The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

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Friday, March 24, 2017

Newsprint Time Machine

English: An abandoned Los Angeles Times vendin...
 An abandoned Los Angeles Times vending machine in Covina, California, October 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

         For the many working years after I moved to Los Angeles in 1991, I subscribed to the daily Los Angeles Times.  Sometimes when I didn't get around to reading the paper, I would save the paper to read later.  As things would happen I often didn't read that paper and put it in an ever accumulating stack of newspapers, now and then tossing aside sections that didn't interest me--sports, classifieds, fashion or whatever they were--and keeping sections that seemed like they would be interesting to read sometime later.

         Over the course of many years I acquired several stacks of news papers--some at work and some at home.   After the California branch of the company where I worked shut down for good and I was left jobless, I toted those work stacks home and put them in my garage.  Since I was no longer working outside of the house, I was able to dwindle my newspaper stacks at a faster pace.  In order to save money, in 2012 I cut back my L.A. Times subscription from seven days to weekends only. Besides, there wasn't that much in the paper that interested me anymore.  And the paper was highly biased and annoying for me to read.   Soon I switched to Sunday only, mostly because of the ad and coupon sections and the crossword puzzle, but then I let that go.  Now I no longer get any papers.  But I still have some news paper stacks in my home office closet.

          Some of the papers remaining in those stacks are from 2012 to 2013.  Then like anomalies in the geological strata, there might be small layers of papers from 2002 or sometimes even older.  These days instead of reading a daily paper I'll read the papers stored in my closet.  Sometimes I feel like an archaeologist making discoveries about the past as I read old news stories.  The odd thing though is that some of those old stories seem like the same things that are in the news now or stories that seemed to foreshadow later events then still to come.

          It's like a story I was reading last week in a paper from 2012.  The section I was reading had an article about German Christmas markets where they sounded so fun and festive..  As I was reading though, I was thinking about the terrorism that came in 2016.  That story from 2012 stood out more for me now in the aftermath of the 2016 attack than it probably would have if I had read it back then.

          Lately I've been reading about movies that I hadn't realized had ever been released. Some I've added to my Netflix queue while most seem to be now mostly forgotten come and gone releases in the past.  Reading about films in retrospect makes me realize how much movie garbage actually does get released.  When I was reading contemporaneously to film releases, this ephemeral nature of pop culture wasn't always as evident.  How quickly we forget that next big thing after it has come and gone.

         Reading in the past might seem a bit absurd to many.  Consider that I'm no longer reading for the news of the day, but just to get a feel for the past.  Sometimes I wish those stacks contained newspapers from 20, 40, or even 100 years ago.  Old newspapers provide a window into events of days gone by.  The stories are history written from the perspective of those who were witnessing it.  Rather than the standoffish perspective analysis of history books written years later and based on research and author's interpretation, the old news stories are seen through the eyes and minds of those people back then as they perceived what was happening.

         If I could I'd much rather take an actual physical time travel trip back to old times to witness that world for myself.  Even if that world was something I had lived through, I'd like to go back with my mind of the future to see if what I remembered was really how it was.  Or to see if what I've heard from those older than I was really like how they described it all.

        Old movies and television shows provide some of that perspective.  But then that is part of the illusion of the past.  An image on the screen can never capture the actual immersion into that place in the past and having that experience of immersion is only a fantasy of my mind.  For now at least.  And probably forever.  Unless time travel ever does become a reality.

       For now I have a newsprint time machine in my closet.  The machine is dwindling as papers are read and deposited into my recycling bin.  No point in keeping them.  If I kept everything I'd eventually run out of room. I'd live in a past made of paper and newsprint.  It all needs to go.  And once I've rid myself of that time machine, I can read more of the books on my shelves, watch more of the movies I want to see, sort through old photos as I place them in much of the past with so little of the present to accommodate it all.

        What will the future do with all of the past anyway?

         Do you still read the newspaper?   What do you have a tendency to accumulate?   Will newspapers have much validity for future generations? 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Time for #BOTB Results

        Life is like a battle between us and the clock.  Or in the bigger picture, a battle against the calendar.

       Once again I'm taking on the daunting Alphabet Challenge of April   I revealed my theme officially here, but some of you might have guessed my theme from my recent Battle of the Bands post.  Yes, it is about time.  Isn't everything?

Battle of the Bands Results

       This latest Battle was between Fleetwood Mac's "Sands of Time" and Alan Parson Project's "Time"--both excellent songs which I like very much.  Of the two, I see "Time" by APP as the more linear song.  It moves steadily, barely deviating, with a constant flowing theme that begins and ends without much in the way of surprises or invested thought for that matter.  This is such a relaxing tune that it lends itself well to meditation or even preparation for sleep.  It might even make for a lovely song to play at a funeral.

        On the other hand, Mac's "Sands of Time" wanders and meanders in a good way. There is a sense of hope expressed in the lyrics, but also an ambiguity that invites anticipation of things to come.  The thoughts expressed are not definitive, resigned to giving into death, but mystical and magical.  The instrumental portions add an edgy sense with drifting guitar riffs that seem to simulate imagination and dreams.  I love this song--which is not to say that I don't like the other song a great deal--but my preference definitely leans toward the Danny Kirwan penned "Sands of Time".   This song has been playing in my mind all week which is another strong indicator of where my vote gets cast in the end.

