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Superman about to reveal his secret identity
Author: David Betancourt, The Washington Post

It’s not a bird. It’s not a plane. And what writer Brian Michael Bendis really wants you to know is, it’s not a trick.

Superman will reveal his secret identity to the world next month in the pages of his self-titled series from DC Comics. No more nonprescription glasses and combing back the s-curl to blend in with the society he protects. No more slouching. No more phone booths. (Well, it’s likely been a while since he’s used one of those.) But Superman is coming clean, and Bendis says the new story line he wrote will be a lasting change for the Man of Steel.

“There’s no Kryptonite. There’s no Mister Mxyzptlk (a magical, reality altering foe). There’s no magic amulet. No Bizarro,” Bendis said emphatically. “It’s a hero who gave a lot and needs a little something for himself.”

The biggest moment for Superman since he was killed in the early 1990s begins to take root in “Superman” No. 17 (illustrated by Kevin Maguire), on sale in print and digitally on Wednesday. Issues No. 18 (on sale Dec. 12) and No. 19 (January), both illustrated by Ivan Reis and Joe Prado) will deal with Superman’s opening up to the world and the aftermath. In February, DC will also publish two one-shot issues, “Superman: Heroes” in January, and “Superman: Villains,” that will show the impact of Superman’s decision from the perspective of DC’s biggest names both good and evil.

The decision was not an easy one to make — this is Bendis’ first potentially polarizing creative decision at DC since he made the move from Marvel Comics in 2017. He said DC’s top brass had to give approval after a whole lot of internal debating. Meetings were had with anyone who works on Superman characters in the DC universe, as the weight of this decision would be felt in their titles as well.

But don’t fall for the notion that this is the end of Clark Kent.

“I get why people would immediately think … that Clark Kent just goes away,” Bendis said, adding, “Clark Kent is a huge part of who (Superman) is. It’s who he grew up as. He’s not giving it up. He’s sharing it with people. He’s saying ‘This is who I truthfully am. This is how I’m good at both jobs, and I want you to know that so we have a more honest relationship.’ ”

The coming “The Truth” story line in “Superman” Nos. 18 and 19 will answer the inevitable questions about what it’s like to be both Superman and one of the Daily Planet’s top reporters.

“How it affects business. How it affects the Daily Planet. How it affects how he gets stories. How (will) people perceive his stories? Does he have to give his Pulitzer back? All of these things are going to be addressed very quickly,” Bendis assured.

This isn’t the first secret-identity revelation Bendis has been a part of. He unmasked Daredevil years ago at Marvel, a decision that stayed with the character for years — and Bendis points out that the world didn’t end. Some would say the storytelling in Daredevil after the moment was better for it.

“I can only speak to my own track record that things aren’t done for shock. They’re done for story,” Bendis said. “And the only way to do that is to tell the story.”

Bendis also notes that with today’s younger fans, secret identities just aren’t as big a deal as they were to previous generations of comic book fans, adding many associate hiding who you really are with online trolling.

“You have to remember most secreted identities today don’t exist in comics. The Avengers don’t have secret identities,” Bendis said. “People with secret identities (today) are people online who talk crap.”

Bendis isn’t just helping direct Superman’s future — he’s been given the keys to the future of the entire DC universe. He’s writing a “Legion of Superheroes” series, featuring a fan-favorite group of heroes from the future that includes Superman’s son Jon, aka Superboy (the first issue is available Wednesday).

When asked if he sees a future scenario where this monumental Superman moment is reversed and Clark Kent’s glasses are dusted off, he confidently says no.

“I have to be careful with my wording, but, you know, this is Warner Bros., and they don’t do things willy-nilly and this was approved,” Bendis said. “They said ‘Go for it. We see what you’re doing. We get it.’ It takes (Superman) into a place we would like to take him.”

More high schools embrace esports
Author: Alex Andrejev, The Washington Post

A few weeks before homecoming, a cloudless sky hung over Washington-Liberty High School in northern Virginia’s Arlington County, and sounds of a promising new school year filled the air. Whistles blew to start football drills, the band practiced nearby and in one technology classroom, a group of eager students asked Assistant Principal Miles Carey questions.

“Do we have a competitive Pokemon team?”

Not yet.

