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November 2019

November 22nd

Celebrating Toni Morrison’s Legacy 

at Saint John The Divine

By Lori Perkins

Thousands came to the magnificent cathedral of Saint John the Divine (where James Baldwin was laid to rest and Toni Morrison eulogized him) to remember and celebrate the life and legacy of the great American writer Toni Morrison.  It was a true celebration with individual musical performances (harp, acoustic guitar, piano and even the saxophone) and bonafide literary and pop culture celebrities (yes, Oprah was there!). There was a long line around the block an hour and a half before the late afternoon memorial service started at 4:00 p.m.


Toni Morrison, the first African American woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, passed away in August of this year at the age of 88. Among the nine speakers at today’s memorial were Ta-Nehisi Coates, Angela Davis, Edwidge Danticat and the humorist Fran Lebowitz, who all paid tribute to the author of 11 novels such as Beloved and Song of Solomon. 


The speakers told of their deep friendship, admiration and respect for this literary luminary who got up before sunrise every day to write and then went to her job as an editor at Random House and nurtured other writers all day.  Angela Davis, who said she would never has written her autobiography were it not for Morrison’s mentorship, told the story of how she was staying with Morrison who would jot something down while making breakfast, and jot something else down in her trusty notebook when she got to a red light on the way driving into the city in her car when the light changed.  She said that she later realized that Morrison was writing Song of Solomon that way and that she was amazed at how Morrison could be absolutely present, and away in another world at the same time.

Ta-Nehisi Coates said he didn’t realize how much he owed to Morrison until recently but remembered that her ground-breaking Black Book, which she had published when she was an editor at Random House, was one of his father’s treasured possessions when he was a kid.  He didn’t even know that Morrison was the editor. 

Oprah closed the service with love, reverence and humor. She explained that as far as she’s concerned “writers are rock stars,” so the first time she meet Morrison she was too overwhelmed to say anything, but it was also an event with the likes of Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni and Angela Davis. Years later, when Oprah bought the film rights to Beloved (almost right after finishing reading it), she said she called Morrison and said that she was surprised that people had to read her books over and over again to understand them.  Morrison told her “that, my dear, is reading.”


Oprah said that Morrison was the most-often selected author for her book club, and when readers would say that the books were too complicated, she would always think “that, my dear, is reading.”  Oprah said that Morrison taught her how to really read.


The service closed with Andy Bey playing the piano and singing “Someone to Watch Over Me” 

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November 20th

Bride Brings Puppies 

Instead of Bouquet of Flowers


By David T. Valentin 

Everybody loves the magic of a wedding, right? Well, what if we threw in adoptable and adorable PUPPIES into the mix, instead of the more famous, traditional wedding bouquets that everyone loves. That’s exactly what one Florida bride did to give her wedding a little extra oomph. 

For Bride Andee Odin, homeless pets have a special place in her heart, so she had to find a way to work them into her wedding ceremony. So, naturally, Andee brought over five-week old puppies from Nate’s Honor Rescue with the hopes of finding a home for these furry friends, with adoption papers ready to be signed away for anybody willing. 

“I don’t think anyone’s job should ever have to entail which one of these adorable babies live and which ones have to move on – and who knows what their fate will be. So I want to do my part,” said Andee. 

Luckily, Andee’s plan worked. Two of the puppies present at the wedding are in the process of being adopted, along with a third that was adopted by the newly wedded couple and named “Swift.”

November 20th

Did You Hear About the Taylor Swift-Themed Wedding?


By Lilli McHale

Swifties take their fandom seriously. And one Taylor Swift fan recent devoted her own wedding day to the musician, with a Lover themed wedding. 

Erin Seeherman had been a Swift fan forever and wanted to create a magical day around some of Taylor Swift’s recent albums. The couple had initially bonded over Swift when they first met, as Seeherman had been trying to recreate a Swift tour outfit for her 2016 Halloween costume. Future husband Moshe Berman was happy to assist. 

Their Swift ties don’t end there. Berman knew how much Swift meant to his future fiancé, and chose to propose at a 2018 concert. 

In their wedding, the pair paid homage to the Lover album art by using it as their own color scheme. Additionally, they created place cards of origami and butterflies. Swift’s many albums played on their wedding day and Seeherman took her walk down the aisle with “Call it What You Want,” playing in the background. The song also happened to be the song that they got engaged to at the concert. Their first dance was also to a Swift song, “Love.”

Seeherman used her Swift fan account to tweet about the day, saying, “I've loved him three summers now and got to marry him at our “Lover"-themed wedding. This moment made fastening 2,542 flowers to that flower wall worth it. @taylorswift13 @taylornation13 #Lover #LoverWeddingParTAY.”

To make the celebration even more sweet, Swift herself replied back to them saying, “Congratulations,” along with a series of heart emojis. Billboard later reached out the the newly married fan who said she  “was really shocked…I never expected her to notice the efforts we had gone to. All the effort we put into the wedding we would have done regardless of whether we thought she might notice because we–my husband now too identifies as a huge Taylor Swift fan–are such huge fans so we were happy and excited to do this, but never really had that expectation that anything would come of it or that we would get noticed.”

November 19th

Scandalous: The Rise and Fall of The National Enquirer

By Lori Perkins

It was the equivalent of a print soap opera of our pop culture lives, telling our national story of scandal and vice on every supermarket checkout display every week.  You could not be an American without knowing that Elvis was sighted repeatedly after his death; that Nancy Regan ran the White House through her Astrologer; that Gary Hart’s presidential candidacy had been derailed by his Bimini yacht jaunt, or that JFK’s mistresses were still coming forward with their sordid tales 50 years after his assassination.  It was juicy; it was fun; it was bad for you in that good schadenfreude kind of way... until it wasn’t.


