Happy Birthday, Two Monkees!

Happy Birthday, Davy Jones!

I have seen, photographed, and partied with three of the four members of The Monkees.  And of all of them, I spent the most time with Davy Jones.  He was born December 30, 1945 in Manchester, England.  Sadly, he passed away on February 29, 2012 in Stuart, Florida.

Besides being an accomplished actor and musician, Mr. Jones was an avid horse racer as well as an author.  In 1987, he wrote his biography, The Made a Monkee out of Me.  And in 2000, an update to his biography, Davy Jones: Daydream Believin’ was released.  (By the way, one of my sister’s photos is featured in the second book!)

When his second book was released, he did a small book signing tour.  My sister, my children, and I went to see him at a mall in Connecticut.  We got there early, and the guards kept telling everyone in line that they could take photos while Davy was signing their book, but that they had to keep the line moving and no one would be allowed to ask Mr. Jones to pose or stop to take photos with him.

So when Michelle, Stefani, Jeremy, and I got to the front of the line, Davy jumped out of his seat and ran to hug us!  He took my camera off my arm and thrust it at my daughter then said, “Rachel, Michelle, come get a photo with me.  We never get any photos together.”  He looked at Stefani and said, “You know how to work your mom’s camera, right?”

Meanwhile, a security guard came over and scowled at us.  “I told you there would be no photos with Mr. Jones!  I’m so sorry, Mr. Jones, I tried to tell them.  Girls, you need to get out of line!  Your turn is over!”

He took Michelle and me by the arms, then Davy bowed up his chest and said, “No, I told them to!  These are friends of mine.”  He turned back to Stefani and said, “Go ahead, Honey, take the photo.  Then I’ll get one with you and your brother.  Why don’t you have your mom bring you out to the house so you can ride my horses later.”

Michelle, Davy & Me

After we were done, my kids hugged him and said, “Thanks, Uncle Davy!”  And we all just smirked at the stupid guard who tried to eject us.

Stefani, Davy & Jeremy

Happy Birthday, Davy!  May you rest in peace!


Happy Birthday, Michael Nesmith!

Mike Nesmith is the Monkee that I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing in person.  He was born on December 30, 1942, in Houston, Texas. There is all kinds of interesting trivia about Mr. Nesmith’s life, such as how his mother invented Liquid Paper.  He created a television program called PopClips which was sold to TimeWarner and then developed into MTV.  He’s been involved in numerous musical collaborations, he’s written songs for several other artists, he’s produced films, and he developed one of the pioneer home video markets.

He’s also had some really weird stuff happen to him over the course of his life.  In 1967, after he had his tonsils removed, they were stolen by a nurse who was a fan!  And in the 1980s, a man who looked very much like him went to Australia and did several interviews posing as him!  The imposter’s scam was actually not discovered until much later, and he was sent to jail in 2009.

But besides being an accomplished businessman and a former Monkee, Mr. Nesmith is also an author.  He penned The Long Sandy Hair of Neftoon Zamora in 1998.  And in 2009, he wrote The America Gene.  If you ever saw The Monkees’ movie Head, that had the same kind of “psychedelic” feel as his writing style.  As his Facebook friend, I can tell you that he often writes long, fictional, essay-style posts that are so captivating.  He definitely has a gift for writing.

Happy Birthday, Papa Nez!

Time to talk:  Did you ever watch The Monkees on TV?  Did you ever listen to their albums?  Did you ever see them in concert?  Which Monkee was your favorite?

It’s Here!

Today is my birthday, so I’ll be taking a break from the blog today, and instead will be eating the peaches ‘n cream cake that I only get to see once a year!

This is me on my first birthday. Back then, I had to have coconut cake because it was Grandma’s favorite, and the coconut reminded her of snow. So every year growing up, coconut cake it was.

Talk to me:  What’s your favorite kind of cake?  Do you have a special cake that you only get to have on your birthday?  Do you prefer homemade cakes or store-bought or restaurant cakes for your special day?


Happy Birthday, Barry Livingston!

Today is the birthday of one of my favorite former child stars.  Barry Livingston played lovable Ernie Douglas on the long-time sitcom, My Three Sons (which was one of my favorite shows when I was little – in reruns, of course!).  (His real life older brother, Stanley Livingston, played his older brother Chip on the show.)  He’s guest-starred in a ton of television shows (as recently as this year!) and appeared in nearly two dozen movies.  And he’s also been in numerous on- and off-Broadway plays.  He is the only cast member of My Three Sons to still have an active Screen Actors Guild Card.

