the ‘Name the Cat!’ contest

So, remember how I said I was going to do some kind of giveaway thing to celebrate reaching 400 followers? (402 now, by the way!)  Well, I thought about it quite a bit and couldn’t come up with a good giveaway prize that wasn’t an Amazon gift card because you all have such varying tastes and interests.  I have varying tastes and interests.

But I was thinking about my novel yesterday (The Darkness is Past – working title) and I thought that my main character should have a cat and then I thought “Oh, what should I name it?” and then I thought “Why not make it into a contest?”

So here we are.

the 'Name the Cat!' contest.jpg


-You can submit up to five names through this form.

-Like the form says, identify yourself by a pseudonym so that I’m not biased.  And since I won’t have your email, make sure to check back here in a couple weeks to see if you won the contest.

The contest ends June 25th.

-That’s about it?

Other Important Information:

-My main character is a guy in his mid-twenties who has never owned a pet before.  The cat’s gender/color/breed are undetermined (probably going to be a random stray, tbh) so you can submit male, female, and gender neutral names.  Basically, I’ll pick the one I like most and figure out the cat’s gender after.

-The story world is dystopian America (though my MC finds the cat in Russia).  MC is American himself.  So futuristic sounding names are a good call. 😉 (Though not required.)

-This book is a dystopian retelling of the Apostle Paul’s life, so that might give you a few good ideas.

-Literary reference names are also awesome.


-The name you submitted will be used in the book – obviously. (If, for some reason, the cat ends up getting cut from the story [which I can’t imagine happening, but it could] I will use the name for something else.  Not sure what, but it will be in the book.)

-$5 Amazon gift card!

-An autographed copy of the book sent to you when it’s published. (I don’t know when that will happen, but it will happen and one day you’ll check your mail and there’ll be a mysterious package inside and then you’ll remember winning this contest…)

Contest is open to residents of Canada and the continental US.

That’s about it!  If you have any other questions for me about my main character or whatever, let me know in the comments. 🙂



thanks for a great blogathon!


When Hamlette and I set out to host the D-Day Blogathon, we hoped that we’d get at least some participation…and, man, you guys delivered!  I’ve loved every single post written for this blogathon (and I’m not just saying that).  I learned some new things, teared up over some of the more emotional posts, and overall had a great time commemorating the Normandy landings.  Thanks so much, all of you!


three reasons why ‘the longest day’ is one of the greatest war movies ever made

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Say what you will about the beach scene in ‘Saving Private Ryan’ – for me, the quintessential depiction of the Normandy landings is found in the 1962 film, ‘The Longest Day’.  Based on Cornelius Ryan’s excellent book (seriously, go read it) ‘The Longest Day’ is a three hour epic that spans about, well, a day.  And in honor of the D-Day Blogathon, I thought I’d discuss it a bit.

So here are three things that I think make ‘The Longest Day’ one of the best war movies ever – I hope it encourages you to see it for yourself!


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Cornelius Ryan knew his stuff.  He was a near impeccable researcher and since ‘The Longest Day’ (movie) follows the book almost to the letter, you know that the film is historically accurate.  Real people – both soldiers and civilians – leap from the page to the screen.  You can tell that the director and other ‘behind the scenes’ people did their best to make the landings + everything else look authentic (without stepping over the boundaries of acceptable violence and gore in early 60’s cinema).  You might even forget you’re watching a movie and not a documentary, particularly in some of the beach scenes.


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(Hyperbole?  Maybe.  But it sure feels like the biggest cast.)

