September 12, 2013 – Broadcasting Hall of Fame

September 12, 2013 at noon at a hotel in Quincy, Massachusetts, Garry Armstrong will be inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcasting Hall of Fame. This is the real deal. A well-deserved and well-earned honor. I’m terribly proud of my amazing spouse.

hall of fame on stage

Garry Armstrong – A Career In Brief

Garry worked at Channel 7 for 31 years and became one of New England’s most recognized and respected television journalists in the process. Garry won three New England Emmy Awards in 1976, 1977, and 1978 for his reporting on Court-ordered desegregation of Boston (1976 & 1978) and on the Clamshell Alliance (1976). He was also recognized for his professional and community achievements by numerous organizations.

From 1970 to 2001, Garry Armstrong was among New England’s most easily recognized and respected television journalists. He covered breaking news, features and politics. He knew and was known by the players in Boston and throughout New England, in politics, education, the religious establishment and more. His extensive coverage of minority and ethnic issues and his reputation for fair-mindedness earned him a welcome in every community.

Garry_72_01Garry’s 31 years at Channel 7 spanned an era of tremendous upheaval. From huge anti-Vietnam war rallies to the massive city-wide disruption of court-ordered desegregation and busing, the Great Chelsea Fire, the tragic Delta crash at Logan Airport, the Great Blizzard of 1978, the rise and fall of legendary politicians, spectacular court cases—notably Claus Von Bulow—and the battle over nuclear-generated power in Seabrook, NH (the Clamshell Alliance). He rode with the Tall Ships and interviewed Pope John Paul II, Mother Theresa, Queen Elizabeth II, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and President Clinton among others.

Garry won three New England Emmy Awards, two for his coverage of Court-ordered desegregation in Boston (1976 and 1978) and the Clamshell Alliance (1977).  He was also recognized for his professional and community achievements by numerous other organizations.

Wherever something important was happening in New England, Garry Armstrong was there.

Garry’s professional career began at the top as a writer/producer for national and international news at ABC Network in New York. He worked stateside and overseas, covered the fateful 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention, the Vietnam War from Vietnam and New York, and the Watts riots. His first day at ABC coincided with the outbreak of the 6-day war in the Middle East, perhaps symbolically heralding an extraordinary career to come.

After a 9-month stopover in Hartford, CT, Garry was invited to Boston where he spent the next three decades. He was not merely a reporter covering the news in Boston. He lived in Boston and loved the city… and the city loved him in return.

Garry, Me, and Bill Clinton

This is magic time for Garry. He did well and he did good for more than 40 years, 31 of them at Channel 7 in Boston. It’s a good day for star-dust. Congratulations.

FORTHEPROMPTLESS: HONNE – A good friend is forever.

Honne

Cherrie and I have been friends since our children were toddlers. Now we’re senior citizens with adult grandchildren. Our husbands are pals too. I am there for her, she for me.

Cherrie dreamed about me when she was a child and recognized me when we met. Believe it or don’t. It’s true.

We are friends, sisters and each others’ biggest fans. We recognized each other when finally we did meet. Over the years, though we’ve been separated for years at a time by thousands of miles, we’ve always found each other. In more than 40 years, we’ve never fought. Our disagreements end in laughter. Laughter cements our relationship.

I came back from Israel, having been away 9 years. I was never in contact with Cherrie during those years and didn’t know where in the world she was. After I got back, I stayed temporarily in my ex-husband’s guest room. I met a guy who published a jazz newsletter; he asked me to write an astrology column for him. I agreed.

Ed distributed his “Jazz Ragg” by leaving piles of them in lobbies of business buildings.

Me and Cherrie
Me and Cherrie, a tripod and a timer

Cherrie worked in one of those buildings. She saw a pile of newsletters. Normally, she would have just walked past, but for some reason, she stopped. She saw an astrology column by “Marilyn.” She skimmed it. She said “That has GOT to be my Marilyn. What are the odds?

She had been my editor. She knew my writing. She found my ex-husband’s phone number … and me. That was 1987.

