Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Starlette Uni'VERSE' by Kathy Johnson

image of book cover for starlette Universe by Kathy JohnsonSTARLETTE UNI ‘VERSE’
If you want your life to sparkle on earth -
Welcome to Starlette Universe.
Here you’ll find happiness, pun and mirth –
And lots of life-lessons on self-worth.

A Starlette’s life isn’t ‘All about ME’.
Starlettes know life is ‘All about ‘WE’:
By turning their differences into blends –
These girls understand how to be best friends.

One rule sacred to Starlette gals -
Is never to have evil kids for pals.
Two more things that the Starlettes nix -
Are being snobs and forming cliques.

Starlettes enjoy the hobby of ‘BOYING ‘ -
But all bets are off when guys get annoying.
Starlettes expect guys to treat them nice
And are not into guys with bad habits or vice.

All of the Starlettes are colorful teens.
Jinnie is out there turning the earth green.
Bekka is always turning bright red.
And Skylar, in hot pink, turns every guy’s head.

Sallee wins blue ribbons racing in track -
And for Lizzie, right and wrong are always white and black.
Ashlee shines brightest in clothes that are yellow -
But then, none of the Starlettes would ever dress mellow.

Starlettes just love to go to the malls.
It is their way of playing real dolls.
They adore shopping and trying clothes on.
Trust me! These Starlettes have a lot going on.

Lizzie adores choco’ - which makes her heart flutter -
And Skylar goes nutty over jelly-peanut butter.
All of the Starlettes work out to be thinner -
So they can eat out at Loopy Lizard’s for dinner.

No ‘FOOD’ling .
The Starlettes love to go drooling:
And Loopy Lizard’s is the ‘go to’ to get their fueling:
It’s a fave’ hangout, with razzamatazz -
And these PEPPY CRONIES add lots of ‘PIZZA’zz.

You’ll find that the Starlettes are very beguiling.
At fourteen, they’re high flashin’ – stylin’ and smilin’.
If you think the Starlettes look great -
It’s because of the fruit and veggies they ate.

‘NICE’ going –
But life is not sugar and spice -
And Starlette Universe is not paradise.
The Starlettes are hexed by beautiful Eve -
And her black magic is not make-believe!

The Starlettes do not like Eva one ‘BIT’ !
They think she grows fangs when she is twi-lit.
Although Eva brags that she’s a vampire -
Is this the truth – or is Eva a liar?

Even though Eva is in every tale -
You can be sure the Starlettes will prevail.
If being enlightened is what you are after -
Enter Starlette Universe
And live happily ever ‘LAUGHTER’!

[caption id="attachment_69" align="alignleft" width="84" caption="Skylar"]image of character Skylar[/caption]SKYLAR
Skylar is a ‘Drama Teen’, and she will go far -
In fact, one day she hopes to be STAR.

Eva is her competition for the big screen -
And it’s hard to win out when Eva gets mean.

Guys crush on Skylar, and she crushes guys -
But only Heartthrob Eddie gives Skylar wet eyes!

Eddie is a hassle, and Eva makes her shudder –
But Skylar stays cheerful -
If she’s eating peanut butter.

[caption id="attachment_70" align="alignright" width="84" caption="Ashlee"]image of character Ashlee[/caption]ASHLEE
Wearing stylin’ clothes is Ashlee’s fave’ thing -
Unless it’s accessories, purses and bling.

Ashlee loves blushes - but not any ‘fake-up’.
She likes to look like she did at her ‘wake-up’.

Ashlee is waaaay too pretty for Eve -
And ‘prettiest’ is what Eva wants to achieve.

Eva is passionate to bring Ashlee down
But it’s totally not pretty –
When Eva makes Ashlee frown!

[caption id="attachment_71" align="alignleft" width="84" caption="Lizzie"]image of character Lizzie[/caption]LIZZIE
The main thing about Lizzie, she’d want you to say -
Is she will be President of the USA one day.

Lizzie is a leader and always wants the win.
That’s how she got to be Cheerlead Captain.

Guys ‘heart’ Lizzie, but she blows them away -
Because she’s always adding to her resume.

Eva hates Lizzie for being popular and slim -
And that’s why Eva burned down the gym!