This is, like, the Avengers: Endgame of war movies.  If you’re a fan at ALL of actors from the 40’s and 50’s and 60’s, there’s guaranteed to be at least one of your favorites in ‘The Longest Day’. (Unless all your favorite actors are women.)  I’m not going to try to list all the great cast members (American, British, French, and German), especially because it’s always fun to see a familiar face unexpectedly pop up on screen.  I’ll just share this: when my brothers and I were way younger, watching this movie, we’d always call Richard Todd’s character (Major John Howard) “the ‘hold until relieved’ guy”.  We were weird. 😛


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‘The Longest Day’ could have been a flop.  Like I said, it’s three hours long.  It doesn’t have a main character to root for (though you do end up getting attached to plenty of the characters).  It’s told almost in a vignette-style.  And certainly there have been war movies half the length of this one that drag.  But ‘The Longest Day’ manages to hold your interest from the first moment to the last.  It’s a towering achievement of pacing, star power, and earnestness because this is A Story That Needs To Be Told.  If you haven’t seen it yet, you’re in for an immersive experience – I hope you enjoy it.

Have you ever seen ‘The Longest Day’?  What’s your favorite war movie?


the D-Day Blogathon is HERE!


Today is the first day of the D-Day Blogathon, commemorating the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Normandy landings during WWII.  I’m co-hosting this blogathon with Hamlette – we’re going to have a good time with this and hope you do, too.  My thoughts about ‘The Longest Day’ (1962) will be coming later this week (#excited).  Until then, read through some of the other blogathon posts and, if you’ve written one yourself, comment with the link and I’ll add you to the roster. (Or you can comment on Hamlette’s blog – either works!)

Blogathon Participants

It’s important to remember these historical events and I’m so glad you’ve decided to join us.  I can’t wait to read all of your posts. ❤


announcing The D-Day Blogathon!

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June 6th, 2019, marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy.  I actually didn’t know this until Hamlette messaged me on Facebook and said, “Hey, we should do a blogathon!”  Because, yes.  It’s an occasion worth remembering.

SO.  Blogathon rules and all that:

-Since there aren’t too many shows and movies centered around D-Day specifically, we’ve decided to open up entries to include anything related to the European Theatre of Operations.  You can review a book, movie, TV show, or even discuss the Actual History of WWII in Europe and/or D-Day itself.  Basically anything, as long as you’re talking about the war in Europe, not the Pacific.

-Please be respectful in your post(s).  This blogathon isn’t a chance to go off on a rant against any nation, military group, or military operation.  You can write about Germans, French, Italians, Americans, etc., but we want to see your opinions and views presented in a respectful manner.

-The blogathon will run from June 6 to 8.  You can comment on this post or Hamlette’s to let us know what you want to write about.  We do prefer that there be no duplicate reviews of books, movies, or TV shows.  When the blogathon starts, you can leave the links to your posts on a post that will be created for that purpose.  Hamlette and I will list all the links at the end of the blogathon.

And that’s about it!  You can use one of the buttons below to promote the blogathon. (Hamlette also has some others available on her blog.)




Don’t forget to let us know what you want to write about for the blogathon!

List of participants:

  • Me – Why I Love ‘The Longest Day’ (1962)
  • Hamlette – review of ‘D-Day: The Sixth of June’ (1956)
  • Maribeth – post about ‘Band of Brothers’
  • Abigail – book review of To Hell and Back by Audie Murphy
  • Widescreen World – James Doohan’s military career, including the D-Day landing
  • Sidewalk Crossings – review of ‘Von Ryan’s Express’ (1965)
  • healed1337 – review of ‘Saving Private Ryan’ (1998)
  • The Midnite Drive-In – review of ‘Eye of the Needle’ (1981)
  • Allison – review of the TV show Garrison’s Gorillas
  • Taking Up Room – review of ‘What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown?’ (1983)
  • You!


my top five favorite Saunders-centric episodes of Combat!

While my favorite Combat! character is Doc (played by Conlan Carter, not Steven Rogers) I have a huge amount of respect and admiration for Sergeant Saunders (Vic Morrow).  And since this post is an entry in the Vic Morrow Blogathon, I’ll be talking about my favorite episodes of Combat! that focus on Saunders.  It was super hard to narrow down my options, especially since Saunders is an integral part of so many episodes.

But here’s my list.