What you may not know, though, is that Mr. Livingston is also an author.  In 2011, he penned his autobiography, The Importance of Being Ernie.  (This clever title is a play on words from the Oscar Wilde play from 1895, “The Importance of Being Earnest.”)  And in case you’re wondering, yes, he writes as well as he acts!

Happy 61st Birthday, Mr. Livingston!

Time to talk:  Did you ever watch My Three Sons?  If so, who was your favorite son?  What was your favorite TV show when you were little?

Happy Birthday, Dick Van Dyke!

Sure, everyone knows Dick Van Dyke as Rob Petrie from the 1960s sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show.  And of course, no one can forget him as the lovable chimney sweep, Bert, in Mary Poppins (and he even received a Grammy award for his participation on the soundtrack!).  Many people might even remember him from the less successful 1970s The New Dick Van Dyke Show.  I even remember him from the Stop, Drop and Roll fire safety films they used to show when I was in school.  (See below…)

As you also know, when his comedy was mastered, he went on to show he was a master of drama in Diagnosis Murder.  And if you’ve been to the movies recently, you already know he’s still quite active in his acting career.  He also sings professionally and is a computer animation enthusiast whose work is well-noted in the computer community.

But what many people do not know is that Dick Van Dyke, who happens to be among my top five favorite all-time actors, is also a successful author!  In 1967, he wrote Altar Egos, which was a photo book with some short commentaries of fun twists on a religious theme.  In 1970, he wrote Faith, Hope and Hilarity: The Child’s Eye View of Religion, and in 1975, he wrote Those Funny Kids!  Both these books offer funny childhood perspectives of religion.

(In case you’re wondering, yes, he considered a career in ministry.)

And finally, in 2011, he penned his memoir, My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business. In fact, Carl Reiner (who played Alan Brady on The Dick Van Dyke Show and also produced the show) wrote the foreword to this memoir which is an excellent read.

Mr. Van Dyke was born on December 13, 1925, in West Plains, Missouri, though he spent most of his childhood in Danville, Illinois.  His family lineage traces back to John Alden of The Mayflower.  During World War II, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps where he was a radio announcer, and he later transferred to Special Services where he entertained troops.  And he’s been entertaining people ever since!

Happy 89th Birthday, Mr. Van Dyke!

Happy Birthday, Mark Twain & Jonathan Swift

Today marks the birthdate of a couple of my favorite authors. Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens on November 30, 1835.  He was born around the time Halley’s Comet was visible on earth, and throughout his life, he predicted that since he arrived with the comet, he’d depart with it as well.  He passed away on April 21, 1910, the day after the comet returned.

He wrote numerous novels, short stories, and essays, though his most notable works included The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, and Pudd’nhead Wilson.  Huckleberry Finn was always my favorite with Tom Sawyer being a close second.  However, I must admit that until I researched Mr. Twain for this post, I had no idea that he also wrote two sequels to his Tom Sawyer novel, Tom Sawyer Abroad and Tom Sawyer, Detective.  Now I know what I need to add to my shopping list!

Happy Birthday, Mr. Twain!


Jonathan Swift was also born on November 30, 1667.  He was an Irish author, clergyman, and satirist.  By the time he was seventeen, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree at Trinity College in Dublin.  When he was twenty-three, he met his future wife who was only eight years old at the time!  (Am I the only one that finds that a little creepy?)

One of Mr. Swift’s most notable books is one of my favorites: Gulliver’s Travels.  The original title was Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, In Four Parts, By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of several Ships.  Now there’s a mouthful!

Happy Birthday, Mr. Swift!

Happy Birthday, C.S. Lewis

Growing up in Christian school, we were only allowed to read from an approved Christian reading list.  So as you might imagine, I read a lot of C.S. Lewis when I was a kid.  My favorite was The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, though I liked all of The Chronicles of Narnia.

Mr. Lewis (born Clive Staples Lewis) entered this world on November 29, 1898, in Belfast, Ireland.  He was good friends with novelist, J.R.R. Tolkien, and he served on the English faculty at Oxford University.  He wrote more than thirty books which have sold more than a hundred million copies.  He died from renal failure on November 22, 1963, one week before his sixty-fifth birthday.  (Sadly, media coverage of his death was overshadowed by the assassination of John F. Kennedy that same day.)

