Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the End of the Story


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What got me started on this column was the annoying notion that many folks pay little attention to process and focus their interest solely on the next thing.

One reader begins a book, loses interest, scans a few pages, then reads the last page, puts it aside and reports that that was a pretty good read. I find many a partially-read book at the Museum of Fond Memories.

In a movie theatre, I’m seated early to catch the previews, get a good seat, watch the animated logos and titles and credits and prepare myself for a good story…then sit past the ending till all the crawls have, well, crawled away. This is becoming more difficult to do, since moviegoers often chaotically come in during the first few scenes, try to find a seat, block the view of those behind them, chat loudly to their entourage, even go so far as to ask us early-arrivers to move down two seats so they can get their gear into the row—guaranteeing that I’ll have to sit behind one large guy nicknamed Booger, who has two tubs of popcorn and a supersize-gulper spread across two seats while his companion texts and giggles, never once looking at the screen.

Then, while the final scene is gearing up for the emotional punch, some moviegoers start rising, gathering their life’s belongings, stretching to occlude the screen, and generally making snarky remarks to one another while the credits disappear from my view.

Would these same people read a book, skipping the first chapter entirely and tearing out the last two pages before reading them, then report that they had read the book?

At a poetry reading, I count 35%  of the crowd gazing into their laps, texting, googling, looking up missed call numbers. Are the poets chopped liver?

Maybe we could found a nudist movie theatre/lecture hall/reading room where attendees are not allowed to bring anything with them except their attention. Would we then have a crowd of people who actually heard the story, saw the story, appreciated the story as it was meant to be received? Or would we just have a roomful of naked people who can’t wait to leave and do something important, something truncated and incomplete and quite bereft of meaning?

There, I said it and I’m glad. Since you haven’t bothered to read down to the last line, I don’t think you’ll get to appreciate this wonderful quote from Confucius: “By the time a man begins to smell himself, everybody else has been smelling him for three days.”

Sorry for all this—every year or two, I just gotta do a rant

(c) 2012 A.D. by Jim Reed

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So long, baby sister


Listen here:  

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Rose Mari (Rosi) Reed, a native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, died on June 17, 2012 at the age of 61.  She had resided in Columbia, SC since 1998 and was the daughter of the late James Thomas (Tom) Reed II and Frances Lee McGee Reed of Tuscaloosa.

 Ms. Reed graduated from Northington Elementary School and Tuscaloosa High School, and attended the University of Alabama.  A talented artist and craftsperson, she was a consummate film buff and an active member of the Alabama Wildlife Rescue Center while residing in Alabama.  Rose Mari loved opera, ballet and 60′s rock ‘n roll.  She played clarinet and piano.  Her passions were archaeology, anthropology and helping injured and helpless wildlife.  She was a Girl Scout from elementary through high school.  Rose was baptized at Forest Lake Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa.

Rose Mari’s employers in Alabama were Alford Screen Printing, Warrior Screen Printing and Pier One Imports.  She worked at Sears while attending the University of Alabama. In Birmingham, she was employed by Reed Books/The Museum of Fond Memories.


Rose recently said that her favorite place to work in Columbia was Graph-itti T-Shirts, Inc.  She had worked at Graph-itti for six years and planned to retire in 2016 at age 65.  She embroidered sports and business clothing using computerized sewing machines.


Rose Mari loved Halloween, Christmas, birthdays and any other excuse to have a party.  She was shy and quiet with strangers. Those who were fortunate enough to know her, met a humble, kind, sensitive and intelligent person.  

She is survived by sister Barbara Jean Reed Partrich, Columbia, SC, and brothers James Thomas (Jim) Reed III, Birmingham, AL; Ronald Lee (Ronny) Reed, Houston, TX; Timothy Ray (Tim) Reed, Chattanooga, TN; eight nieces and nephews and eleven grandnieces and grandnephews in Alabama, Texas, South Carolina and Idaho.

Knowing Rose Mari was worth the effort it took to break through the shyness. When she spoke of subjects and people she loved, her face and voice came alive. She was knowledgeable and-well read, but kept opinions to herself unless asked for. She listened and noticed things most people missed. I loved conversations with Rosi. She has left an irreplacable space in my home and heart.” –Barbara Reed Partrich



Rose Mari’s family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations may be made


Alabama Wildlife Rescue Center

100 Terrace Drive

Oak Mountain State Park

Pelham, Alabama


(c) 2012 A.D. by Barbara Reed Partrich and Jim Reed

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A phone is ringing somewhere in the house, but I can’t find it. Sounds a little muffled and a bit other-roomish, so I’m scrounging around, hoping to answer it before I lose the caller.

I feel about under sofa cushions and beneath the armoire and move things around on the coffee table (I don’t drink coffee, so why do I call it that?), scan the foyer, look for lumps in the rugs and comforters, check jacket pockets, and…well, you may  be familiar with the routine. I don’t find the phone, so it’s adrift until I get another call, or until—wait!  It suddenly occurs to me why I bother to own both a cell phone and a wireless landline phone. Two systems exist for the sole purpose of each finding the other.

I go to the car, fetch the phone, call the home number, go back into the house and renew my efforts to trace the ringing to its source.

How much of my time is spent in endeavors such as this each and every week of my life?

Furthermore, why have Liz and I invested in a remarkably dangerous wireless can opener that manages to stop halfway through the procedure for which it exists, leaving can and opener inextricably linked so that hammer and wrench and crowbar and profanity in no way separate them? I eventually give up and toss the wedded can and opener into the trash, all the while wishing I had the excess energy required to ship both back to the factory, fishy smell and all.

