Happy Birthday, Paul Reiser!

You might remember the actor Paul Reiser from his days as a stand-up comic, or on the big screen in Beverly Hills Cop I and II, or on the television show My Two Dads.  But my favorite role of his was as Paul Buchman when he played opposite of Helen Hunt as his wife Jamie Buchman on Mad About You.  You might even remember him in all these things, but did you know that Paul Reiser is also an author?

That’s right!  Paul wrote Couplehood back in 1995 when he and his wife Paula had been married only seven years.  (It was New York Times best seller for 40 weeks!)  Couplehood is unique in that it actually starts on page 145 to allow the readers to have a sense of accomplishment.

He wrote Babyhood in 1998 about his experiences as a first-time father to their first child Ezra born three years earlier.

He wrote Familyhood in 2011, eleven years after their family expanded to include his second son, Leon. Familyhood is a collection of humorous essays about family life.

And in 2014, he penned How to Get to Carnegie Hall.  In this book, he recalls his encounters with numerous legendary Hollywood greats who gave him advice on his way up the ladder to success.

His books are hilarious and are reminiscent of his character in Mad About You, which he intended to be modeled after himself.  If you ever get an opportunity to watch it, check out my very favorite episode entitled “Two Tickets to Paradise.”  If you’ve never seen the show, I encourage you to watch… and be ready to laugh!  Hard!

Let’s Talk:  Have you ever seen the show Mad About You?  Have you ever read any of Paul Reiser’s books?  When your favorite actors and actresses write books, do you read them?

Happy Birthday Theodore Geisel & Desi Arnaz!

Today marks the birthday of two wonderful authors who I absolutely adore.  The first is Theodore Geisel.  Theodore Geisel, born on March 2, 1904, was better known to his fans as Dr. Seuss.  He published forty-six children’s books under this pen name.

It is a little known fact that we have apparently been pronouncing his name wrong all these years!  As a matter of fact, Seuss rhymes with voice not goose… because he didn’t want to be confused with Mother Goose.  One of his friends even wrote a poem to help people remember:

You’re wrong as the deuce
And you shouldn’t rejoice
If you’re calling him Seuss.
He pronounces it Soice.

Mr. Geisel was unusual for a writer in that he preferred to be paid after his work was complete rather than in advance.  Furthermore, he was a perfectionist and often took as long as a year to complete a single book, frequently discarding up to ninety-five percent of it as he went along.

Mr. Geisel died of oral cancer on September 24, 1991, at his home in La Jolla, California, at the age of 87.

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!


Another author’s birthday we celebrate today is that of Desi Arnaz.  Yes, I’m talking about the actor, musician, and producer who was married to Lucille Ball.  Oh, you didn’t know he was an author?  Yes, he penned his autobiography, simply entitled A Book, which was published in 1976.  It was an immediate success.

In 1974, when he agreed to write his memoirs, his family and friends were shocked, as he never even enjoyed writing a letter.  When the outline for A Book was planned, Desi found that he had enough material to fill two books.  The first went through 1960, when he and Lucille Ball divorced.  However when it became time for the second book to be written, which was to be entitled Another Book, Desi decided that he enjoyed living life more than writing about it.

Mr. Arnaz was born on March 2, 1917 in Cuba, and died of lung cancer at the age of 69, on December 2, 1986, in Del Mar, California.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Arnaz!

Time to talk:  What is your favorite Dr. Seuss book?  What is your favorite Desi Arnaz role?  Do you have a favorite I Love Lucy episode?

Happy Birthday, Judy Blume!

If you’re a female human over the age of twelve and you’ve never read Judy Blume’s Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, then you must look outside right now and see if in fact you are living under a rock.

When I was a kid, I loved the school days when we got those magazines (which were more like four page flyers) where we could select books to purchase. (Weren’t those Weekly Readers or Scholastic Magazines?)  I also loved when the public library’s bookmobile would come to school or when school would have a book fair.  Okay, the truth is, because I went to Christian school, a lot of what we got to read was censored and had to be on an “approved Christian reading list,” so I missed out on a lot of my friends’ favorites such as Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.  I didn’t actually get to read that until much later.  But many of Judy’s books were on our approved list, and Blubber was the first one of hers that I read.  She definitely hooked me and drew me in, and I wanted to own and read everything she wrote.  Sadly, with not all of her work being available to my school, and with my Grandma being unable to drive to take me to a bookstore, I was not able to actually read everything of hers until my own daughter went to school and discovered her.