[caption id="attachment_72" align="alignright" width="84" caption="Bekka"]image of character Bekka[/caption]BEKKA
Studious Bekka has a noble ambition.
She hopes one day to be a physician.

For Bekka, a genius, learning is fun -
And she wants to be ‘valedictorian’.

But ‘Smartest in Class’ is a nail biter to the end -
Because Eva also wants the ‘VAL-E’ GAL’ pin!
Defeating Bekka becomes Eva’s big crusade -
And she’ll do anything to bring down Bekka’s grade.

[caption id="attachment_73" align="alignleft" width="84" caption="Jinnie"]image of character Jinnie[/caption]JINNIE
Jinnie is shy but also sweet and kind –
And has an unusual, but very keen mind.

Eva the Evil intimidates Jinnie unduly -
For Eva is one very serious bully!

A really wonderful thing happens to Jin.
She meets a darling boy named Ben.

Unfortunately for Jin – the thing about Ben -
Is: Eva’s his crush – and that crushes Jin!

[caption id="attachment_74" align="alignright" width="84" caption="Sallee"]image of character Sallee[/caption]SALLEE
Sallee adores sports – and thinks she is blessed.
In race marathons, she comes out the best.

So when Sallee runs a race and she is beaten -
Could it be because Eva the Evil was cheating?

Sallee likes Lee, who is quite a player -
But he turns out to be a betrayer.

Unfortunately, Evil Eva also likes Lee -
And with Sallee and Eva – it gets real ‘ugh-LEE’!


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Surviving Mental Illness: My Story by Linda Naomi Baron Katz

Table of Contents:

photo of Linda Baron KatzWhen most people think about the mentally ill, they assume that such people are insane or crazy, or perhaps even freaks. However, that is not true. Mental illness is a disease of the human mind, which can disrupt a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others, daily functioning at work, school, or in activities they once liked. Mental illness also makes it difficult for someone to distinguish between the real and the unreal world. In the real world, people who suffer from mental illness cannot avoid the pain or the pleasure in their life. In the unreal world, these people try to hide their pain and create fantasies or images which they would very much like to be real.

Mental illness is caused by a combination of factors such as heredity, biological reasons, psychological trauma, and environmental elements. With heredity, sometimes mental illness runs in families, passed on from parents to children through their genes. Biologically, some mental illnesses are tied to a chemical imbalance in the brain. These chemicals are known as neurotransmitters and affect thoughts, emotional, and behavioral responses, which may cause changes in making rational judgments, moods (being too happy or too sad), and how one functions in everyday life. Some mental illnesses come from psychological trauma suffered as a child, such as emotional or physical abuse, loss of a parent, or neglect. Environmental stresses, such as a death or divorce, changing jobs or schools, or substance abuse issues, can trigger a disorder in a person who may be at risk for developing a mental illness.

In today’s society, most people still put a stigma on those who have a mental illness. What is a stigma? Stigma is a negative judgment or severe disapproval of a person based on characteristics that distinguish them from other people in society. People who do not have a mental illness and do not understand it, can sometimes make bad judgments and think that the mentally ill are not normal. The truth is that people with mental illnesses are normal like everyone else and can lead productive lives, if they are given the chance. Why is there such stigma against those with a mental illness? What do people have to fear? Simply, they fear the unknown. Most people are not educated enough about mental illness because they do not want to understand it, while others do not want to have anything to do with the mentally ill for selfish reasons. This kind of thinking is nothing but a shame in today’s times. The more that people are educated and able to change their way of thinking about mental illness, the better life can be for people with mental illness and those around them.

There are many types of mental illnesses, but the ones that I want to focus on are mood disorders. The three major types of mood disorders are major depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Before anyone can seek treatment, one has to admit that they have a problem, and that can be difficult to do. Some fear that they will never be able to work because an employer might not hire them.

Others fear that they will never get married if their mental illness is discovered. These fears result from stigma all over the world. However, if the condition is not treated, some will always be unemployed, be homeless, possibly be incarcerated, or commit suicide.

Today, mental illness is treatable with medication and therapy. There are agencies which assist in recovery by helping individuals find a job, go back to work, establish a support group where they can meet friends, or even date other people who also have a mental illness.

These agencies help people realize they are not alone. In this chapter, I will discuss the three major types of mood disorders and discuss the treatments that are available. I will also go in depth as to how recovery from mental illness is possible and can be achieved.