Happy Birthday, Mr. Lewis!

Jah, I Think Amish Books Are Wonderful Gut

I think it’s kind of funny that I write psychological thrillers, but I almost exclusively read Amish fiction.  I used to read a lot of thrillers, horror, and other such stories, but a few years ago, I hit a patch of life that was so hard, I wasn’t sure I’d survive.  That’s when I turned to the Amish and found their life to be peaceful and calming.  So when I read an Amish novel, I enjoy finding out about their simple life, how they survive without electricity and gadgets and a lot of store bought items, how much faith they have that things will turn out the way they’re supposed to, and I also like when the author inserts some of the Amish’s High German.

What I write is often based loosely on my own life experiences.  And I haven’t had the easiest life.  Nor have I had the most stable people in my life.  So the psychological thriller genre works for me.  However, when I write, it’s often emotionally draining because I have to vividly recall whatever incident I went through and relive it as I fictionalize it and put it to paper.  As such, I then enjoy turning to a bit of Amish fiction to renew my optimism.

Today marks the birthday of my second favorite Amish fiction author, Wanda Brunstetter.  She’s written nearly seventy books with over eight million copies sold, many of which have been on top bestseller lists.

So, if you have any interest whatsoever in Amish fiction, I highly recommend any of Mrs. Brunstetter’s novels.  Happy Birthday, Mrs. Brunstetter!

Happy Birthday, Paul Petersen!

Many of you might know Paul Peterson from the original Mickey Mouse Club or as Jeff Stone on The Donna Reed Show.  But did you also know he’s an author?  In fact, after his years as an actor, he earned a degree in literature and wrote sixteen adventure novels!  He also published his autobiography in 1977 entitled Walt, Mickey and Me: Confessions of the First Ex-Mouseketeer.

Furthermore, in 1990, following the suicide former child star Rusty Hamer (who played Rusty in Make Room For Daddy with Danny Thomas), Mr. Petersen founded “A Minor Consideration.”  AMC is a support group for child actors to improve their working conditions and to assist in their transitions between working as child actors and their adult life, whether in acting or in other professions.

He was born on September 23, 1945 in Glendale, California.

Happy 69th Birthday, Paul Petersen!

Happy Birthday, Stephen King!

I’ve made it no secret that Stephen King is one of my favorite authors.  Today, Mr. King turns 67 years old!  He was born on September 21, 1947 in Portland, Maine.  He’s published over fifty novels, close to two hundred short stories, and five non-fiction books.  Furthermore, he’s sold more than 350 million copies of his books and has won numerous awards.

His definition for talent in writing is quite simple:  “If you wrote something for which someone sent you a check, if you cashed the check and it didn’t bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.”

I would be hard pressed to narrow his books down to only one favorite.  I think it depends on what kind of mood I’m in as to which I might like best.  I think probably The Shining, Salem’s Lot, Carrie, Firestarter, Pet Sematary, Misery, Needful Things, Thinner, Delores Claiborne, Four Past Midnight (short stories) and It are among my favorites.  As far as his books that have become movies, if I’ve already read the book, I don’t usually like to see the movie because it generally disappoints me (because the book is so much better).  But if I haven’t read the book yet, I’ll likely watch the movie then follow up and read the book.  The movies never do his books justice.

Happy 67th Birthday, Stephen King!

Happy Birthday, William Golding!

Today marks the birth date of author William Golding.  He was born on September 19, 1911, and lived for 81 years until June 19, 1993.  He actually wrote several novels, but my favorite is Lord of the Flies.  Quite basically, it’s the story of a group of boys from a British boys’ school who become stranded on an otherwise deserted island, and they make their own set of laws and govern themselves with chilling results.

When I was a senior in high school, my English teacher, Mrs. Wells, had us read books, then instead of us having to write reports, we had class discussions after we read.  If we all participated appropriately, we were rewarded by seeing the movie version of the book during classtime the following week.

I loved Lord of the Flies as a book, and I loved it as a movie.  Then after I got out of high school, a remake of the movie came out which was slightly different and adapted to more modern times.  The boys were still strapped on an island, but rather than being shipwrecked, they were there because their plane crashed.  This has got to be one of the only movies that I love every bit as much as the book, and I love both of the movie versions equally as well.  The story is just that phenomenal!

Happy Birthday, William Golding!