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Writer's Block: Globetrotting

If you were given the opportunity to spend two weeks in any country in the world free of charge, which country would you choose, and why?

OMG! Great Britain! I want to see the British Museum and Beatrix Potter's Hill Top Farm and Edinburgh and Hay-on-wye (the book town) and the fens and Snowdon and Tintagel and visit Eileen and Phyl in Birmingham and...

I think this may take more than two weeks. LOL.

Writer's Block: Collect 'em all

Do you collect anything? If so, what do you collect, and what made you start your collection?

I have a small collection of collie statues (per my username) of all types: resin, china, metal, glass, plastic. The collection started with a collie trio (male, female, and puppy, otherwise known as Lad, Lady and Wolf) my mom bought for me in Lake George way back in the late 1960s.

I also have a very small collection of Pocket Dragons, which is funny because I'm not really a dragon person. We bought the first because it was hiding an Oreo behind its back and reminded us of our previous dog, Leia, who always begged for chocolate. Mostly I have the smaller, very cute ones, like the baby dragon sleeping inside a flower blossom, and, of course, the two little dragons sitting back to back, each reading a book.

My favorite collection is my bookcase full of bound issues of "St. Nicholas" magazine. "St. Nicholas" was a children's magazine published from 1873 through 1940; I have them through 1930, when they changed hands and became very juvenile. (Yes, I know that sounds funny, but if you read this magazine, you'd hardly think it was for children. The original typeface was 9 point, in two columns, and today the majority of the vocabulary would be for high school students or adults.) They really didn't talk down to kids in those days. Many famous illustrators, like Howard Pyle and Arthur Rackham, did work for "St. Nicholas" (some of Norman Rockwell's earliest illustrations were in a 1912 issue), and many of the children's stories serialized in the magazine later became best-selling children's classics: Eight Cousins, Little Lord Fauntleroy, Understood Betsy, Master Skylark, etc. I found my first single copy of "St. Nicholas" in Atlanta's late, great used bookstore, Oxford Too, and was off and running after I found a bound copy in Brattle Books in Boston.

I have a web page devoted to "St.. Nicholas": flyingdreams.home.mindspring.com/nick.htm

Plus a blog page featuring different stories and serials: talesfromstnicholas.blogspot.com/

Writer's Block: The best of times

What song reminds you of the happiest times in your life, and why?

I don't suppose I can name any one song for one thing, but, oddly enough, there's a television theme song that brings back some wonderful memories. In 1968 we took our very first vacation that did not involve our going to visit a relative's house. We went to Lake George, New York, and stayed at a set of cabins that are long gone, the Fort Gage Motel. Each cabin was like a little house without a kitchen. I had never been in a hotel before (that I remembered) and this was all new to me. There was a tiny living room, then a short hall that led between the bathroom and a closet, then the bedroom.

Anyway, I was allowed to stay up after 10 p.m. (I was eleven and that was very rare) and I saw the TV show Mannix for the first time. So now, whenever I hear that theme song, I remember the Fort Gage Motel and the fun we had in Lake George: going to Gaslight Village and playing lots of miniature golf and visiting Storytown and Frontierland.

Another song that brings back a flood of memories is "Him," by Rupert Holmes. This was the song I remembered him for in the 1980s, not "Escape." My dad got sick of "Him" being played on the radio all the time, so when I hear the song I am in the back seat of the car going toward South County (we're just passing the tower on Tower Hill Road...) while Dad mutters "Him, him, him..." in the front seat. LOL.

Writer's Block: They had it coming

If you could drop a character from your favorite TV show, who would you off and how would it happen?
After having rewatched the season finale of CASTLE--Gina! She can get carried off in a riptide. Of a favorite show in the past, James and I figure that's easy: Dr. Smith on LOST IN SPACE! How? I don't care, as long as it involves "the pain, the pain..."

Why Women Shouldn't Take Men Shopping

I suppose I should POST here already...

Anyway, my SIL sent this...very funny!


After I retired, my wife insisted that I accompany her on her trips to Target. Unfortunately, like most men, I found shopping boring and preferred to get in and get out. Equally unfortunate, my wife is like most women - she loves to browse. Yesterday my dear wife received the following letter from the local Target.

Dear Mrs. Samuel,

Over the past six months, your husband has caused quite a commotion in our store. We cannot tolerate this behavior and have been forced to ban both of you from the store. Our complaints against your husband, Mr. Samuel, are listed below and are documented by our video surveillance cameras.

1. June 15: Took 24 boxes of condoms and randomly put them in other people's carts when they weren't looking.

2. July 2: Set all the alarm clocks in Housewares to go off at 5-minute intervals.

3. July 7: He made a trail of tomato juice on the floor leading to the women's restroom.

4. July 19: Walked up to an employee and told her in an official voice, "Code 3 in Housewares. Get on it right away." This caused the employee to leave her assigned station and receive a reprimand from her Supervisor that in turn resulted with a union grievance, causing management to lose time and costing the company money.

5. August 4: Went to the Service Desk and tried to put a bag of M&Ms on layaway.

6. August 14: Moved a "CAUTION - WET FLOOR" sign to a carpeted area.

7. August 15: Set up a tent in the camping department and told the children shoppers he'd invite them in if they would bring pillows and blankets from the bedding department to which twenty children obliged.

8. August 23: When a clerk asked if they could help him he began crying and screamed, "Why can't you people just leave me alone?" EMTs were called.