The most common type of mental illness is major depression. It is a serious medical illness that affects fifteen million Americans or about five to eight percent of the adult population in a given year. It is brought on by a combination of symptoms that can interfere with a person’s ability to work, study, and sleep. Some of these symptoms include persistent sadness, uncontrollable crying, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, feelings of guilt and worthlessness, loss of appetite, loss of interest, and pleasure in hobbies or activities once enjoyed.

Major depression can also cause people to commit suicide which is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Suicide does not have to happen if people can admit to themselves that they have a problem and seek treatment immediately. Even when they are in treatment, suicide can occur, but the risk is much lower for those who do seek treatment. For example, the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job or home, being incarcerated, or engaging in drug abuse, can all trigger suicide. Suicide victims feel so down with life that they lose hope because no one takes the time to reach out to them. If these victims seek support from agencies that can help them find homes, employment, learn how to cope with life by being around loved ones, and stay on their medications, they can start a better life.

Major depression can be treated by a psychiatrist and/or a therapist. A psychiatrist prescribes medications and a therapist discusses major life problems that result from having the condition. Some medications the psychiatrist will prescribe for depression are Celexa, Paxil, Wellbutrin, and Prozac. These may have some side effects, such as headaches, nausea, dry mouth, and dizziness. These side effects should not make a person stop taking the medication, because doing so could be dangerous. A person could fall into a relapse and experience more symptoms of depression, becoming worse than before.

Having a therapist to talk to about whatever problems someone is facing may help them deal with the depression and also help the way they interact with people, by going from negative to positive behavior. This is why it is so important to have a combination of medication and therapy. Without the two, it can be difficult to treat any type of mental illness.

The second type of mood disorder is known as bipolar or manic depression, which is what I suffer from. I have already described what depression is as well as its symptoms. Mania is a condition in which one’s mood changes from a normal state to an overactive state. Mania often affects your rational thinking, judgment, and social behavior. This can cause serious problems and embarrassment.

In the manic phase, one may feel elated and euphoric, a state described as being “on top of the world.” Some symptoms of mania include restlessness, a decreased need for sleep, talking rapidly, having racing thoughts, experiencing grandiose notions, and increased energy. Sometimes, the manic state progresses to the point where judgment is impaired and contact with reality is lost. This can cause poorly thought out decisions acted on impulsively, such as calling a friend in the middle of the night or going on a shopping spree.

A person can also have psychotic symptoms like hallucinations or delusions, such as hearing voices or believing one has special powers. Bipolar disorder can go from extreme highs to low depressed moods. This extreme mood swing can be triggered by psychological, environmental, and genetic factors that I discussed earlier in this chapter. There are different medications that are used in treating bipolar disorder. The most common medication psychiatrists recommend is Lithium. Lithium can stop a manic episode from occurring and prevent further manic depressive episodes from coming back. However, this medication has to be carefully monitored and is not for everyone (especially if one has a thyroid or kidney problem).

The other major medicines that treat bipolar disorder are known as anticonvulsants, such as Tegretol, Depakote, and Lamictal. These medicines can help stabilize one’s mood and, just like Lithium, can stop further episodes from occurring again. Medicines that can control certain psychotic symptoms during a manic depression like hallucinations are known as antipsychotics. Schizophrenics also use antipsychotics to treat their symptoms.

With bipolar disorder, medications may not be enough. Just as in major depression, getting therapy and attending support groups may help relieve some problems in a person’s life and help understand why these symptoms appear. Therefore, it is very important to seek help.

The third major mood disorder, which affects one percent of Americans, is schizophrenia. This is a serious brain disorder that distorts the way a person thinks, acts, perceives reality, and relates to others. People with schizophrenia often have problems functioning in society, at work, at school, and in relationships. Schizophrenia is a psychosis, a type of mental illness in which a person cannot tell what is real from what is imagined. As I explained earlier with bipolar disorder, individuals can develop psychotic symptoms as well. This can be confusing and some people can be misdiagnosed. However, with an illness like schizophrenia, it is so much more than hearing voices or believing in things that are not real. For instance, people may not
make sense when they talk, and may have difficulty holding a job or caring for themselves.

