Monday, October 31, 2005

Halloween Throughout the Years

Halloween is a typically a good day—and those are usually the best kind! It’s a holiday rich with history and legend, fun and frivolity.

Being a lover of history, I like to learn what else happened in our world in days past: sometimes things that occurred on random dates, and sometimes things that happened on specific holidays or other notable dates (i.e. my birthday falls on 9/11.) Well, today I learned a lot about October 31st, so here’s a bit of “this day in history” for you!

In 1517, Martin Luther posted his 95 revolutionary theses on the door of the Castle Church in Germany, marking the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.

In 1864, the U.S. Congress admitted Nevada as the 36th state, in order to have support of the 40,000 inhabitants of the Republican-dominated Nevada Territory for President Abraham Lincoln's reelection.

In 1892, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes was published, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is published. The book was the first collection of Holmes stories, which Conan Doyle had been publishing in magazines since 1887.

In 1912, the very first gangster film opened: The Musketeers of Pig Alley, directed by D.W. Griffith.

In 1950, Canadian actor John Candy was born. He died of a heart attack in 1994 while making a film in Mexico at 43 years of age.

In 1957, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. was founded, two months after a three-man Toyota team flew to Los Angeles to survey the U.S. market. Toyota's first American headquarters were located in an auto dealership in downtown Hollywood, California.

In 1961, Joseph Stalin's embalmed body was removed from Lenin's tomb in Moscow's Red Square. Soviet authorities uniformly condemned the brutal leader and removed his body from public display and placed it in a nearby tomb.

In 1968, President Lyndon Johnson announced a stoppage of "all air, naval, and artillery bombardment of North Vietnam," five days before the presidential election

In 1978, the U.S. dollar almost hit a record low against foreign currency, a report strongly denied by the U.S. government.

In 2005, kids of all ages show up at our house in their costumes, offering a hearty “trick-or-treat!” in return for some candy. It took me back to my childhood memories of Halloween—all good. Milk caramels are my favorite. HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Friday, October 28, 2005

2005: Twenty-Seven More Than Ten

Peter-Julian-HayleyMy niece, Hayley, came down from Oregon to stay with Julian and me for a week this summer. I was looking at this photo of the three of us today and suddenly saw her differently: I noticed so clearly the wonderful person she was becoming, and the great love she has for life.

Hayley is my younger brother’s first daughter. She’s 10 years old and loves Acai Supercharger™ smoothies from Jamba Juice…as do I. Her younger sisters, Brooklynn and Kendall, are ages 3 and 1, respectively.

Hayley tries hard to do well in school. Fortunately for her, she can’t help it: her parents are intimately involved in her schooling, and my sister-in-law, Hayley's stepmother, even teaches third grade. (Involved parents make a world of difference.)

I learned a lot from Hayley while she was here with us in Los Angeles. She was experiencing her surroundings—our surroundings—with eyes and ideas that were fresh. That made me see my own life differently.

She wanted to know where our house was in relation to the rest of the world; why she couldn’t just eat Fruit Loops all day; how far away Disneyland was; and why she couldn’t have a cell phone (“All my friends do!”). And I wondered what it might be like to be a 10-year-old today.

When I was ten, we had Atari and a Commodore 64 from Radio Shack; kids today have PlayStation2 and iBooks from the Mac Store. We had roller skating rinks; they have paintball fields. We had 13 channels; they have 500 beamed from a satellite in outer space!

But we also had the Space Shuttle Challenger, and 10-year-olds today had the Columbia. We had the threat of thermonuclear attack by the Russians, and they watched airplanes actually fly into New York City skyscrapers. At the movies we had Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, and they had Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. We had Tootsie Pops, and they…well, some things don’t change.

Today I recognized that Hayley is growing up in a world not entirely dissimilar to the one I experienced as a kid. Many of the “things” around us are different, more advanced and technological, as is the case for every new generation. (That’s the result of living freely amidst vast opportunity, and working hard to achieve our personal goals.) Yet the people themselves are basically the same. We all want to enjoy a good life; we all expect a good day’s pay for a good day’s work; and we all want a better life for our children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews than the one we had.

