Listen to Jim: http://www.jimreedbooks.com/mp3/lostinspace.mp3 or read on…

Granddaughter Jessica hands me her brand-new Kindle Fire (later to become Kindle Kindling?) and proudly notes that the first book thereon is Dracula by Bram Stoker. Being the book nerd that I am, I look to the first page for Stoker’s dedication to his friend Hommy-Beg (novelist Hall Caine) and it’s not there! Whoever scanned the novel simply missed the dedication that helps set the stage for the serial details that build the book’s mysterious  sense of foreboding.

It’s kind of like tearing out a page before gifting a friend.

My mistrust of hasty reprints begins to build my own sense of foreboding.

Down all the centuries of publishing, each time a new technology kicks in, errors increase.

When librarians began tossing original copies of periodicals once they were microfilmed, we started losing words and image quality. Print columns were truncated unnoticed till it was too late, Illustrations and photographs lost their resolution.

When 15th-century manuscripts were copied by hand, mistakes occurred and were repeated once published in book form.

When Twitter insisted that sentences be squeezed down, depth of thought rang shallow.

When graduate assistants photo-copy or scan a book chapter for re-distribution, a page is inadvertently dropped and seldom noticed till the volume is remaindered or de-acquisitioned.

And so on.

There are advantages to electronic transmission/storage of words and pictures, but there are casualties, too. That’s why I embrace the concept of retaining original works as backup, lest we lose things and fail to realize it.

I also urgently try to keep all those works that will never, ever be placed on the internet or archived: hand-written notes, personal diaries, postcards, century-old love letters, 19th-century invoices, crayoned refrigerator messages, etc. We can scan them into a computer  but we cannot reproduce the texture, fragrance, friction sound, signs of ink absorption, envelope mucilage, raised edges of stamps, cracking wax-seal shards, embossed letterheads, oils from skin rubbed against paper during composition, and on and on.

Go forth into the cosmos and reduce the sum total of our knowledge into a flash drive, but at the same time, do me this one big favor: leave room for those of us who are frantically rescuing, adopting, saving and passing forward the three-dimensional relics of our lives, the evidences that we were once a tactile, feeling, emoting and empathizing species who knew how to imagine and dream and postulate, who knew how to say “what if” instead of just “what is.” We are the archivists, the antiquarians, the hoarders, the collectors, the accumulators who want to appreciate the real thing, not just its thousandth virtual—thus ethereal—disembodiment

(c) 2012 A.D. by Jim Reed



Listen to Jim: http://www.jimreedbooks.com/mp3/sportschallenged.mp3 or read on…

No use trying to hide the fact that I am sports-challenged.

Yep, I am one of those geeky-nerdy types whose DNA does not include the Sports Gene.

There’s nothing intriguing or challenging about watching folks compete with one another while adoring fans oust their frustrations by egging on favored athletes and denigrating Those Others.

Of course, there might be ways to induce me to attend or watch sporting events, but they are unlikely to occur.

For instance:

I would love to see a football game that does not allow passing or kicking. Athletes would have to win the hard way, by holding onto an oddly-shaped bladder and running like heck till they score or are flattened.

I would gladly attend a basketball game that only allowed players under five-foot-two to play. That would be an exciting contest!

I’ll be the first ticket-purchaser to a baseball game where no-one is allowed to spit, chew or scratch. The tension on the field would be intense.

I would watch any ice-skating competition so long as commentators and judges are banned. That way, I can enjoy the competitors for the grace and skill of their performances, bereft of all snarky criticisms and asides and gradings.

Viewing a golf tournament would be awesome if the rules were updated so that each hole had to be played in under ten minutes. Let’s let those players work hard and fast! Get it over with so I can change to the bikini-babe volleyball channel (Actually, the only sport I ever enjoyed watching—got to see one on cable years ago. I don’t know who won.)

And so on.

What sports would you like to see created just for you?

Can’t wait to hear

(c) Jim Reed 2011 A.D.