Although treatments are available, schizophrenia will remain with sufferers all their lives, and some symptoms may never go away. For example, some people may repeat certain motions over and over again, and in extreme cases, some may be catatonic. This occurs when individuals are in a state of immobility and cannot respond to a simple question. As with bipolar disorder, those with schizophrenia have difficulty making decisions because their thoughts are not rganized. Schizophrenics can also suffer from depression. They often feel isolated from the rest of the world and cannot find pleasure in everyday life.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Today I Am A Man by Larry Rodness

[caption id="attachment_61" align="alignright" width="194" caption="Today I Am A Man"]book cover image for Today I Am a Man by Larry Rodness[/caption]CHAPTER 1
I’m not going to say it was a fair fight because it wasn’t supposed to be. You use whatever advantage you have because you never go into a fight hoping to lose. Still, the odds seemed even: I was about one-hundred and sixty pounds to his one hundred and thirty, but he was taller–close to five-foot nine and I was only five-foot five. He had youth but I had experience. He was fifteen and I was fifty.

I waited for him on the sidewalk by the schoolyard, wondering if he would have his buddies with him. If so this could go either way: when kids get a whiff of blood, anything can happen. Not that that was going to change my mind.

At 3:20 P.M., the school bell rang on schedule and my heart began to thump like the first time I took a drag from a cigarette, or unhooked a girl’s bra, or stole something from the corner store. To calm my nerves, I went over my plan in my head one more time, envisioning the outcome before it happened. I even rehearsed what I was going to say, something brief and to the point just before I put him down to make sure he’d have something to think about afterwards. There he was, coming out the main doors with his friends, some of whom had even been in my house. But today they were hanging with the wrong kid. Just as well, maybe they’d learn a lesson too. Close in on him right off. Watch his feet. First shot to the nose. Then when he goes down, put the boots to the motherfucker. Advice that had been jangling around in my head since childhood.

I moved in from the side using the surge of home-bound students to cover my approach. Just a few more steps . . .

“Todd Holloway? Do you know who I am?”

“Yeah,” he answered, as if I barely mattered in his world. That would change in about two seconds. I cocked my right arm and drove my fist straight into his nose. I chose this spot for two reasons: first, to cause the most amount of pain, and second, because the first one to land a punch in a fight generally wins. Instinctively, the kid brought his hands up to stem the flow of blood gushing out of his nostrils, which left his mid section unprotected. That’s when I buried my other fist deep into his gut, knocking the wind out of him and sending him to the ground in tears. Not such a big man now, are you? His legs thrashed out at me, more to keep me away than to do any damage.

Then I turned to his buddies and stared each of them in the eye to show them I wasn’t afraid. I heard one of them call me a “fuckin’ bully,” but instead of rushing me he knelt down to help his friend while another ran back into the school to report the assault.

When I knew for sure that young Holloway wasn’t getting back up to fight again and the others weren’t in the mood for a swarming, I turned and walked home to dinner. Two hours later I was having pasta and shrimp with my wife, Linda, and our three children, Daniel–fifteen, Jesse– twelve, and Amy–seven, who all took turns complaining about how much smarter they were than their teachers, when there was a knock on the door. I opened it to find two police officers.

“Steven Goldman?” I nodded yes, at which point the first officer informed me that I was under arrest. I heard my wife gasp and the kitchen chairs scrape the floor as the family came running, in time to witness the second cop snap a pair of handcuffs on my wrists.

“What the hell is going on here? What are you doing to my husband?” Linda demanded frantically. And who could blame her? Nothing like this had ever happened to anyone in our comfortable little family before. I had never been arrested nor broken the law, so my wife had every reason to be freaking out.

But instead of answering her questions, the first cop simply stated in a dispassionate and officious voice that I would be allowed one phone call after I was taken to the police station and booked. With that, they led me down the front steps of my home to their cruiser parked in the driveway, which made me a witness to the next scenario I had anticipated with regret. A visit from a police cruiser in this neighborhood was as strange as a visit from a flying saucer, and as such, it brought the nosy neighbors out to gawk. It wasn’t me I felt bad for, but my family, who was going to have to face some strange looks and uncomfortable questions for the next while from people we had counted on as our friends for over twenty odd years.

As the police tucked me into the back seat, I thought I caught a whiff of something that if bottled probably would have been marketed under the name “Deep Shit.” I distracted myself for a moment by imagining what the label on such a perfume bottle might look like, until one of the officers brought me back to the present.

