Daily Prompt: Four Stars — Remembering the Garry Armstrong Show

For 31 years, there was a continuing series on Channel 7 in Boston. It was my favorite show and I watched it faithfully. It was on several times each day. The first performance often aired during the pre-dawn hours. The final day’s  episode might air long after most people had finished dinner and many had gone to bed.

It was an excellent series. Watching it kept me informed about events taking place in my neighborhood, the city and the region. What was especially nifty was I how close I was to the star, though it was sometimes difficult to reconcile the handsome star of the series to the exhausted, crabby guy who finally came home expecting dinner. As a faithful viewer, I never had to ask how the star’s day had gone. I knew. I had seen his day. I usually taped the episodes so we could review it at leisure.

Garry with Tip O'Neill
Garry with Tip O’Neill

Thus I watched my husband on TV every day and it was — for us — normal. It came with some perks: invitations to snazzy events that sometimes appeared in newspaper gossip columns. It was funny reading about us as if we were real celebrities. I suppose, by some standards, he was. I was just the celebrity’s wife, but even reflected glory is rather glorious. Although we rarely got the opportunity to have dinner in a restaurant without being interrupted by fans, mostly, it was a nice thing. Garry was recognized and loved by people who thought of him as a friend. After all, he came into their homes every day. Many viewers had been watching him since they were kids, so he felt like a familiar family member.

That’s what he did for a living. So did so many of our friends so I didn’t think about it much. It was our life. I had a ritual. As soon as I got in from work, I turned on the news. I kept a tape in the VCR, so when Garry came on, I was ready.  This was the only way he was able to see how his stories looked because he didn’t see the finished piece at work.

He covered or was involved with virtually every important event in New England for 31 years. I wish I had more to show you, but the tapes I made disintegrated over time.

Garry and I at President Clinton's party on Martha's Vineyard
Garry and I at President Clinton’s party on Martha’s Vineyard

Most of Garry’s career was pre-Internet.  No Facebook, no Google. We have one of his three Emmy awards on top of the television, but no tape except this one piece I found. It’s not a major story, but it’s something. Garry’s segment appears at about 1 minute and 30 seconds into the noon news. You can fast forward and skip the intro or choose to watch from the top of the show.

That was a “live shot.”

Time passes. It’s good to have something tangible to remember the show, though lucky me, I still have the star by my side.

On September 12, 2013, Garry Armstrong will be inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcasting Hall of Fame. It’s quite an honor and I’ll be proud to be there with him.

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75,000 Hits – Wow. Gee. Golly.

Yesterday I passed 75,000 hits. In the not very distant future, I’ll cross the Rubicon of 100,000. What does it mean? It’s nice to have substantial numbers. If after all this effort, I didn’t have something to show for it, I’d probably give up blogging. It has been an interesting and sometimes exhilarating year.

Dogged determination got me through a lot of it while trying to work out a formula to create high quality content — every day — and still leave time for the rest of my life. It eventually paid off. Most importantly, it got me writing again. When I started blogging, I hadn’t written anything but email in years. Writing is good for me. It gets my mental gears meshing, makes me reconnect with the world.

Serendipity got off to a slow start. Although I began it in February of 2012, it was well into summer before I began to take it seriously, post regularly. Last June, I was thrilled to get 40 hits a day. I couldn’t imagine getting 75,000 hits. Ever.

I caught some lucky breaks. A couple of my posts hit at a perfect time, a little ahead of events. Pure luck. The rest of it, though, was a determined effort to figure out a way to create good, interesting content and still have time for a life.

BigNumber

Posting daily makes it tempting to just put something, anything out there. For a long time, I reblogged a lot. I’m a pretty good curator and I think I chose good material, but ultimately the sheer weight of so much stuff became a problem. I had to rethink my approach.

I decided if I need a day off — or I just don’t have time to put something together properly — it’s better to rerun my own material. Some of you commented on my reruns; some think it’s cheating. Frankly I can’t see how reblogging someone else’s posts isn’t cheating, but reworking ones own material is. It doesn’t make sense. Every television station reruns shows all the time, so why can’t Serendipity rerun posts? I have favorite pieces I’d run every day if I could get away with it. Gradually, over the past few months, I’ve been limiting reblogs and reworking my articles and photographs. And deleting, deleting, deleting.

And, like distant thunder, the numbers keep rolling in. By the time you read this, they will have chugged along, heading toward the next milestone.

Change is constant

I’ve been changing Serendipity slowly but steadily. Without fanfare and some folks haven’t even noticed, but if you look at past months, the difference is pretty obvious. There is always a price to pay when you stop providing what your audience has come to expect. In my case, it resulted in about a 20% drop in traffic, though it’s picking up again. I think it was a worthwhile trade. Serendipity is a better site. Better designed, better material.

There’s less of a “kitchen sink” feel to it. More focus on reviews — books, movies, television and technology. More stories, less philosophy. More photo essays but in total, fewer posts.

75000

I’ve deleted hundreds of old posts — more than 300 so far and lots more to go. I was storing over a thousand articles. It was too much. Even with all the deleting, there are too many posts, but deleting has to be done slowly and carefully for technical and aesthetic reasons. I’m working my way from earliest to most recent. It’s hard to let go. I fall in love with words. It hurts to throw them away, but everything gets old. We all have to clean house.

Staying fuzzy

After a full year of daily blogging, I am finally seeing a shape emerging, a sense of what this thing I’m doing is and maybe where it’s going. It’s soft and fuzzy, but I don’t need it sharp. Edges become boundaries. I want the freedom to change directions whenever I feel like it. I don’t want to commit to a course. Life already has too many restrictions. Commonsense, personal inclination and good taste should suffice to keep me on track.

SnapIt-105

This blog is my free space. It is intentionally amorphous. I gave Serendipity to me as a reward for years of following rules I hated, stupid rules enforced by ignorant people. Now, if the rules are stupid or ignorant, they are my own and I have no one to blame.

75,000 is a big number

Numbers have great symbolic power. It’s those tens and fives , numbers that match our fingers and toes. I blithely ignored 71,000, 73,000 and have watched the ascent past 74,000 to the nice round 75,000.

daily numbers

What can you expect in the next months and years at Serendipity? I’m not sure. I’m going somewhere for which I have no map. We’ll go there together and see what we see. I’ll write stories about it, take pictures along the way.

You can count on book reviews. Stories. A rant or two. Technology, gadgets, movies. Lots of photographs. I’ll try to make you laugh, cry, buy cool gadgets. I hope you’ll hang with me because you — all of you — friends, followers, occasional visitors have changed me and my world. You’ve introduced me to art, movies, books and ideas. I’d never have found all this great stuff without your nudges, hints, suggestions.

Change is ongoing. I may find something fascinating and new or may go back to things I’ve allowed to get dusty. It’s a messy erratic unpredictable thing, this business of living. Serendipity is alive. Messy. Like me.

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