Archives for posts with tag: television

licensed bill h

It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
by Kerry E.B. Black

On the North Side of Pittsburgh, an oddly textured bronze statue’s humble smile invites calm. Recorded piano compositions play. This seven-thousand-pound, eleven-foot-tall sculpture gazes across the Allegheny River toward the city.

I’ve watched grown adults climb onto the statue’s pedestal to smile for a photo. Mr. Rogers taught generations of children to love and respect each other and themselves. He did so gently, without shouting or saber-rattling.

When faced with the unfaceable, I remember a quote by the gentle hero represented in this “Tribute to Children” sculpture, Mr. Fred Rogers. He explained that when he was a boy confronting scary things in the news, his mother would say, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” He would recall his mother, Nancy McFeely Rogers’ words especially in times of disaster and was “always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.”

 PHOTO: “Tribute to the Children,” Mr. Rogers Memorial Statue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. by Bill H, used by permission.

EDITOR’S NOTE: “Tribute to the Children,” informally known as the Mr. Rogers Memorial Statue, was created by artist Robert Berks. Cordelia May — philanthropist and heiress to the Mellon fortune — commissioned a statue of her longtime friend to be built through her Colcom Foundation. Completed in 2009, the bronze statue, which cost $3 million to build, is 10’10” high and weighs 7,000 pounds— sturdy enough to support anyone who wants to sit in Mr. Rogers’ lap. The site plays 29 of Fred Rogers’ musical compositions. An ordained Presbyterian minister, Rogers is best known as the creator of the program Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, which ran from 1968-2001 on public television stations in the United States. The program was critically acclaimed for focusing on children’s emotional and physical concerns, such as death, sibling rivalry, school enrollment, and divorce. Fred Rogers passed away in 2003 at age 74. (Sources: Wikipedia and

Mr rogers Latrobe
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When we visited “Tribute to the Children,” instead of his piano compositions, the recordings were of Mr. Rogers’ sweet voice. It was lovely to hear! The second photo shows a statue in Fred Rogers’ hometown, Latrobe, Pennsylvania (about 40 miles east of Pittsburgh). He is life-sized and sitting on a bench. When I arrived to take the picture, a group of four teen/early twenty-year-olds were taking turns sitting beside Mr. Rogers. It made me smile.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kerry E.B. Black, eclectic writer and lover of humanity, has toured Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood where George A. Romero once worked, visited Latrobe, Pennsylvania, where Mr. Rogers lived, and rode replicas of his trolleys at St Vincent College and Idlewilde Park. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and

PHOTO: Mr. Rogers’ statue, Latrobe, Pennsylvania, by Kerry E.B. Black.

downton mask
My Downton Abbey Masks
by Dakota Donovan

After weeks of tragic news
I decide to spend seven days
watching seasons 1-6
of Downton Abbey.
The series allows me to
assume a range of roles,
wear many masks.
I’m Lady Mary, Belle of the Ball.
I’m Lady Edith, the forgotten middle child.
I’m Lady Sybil, the young rebel
who elopes with the Irish chauffeur
(mine was a Texas cowboy).
Then I’m Daisy, the kitchen drudge,
and Mrs. Hughes, trying to run a household.
At times, I’m Lady Cora,
the American interloper.
And I must confess to the devious
Miss O’Brien in me—conniving & vengeful.
And I must acknowledge the saintly
Anna in me—beleaguered and beset with troubles.
There’s the do-gooder Mrs. Isobel Crawley
who puts others first & makes sacrifices.
Finally, there’s the formidable
Dowager Countess, Lady Violet,
who encompasses all these traits,
good & bad & in-between.
She, of course, is my favorite character.
…and that’s just the women.

Photo: Tea party masks of Lady Violet (Maggie Smith, left) and Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) found on pinterest.