Just released in theaters, and available for streaming on demand on Amazon and a few other platforms is Scandalous: The Untold History of the National Enquirer, a pretty riveting documentary that chronicles the 60 year-history of this favorite supermarket rag from its start as The New York Enquirer to what we all knew and loved to hate.


The National Enquirer was started by Generoso (Gene) Pope Jr., son of a mafia-made man who ran Il Progresso, the Italian newspaper in New York City.  He bought a local rag and changed the name from The New York Enquirer to The National Enquirer and filled the first editions of his paper with sordid police photography of murder and betrayal and the gore mag sold pretty well.


But Gene Pope wanted to reach even more readers, and as supermarkets swept into the nation in the 50s, he knew blood and guts wouldn’t sell in the local A & P, so he abandoned the gore for celebrity gossip, telling his reporters that he was going for “Missy Smith in Kansas City” who wants to know that Liz Taylor has the same problems as she does.

The documentary pivots from various points of view of the paper’s reporters, one of whom was former book editor Judith Regan, who always said she learned her pop culture trade at The Enquirer.  The film rapidly draws you through the paper’s high points such as the coverage of Elvis Presley’s death (where they were able to get a photo of Elvis in his coffin by paying his cousin to take it) right through its best moments, such as breaking the Gary Hart affair and how The Enquirer started to get a grudging bit of respect from real journalists as the century turned.


But the paper was sold to David Pecker in 1999, and with that purchase politics came into The Enquirer’s newsroom, partially because politicians had become celebrities, and also because Donald Trump had made himself into a politician.  His juicy divorce from Ivanna had been a great story for the magazine in the 90s.


In the past, the paper’s dubious approach to scandalous coverage included the practice of finding dirt on a celebrity and failing to run it in exchange for “inside” stories– the documentary says this started with Bob Hope’s many affairs, as well as Bill Cosby’s, but the practice mutated to what Ronan Farrow would call “Catch & Kill” during the Trump presidential campaign as was seen with the Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal affairs. 


David Pecker was forced to sell the paper in April of 2019. Once an important influencer in American pop culture, The Enquirer had a circulation of over 2 million in 2000.  Today it’s about 150,000. 

November 18th

Snoop Dogg Crowns Himself ‘Sexiest Man Alive’

After People Gives 2019 Title to John Legend


By Lori Perkins

People Magazine named singer John Legend the Sexiest Man Alive on November 12th, but Snoop Dogg obviously does not agree (or was just getting tired of not getting the kind of attention he feels he deserves).  So on Saturday, November 16th, the rapper released his own faux People Magazine cover, claiming the title for himself.


Snoop Dogg posted the fake People cover on his Instagram account on Friday, November 15, complete with a photo of himself clad in a navy blue suit smoking a joint with the headline “Sexiest Man Alive!” The mock cover also included another tagline,  “How a Crip Took Your Chick.

People had published its “Sexiest Man Alive” issue with a cover of the 40 year-old Legend in a wet, open shirt (sans joint) last week with the tagline “How a Good Guy Got It All.” Guess that wasn’t sexy enough for Snoop Dogg.


But it was obviously sexy enough for Legend’s own model wife, Chrissy Teigen, who was quoted in the Sexiest Man Alive People article as saying that she had “fulfilled my dream of having boned People’s sexiest man alive!! an honor!!!!!”


The Sexiest Man Alive of 2018 was Idris Elba.  Guess Snoop Dogg agreed with that one!

November 17th

Groom Surprises His Bride with a Kitten

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By David T. Valentin

Look, if my boyfriend ever told me he was apprehensive about having indoor animals I think it would’ve ruined the whole relationship right there and then on the first date. Luckily, that’s not the case. In fact, he jokes about wanting more animals than I do. Of course, this wasn’t exactly the case for bride-to-be Kaylee Schmidt. 


When Schmidt moved away from her family home, she had to leave behind her family cat at her parent’s. Like any good pet owner, she knew she would miss her furry companion. Wanting the warmth of furry cuddle buddy, she mentioned to her fiancé that she wanted a cat for their own home. However, her fiancé was hesitant. 


“Orion likes animals and had grown up on farms around horses and chickens,” the bride told HuffPost. “Even though we had talked about having a farm with outdoor animals of our own one day, he was hesitant to have indoor pets in our home. I, on the other hand, have always had indoor cats at home.” 


During the couple’s first look and photoshoot, groom Metheny surprised his bride-to-be with an adorable fluffy calico kitty with a collar engraved with Schmidt’s first choice of name for a hypothetically-next-cat, “Chloe.”


Metheny’s neighbor had found the kitten abandoned on the road by their house. When they weren’t able to keep her, Metheny adopted the poor kitten. He kept it a secret until the big reveal, even going so far as to ask her a few weeks prior to their wedding what she’d name her next cat. Hypothetically, of course. The result was a big smile for their photo shoot, now including their new furry friend. 

“I couldn’t believe he was actually holding a kitten and that it was ours to keep,” the bride said. “The fact that Orion was willing to go out of his comfort zone in order to make me happy just shows how thoughtful of a person he is.” 


Because that’s what relationships should be about: stepping out of your comfort zone to make your significant other happy. And I could say after growing up with three dogs and one cat that a cat is by far the best choice for an indoor animal. So good choice, Metheny. 


The original article appeared here in the HuffPost:

November 16th

Bride is the 11th Woman in Family to

Wear This Wedding Dress


By Lilli McHale

In 2015, Pennsylvania native Abigail Kingston had no trouble coming up with her “something old” for her wedding day. The 30-year-old bride had her eyes set on a family tradition in order to fulfill one of the oldest wedding day requirements, a 120 year-old wedding dress that had been passed down for generations. 

