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A WRITING EXPERIMENT...

Posted by John Allen Small on Thursday, August 18, 2016, In : Fiction 


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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REMEMBER CIVILITY...?

Posted by John Allen Small on Thursday, June 23, 2016, In : Opinion 
(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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SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT AWARDS...

Posted by John Allen Small on Wednesday, August 26, 2015, In : Opinion 

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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FROM THE ARCHIVES: LUPERCUS AND THE ART OF ROMANCE

Posted by John Allen Small on Friday, February 14, 2014, In : Holiday 
(NOTE: This is a newspaper column I originally wrote a number of years ago and have rerun every few years or so at this time of year. I didn't run it in the newspaper this year, so I decided to share it here instead...)

Every February 15th, the ancient Romans used to take part in a fertility ritual known as the Lupercalia, so named in honor of some obscure rustic diety known as Lupercus.


Much later - sometime in the Third Century, if you’re taking notes - men began commemorating the martyrd...


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THE KINGSTON TRIO: A WORLD OF MUSIC

Posted by John Allen Small on Thursday, November 7, 2013, In : Pop Culture 

(Above left: The poster at the entryway of the Kingston Trio traveling exhibit at the American Banjo Museum in Oklahoma City through May of 2014. Above right: KT founding member Bob Shane holding copies of both the paperback and hardback editions of the anthology The Green Hornet: Still At Large, which contains my story "Bad Man's Blunder" in which The Hornet meets Bob, Nick Reynolds, John Stewart and Dean Reilly. Below: Just a few of the great KT albums released over the years.)



Longtime r...


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WELL, SOMEBODY HAD TO BE FIRST...

Posted by John Allen Small on Tuesday, July 23, 2013, In : Unbridled Silliness 
Being the first person to do something seems to carry a great deal of weight with the majority of folks.

Many of those whom we honor as heroes are so honored simply because they were the first person to do whatever it was they did. Their names become the stuff of legend: Charles 
Lindbergh, the first man to fly solo across the Atlantic; Chuck Yeager, the first man to break the sound barrier; Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon; John Garduno, the first guy in my class to work up the nerve ...

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A GROSS INJUSTICE

Posted by John Allen Small on Wednesday, June 26, 2013, In : Opinion 
(Graphic by www.TheEverlastingGOPStoppers.com, via Facebook)


Now let me see if I've got this straight: the five Supreme Court justices who voted on Tuesday to strike down a key part of the Voting Rights Act did so because that provision has been so successful at preventing racial discrimination?


That’s the way Chief Justice John Roberts’ decision read to me. It’s the way it read to dissenting Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, too. In her dissent Ginsburg wrote that throwing out the provision...


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ZEN AND THE ART OF CROTCHETINESS

Posted by John Allen Small on Thursday, March 21, 2013, In : Life 

I never really pictured myself becoming the stereotypical “crotchety old man” back when I was a wee nipper and “old” meant anything over the age of about, oh, say, 25. But now that I’ve moved to within spitting distance of the “Big 5-0,” I’ve come to the conclusion that becoming crotchety must be not only something of an inevitability but, in fact, a badge of honor. 


I remember my parents telling me when I was younger that people pretty much earn the right to get persnickety ...


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ONE DAY A YEAR IS NOT ENOUGH

Posted by John Allen Small on Thursday, February 14, 2013, In : Holiday 
Me and Melissa, Valentine's Day, 1980 - Bradley, Illinois.



I don’t remember where I first read it, but I certainly agree with whoever said it: True love does not need a special day.


Please understand before we proceed any further that I do not mean to denigrate Valentine’s Day. Quite the contrary. It’s an important holiday tradition to a great many folks – and not such a bad one at that, as holiday traditions go. Any holiday that includes chocolate as one of its most important acoutre...


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JUST A SUGGESTION...