“Will I need to create a Discord account?”


Carey was running a meeting for the school’s esports club, a program he started two years ago to engage students who were not otherwise participating in school activities. He said the club has achieved its goal so far; roughly a third of last year’s 70-plus members did not participate in any sports or activities outside of esports, according to Carey.

“[The club] gave kids a way to find people with similar interests,” Carey said. “But then it took off. We ended up winning a tournament, and a few kids got to split a $12,500 scholarship last year.”

Like many programs across the country, Washington-Liberty’s esports club is transforming into something increasingly competitive, especially since Virginia added esports as an official academic activity this year. In addition to greater structure and funding, players will be able to compete for a state championship in the video games League of Legends, Rocket League and SMITE for the first time.

“I’ve been super motivated to get better,” said Washington-Liberty senior Scooter Norton, captain of the school’s Rocket League team, in response to the state’s decision. Norton said esports was the first club he joined when he signed up as a 10th-grader.

The Virginia High School League joins leagues in 16 other states affiliated with the National Federation of State High School Associations participating in esports this year. Although the state tournament provides greater legitimacy to an activity for which many young gamers are clamoring, Norton said not everyone is so enthusiastic about competitive esports.

“[Coordinating] practices have been kind of difficult,” Norton said. “Because it’s easy to get parents to prioritize traditional sports and clubs — things that look good on college applications. But it’s hard to get players online at the same time to practice esports.”

Nate Estevao, now a college freshman, captained Washington-Liberty’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team last year. Estevao said he quit the crew team to devote more time to practicing CS:GO and launching the esports program as a junior.

“It was definitely difficult at first,” Estevao said. “My friends thought it was stupid. My parents thought it was stupid. My siblings thought it was stupid. Not in an aggressively mean way. Just like, ‘Dude, you already have something good going. Why are you gonna go into something that’s completely unknown?’ Unknown for them, at least.”

Estevao was part of the team that won the $12,500 scholarship and national championship tournament last year. He now attends the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and competes for the university’s CS: GO team. He said his family and peers became more accepting of his choice after seeing the benefits it offered.

“At a more organized level, it allows for a wide range of people to get a competitive experience whereas they otherwise might not have had that,” Estevao said.

Carey said some teams will continue to compete in a nationwide tournament hosted by the High School Esports League, a for-profit company that offers scholarship prizes. The VHSL tournament will only offer a championship title and glory, but players still like the fact that their “sport” is now considered “varsity.”

“On our Counter-Strike team, we had a guy on the varsity basketball team. We had a guy from varsity track. We also had a guy who never really competed in sports before, and he ended up being one of our star players,” Estevao added. “It was really cool to see that he had an outlet because he was a very competitive person, but he wasn’t into athletics.”

Campbell flies again with ‘The Rocketeer’
Author: Rick Bentley, Tribune News Service

There is no such thing as a perfect acting job, but Billy Campbell has found that his voice work for Disney Junior’s new “The Rocketeer” comes very close. Not only does he get to be part of a project based on the same source material as the feature film that gave his first film fame, but because recordings can be done anywhere on the planet, Campbell doesn’t have to leave the country where he’s living — Norway — to voice his lines.

“I am thrilled I can do my voice work from anywhere,” Campbell says. “I sure could get used to just going into a sound studio once a week. I hope I can get some more voice work after this.”

The new animated series is inspired by the Dave Stevens superhero comics. Unlike the 1991 film in which Campbell played an adult who used a rocket pack to save the world, the hero work now falls on a young girl, Kit Secord (voiced by Kitana Turnbill). Campbell is the voice of her father, Dave, and Kathy Najimy speaks for her mom, Sareena.

Each episode of “The Rocketeer” features two 11-minute stories that follow Kit as she goes on high-flying adventures to help save her community and its residents from trouble. Helping her out is best friend Tesh (Callan Farris), who serves as Ground Control, and her grandfather, Ambrose Secord, who works as a mechanic at the Hughesville Airport.

Another positive for Campbell is that the show offers a strong message to young girls.

“When they were talking about ‘The Rocketeer’ sequel — live action — they were also talking about a female protagonist, and as soon as I heard that, I thought it was terrific,” Campbell says.

