Category Archives: thank you

My Thanks to Outstanding (Good)Readers

GoodreadscoverLike Lord Byron, who woke up one morning and found himself famous, I woke up this morning to countless e-mails and text messages alerting me to the wonderful news that Jim Henson: The Biography had won the Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Biography of 2013.


It was great to even be nominated — an old saw, but what can I say? It really is true.  And in the category of Biography/History, I was in great company: Denise Kiernan’s The Girls of Atomic City. Bill Bryson’s One Summer. Reza Aslan’s Zealot — and that’s just for starters. With a fellowship of biographers and historians like that clustered around you, it really is exciting just to be among the  nominees. But what a genuine thrill it is to learn that readers loved it enough to vote for it — and keep voting for it multiple times, since that’s what it takes to make it through each round.

And so: THANK YOU to each and every one of you. And Goodreads aside, thank you all for the warmth and enthusiasm over these past few months. It’s a rare pleasure to get to document someone’s incredible life — and I’m so glad we could enjoy it all together. I appreciate all of you.

My congratulations, too, to the winners in all the other categories.  This marks probably the only time in my life I will likely be on the same list with Stephen King, Khaled Hosseini, Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, and J.R.R. Tolkien. I’m marking the day with a white stone, as Lewis Carroll once put it.

Yaaaaaay!! *Kermit arm flail*

Two big announcements:

First, it’s official: at the end of its first week in release, Jim Henson: The Biography is now a genuine New York Times Bestseller.

Do it with me:

Thank you, Muppet and Jim Henson fans, for making Jim Henson such a success.  It was your enthusiasm that helped shoot us right out of the blocks, and I appreciate your excitement and support.  Really.  Thank you.

Second, on Thursday, October 10, I’ll be appearing on The Daily Show. And that’s really all I can say, as I’m still trying to pick my chin up off the floor.

Believe me, more to come.


Out For Launch


Jim Henson in The Octagon. Not starring Chuck Norris.

With the Today show scuttled for this morning (but for good reason!), I was home in Maryland all day today — so just for fun, Barb and I spent the morning checking on Jim Henson in our local Barnes and Noble in Gaithersburg. We arrived in the store only a little after its 9 a.m. opening, and almost immediately spotted  Jim perched among the books on the highly-coveted center display table we only recently learned is called “The Octagon.” And it was even right there next to my pal Jamie Ford’s Songs of Willow Frost. Not bad.

It got even better almost immediately, as we’d only been in the store for a few minutes before the first copy was purchased. And now, ladies and gentlemen, here I am with Mr. Rich Wood, the first person to buy Jim Henson at my own local Barnes and Noble.  Pretty nice.


Me with the super nice Rich Wood, who bought the first copy of Jim Henson at my local Barnes & Noble in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

It’s been a gratifying to see the book so well received by so many today.  There was this terrific review in the Washington Independent Review of Books, this long piece in The Atlantic, and lots of enthusiastic mentions by Jim Henson/Muppet fans across the web. To top it off, I was unexpectedly called to CBS Studios down in DC late this afternoon to be interviewed for a segment airing on CBS This Morning all about the Henson family’s latest donation of Muppets to the Smithsonian.  That piece will air tomorrow morning. 

It’s been a  great day, and I appreciate all the kind words, warm wishes, and enthusiasm for Jim Henson: The Biography. I hope you’re enjoying it — and when you get done, let me know what moved you, what made you laugh, what made you angry, what made you cry, and maybe even what made you shout, “No WAY!”

Thank you all so, so much. I mean it.

Finally, Happy Birthday, Jim! We still miss you.

Irving in the Christian Science Monitor

I was delighted to see my book Washington Irving: An American Original win one of the Christian Science Monitor‘s “Reader’s Picks”, a feature where Monitor readers can share their favorite books.   My thanks to Joyce Miller Bean, of Evanston, Illinois, for her really kind words.  I appreciate it.

You can see Irving over on the Monitor’s website right here.

Still More Credit Where Credit’s Due

Last winter, when I junked my old and slow Dell desktop in favor of a MacBook laptop, I had to switch my home banking program to a new software.  I had been running Microsoft Money for years, and was generally happy with it.  I don’t need anything fancy in the home finances department — I don’t invest in the stock market or track my retirement or anything like that — so my requirements are fairly simple: I  want it to look like a checkbook, and I want to be able to print out reports at the end of the year.  When I changed operating systems, then, I was hoping I could just load Money for Mac, move my data with a zip drive, and just keeping going along like nothing had changed.

There was just one problem:  they don’t make Microsoft Money any more.  So whether I wanted to or not, I had to switch.  Again, I don’t need anything fancy, so I opted to pick up the newest version of Quicken — which I had never used, but which seemed to be a fairly easy and intuitive program to work with.  I went to the Intuit website and advance ordered it — this was last winter, and it wasn’t scheduled to ship until early this Spring — paying about 69 bucks for the newest version.

Long story short, then — so I can get to the point — the program worked great, I’m very happy with it, and consider it a good investment of 69 dollars.  Imagine my surprise, then, when I received an e-mail from Intuit last month that included the following:

Thanks to the direct feedback we have received from customers like you, we are making changes to Quicken Essentials for Mac. Here is what we have planned for the next couple of months:
Price reduction and $20 refund—we are dropping the price from $69.99 to $49.99 and you will receive a $20 refund! Your credit card will be credited automatically in 4-6 weeks; you don’t have to do anything. 

Sure enough, last week, my bank account was credited for twenty dollars and some change from Intuit.  Imagine that: a company actually giving customers money back when they lower the price of their product.  That was a classy move on Intuit’s part, and they’ve made me a loyal customer who will recommend their products to others.  And I do.

Happy 200th, Abraham Lincoln

abraham_lincoln“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

— Abraham Lincoln
Second Inaugural Address,
March 4, 1865

Abraham Lincoln was born 200 years ago today, on February 12, 1809.   Forty-two days after delivering the remarks above, he was shot dead at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.  He was only 56 years old.

There are literally thousands of Lincoln bios out there, many of them still in print.  But to me, Lincoln’s story works best in his own words.  If you don’t have it already, then, you must get this

Veterans Day

“It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
— Abraham Lincoln
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
November 19, 1863

A Cloud of Witnesses

I’m traveling over the long weekend, and therefore won’t be around to post this on Memorial Day proper. So I’ll say it now, before I leave.

To all those who served, and are serving, our country — whether you saw action or not, and regardless of whether you spent your time working in the motor pool, patrolling a border, or just “piloting a desk” making sure everyone got paid . . .

Thank you.

That’s it. Just . . . thank you.