Posted by John Allen Small on Monday, January 14, 2013, In : Opinion 

Tell you what, if you really hate paying taxes then please refrain from doing any of the following: 


Drive on paved streets or highway; call 911; flush your toilet; call the police or the fire department; mail a letter; expect a Social Security payment; expect Medicare to pay your bills; visit the Washington Monument, the Grand Canyon or public museums; expect the military to defend the country; use city water; expect the street lights on Main Street to work; expect medical research to conti...


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NO EASY ANSWERS...

Posted by John Allen Small on Thursday, December 20, 2012, In : Opinion 

“I suppose you’ll be writing about that horrible school shooting just like everybody else,” my old friend Julian Frye commented when I ran into him unexpectedly during a trip to the store last Saturday.


I responded with a gloomy shrug of my shoulders. “To be honest, I really haven’t decided yet,” I said. “I mean, yeah, definitely feel like I should say something, even if it turns out to be nothing more than a catharsis for my own sorrow and anger and frustration. But nothing th...


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I'M DREAMING OF A RED PLANET

Posted by John Allen Small on Thursday, December 6, 2012, In : Pop Culture 

(Yes, that's really me in the lower left corner... as I looked back in January of 1982.)


 

Perhaps it should have come as no surprise that this week’s report by NASA, regarding the data collected by the Mars rover Curiosity, was do doggone anti-climactic in light of all the Internet buzz and media hoopla that ensued after scientist John Grotzinger announced that the findings were destined “for the history books.” 


It’s hard to live up to that kind of advance publicity. Just ask Kim Kar...


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HAPPY HOLIDAYS, ANYWAY...

Posted by John Allen Small on Thursday, October 18, 2012, In : Holiday 
(Artwork by Michael Cho)


Well, we’re still a couple of weeks away from Halloween but apparently some folks are already busy gearing up for the next round in the ongoing battle over how Christmas season greetings should be expressed.


In recent years there’s been a perpetual hullabaloo over use of the phrase “Happy Holidays.” To the best of my memory (which I’ll be the first to admit is sometimes questionable at best), the brouhaha began when some well-meaning Christians starting voic...


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ZEN AND THE FINE ART OF PACKRATTERY

Posted by John Allen Small on Thursday, October 4, 2012, In : Pop Culture 


Lancelot had his Holy Grail; Indiana Jones, his Lost Ark. And, for many years,  I had The Record.


Not just any record, you understand. The object of my quest was an album entitled Somethin’ Else, recorded by The Kingston Trio and released by Decca Records in November of 1965. 


I’ve been a fan of the Kingston Trio since I was a small boy. Between the two of us, my father and I had managed to collect every album that the Kingston Trio ever recorded… except this one. So I spent close to ...


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REGARDING AURORA...

Posted by John Allen Small on Monday, July 23, 2012, In : Opinion 

There was a graphic floating around on Facebook the day after the horrific theatre shooting in Aurora, Colo., that read as follows: "84,999,989 firearm owners killed no one yesterday." 


To be fair, the observation was true enough. But my response is one firearm owner DID kill 12 and wounded 57 others that terrible day, and that was one too many as far as I'm concerned...


*      *      *


Of all the responses to the Aurora incident I've encountered on the Internet these past few days,...


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The Spirit Of America

Posted by John Allen Small on Tuesday, July 3, 2012, In : Holiday 

Shhh... Listen close. 


Can you hear them? Wafting over the American landscape like an echo, ghostly voices urging us to remember who we are and where we've been. 


The Voices of America's Past... 


Turn off the television. Step away from the barbecue for just a moment. Listen hard and you can still hear them; look closely, and perhaps you might even see them. 


Look, over there. Do you see him? It's George Washington, first in the hearts of his countrymen, reciting the words of his Farewell ...


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AN OPEN LETTER TO CONGRESS

Posted by John Allen Small on Thursday, January 26, 2012, In : Opinion 

 

To The Men And Women Of The Congress Of The United States:


You folks always claim to be working for us, the American People, and quite often invite us to contact you if we have something we want to bring to your attention. I sincerely hope you mean that, because I have something I want to say:


Motion Picture Association of America President Chris Dodd - one of your former colleagues, though for the life of me I can't at the moment recall anything worthwhile he ever had anything to do with ...