Kingston’s own mother rocked the dress for her own wedding, which had first been worn by her great-grandmother in 1895. The two-piece Victorian era gown was last worn in 1991 and the years of use had started to degrade the dress from age. Kingston turned to bridal fashion designer Deborah LoPresti to get some aid fixing the dress. LoPresti ended up putting in over 200 hours of work in order to make the dress usable again, which meant crafting new sleeves, altering the browning fabrics color, and fixing the fit to work for Kingston’s model-like frame. 

On October 17, 2015, Kingston got to wed her fiancé Jason Curtis, which also happened to be the birthday of her deceased grandfather. The day had family ties all around. Due to the age of the dress, Kingston opted to change for the reception, in order to have the freedom to dance around without worrying about the dress. Someone else in her family has already claimed it for it’s next wedding. Kingston’s mother’s cousin has decided to be the 12th family member to be wed in the dress.

November 15th

Kate interviews Sierra Simone

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By Kate Allure

Kate’s Naughty Corner

erotic romance author Kate Allure explores kink, eroticism, and erotic fiction

This November, we’re pleased to feature USA Today best-selling erotic romance author Sierra Simone. Best known for her Priest and New Camelot series, her wicked, dirty stories will take you places you don’t expect. And leave you panting for more. Read on to learn what drives her to write these unique stories and how she conducts “research” for her erotic prose.

Welcome, Sierra. To get started, can you tell us what most motivates your writing?


Sierra: I’m really drawn to the stories where morality and desire challenge each other; I think there’s really something deeply fascinating and powerful about putting those two things into conversation. So when I write about priests falling in love or people out doing sexy rituals in the forest, what I’m really exploring is where the boundaries of being fully sexual and fully good actually are.  Sometimes I explore this through the lens of a job (priest or nun or president), and sometimes it’s through a place, like in my Thornchapel series—but it’s always in my thoughts as I sit down to write.


Your sex scenes are super-hot and filthy. How do you conduct research for them? 


Sierra: With a really eager research assistant/husband! But really, most scenes are a combination of trying something in real life, hunting down pornography with similar elements, drawing sketches of the scene’s setting, and good old Google. Because I try to zero in on the feeling of a scene, it’s really important to me to know how a sex act feels personally. So almost every sex act I write, I’ve done personally, or a reasonable facsimile of it. (Thank you, adult toys, for being able to simulate an extra partner, LOL!) If there’s no way for me to learn directly how something feels, that’s when I dive into Google and grill my husband for details and descriptions. I think the key is being open (and having a partner who doesn’t mind when you ask lots and lots of questions in the middle of playtime.)


In your personal life, have your erotic romance stories ever come back to bite you and how?


Sierra: This might be a surprising answer, but no! My parents and grandparents all know what I write, as does my pastor and former colleagues at the library, and no one has ever been anything but supportive. Once last year, I even sent my pastor a picture of an Amazon box packed with the last two things I’d ordered—a religious text she’d recommended and a new vibrator, and last time we had coffee, I regaled her with the plot from my latest series, which is all about ritualized sex. So I think it’s safe to say that I keep her on her pastoral toes...

Your most recent series is Thornchapel. Can you tell us what excites you about it and how it’s different? 


Sierra: A Lesson in Thorns is the first book in the Thornchapel series, and it is by far the weirdest, kinkiest thing I’ve ever written.  It’s about six people who return to a crumbling manor house out in the woods, and all the delicious and messed up ways they begin to love each other as they uncover the house’s secrets. Basically every single moment I’m writing it, I’m terrified that the story is too strange and carnal, but also it’s one of those stories that I just had to write, I wanted to tell it too damn much.


A Lesson in Thorns ~ When librarian Poe Markham takes the job at Thornchapel, she only wants two things: to stay away from Thornchapel’s tortured owner, Auden Guest, and to find out what happened to her mother twelve years ago. It should be easy enough—keep her head down while she works in the house’s crumbling private library and while she hunts down any information as to why this remote manor tucked into the fog-shrouded moors would be the last place her mother was seen alive. But Thornchapel has other plans for her…

As Poe begins uncovering the house’s secrets, both new and old, she’s also pulled into the seductive, elegant world of Auden and his friends—and drawn to Auden’s worst enemy, the beautiful and brooding St. Sebastian. And as Thornchapel slowly tightens its coil of truths and lies around them, Poe, Auden and St. Sebastian start unravelling into filthy, holy pleasure and pain. Together, they awaken a fate that will either anoint them or leave them in ashes…


From the author of the USA Today bestselling New Camelot series comes an original fairy tale full of ancient mysteries, lantern-lit rituals, jealousy, money, murder, sacred torment, and obsessions that last for lifetimes…



Apple Books:  





Sierra Simone is a voracious reader of all things including the smuttiest smut, young adult, piles of non-fiction for research, and everything Bill Bryson (especially on audio). She loves writing the dirtiest things that she can think of, King Arthur, sparkling water, Tarot, coffee, leggings, and learning new words daily. Her previous jobs have included firing ceramics, teaching living history lessons in one-room school house in full, 1908-approved school-marm attire, and working as a librarian for several years—not in that order. She lives in the Kansas City area with her hot cop husband, two children, and two giant dogs. (And two cats, but they’re so naughty we don’t talk about them.)


Author Social Media Links:

Sierra Simone Website: 



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Watch for Kate’s Naughty Corner on the third Friday each month. In December we’ll feature another fabulous erotic romance author. 