‘Far From the Brave’ (Season 1)


This is one of the Combat! episodes I’ve watched the most – and with good reason.  It’s one of the best in the show, diving into Saunders’ character and the squad’s interactions. Though the banter between Billy and Littlejohn is one of my favorite moments, this really is Saunders’ episode.  One of his best friends, Grady Long, is killed in the episode’s opening and the rest of the story is him (and the squad) dealing with the fallout from that.  Even though Saunders behaves rather badly to the guy who comes to replace Long, you get where he’s coming from.  A poignant episode all around.

‘One for the Road’ (Season 1)


Allll the feelings.  The squad finds a baby and, of course, they have to take it with them because it won’t be safe otherwise. (I mean, it probably isn’t too safe with a bunch of American soldiers in enemy territory, but they can’t just leave it with no one around.)  Saunders is dead-set against the whole idea but he eventually thaws and it honestly does make me cry. :*)  I think this episode is some of Vic Morrow’s finest acting on the show (and that’s saying a lot).

‘The Long Way Home’ (Season 2)


More of a ‘whole squad’ episode, but I believe it focuses on Saunders enough to qualify for this list.  The squad gets captured by and thrown into a POW camp.  Saunders has to keep morale up and figure out a plan of escape while fending off (and enduring) attacks from the camp’s sadistic commandant. (I’ve never been able to trust Richard Baseheart since.)  Saunders has to make some tough decisions; the whole situation adds yet another dimension to his character.

‘Mail Call’ (Season 2)

Saunders get put through the wringer again.  In this episode he receives a letter stating that his brother (who I believe is fighting in the Pacific) is missing in action.  He doesn’t tell anyone about the letter’s contents, though the whole squad knows that something is up.  Saunders is quiet, detached, and abrasive to the new guy who joins the squad. (If this sounds like a rehash of ‘Far From the Brave’, it’s not.  Some of the plot points are similar, but both episodes are unique.)  Us viewers don’t actually know what’s wrong with Saunders until near the end of the episode, which is kind of nice.  It puts us in the squad’s shoes as they try to cheer Saunders up + figure out what’s up with him. (Spoilers: his brother makes it out okay. *happy tears*)

‘A Gift of Hope’ (Season 3)

This episode will always be special to me because Hamlette and I watched it together.  It was an awesome experience (one that I hope can be repeated with other Combat! episodes).  But even if I didn’t have that connection with it, this episode would still be on this list because it’s superb in its own right.  A friend of Saunders, believed to be dead, makes a reappearance and Saunders has to prove that said friend isn’t a deserter (his friend’s name is Avery and he’s the coolest, awesomest side character on Combat!).  There’s so much going on in this episode, character- and action-wise, that I can’t stop re-watching it.


Saunders is a very special character and that’s thanks (in large part) to Vic Morrow.  His spot-on acting skills made Saunders who he is (though the writers played a part in that as well).  I watched ‘Blackboard Jungle’ a few days ago and Morrow’s role in that surprised me all over again because Artie West the polar opposite of Saunders.  It’s a tribute to what a good actor Vic Morrow was…just like this post and the blogathon it’s written for.

Take the point!



the fugitive episode review: ‘nightmare at northoak’

This review is part of the 5th Annual Favorite TV Show Episode Blogathon.

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‘Nightmare at Northoak’ was the first episode of The Fugitive I ever watched (or at least the first one I remember watching).  I do take issue with the title because, as you’ll see, the nightmare doesn’t really happen at Northoak – it’s in Kimble’s mind.  Northoak is one of the nicest places Kimble ends up, IMO.

David Janssen in The Fugitive (1963)

The episode opens with a creepy scene where Gerrard tracks Kimble through deserted streets until Kimble is finally cornered.  Gerrard pulls out a gun and…Kimble wakes up.  It was all a nightmare.  Gerrard hasn’t caught up with him – yet.  But just as the nightmare fades away, Kimble hears screams and the sounds of a vehicle careening out of control.

