This week in Literature and Arts

Off-topic, but my fellow monster kids join me in wishing a happy birthday to Darren McGavin, born in Spokane, WA, May 7, 1922. The Night Stalker is one of my favorite vampire films. Kolchak, baby!

Birthday remembrances of Peter Benchley, born in New York City May 8, 1940. He came from a writing family, his father is Nathaniel B and his grandfather was Algonquin Roundtable smartass Robert Benchley.

Before attempting to make a buck as a novelist, Peter served as a speech writer for Lyndon Johnson (gotta love that haircut). Horrified by the mass shark slaughter spurred by JAWS (more the movie than the book, as yahoos trying to prove how big their dicks were by killing fish probably weren’t big readers) he became a staunch advocate for marine conservation.

I can credit Peter with turning me onto reading as a kid. I wrote fan letters to him with silly questions. He answered every one (I still have them somewhere, I think). A good guy.

Happy birthday, Peter.

May 8, 1962: A god is born as character player Sean Connery first introduces himself as “Bond, James Bond” with the release of Dr. No. A match made in heaven.

Happy birthday to poet, artist/illustrator, and musician Edward Lear, born May 12, 1812 in North London’s Holloway area. He was the youngest of 21 children (holy crap!). Edward early showed artistic talent and began his career as an illustrator for London’s Zoological Society. He is believed to be the first such artist to draw birds from live specimen’s instead of stuffed examples.

I have to admit, beyond “The Owl and the Pussycat” I’m unfamiliar with Lear’s work (anyone else?). Considering he’s been dead for 129 years, at least he’s remembered for something.

Happy 73rd birthday to hot-rod kid, filmmaker, and philanthropist George Lucas, born May 14, 1944 in Modesto, CA.

No George means no Star Wars and no Indy and no lives for millions of geeks worldwide, so take that Lucas raped my childhood nonsense and blow it out your asses!

Have a great day, George. Thanks, man.

May 14, 1998: Bobbysoxers around the globe weep into their Metamucil as news breaks that Frank Sinatra has died of heart failure at 82.

Michael Rogers ( is a Jesse H. Neal Gold Award-winning freelance writer, editor, reviewer, and photographer. He is also former Media Editor and audiobook reviewer at Library Journal.