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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