History Behind the Met Gala

History Behind the Met Gala

History Behind the Met Gala

The Intro

Former fashion editor Helen Lee Schifter believes it is the most important night in fashion. What could this “it” be that is so important? Well, it is known and has been called by so many different names such as Costume Institute Gala, Custom Institute Benefit, Met Ball, Met Gala or by the formal name, The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Benefit. It is, according to most, an annual extravaganza held in New York City to fundraise and benefit the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The event has a theme each year that is celebrated and the customs worn by the guests are based on the Costume Institute Exhibition. The tone of the event is set by the exhibition as the guests are to become creative in the fashion sense and match the exhibit.

The Background and History

One may wonder how and when did the Met Gala get started. It all began in 1948 as a way to benefit and raise money for the Costume Institute that was newly founded and would have an annual exhibit. The very first benefit and fundraiser was fifty dollar tickets that were for a midnight dinner. In 1973 things began to change from the fifty dollar ticket dinner to the event most associated with today’s celebration as it was influenced by Diana Vreeland, a former Vogue editor-in-chief who was a special consultant and influencer to the Custom Institute. This event is celebrated and considered by many as New York’s crown in glory for the high society or as some say The City’s social crown as it is such a luxurious blockbuster that it is also considered the jewel in the crown

Helen Lee Schifter believes that the Gala is so prominent that it is said to be among the world’s most exclusive events socially and also among the biggest fundraising benefits as it raises funds in the millions. This event is by far the Institute’s most notable funding source.

More History in Detail

As already mentioned it all started in 1948 with significant changes starting 1973. However, it was Eleanor Lambert, a fashion publicist who established the Met Gala and for many years to come; in fact, for decades, it was just one, of quite a few, benefits held annually for charitable institutions in New York with its many attendees being members of New York’s high society and of New York’s world of fashion. The venues of old from 1948 to 1971 have been the Rainbow Room, the Waldorf Astoria and Central Park as they have all held the event. Again, as a short recap it was Diana Vreeland who put the blueprint on the celebrating and fundraising of today. The event simply evolved into this extravaganza and classy affair with Diana Vreeland at the helm as consultant to the Institute. Initially with Diana it was still catering mostly to the societal set but it kept evolving until it began to include celebrities like Bianca Jagger, Elizabeth Taylor, Andy Warhol, Diana Ross and the like that were faces of the 70’s scene.

Theme Park Fans Are Gearing Up for SeaWorld San Antonio’s Annual Howl-O-Scream

Theme Park Fans Are Gearing Up for SeaWorld San Antonio’s Annual Howl-O-Scream

Anyone looking for a spooktacular way to enjoy the Halloween season this year should certainly take the time to check out SeaWorld San Antonio’s upcoming Howl-O-Scream event. Billed as the biggest and most frightening Halloween event in all of Texas, Howl-O-Scream has been thrilling and chilling SeaWorld guests for the past twenty years. Now, the event is returning with fourteen action-packed days that include both classic spectacles and all-new haunts. 

When Does Howl-O-Scream Start? 

The 20th anniversary of SeaWorld San Antonio’s Howl-O-Scream spectacular kicks off on September 17th and runs through October 31st. While guests can enjoy the spooky thrills that Howl-O-Scream offers on any of these fourteen days, each day of the event is unique and offers something a little special. This means that guests will be able to choose a day when the activities sound the most exciting or come back for multiple visits and enjoy a brand-new experience. 

What to Expect from This Year’s Howl-O-Scream 

In the daytime, guests who attend the 20th annual Howl-O-Scream event at SeaWorld San Antonio can look forward to family-friendly fun that is Halloween-oriented yet appropriate for all ages. In the nighttime, though, SeaWorld San Antonio transforms into one of the most frightening locations in the country. 

Once the sun goes down, guests who visit SeaWorld San Antonio from September 17th through October 31st will be able to visit several scare zones known as “terror-tories,” each with its own unique theme and spectacular thrills. The spooky fun starts with The Swamp at Blackwater Bayou — an all-time favorite haunt that has been frightening guests since the beginning of the Howl-O-Scream event. Here, guests who venture through the swamps, foggy boathouse, cemetery, mansion, and other spine-tingling scenes that make up this classic terror-tory will have to fend off the undead, voodoo witches, and jaw-dropping animal-human hybrids that wander through this bayou-themed area of the park. If you are courageous enough to make it through The Swamp at Blackwater Bayou’s twelve horrific scenes, you’ll be rewarded with an additional three VIP scenes that are sure to provide a thrilling and grizzly conclusion to the experience. 