Mrs. Blume was born on February 12, 1938, in Elizabeth, New Jersey.  She published her first book in 1969, with thirteen more books being published in the 1970s.  She’s won more than ninety literary awards, she’s sold millions of copies of her books, and she’s reached the New York Times Best Seller List numerous times over.  She was also named by the Library of Congress to its Living Legends in the Writers and Artists category for her significant contributions to America’s cultural heritage.

With all that success, it’s hard to believe that she received nothing but rejections for two years before one of her works was ever published.  Coming this June, we can expect Judy’s latest work, In the Unlikely Event, to hit the stands.

Happy 77th Birthday, Mrs. Blume!

Let’s Talk:  Have you ever read a Judy Blume book?  If so, which was your favorite?  Would you ever re-read them now that you’re an adult?

Happy Birthday, Denise Austin!

You’ve all seen Denise Austin’s workout videos and television shows, but did you know she’s also an author?  Born on February 13, 1957, in San Pedro, California, her first passion was gymnastics.  In fact, gymnastics bought her a scholarship to the University of Arizona, then ultimately to California State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in physical education and a minor in exercise physiology. She’s served on the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, and has hosted the long-running television shows Getting Fit with Denise Austin, Fit and Lite, and Denise Austin’s Daily Workout, and more recently, she appeared on segments of The Balancing Act.

In addition to being a wife and mom, running her fitness empire, hosting her television shows, serving on the President’s Council, and filming her exercise DVDs and videos, she has authored fourteen books:

▪Jumpstart: The 21 Day Plan to Lose Weight Get Fit and Increase Your Energy and Enthusiasm (1996)
▪Hit the Spot: How to Target, Tone, and Slim Your Problem Areas (1997)
▪Denise Austin’s Ultimate Pregnancy Book (1999)
▪Lose Those Last Ten Pounds: The 28-Day Fool-Proof Plan to a Healthy Body (2000)
▪Fit and Fabulous After 40: A 5-Part Program for Turning Back the Clock (2002)
▪Shrink Your Female Fat Zones: Lose Pounds and Inches–Fast! (2003)
▪Pilates for Every Body: Strengthen, Lengthen, and Tone (2003)
▪Sculpt Your Body with Balls and Bands: Shed Pounds and Get Firm in 12 Minutes a Day (2004)
▪Sculpt Your Body with Balls and Bands: Lose Weight and Tone Up in 12 Minutes a Day (2005)
▪Eat Carbs, Lose Weight: Drop All the Pounds You Want without Giving Up the Foods You Love (2005)
▪Tone Your Tummy Type: Flatten Your Belly and Shrink Your Waist in 4 Weeks (2006)
▪Denise’s Daily Dozen: The Easy, Every Day Program to Lose Up to 12 Pounds in 2 Weeks (2010)
▪Get Energy! Empower Your Body, Love Your Life (2011)
▪Side Effect: Skinny: Denise Austin’s Fat Blast Diet (2012)

Denise’s video segments that I love best are her yoga and kickboxing.  I love the way she not only explains what to do, but why you need to do it a certain way.  Her books are very similar to her video style in that she explains things in an easy to understand method, and she is very upbeat and positive in her delivery.

Happy 58th Birthday, Mrs. Austin!

Let’s talk:  Did you ever watch any of Denise Austin’s television shows or videos?  Do you like to kickbox?  Have you ever practiced yoga?

Happy Birthday, Laura Ingalls Wilder & Charles Dickens!

Happy Birthday, Laura Ingalls Wilder!

One hundred forty-eight years ago, Laura Ingalls was born on February 7, 1867, in Wisconsin.  In 1882, just two months before her sixteenth birthday, she received her teaching certificate and taught school to help her family’s finances.  In 1885, she met and married Almanzo Wilder, and in 1886, they had a daughter named Rose.