        Nevertheless, you the voters decided the outcome no matter what my favorite version is.  And the outcome in this case was very decisive:

Final Vote Tally

Fleetwood Mac                  11

Alan Parsons Project        22

Next Battle of the Bands Saturday April 1st

        My next Battle of the Bands post will coincide with the opening day of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.  My A to Z theme of "time" will not only encompass my posts for the upcoming month, but this theme will continue in my next few posts leading up to April.  My Battle of the Bands posts during A to Z month will also be related to time.  In fact, the next BOTB match that I'll be presenting is a movie theme that was also a top pop hit in 1969.  The song is a great introductory tribute for those participating in the A to Z Challenge and one that will likely bring back a few memories for many of us.  Anyone want to guess what song I'll be presenting?

        Was my A to Z theme of "Time" any surprise?   Did you find any A to Z themes in the recent Reveal day that particularly interested you?   Are there any aspects of time that you'd like for me to cover during my A to Z Challenge?  

Monday, March 20, 2017

Theme Reveal #AtoZChallenge: It's About Time

       Once again it's time for the official A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal.   This is the time when those participating in the upcoming 2017 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge will reveal their themes for the month or, if there is no theme, provide us with a preview of what to expect next month on their blog.   What follows is my story and my plan...

A Theme Evolving

       Prior to last years 2016 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge I already had a few themes considered for that year.   But as plans often go, those old ideas got pushed to future years and I came up with my 2016 theme of Manhattan in January of that year. Then later, after the April Challenge had ended, not only did I still have those old ideas in my queue, I had come up with a couple more along the way during April.  I've found that in blogging I'm often inspired by posts by other bloggers that will give me ideas for posts for my own.  Which, incidentally, is a good thing for any of you to keep in mind if you sometimes find yourself lacking in inspiration for ideas to write about.

        During the course of the year that followed the 2016 Challenge, I wavered between this idea or that, all the while writing down particularly good ideas to be stored in my blogging queue.  Come January of 2017 I was pretty well settled on an idea, but within a matter of weeks changed my mind.  As the approach to each of my Aprils has been since first beginning to do the A to Z Challenge, my mind becomes focused on thematic concepts and the words that might alphabetically fit those themes.  A to Z has become a way of conceptualization when I think in context of blogging or writing ideas.  A bit of a fixation one might presume, but I'd prefer to see this thinking as inspiration with organization of thought.

          I guess I've developed a bit of an A to Z brain!

My 2017 A to Z Theme

        My theme is a natural since it is something that we all think about and thereby to which we can all easily relate.  It's About Time--my theme that is.  I'm officially calling my April theme "It's About Time" which also is my own declaration of having come to that decision.   So many themes from which to choose and this one comes to me will having lunch one day.  You can read that story in my recent Battle of the Bands post, which I'd encourage you to read and vote on if you haven't done so already.

        Just think about all the times you yourself speculate or worry about time.  Our lives revolve around time scheduling.  We often keep an eye on our watches when something goes on longer than we'd like or revel how quickly time flew when we've been having a great time.  Without time, especially in our often rapid-paced and highly scheduled society, our lives would be in near chaos. Communal activities would never get organized and we would continuously be late. Of course without time the concept of lateness would not particularly be relevant, but neither would the idea of being on schedule.

        Our world and each of our lives thrives according to time.  We have days of births as well as all of the other special days of our lives.  Why, heck, we have days period!  Without the definition and management of time we wouldn't have days, weeks, months, or years.  Aside from the essentials of existence like air to breathe, liquids to drink, and food to eat, time is one of the primary forces that gives us our humanity--our ability to reason and plan for our futures.  Or for that matter remember our past in more than just random images.  Time is a reality of this world and time is the measurement that helps up organize the realities we encounter in life.

          There's so much to write about the topic of time and it would take a lot of time to write about everything regarding time.  I will barely touch upon all that time is, but in 26 days during April I'll try to cover a few thoughts that interest me most.  Though time can serve us, time will always be our master.  In April of 2017, "Time" will be the master of my A to Z Theme.

            If you've decided to participate in the 2017 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge and would like to reveal your theme or, if you don't necessarily have a theme, you can tell us about your plans, goals, or impressions about April by putting up your own Theme Reveal post.  You can link to your post on Twitter using hashtag #atozchallenge, or you can post on the A to Z Facebook page, or leave your link in my comment section today, or visit the A to Z Blog to leave your link.   Or you can do all of these things and whatever else you can think of to promote your post.  Today will be essentially a test run for the social media linking we'll be doing in April and this will perhaps give us some idea of the success of the method as well was provide some indicators of strengths and weakness.   

           Give it a try to see how it works for you.   And check all the aforementioned sites to see who else is posting their own Theme Reveals.  This can work, but it is up to you bloggers to make it work!

           Have you found any other Theme Reveals so far and if so how did you find them?   What have been some favorite 2017 A to Z themes that you've found so far?  Are there any particular aspects of "Time" that you think I should cover during April?