Monthly Archives: June 2012

Top ten best films I know

Greetings, readers. Here is a top ten list of what I think are the best films that I’ve seen or heard about. These might not be the best of all time, but they come from my heart. So here we go:

10. The 1976 version of King Kong. Oh, I know people hated it, because the 70s energy crunch was thrown in as a sub-plotline. But I thought that big mechanical gorilla was just cool looking. My favorite scene is when he smashed the gate down.

9. Rescue from Gilligan’s Island. The TV movie where the castaways of Gilligan’s Island come home, just to decide to take another pleasure cruise, and what happened, you ask? That’s right, they end up on the same island at the end. The reason this film makes this list is because as a child I loved the re-runs of Gilligan’s Island.

8. Airport 1975. Charlton Heston and Karen Black with that lovely Boeing 747. Yes there were a few clunker lines, such as Karen’s character saying, “Alan, I’m frightened.” When you could clearly see in her face that she thought it was one of the worst lines ever written. But over all a good film.

7. Smokey and the Bandit 1. Though Smokey 2 and 3 were acceptable, the original was the classic. Burt Reynolds was at his best, as well as was Jackie Gleason. When that film came out in ’77 I watched it six consecutive Saturday nights at one of our local theaters.

6. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Yes, the movie really didn’t have an ending but the upside was that we knew at least one more was coming.

5. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. Princess Leia in the bikini slave outfit. Rumor had it Carrie Fisher almost quit because of it. I don’t know whether that is true or not; that is why they call it a rumor.

4. On Golden Pond. This film reminds me so much of my beloved Maine and I’ve watched this film close to fifty times or more. It would have been my number one selection years ago, but as time has passed it has slid down the line just a bit. Classic movie!

3. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Ricardo Montalban’s wonderful performance reprising his role as Khan, the evil genetically enhanced human with his band of followers. As we all know, Captain Kirk won out, but just barely. Did we all really think Mr. Spock was really going to stay dead?

2. Star Wars: A New Hope. To me this is really how this saga began. Yes, I hate prequels. Sorry, George.

1. The original Airport. Otherwise known as Airport 1970. Burt Lancaster gave a stellar performance. Dean Martin was wonderful as the captain. And Helen Hayes was superb as Mrs. Ada Quonsett. OMG. I laugh every time I think of her playing that role. Wonderful job. Here’s a little known fact. For classic Hawaii Five-O fans, Mrs. Hayes was the aunt of the actor who played Danno.

Two honorable mentions: First, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Fascinating movie. I have watched it many times. And of course, the naive kid that I was, yes I really thought there was a UFO landing strip behind Devils Tower in Wyoming. Honorable mention number two, Flight 90: Disaster on the Potomac. This was the 1984 NBC TV film about the Air Florida crash. I studied it inside and out.

Well there you have them. Rebecca and I may put up a new blog again tomorrow but if we don’t, have a great weekend and we’ll catch you on Wednesday. Take care and happy reading.

P.S. Sorry if this posted twice, but Rebecca hit the wrong button and published it while we were previewing and editing. Oops.

Absolute 5-star, gold banner day

Greetings, readers. : )  I am pleased as punch to announce not only that my new book, Tales from North Bay & Beyond: More Bear Spring Camps Stories, is out but that my first box of stock arrived at my door. Writing assistant, Rebecca, and I now have thirty books to distribute to friends and retailers. This, my second book, was completed in nine months. I am extremely proud of this. Even though the book’s length is not that of War and Peace.

After this blog post today, Rebecca and I will go over to our two local retailers. After that, we will be visiting a few friends who showed interest in the book.

I am also happy to announce that on CreateSpace I had my first sale of the new book yesterday. It is off and running!

Over the weekend, I thought long and hard about what I call the summer project … even though summer is half gone already. I’m going to begin to write a series of children’s books and during the weekend I flushed out the outline for the first book, tentatively titled Pilot Dan. Book number two in that series is slated to be called Doctor Dana.

Tomorrow look forward to another top ten list blog post. I’ll think of a goodie. Until then, have a good day and happy reading.

Tales from North Bay & Beyond published today!

Greetings, readers. Please indulge me a big self-promotion post.

Tales from North Bay & Beyond: More Bear Spring Camps Stories is available for sale at my e-store as of today. My writing assistant and I reviewed a digital proof one last time and then approved the proof. And the book was instantly available. The wonder of self-publishing  : )

For those who are interested in my first camp book, Picking Up Where We Left Off: My Bear Spring Camps Stories is available in the e-store link for that title, or, or Kindle.

Until next week, have a great weekend and take care.

Central PA heat wave is finally over

Greetings, readers. Phew! Two days ago, 89 degrees and yesterday 92. Today, after the thunderstorms roll through we shall have a pleasant low of 59 this evening. Finally I will be able to get some sleep. That is if my insomnia doesn’t flare up again. Lol.