“Do you understand these rights as I have explained them to you?” That’s when I caught the eye of my son, Daniel, who stared at me, looking pale as a ghost.

“Yes,” I replied.

There are markers along our paths, life-altering moments where we must make a choice to take one road or the other. Looking back at my family standing there helpless and bewildered on the driveway, I knew that what I had done that day had not only changed the course of my life, but theirs as well. I also knew that I would have done it again given the same circumstances, which led me to wonder whether this was really just an awkward misstep, a stumble along a relatively smooth journey, or rather the fulfillment of my destiny? Had my up-to-now pleasant little drive down the road of life hit a speed bump, or was that bump actually a series of connecting cause-and-effect dots that had been put into play almost 40 years ago?

If so, then everything from then until now had simply been a pause in the action awaiting the inevitable. The funny thing was, the ironic thing was, they called me a bully, which was the furthest thing from the truth. I was the kid the bullies bullied.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Embracing You, Embracing Me by Michelle Bellon

Image of book cover for Embracing You, Embracing Me by Michelle BellonPROLOGUE

At sixteen, I was fumbling through the hormonal turmoil and self-induced drama of life in a dusty little town that was far smaller than my ambitions. The town consisted of a few modest homes, a doctor’s office, two mini-marts and a couple of taverns, the suburbs of another only slightly larger country town in western Oregon. My home was a rusty old trailer house, its fragile outer shell peeling away from the crusty rivets that pockmarked its discolored surface. I shared the trailer house with my ailing mother and loving but strict grandmother, in conditions that drove my daily promise:
“I don’t want to live like this forever. I will get out of this godforsaken town and make something of myself someday. I will break this cycle of hopelessness and forge my own path.”

Amber: It’s not just the fact that Roshell is outspoken and can be brutally honest, honest to the point where sometimes you just wish she would keep her mouth shut. It’s more than that. I can trust her with anything.

While I tend to be the type to just kind of hang out along the fringes people watching, you can bet that Roshell will be right smack in the middle of whatever is going on, instigating, conspiring and cheering on a good time. She is so outgoing that even when I feel nervous or shy in a situation, I usually find myself forgetting all inhibitions as Roshell steamrolls her way through any and all barriers, and before I know it, I’m totally immersed into whatever scenario we’ve found ourselves in.

I gave a quick spray of flowery perfume and patted the stiff bangs that stood up straight in a style comprehended only by those of us who actually lived through the early nineties. A hairstyle that required a minimum of fifteen minutes of teasing, curling, and more teasing until the bangs were feathered and vertical, shellacked with enough hairspray to be considered a weapon. With one last look, I decided I was happy with the result.

“Yes! A good hair day! I’m outta here!” So, it would be a good day, I mused snatching up my ratty secondhand backpack and racing out the front door to catch the bus. I firmly believed that the tone of a teenage girl’s day was always set by how well her hair behaved. A great hair day could have her feeling sassy and almost confident while a bad hair day… well, look out.

I needed a good hair day because after school my best friend, Amber and I were heading to the Friday night High School football game, then spending the night at Amber’s house. It was a big deal since I wasn’t usually allowed to join in most of the social events that my peers participated in. Being raised by a devoted grandma who was set in her old-fashioned ways was pretty strict business and usually devoid of anything that even resembled a good time.

Mount Pleasant, Oregon, was benefitting from an Indian summer. Though it was the end of September, the evening had that wonderful between-season feel. The air was still warm to the touch, but in the light breeze there was the hint of the fall that was to come. A pungent yet crisp scent filled the air. It was the scent of autumn leaves as they turn vivid reds and oranges before they wither, die and loosen their hold on the trees.

I took in a deep breath as I strolled alongside Amber, heading to the game, golden leaves crunching beneath our feet.
We had formed our tight friendship at a crucial point in eighth grade. The previous year, Amber’s “bestie”, Holly, had the audacity to drop her for a new girl. At the beginning of eighth grade, I had just moved to Mount Pleasant Middle School and quickly made friends with Mandy, but that friendship burned out as Mandy sought Courtney to be her new bestie.

