14 December 2020

In Memoriam: Meg Jones | Reporter | Raconteur | Friend to Many


Reporter Meg Jones with Skyriter typewriter
Meg Jones with Skyriter Typewriter
Photo by J.A. Jablonski (c) 2018

Two years ago Meg Jones, reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and I met up at a coffee shop on Milwaukee's East Side. I had something to give her: a typewriter. Not just any typewriter, a Skyriter. The Skyriter was popular with journalists and war correspondents due its small size, portability (only 9 lbs including its metal case), and reliable action. In the 1970s, the case was updated to a soft-sided thing so that reporters, writers, and travel writers could tuck it under their airplane seats.

Meg Jones was both journalist and war correspondent. I admired the heck out of her and regular read her stories in JSOnline. I wanted her to have her own "reporter's typewriter." Five years before she'd already typed on the very machine I gave her, though she might not have remembered it that day in January 2018.

Meg Jones typing on a Skyriter Typewriter in 2013
Photo by J.A. Jablonski (c) 2018

I used to collect typewriters. In 2013, Meg contacted me. Somehow she'd heard about me and these machines. I posted about that interview here. This is how I described how it came about:

"She googled typewriters AND Milwaukee, and my post about last year's Summer Solstice Type-In came up.  Like any reporter worth her salt, she tracked me down and asked if she could call.  And like a good librarian, I said, "Sure, I have lots of info you could use for a story." 

Meg called, we talked for about 30 minutes.  Then, offhandedly, she asked, "So how many typewriters do you have?"  "Well," I says, "about 25."  Then came that amusing nano-second pause and Meg asked, "Would you mind if I came over to your house to see them? Oh, and could I bring a photographer?"

It was a lovely afternoon's conversation. Meg was delightful and completely interested in everything. Talking to her was like talking to an old friend. She said she liked to make her own short report videos on her phone and might I please type something for background noise. (That's her typing at the end with me holding her phone over her shoulder.)

Her JS Online Video

From 2013 on we'd run into each other now and then, usually on the way in to a Brewers game at Miller Park. She was a serious fan. She'd stop for a friendly chat but then promptly motored off with great intent. She wanted to see everything game-related: batting practice, pregame, everything! One got the feeling that life itself was that to her: to be seen in total.

She was so excited to receive the Skyriter--wanting to know where it came from, if anyone had used it for writing before her. I had to admit that I'd gotten it via eBay and didn't know. We followed each other on Twitter then, and exchanged snail mail addresses to correspond, and for the couple years since she sent me her holiday letters. They were a blast to read! She SO enjoyed her work, her travel, and the people she met. They were travelogues in and of themselves.

Back in September Milwaukee's own Boswell Books hosted Iranian novelist Salar Abdoh for a conversation about his latest book Out of Mesopotamia, in which Abdoh discussed the "endless war" from a Middle Eastern perspective. Meg Jones was the host for the conversation, and oh my, was it fascinating. I've watched a lot of book launch interviews and this was anything but. Abdoh and Jones were of a kind and clearly respected each others' war reporting experiences.

Salar Abdoh Virtual Event for Boswell Book Company
Host: Meg Jones | Runtime: 59 min

Not too long ago I got another of her letters. She told me what she'd been doing and where she'd been of late. Then she thanked me again for the Skyriter. She had it on display in her guest bedroom, she said.

Meg Jones' obituary is here. You can hear her vibrancy, her joy, her professionalism throughout. And you can hear how much she will be missed by her colleagues and friends.

Rest in Peace, Meg. Rest in Power. Thank you for what you gave us all. How you will be missed.

09 December 2020

Sequestering Arts: The Yuletide Edition


"Winter Scene" | Jean Beaufort
(CC0 Public Domain | Source)

Very best wishes of the solstice season
and good health to you & yours!

Sequestering Arts | About this intermittent series

With the world in lockdown due to Covid-19 (<-- link to the CDC info site), many people are struggling, practically, emotionally, and creatively. As a long-time creative & librarian I thought I might be able to help by doing what I do best: finding/sharing information. My goal is to provide links to interesting, comforting, & creative online resources that you can explore & enjoy while home- or place-bound.