~ Kate 

author, Seduced, a London Sex Club novel

November 14th


By Lauren Duca

(Editor’s Note:  I wanted to share this guest post from author Lauren Duca, because I believe it is important to see how authors can be targeted and harassed, and even terrorized, and how one author was inspired by that online harassment.). Please consider supporting the author by checking out her new book "How to Start a Revolution."

A few months ago, I took my mom to a concert, and she recalled being at the same venue in her 20s, watching people throw tomatoes at the opening band. I remember being totally dumbfounded by the literal version of an idea I’d only met as a metaphor. Where did they get the tomatoes, exactly? Were they rotten tomatoes from the fridge at home? Did they stop at the supermarket to get fresh tomatoes on the way over to the show? Also, what if the opening act turned out to be surprisingly delightful? Since they brought tomatoes, they would probably throw them anyway. That sort of premeditated aggression is often the guiding mode of Twitter, and, at this point, I’ve stopped even bothering to fully shower off all the tomato juice. 

I’m not sure how much longer I will last on that site. The kind of harassment we’re witnessing on social media is a form of psychological terrorism unprecedented in the scope of human history, and it has taken a toll. That said, I’m determined to continue using my platform to the full extent of its power at least through Election Day 2020. Until then, I’ll be working hard, online and off, to spread the word of “How to Start a Revolution,” which seeks to document and sustain a youth-led movement toward personal political agency. My goal is building equitable public power, and I hope to do that by convincing as many young people as possible to get involved in the political process, as I believe that is the most surefire path to true democracy — defeating Donald Trump is just a bonus. 

I’m giving myself to this fight for at least one more year, because I feel the need to see this thing through our next major national test of character. 

This journey started for me on November 8, 2016. Struck by the atrocity of Trump’s win, I felt it no longer made sense to write about anything other than politics. Over the course of two days, I channeled that energy into book proposal. I was hoping to be able to pay my rent and afford healthcare while using my greatest (and only) skill to make sense of the great American dumpster fire. At 25, I had a few years of experience as an entertainment reporter and a cute following on the hell site, so I decided to shoot my shot. 

The sample chapter of my book proposal was an essay titled, “Donald Trump is Gaslighting America.” On December 10, 2016 after then-President-elect Trump contradicted American intelligence agencies for the first time, I published the piece to Teen Vogue. It promptly went viral. Over a million people read the essay in under 24 hours (and one of them was Dan Rather, who shared the essay on Facebook that afternoon). As a friend put it at the time, “It’s like you decided to write about politics, and a hole opened in the center of the Earth.” 

About two weeks later, I was invited to appear on Fox news across from Tucker Carlson. Now, at this point, you probably know Tucker as America’s foremost poster boy of white supremacy. In December of 2016, I was only aware of him as the bowtie in that YouTube video where Jon Stewart called him a partisan hack. 


What unfolded was a hostile, anti-journalistic act of public bullying. I’ve dissected it at length in “How to Start a Revolution,” but for our purposes here, you need only the most critical line of the interview: At the end of the interview, citing fashion and entertainment posts I had written for Teen Vogue, Carlson told me to “Stick to the thigh-high boots, you’re better at that.” 

It was shocking in the moment. Before I even got out of the door of Fox studios in New York, my inbox was flooded with death and rape threats. The deluge of hatred shot poison through my veins. I crashed from the stress, and found myself bed-ridden for five days. In retrospect, and after extensive healing work, I have come to reckon with the fact that the harassment I faced at the end of 2016 cast my brain into the looping nightmare of PTSD. When I was finally strong enough to get out of bed, I understood that continuing to raise my voice would come at great cost to my mental and physical health. I saw no choice but to keep going. 

As it turns out, it would have been quite rational for me to give up entirely. I’m participating in a panel on bothsidesism with Angelo Carusone of Media Matters for America this weekend. Angelo studies Fox News’s far-right experiences, and he has seen Fox have a chilling effect on those who appear on the show. Fox News is not only its anchors and guests churning out paranoia bred through disinformation. As an entity, Fox is also the rabid pestilence of radicalized viewers, who swarm to attack and destroy the mental wellbeing of anyone who raises their voice in opposition to the channel’s doctrine. On a call to prepare for our conversation, Carusone told me he has watched that force warp the behavior of guests, with people either adjusting their message or dropping out of public life. He told me that the fact that I refused to back down made me an anomaly. 

When Tucker said I should “Stick to the thigh-high boots,” he was insisting that I did not have a right to the political conversation. This point was then further emphasized by a Biblically-grotesque horde of harassers, who echoed Tucker’s insult with a retching howl of hatred that threatened to wipe out my will to live.

As I saw it, I was being offered two choices: crawl into a hole and die, or rise from the ashes like a goddamn phoenix. I chose the latter. 

It became obvious to me that the goal of it all was to get me to shut up. I refused to listen. In spite of it all, I am grateful for Tucker’s fatal error. He profoundly screwed up when he told me to “Stick to the thigh-high boots.” See, that statement makes for a bull’s eye for the ridiculous notion that feminized interests are disqualifying when it comes to politics. That noxious brand of sexism usually appears with the stealth of an odorless class, and Tucker translated it into flashing lights. It was as if I saw the matrix through his bullshit: The political conversation is dictated by all these bizarre, secret rules about what is respectable, and it’s not based on anything other than the crap that old, white dudes like. I’ve said it before, and I’ve said it again: who the fuck decided that golf is so serious? 