Stylish woman at the summer beach in a hot day

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dakota Donovan is a ghostwriter for the rich and famous who lives in Los Angeles. She’s had many wild and crazy experiences while working with celebrities to tell their life stories, and some of these strange-but-true tales appear in her Hollywood Ghostwriter Mysteries — starting with L.A. Sleepers. In other incarnations, she’s written novels, plays, screenplays, and television scripts. She’s currently working on L.A. Dreamers, the second novel in the Hollywood Ghostwriter Mystery series.

donna reed1
How Charming
by Donna JT Smith

Life was all just black and white
When we watched our set at night.
Donna Reed, or was it Stone,
Who picked up that corded phone?
Does it matter her last name?
Our first names were just the same.
I would watch this family
And Donna Stone I’d strive to be —
I never saw her come unglued,
Nor lose her joyful attitude —

This woman seeming all omniscient
Strong and ever so efficient,
Tender with a warm embrace
And the fairest, kindest face;
Shown as healer of the strife;
Ever present loving wife,
Dishing out spoonsful of honey
With a dollop of sweet funny;
Wearing demure mom couture
And perfected smooth coiffure.

Looking back on younger views
Black and whites don other hues;
Thirty minutes isn’t quite
Enough to make all wrongs to right;
With life complex, solutions long,
It’s difficult to “play along.”
Because I strove to be like she,
I turned out a better me.
How charming thoughts that I could be
As swell as Donna on TV.

PHOTO: Actress Donna Reed (1921-1986) in a still from The Donna Reed Show (1958-1966). She was best known for her role as Mary in the classic Frank Capra comedy It’s a Wonderful Life (1946).


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was actually named after my father, Donald (Don), and mother, Jean; hence, the name Donna Jean. It sounded like Don and Jean to them, so as the firstborn I was the namesake of both my parents. But in childhood, I was always fascinated when I heard that someone else had my first name. There weren’t too many. Donna Reed/Stone was one, though. And I thought she was wonderful. So pretty, funny, happy, and easygoing. I still strive to be like her today. Who wouldn’t want to spend life on an even keel?

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: My Donna Reed high school senior yearbook serene pose in 1969.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Donna JT Smith lives, writes, and paints on the coast of Maine, where she has spent a good portion of her life both as an adult and child. Her husband could be Alex Stone, not in name, but in temperament. She has two grown children, Mary and Jeff — no, wait — she does have two grown children, just different names and different order: boy first, girl second. She has always attempted to be a “healer of strife” and to dish out a “spoonful of funny” or two.

by Carol A. Stephen

Perhaps I laugh a little louder
when I watch Carol Burnett
traipse down a staircase, shoulders broadened
by green velvet drapes as she mocks Scarlett O’Hara’s antebellum belle.

I might find myself mugging in my mirror,
making moues, tilting head,
ready for my closeup, Mr. DeMille!
It’s what she said, as she sidled her Swanson flapper
down another flight of stairs.

But I never tie my hair up in bandanas like the 40s,
or slop around in workboots with a bucket
and a mop. And when her show’s over,
and it’s time for Carol to sing,
I can only listen; I can’t carry a tune. Ironic
when the name we share in French means joyous song.

PHOTO: Actress/comedian Carol Burnett.

Carol A. Stephen

Carol A. Stephen
is a Canadian poet. Her poetry has appeared in Bywords Quarterly Journal and two Tree Press/phaphours press collaborative chapbooks. You can also find Carol’s poems on-line at The Light Ekphrastic and in videos at Twice shortlisted,   in 2012 Carol won third place in Canadian Authors Association National Capital Writing Contest. She’s the author of three chapbooks, Above the Hum of Yellow Jackets, Architectural Variations, and Ink Dogs in my Shoes (2014), as well as a new collaborative chapbook with JC Sulzenko, titled Breathing Mutable Air (2015). Visit her at

lee majors
Gentlemen, we can rebuild her
by Lee Parpart

Like most American kids I thrilled to the
suave heroics of Lee Majors’ primetime astronaut
“A man barely alive” when he crashed to earth
rebuilt in cyborg form to rescue whole cities and
fend off Sasquatch foes.

