Sunday, November 11, 2012

For Veterans Day, Let's Join Forces for Our Troops

On Veterans Day, I would like to thank all members of the armed forces, past and present, for their service. More than that, I'd like to do something to truly welcome them home.

Here are two ways: Joining Forces and The Gary Sinise Foundation.

I invite you to join me in supporting Joining Forces, "a comprehensive national initiative to mobilize all sectors of society to give our service members and their families the opportunities and support they have earned."

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden champion this initiative.

To learn more about Joining Forces, CLICK HERE


Also of interest is the Gary Sinise Foundation.

Currently starring in "CSI: New York," many of you will remember that Gary, who is an actor, writer, director and producer, played Lt. Dan in "Forrest Gump," but his commitment to serving "our defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need" was born in his family's deep military ties.

After September 11th, Gary intensified his efforts to be a "citizen of action," from working with the USO to entertain the troops, to assisting wounded veterans rebuild their lives, to building schools for children affected by war worldwide, and so much more. His involvement is quite impressive (check the link) and his foundation is very much worth your support.

The Gary Sinise Foundation: CLICK HERE

And thank you for your service, Dad.

Top row, second from left: James A. Thompson Sr., Tuskegee Airman, with his comrades

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sally Field, An Ally Who is OUT for Equality

It has been many years since I came out. I grew up in an atmosphere that encouraged standing up for civil rights, for human rights, for the equality of all human beings. Today, on National Coming Out Day, I would like to encourage you to come out, too. Sally Field, actress, director, producer, screenwriter and activist, has just come out. She's been around for a long time: since the early sixties, when she was the quintessential teenager in "Gidget" and later an airborne novice in "The Flying Nun." When she reached her thirties, she got serious, with award-winning roles in "Sybil," "Norma Rae" and "Places in the Heart," heart-tuggers like "Steel Magnolias" and fun ones like "Smokey and The Bandit" and "Murphy's Romance." She continued on the A-list with "Forrest Gump," and kept showing why we really like her with appearances on "ER" and, most recently, "Brothers and Sisters." Now, at 65, Sally Field has come out. Sally is the mother of three sons, and she came out as a parent ally, in support of her youngest son Sam Greisman, who is gay. Sally is the recipient of this year's Human Rights Campaign's Ally for Equality award.
Also appearing at the HRC gala were "Modern Family"'s Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Newark mayor Cory Booker and NAACP President Ben Jealous. Bravo, gentlemen. (I'll write a separate blog on the African-American community as allies of LGBT people - the subject deserves its own time and space.) I came out in high school, thanks to my friend Richard, who was never "in". He was outgoing, creative, funny, friendly and utterly himself - a teen who danced with passion and skill and grace. Richard, who was the first person I ever knew to be gay, was just one of our crowd. He was one of us. Here's the wonderful thing about knowing someone who is LGBT. You don't hate your friends - or your family - for being who they are. And as a straight ally for the LGBT communty, I am again coming out to encourage everyone who has a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender family member to come out in their support - or, if you do not, to encourage you to come out in favor of extending love and support to every member of the human family who is a sexual minority. It's the decent thing to do. Watch Sally Field's passionate speech at the HRC gala (warning to sensitive types: the f-word is used once, to very appropriate effect.)

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Wednesday, February 29, 2012


It's February 29, 2012. Leap Day has returned.

I love the idea of an "extra" day. It gives me 24 additional hours to work hard at doing nothing.

So, on February 29, I'll start by taking one last look at Black History Month 2012.

Maybe I'll read up on resources, history and information at the NAACP website. For one hundred three years, the nation's largest and oldest civil rights organization has been a leader in the "fight for social justice for all Americans."

Or check out for a cool overview and lots of great links.

Maybe I'll take in a movie and see some of the winners and nominees from this year's Academy Awards for the best of traditional Hollywood, or color outside the lines with a selection from Film Independent's Spirit Awards. (I think best actor winner Jean Dujardin of "The Artist" is charming as hell in any language.)

Maybe I'll pay a little bit of attention to my every-year resolution and work on my health and fitness on this cool winter day in L.A. There are some wonderful, realistic tips at the website of "America's doctor," Doctor Oz. Then I'll do an hour workout with my trainer, Bob Harper - hell, I guess if a man can look this good at nearly fifty, he must be doing something right. (Grab one of his fitness DVDs while they are on sale for just $5 apiece!) And I'll end by playing around with some of the tasty, nutritions recipes at The Biggest Loser site.