I am a spring and summer person. Don’t get me wrong. I like warmth. I do not like having to dress up like a polar bear just to be able to go outside. But 92 with high humidity is a bit much. Like most people, I can be very hard to please. If I was in charge, I would have sunny weather during the day, highs in the 70s, low humidity, with rain at night to keep the grass green, and snow for about a month around the Christmas season. But of course I am not God. Weather is His department.

Of course, hot weather will be back in July and August. But for this week, I am going to enjoy the relative coolness. In mid-July the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts is coming to town again (and the People’s Festival also) and they usually get scorched. The part of the Arts Festival (as us locals call it) on Allen Street has this extremely cool area to walk through that has greenery such as ferns and a few bushes. It offers the most delightful spray of cool water for people to walk through. I am looking forward to the Arts Festival this year. And then of course in August will be my yearly trek to Maine. Until quite soon, take care and have a great day.

So close I can taste it

Greetings, readers. By tomorrow at 3pm my second book, Tales from North Bay & Beyond: More Bear Spring Camps Stories, should be for sale. My writing assistant, Rebecca, and I found only one minor mistake in the second proof. Unfortunately we did have to correct it. However, with’s new feature to review your proof on-line, once they approve the submitted file again, I will be able to quickly check it tomorrow with the feature and then approve the proof. Then it will be officially for sale!

This morning I sat my alarm for 8:00, forcing myself to get up early. Throughout the rest of this summer I am going to make some major changes in my life. For instance, last night I wanted to stay up and watch television as is my habit, but I made myself go to sleep at a quarter to eleven. It was nice that I had a long morning to get a few things done in the apartment before work time began. I know, I know … Most everybody sleeps during the night. I, as an insomniac, am usually quite awake in the wee hours of the morning. I think once I have made the complete adjustment, my insomnia will go away.

Later on this afternoon, getting back to my books, I intent to walk across the street to Webster’s Bookstore and Cafe to verify how many copies of both books the owner wants to have. Since it is extremely warm today, I dread the walk. Yet we must market and distribute the books ourselves.

That is the big problem in my eyes with self-publishing. Yet so far it has not been too big of a problem. The two local stores carrying my book have been more than cooperative and quite nice about the process.

Lastly, during July, I’m going to fine tune my writing skills and begin a children’s book project, which I thought up last night. It has promise and I think it will be fun to do. Also, in August I am going away for a week. I believe that has a feature to republish posts. Perhaps I will put up one or two of the most popular reads from my blog since I began blogging in December.

Until quite soon, stay cool and healthy, and have a great day.

Update for 6/20/12

Greetings, readers. I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of the second proof of my latest book. If my editor and I don’t find any major boo-boos, it could be for sale as early as Friday. This would certainly make my weekend.

To bring you all up to speed, sales of my first book at local stores, Appalachian Outdoors and Webster’s Bookstore Cafe, have been slow but I think they are about to pick up. As well, the owner of Bear Spring Camps is indeed interested in stocking the latest book. This was a big shot in the arm for me. With my vacation to Maine mere weeks away, I am very excited that the work is over, the proof process is all but done, and it will be time to sit back and reap the rewards.

On to a slightly different topic now. Today or tomorrow is the first official day of summer and here in central Pennsylvania it is definitely feeling like it with temperatures in the upper 80s into the low 90s. Thank goodness for the light breeze we have. Here in the office, the air conditioner is working overtime. It sounds like it could blow up any minute.

Yesterday I walked around town briefly trying to promote the books without much success. People I was looking for were either on break or not in. In that realm it was just one of those days. I have to learn how to promote myself better if I truly wish to make money at being a writer. Sure the gratification of knowing that someone has enjoyed my work is wonderful but a small amount of sales won’t pay the bills. I need to go out there and market myself. I need to be that salesperson. There are a couple of other small businesses here in town that have a small book area. Both are within walking distance and on a cooler day I think I shall go there and see if they are interested. The worst thing they can do is say no.

Next, my dreaded insomnia continues. I went to bed around midnight, woke up at ten minutes until four and that was it. I am so hoping that when I get to camp I will ease in to what I call my camp routine. Which includes sleeping from approximately eleven p.m. to seven a.m.

Not too long ago I switched my long time favorite beverage, my beverage of choice, due to health reasons. Coffee was beginning to upset my stomach and so now when I go to Panera Bread, or Panera as I call it, I partake of their delicious British Breakfast tea with a little bit of honey. It serves two useful purposes. It is tummy-friendly and it has caffeine. Which on most mornings I desperately need.

During the rest of this summer, with Rebecca’s help, I am going to work on my characterization skills so that when the new project(s) begin in late August, they will have more depth and more meat on their bones. As much as I like my two books about my experiences at camp, I’ll be the first to admit that description is not my strong point. One only gets better with time and practice. Until very soon, take care and have a great day.

Mixed feeling day – sad anniversary and exciting book news

Greetings, readers. As the title implies, I have mixed feelings about this day, June 15, 2012. On this date in 2003 I lost my dear mother, Dr. Dorothy Greiner Kockelmans. It was one of the saddest days in my life and changed my life forever. I was what you call a momma’s boy and we were joined at the hip. She was over protective of me because of my cerebral palsy, and I was used to it since that was all I knew from my early childhood days.