Campbell has put together a long list of acting credits since he played Cliff Secord in “The Rocketeer,” including TV shows “The O.C.,” “Helix” and “The 4400” plus the feature films “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” and “Enough.” He gave up hope of being involved with another “Rocketeer” project decades ago.

Kondo’s kids book focuses on friendship, tidiness
Author: LEANNE ITALIE, Associated Press

NEW YORK — Not even Marie Kondo can follow all her rules for tidying all the time.

“Of course, when things get very busy, I need to let go of some of my standards and methods, and I think that’s a completely natural thing,” the decluttering guru, Netflix realty star and mother of two told The Associated Press.

The soft-spoken Kondo was tight-lipped on exactly what she lets slide, besides leaving her house slippers in the middle of the floor occasionally, but one thing’s for sure: When it comes to Kondo, the emphasis is on busy these days.

Kondo has amassed an empire by urging the world to decide if their belongings “spark joy” and has expanded her reach yet again with her debut children’s picture book, “Kiki & Jax: The Life-Changing Magic of Friendship,” co-written and illustrated by Salina Yoon.

For grown-ups who fight chaos on the job, she has partnered with organizational psychologist Scott Sonenshein on a new book due out in April, “Joy at Work: Organizing Your Professional life,” aimed at sorting out desks, schedules and inboxes.

Branching out

Kondo and the first season of her Netflix series, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” were nominated for two Emmys this year, with no wins. While discussions are underway for a second season, she has slowly gone about dispensing advice on a broader range of lifestyle topics, from knowing when a relationship no longer sparks joy to making the perfect bento box for kids.

Later this month on her website,, she’ll start selling some of the things that spark her own joy at home but are made by others, such as her favorite incense and rice cooker. And in the last year, she has expanded her network of KonMari-certified consultants to about 300 in more than 30 countries.

With Kondo’s Netflix show came a move to Los Angeles with her husband and daughters, ages 4 and 3. It was her second time living in the United States — the first was a stint in San Francisco. The families she helped on Netflix were all in the Los Angeles area, including Wendy and Ron Akiyama.

She said the empty nesters posed the greatest challenge during the eight-episode season with their mountain of clothes, out-of-control Christmas decorations and boxes stuffed with thousands of baseball cards.

“There was so much stuff,” Kondo said through a translator during a recent interview. “I’ve tidied up a lot of messy homes in Japan, but they tended to be quite small. On this American scale, and especially the amount of things in the garage, it was quite shocking.”

For now, Kondo is promoting her picture book. The story of Kiki, a squirrel with a hoarding problem, and Jax, a meticulous owl who loves to sort, is a sweet extension of the best-seller that led to her global influence, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.”

Kiki’s inability to find anything at home gets in the way of their friendship. Jax presents Kiki with a scrapbook of their bond and helps her disorganized friend put his home in order. They sort piles of stuff to donate, recycle or throw away, using Kondo’s method of folding clothes and stacking them upright in his drawers.

“After I became a mother, I wanted to teach my children how to tidy,” the 35-year-old Kondo said. “I was wondering how could I make that process more fun? The picture book seemed like the perfect idea.”

She credits Yoon for the idea of the characters. Kondo had Yoon draw in some of her daughters’ favorite toys — a pink ukulele painted with flowers and a stuffed donkey.

Is it easier to follow the KonMari method of tidying if one was raised in a tidy household?

“Of course, it’s important to have a tidy home, but there’s no need for it to be completely perfect or absolutely organized,” Kondo said. “What’s more important is that the children get to see their parents tidying.”

Kondo had no children when she first set out to conquer the world of tidying. That triggered some parents who chided her for having no real idea just how big a mess kids can make and how disorganized harried parents can become.

“I think my standard for tidying definitely changed after I had children,” she said. “Before, I think my ideal was a perfectly organized home, but naturally children do tend to make a mess, and I’m also limited in time as well. It can be quite exhausting as all mothers know. I think I’ve become much more forgiving of myself.”

U.S. cities have been taken over by Airbnb
Author: Luke McGrath, Bloomberg

Miami Beach is positively teeming with Airbnb units.