9. September 4: Looked right into the security camera and used it as a mirror while he picked his nose.

10. September 10: While handling guns in the hunting department, he asked the clerk where the antidepressants were.

11. October 3: Darted around the store suspiciously while loudly humming the "Mission Impossible" theme.

12. October 6: In the auto department, he practiced his "Madonna look" by using different sizes of funnels.

13. October 18: Hid in a clothing rack and when people browsed through, yelled "PICK ME! PICK ME!"

14. October 21: When an announcement came over the loud speaker, he assumed a fetal position and screamed "OH NO! IT'S THOSE VOICES AGAIN!"

And last, but not least:

15. October 23: Went into a fitting room, shut the door, waited awhile, then yelled very loudly, "Hey! There's no toilet paper in here." One of the clerks passed out.


Book Meme

Just found this in Daniel's LiveJournal:

Apparently the BBC reckons most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here.
1) Bold those you have read.
2) *Star the ones you loved.
3) Italicise those you plan on reading.

1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4. Harry Potter series - JK Rowling *
5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee *
6. The Bible
7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8. Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman *
10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11. Little Women - Louisa M Alcott *
12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller (required reading--yawn)
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare
15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18. Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19. The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20. Middlemarch - George Eliot
21. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell *
22. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald (again, required reading--yawn again)
23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck (saw the movie; does that count?)
29. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34. Emma - Jane Austen
35. Persuasion - Jane Austen
36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Berniere
39. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40. Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41. Animal Farm - George Orwell
42. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46. Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48. The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50. Atonement - Ian McEwan
51. Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52. Dune - Frank Herbert
53. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens (required reading, but enjoyed)
58. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66. On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68. Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69. Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70. Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72. Dracula - Bram Stoker
73. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett *
74. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75. Ulysses - James Joyce
76. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78. Germinal - Emile Zola
79. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80. Possession - AS Byatt
81. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87. Charlotte’s Web - EB White *
88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle *
90. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92. The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94. Watership Down - Richard Adams
95. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98. Hamlet - William Shakespeare (Er...isn't Hamlet part of the complete works of Shakespeare?)
99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Looks like 26...again, counting seven Harry Potter novels as a singleton and the three Pullman books as one as well. And where is The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which usually turns up on these lists? One of my favorites of all time.


Today in History

January 27, 1967
Astronauts die in launch pad fire

A launch pad fire during Apollo program tests at Cape Canaveral, Florida, kills astronauts Virgil "Gus" Grissom, Edward H. White II, and Roger B. Chafee. An investigation indicated that a faulty electrical wire inside the Apollo 1 command module was the probable cause of the fire. The astronauts, the first Americans to die in a spacecraft, had been participating in a simulation of the Apollo 1 launch scheduled for the next month.

The Apollo program was initiated by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) following President John F. Kennedy's 1961 declaration of the goal of landing men on the moon and bringing them safely back to Earth by the end of the decade. The so-called "moon shot" was the largest scientific and technological undertaking in history. In December 1968, Apollo 8 was the first manned spacecraft to travel to the moon, and on July 20, 1969, astronauts Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin Jr. walked on the lunar surface. In all, there were 17 Apollo missions and six lunar landings.

Writer's Block: What Kind of Wonderful?

A lot of people love the film It's a Wonderful Life. Some people find it to be not so wonderful. Do you have a favorite holiday-themed movie? And if so, what is it?
The Homecoming
The House Without a Christmas Tree
The Gathering
The Bishop's Wife
A Christmas Story

Fun with Words

My sister-in-law sent this awhile back as a video, but it's good in just plain form:

What nine-letter word in the English language continues to remain a word when each of the nine letters is removed one by one?

The word is

IN = I


Getting to Know You Meme

From Vampry's LiveJournal:

1. What is your occupation right now? Purchasing agent at CDC.

2. What color are your socks right now? White.

3. What are you listening to right now? What's My Line rerun from GSN.

4. What was the last thing that you ate? Chicken thigh with onion gravy and plain white rice, with a pumpkin muffin for dessert.

5. Can you drive a stick shift? I'd say no. I HAVE driven one, and shifted directly from second to fifth!

6. Last person you spoke to on the phone? My team leader.

7. Do you like the person who sent this to you? Yes.

8. How old are you today? 52.

9. What is your favorite sport to watch? Dog agility or horse jumping.

10. What is your favorite drink? Milk. Especially milk with coffee syrup in it.

11. Have you ever dyed your hair? No, but I've always wanted to be a redhead.

12. Favorite food? Chicken soup with rice.

13. What is the last movie you watched? In the Shadow of the Moon.

14. Favorite day of the year? Christmas, of course!

15. How do you vent anger? Walk around talking to myself a lot (or yelling at the computer, since half the time that's what I'm angry at).

16. What was your favorite toy as a child? My stuffed grey poodle, Fifi.

17. What is your favorite season? Autumn.

18. Cherries or Blueberries? Cherries, cherries, cherries!!!!

19. Do you want your friends to e-mail you back? Sure.

20. Who is the most likely to respond? Emma.

21. Who is least likely to respond? Mike or Rodney. (Or Jen, 'cause she's in China.)

22. Living arrangements? House, with husband, one terrier and one budgie.

23. When was the last time you cried?  Can't remember.

24. What is on the floor of your closet? Shoes, plastic containers, a set of shelves, some storage bags.

25. Who is the friend you have had the longest that you are sending this to?  Don't know.

26. What did you do last night? Watched Mythbusters.

27. What inspires you? Nature's beauty.

28. What are you most afraid of? You want a list? Fire. Enclosed places. Dying. Drowning. Snakes. Worms.

29. Plain, cheese or spicy hamburgers? Plain.

30. Favorite dog/cat breed? Collie / Maine coon.

31. Favorite day of the week?  Sunday.

32. How many states have you lived in? Two.