When I came home one day and found that she had passed away, the follower had to become the leader. Two things happened within moments of each other. First, to make absolutely certain, I lifted her left eyelid and saw no one looking back at me. Second, I had to go and tell me dear father that his wife had died. To make matters worse, that particular June 15th was Father’s Day. Time has marched on and day by day my routine without mother gets stronger. Though still every mid-June is still difficult for me. Love you Mom.

Now on to happier news. Rebecca and I were at a local bookstore today where my first book is for sale and learned that someone did indeed purchase a copy. Whoo-hoot. The store owner is interested in my new book, due to come out next week or so and wants six copies. Big thumbs up. To all my readers, I know sometimes I post links here on my page which may or may not be of interest. However, when the second book is for sale, I shall put the two easy links for both books.

On a sports note, congratulations to the LA Kings for winning the Stanley Cup. Also the NBA finals are in full swing. As I am not a big basketball fan, I shall just say good luck to both teams. I believe it is Miami and Oklahoma City.

On a quirky note, I won my very first full length baseball game on PS3 the other night. I was the Baltimore Orioles and the computer was the Washington Nationals. I hit three home runs. Yay me. I do not remember the final score because this game took place at 6:30 in the morning while I was suffering one of my frequent insomnia nights.

Lastly, for next week I hope to have at least two new blog entries go up. I don’t really want to talk about the Jerry Sandusky case, but I might. Or politics, but I might. You get the idea. I know I had promised a blog about Romney vs. Obama. I still hope to have that come out one day very soon. I guess I am just afraid of any hate mail I might receive. Rush Limbaugh or Chris Matthews, I am not. Until next week, have a good weekend and happy reading.

Quick hello – post from Rebecca

Greetings, readers, as Joe would write. Joe and I are copy-editing the proof of his new Bear Spring Camps book this week, so he asked me to write a quick note saying that he will post another blog entry when we finish the process. If he has the energy he might post something after we finish work, otherwise it might be this week or next week.

He is so close to a publish date! We have to make corrections to the book document, then submit it to CreateSpace again, then when it is approved he has to order another proof and then check that one for errors. He will let you know as soon as Tales from North Bay & Beyond: More Bear Spring Camps Stories is ready and what web-site to go to if you want to order it. Until next time, take care.

Quality television

Greetings, readers. It is so good to be back after a week or more off. I was suffering from head pain which made concentrating on my writing next to impossible. I did however ask Rebecca, my trusty writing assistant and editor, to make an entry last week. I read it and it was quite interesting. That particular post got many views. I am what you call a bar watcher. No, that’s not watching the corner pub waiting for time to go get a beer, but rather the statistics page here on WordPress. I think the most views we’ve ever had on one day was 53 views on March 14th.

Now, on to the topic at hand. I am an avid Netflix watcher. Sometimes on disc but mostly through streaming video on TV. I have found a delightful series, called Upstairs, Downstairs. It ran as part of the Masterpiece Theatre on PBS from 1971 through 1975. If you want to see British acting at its finest other than Shakespeare, I urge you to check it out. It is well worth your time. Characters come and go a little too quickly for my liking but other than that, top-notch.

The premise of the show is the epic tale of a wealthy family and their servants in England spanning the years between 1903 and 1930. Each hour-long episode not only deals with a specific character, as most shows do, but a specific time period. In Britain it appears as though TV seasons are only 13 episodes long, half of what ours are. To me an odd thing is the mixture of color and black and white episodes in the first season. I’ve never seen that in any show before. I have seen shows get a complete first season in black and white before switching to color, especially in the 1960s, i.e Lost in Space and Gilligan’s Island.

To my happy surprise, Netflix will soon be adding seasons 2 – 5 on streaming video. Today I priced the complete box set available at Best and let’s just say it is on my Christmas wish list. If any of you take my advice and watch this show, I am certain that you will like it. Until soon, take care and happy reading.

From writing assistant Rebecca

I want to say hi to everyone reading Joe’s blog, especially my dad. Hi Dad! I know that he is a regular reader, because when I start to tell him stuff that Joe and I accomplished at work, Dad will say, “Oh, yeah. I read about that in the blog.”

My dad has been very supportive of Joe’s work while I have been working with him. When we published Picking Up Where We Left Off: My Bear Spring Camps Stories last year, my dad ordered some for the family and to give Joe some business. Thanks Dad.

I know we have other readers, specifically from Facebook, and I want to thank you as well for your support of this blog. We see the statistics of how many views per day and how many came from Facebook, so we know that we get visits. We don’t know how many are the same readers, but I expect some of you are regulars. If you want to say hi to us in the comments and put in your first name, we’ll know you to thank you.

So thanks to Joe’s readers, and to my dad who is blushing and thinking that I didn’t have to do this. Have a great day.