He scrambles out of the forest where he was sleeping.  A school bus has crashed and now flames shoot from the wreckage.  The driver is unconscious and the bus is full of panicked children.  Kimble directs them out the back of the school bus, drags the driver and a sleeping kid out, and then goes back in to make sure no one else is left inside.  Predictably, the bus explodes and Kimble is thrown from the wreckage – knocked cold, but alive.

The children from the bus drag him away from the burning bus (and presumably one of them runs for help).

David Janssen and Ian Wolfe in The Fugitive (1963)

When Kimble wakes up, he’s lying in a strange bed in a strange house.  Concerned citizens wait outside his bedroom to see how he’s doing and to repay their debt of gratitude by covering the doctor’s fees (something the doctor insists on doing himself – “Those kids he saved…I brought every one of them into this world”) and bringing ham, pudding, and calves’ foot jelly for the invalid.

The family that Kimble is staying with, the Springers, sends everyone home but not before Mrs. Springer – Wilma – declares that whoever is responsible for the accident should be brought to justice.  It seems that even though her husband is sheriff of Northoak (something Kimble discovers very quickly – and to his great trepidation), Wilma is the moral center of the town. (Though Al, her husband, is a really great, upright sheriff.  He’s played by Frank Overton and I love it.)

A nosy reporter drops by the Springer home, asking if he can take a photo of Kimble (who’s calling himself George Porter in this episode).  Wilma says ‘no’, but the reporter gets Larry, the Springers’ son, to sneak into the sick room and take a photo.  Luckily, there’s a cold compress over Kimble’s eyes, but it’s still a risk for him…

Paul Birch and Barry Morse in The Fugitive (1963)

…because Gerrard sees the article and the photo and instantly becomes suspicious.  Gerrard is actually in very few episodes of the show, but he’s truly menacing in this one.  A soulless, heartless tool of the law.  The mystery savior in the news article has no ID (“could’ve lost it in the accident”) and the lower half of his face bears a striking resemblance to the lower half of Richard Kimble’s face.  It’s enough for Gerrard and he sends a telegram (or a phone call – I forget) to Al, asking him to fingerprint George Porter.

Al is really embarrassed about this.  He can’t see how this gentle, quiet man who rescued the children of Northoak could be a convicted murderer.  But he has to do his duty, so he takes Kimble’s fingerprints. (Oh, and somewhere between the taking of the photo and Gerrard seeing it, Kimble also saw it and tried to escape.  But he collapsed and they brought him back.  Nobody’s suspicious of that though, at least not right away.)

David Janssen in The Fugitive (1963)

Kimble is desperate to escape once his fingerprints are taken.  As soon as Gerrard gets them, he’ll be in Northoak.  Al leaves the sick room to make a call, leaving Wilma behind, and she finally puts two and two together.  Kimble’s nervousness, the photo in the newspaper…it all adds up to mean one thing: George Porter is a wanted man.  But before she can call her husband, Kimble closes the door.

“I’m innocent.  I didn’t kill my wife.”

Wilma is doubly shocked and horrified to hear that he’s been convicted of killing a woman – and his own wife, no less.  Kimble pleads with her to let him go, to walk out the door, close it, and not tell her husband.  “Isn’t that a fair trade?” he says desperately just before she leaves.  “A life for a life?” (Because he saved Larry’s life, you know.)

Wilma battles within herself.  Should she uphold the law and do what’s right as she’s always done?  Or should she believe this strange man and let him go for the sake of her son?  For a moment, she almost does it.  She almost lets Kimble go.  But then she turns to her husband and tells him everything.

David Janssen and Frank Overton in The Fugitive (1963)

It’s a bleak moment – for everyone.  Al takes Kimble down to the jailhouse.  Deputy Ernie (played by Paul Carr – so nice to see another familiar face) helps him keep an eye on Kimble until Gerrard arrives.  Gerrard instantly puts everyone on edge – they don’t want to turn Kimble over to this strict, robot-like man.  Al resents Gerrard’s hints that Kimble will somehow escape if he (Gerrard) joins Al for dinner.  But he finally relents and goes to the Springers’ home to enjoy a hearty, home-cooked meal.

