Thursday, March 29, 2012

Happy Anniversary Rooftop Reviews!

Today marks the beginning of the 4th year for Rooftop Reviews. It sounds so much more established to say it that way, rather than this is our 3rd Anniversary. At first I began with 1 post per week, reviewing whatever book I had read during the past 7 days. From there I began to add little posts about what I was doing, then a poem here and there, and before long I was posting on a daily basis. From July through November of 2009 I even posted a 30 chapter mini autobiography which spans the years between when I was born and the birth of my daughter Sarah in 1987. I need to go back and correct some spelling (this was before I used spell check)as well as re-scan some of the photos. But, all in all, it was a worthwhile endeavor, and with one, or maybe two exceptions, it was well received.

I began the blog as a way of leaving something of myself for my children and grandchildren. They only ever get to know you as a parent, or grandparent, so I thought it would be nice for them to have some way of seeing me in a different light. I hope that someday they will read it. And, of course, I hope that they will like the person they meet in those pages.

I constructed the site so that it would give the reader 7 posts per hit to choose from. I had to learn how to scan photos and book covers, not a hard thing to do, but to a dinosaur such as myself, these were major achievements. Then I learned that I could "embed" clips from You Tube in my posts, which lent a whole new dimension to the blog; Music.

I am sometimes asked what my favorite book is, and people are surprised when I answer "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn". Since most of my posts on books are about non-fiction, I can easily understand the surprise. In non-fiction I would have to say that one of my favorite books is Merle Miller's superb oral autobiography of Harry Truman, "Plain Speaking". Within those pages are the answers to most of the questions we all have about American history, as well as our role in the world post World War Two. As a matter of fact, one of my favorite quotes comes from that book. Dean Acheson, Secretary of State under President Truman, once said, "I incline to go along with Winston Churchill, who said that among the deficiencies of hindsight is that while we know the consequences of what was done, we do not know the consequences of some other course that was not followed."

Two of my biggest surprises have been an e-mail from Olivia De Havilland, and a note, sent "snail-mail" by Ernest Borgnine, almost two years after I reviewed his book "Ernie". That note hangs on my wall. There have been many authors who have graciously answered e-mails, and even more astonishing to me have been the unsolicited notes from other authors that I have written about.

Another unexpected surprise for me is that I now find myself cited as a source in certain articles as I browse the internet. I will look up something on the Civil War, for instance, and while reading think, "this sounds a bit familiar", and then find that the author of that article has cited me as a reference. At first I was a bit taken aback; after all, I am only an armchair historian at best; but I do have to say that in 3 years there have only been about 3 factual mistakes in my posts. I'm a bit proud of that, considering my level of formal education.

I try to do a mix each week of movie reviews, at least one book, something historical and something musical. Occasionally I have been known to go off on a political subject, but I try to keep that down to a minimum, as there is already enough noise out there without my adding to the overall cacophony of differing opinions.

By far the most satisfying of things to happen with this blog is becoming friends with the irrepressible Eddie Ray, who heads the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame, located in Kannapolis, North Carolina, about 18 minutes from my home. Our age difference notwithstanding, a mutual love of music and poetry; along with a respect for one another; has forged a lasting friendship. He is, quite simply put, a remarkable person.

And of course, there is my wife Sue to thank; she listens to all my posts as I read them aloud for clarity and errors. That can't be an easy task, but she endures it all the same. Also, thanks to all of you who drop in here regularly, you know who you are, and the 17 brave souls who have actually posted as "members". By the way, I have tried to get in touch with several of you over the past couple of years, but I simply cannot make the thing work out. I always end up by joining my own site! As a matter of fact, one of the 17 "members" is me. I just can't figure out how to get it down! A dinosaur in the digital age am I…

It also amazes me that Rooftop Reviews is read in 89 different languages and 59 countries each day. With an average daily circulation of about 250 "hits", this is hardly going viral, but I am still in awe of the reach of this simple blog.

Please don't forget that almost all of my books and videos come from the local libraries in the Town of Mooresville, and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Libraries. Both of these institutions allow me to use their services for free, although I do not reside in either Mooresville, or Mecklenburg County. These pages would be barren without them.

But most of all, and by far the most wonderful part of this blog has been in getting to know myself a bit more. With each book I read, song I hear, or movie I watch, I discover another piece of who I am. So, you might say that, this blog, along with myself, are both works in progress.

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