The political conversation is for everyone, and there are no disqualifying interests. Democratic citizenship is a matter of actively participating in the question of how we ought to live together, and we have to be able to do that while enjoying our lives. These things are inextricably linked, and the work of segregating pop culture and politics as if they are oil and vinegar only serves to benefit people in power. (See also: “Stick to the sports.”) 

I refused to shut up, and, for at least a while longer, I plan to keep going with my message, which is this: We all have a right and a duty to the political conversation, and we must insist on constantly raising our voices, at the ballot box, and well beyond it. 

The proposal I wrote in the wake of the election went on to become “How to Start a Revolution.” In the published book, I document the post-Trump political awakening from passively navigating a broken system to actively seeking to change it, detailing the shift as it already underway in youth insurgencies, and aiming to sustain the transformation with a plan for a culture of constant citizenship

If that resonates with you, I hope you’ll join me in my effort to get millions of young people invested in politics. For now, I’m planning for this newsletter to be weekly posts dissecting current events through the lens of “How to Start a Revolution.” Each week, I’ll aim to expand the conversation, building out this lil’ community and my mission. If you haven’t yet, I hope you’ll grab a copy, and spread the world, in real life and online — I can’t wait to hear what you think. 

Until next week, pancake brains! 


Lauren P.s. I’m hoping to do Q&As with student journalists who are interested in “How to Start a Revolution.” If you’re a student journalist (hi!) or know one who might be interested: Email me ( with what you will plan to publish (an interview, a review, etc.), and I’ll get you a copy.

Author bio: Lauren Duca is an American freelance journalist, feminist, and political columnist. Her writing can be found in the New York Times, the New Yorker, and her former Teen Vogue column "Thigh High Politics." In September 2019, she released a book on young people and the future of American politics titled How to Start a Revolution.

November 13th


By Lori Perkins

Just as the beloved soap opera celebrated its 55th anniversary this November, rumors started leaking out that the entire cast of Day of Our Lives was released from their contracts.


According to various industry insiders, the show is taped eight months in advance and already has enough episodes under wrap to continue through June 2020. The show’s filming was also scheduled to go on hiatus briefly in January.


Some insiders wonder if the cast was released from contract so that they can be low-balled in a few months, when Sony Pictures Television and NBC decide whether or not the series will be renewed for Season 56. According to The Hollywood Reporter, if the soap opera is renewed, the cast will have to negotiate new contracts and will resume taping next spring. 

Days of Our Lives is set in the fictional Midwestern town of Salem and follows the lives of the Brady, Horton and DiMera families and has filmed more than 13,000 episodes. The series has won several Daytime Emmy Awards during its five-decade run, including outstanding drama series in 1978, 2013, 2015 and 2018.


Recently the show got a lot of attention because they jumped forward in time one year, which many soap opera followers considered radical.  However, in the 1970s, the paranormal soap opera Dark Shadows played with time by featuring “parallel time” to tell alternative stories featuring the same acting crew in different settings.  Perhaps the network plans on doing another time jump featuring a whole new cast the next time around?

November 12th

Image by Sweet Ice Cream Photography

By David T. Valentin

Let’s admit it, we all have those few annoying friends who are in relationships that are just so toxic and horrible for both parties involved, and yet those same friends like to dish out relationship advice to new couples. You know, the friend who’s been cheated on by their significant other, but insists “they’re just the one and it’s the universe” testing them? Yeah, we all have those friends. And if you don’t have that friend, then you’re probably that friend. 

Well, HuffPost put together a list of the worst dating advice people received from their married friends and, well, let’s just say it’s funny, it’s ugly, and it’s got some good intentions, I guess? Here are the best: 

Brendon Lemon, a comedian from Detroit, recounts how a married couple told him to “wait for God to make it happen.” Lemon explained, “A married couple I know told me, ‘Just be patient, God will eventually put The One in front of you.’ This was especially ironic because: 1. I didn’t want ‘The One.’ I just wanted someone. 2. They met at church. 3. They met while they were both engaged to someone else and cheated on their partners with one another. It’s great that they got married, I guess. This was 10 years ago; now they’re divorced.”

Yikes. They were that friend. 

Comedian Tyler Snodgrass also has a church friend who’s told him that the key to making a good relationship work is…wait for it…lying! 

“I grew up in southwest Missouri, and a lot of my friends growing up got married in their late teens/early 20s so they could be ‘allowed’ to have sex finally. Being that they weren’t even real adults yet, I’ve heard some less-than-stellar relationship advice, a lot of it from married men who didn’t seem to know what they were getting into. I had a drinking buddy once tell me, ‘Marriage is all about secrets,’ after explaining how he hides porn on his smartphone. A guy from my hometown church had gotten into a squabble with his wife, and after she stormed away, he shrugged and said, ‘Eh, she can’t be mad forever!’ You guessed it: Both these guys are divorced now.”

Author Ginny Hogan of “Toxic Femininity in the Workplace” recounts a time where her friend encouraged her to get involved with church because, “There’s men… and free food.” 

“My married friend told me I should get involved in a church or religious organization in order to meet a guy. I’m not personally religious, but she said this didn’t matter. She also cited the free food as a potential benefit (I worked at a tech startup at the time — there was a ton of free food). I said I wondered if it would affect our future relationship if he found out I’d been using religion as a tool to meet men, and she said I should just never bring it up. Anyway, I’m a Buddhist now (for other reasons) and have yet to meet a guy.”

These are my favorite three from the article, particularly because I’ve unfortunately encountered people like this and it’s just laughable that this is not a fictional piece. 

You can head over to the link here to view all the bad advice:

If you’re a romance reader, you’re probably also a fan of Christmas romance movies.  And if that’s the case, there’s no way you could have missed all the trailers and ads for Last Christmas already in theaters or The Knight Before Christmas coming to Netflix on November 21st.