During dinner, Gerrard is the only one that’s really eating.  Larry suddenly starts crying, saying that it’s his fault Kimble is back in jail because he took the photo.  Gerrard tries to explain that it was a good thing he did, but Larry leaves the table.  He doesn’t want to hear Gerrard’s harsh rhetoric – and neither do I.  Al goes back to the jailhouse, leaving Wilma alone with Gerrard.

“Couldn’t what he did for our children lighten his sentence?” she asks.  Gerrard says ‘no’.  The law is the law.  The law is inexorable.  And, when Wilma tries a different tack and asks if Gerrard really believes Kimble is guilty, he simply says, “The law says he is.”  And that, apparently, is that.


Back at the jail, Gerrard checks on Kimble and they have a conversation which starts out polite but quickly goes downhill. “When they feed me my last meal and strap me into the chair, I’ll still say the same thing,” Kimble says. “I didn’t kill my wife.”

According to Gerrard, it’s true – at least for Kimble. So many hours of sleepless night, so much running, so much time to think…of course Kimble now believes he didn’t kill his wife. He’s made the fantasy of his innocence true in his own mind.

This, of course, isn’t actually true. Kimble is innocent. But it’s a frightening glimpse into the workings of Gerrard’s mind. Could we flip his words to mean that he will never believe Kimble is innocent? That even if he’d started out with a flicker of doubt as to whether or not there was a one-armed man, he’s now convinced himself that Kimble cannot – can never – be found innocent?

Maybe Kimble is thinking something like this when he says, “I believe you have nightmares too, Gerrard. I believe your nightmare is that, after I’m dead, you’ll find who really did it.”

The blow strikes home. Gerrard retreats, bringing his cigarette to his lips with shaking fingers.

When he comes out of the cell block, Al has gathered quite a crowd of people. They want to say goodbye to Kimble, to thank him for their children’s lives. It’s a touching moment (one that Gerrard sneers at) as each person files past Kimble and shakes his hand. The last one to do so is Wilma. Regret, sadness, and a little desperation cross her face as she walks away from Kimble’s cell.

And that’s when he opens his hand to reveal the key. Someone slipped it to him.

And so, Kimble escapes again. (I’m not going to go into the details of his escape because it would make this blog post too long. But it’s a good trick played on Gerrard. A really good trick.)

But the episode isn’t over! In the ‘epilog’, Al assembles everyone who said goodbye to Kimble the night before. One of them, he tells Gerrard, passed Kimble the key. But Gerrard has other ideas. “It was you,” he tells Al. “You let Kimble out.”

Al takes exception to this – and rightfully so. Surely he had ideas of letting Kimble go free. After all, Kimble saved his son’s life. But the sheriff side of him won out – and now it seems like that was for nothing, since Gerrard accuses him anyway. But at the last moment Wilma steps forward.

“I gave him the key.”

Gerrard eyes her. “You know what this means, Mrs. Springer.”

Wilma nods. She’ll go to jail.

Until a wonderful thing happens.

“I’ve been in this office often enough,” the doctor cries. “I gave him the key!”

“He saved my life,” the driver of the school bus says. “I was repaying him. I gave him the key.”

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And suddenly everyone stands up, everyone admits to giving Kimble the key that gave him his freedom. In a way, it’s true…although Wilma was the one who actually did it, they all would have. It’s a triumphant, singularly happy ending to an episode of The Fugitive.

(Well, not quite. Because after that scene, things go back to Kimble’s point of view as he wanders the streets of another town. He sees a ‘Help Wanted’ sign. “Help wanted,” the narrator intones. “But there is no help. The only consolation Richard Kimble has is that in some town – perhaps this one – there is a one-armed man who has nightmares…of him!”)

But still. ‘Nightmare at Northoak’ is a lot happier than a lot of Fugitive episodes.  And that’s why it’s my favorite episode in the show.