I was always baffled by the way girls my age swapped their best friend forever about as often as some boys changed their dirty socks. Friendship, to me, was a sacred thing. It was about having a confidante to share secrets with. It was someone who would never laugh at your dreams, or tease you when she discovered who your newest crush was. Someone who liked you no matter what type of house you lived in or how much money your family had, or rather didn’t have.

[caption id="attachment_58" align="alignleft" width="244" caption="Michelle Bellon"]Image of Michelle Bellon, author of Embracing You, Embracing Me[/caption]It began when we were both invited to Mandy’s birthday party. It was co-ed, so guaranteed to be a blast. The party swung into full speed. Mandy cranked up the music and we danced. I was bursting at the seams to show off my moves to the New Kids On The Block hit.

In the middle of some intense gyrations in the center of the living room floor, I decided to end the number with flair by sliding down into the splits. A ripping sound cut through the song’s closing chords. My eyes bulged and my throat tightened as I realized that I had just split the seam of my jeans. Jumping up, I reached behind, fearing the worst. To my horror I detected cotton panties in plain view through the butt of my ripped pants. Holy mother of…

With a sharp intake of breath I clapped my hand over my mouth. “Oh, my god!” And then I did what I always do when in a mortifyingly embarrassing situation. I began to laugh hysterically. To my dismay, so did everyone else in the room. My body went hot with humiliation and my mind went blank.

Fortunately, Amber was smart enough to assess the situation and took matters into her own hands. She untied the sweatshirt from her waist, wrapped it around mine and guided me to a back bedroom down the hallway.

“Come on, don’t worry about it,” Amber whispered and closed the door. “I have a spare pair of jeans in my backpack.”

“Oh, yeah, right! I just gave everyone out there at least three Seinfeld episodes’ worth of jokes and entertainment at my expense. I will never live this down.” I buried my face in my hands wishing for escape as a strangled giggle escaped from deep in my throat.

“Sure you will. Just go out and let them rib you for a few minutes so they’ll get it out of their systems. Meanwhile, do what you just did. Laugh with them, brush it off and act like it’s no big deal, and then so will they.” Her words, said with such confidence, made me feel calmer, more centered. I took in a cleansing breath, thanked Amber and slipped into the jeans before we rejoined the party.

Of course it worked out just the way Amber had predicted. I was relieved and grateful. Proven friends, we hung out for the remainder of the party and were inseparable from that point on.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Hollywood Celebrities: Basic Things You've Always Wanted to Know, Volume I

Hollywood Celebrities book cover imageI’ve always been curious about the biographical details of some Hollywood celebrities, and it occurred to me that others might be, too. People in general are curious to know the personal details of celebrities, but this is especially true when it comes to Hollywood celebrities. Many people want to know about the education and family details of Hollywood celebrities, what they were doing before they became fi lm stars, and so on.

During my research on Hollywood celebrities, I found not even one book that provides basic information about the current crop of top Hollywood celebrities, so I thought it would be fun to write such a book. As there are many actors currently active in the film industry, I concluded that it would be a good idea to feature them in two or three volumes. This book, then, is the first in a series.

Drawing caricatures and cartoons has been my passion since childhood. When I was a student, I used to doodle caricatures of many of my teachers while they were busy giving lectures, especially if those lectures were not terribly interesting! Later, I drew caricatures of political figures and syndicated them
to many newspapers in the US. Now I am using this self-taught skill to illustrate the faces of the sixty Hollywood celebrities featured in this book.

I will be gratified if the people who read this book are interested in the details it provides and are pleased with the caricatures of their favorite celebrities.

Throughout the book, I refer to both men and women as “actors.” This is the term preferred by those in the profession.

[caption id="attachment_48" align="alignright" width="185" caption="Adam Sandler"]Caricature image of Adam Sandler[/caption]Adam Sandler
Name at birth: Adam Richard Sandler
Nickname: Sandman
Born: September 9, 1966
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Zodiac Sign: Virgo
Height: 5’10” (1.78 m.)
Graduated with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts (BFA) from New York University, New York, in 1991.

Father Stanley Sandler was an electrical engineer, and mother Judy Sandler was a nursery school teacher. Brother Scott is a lawyer, sister Elizabeth is a dentist, and sister Valerie is a restaurateur.

Married actor Jacqueline Samantha Titone on June 22, 2003; they have two daughters, Sadie Madison Sandler (born 2006) and Sunny Madeline Sandler
(born 2008).