Today we are as close as friends could be. When something is troubling me, I call her. When she is upset, worried bothered, she calls. We see each other as often as life allows, which isn’t nearly often enough and never as long a period as we want it to be. Which would be always.

Love is not only romance. What we share, as friends, is love, as true a love as any romance could be. Mixed in with the love are healthy doses of mutual respect, joy in one another’s company and a passion for giving to each other.

Best is that we call each other to celebrate the happy things, good stuff. Because her husband bought her an adjustable bed for her birthday. Finally, she can to sleep without pain. Yay! When one of our kids is doing better, when a grandchild succeeds. When we are making plans because we try to include one another, though it doesn’t always work out. And often, we call just because. Because I need to hear her laugh. She needs to hear my voice.

People use the term friend very loosely nowadays. They apply it to people they barely know, have just met. Friendship is not a minor relationship. A good friend is forever, no vows required.

Cherrie is my rock, my person. She knows me as well as I know myself. She holds a piece of my soul and keeps it safe.

 

Where I was that day

On September 11, 2001, I had just gotten back from overseas. I’d been in Israel, a business trip. While there, I picked up some kind of nasty bug that kept me very close to home — and a bathroom — and so, I was at home when the phone rang. Sandy and I were in my bedroom, sorting through some clothing. It was Owen — her husband, my son — on the phone.

“Turn on the television,” Owen said.

“What channel?” I asked.

“Any channel,” he said. “Do it now.”

I did. “The World Trade Center is on fire,” I said.

“A plane hit it,” he said. And as I watched, another plane hit the other tower and the world spun round and nothing was the same after that.

HittingTheTowerSandy and I just watched, silently. Owen was watching at work, on the other end of the phone line. Then, a tower was gone.

“Oh my God,” I whispered. “The tower is gone. Gone.”

Then, the other tower fell.

Nothing remained but a cloud of dust and a giant pile of toxic rubble. Information started to come in. One of my co-workers was supposed to be on one of the planes that had hit a tower. I called, but Herb said he had changed his mind at the last minute. He had felt he didn’t want to go on that flight. He’d take a different flight, later in the day.

“God whispered in your ear,” I said, as did everyone else that day. “God whispered and you listened.”

Close as we were to Boston, everyone was calling friends, family, trying to find out who was where, who was not, if anyone knew something. We watched television, we waited. Garry got home from Channel 7. He said the newsroom had been a very strange place that day. Very strange. Never stranger.

We knew the world had changed. We didn’t know how much. We didn’t know it would be forever.

Firefighters-9.11

12 years later, we know. It will never be the same. So many differences, some subtle, most not-so-subtle. It was the end of our belief in our invulnerability, though surely Pearl Harbor should have done that years before … but that was a “real” war, somehow different. This was an enemy we didn’t know we had, didn’t know was out to get us. Didn’t recognize the hatred behind the rhetoric, a hatred so blinding it would exempt no one from the fire.

It’s 9/11 again. A good time to remember who lived, who died, and how the world has changed.

Ever After, Kim Harrison – Fantasy Comfort Food of the Literary Kind

When I began reading Ever After, by Kim Harrison — on the day of its release — I read it first on Kindle. Next, to get the full flavor, I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Marguerite Gavin. Oh my. I just sank into it, the same way I sink into my bed … with a sigh of sheer delight. How good it felt to be home again.

Home again? In Cincinnati? When I’ve never been to Cincinnati and probably never will be? Where witches consort with vampires and pixies and a powerful elf rules the political world? Where you can hire a werewolf as a body-guard and you must take care to avoid demons and banshees?

Yup, Cincinnati. I feel like it’s the home town of my wistful soul, a world that somehow makes more sense than the reality in which I live my real life.

It’s been a difficult couple of weeks and I realized … I need a fix. I need to go home to Cincinnati and visit the gang at the old church. I started listening to it again last night and of course, I loved it as I have each time before. Maybe I’ll reread some of the earlier books I haven’t read in a while because there’s a new book in the series coming out and I want to be psyched. Like I wouldn’t be 🙂

I have loved every book in the series, though I have loved the last three or four even more than the first group. The characters have matured, come into themselves, their powers. They are grabbing hold of their destinies, moving into their futures.

