Gishwhes is Coming


In five short days, Gishwhes will be here. I think I’ve done all I can to prepare, collecting assorted bits of odds and ends. I have two bags and a toiletrie kit with various and sundry items. I hope I can do well for my team. I have much less money than last year but I have just as much, if not more, enthuswiasm.

Here is a peek at some of the items we did last year. They are all my personal items except for the second collage, on the bottom of the Dinomite flying. That was done by my teammates in Denmark and was featured as a cover photo on the official Gishwhes Facebook page for several weeks.


All images copyrighted to me, may be used by other Brave Little Ants teammates. Top, L-R: Turn highway rest area into paradise, Pop Vinyls at the Great Wall, Batgirl take Superman out for lunch. Center, L-R: Positive post-its on high school lockers, Team Logo, Gardent hack - watered by fairies. Bottom, L-R: National Geographic - The Padalecki, Tribute to Leonard Nimoy, Pack for trip to Mars.


All photos copyrighted to me except the third one, all may be used by Brave Little Ants teammates. Clockwise, starting at the top: Vacuum your lawn June Cleasver style, What I Fight For + Uniform, Dynomite flying, 2016 Team Logo with rainbow letters, Welsh dragon pronouncing Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.

Wayne Rogers, Trapper John on ‘MASH,’ dies at 82 – LA Times


Maybe my childhood will get a respite in 2016. Wayne Rogers was a big part of my growing up. Earlier in the year, we watched the entirety of the MASH series with the kids. They really enjoyed it. Trapper was a part of their childhood too. Rest in peace, Trap. Say hi to Henry.

An Open Letter to Joe Biden


Dear Vice President Biden,

I have long admired you, and have thought about writing some sort of letter to you expressing that. I only hope this sounds as good as it did in my head while I was sleeping. In case it doesn’t, it was beautifully written, encouraging yet not condescendingly so; complimentary without sounding sappy, and loving while maintaining respectability. I can’t promise any of that since most things sound better in my head.

As I said, I have admired you for a very long time. I don’t know when I got into politics specifically, but my family was always civic minded. My father had to remind me once, and only once, as a child to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance and respect was expected without question or reminder for the flag, servicemen and women, and those that serve us in government. I never knew who my parents voted for until I was in college, and I never heard a bad word about anyone until I was old enough to discern the nuances of what passes for political discussion and disagreement and not personal attack.

I knew your name before I knew your story. I’m not sure how I knew you. I grew up in Queens until we moved to Long Island in New York, although it’s possible that I heard your name for the first time in college where I was studying political science. I ended up with a minor in that by that way, but that is neither here nor there.

I may have thought you were from New York originally. I don’t know.

I had somehow gotten it in my head that you were Jewish, like I was, which of course you’re not. I can only imagine that I got that idea from how much you reminded me of my father. He was a wonderful, kind, compassionate, generous man which should be no surprise then when I say you remind me of him. You were always a straight talker, and the one thing I liked about you was that you said it. Whatever the political consequences. Whatever the fallout. Whatever it was, you said it. The hard truth. The honest truth. The stark reality of truth. Always telling us what we sometimes didn’t want to hear, but always your tone to us is compassion and mercy, and kindness.

You were you, and just in that you inspired me.
Whenever your name came up, my response would always be, “Joe Biden? I love Joe Biden! I would vote for him for President.” Or anything else for that matter.

Somewhere along the line, I learned that you were Catholic. In 2014, I became Catholic. Before that I understood very little about compassion and mercy, and forgiveness. I heard you (and others) talk about things apart from politics, but through politics, and I didn’t get it. Being called to something. Having the clarity, not to know the answers, but to continue looking for them. In one moment, it was all there. The one question that confounds me still is the ever popular why did you decide to become a Catholic? Why did I decide? Oh, well-meaning, loving people…I decided nothing. I’m sure you know that when the Spirit puts its hand on your shoulder and turns you onto a new path, there are no decisions to be made; only a direction in which to go. Just as Jesus came to me in His way when I was ready, something comes to all of us, and shows us the way.

I learned about your family later on, and at some point I learned about your son, Beau’s foundation, Darkness to Light. Now, I knew Beau Biden. I remember when it was time to go to Iraq. He didn’t have to go. No one would fault him for staying as Attorney General if he didn’t go, but he didn’t join the military, and wasn’t in the Reserves for show. He wasn’t the Vice President’s son. He was Joe Biden’s son, and he knew what he’d signed up for. I was shocked when he died. I hadn’t known he was sick, and I cried. I thought of writing you then, but it seemed hollow. I have two boys and one girl of my own, and I can’t imagine.