The Florida city crams in more of the short-term rental company’s properties per capita than anywhere else in the U.S., with roughly one Airbnb for every 15 of its 92,000 residents, according to new analysis from property services firm IPX1031. Seven of the top 10 cities with the highest Airbnb density per resident are in Florida, the company said.

The saturation has prompted Miami Beach to fight back, joining the ranks of cities trying to police Airbnb and other short-term rentals. The tussles with Miami Beach and cities such as New York City and Chicago are the thorniest obstacle facing Airbnb as it plans to sell shares on public markets. In Jersey City, N.J., residents voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to limit short-term rentals.

Many of the fights come down to cities trying to keep control over how residential properties are used, while preventing what are essentially mini, unlicensed hotel businesses. Airbnb and Miami Beach recently settled a lawsuit, requiring hosts to list registration numbers so the city can verify that hosts are behaving within the law. But the city is now defending in court its ability to fine hosts up to $100,000 for multiple violations of the rules.

Still, Airbnb, with operational headquarters in Portland, is expanding quickly in many American cities, some of which either welcome the business or aren’t fighting back. Over the past two years, Charlotte, N.C., has grown faster than any city in the U.S. with a 120 percent increase in listings, the analysis said, followed by Fresno, Calif., and Jacksonville, Fla. The startup has reached $1 billion in quarterly revenue, with 7 billion listings worldwide.

“While we haven’t reviewed this research, we know that Airbnb is growing in communities across the country and around the world, including in some places you might not expect,” Airbnb spokeswoman Molly Weedn said in an email.

Other cities with lots of Airbnb listings have found a way to live in peace with the company and its hosts. Bend, a fast-growing city of nearly 100,000 in Central Oregon, has managed to crack the top five cities for Airbnb listings per capita. Famous for its ski resorts, hiking and craft beers, Bend attracts short-term visitors looking for a place to crash. Bend has a bespoke agreement with Airbnb to collect taxes of 10.4 percent on short-term rentals — similar to agreements in other places in Oregon and around the world.

Meanwhile, growth is stagnant or falling in some of the nation’s largest cities. New York City, which has been battling Airbnb for years, is trying to keep short-term rentals off the market.

LGBTQ on TV hits another high mark
Author: Yvonne Villarreal, Los Angeles Times

TV shows like “Euphoria,” “Batwoman” and “Pose” contributed to a record high for LGBTQ representation on television in the 2019-20 season, according to a report GLAAD released Thursday.

Last year, the advocacy group, which monitors representation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people in the media, challenged the television industry to reach 10 percent inclusion for LGBTQ characters on broadcast TV by 2020. The challenge was met: LGBTQ characters made up 10.2 percent of regulars in primetime scripted shows by broadcast networks.

That means 90 of the 879 series regular characters on ABC, CBS, the CW, Fox and NBC this season are LGBTQ, up from 75 last season. (Additionally, there are 30 LGBTQ recurring characters on broadcast this season.)

The 10.2 percent number, up from last year’s 8.8 percent, follows records highs in 2016, 2017 and 2018. And it stands as a new record high in the 24 years that GLAAD has tracked LGBTQ representation on the small screen.

The number of regular LGBTQ characters on scripted cable increased to 121, with 94 recurring characters. When it came to the Big Three streaming services Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, there were 109 LGBTQ regular characters.

GLAAD noted that increasing representation is crucial in fueling broader acceptance in the face of divisive rhetoric.

“At a time when the cultural climate is growing increasingly divisive, increased representation of LGBTQ stories and characters on television is especially critical to advance LGBTQ acceptance,” Sarah Kate Ellis, president and chief executive of GLAAD, wrote in a statement. “Shows like ‘Pose,’ ‘Schitt’s Creek,’ ‘Batwoman’ and ‘Billions’ demonstrate that not only are LGBTQ stories and characters on TV becoming more diverse, but that viewers everywhere continue to respond with extreme positivity.”

With 15.4 percent of series regulars counted as LGBTQ, the CW ranks as the most inclusive of the broadcast networks, thanks in part to its slate of “Arrow”-verse shows. Showtime, meanwhile, tops the cable networks with its number of regular and recurring LGBTQ characters; Netflix leads the charge for the streamers.

The survey once again found that gay men make up the majority of LGBTQ regular and recurring characters on broadcast, cable and streaming platforms — in line with previous years.

