Sunday, April 10, 2011

99 Years Ago

99 years ago today, Titanic sailed from Southampton to Cherborg. Her next stops would be Queenstown and history. She had only four more days to live.

This is the last known photo of her.

God bless all the souls who died with her.

Friday, April 08, 2011

I Met Tony Shaloub Today!

Actor Tony Shaloub was guest lecturer today at Mott Community College (part of the Ballenger Eminent Persons Lecture Series). Actutally, it was more of an interview, with the stage set to look like the office of Dr. Bell, Mr. Monk's psychiatrist.

Shaloub was funny, gave lots of good advice for young actors, and talked about his career. At the end many of us walked up to the stage to get our programs autographed. Although the organizers did not take this into consideration and Shaloub had to move on to his next engagement, he signed programs and DVDs for as many people as he could. I didn't really get a chance to talk to him but I got a big smile when I handed him a wipe to take on the plane (they never clean those tray tables, you know). :) What a wonderful, funny man. I'm just sorry he had to rush off.

Congratulations on the
Arab American of the Year Award you'll be receiving tomorrow night, Mr. Shaloub!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Worth the Wait: One was a Soldier by Julia Spencer-Fleming

For Julia Spencer-Fleming fans it's been a long wait, but One Was a Soldier was worth waiting for!

Since Episcopal Priest Rev. Clare Fergusson re-upped in the military to serve as a helicopter pilot in Iraq at the end of the previous book, fans have been eagerly awaiting this new installment in the series. The plot focuses on Clare and other vets adapting to civilian life. When a young veteran appears to commit suicide, Clare disagrees with her lover, Chief of Police Russ Van Alstyne, and investigates the case as a murder (with help from her fellow vets). I'm afraid to say much more about the plot for fear of giving anything away but, like her other books, the plot is compelling, the characters complex and unforgettable, and the end leaves the reader eagerly awaiting the next book. Let's just hope we don't have to wait three years. :)

For those who haven't read the series yet, the Kindle version of the first book, In the Bleak Midwinter, is currently on sale for $2.99. If you don't have a Kindle, you can download free Kindle software for your desktop, laptop, cell phone, or iPad.

Thank you, Julia, for this wonderful book and for the opportunity to review an advance reader's copy.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011


Here's a word cloud based on this blog, created by Wordle. (You can click on the image for a larger view.)

Apparently all I write about are Ray Bradbury, The Lord of the Rings, writing, and my cats!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Tenth Life Fund-Raiser

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Cat Who Fetches

Misty, our 9.5 month old kitty, likes to fetch. She brings toys for me to throw, but she also likes to explore the basement and bring me whatever she finds. Here's what she's fetched so far:

* bubble wrap sheets (on several occasions)

* a strip of dried caulk (I have no idea where she found that!)

* a phone jack

* a tupperware lid (I have no idea where the matching freezer container is)

Isn't she clever? She certainly keeps me guessing! I just hope she doesn't start bringing me mice. (So far, so good.)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Hobbit Rumors

It's a new year so there are lots of new rumors about the long-awaited Hobbit movie, directed by Peter Jackson. The latest news is that Elijah Wood (pictured left) will be playing Frodo, who isn't in that book. This prompted me to look for cast info on and The Internet Movie Database.

I was surprised by two things:
1. The release date (Dec. 2012)
2. The inclusion of characters who are not in the book

The latter includes Frodo, Saruman, Radagast, Galadriel, and Legolas. It's rumored that Orlando Bloom will be paid $1 million for a two-minute cameo as Legolas. Since Legolas wasn't in that book, I had hoped they wanted Bloom to play Thranduil, King of the Mirkwood Elves (and father of Legolas). Now it rumored that David Tennant (who recently played Dr. Who and Barty Crouch, Jr. in Harry Potter IV), will play Thranduil.

Speaking of Elvish characters, what the heck is Galadriel doing here? Where is Elrond? I hope the writers don't send Bilbo and company to Lorien instead of Rivendell. (Let's all hope they stick to the book and take a good look at the map of Middle-earth before they make any radical changes).

Perhaps Jackson has other plans for these non-Hobbit characters. In the past he said the movies (yes, plural, there will be two of them) would be based on material written by Tolkien. Other than The Hobbit, I wonder if he's referring the "The Book of Years" in Appendix B of The Lord of the Rings (LotR). Other than the events in LotR, there's not much mention of these characters in that Appendix, certainly not enough for a movie, so I can't help but wonder how inventive Jackson and co-writers Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens will be. Goodness knows, they took quite a few liberties with LotR! At least we only have to wait 23 more months to find out...

Sunday, January 09, 2011

A Reply from Ray Bradbury!

Ray Bradbury is one of my all time-favorite authors. Just look under Bradbury in the topics list if you don't believe me! The older I get, the more he inspires me. Not just his wonderful writing, but his optimistic and loving attitude toward writing, life, and doing what you love.

This week Sam Weller, Ray's biographer, posted a request on his blog about Ray: did you have a question for Ray? I did -- and I was thrilled when Ray sent me an answer on Sam's blog, Listen to the Echoes!

I pasting the relevant parts here, just in case Sam's blog ever disappears:

Ask Ray Bradbury!

By Sam Weller at 4:38pm ET

I am visiting with Ray Bradbury later this week. If you have a question for him, I’m happy to ask. Just post your inquiries in the comment field down below, and Ray and I will do our very best to answer. All questions must be submitted here before noon pacific standard time on Friday.

Sam Weller

Dear Ray,
You are my favorite author and I feel like I’ve come to know you through your stories. After reading Sam Weller’s biography, I almost feel like you are family, a dear uncle who lives far away but whose visits and stories I eagerly await.
I would love to receive a note from you. If I write to you and send a card for you to sign, will you send it back? I know you are very busy but I would treasure it forever. Also, is sending a letter to your publisher (HarperCollins) the best way to write to you?
Thank you very much,
Cathy Akers-Jordan
Davison, MI
Comment by Cathy Akers-Jordan — January 5, 2011 @ 5:48am

Dear Cathy,
Thank you for your note! If you send a message to me in care of HarperCollins publishers, they will forward the letter to me.
Comment by Sam Weller — January 7, 2011 @ 5:56pm

Mere words can't express how happy this simple answer made me! Ray answered my question! Now, if you'll excuse me, I have an important letter to write. :)