Those who make it through The Swamp at Blackwater Bayou and are still in the mood for a scare should be sure to check in for a stay at Milton Creek Manor — a hotel that is every bit as haunted as it is luxurious. 

At the Unearthed terror-tory, guests can expect a too-close-for-comfort encounter with a sinister force known as Scarlett — a furious demon hell-bent on exacting her revenge on anyone who dares to enter her demolished home. 

If zombies are your thing, you’ll have the chance to experience the horror of a zombie apocalypse first-hand when you venture through the Zombie Hoard terror-tory. Here, the dead come to life — and you never know when one of these flesh-hungry creatures will jump in front of your path. 

At the Karver’s Kradle terror-tory, guests can look forward to a disturbing yet dazzling puppetry experience. The puppet master behind this chilling puppetry display has literally put his heart and soul into his work. 

All-new for 2021 is a Día de Los Muertos-themed terror-tory that puts a frightening twist on this classic Mexican holiday. This event can be enjoyed in both the daytime and nighttime hours, allowing guests to choose the version that is best suited for their own tastes and comfort level. 

These are just a few examples of the various terror-tories that guests who attend this year’s Howl-O-Scream event will be able to enjoy. With a wide range of themes and attractions, Howl-O-Scream is an event that offers something for everyone and is sure to keep guests entertained all night. 

Delicious Halloween-Themed Drinks and Captivating Attractions 

In addition to the numerous scare zones that the park will be divided into throughout the nighttime hours of the Howl-O-Scream event, guests who attend Howl-O-Scream can also look forward to delicious Halloween-themed drinks, dazzling live performances, and numerous other attractions. 

Each terror-tory at Howl-O-Scream features bars that serve uniquely themed alcoholic drinks, enabling guests to procure a little liquid courage to help see them through the night. If you’re in the mood for an entertaining live performance, be sure to the Monster Stomp — a spooky song-and-dance show that features a live band, singers, and dancers. Adrenaline junkies, meanwhile, are sure to enjoy the Coaster Creep, a ride that transforms one of SeaWorld San Antonio’s most popular roller coasters into an even more frightening experience. 

Fun for All Ages 

If you plan to visit SeaWorld San Antonio during the Howl-O-Scream event with young children, or you aren’t a fan of being scared, don’t worry. There are still plenty of ways to enjoy SeaWorld throughout this fourteen-day event while skipping out on the more intense frights. During the daytime hours, SeaWorld guests will still be able to enjoy all the park’s normal shows, rides, and attractions without any fear of being spooked. In addition to the park’s regular attractions, anyone who visits the park while the sun is still shining can look forward to Spooktacular — a daytime, kid-friendly version of Howl-O-Scream that offers Halloween fun such as a pumpkin patch picnic, a hay maze, a dance party, a Halloween parade, and in-park trick-or-treating. 

scott ross seaworld

How to Attend This Year’s Howl-O-Scream Event 

Tickets for this year’s Spooktacular and Howl-O-Scream events are already on sale. From August 12th through August 13th, SeaWorld San Antonio is running a flash sale where guests can purchase single-day tickets to both the Spooktacular and Howl-O-Scream events for just $29.99 each. If you missed this flash sale, you will still be able to purchase tickets online or at the gate at the regular price from now until the event’s conclusion on October 31st. What is the best time to go to SeaWorld san antonio? Well, any single-day ticket purchased for one of the fourteen days where these events are running buys you admission to both the daytime Spooktacular event and the nighttime Howl-O-Scream event, enabling you to enjoy both depending on your tastes and who you are bringing along with you. 

Tears of Change: Spiritual, Uplifting, and Unforgettable

Tears of Change: Spiritual, Uplifting, and Unforgettable

Sometimes your tears say it all! They express a moment of grief, a sense of relief, emotions so deep – that even words aren’t enough. But sometimes, tears can help you find a fresh start. “Tears of Change” by Debbie Monteggia takes you on that new journey. Explore what led her to express her thoughts and experiences through poetry.

Hi Debbie, how do you feel about your book journey so far?

My book journey continues to be encouraging and inspiring!  My interviews are very uplifting and engaging. It’s been exciting discovering new avenues for promoting my book and telling my story. I thoroughly enjoyed and continue to embrace all my interviews with the variety of radio/podcasts and talk show hosts. The feedback I’ve received from my book has been positive and rewarding. It pleases me when I hear how my poetry has helped my readers move through some of their own feelings and emotions.

What is the core purpose of your book?