GLAAD’s tally is based on shows that have aired and are expected to air between June 1, 2019, and May 31, 2020. (TV movies or film specials are not included.)

The report also found, for the second consecutive year, that LGBTQ people of color increased significantly on broadcast and cable, with shows such as “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “Superstore” and the upcoming “9-1-1: Lonestar.” Streaming television, meanwhile, saw a decrease in racial diversity of LGBTQ characters.

Of the 120 LGBTQ regular and recurring characters on broadcast, 62 (or 52 percent) are people of color, which is a 2 percent increase from last year. Broadcast is the only platform on which at least half of LGBTQ characters are people of color. Of the LGBTQ characters on cable, 48 percent are people of color, an increase of 2 percent from last year. Of the LGBTQ characters on streaming series, 41 percent are people of color, a decrease of 7 percent.

Volunteer dedicates 46 years to Washington State School for the Blind
Author: Amelia Fisher

Mollie Hands drives a red ’69 Mustang in beautiful condition. It’s a common and eye-catching sight in the parking lot of the Washington State School for the Blind, where Hands volunteers several times a week.

“Let me tell you, I pick up a ton of guys in this thing,” joked 79-year-old Hands.

Though the sweet ride makes an immediate impression, it’s far from the most remarkable thing about her: The white-haired and bespectacled Hands has been volunteering at the school for nearly as long as her car has been on the road.

For 46 years, Hands has helped blind and visually impaired children participate in activities such as swimming, horseback riding, cross-country skiing and performances at a children’s theater in Portland. Sometimes it’s for a single day, and other times it’s for a weeklong trip to Camp Magruder on the Oregon Coast.

“It would probably be easier to say what Mollie doesn’t do here,” said Adrienne Fernandez, volunteer coordinator at the school, who has known Hands for 22 years. “She’s just a constant in the lives of our students, promoting independence and giving them encouragement to find their way in the world.”

Hands estimates that she spends somewhere between four and eight hours at the school every week.

“It’s so wonderful. I just can’t leave,” Hands said.

Nestled amid a campus of verdant lawns and looping walkways, the Washington State School for the Blind has been in operation since 1886 — three years before Washington was officially a state.

The school’s mission is to help blind and visually impaired children from infancy to college become independent in daily living skills. With the advent of so many modern technologies geared toward helping people with visual impairments, the possibilities for these children are ever-expanding.

For the gaps that practice, knowledge and technology can’t fill, it’s hardworking staff and volunteers like Hands who offer much-needed guidance.

With the help of volunteers, blind and visually impaired children can experience downhill skiing, tandem bike-riding, snowmobiling, shopping trips to the mall and more. Volunteers serve as a guide, a spotter and a person to offer encouragement and help children build confidence.

“It’s true that we are in a sighted world,” Fernandez said. “But visually impaired individuals are able to do anything they set their minds to.”

Tradition of volunteering

Hands’ legacy of service began back in high school, when her mother took her to a hospital in Charleston, W.Va., and encouraged her to volunteer at the cafeteria.

“My mother volunteered, and she didn’t work outside the home, so that was something we all did,” Hands said. “All the kids volunteered someplace.”

After moving to Vancouver to be with her brother, Hands worked at The Columbian for 30 years. It was in the newspaper, back in September 1973, that she initially found the listing for the Washington State School for the Blind in the calls for volunteers section. She decided to try it out — and the rest is history.

According to Fernandez, about 4,000 students have been touched by Hands’ efforts over the years.

“She’s not only encouraging to students but to the staff members. We love her. She’s dedicated her whole life to the school and to supporting the staff. She’s mind-boggling, really. We can’t say enough about Mollie,” Fernandez said.

It’s clear that Hands is well-loved. Walking around campus, Hands greeted virtually every passerby. When asked about Hands, anyone who knew her was quick and liberal with praise.

“Mollie is about as warm and giving and helpful as it gets,” said Richard Fay, a fellow volunteer at the school. “As my wife says, Mollie is everyone’s grandmother. It doesn’t matter what age you are; it could be from 7 to 70, 8 to 80. That’s just the kind of person she is.”