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THE FREEDOM TO READ

Posted by John Allen Small on Friday, January 20, 2012, In : Opinion 


Hitler burned books, and we here in America were outraged. Such behavior flew in the face of the spirit of freedom which we have always claimed to hold dear. “Thank God such things can't happen here in America,” we said.


But guess what? It HAS happened here – and would no doubt more often, if certain people were to have their way. They claim their motives are different, of course – but what else would you expect from folks who have dedicated their lives to telling us what we can or c...


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A CHRISTMAS MEMORY: THE RIGHT GIFT AT THE RIGHT TIME

Posted by John Allen Small on Wednesday, December 21, 2011, In : Holiday 


Every year around this time, somebody will inevitably ask me to tell them about the most memorable holiday season I have experienced during my lifetime. And when considering the question, I always find myself thinking that the Christmas of 1984 probably should not be the one that occurs to me first.


And yet it always is...


Whether we choose to admit it or not, all of us have experienced moments in our lives when we have felt like loners or believe that we do not fit in with whatever group o...


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IT MUST HAVE BEEN ONE OF THOSE WEEKENDS...

Posted by John Allen Small on Monday, June 27, 2011, In : Unbridled Silliness 

A Message From VAST (Vociferous Americans Sensing Trouble)

A Subsidiary of the Tea Party Institute for Creative Mind Control


• Do you believe that the United States Government covered up the crash-landing of a spacecraft from another world in Roswell, New Mexico in July of 1947?

• Are you convinced that the Apollo moon landings actually took place on a Hollywood soundstage?

• Have you recently spotted Elvis Presley wolfing down a large Canadian Bacon and Anchovy at Simple Simon’s Pizza?

...

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(From The Archives) The Really Great, Really Odd Leprechaun Adventure

Posted by John Allen Small on Wednesday, June 22, 2011, In : Unbridled Silliness 
(Note: This was something I dashed off for one of my college writing classes in college back in 1988. The professor, as I recall, wanted us to have a little fun and so gave us a weekend assignment to "just write something really silly." I think my response scared him; I know it certainly scared me…)

Once upon a time, but not really all that long ago when you really stop and think about it, there was a mythical land which some people called Kankakee. And just down the highway from this mythic...

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Pic Of The Day - For Kingston Trio Fans

Posted by John Allen Small on Wednesday, June 8, 2011, In : Pop Culture 
Awhile back some of my fellow posters over at The Kingston Trio Place (http://www.kingstontrioplace.com/) were discussing what actors might have been cast in a movie about the popular folk group had such a film been made back in the 1960s. I liked a couple of the names that were tossed about and made this fake poster to advertise their dream project. Went over well enough that I thought I'd re-post it here.
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ILL WINDS...

Posted by John Allen Small on Thursday, May 26, 2011, In : Reminiscence 

The tragic reports coming out of Joplin, Mo., in the wake of the tornado that struck that city last weekend have served as a terrible reminder – as if we needed such in our neck of the woods – of the terrible devastation such storms can produce.


Those reports have been especially difficult for me and my family, as Joplin has been one of our regular stops whenever traveling between here and Illinois to visit family members over the years. Any time there is some kind of personal connection...


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TO DREAM THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM...

Posted by John Allen Small on Wednesday, May 18, 2011, In : Opinion 
One thing that some people I've talked to over the years seem to find interesting, humorous, odd or even slightly creepy about me (depending on who you ask, I reckon, and I have to admit that I've often found myself a tad befuddled by the latter reaction) is the fact that I like musicals - both on stage and in the movies. 

Not ALL musicals, mind you. I've never been a fan of "The Sound Of Music," for example (which for some reason people seem to find even more troubling than the fact that I li...

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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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