Debbie Monteggia

To share my story and poetry with the world. Poetry speaks to us all in many ways. My book can be read for pleasure, contemplation, or self-reflection. My poetry touches all our emotions, joy, love, gratitude, and sorrow. I’m sure one can find themselves in one of my poems. We are all connected and share the same or similar feelings. My hope is that one or many of my poems will inspire my reader to take a leap into expressing their own emotions so they can reach a deeper place of love and gratitude within themselves. 

How did you come up with Tears of Change for your book?

My poetry originated from my tears of sadness and despair and moved me to write about my tears of joy, grace, gratitude, and love. The title portrays this transition, “Tears of Change.”

Since you are a designer by profession, did you help with designing the gorgeous book cover? What was your brief to them?

The cover layout was a collaborative design by family members and myself. My husband came up with the title ‘Tears of Change’ and my son came up with the symbolic tree. I created the remaining designs, river, background, mountains, etc. I submitted all these ideas to my cover design company, and they created a beautiful colorful cover. 

When did you first start writing poetry? 

 I have been writing poetry most of my life. My poetry journey began 25 years ago.  

Could you share one touching review or letter you received from one of your fans that made your day?

Available on Amazon

This book is a revelation. Spiritual, uplifting, and unforgettable.  Debbie has taken us gently, lovingly, and courageously by the hand to share poetry that represents her journey toward self-fulfillment and peace. The poetry spans many life passages, from friendship and children to loss and fear, all truthfully and beautifully rendered. I especially enjoyed the context of each of the poems; it was a window into her heart and soul as she expressed her emotions. I felt as if I were with her and experienced her joy and sorrow. The book opened to me how truth, pain and compassion can be transformative. I will not soon forget this book.

What is one of your favorite poems from the book? Could you share a few lines with us?

A Child’s World is one of my favorite poems.

I’m only a child please watch me grow

Teach me the things I need to know

My world is little I can’t yet see

My journey in life, my destiny

Guide me now when I am small

It’s these years that count the most of all…

Let’s do a round of rapid-fire questions. Ready? 

Inspirations on a walk or shower?


Writing in the morning or late at night?


Classical or country music?


Interior Design or Writing

My passion is equal to both

Your favorite poet of all time

Emily Dickenson

What’s the last movie you watched?

Stillwater with Matt Damon

What’s the next project?

2nd edition of my book 

How Fashion influencers Build Brands

How Fashion influencers Build Brands

How Fashion influencers Build Brands

The world of fashions keeps up with the latest trends just like everything else in our society it evolves.The fashion brands that didn’t learn to keep you with the technology have left the scene. There are still some relevant influencers of fashion who make a living by writing about it. Helen Lee Schifter is one of the major fashion socialites in the fashion juggernaut that is New York. The pages she writes about fashion carry weight among the elite and upper echelon social class all over the world.When a company wants to build their brand that now have to keep up with the who’s who of Instagram,SnapChat,FaceBook,Twitter and TikTok.There was once upon a time in fashion where you could just rely on a print magazine and a little buzz from television ads. Alas, that time has morphed into a hybrid way of branding without people realizing that they are being influenced by the influencers of social media. There will always be room for someone like Helen Lee Schifter,but it will eventually slow to a trickle as the other platforms take over.

The Kardashians,Rhianna,Beyonce,Cardi B., or the lastest Hollywood darling of the moment Zendaya all have fan base fashion.

These devoted visitors to name brand spaces are the prime target for marketing ads which have not only become lucrative to the name brand stars,but to others who genuinely share their passion with followers.

People like fashion Instagram blogger Chiara Ferragni,AimeeSong and Alexa Chung all have an enormous following that makes for great brand building if you can get an ad on their page.Many of the fashion blogger or vloggers words carry major weight with their core audience.Right now this is what branding is not just the athletes getting major endorsements ,but socialites,musical artist,actors and actresses inking major deals.It helps as some of the bloggers have actually been apart of the fashion world like Alex Chung as a model on the runway.So she started with the legit credentials to back up her branding.

The major stars in the athletic arena are a select few, LeBron James, Stef Curry, Serena and Lionel Messi. If you want your fashion branding from an influencer in this realm it would make sense. Think about the number of followers they have and all a company has to do is convert x amount of followers into sales. Voila! Just like magic this is the how the influencers help you to get your brand noticed by getting your name tied into someone they being the crowd trust. When companies or an individual builds a brand you have to make sure you chose wisely because a scandal can soon derail the power of the influencer as we have seen innumerable amounts of time. Helen Lee Schifter believes that this trend is only going to get bigger if we come out of the pandemic there will be people looking online to shop for the next thing. When it is all said and done shopping is therapy to Americans. Teen girls and boys will always adore the last musical artist. Mothers will still want to see what the latest Hollywood fashion was on the red carpet on Oscar night.