So let me go in for the kill right away on Last Christmas.  Although the song is catchy and the script is co -authored by Emma Thompson, THIS IS NOT A ROMANCE. Starring Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding, and that great Christmas song, it looks like it’s a love story (and I was so glad to see a hot Asian guy in what I thought was the love interest lead), but there’s a “twist” that is so wrong, that it ruins the movie.  But don’t let me be the judge. In the immortal words of Rolling Stone reviewer David Fear, “Incredibly, shockingly, monumentally bad. The kind of bad that falls somewhere between finding a lump of coal in your stocking and discovering one painfully lodged in your rectum.” I do not think I could have said it better

So that leaves us looking forward to The Knight Before Christmas, which is the Christmas version of Kate & Leopold but with a knight instead of a duke. The plot is basic time travel fantasy - a sorceress transports medieval knight Sir Cole (Josh Whitehouse) to present-day Ohio during the holiday season, where he befriends Brooke (Vanessa Hudgens), a down-on-love science teacher. She helps this knight out of time navigate the modern world and discover how to complete his quest—the only act that will return him to his time. Of course, as they grow closer, and he appreciates the new world and Brooke’s charms, he begins to wonder just how much he wants to return to his old life.


Though schmaltzy, The Knight before Christmas is just the right kind of holiday rom-com fluff.

It has long been rumored that Whitney Houston was bisexual, and that her true love was a woman, but until now no one has come forward with an authentic romance.  This week, Whitney’s teenage best friend Robyn Crawford, published her autobiography in which she tells the story of the intimate romance between the two women when they were young adults.


In the just published A Song for You: My Life with Whitney Houston, Crawford tells the story of meeting the teenage Houston in NJ, when she was already a Wilhelmina model, and how the two became inseparable.


“I'd come to the point where I felt the need to stand up for our friendship,” Crawford wrote in her memoir. “And I felt an urgency to stand up and share the woman behind the incredible talent...I wanted to lift her legacy, give her respect and share the story of who she was before the fame, and in that, to embrace our friendship.”


Crawford was 19 and Houston was 16 when they met.  They kept their physical relationship a secret, and Crawford believes no one suspected its true nature, which she described as “deep.” 

According to her memoir, right after Houston signed her Arista record deal with Clive Davis in 1982, Houston told Crawford that their romance had to end: “She said ‘I don’t believe we should be physical anymore.’ The music business was a world that we were learning and we didn’t want anything to interfere with where she was going.” To truly prove the point, Houston gave Crawford a slate blue Bible. “She said if people find out about us, they would use this against us—and back in the 80s, that’s how it felt,” Crawford wrote in her book. 


Crawford and Houston remained close friends throughout most of her life, but they were estranged at the time of Houston’s death.


“I watched her rise to the top of her game” Crawford explained on the Today show on Thursday.  “And I felt compelled to share who that woman was behind all of that fame. I never envisioned speaking publicly about my life. And then I asked myself the question: What would Whitney want?"

Yes, you read that right.


Meg Ryan and John Mellencamp have broken up again, after getting back together earlier this year and announcing their engagement.


You may be a little dizzy from all this on-again/off-again romance.


Ryan and Mellencamp starting dating way back in 2011 for three years and we all remember how happy she seemed to be (after that disastrous divorce from Dennis Quiad following her affair with Russell Crow), and how they broke up quite suddenly due to “distance,” which supposedly meant that he didn’t like New York City (he had a farm in Indiana), but then we blinked and he was dating Christie Brinkley. Then suddenly in January of this year, Ryan was spotted in New York City wearing a nice piece of ice on her ring finger. The pair had started dating again in May of 2017, and they were seen together numerous times. They spent last Christmas Day together with their kids from previous marriages in New York City.

But this past week Ryan was seen around L.A. without her engagement ring while attending the Governor’s Awards.


According to People Magazine, the couple have called it quits one year after announcing their plans to wed, “He didn’t want to get married again,” a source told People. 

I guess that even after three marriages no one told him that an engagement usually leads to a wedding?

November 9th


By David T. Valentin

While it’s been a year and a few months since fan favorite Netflix sci-fi series Sense8 has come to a conclusion, the characters and their actors are still fresh in our mind. Specifically, Tony-nominated heartthrob Brian J. Smith and his performance as Chicago cop Will Gorski. While his charms and good looks have certainly caught the eyes of everyone, the actor has recently come out in the cover story for Attitude’s December issue. 

Unfortunately like many LGBTQ+ Americans across the country, Smith faced harsh discrimination growing up in suburban Texas. 

“I was terrified. At school I really couldn’t fit in anywhere. I was a jock or a nerd,” he told Attitude. “Forget about any [LGBTQ+] union or groups. There was absolutely nothing. I was completely alone. I heard all the names: p---, f---. I Could never be who I was. I was constantly having to check myself and make sure I wasn’t looking at someone too long or making someone feel uncomfortable.” 

Eventually Smith got involved in his high school theater productions, finding comfort in the feeling of slipping into that kind of person. “In front of an audience, I disappeared and became someone else. I had 600 students at school, all of whom probably thought I was an absolute idiot, a nerd. [But] on stage, they paid attention to me, and they saw that I had something. And that’s when I didn’t feel alone.” 

Of course, everyone was wondering how Smith felt on the set of Sense8, a cast that has been known to be open and loving and familial. Smith recalls thinking, “Finally, I can just be myself, I don’t have to put on airs for any of these people.”

As someone’s who’s started watching Sense8 with my boyfriend and being overwhelmed at the amazing chemistry between the actors on screen, it’s nice to hear that the familial feeling they bring on screen also extends to outside the show.

