The Incredible Shrinking Blue Book

incredible shrinking blue book

The venerated Wisconsin Blue Book is the latest victim of downsizing print products, be they newspapers, magazines or reference books.

Iconic Wisconsin Blue Book sheds 300 pages, blue cover

“Compared with its predecessors, the tome is much slimmer – 677 pages compared with 973 pages in the 2015-16 version – has noticeably larger type and poorly cropped photos of legislators.”

So, significantly less content – partially disguised with larger type so that the reduction seems to be a mere 300 pages when the word count cut is much deeper – and less attention to detail. Where have we seen that before? Continue reading


Story: The Wings

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He looked out over the horizon and saw vast possibilities. He looked down and saw a vast drop.

“Go ahead,” said the man in the tousled white hair. “Jump, and build your wings on the way down.”

“Can’t,” he whispered.

“Come on, buddy,” said the man, pulling off his horn-rimmed glasses and wiping them carefully. “What did the little elf say – ‘Do or do not. There is no try’? You haven’t even been trying lately, have you?” Continue reading

Story: The Room

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“Don’t think,” said the man with the white mane. “Just open the spigot and be surprised by what comes out.”

And then he walked away.

I wanted to cry out, “Don’t think? But I can’t stop thinking,” but I had no voice.

So I stopped thinking.

Suddenly a spot appeared on the wall, which grew and grew until there was a hole large enough to step through. I could see that the room beyond was not the same room I would have found had I cut through the wall, and so, curious, I stepped through the hole. Continue reading

If … what then?

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If …

Every story, every book, begins with that word. Or at least every idea for a story, a book.

If a little girl lived in a town where black people didn’t get a fair shake, and her father was a principled attorney and a black man was falsely accused …

If an alien civilization placed beacons on our world millennia ago that could only be found and activated after we reached for the stars …

If a boy and a girl met and fell in love but not only their parents but their entire families hated each other …

If books went out of style and became so despised that fire departments no longer extinguished fires but actually burned illegal libraries …

If a little girl on a small Kansas farm dreamed of having adventures far, far away …

If adventures happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away …

If … what then?

That is how a story is found. That is how a story is told.

It’s so simple, in the end, this once upon a time.

The arduous task of showing up

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I have always been intermittent about feeding the blog, writing the Great American Novel, sorting my various surplus for eBay/rummage, and otherwise doing things that will not bear fruit or audience in the relative near future. Write a piece for tomorrow’s paper or a news story for an hour from now? Piece of cake. Edit an entire collection of stuff so it gets to the page designers and eventually the press by Time X? Sure, no prob.

But the longer-term deadline of a novel or the self-imposed deadline of a blog with a relative handful of readers that will only grow an audience with regular delivery over an undetermined amount of time? That is a challenge, as anyone who has attempted either task will know. There are millions more abadoned blogs and unfinished novels than thriving ones. We need more immediate gratification, and toiling away in the dark takes a certain discipline.

As attention spans get shorter and shorter, we may find people neglecting projects that will not bear fruit or audience in the next hour or two, or the next few minutes.

Hmmm … somewhere out there among those neglected and abandoned blogs there likely are remarkable bits of writing waiting to be mined, collected and placed in a spotlight. That might be a fun project for someone someday …