One of the signs a book may deserve  the label “classic” is when rereading it is — no matter whether it’s the first reread or the 10th — is like reading it for the first time. Maybe better. I was barely past the first few paragraphs when I realized it was as if I’d never left. I was back in the Hollows, home in magical Cincinnati and the church where Rachel, Ivy and Jenks live. My friends were waiting for me.

Ever After was new all over again. I relived the adventure, relishing each twist and turn of the plot, each character’s development. I was happy for Ivy, finding her own life at long last but sorry not to have her with me on this journey. Glad that Jenks was still involved and Biz is coming into his own. Delighted with the direction of Rachel’s relationship with Trent, sad at the loss of beloved characters. Bemused at the changes and growth in the world of demons as they evolve from caricature bad guys to people with memories of better days, their own private griefs and joys.

I keep discovering new layers to the story. This is a great book. I know it’s genre urban fantasy but it is far superior to most of the stuff I read in any genre. The consistent, careful development of characters and plot are outstanding. Kim Harrison never drops a stitch. Knowing  something about Kim Harrison’s process has given me a better understanding of how she achieves this remarkable, near-perfect construction. It has improved my writing. Following her blog is a good thing for writers. She is unusually forthcoming about how she does what she does. I continue to be fascinated by how excruciatingly precise she is, how very careful. No wonder there are not lapses in continuity, no strange leaps in time. She is careful, organized. Compared to my writing style, she’s downright anal compulsive and probably why she is able to keep such a high standard of quality. I don’t have that kind of dedication. Which is why she is a best-selling author and I’m not.

If you’ve never checked out her blog and you write, I highly recommend it. She answers questions about anything other than the details and plot of upcoming books.

She is an extremely focused and precise writer. She plans every detail of the plot, every twist of the story. No “off the cuff” writing. She doesn’t depend on obvious answers nor use genre clichés.

There’s nothing raw or unfinished in any of her books. Ever After would be a fine novel be any standards. If it weren’t urban fantasy, it would be good literature.

In my opinion, most of today’s creative authoring is happening in fantasy and science fiction. General fiction, of which I have read a great deal recently, has become drab and unimaginative. Very little new territory is being explored in “serious literature.” If you want to read something that’ll knock your socks off, visit another genre.

Kim_Harrison_06lrI have heard a lot of complaints about the popularity of science fiction and fantasy, that people don’t want to read anything that doesn’t have supernatural creatures or time travel as part of the plot. But those who complain might consider the paucity of good books coming out of “main stream” fiction. It doesn’t have to be dull, but it so often is. And bleak. And depressing. It’s no wonder that many of us don’t want to go there.

The thrill of reading isn’t gone but it has just moved to a different part of town. Read Jim Butcher‘s Harry Dresden series and check out Kevin Hearne‘s Iron Druid. Discover Carol Berg. Pick one of her books or series; you can’t go wrong. Move right into the book world with Jasper Fforde‘s Thursday Next series. If you haven’t already read it, Stephen King’s 11-23-62 is one of the best books of the decade — maybe any decade — and it’s pure science fiction.

Try some of Connie Willis‘ works. This is an area of fiction where creativity is running rampant. You’ll find books to entertain you and fill your mind with ideas. And you won’t be bored, not for a moment. There are lots more wonderful writers waiting for you to discover them. It’s not a whole world. It’s many worlds and they are all yours to explore.

Ever After is a very satisfying read. Magic, love, passion, battles. Complicated relationships, love in bloom, hope, loss, and danger. I mourned the fallen, exalted for the living and dreamed about the future. It’s not the only good book I’ve read recently, but it sure is among the top few.

If a witch, an elf and a demon can come together to save the world, anything is possible.

All of the Hollows are available as paperbacks, on Kindle and as audiobooks.