And why do I own an automobile whose manufacturer has cleverly installed an intricate and incredibly expensive-to-repair door-security system? All I need is a lock and a key, not some geek-invented$600 gadget that sucks money from my pocket and deposits it into a Detroit bank account should it fail to operate.

And so on.

Solutions are easy to each of these problems: the unlocate-able phone, the non-nourishing can-eating opener and the electronic metal escape-proof collar that is a car door lock. They are easy to fix, just unfashionable and unsightly.

1. I’ll attach a long, permanent rope to each home phone, so that I can mountain-climb horizontally till I locate its receiver.

2. I’ll pull out my Swiss Army Boy Scout pocketknife and stab open my next can of beans.

3. I’ll attach a padlock to the car door, bypassing the electric marvel that seeks to control my time and my life.

There must be some unattractive but wise solution to many of life’s daily pains, and you don’t have to be a redneck to achieve closure.

All you really need is a hairpin, some duct tape, bungee cords, scissors, pliers, screwdriver and a few other Luddite tools to take control once again of a life gone techno

(c) 2012 A.D. by Jim Reed

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Bradbury’s Children Get to Live Forever


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I suppose the friendships you establish in childhood and young-adulthood are the most loyal and enduring of all friendships. But sometimes you don’t become aware of this fact till fifty years or so have whizzed past. Even then, friendships, by their very nature, are things you tend to take for granted—which means that when you are reminded that these friendships continue unabated, you appreciate them even more.

Take last Wednesday morning, for instance.

First email I see at the office comes from Pat Bleicher, in Arlington, Virginia. She’s known me since Second Grade and has accepted me, warts and all, in the six decades since then. She is the first to tell me that the best of all possible writers, Ray Bradbury, has died at age 91. She knows that Ray was my mentor and hero and role model and muse, and she sends me a long distance comforting pat.

Next, a phone call from Myra Crawford, who has known me since 1969 and, like a true friend, simply puts up with me to this day…and on this day she tells me she’s sorry that my friend has died. That’s all she has to do to make the friendship last the rest of my life.

Then Big Sister Barbara Partrich sends an email to comfort me. She’s only known me since the day I was born.

Then, I hear from June Cunniff, who met me in the 1970′s; Joan Dawson, who’s known me for decades, and so on.

Donn Albright, Ray’s bibliographer and archivist, drops me a note to say he’s leaving for L.A. immediately—that’s where Ray lived.

By the end of the day, lots of other folks have sent me smiles, since it would be against all things Ray Bradbury stood for to make this a tragic day. I hear from Chervis Isom and Irene Latham and Allen Johnson Jr. and Liz Reed…and then I lose count.

During the week, other customers who love Ray’s works come in to purchase his books and say something about his influence on their lives. The children of Ray Bradbury always come together at moments like this.

Once, when I was listening to Ray field audience questions during a conference in Atlanta, a young fan stood and said, “I know you once wrote that you would live forever. Do you still believe that?”

Ray answered, “Now I know that I will live forever—I have grandchildren!”

And now I know that I will live forever, too—I have friends who remember me at just the right moments in my life.

And, like love, I know that friendships last beyond death, always find a way to thrive, somewhere in time

(c) 2012 A.D. by Jim Reed

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Ray Bradbury, the best of all possible authors 1920-2012 A.D.

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there. It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hand away.”

–Ray Bradbury 1920-2012 A.D. 





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Things people say about books and the written word:


“I don’t read.” (My brother Ronny states this most emphatically. He explains after noting the alarm on my face:  “I don’t read books. It’s boring. I fall asleep.”  He admits that he reads trade publications, newspapers, the Internet, road signs, instructions, legal notices, spread sheets, etc.—but to him, that doesn’t count as reading. Ronny’s not alone…I hear this statement in one form or another each and every week.


“I only read two books in my life—ALL OVER BUT THE SHOUTIN’ and that Bear Bryant book.”  Here in Alabama, it’s acceptable to brag about not reading books, but the manly thing to do is admit that you will read something by Rick Bragg or something about late Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. Rick would have a ready-made audience if he’d write a book about Bear Bryant.


“I’ve been meaning to read some good books, but I can’t start till I’m retired and have the time.”  Kind of like saying you’d like to run the four minute mile but won’t get around to it till you’re 65.


“I plan to read MOBY DICK and James Joyce and Marcel Proust and MEIN KAMPF someday.”  These are at the top of a list entitled, “Books and authors everybody means to read.” Word is out that no-one has ever really finished any of them.

And so on and so forth.

My rant to the non-reader:

Failing to read a good book is like ignoring that beautiful, seductive person sitting in the corner of the room yearning to be noticed and cuddled  and appreciated by you and you alone. To a person who seems oblivious to the gorgeous potential of a great book, I say, “What’s the matter with you?”  Well, I want to say that but don’t.

Mark Twain’s comment remains etched in my mind, “A person who doesn’t read has no advantage over a person who can’t read.”

My judgmental self thankfully remains silent, but I just wish I could inspire you to see books the way I see them.

If the aforementioned beautiful, seductive person sitting in the corner of the room yearning to be noticed and cuddled and appreciated were hidden inside a book, wouldn’t you want to turn the pages, experience the  sensual joy and intellectual excitement of true love, real romance? Especially since the affair would be legal and perfectly acceptable?

Nobody will come to take you away just for reading a book to yourself.

Want to try some delightfully adventurous experiences without getting caught?

Are you listening?

Well, if you’re a non-reader, I know you’re not seeing these words.

Guess  those of us who know how to travel to the Moon and back in an hour without anybody’s knowing it, will just have to be the people who are having all the safe fun.

Sorry you missed out

(c) 2012 A.D. by Jim Reed

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