Outside of volunteering, Hands is a regular globe-trotter. Over the course of her life, she’s lived in France, Australia and South Africa, and visited many other countries. In 2018, she traveled to France by herself. Hands never married, despite the dude-magnet car, nor did she have children of her own.

Witness to change

In her free time, Hands spreads love in the form of handmade greeting cards. “People say, ‘Oh Mollie, I loved getting your card.’ And I want to say, ‘Well why the hell didn’t you write me back?’ I like getting cards too, you know!”

Over her long volunteer experience, Hands witnessed many changes in the school and the field of education at large, tightening restrictions and higher security precautions among them. Though policies and teachers came and went, one thing stayed the same: Hands’ devotion to the kids.

“I can’t think that I really like anything better than being right with the kids,” Hands said. “There’s so many kids that say, ‘Yeah! Mollie taught me how to swim!’ ”

As anyone who’s kept up with anything for over 45 years can probably attest, it takes more than simple enjoyment to maintain that dedication.

“People think of volunteering as wishy-washy, but it’s not. You have a commitment to be there if you say you’re gonna be there,” said Hands. “People don’t say, ‘Oh, I’m not going to my job tonight.’ ”

Hands’ dedication is contagious, and she is eager to spread it.

“I think everybody should volunteer, that’s for sure. If we all volunteered, we’d be in a lot better place,” she said. “Everyone has a couple hours they don’t need to sit watching TV.”

In Our View: Designate Bradford Island a Superfund site
Author: The Columbian

Like a petulant child, the United States is not very good about cleaning up its messes. The latest example can be found at Bradford Island in the Columbia River, where the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been slow to erase decades of environmental degradation.

Now, officials from Washington, Oregon and the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation have asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to designate the area a Superfund site in an attempt to get the federal government to pay attention. Such a move is warranted for the protection of the river and the people who rely on it.

The need for action is clear. According to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, the concentration of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) in smallmouth bass in the area has been found to be 183,140 parts per billion; the safe level for human consumption is less than 1 part per billion. Fish that spend their lives in the water around the area — and, therefore, the people who consume them — are repeatedly exposed to mercury, lead and the known carcinogens that are PCBs, which were banned 40 years ago.

For the past six years, health officials have warned people to not eat certain species of fish caught within 1 mile upriver from Bonneville Dam. “It is especially important for babies, children, women who are pregnant, plan to become pregnant and/or are nursing to follow this advisory,” health departments from Washington and Oregon warn. “Health effects of eating contaminated fish can include lifelong learning problems and cancer.” The advisory does not apply to anadromous fish such as salmon and steelhead, which merely pass through the region.

A situation in which humans are warned to not eat fish from the Columbia River would seem to demand quick action. But officials complain that the process has been cumbersome. “Resident fish caught near the island contain the highest levels of cancer-causing PCBs in the Northwest,” reads a letter to the federal EPA. “Despite the significant contamination, the Trump administration recently slashed funding for Bradford Island cleanup.”

Superfund designation, which was established in 1980, is reserved for the nation’s most contaminated sites, with a majority of costs typically paid by polluters. The public portion of the funding initially came from taxes on petroleum and chemical products, but Congress in 1995 declined to renew that funding. In Washington, nearly 50 sites have Superfund status, ranging from small industrial locations to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

Designation for Bradford Island would take cleanup obligations out of the hands of the Army Corps of Engineers, which contaminated the site in the first place during and after construction of Bonneville Dam. As Lauren Goldberg of Columbia Riverkeeper said, “The Corps has not prioritized people’s health. They have had decades to clean up some of the most dangerous toxic pollution in the Columbia River.”

That calls for a new approach, yet the issue extends far beyond Bradford Island. More than 1,300 sites throughout the United States have Superfund designation as the nation deals with decades of allowing industrial and economic concerns to trump environmental stewardship. Alarming levels of contamination have lingered, and cleaning it up should be a priority for the federal government.

But, as Bradford Island further demonstrates, America is not very good about cleaning up after itself.

Creating ‘Green Eggs’ a trip
Author: LYNN ELBER, Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — When screenwriter Jared Stern was approached about developing Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham” as an animated series, he sought advice from one important woman and the consent of another.

“I mentioned it to my grandmother and she said, ‘That was your favorite book when you were little. You used to read it to me all the time,’ ” Stern fondly recalled. “I basically learned to read reading this book.”