November 7th


By David T. Valentin

For those not dealing with mental illnesses, it’s hard to imagine a wound of the mind when you can’t physically see it as you do a physical illness. But to help those who don’t understand mental illness, let me help you. 


As one comedian I once watched put it, who’s name I can’t remember, said dealing with mental illness is like watching an improv show. All your mind needs is just one word, one phrase, one change of tone, one little thought, and it’s making 100 little skits in your head with endless possibilities, none of which are real. Practitioners of yoga call it the monkey mind—which simply means that your mind is untamed, wild, and, most of all, scary.


Of course that’s not to say that there isn’t a way to tame it, as yoga practitioners will tell you. Yoga is a meditative way of dealing with monkey mind, a way of aligning the mind and body so that you can calm and understand your mind. Therapy is another way, as much as people would like to make fun of “how do you feel” language. 


Yesterday morning I stumbled on an article about Julie Andrews and her own discussion seeking out therapy after separating from her first husband. 


Andrews in an interview on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” said, “My head, My head was so full of clutter and garbage. Believe it or not, it was [director] Mike Nichols who really tipped me into wanting to go to therapy because he had been ... he was so sane and so funny and clear. He had a clarity that I admired so much, and I wanted that for myself and I didn’t feel I had it. So I went and got into it, and it saved my life in a way.”

When asked why she felt it was important to open up about her experience with therapy, she explained, “Why not [talk about therapy] if it helps anybody else have the same idea? These days, there’s no harm in sharing it. I think everybody knows the great work it can do. Anybody that is lucky enough to have it, afford it and take advantage of it, I think it would be wonderful.”


Although I’m not a huge Julie Andrews fan, for me, and most probably so many others, her words are inspiring and truthful because of her status as a revered, successful actress, 80-year old woman coming from a generation where it was almost taboo to speak of mental health. 


For those in the creative fields as a job, such as acting, writing, painting, etc., your quality of work is reflective of your mental state. In other words, unlike other fields of work where a somewhat passive act pushes you through your work, creative fields are constantly active and always demanding of your mental attention. To see someone as successful as Julie Andrews admit to her battles with mental health issues after her divorce and seeking therapy shows the world that you can struggle mentally and still succeed.

Cooper Hefner, 28, heir to the Playboy throne, married his finance Scarlett Bryne, 29, who played Pansy Parkinson in the Harry Potter franchise films Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows: Part 1 and Part 2, wed in a California courthouse this weekend. They plan on having a second, larger wedding in the near future, as seems to be the new tradition amongst celebrity couples.


The couple had announced their engagement in August of this year.


They both announced their marriage on social media.


Hefner wrote on his Instagram account, “Scarlett and I have made it officially legal and the two of us could not be happier…Cheers to a life full of love, happiness, adventure, and great purpose, Mrs. Hefner,” he wrote, adding a slideshow of photos of the couple over the years. 

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Byrne wrote on her Instagram account, “Cooper and I are excited to share that we legally married,” the actress wrote. “We are looking forward to planning our wedding in the coming months where we will celebrate further with our friends and family.”


“I love you Cooper,” she added. “I am proud to stand by your side, as your partner, your friend, and your wife. I cannot wait to continue building a life together. My heart is so full and I am so grateful for our love.”

Hefner inherited the Playboy empire from his father hoping to rebrand the company for millennials. In January 2019, he assumed the role of Playboy Enterprises’ chief of global partnerships, but in April told The Hollywood Reporter that he was stepping down to launch his own digital media platform. According to People, he had planned to call it HefPost, but on his social media accounts he now describes himself as the CEO of StagDaily, whose tag line is “Arouse and Inform,” which he hopes to launch in 2020.

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November 5th

Keanu Reeves Goes Public 

with Age-Appropriate Girlfriend


By Lori Perkins

Everybody’s heartthrob Keanu Reeves stepped out in public holding the hand of Alexandra Grant, who we had known as his business partner and the artist on all his books, but, it turns out, she is also his girlfriend.  The couple showed PDA at the red carpet opening gala for a recent exhibit at the La County Art Museum this Saturday. Grant is the first girlfriend Reeves has gone public with in decades and we couldn’t be happier, since she’s age appropriate (46) and a book lover!


They have known each other since 2011, when they created the Ode to Happiness book together. In 2016, they also produced Shadows, which was written by Reeves with illustrations by Grant. The following year they founded X Artists’ Books, a publishing house.

In addition to being a partner with Reeves in the publishing house, Grant is the creator of the grantLOVE project, which produces and sells original artworks to benefit artist projects and non-profit art groups. The project has raised funds for Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA), Project Angel Food, Art of Elysium, 18th Street Arts Center and LAXART, according to her website.


Grant is also an artist whose work has been featured at LACMA, MOCA (Los Angeles), the Hammer Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario.


And, according to her instagram account, she can also officiate weddings.

November 4th


By David T. Valentin 

Most of us in the business of romance have most certainly heard a friend say, “oh, I’m going to do this for your wedding.” Or “I’m going to get you this for your wedding.” For example, I’ve consistently told my cousin that for her wedding I will dress up as Lumiere from Beauty and the Beast and perform “Be Our Guest.“


For recently wedded Blair Hardy and her friends, it was chicken nuggets. Prior to Hardy’s wedding ceremony, her maid-of-honor, Jenna Spetz, hatched an elaborate plan to get her a bouquet fitting to her taste, one made entirely of chicken nuggets from Tyson.


During Hardy’s toast at the reception, she pulled the bouquet of chicken nuggets out and presented the heartwarming gift to Hardy. 