Hunched in prayer on our red shag carpet
my heart beat to the staccato synth motif
that announced Steve Austin’s every
jump and roll with all the subtlety of a
cartoon “Kapow!”

No one had the husky former football star in mind
when I was born in ’65.

Dad wanted a boy and a nautical reference
(a nod to smooth sailing, a possible
edge on the knockabout course)
whereas Mom, nascent 60s feminist,
enjoyed the name’s unisex appeal.

I was the one who assigned that Lee
a place in my genealogy.

And yet a six-million-dollar question hovered over
this unlikely attachment:
Did I want to date Lee Majors or be him?
At twelve-and-a-half it was hard to tell.

In 1977 when his star was brightest
I remember floating down Main Street in Andover, Mass.
femaleness trailing behind me like a vapor
replaced by a strutting sense of my own importance
a borrowed bionics of boy flesh and boy bone

Head crowded with robot dreams
I replayed paternal plotlines and
savoured the frisson of being
Better. Stronger. Faster.
than the awkward girl I was.

Eventually, of course, I lowered my guard
and changed the channel. Austin bounded off
screen and both Lees fell into a
shallow cryogenic sleep.

But here’s the thing: I must have stolen a few
bits of extra equipment that day and
stashed them around the genie bottle or
blinked them under the bed.

Because he is clearly still in there
patchwork version of a silly 70s icon
connecting me to my own circuitry
spurring me to run and jump
disarm opponents and
dance without care.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This wonderful prompt got me thinking about the links between my trashy TV watching habits in the 70s and my experience of gender. I had no idea until I finished this poem how intricately connected my love of the Six Million Dollar Man was to my flirtation with masculine subjectivity in my teens and beyond. At around the same time I discovered a passion for Steve Austin, I also sprouted a kind of inner boy, separate from the tomboy that had animated me throughout grade school. I had just moved back to the U.S. after three years in Africa with my PhD student mother, and the feminist theory she was talking about at home seemed to trickle into my media consumption, suspending me between cyborg stories and tales of bottled genies and housebound witches. Although I eventually migrated over to Sabrina and Genie, this poem was more than a surface exercise and got me wondering about the role played by my non-namesake, Lee Majors, in depositing a few bits of foreign wiring throughout my evolving DNA.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lee Parpart is a Toronto-based poet and media studies writer. Her essays and articles on Canadian, American, and Irish cinema and television and visual art have appeared in POV, Take One, Modern Fuel, C Magazine, Canadian Art, The Journal of Canadian Film Studies, Short Film Studies, North of Everything, Athena’s Daughters, Gendering the Nation, Masculinity: Bodies, Movies, Culture, Essays on Canadian Writing and The Gendered Screen, among other publications. She has taught film studies at the University of Toronto and York University, served as a visual arts and video columnist for two major Canadian dailies, and recently returned to a daily poetry writing practice that fell away amid teaching and childrearing. Her older poems appeared in the tiny, non-digitized literary magazine Hegira, and her newer work is waiting to move out of its cramped Mac folder and into the world.

PHOTO: Lee Parpart, 2015, Toronto.

Saint George - Key Art
by Sylvia Riojas Vaughn

George Lopez
looking to secure eternal glory
Tied one on last night,
trying to sleep it off
on the casino floor

−a little bit crazier
−a blurry line between your work and your life
−always had trouble connecting with people
That area that makes people very uncomfortable
is always a great place to find comedy.

Latino icon in comedy and television.
      created a life dreamt about as a little boy.