It was only after yesterday’s announcement that you wouldn’t be running for President that I knew this had to be written. It shows that for you, the dream of the Presidency is much more than a man’s dream. It is the dream of helping, of serving the American people, and for that alone, you should be president. For those that know you personally or follow you closely, it is only one more selfless act in a life of selfless acts, whether that’s taking care of two young boys, of going from junior senator to senior, of vice president. It is all done with integrity and humility.

I could not let another day pass without telling you how much you inspire me; of how much I can do because I have you as a role model.

When you said that you would not be running for President, but you would not be remaining silent, I smiled. Don’t tell Joe Biden he can’t say anything he wants. You still have a lot to say, and I intend to listen as I always have.

But before we go our separate ways, I wanted it to be clear how much I admire and respect and care for you.

You are an inspiration to me.

Watching you gives me the security to know that I can change direction; for you, away from the White House, and for me, I don’t know, but whatever it is, I know I can do it.

I know I can do it because you can, because you show me how, and that’s all I need to know.

You are a wonderful human being, and I’ve thought that for so long that it surprises me that I’ve never said it to you. But you are a wonderful human being, and I’m glad I finally told you so.

Bless you.

Love and best wishes,

Karen B.

Jack Larsen (1928-2015)


He (as Jimmy Olsen) was probably one of my first exposures to writers writing for a living, and one of my childhood dreams – a journalist for a newspaper. It doesn’t seem that long ago even though it’s a million miles away.

A life well lived deserves a rest.

Rest in peace, Jack.

NY Times Article
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I’d like to share this tribute from actor, writer, playwright, and overall super human being, Jim Beaver:

I’ve been working on a biography of actor George Reeves for decades now. It’s what brought me to Hollywood, and it has been both an albatross about my neck and an enormous blessing, lo, these many years.

Chief among the blessings have been the people I met in the course of my research who became friends. And most certainly, chief among those friends was Jack Larson. Jack played Jimmy Olsen on Reeves’s SUPERMAN TV series in the 1950s, and it is for that iconic role that he will always be remembered. But he was much, much more than that. He was a playwright, the first ever to be given a Rockefeller Foundation grant. He was a librettist, creating the text to the great Virgil Thompson’s last opera, LORD BYRON. He knew EVERYBODY. His bosom friends and lovers included Montgomery Clift, Leslie Caron, James Dean, John Houseman, Christopher Isherwood, Salka Viertel, and Libby Holman, and, especially, director James Bridges, with whom Jack shared a life for 35 years. They lived in a Frank Lloyd Wright house in Brentwood, where they were neighbors of mine for many years. I would see Jack walking his beloved dogs daily, and we often stopped to chat.

I got to know Jack because he was a figure in the story of the subject of my book project, but when I think of him, I think of him as a friend. I had interviewed him once or twice without any particular connection arising, but the combined subsequent facts that I had plays produced at Actors Theatre of Louisville and had a fling with a staffer he knew well there (he was the Rockefeller Foundation’s scout for interesting playwrights at the time) led him to feel close to me. Indeed, for the next 35 years, he never failed to ask me how that girl from Louisville was, though I hadn’t seen her in years. I was enamored of him and fiercely envious of his style, his grace, his congeniality and his place among brilliant, thoughtful, fascinating people. Most of all, I appreciated his friendship and his abiding friendliness and good nature. I loved him. Not because he was Jimmy Olsen on my favorite childhood show. Indeed, I rather rarely think of him in that way. I loved him because he was everything a man ought to be – smart, kind, gentle, gracious, giving, talented, funny, and just damned nice.

I will miss him forever.

Jack Larson (1928-2015)

A Tribute to Yvonne Craig (1937-2015)





It’s taken me all day to be able to sit down and try to put my thoughts to paper, as it were. Growing up I think I was pretty typical in that I wanted to be EVERYTHING: doctor, lawyer, Indian chief as the saying went back then; nurse, cowboy, librarian, space explorer, writer, journalist, astronaut, superhero.

The 1970s were a time of change and women were moving into the forefront of jobs and careers, taking on more mainstream male oriented jobs, getting involved in politics and becoming more seen and heard. In Queens, where I grew up, we had Liz Holtzman and Bella Abzug and Geraldine Ferrarro.

Being born in 1966, as with Star Trek, I wasn’t able to watch the original airings of Batman, but I lived through their reruns.