If that’s not crazy enough, coincidentally, Hardy’s groom’s name is Adam Tyson. 


After Jenna had made contact with Tyson for her friend’s wedding, Tyson decided to supply nuggets for the guest as well. The Tysons were also lucky enough to be given a year’s supply of chicken for the couple. 


What if we were all lucky enough to have our own Jenna Spetz for our weddings? What would your friends get you?

November 3rd

When You’re #NotEngaged: 

Woman Created Instagram Page to Announce She’s Not Engaged


By David T. Valentin 

We’ve all had that one friend. You know, the one friend who gets engaged and starts doing that thing; the one with the flipped out wrist, pin straight fingers, and a diamond centered on her ring finger. The traditional “I said yes!” post. It’s so common, in fact, that there are vines and Tik Toks about it. 

But one instagramer, Mary McCarthy, had a special twist on the flick-of-the-wrist/ring-on-the-finger pose. As HuffPost described, “Mary McCarthy takes the perfect engagement ring selfie: Her hand posture is on-point, her nails are trimmed, her photo backdrops are almost always interesting. The only catch? She’s not engaged."

McCarthy pokes fun at the stereotypical engagement post by posing her hand up to scenic views of her on vacation, and posts them with hilarious captions like her post taken in Santorini. 

“When ur #notengaged and u were able to get up early and do a three hour strenuous hike without anybody being like ‘but babe watch me swim’ boy take a hike. With me. Or don’t I don’t care I’m going anyway.” 

“McCarthy created the account after coming home from a friend’s engagement party. (she jokes she’s been a bridesmaid about ‘seven million times,’ so she has attended a lot of those.)” HuffPost writes. 

McCarthy went on to explain that she “picked up tacos on the way home and texted a picture to my friends ‘when you’re not engaged, but at least you have tacos!’ and the rest is history. The Instagram essentially started as an inside joke with a handful of friends and now it’s grown into a much larger inside joke.” 

Her Instagram, @notengaged, had an instant success with social media, now garners over 106,000 followers where single people and couples flock to get a few laughs in. 

Now, I can’t stop wondering what McCarthy’s own engagement post will end up looking like when her own time comes. Will she change the account to @engaged, where the post will be exaggerated engagement photos with just ridiculous backgrounds? We can only hope!

I believe in NaNoWriMo. It didn’t exist when I was in high school and college writing my first novel.  I am sure I would have gotten to The End (instead of writing two 100 page novels that petered out mid-way) if I had known I was part of a national wave of writers working on their 50,000 word first draft. *


I also believe that NaNoWriMo books are good books—books worthy of publication with a little spit and polish.  I know a lot of people think they are throw-away books, but Riverdale Avenue Books had a NaNoWriMo contest in 2014 and we published what I consider to be one of the best science fiction titles I’ve ever read.  Untrustworthy by JR Gershen-Seigel is an LGBTQ Hand Maid’s Tale.  It is so good that I had to ask the author if she had really written it in 30 days, or if it was a work shopped trunk novel she had submitted for the contest.  Of course, she has written it in just 30 days.

The point of that is that I want to encourage NaNoWriMo.  

Now go write!


* NaNoWriMo began in 1999 when 21 San Francisco writers pledged to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days in July. The next year, November was chosen as the month, and 140 writers participated, most of who were not from San Francisco. The following year, 5,000 people joined. In 2017, a little under 500,000 people joined the NaNoWriMo website, but many authors write a NaNoWriMo novel without registering.


Here is the official website where you can sign up and get helpful advice.

November 1st

Mattel Releases Day of the Dead Barbie;

Critics Question Appropriation

By Lori Perkins

Mattel shipped their limited-edition Day of the Dead Barbie to retailers in September so it would be there in time for the November 1 holiday, as well as the Christmas rush.  To doll collectors and Day of the Dead fans, the $75 doll is a tour de force, but to others she’s a symbol of cultural appropriation and growing commercialization of a once-scared holiday.


Mattel is no stranger to criticism with Barbie over the year’s as they has navigated the cultural waters from fashion icon to working woman, astronaut and president. Critics have taken a hard look at the doll’s once limited, gender-specific professional choices and unrealistic body standards. Over the years Mattel innovated by introducing a wheelchair fashionista doll and a new line of inspiring women which includes such real life figures as Frieda Kahlo and Rosa Parks (both of which sold out in their first run and went back to production and can now be ordered again).  The toy company also just released a new line of gender diverse dolls.

But according to Ad Week, some critics feel that marketing the limited edition Dia de los Muertos Barbie doll lessens the holiday’s sacred meaning.  Dios de los Muertos is a 3,000-year-old indigenous observance that celebrates the remembrance of lives of deceased friends and family. The holiday originated in Mexico with the Aztec, Toltec and other Nahua people, but is celebrated in other areas of Latin America from November 1 through the 3rd. Critics contend that consumers can buy the doll without understanding the history behind the holiday or having any consideration for the indigenous community.

Mattel, however, contends that thought and care was put into the design of the doll. The doll was designed by Mexican-American Javier Meabe and the doll’s black dress resembles ones he saw his mother wear. According to Matte, the designer’s details coincide with the holiday’s traditions, as marigolds are the main flowers used to decorate the ofrenda, or altar, where the spirits are welcomed back to earth. The monarch butterflies are believed to hold the spirit of loved ones, and millions arrive in Mexico like clockwork just in time for Día de los Muertos.

The  sold-out doll wears a ruffled, long black dress “embellished with heart and butterfly details.” A crown of monarch butterflies and bright marigolds sits atop her head and a traditional white skull mask, better known as Calavera Catrina, make-up adorns her face.

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