With everything that has changed around us, those things haven’t. And for that, I am grateful. Thank you, Hayley…you’ve inspired me, and I love you.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

NANCY REAGAN: Her Voice is as Strong as Ever!

First Lady Nancy ReaganIn May of 1987, I'd been in Los Angeles only seven months, scraping by financially, getting work wherever I could, mostly in construction. One contractor's wife happened to be a commercial producer, and he told her of my interest in the film business. Shortly thereafter, I was offered the opportunity to work as assistant production coordinator on a series of Public Service Announcements for First Lady Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No To Drugs" campaign. (Ultimately, this job ended up launching my career...only in America!)

The spots were filmed on Stage 12 at Universal Studios, the largest sound stage on the lot. They were directed by Mark Rydell ("On Golden Pond"), and produced by Jack Valenti for the Motion Picture Association of America. Dudley Moore, Olivia Newton-John, Bette Midler, James Woods, and even Pee-wee Herman also filmed anti-drug messages for us.

On the day when Mrs. Reagan made her appearance, she filmed her spot alongside actor Clint Eastwood. Yet hers was more than just a "message" of hope: she was reaching out with a helping hand.

She recognized and wrote that "drug abuse knows no boundaries. It crosses all lines - geographical, racial, political, economic," and "brings danger into the lives of our most precious resource our children." She raised awareness in America that it is up to us to protect children and provide for them a drug-free environment in which to live; that we must "act now, not tomorrow, or the next day."

Her words have stayed with me for almost 20 years. In fact, today when I ask children who were born well after Mrs. Reagan was our First Lady what they should do if someone offers them drugs, they respond in unison: "JUST SAY NO!" I consider that a testament to their parents, their teachers, and to the great efforts of a woman who cares deeply about all children.

In recent years I have been fortunate to be invited to a few events also attended by the former First Lady: she's still as elegant as ever. Following President Reagan's passing, Mrs. Reagan sent me a note thanking me for my "service, sacrifice, and dedication." I was dumbfounded—I am the one owes thanks to her! She and her breadth of good works continue to be an inspiration to me and millions of others.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

SECURITY, GROWTH and COMPASSION

As Governor, Tom Ridge fulfilled a promise and worked hard to make Pennsylvania "a leader among states and a competitor among nations."

He successfully cut taxes every year he was in office; created the “greenhouse initiatives” wherein business & research organizations are encouraged to work together; increased by by 145% the number of beneficiaries of low-cost and free health care through the state’s Children's Health Insurance Program; and instituted the Land Recycling Program, which serves as a national model.

As the product of a working class family myself, I share many of Governor Ridge's values, and have great respect for his ideas. It is an honor to have met him and learned firsthand more of his perspective on solutions to America’s national security problems while he was serving as Secretary of Homeland Security.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

ROSA LOUISE PARKS: February 4, 1913 - October 24, 2005

As millions around the world mourn the loss Rosa Parks, one of America's strongest advocates for freedom and equality everywhere, a true hero to the civil rights movement, it is imperative that we recall how much just one person among us can make a difference.

When individuals embrace that fact, we can then work together as a force for good to make our world a safer and more inclusive place, filled with opportunity and hope for everyone.

God bless you, Mrs. Parks. You will be missed and remembered forever.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Welcome! This is a forum for YOU.

It is a trying time in our country and in our world, one in which we must embrace our responsibility to each other: to explore new ideas while working to strengthen our nation's economy and security, enforce the laws that work, and change the ones that don't.

As a socially mainstream, fiscally conservative Republican, I believe my Party's ideals are most often the right direction for America. But nobody is perfect. It's time Congressional Representatives stopped the partisan ridicule and started working together to solve America's problems. I believe in individual rights and responsibilities, and in a government of the People.

I look forward to meeting you soon, and — with your support — to serving California's 27th District in Washington, D.C., where I will work with all members of Congress to hold the Federal government accountable to all Americans!