Listen (or read below):  http://www.jimreedbooks.com/mp3/letflythepuppies.mp3 

“Without great solitude, no serious work is possible.”  –Picasso

Are writers and most artists and artisans the last Alone creators on earth?

We ply our trades and avocations one-on-one: author to page, artist to canvas, craftsperson to tool…and most of us cannot pull off the act of creation in committee.

Gathering together to build something useful often ends in compromise or chaos or half-realized results.

Some Creators are fully aware of their Aloneness and embrace it. Others equate Aloneness with Loneliness.  I suspect that those who know how to create alone are never lonely.

When Lonely creeps into the act of creation, creativity tends to begin a slow death. The creator becomes more aware of loneliness than the act of creation itself. Thus begins self-consciousness, and as Ray Bradbury says, “Self-consciousness is the enemy of all creativity.”

This subject of Aloneness versus Loneliness is a prickly one. As awareness of Loneliness grows, the creative person can suffer, can become not only negatively self-critical, but, worse, critical of others. At that point a Creative can become a Critic, thus abandoning or diminishing the time spent on personal creativity.

I’ve seen it happen dozens of times, and I don’t know what to do about it.

Each creator must wend the way through a personal journey…if persistent or lucky, light at the end of the tunnel may ensue. I hope this happens, because, believe me, I’ve been there too many times.

Fortunately, I’ve learned that it’s a lot more fun to embrace solitude as the creator’s best friend. Each time Loneliness tries to embrace me, I shout it away, “I’m already committed to Aloneness, thank you, so hie thee hence.”

Let slip the puppies of creation.

It saves funds set aside for Zantac

(c) 2012 by Jim Reed




The Circus performers arrived at Reed Books last week,

as they do every year. Here’s a photo they signed

and presented to the Museum of Fond Memories.


One reason we love the clowns is that they GET it: They understand and appreciate

the fact that Reed Books/The Museum of Fond Memories is helping maintain and

resuscitate the wonderful past. Every day is a circus here, and our circus section is

the center of the clowns’ universe each year when they visit Birmingham.



Read below or listen here: http://www.jimreedbooks.com/mp3/hidinginplainsight.mp3

Ever notice that what is in plain sight, directly in the line of view, is mostly discounted or ignored?

We writers and literary types often use our primary energies to record the tiny things that slip away from just about everybody else. This means that we are far more directionless that the average high-achievers. We focus on the trickling data that will fade away if not documented, afraid that not enough attention is being paid.

We recognize that Activities of Daily Living can get in the way of actual observation and appreciation.

It’s just too complicated and abstract to explain, so I’ll give you a few examples from my Red Clay Diary…things I notice but are of no importance to anyone else.

Friday, 7:30pm, Dodiyo’s Restaurant: Liz and I are enjoying each other’s company on our 34th wedding anniversary date. In the partially-curtained private dining area a few feet away, a young woman has her back to me so that I have no idea whether she has a face. But her flowing brown hair ebbs and flows  across her neck in a universally unconscious manner, throwing the light from high ceiling bulbs back at me.

Saturday, 1pm, Reed Books/The Museum of Fond Memories: A young customer is on her knees before the lower-shelved collection of new and original Nancy Drew mysteries. She is so excited to find them that she sees nothing else. Her focus is total and her joy is palpable. She leaves happy and satisfied with two Nancy books.

Tuesday, 11am, Reed Books: Antiques dealer John Nixon delivers my latest purchase, a genuine, real-life old-fashioned telephone switchboard complete with photograph of Lily Tomlin sitting before it, ringie-ding-dinging it. The chaos of moving dozens of items aside to accommodate the instrument causes some customers amusement, others consternation. Some smile, one leaves in a huff, probably feeling ignored. My thrill of acquisition has cost me one customer, gained me another. Can’t please everybody…

Sunday, 2pm, Aldis on Green Springs Highway: I’m pulling a shopping cart from its parking lot queue, veering around several women who are chatting and trying in turn to veer around me. We’re trying not to run into each other. One laughs, says, “Looks like we’re dancing!” I laugh and say, “OK–I’m ready!” We both appreciate the moment and go our separate ways. 