SOURCE: “George Lopez returns with St. George,and talks diversity on television” by Carolina Moreno, Huffington Post (March 7. 2014).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I opted to focus my poem on George Lopez’s personal struggles rather than on his new TV show, St. George. In reading the interview, I discerned personal turmoil that is channeled through comedy. It struck a chord in light of the recent death of comic Robin Williams. I have seen George Lopez perform live, and it is unbelievable how funny he is, how he pokes fun at everyone, even his own ethnicity. The audience responds to his manic, full-on performance with sustained laughter.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sylvia Riojas Vaughn‘s work has appeared in Lifting the Sky: Southwestern Haiku & Haiga, HOUSEBOAT, Red River Review, and The Applicant. She has poems forthcoming in Diálogo, a publication of DePaul University; Label Me Latina/o, and Desde Hong Kong: Poets in conversation with Octavio Paz. She has been twice selected as a Houston Poetry Fest Juried Poet. Her play, La Tamalada, was produced in Fort Worth. She belongs to Dallas Poets Community.

by Richard Garcia

How about these paperclips?
Consider the humble paperclip.
Paperclips do not like to remain in their containers.
Paperclips can be found at the bottom of the sea.
The first paperclip was made of mastodon ivory.
Some paperclips are covered in plastic.
Some paperclips are plastic.
Metal paperclips are desirable.
You can twist them while on the phone.
You can use one to pick your teeth.
It is not recommended to use a paperclip to pick your teeth.
A paperclip can unlock a handcuff.
A paperclip cannot unlock a plastic handcuff.
Last time I mentioned paperclips
I received boxes of paperclips in the mail.
Here are some candy paperclips.
You can use them to attach important papers together.
You can eat candy paperclips.
Paperclips are like some marriages.
They clip things together temporarily.
Please don’t send me any more paperclips.
You can use paperclips to brush your eyebrows.
It is a little known fact, but every computer
has a secret tiny hole somewhere on its body
into which you can insert a straightened paperclip.
Usually, a frozen computer will start up again
when you insert the unfolded paperclip into its tiny, secret hole.
Your IT guy at the office would rather you did not know
about the tiny, secret paperclip hole in your computer.
Paperclips have been sprinkled into space by scientists.
Paperclips ring the planet. Some planets have rings of ice,
boulders, bits of exploded comet, purple and yellow meteor dust.
Our planet has a ring of millions of paperclips.
Recently it had been noticed that the paperclips
are joining together, each clip attaching to each clip
forming a paperclip chain in the ionosphere.
Maybe Mankind could learn something from all
the paperclips that have fallen into remote corners of our offices.
Here are some biodegradable paperclips made of recycled paper.
Here are some paperclips made of compressed diamond dust.
Here is a paperclip I have carried in my pocket since 1944.
It saved my life at Omaha beach by deflecting a sniper’s bullet.
As you can see by its girth, they don’t make paperclips like they used to.

SOURCE: Rattle Issue #33, available at Visit the publisher at

In a 1956 PARIS REVIEW interview, interviewer Jean Stein asked William Faulkner about the difficulty some readers experienced trying to read his work. Here is the excerpt — priceless!

INTERVIEWER: Some people say they can’t understand your writing, even after they read it two or three times. What approach would you suggest for them?

FAULKNER: Read it four times.


Find Faulkner’s PARIS REVIEW interview here.

PHOTO: Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and friend Joy (Laura Ramsey) ponder William Faulkner‘s novel THE SOUND AND THE FURY (1929) in “The Jet Set” (Mad Men, Season 2, Episode 11).

In a 1956 PARIS REVIEW interview, interviewer Jean Stein asked William Faulkner about the difficulty some readers experienced trying to read his work. Here is the excerpt — priceless!


Some people say they can’t understand your writing, even after they read it two or three times. What approach would you suggest for them?


Read it four times.


Find Faulkner’s PARIS REVIEW interview here.

PHOTO: Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and friend Joy (Laura Ramsey) ponder William Faulkner‘s novel THE SOUND AND THE FURY (1929) in “The Jet Set” (Mad Men, Season 2, Episode 11).