Or maybe I'll see what I've missed from TV and film at My latest media addiction, Hulu features tens of thousands of full episodes and clips from just about every popular television show you can think of - perfect if you forgot to set the DVR, or if you want to try the show with all the buzz. You'll find The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, 30 Rock and Celebrity Apprentice, Glee and Castle, sports, news, information, comedy, drama, reality, classic TV series - and on and on. (If you think YouTube is addictive, wait till you try Hulu.) You'll also find those shows on cable that aren't carried by your provider, so take a look.

The idea of Leap Day is simply to help synchronize our calendars to the solar cycles, but I like to use it for trying something new, taking a risk or a leap of faith. I think that's a good philosophy for Leap Day, and every day.

So, go ahead.


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Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Feel of A Book

I love books. I love the heft of a book in my hand, the tooth of the paper as my fingers brush over it, the act of turning the page, the first glimpse of the words and images on the dust jacket.

I've been a reader for a long time, inspired by the mystery of the balloons floating over the heads of the characters on the comics page. One of my earliest memories was asking my grandfather to tell me what they said: week after week, he'd patiently spell out each word, and we'd laugh at the jokes.

One Sunday, when I asked Grandpoppy to read the comics, he smiled and said, “Girl, you're old enough to read them to me.”

I was four years old.

He knew just what he was doing. After all of those Sunday mornings with the two of us sharing the comics page, as soon as I was on my own, I discovered that I already knew most of the words.

I have loved to read ever since.

Avid readers tend to collect books - or perhaps I should say, adopt them, since our books seem like part of the family. I've revisited my favorites time and again, I've recommended whatever I found noteworthy, entertaining or enlightening, and I've listened to and followed suggestions from family, friends, critics and the public at large.

There was a time in my life when I went on location with the films I was working on quite often, staying away from home for weeks or months at a time. Part of home – in the form of a book – always went with me. Paperbacks accompanied me to England, classic fiction took a ride to Vancouver, B.C., a riveting bio kept me company in airports, in train stations and on the ferry. I love settling in, reaching into my carry on and pulling out the book I'd brought along. Years later, I found a boarding pass I used as a bookmark, tucked inside the cover.

I've read - and used the book as a sunshade – on a beach in the afternoon. I've taken my book to the shade of my garden, where I felt the breeze, smelled the flowers, heard the wind in the trees and gotten lost in a faraway adventure. I've sprawled out on my couch and argued with a contrary idea, gasped at unexpected developments, laughed at a witty aside.

That brown mark on page 78? That's the mocha I was drinking on a chilly Seattle morning, reading on the Bainbridge Island ferry. There's some sand in the spine of the book I was reading, stretched out on Santa Monica beach with my long-ago love. And there, fluttering out of the pages of a book I read on a trip to New York, is a piece of the confetti that fell into my hair, my pockets and my purse during the final scene of “Monty Python's Spamalot” on Broadway.

Here is the book of Shakespeare's sonnets I bought in Stratford-on-Avon.

Here are the film production books my mentor gave me on my first show.

Here's the first edition Ray Bradbury signed for me at a Halloween appearance in Westwood Village and there are the books with the personal inscriptions writer-director Nick Meyer wrote to me during the decade we corresponded. There are the loving words from family and friends, long gone, and those I am blessed enough to still have in my life.

Time passes... and the beautiful tangibility of a book has less appeal to many who are coming of age in this millennium.

In another decade, the vast majority of us will do most of our reading on the Apple iPad, the Amazon Kindle, the Barnes & Nobel NOOK or one of the Android e-readers.

I love innovation and, though I am certain to do some reading in digital form, I won't be giving up all of my bound volumes. I will not surrender the myriad pleasures of real books.

Yes, I will move my newspaper and magazine subscriptions to e-reader form. There are institutions (some that have spent more than one hundred years) putting out news, information and opinion daily, weekly or monthly – far too slowly in the digital age. In print form, they can no longer compete with the immediacy of text alerts and social media. In digital form, they can continue to be valuable sources of information.

E-readers are convenient, but they have no soul, no character and no history.

But all of those real books that tell a story beyond the words on their pages may not have much of a future.

Pardon me while I continue, for a little bit longer. to tilt at windmills.

As for my books - those conjurers, teachers, and travel partners...

They will be there, crowding the bookshelves that line the long wall of my living room.
They will be there, all around my office as I work on writing of my own.

They will be next to my favorite chair, and on the table by my bed every night.

My life will be richer for it.

Books – real books - are waiting for me and for you on the shelves of our local independent booksellers.

Take an adventure of the imagination. Go buy a book.

In Seattle: Elliott Bay Book Company

In Portland: Powell's City of Books

In San Francisco: City Lights Booksellers

In Los Angeles: Book Soup

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