Nominated for a Golden Globe in 2002 for Best Actor for Punch-Drunk Love. Earned first Grammy nomination for his 1999 comedy album Stan and Judy’s Kid.

Grew up in Manchester, New Hampshire. Loves wrestling and basketball. Played basketball on Manchester Central High School’s junior varsity team.

[caption id="attachment_50" align="alignleft" width="182" caption="Angelina Jolie"]caricature of Angelina Jolie[/caption]Angelina Jolie
Name at birth: Angelina Jolie Voight
Nicknames: Angie, Catwoman, Ange, AJ
Born: June 4, 1975
Zodiac Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States
Height: 5’8” (1.73 m.)
Attended New York University and majored in filmmaking

Father Jon Voight is an Academy Award®-winning actor, and mother Marcheline Bertrand, who died from ovarian cancer in January 2007, was an actor. Father is of Czechoslovak and German descent, and mother was French Canadian. Has one brother, James Haven.

Married British actor Jonny Lee Miller on March 28, 1996, and divorced in February 1999. Married American actor Billy Bob Thornton on May 5, 2000, and divorced in May 2003.

Actor Brad Pitt has been Jolie’s domestic partner since 2005. They have three biological children: daughter Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt (born 2006) and twins Knox Leon, a son, and Vivienne Marcheline, a daughter (born 2008). They have also three adopted children: Maddox Chivan Jolie-Pitt (born 2001 in Cambodia), Pax Th ien Jolie-Pitt (born 2003 in Vietnam), and Zahara Marley Jolie-Pitt
(born 2005 in Ethiopia).

Won Academy Award in 2000 for Best Supporting Actress for Girl, Interrupted Won three consecutive Golden Globe Awards in three diff erent categories: in 1998 for Best Supporting Actress in a Mini-Series for George Wallace, in 1999 for Best Actress in a TV Movie or Mini-Series for Gia, and in 2000 for Best
Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for Girl, Interrupted.

Grew up in Los Angeles. When a child, she wanted to become a funeral director. Is a licensed pilot and owns a Cirrus SR22 airplane.

[caption id="attachment_51" align="alignright" width="202" caption="Ashton Kutcher"]Caricature of Ashton Kutcher[/caption]Ashton Kutcher
Name at birth: Christopher Ashton Kutcher
Nicknames: Ash; Kutch
Born: February 7, 1978
Zodiac Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Cedar Rapids, Iowa, United States.
Height: 6’2½” (1.89 m.)
Attended the University of Iowa, majoring in biochemical engineering but dropped out before graduation to pursue modeling.

Father Larry Kutcher worked at a General Mills factory in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and mother Diane Portwood was an employee of Procter & Gamble. Has a fraternal twin, Michael, and an older sister, Tausha. Married actor Demi Moore, who fi fteen years older than he, on September 24, 2005.

Garnered nomination in 2000 for Las Vegas Film Critics Society Sierra Award for Best Male Newcomer for Dude, Where’s My Car? Nominated in 2001 for MTV Movie Awards for Breakthrough Male Performance for Dude, Where’s
My Car?

Worked various odd jobs, including carpentry, and other jobs relating to farm life.
Was a wrestler in high school.

[caption id="attachment_52" align="alignleft" width="184" caption="Ben Affleck"]Caricature of Ben Affleck[/caption]Ben Affleck
Name at birth: Benjamin G├ęza Affl eck-Boldt
Born: August 15, 1972
Zodiac Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Berkeley, California, United States
Height: 6’2½” (1.89 m.)
Attended Occidental College in Los Angeles and the University of Vermont.

Father Timothy Affleck was a counselor, social worker, and actor. Mother Chris Affleck attended Harvard University and was a teacher in Cambridge Public Schools. His younger brother, Casey Affleck, is an actor. Married Jennifer Garner in June 2005, and they have two daughters, Violet (born December 2005)
and Seraphina (born 2009).

Along with Matt Damon, won an Academy Award in 1997 Best Original Screenplay for Good Will Hunting. Also won the Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay for the same movie. Awarded the Volpi Cup for Best Actor (for his role in Hollywoodland) at the Venice Film Festival in 2006.

Grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Keen poker player; won the California State Poker Championship in June 2004. Speaks Spanish and French.