But he needed more than grandmom behind him. The project required approval from the widow of Theodor Geisel, the singular writer known as Dr. Seuss. So Stern and fellow executive producer Jeff Kleeman made a pilgrimage to her San Diego-area home about five years ago. Audrey Geisel died last year; her husband died in 1991.

“I had to pitch the story to her and it was incredibly scary,” said Stern. “Once it was over, she said something to the effect of, ‘I wondered what you were going to do with this. But I think you really captured it, and you have our blessing.’ ”

The result is a 13-episode series on Netflix with a voice cast that includes Michael Douglas as the character who turns up his nose at green eggs and ham and Adam Devine as Sam-I-am, the dish’s cheerleader. Other big-name actors along for the ride include Diane Keaton, Eddie Izzard, Tracy Morgan, John Turturro and Jeffrey Wright. (“Having Ellen DeGeneres as an executive producer certainly helps,” Stern said.)

Stern understood Audrey Geisel’s initial doubts, since he shared them when the project was proposed by Kleeman, president of DeGeneres’ production company. Stern’s first reaction: Why mess with perfection? Then he gave the 1960 book another look.

“I started flipping through it and realized, ‘Oh, it’s an odd couple.’ There’s the grumpy guy who’s closed off to things and a playful guy who’s open to things. And not only that, it’s a road trip because he won’t eat the eggs in a car, on a train, on a boat — here, there and everywhere,” he said, allowing the original story to be opened up while staying true to its message and spirit.

Playing with the lines

Devine, of the “Pitch Perfect” movies and TV’s “The Righteous Gemstones” and “Modern Family,” said he focused on bringing “manic little kid enthusiasm” to Sam-I-Am.

“I’m basically doing an impression of myself opening Christmas presents … just how excited you would get when you’re a kid, and you want to explain all your toys and explain how you’re going to play with them,” Devine said.

The series lets him play with his lines. “The dialogue is just so fun. When you actually get through a chunk where you’re doing a lot of Seussian-type dialogue, you feel so good about yourself.”

Stern, whose big-screen animation writing credits include “The Lego Batman Movie” and “Wreck-It Ralph,” has a close familiarity with the various styles of animation, including the now-common CGI. But the majority of the characters and backgrounds in “Green Eggs and Ham” are traditional 2-D hand-drawn animation, which evokes Seuss’ charming storybook illustrations and involved 300 artists over the course of four years of production.

That severely tested her patience, joked DeGeneres. But the result is something parents who remember the book warmly can watch with their kids, she said, and without having their own limits pushed.

“It’s great for kids and it’s great for parents to have on without being annoyed. It’s not going to be somebody singing, ‘Baby shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo,'” she said reciting the omnipresent video ditty. “That could drive parents crazy.”

Social Security: Our lifetime commitment to you and yours
Author: Nicole Tiggemann, Tribune News Service

Social Security is here with information, tools, and benefits to help you secure today and tomorrow. Our journey together begins when you’re born and get your Social Security card. It continues when you get your first job and follows you through your entire career, marriage, and retirement. Our commitment is to be with you throughout life’s journey.

Our promise extends to surviving family members when a worker dies.

Some of the Social Security taxes you pay go toward survivors benefits for your family. In the event of your death, certain members of your family may be eligible for survivors benefits; these include widows and widowers, divorced widows and widowers, children, and dependent parents.

The amount of benefits your survivors receive depends on your lifetime earnings. The higher your earnings are, the higher their benefits will be. The value of your survivors benefit may be more than the value of your individual life insurance.

By making sure your earnings are posting correctly, you are passing down protections to your survivors, just as your parents did before you. You can do this by:

Creating a personal my Social Security account at Your personal my Social Security account is secure and gives you immediate access to your earnings records, Social Security benefit estimates, and a printable Social Security Statement.

Visiting our Benefits Planner for Survivors to help you better understand your and your family’s Social Security protection as you plan for your financial future at

Checking your Social Security Statement to see an estimate of survivors benefits we could pay your family at It also shows an estimate of your retirement and disability benefits and provides other important information.

For more information, visit or read our publication Survivors Benefits at You can also help us spread the word by sharing this information with your family and friends.