a coward and challenged me to give it a try. So just to shut him up I told him I’d think about it and we turned toward a different subject.


Fast forward to this past Tuesday night, after I got home from the newspaper. I was sitt...


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HOW I SPENT MY SUMMER VACATION (2016 EDITION)

August 10, 2016
Above: Yours Truly (bottom left) and my FarmerCon friends at the Hyatt Regency in Columbus, Ohio, during the 2016 PulpFest convention July 21-24)

Apologies if I’ve looked or acted a little out of it over the past week or so, but it hasn’t been without reason. My mind and body have been in recovery mode, trying to get re-acclimated to the usual day-to-day routine after the whirlwind extravapalooza that was (drumroll, please) Small Family Vacation 2016.


We set out bright and early on the mo...


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SOMETIMES WORDS FAIL ME...

July 13, 2016

There is a lyric in the Harry Chapin song “Story Of A Life” that I’ve always found somewhat appropriate for those of us who toil in my particular line of work: 


“Sometimes words can serve me well,

Sometimes words can go to hell

For all that they do...”


As a newspaper columnist, I understand and appreciate the sentiment Chapin was attempting to convey in those lines. Because there are times when, as much as I hate to admit it, words fail me.


I was oh so proud back in 1991 to earn ...


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NEW TARZAN IS A WINNER

July 4, 2016

It occurred to me recently that it had been a while since the last time I devoted this space to reviewing a new movie. This seems like as good a time as any to rectify this - and frankly I could not have picked a better movie with which to do so.


Full disclosure: The Legend Of Tarzan was one of those movies I was looking forward to with both great anticipation and, at the same time, a certain degree of dread. Anticipation because, as I have written about many times in the past, Tarzan is a c...


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REMEMBER CIVILITY...?

June 23, 2016
(Note: This is a slightly revised version of something I recently wrote and posted on Facebook, and then published as my weekly column in the June 23, 2016, edition of the Johnston County Capital-Democrat.)


I recently had a… well, I don't know that it actually rises to the level of being an honest-to-Jed Bartlett "epiphany," but it is darn sure something that bears being shared the rest of the world.  (And if it does qualify as an epiphany then I'm just tickled to death, because I don't know...


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ELEMENTARY, DEAR READER...

May 13, 2016

(NOTE: The following is a longer version of one of my recent newspaper columns.)


Over the past few years I have had the opportunity to become reacquainted with an old friend. A fellow I first met when I was a young boy and who became one of my most faithful companions as I was growing up. A gentleman who taught me about the importance of being observant, and of not allowing emotions to overpower logic - a skill I readily admit I have yet to master, though I continue to strive in that direction...


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MEMOIRS OF A BAT-FAN

January 15, 2016

MEMOIRS OF A BAT-FAN



In case you happened to miss it (you’d be surprised, it seems like there is always a few who somehow manage to not receive the memo), this past Tuesday marked an important milestone in the history of American popular culture. 


Well, it was important to some of us, anyway...


January 12 marked the 50th anniversary of the night that the television series Batman, starring Adam West and Burt Ward, premiered on the ABC television network (WLS-TV, Channel 7 in Chicago if y...


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HO, HO, HO...

December 23, 2015
(Above: Thomas Nast's depiction of Santa Claus for Harper's Weekly in the late 1800s; and my son Joshua playing Santa Claus in the 2014 Johnston County Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade, Tishomingo, Oklahoma.)



(Note: The following article was originally published in the Johnston County Capital-Democrat, Dec. 24, 1992. We re-published it in this week's issue as a Christmas gift to our readers, and I felt it was appropriate to share it here as well.)



He is one of the most recognized figures...


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IT COULD HAVE BEEN ME...

November 24, 2015
(Yours Truly in Greece, Spring 1985 - shortly before the events described below...)



It occurred to me, as I sat down at my keyboard just now to share the story I am about to tell, that I probably should have done so back in June. That month did, after all, mark the 30th anniversary of when it actually happened.


But for some reason I generally don’t think about it when the anniversary rolls around. The subject only seems to come to mind around this time of year. When I’m counting my blessi...


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About Me


John Allen Small John A. Small is an award-winning newspaper journalist, columnist and broadcaster whose work has been honored by the Oklahoma Press Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the Associated Press, the National Newspaper Association, and the Oklahoma Education Association. He and his wife Melissa were married in 1986; they have two sons, Joshua Orrin (born 1991) and William Ian (born 1996). Mr. Small is the News Editor and columnist for the Johnston County Capital-Democrat, a weekly newspaper headquartered in Tishomingo, OK. He obtained his nickname, "Bard of the Lesser Boulevards," from a journalism colleague - the late Phil Byrum - in recognition of the success of his popular newspaper column, "Small Talk." (In addition to the many awards the column itself has received over the years, a radio version of "Small Talk" earned an award for "Best Small Market Commentary" from the Society of Professional Journalists in 1998.) John was born in Oklahoma City in 1963; lived in the Bradley-Bourbonnais-Kankakee area of Illinois for most of the next 28 years (with brief sojourns in Texas and Athens, Greece, thrown in to break up the monotony); then returned to his native state in 1991, where he currently resides in the Tishomingo/Ravia area. He graduated from Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School in 1981, and received his bachelor's degree in journalism from Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais in 1991. The years between high school and college were a period frought with numerous exploits and misadventures, some of which have become the stuff of legend; nobody was hurt along the way, however, which should count for something. In addition to his professional career as a journalist he has published two short story collections: "Days Gone By: Legends And Tales Of Sipokni West" (2007), a collection of western stories; and "Something In The Air" (2011), a more eclectic collection. He was also a contributor to the 2005 Locus Award-nominated science fiction anthology "Myths For The Modern Age: Philip Jose Farmer's Wold Newton Universe," edited by Win Scott Eckert. In additon he has written a stage play and a self-published cookbook; served as project editor for a book about the JFK assassination entitled "The Men On The Sixth Floor"; and has either published or posted on the Internet a number of essays, stories and poems. He has also won writing awards from the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the National Library of Poetry. He is a past president of the Johnston County Chamber of Commerce in Tishomingo; was a charter member and past president of the Johnston County Reading Council, the local literacy advocacy and "friends of the library" organization; served as Johnston County's first-ever Americans with Disabilities Act coordinator in 1994-95; served two terms as chairman of the Johnston County (OK) Democratic Party; and has taught journalism classes for local Boy Scout Merit Badge Fairs. He is a member of the New Wold Newton Meteorics Society.
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