[caption id="attachment_53" align="alignright" width="176" caption="Brad Pitt"]Caricature of Brad Pitt[/caption]Brad Pitt
Name at birth: William Bradley Pitt
Born: December 18, 1963
Zodiac Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Shawnee, Oklahoma, United States
Height: 5’11” (1.80 m.)
Attended the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri, majoring in journalism. Dropped out just before graduation to move to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career.

Father William Alvin Pitt was a truck company owner, and mother Jane Etta was a high school counselor. Has two younger siblings: brother Doug and sister Julie Neal.

Married actor Jennifer Aniston on July 29, 2000, and divorced in October 2005.
Angelina Jolie has been his domestic partner since 2005. They have three biological children:
daughter Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt (born 2006)
and twins: son Knox Leon and daughter Vivienne
Marcheline (born 2008). Th ey also have three
adopted children: Maddox Chivan Jolie-Pitt (born
2001 in Cambodia), Pax Th ien Jolie-Pitt (born
2003 in Vietnam), and Zahara Marley Jolie-Pitt
(born 2005 in Ethiopia).

Received Academy Award nominations in 1996 for Best Supporting Actor for 12 Monkeys and in 2009 for Best Actor for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
Won a Golden Globe Award in 1996 for Best Supporting Actor in 12 Monkeys. Also received Golden Globe Award nominations in 1995 for Best Actor for Legends of the Fall and in 2005 for Best Supporting Actor for Babel.

Grew up in Springfi eld, Missouri.
First job was dancing in a chicken suit to draw in
customers at an El Pollo Loco restaurant on Sunset
Blvd. in Hollywood. Also worked as a chauffeur in Los Angeles. Is a licensed pilot; flies a Cessna 208B Caravan.

[caption id="attachment_55" align="alignright" width="180" caption="Bruce Willis"]Caricature of Bruce Willis[/caption] Bruce Willis
Name at birth: Walter Bruce Willis
Nickname: Bruno
Born: March 19, 1955
Zodiac Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Idar-Oberstein, West Germany
Height: 5’11¾” (1.82 m.)
Attended Montclair State University in Montclair, New Jersey, majoring in drama. Dropped out in his junior year to pursue a career in acting.

Father David Willis was an American soldier. Mother Marlene was a German national who worked in a bank.

Has three younger siblings:
Florence, David, and Robert. David Willis is vice president of Willis’ production company. Robert Willis died of pancreatic cancer at age 42 in June 2001.

Married actor Demi Moore on November 21, 1987, and divorced in October 2000. The couple had three daughters: Rumer Willis (born 1988), Scout LaRue Willis (born 1991), and Tallulah Belle Willis (born 1994). Married fashion model and actor Emma Heming on March 21, 2009.

Nominated for Golden Globe Award in 1990 for Best Supporting Actor for In Country. Won Emmy Award in 2000 as Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for his work on Friends. Also received an American Comedy Award nomination in 2001 for his role in Friends. Received People’s Choice Awards in 1986 and 2000.

Worked as a security guard at the DuPont Chambers Works factory in Deepwater, New Jersey; as a bartender in New York City restaurants Chelsea Central and Cafe Central and the nightclub Kamikaze; and as a private
investigator. Stuttered as a child, but overcame it after he started performing on stage. Played harmonica for an R&B band called Loose Goose.

[caption id="attachment_101" align="alignleft" width="181" caption="Tom Cruise"]caricature of Tom Cruise[/caption]Name: Tom Cruise
Born: July 3, 1962 (Syracuse, New York, U.S.A);
Zodiac Sign: Cancer
Height: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
Graduated from Glen Ridge High School in New Jersey in June 1980; Studied drama at Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theatre, New York

Married: Mimi Rogers on May 9, 1987; Nicole Kidman on December 24, 1990; and Katie Holmes on November 18, 2006.

Received three Academy Award nominations: for Best Actor in 1991 in Born on Fourth of July; and in 1997 in Jerry Maguire; and for Best Supporting Actor in 2000 in Magnolia

* Grew up in Ottawa (Canada); Louisville (Kentucky); Winnetka (Illinois); and Wayne (New Jersey). Attended 15 different schools in the US and Canada before he turned 14
* Attended a Franciscan seminary in Cincinnati (on a church scholarship) for one year and aspired to become a Catholic priest


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