August 31, 2015

Tomorrow, September 1, marks the 140th anniversary of the birth of my favorite author: Edgar Rice Burroughs, father of Tarzan, chronicler of Barsoom and Pellucidar, and the man whose stories helped teach me to read and made me want to become a writer myself. 

In celebration I thought it might be appropriate to share a poem in tribute to Burroughs that I wrote roughly 20 years ago now…


A Poem By John Allen Small

With simple words on paper

He drew a map that led me

On a pathway to adventure:

From Africa and Hell's Bend

Past the moon, Mars and Venus

To Beyond the Farthest Star

And a Land that Time Forgot

And back again.

Along the way

He introduced me to friends

Who helped teach me about

Bravery and honor;

And although they exist

Only in imagination,

Their spirits walk beside me

As I travel through this life.

It's a long, long way

From Opar to Barsoom...

But not so far

As from Kankakee to Tishomingo,

I think.

(Copyright 2015 by John Allen Small)



August 26, 2015

One of the big news stories of the past week revolved around James Harrison, the pro football player who launched a national debate when he announced that he had made his young sons return sports participation trophies they had received because he felt they rewarded involvement, as opposed to actual accomplishment.

Harrison got a fair share of “atta boys” from certain corners, but he also caught no small amount of flack from others who apparently felt that his decision fell just short of...

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August 12, 2015

This past weekend my wife and son Joshua and I went to see the fifth entry in the popular Mission: Impossible film series, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation

And just as was the case with the previous four movies, I came away with mixed feelings. 

On the one hand, it was a fun, entertaining, well-made film... probably the best one in the series so far, in fact, strictly in terms of overall entertainment value. Witty and reasonably intelligent, with strong performances all around and a bet...

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August 5, 2015

Every now and then something happens that makes me just sit back, scratch my head and wonder at what point the cosmic axis shifted so violently that I ended up in a world so different from the one I grew up in.

Case in point: 

Just before noon Tuesday, while putting together this week’s issue of the newspaper where I work as News Editor, I took a break long enough to walk across the street to the post office and retrieve my daily mail. One of the items I pulled out of the mailbox happened...

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August 5, 2015

I read an article the other day which reported that the Pez candy company is planning to produce a movie based on their candy dispensers, more or less along the same lines as The Lego Movie.


Now I stand second to no one in my fondness for Pez. I remember my brothers and I using our Pez dispensers as pseudo-action figures when we were little kids, and often find myself wishing that I still had the Green Hornet Pez Dispenser my parents bought for me (for a mere 33 cents, if I remembe...

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July 29, 2015

Here's something I promised Win Eckert I would post when I got home, following a discussion on the topic that we had at his house during our recent visit... 

During the first wave of Star Wars prose fiction that began with Del Rey’s publication of Alan Dean Foster’s Splinter Of The Mind’s Eye in 1978, L. Neil Smith’s Lando Calrissian trilogy (which takes places prior to Han Solo’s ownership of the Millennium Falcon) represented the earliest chronological adventures in the series; t...

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"CRASH" SMALL RIDES AGAIN! (or, How I Spent My Summer Vacation)

July 29, 2015

Remember that scene in the film Star Trek III: The Search For Spock in which the Starship Enterprise returns to Earth, and the officers on duty at Spacedock gaze sadly upon the sight of the battle damage that was inflicted by the villainous Khan in the previous movie? 

I thought of that scene this past Saturday as my wife Melissa, son Joshua and I pulled into our driveway at the conclusion of our annual two-week vacation.

No, we didn’t find ourselves in mortal combat with an evil, genetic...

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July 3, 2015

In his tribute essay “Caliban,” one of the several items of supplemental material included in the 2013 deluxe hardcover reissue of Philip José Farmer’s classic fictional biography Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life (Meteor House), author and pulp historian Will Murray twice makes statements to the effect that no other writer was as qualified as Farmer to step into the shoes of Edgar Rice Burroughs with regard to the task of telling new tales of Tarzan of the Apes.

Those comments of Murr...

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Overdose Of Goofy Juice...?

May 21, 2015

Either we are about to plunge off the precipice into another long national election cycle, or else some people have thrown caution to the wind and are deliberately exceeding their doctors’ recommended daily amount of Goofy Juice.

Or, quite possibly, both. 

How else does one logically explain the increase in the number of just out-and-out bizarre items in the national news that I’ve found myself running across in recent weeks?

One of the most recent came this past Sunday on the CBS News...

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Why, Kraft, Why?

April 23, 2015

Dear Kraft Foods:

I was ALREADY angry with you. I have been ever since you made the bone-headed decision a few years back to discontinue sales of your classic Chicken Noodle Dinner - a move which I still consider to be a personal insult to me and my family. 

That delicious dinner in the little brown box had been an important staple of mealtime in the Small Household for as far back as I could remember. More than merely an easy-to-make side dish that went with almost everything, it was an im...

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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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