In 1911, an invitation to submit an article to the Missouri Ruralist led to Laura’s position as a columnist and editor with that publication, and she held that position until the mid-1920s.  In 1924, her daughter helped her hone her writing skills to encompass more than just writing for a farm publication, and she wrote a couple of articles for Country Gentleman magazine.  In 1929-30, following the deaths of her mother in 1924 and her sister Mary in 1928, she was prompted to preserve her life’s memories in an autobiography entitled Pioneer Girl.  From that, her Little House books were born which of course prompted the television series Little House on the Prairie, which aired from 1974 to 1983.  She died on February 10, 1957.

Happy Birthday, Mrs. Wilder!


Happy Birthday, Charles Dickens!

Charles John Huffman Dickens was born on February 7, 1812, in Portsmouth, England.  He was forced to leave school and work in a factory when his father was thrown into debtors’ prison.  Despite his lack of education, he edited a weekly journal for twenty years, wrote fifteen novels, five novellas, and hundreds of short stories and non-fiction articles.

Some of his most notable works include A Tale of Two Cities, A Christmas Carol, Great Expectations, David Copperfield, and Oliver Twist.

Just five years prior to his death, he was returning from Paris when he was involved in the Staplehurst rail crash, wherein the first seven cars of the train he was riding plunged off a bridge that was under repair.  His was the only first class car to remain on the track.  He tended to the wounded before help arrived, and his efforts saved lives.  Before he left the scene, he went back to his rail car for his unfinished manuscript, Our Mutual Friend.  He later used this experience as fodder for his short story, The Signal-Man, wherein the main character has a premonition of his own death on a train.  He died on June 9, 1870, from a stroke, five years to the day after the Staplehurst rail crash.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Dickens!

Time to Talk:  How many of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s or Charles Dickens’ books have you read?  Which are your favorites?

Happy Birthday, Lewis Carroll!

Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known by his pen name Lewis Carroll, was born on January 27, 1832, in Daresbury, Cheshire, England.  His most famous writings are Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel, Through the Looking-Glass, which includes the poems “Jabberwocky” and “The Hunting of the Snark.”  In his later life, he wrote Sylvie and Bruno as an attempted comeback from his early success with his Alice books.

Besides being a writer, he was a mathematician, a logician, an Anglican deacon, and a photographer. In addition to his works of fiction, he wrote nearly a dozen mathematical books and a logistics book which were published under his real name, though some of these were published posthumously.

When he was a young child, he suffered a fever that left him deaf in one ear.  He also stammered as a child, and this condition plagued him throughout his life.  And at seventeen, he suffered a severe attack of whooping cough that caused him to be weak in the chest later in his life.  He was homeschooled through his childhood, and later he attended Oxford, though he was there only two days when he was called home because his mother died.

In 1856, he took up the new art of photography, and at one point even considered making a career of it.  He was an avid photographer who often took photos of young girls (who were sometimes nude), and as such, and because he was a lifelong bachelor, there were nasty speculative rumors spread about him.

He is credited with numerous inventions, and he also devised numerous word games, one of which was an early version of what we now know as Scrabble.  He died on January 14, 1898, from pneumonia which followed a bout of influenza.  He died two weeks prior to his sixty-sixth birthday.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Carroll!

Let’s chat!  Who is your favorite Alice in Wonderland character?  Have you ever heard of Sylvie and Bruno? 

Happy Birthday, Allison DuBois!

Did you ever watch (or at least hear of) the television show Medium, starring Patricia Arquette?  If so, then the name Allison DuBois rings familiar.  The show was based loosely on real-life medium Allison DuBois who was born on January 24, 1972.

Mrs. DuBois claims that she became aware of her ability to communicate with the dead when she was six years old, and she has used her psychic abilities to assist law enforcement in solving crimes.

Besides being a world renowned medium and lecturer, she’s authored four books, including: Don’t Kiss Them Good-Bye, We Are Their Heaven: Why the Dead Never Leave Us, Secrets of the Monarch: How the Dead Can Teach Us About Living a Better Life, and Talk To Me—What the Dead Whisper in Your Ear.