  • Sonnets in Solitude | Royal Shakespeare Company | Videos
    Playlist (62 videos to date):
    [From description] "RSC actors perform Shakespeare's sonnets. When Covid-19 closed our theatres and stopped all live performances, so we turned to Shakespeare's poetry."

  • Until the Flood | Milwaukee Repertory Theater | Written & Performed by Dael Orlandersmith | Directed by Neel Keller | Video | Runtime: 1:02:01
    [From About] " About the Flood: Pulitzer Prize finalist and celebrated performer Dael Orlandersmith (Forever) explores the social uprising in Ferguson, Missouri following the shooting of teenager Michael Brown. Pulling from her extensive interviews with Missouri residents, Orlandersmith crafts a stunning theatrical experience that must be seen. The Chicago Tribune called it “palpably compassionate” and raved that it “achieves a great beauty by bringing us together rather than driving us apart.”

  • A Christmas Carol | Milwaukee Repertory Theater | Free from Dec 1-24, 2020
    Mark Clements’ Classic Production of A Christmas Carol

    [From webpage] "Each year, nearly 40,000 people experience Milwaukee Rep Artistic Director Mark Clements’ epic adaptation at the beautiful historic Pabst Theater. We are opening our video vault to bring a never-before-seen recording of the 2016 production filmed and produced by HMS Media. This production will be available for FREE to view Dec 1 – 24 as our gift to theater lovers worldwide."
  • The Gauntlet | Sydney Opera House | Video | Runtime: 25:17
    [From description] "Performed as part of Antidote in 2018, The Gauntlet is a genre-bending performance work, which combines choirs and vocal ensembles, contemporary choreography and site-specific storytelling. In this newly commissioned film, composer Sxip Shirey and choreographer Coco Karol discuss what it takes to create an immersive piece of this nature."

    This is really an unusual piece and, for those of us missing human contact & interaction, emotionally satisfying.


  • Rock the bagpipe! Scotland the Brave / We will rock you @ Switzerland | Video | Runtime: 4:39
    Apologies to my father-in-law! But they really are kicking it here!

  • Live - As Quatro Estações e Valencianas: Alceu Valença e Orquestra Ouro Preto | Video | Runtime: 2:50:37
    Originally streamed on 12/6/2020 | https://youtu.be/D219aLq4e4A
    [Translation of the video description's first paragraph - via Google Translate] "The Ouro Preto Orchestra celebrates the 125th anniversary of SulAmérica with two lives in a row, Sunday, December 6, transmitted directly from the historic city of Minas Gerais. All under the baton of Maestro Rodrigo Toffolo, with the participation of Alceu Valença and the guitarist Carmelo de Los Santos."

  • 20 minutes of Celtic mandolin, cittern and mandola | Video | Runtime: 22:40
    [Performers: Ian Stephenson &Tom Kimber]

  • Joe Utterback - Concert Fantasy on George Gershwin's Porgy & Bess; Sets for Piano solo Performed by pianist David Allen Wehr
    Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLsneRuLOc8g1x_-vtiMR0T4Y8HyrAXF0v
    As many of you know I quite like this musician! This album is one of my favorites. If you are interested in acquiring his CDs, see the link provided in the description. FYI: Wehr is the Dean of the Mary Pappert School of Music at Duquesne University. They have a nice YouTube channel of performances too: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGvll7oZ4lQOXpQ7fxdAUiw

  • Alicia Keys: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert | June 2020 | Video | Runtime: 27:46

  • Florence + the Machine: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert | October 2018 | Video | Runtime: 14:01