I loved Batman and Robin but I especially loved Batgirl. Quiet, mild-mannered librarian, pull a lever or push a button, her vanity rotates and she’s Batgirl, fighting crime alongside the guys. In fact, sometimes, a lot of the time saving their bacon in the nick of time.

Last week for gishwhes, I cosplayed as Batgirl. She was the only one who could get me into a costume in public. I’m so glad I was able to do that before she passed away.

Yvonne Craig was gorgeous, and she was not only a pretty face. She rode the motorcycle on and off screen and did her own stunts. I would hazard to say she didn’t get paid extra for that either.

She began in ballet, and shared the screen in two films with Elvis Presley. After television and movies, she had other very successful careers, one as a real estate broker and another in the prepaid phone card business among other ventures. She spent time attending conventions and wrote a memoir, From Ballet to the Batcave and Beyond. Most recently before her illness, she was the voice of Olivia’s grandmother on the animated children’s series of the same name.

She was a hero of mine. Her hair was dark and short like mine. She played with the boys like I did. She was kind and smart and thoughtful and she was the perfect role model to look up to.

I am so sad to see her passing.

I’d like to share some links and videos that I remember from my childhood. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Rest in peace, Yvonne.
You will truly be missed and remembered.

Her PSA for Equal Pay, 1974

The Secret Origins of Batgirl

Yvonne Craig’s Official Website
Her family’s statement
Her official obituary

CNN’s Story about Yvonne’s Passing

Heavy Metal’s Picture Tribute

Final Appearance as Batgirl

[All pictures are not mine. I will add copyright info to my new Photo Credits Page when time permits]



Hail to you, our King, obedient to the Father; you were led to your crucifixion like a gentle lamb to the slaughter.

Today’s Gospel acclamation reminded me of something that often strikes me as funny. As someone who did not grow up with the New Testament, on occasion I will hear something in the church readings and I will remember it from the secular world.

Lambs to the slaughter is one of those phrases.

Another one is when Mary Magdalene asks where Jesus has gone after his burial in the tomb. Her words are: They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him (within John 20: 1-9).

The way this was intoned the first time I heard this, it came out in a rhythm, and reminded me of Little Bo Peep: Little Bo Peep has lost her sheep and doesn’t know where to find them.

There are many times I wonder how many fables, how many familiar sayings come from the stories of Jesus, original reminders for the less than literate as his Death and Resurrection are repeated and told as more and more believers each find Him in their own time.

Kind of like me.



Friday is Good Friday. It is also the first night of Passover.

When I decided to go ahead and follow my conscience to be baptized and to become Christian and join the Catholic Church, I made the commitment to continuing to observe many of the Jewish customs that I had grown up with. Not to make too fine a point of it, but my kids are still Jewish, and for me my Catholicism is a very organic and logical extension of my own Jewishness.

This was my third observed Lent, my first after my baptism. I’ve had no problem abstaining from meat on Fridays and giving up something. For two years, it was Diet Coke and this year it was the McDonald’s Breakfast Burrito. The burrito holds a place in both my stomach and my heart as an amazing breakfast food as well as a fond memory of my first teaching job.

As a kid, Passover wasn’t terribly easy, but it also wasn’t terribly hard. We gave up bread, pasta, rice, certain vegetables and that meant that we truly gave them up. Nowadays you can practically eat anything and it’s kosher for Passover; even cake, and sandwich rolls. When my kids were really little, I bought the cereal (the box was tastier) and the potato chips without corn syrup. They hated all of it, so we went back to buying nothing but matzo and potato pancake mix.

This year, though we’ll be traveling to my mother-in-law’s, and it’s Holy Week, and Easter is Sunday, which isn’t usually a problem since I’ve abstained from chocolate and cake and anything not allowed.

But this year, I just don’t feel it.

I didn’t feel Rosh Hashanah, probably because the kids had school and I let them go.

I did observe Yom Kippur, but Chanukah was forgotten most of the week with everyone’s crazy afterschool schedules and my son’s work. We don’t do eight presents because that gets too expensive, but we do always get dreidls, gelt and potato pancakes. Except this year, I didn’t make any.

I’m not depressed; it’s not that, but I’m not feeling it.

I feel the importance of Passover; of the Exodus, but the joy of the Exodus is blended and jumbled with the joy of the Resurrection, and the latter seems more important even though it’s not a competition.

I feel guilty. It’s more than I don’t wanna also, but it both feels wrong to observe and wrong to ignore. I need to sort out a compromise for myself that is both emotionally satisfying and religiously authentic.

The customs and traditions were always important to me, and I don’t want to lose or forget that part of myself. It may take some time until I find the balance that I’m looking for.