Sunday, High Noon: I’m standing on the street in the drizzle, holding a faltering red Dollar Tree umbrella while a Triple-A service guy tries to diagnose my dead battery. He pronounces it a disabled Lazarus, I marvel at how he can process my American Express card on the spot, remove and replace the battery and drive away as my momentary hero, all within a matter of minutes. I appreciate his dedication and wonder whether customers at my shop ever appreciate my work ethic. Why should they?

Friday, 7:30pm, Dodiyo’s: Liz and I decide to toss our imaginary Bucket List and replace it with a Chuck-It List, things we’ve enjoyed but now need to pass on to others. We don’t get very far, since we have so much amazing stuff. Guess the kids will have to decide what to do with it after…

Sunday, near 5pm: Can’t keep the words and images and ideas from dribbling onto the keyboard. The act of writing in my Red Clay Diary—writing anything in my Red Clay Diary—is a puzzle and a pleasure. Hope you find thrills in something simple today, too

(c) 2012 A.D. by Jim Reed



Listen to Jim: http://www.jimreedbooks.com/mp3/sumitonannexesbirmingham.mp3 

or read on…

I learned the other day that my driver’s license had expired. Note that I did not receive a notice that my driver’s license is due to expire soon. I learned that only late notices are issued.
“Why would that be?” I ask my friend B.J. “They could just send me a note three weeks before expiration instead of three weeks after—you think?”
“Why would they do that?” says B.J. “If they tell you you’re delinquent, they get to assess a penalty on top of the license fee. It’s called revenue-generation.”
I don’t argue with B.J., since I can imagine no other other reason. I have to admit it is clever—and, of course, evil.
That’s why I find myself standing here in a Butler Building-type structure in Sumiton, Alabama, about to receive my pain-free driver’s license.
The day before, I had gone to the Jefferson County cathedral of licensing to obtain my renewal, only to find a long, long line of people ahead of me, some of whom had been waiting a long, long time. Denial is always my first defense, so I walked past the extended queue to speak to anyone who could tell me that this wasn’t really the license line.
“Yes, this side of the hall is driver’s licenses,” a very pleasant employee tells me, “And this other side is everything else having to do with licenses and the like,” she said. I said, “This is wild—is there a better time to come?” She smiled and reported that the situation is the same every day. “People start lining up at five a.m., even though we don’t open the doors till eight,” she reports.
I turn and beging the hall-long trek to the end of the line.
“Hey, Jim!” a familiar voice beckons. I look at the middle of the “other” line and see my friend Ben Elliott standing there, grinning his usual sardonic grin. “Are you trapped here?” I ask. “Yep,” Ben says. “It’s the way of the world.”
We chat and giggle at the outrageousness of it all. Ben is resigned to his certain fate, but I decide to just leave the building.
Being an optimist, I had parked at a half-hour meter.
So, next day, here I am in tiny Sumiton, northwest of Birmingham, grateful that Liz suggested I pay for my license in another, less disorganized county.
It actually works! A pleasant drive to this village, a chat with the librarian and a patron, a meandering path to the Butler Building, and I’m only third in line! Life is good.
Ms. Ash is the sole officer who processes licenses and apparently runs everything else: answers the phone, takes the ID photos, does the paperwork and wrangles the crowds—yep, she’s prepared for crowd control, herding the three of us as if we were fifty people. “Take a number…stand right there till that chair is empty…now, take the yellow chair after that…now, read this chart.”
We have a nice conversation, she does her duty, and I’m out of there in minutes, feeling smug but sorry about the long gray lines back in Birmingham.
The round-trip voyage to Sumiton gives me time to plan my next civic action. The campaign to have Birmingham annexed is all in my head, but with a little help from you, it could become reality
(c) 2012 A.D. by Jim Reed