raven and books stamp

A letterboxing adventure, part 2

In an effort to dare myself to experiment more, I’ve set about about following Lu Ann Cahn’s example of engaging in fun and daring “firsts.” This is my list.

One of these planned firsts involved going letterboxing, which, according to Atlas Quest “is an intriguing pastime combining artistic ability with delightful treasure-hunts in beautiful, scenic places.” You can learn more about it here.

Last weekend, I put together a small bag of supplies (a rubber stamp, ink pad, letterboxing notebook, my cellphone) and piled into the car with M and our dog Duncan. The first park we visited turned out to be the wrong one, but after looking on the map for the actual location, we drove outside of town and parked next to a picnic pavillion. Then, the three of us trekked into the woods in search of the mysterious letterbox.

Following the clues left on Atlas Quest, we climbed over trees, pushed aside leaves, stumbled over rocks, swatted away a million bugs and sweated buckets. Unfortunately, after about an hour of searching, M and I had reached the proverbial X on the map, but there was no treasure to be found.

That’s right, our first letterboxing adventure was a total bust.

I know there are people reading this who will say: “It wasn’t a bust. It’s the journey that matters, not the destination.”

To those kind but delusional folks, I say PISH. If I could have teleported to the exact location and found the treasure, trust me, I would have. And I would have ended up a lot less hot, sweaty and annoyed.

The only good thing about the whole experience was the end, in which we left the park and drove straight to Fast Eddie’s, one of our favorite ice cream stands. M and I both indulged in double scoops and Duncan cooled off with a small soft-serve vanilla in a cup.

Despite this minor setback, I will not be deterred. Although our misadventure technically counts as a “first” and thus deserves to be crossed off my list, I plan to try again, because damn it, I must obtain at least one stamp!


There are only 3 ages for women in Hollywood: Babe, District Attorney and Driving Miss Daisy

The process of choosing a favorite actress was much more difficult than selecting a winner in the actor category. It’s not that women are less talented. Far from it. It’s just that there are few great roles available to them (see above quote by Goldie Hawn).

For example, according to Boxoffice.com, the biggest movies that played in theaters this weekend were:

* “Transformers: Age of Extinction” (mostly male cast, geared toward male audience)

* “22 Jump Street” (mostly male cast, geared toward male audience)

* “How To Train Your Dragon 2″ (mostly male cast, geared toward children)

* “Think Like a Man Too” (mostly male cast, geared toward mixed audience)

* “Maleficent” (woman lede, back story of a fairy tale villain which includes a metaphorical rape scene)

In most Hollywood films, women are frequently relegated to roles that serve men: prostitutes, secretaries, strippers, maids, slaves, daughters to marry off, the token girlfriend, crime victims, etc. As such, talented actresses only have the opportunity to really shine in romantic comedies (which I love) or in films that are created/written/directed by other women. This situation is incredibly frustrating for the brilliantly skilled women working in the business, but also for women like me, who enjoy going to movies and seeing strong male and female characters on screen.

So to choose just one favorite movie actress would be impossible. I can however, urge you to seek out films featuring performances by: Glenn Close, Emma Thompson, Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet, Cate Blanchett, Julia Roberts, Viola Davis, Judi Dench, Helen Mirren, Meg Ryan, Margo Martindale, Kathy Bates, Lois Smith, Allison Janney, Julianne Moore, Jane Lynch, Jodie Foster, Susan Sarandon, Halle Berry, Helen Hunt, Stockard Channing, Dianne Wiest, Christine Baranski and Sandra Bullock.

(Photo by YunYulia.)


I am not going to New York to meet some woman who could be a crazy, sick lunatic! Didn’t you see ‘Fatal Attraction’?

Being such a huge movie fan, it took some time to select my favorite film actor. There are so many talented thespians out there, yet few have the ability to consistently put my bum in a movie theatre seat based solely on the fact that his is in a picture.

However, after much thought and a lot of searching on IMDb, I realized that my favorite actor is the great Tom Hanks. He’s brilliantly talented, versatile, prolific and, of course, (I’m told) a very nice guy.

Now I know some people like Tom Hanks for his early comedies while others prefer his later dramatic efforts. But I have enjoyed just about every movie he’s worked on. These are my personal favorites:

1. Sleepless in Seattle
2. A League of Their Own
3. Apollo 13
4. Philadelphia
5. You’ve Got Mail
6. That Thing You Do!
7. Toy Story
8. The Terminal
9. Catch Me If You Can
10. The Polar Express

(Awesome honorable mentions: Charlie Wilson’s War, Splash, Big, The Green Mile, Saving Private Ryan and Cast Away)

What’s your favorite Tom Hanks flick?

Online News

My so-called digital life

It’s hard for me to believe, but this blog has been around for nearly 20 years. It debuted on AOL’s servers in the mid-1990s and has gone through more makeovers than I can count. Jaded Writings has provided me with a platform to share my thoughts and to connect with people all over the world. For those who take the time to read these posts, I thank you.

Many readers also follow me on social media, and they’re often surprised to find that the content I post changes depending on the outlet. For example, on Facebook, Twitter and Google+, I like to share links to news stories/features that catch my eye. I’m far more likely to respond to friends’ Facebook posts with likes/comments because they are people I know personally. On Twitter, however, I tend to share/favorite tweets from colleagues or professionals who are influential in their various fields.

On Tumblr, I publish content on a wide variety of topics. For Aftherthoughts, I post interesting news stories along with images that reflect my personality. On Eccentric Employment, I run want ads for people seeking odd, unique or interesting job opportunities.

My love of reading is featured on Hooked From The First Page, where I highlight books with catchy opening lines, and on the No-Good, Very Bad Title Blog, where I celebrate books that have terrible titles.

When I have time to write proper obits, I post them on The Blog of Death. I turn to The Obituary Forum, a blog for The Society of Professional Obituary Writers, to share news items about the profession of writing about the dead. And on The Blog of Death’s Tumblr, I link to news stories about dying, grief, the death industry and cemeteries.

So where do I find all this content?

I read. A lot.

Here is a quick snapshot of my digital life: (à la NPR Digital Services):

3 daily must-reads

I can’t name just 3. How about 10?

* The New York Times
* The Huffington Post
* The Washington Post
* Los Angeles Times
* Facebook
* Twitter
* Poynter
* Romenesko
* Muck Rack Daily

3 people you follow (online) regularly

* My husband
* Writer Litsa Dremousis
* Journalist John R. Platt

First thing you check in the morning

The blinds, to see if the sun is still out. When I finally get around to turning on my computer, though, the first thing I check is my email. Then I hit Fitbit.com.

Last thing you check at night

A book on my Kindle or the latest print novel I’m reading.

Favorite news consumption time saver

Twitter lists.

Go-to local news source


Your most used mobile reporting tool or app

News alerts from Breaking News and The Associated Press

Words of wisdom for news organization as they go forward with their digital efforts

It’s great to be first. Aim for that. But it’s better to be right.