Happy Birthday, Mrs. DuBois!

Time to talk:  Did you watch the TV show Medium when it was on?  Do you believe certain people can really communicate with the dead?  If you personally needed a crime solved and a medium offered help, would you listen to what they had to say?

Happy Birthday, Edgar Allan Poe!

Today marks 206 years since Edgar Allan Poe’s birth.  Born on January 19, 1809, in Boston, Massachusetts, Mr. Poe was not only a pioneer of the short story, but he was also considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre.  Additionally, he was recognized as being a leader in contributing to the emerging science fiction genre.  Furthermore, he was the first American writer who was more popular in Europe than in the United States.  He was the first celebrated American writer to attempt to earn a living through his writing alone, and as a result, he had financial difficulties throughout his life.

It’s believed that only a dozen original copies of Poe’s first book, Tamerlane and Other Poems, are still in existence.  (Only fifty copies were printed in the first publishing.)  In December 2009, one surviving copy sold at Christie’s of New York for $662,500!  At the time, this was a record price for a work of American literature.  Poe claimed to have written this book before his fourteenth birthday and published it when he was eighteen.  In it, the author is identified simply as “A Bostonian.”

On October 3, 1849, Mr. Poe was found wandering the streets of Baltimore in a deranged condition.  He was taken to Washington Medical College where he died on Sunday, October 7, 1849, at 5:00 in the morning.  During his stay at the hospital, he was never coherent long enough to explain how he came to be in his ominous state, nor why he was wearing clothes that were not his own. He was said to have repeatedly called out the name “Reynolds” before his death, but no one knew to whom he was referring. His final words were “Lord help my poor soul.”  He was reported to have died from “cerebral inflammation,” which, back then, was a common euphemism for death due to a dishonorable cause such as alcoholism.  It’s been speculated that he died of alcoholic DTs, syphilis, or even rabies, though his actual cause of death remains a mystery.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Poe!

Time to talk:  What’s your favorite work by Edgar Allan Poe?  Did you see the 2012 movie, The Raven, starring John Cusack, and if so, did you enjoy it?  Do you have a theory as to how Mr. Poe died?

Happy Birthday, Betty White!

You already know what a huge fan of classic television I am, so it should come as no surprise that I adore Betty White!  (But then again, who doesn’t?)

(6)Ms. White was born on January 17, 1922, in Oak Park, Illinois.  You probably already know that she’s been a television (and movie) actress since 1949 (and is still going strong), and she’s been a lifelong animal rights activist.  But what you may not have known is that she’s also an author!  To date, she’s written seven novels, and hopefully she’ll continue to write as well as act and care for her animal friends for many years to come.

Betty White’s Pet-Love: How Pets Take Care of Us (Written with Tom Watson)

In 1987, Ms. White wrote this book about how pets help people.

Betty White in Person

Written in 1987, Betty discusses aspects of her career and personal life in this interesting book.

The Leading Lady: Dinah’s Story (Written with Tom Sullivan)

Tom Sullivan is an actor who was blind since birth, and Dinah was his guide dog.  This book is the story of Dinah’s life and how Betty took in Dinah when the dog became too old to care for Tom anymore.  It was written in 1991 by Betty and Tom in alternating chapters.

Here We Go Again: My Life in Television

Written in 1995, this is an overview of TV’s golden era and includes Betty’s anecdotes about many actors and actresses with whom she has worked.

Together: A Story of Shared Vision (Written with Tom Sullivan)

Written in 2008, this is the story of a man who feels like he loses everything when a tragic accident causes him to lose his sight, and a dog who’s given one last shot at being a service dog.

Betty & Friends: My Life at the Zoo

Ms. White has been a life-long animal welfare advocate and spokesperson, and this book, written in 2011, is a tribute to the animals she loves so much.

If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won’t)

Written in 2011, Ms. White discusses everything from unglamorous reality behind red-carpet affairs to her beauty regimen in true Betty White Style.

Happy 93rd Birthday, Betty White!

Time to talk:  What’s your favorite Betty White role?  Have you read any of her books?

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?