  • Library of Congress Concerts | LOC website, YouTube, & Facebook
    NB: Not all videos will be available on all platforms, and some will be available only for a limited time; check each page for options as the event nears.
    [From webpage] "Our 2020-2021 season will be presented entirely virtually, through a freshly-conceived portal to our concerts, conversations, lectures and much more, available free of charge to everyone. In our 96th season, encountering unprecedented times and unpredictable challenges, we embark on an exciting venture: to share our concerts, and the Library’s magnificent music collections, with the greatest possible audience worldwide. New music and new media come together in a year that sees a mini-fest of Latinx composers and the world premieres of three new Library of Congress commissions. Two virtual residencies feature the JACK Quartet and violinist Jennifer Koh, visionary artists fired by a passion to reflect the rich diversity in our society and our music. '(Re)Hearing Beethoven' is a festive 250th birthday celebration you absolutely can’t miss: performances of revelatory transcriptions of the composer’s nine symphonies introduced by artists and scholars in programs."

  • Jazz at Lincoln Center | John Coltrane
    I must confess Coltrane's work does a serious whack on my synesthesia (and not in a good way) but if you are into his stuff, here's a great playlist.


  • How to fold a 3D Paper Star
    [From description] "This is an origami tutorial on how to fold a fancy 3D paper star. Nice ornament for Christmas as well as party decoration for all seasons. I also recommend it as a paper aroma diffuser to purify the room air. You can make it from a sheet of A-sized copy paper. Folding pattern is simple so that you can make both 8-pointed and 6-pointed stars."

  • Origami with Jo Nakashima | Tutorials | Videos
    Playlists: https://www.youtube.com/c/JoNakashimaBR/playlists

  • TheJasonOfAllTrades | Videos
    [From About] "I'm an itinerant DIY'er and liver of life. By "liver," I don't mean the organ. Maybe I need a better word for this."

    As some of you know, I come from a family of artist/makers/creatives. I learned to sew on my grandmother's treadle machine! Pretty sure all of my siblings sew. I recall one of my brothers sewing a camping tent because at the time they didn't sell 'em for us tall folks. This gent would fit right to my family, especially for his sheer joyful interest in the machinery of the makery.

  • Fable the Raven | Did you know Ravens can talk?! | Video | Runtime: 6:25
    I have a small "unkindness" of ravens featured in my mystery novel (in process) so I like to track this sort of thing.

  • Around the world in 1896! footage from 1800's with added sound | Britannia Panopticon | Video | Runtime: 42:03

  • STRANDBEEST EVOLUTION 2017 | Theo Jansen | Video | Runtime: 4:19
    [From Wikipedia] "Theodorus Gerardus Jozef "Theo" Jansen is a Dutch artist. In 1990, he began building large mechanisms out of PVC that are able to move on their own and, collectively, are entitled, Strandbeest. The kinetic sculptures appear to walk. His animated works are intended to be a fusion of art and engineering."

  • The Last Knit | Directed by Laura Neuvonen | Video | Runtime: 6:44
    A wonderfully quirky animated film from Finland.

  • London Kensington Side Streets & Mews - 4K Walk | Video | Runtime: 37:23


I've found it especially helpful to have these longer videos playing on an older laptop which I have set to the side of my writing desk.
  • Ambience/ASMR: Writer's Library from the 1930s, 4 Hours | Ambience of Yesteryear | Video | Runtime: 4:00:07
    [From description: "List of Sounds: - wild songbirds - wood crackling as it burns in the fireplace - footsteps; doors opening & closing - clothing & upholstery softly rustling with movement - handling & flipping through antique hardback books; stroking the covers & spines - perusing & sorting papers - turning pages - jotting notes with a pencil - sketching in charcoal; drawing with pastels - writing cursive by hand with a fountain pen - pouring & stirring tea in fine bone china - the gentle clinking of teaware"]

    Their entire playlist is rather nice. Here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCx70KF3RlS36RnGOtN8VKfQ

  • Fireplace 10 hours full HD | Video | Runtime: 10:01:25

  • Afternoon JAZZ - Relaxing Cafe Jazz Music - Lounge Music For Study, Work, Relax | Relax Music | Video | Runtime: 10:11:15

  • Pottery Throwing ASMR (no voice or music) | Kai Ceramics | Video | Runtime: 11:35


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