Executive Producer John Lasseter’s New Animated Short Blush Premiers at the Tribeca Film Festival

Executive Producer John Lasseter’s New Animated Short Blush Premiers at the Tribeca Film Festival

Blush, the first short from Apple Original Films and Skydance Animation, took its first bow at the Tribeca Film Festival in June. This inaugural release from a multi-year partnership between the two studios premiered at Tribeca as part of its showcase of animated short films curated by Whoopi Goldberg. The animated short is produced by Heather Schmidt Feng Yanu of “Toy Story” and the “Cars” trilogy, who is also director of inclusion at Skydance. Executive producers are Dana Goldberg, David Ellison, and the legendary John Lasseter of “Toy Story,” “Monsters, Inc.,” and “Cars” fame.

The 11-minute film opens with a young horticulturist-astronaut whose ship collides with an asteroid that knocks it off course. He crash-lands on an uninhabited dwarf planet, a cold, hard, gray rock. The space-faring botanist desperately hopes to create just a tiny bit of oxygen by growing a plant he took on board, but it withers and dies.

Just as the protagonist is running out of air, another spaceship careens into the planet. Out of it steps a comely alien astronaut, whose dark pink face seems to have a permanent blush. She saves the botanist and gives him a new life.

“Blush” will be released on Apple TV+. It is shot in 3-D, but it has, “Variety” reports, “quaint, natural pictorial tones of 2D, yoked with Hollywood’s frequent focus on core human relations.”

Skydance did graphics for the film in the U.S. and Spain.

The film was directed by Joe Mateo, who lost his wife Mary Ann after her 8-year battle with breast cancer in 2017.

Mateo said that losing his wife inspired the direction of the film.

Mateo told Variety “After I lost Mary Ann, I suddenly couldn’t breathe, it was a scary moment. I had to call a friend who is a doctor and ask him: ‘What is going on with me?’ He said: ‘Joe, you are having a panic attack.’ I realized that Mary Ann was my air. I was struggling to breathe because I lost my air.”

Love is the oxygen of life became the central conceit of the film. Mateo chose to set the film on a tiny planet because, as he said, “I just loved setting it on something intimate and small, to capture the intimacy of the story, to contain it and focus on the characters.”

John Lasseter gave the go-ahead for the production of this short message of healing and hope a couple of months before the lockdown in 2020. No one, of course, expected the pandemic to happen in the middle of producing it.

Producing the film, studio executives have told the press, gave everyone involved a sense of normalcy, something to look forward to when getting up every morning. Now, Mateo says, releasing the film is about getting the animated short to the widest audience possible when people need it most. Says director Mateo, “It will be great if it can be a source of hope and healing for a lot of people.”

“Blush” is the inaugural release for Executive Producer John Lasseter at Skydance. Lasseter brings his reputation as an “industry visionary” from his years as Chief Creative Officer at Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar, where he broke new ground for family entertainment with “WALL-E,” “Toy Story 3,” “Ratatouille,” and “Up.” With Blush, Lasseter continues to demonstrate the revitalization of the animation business and shows the dramatic potential of the genre. 

What to Expect in Moonlighting: An Oral History by Scott Ryan

What to Expect in Moonlighting: An Oral History by Scott Ryan

If you’re someone who devours new television shows, are the go-to person for recommendations among your friends, and want to hold your fame, you’ve got to read this. You’re about to earn some serious brownie points by being the first to know all about the 80s iconic show, Moonlighting. Here’s a little chat with pop culture storyteller and television historian Scott Ryan.

Hi Scott, your latest book, “Moonlighting: An Oral History,” still holds its position on the top 50 Television History & Criticism books on Amazon since its release. Congratulations!

How’s the overall response so far? 

It has been incredible. I have been getting emails almost every other day from fans of the series. I always put my email in the back of all my books and say that if you have a kind email to send, send it. I do not have interest in the mean ones. Most bookstores have not been carrying the book, so we need more stores to jump on the eighties bandwagon.

Why did you choose to write about Moonlighting?

 I have always been amazed that no one had ever written a book about it.  I have wanted to write this book for years. Finally, two years ago, Glenn Caron gave me his blessing and I ran with it.

Would you say this book is mainly for those who are fans of the show?

Well, you are asking the author. No author would say his book is for less people. But I honestly believe this book should be read by all television lovers. This will really explain to viewers how hard it is to create a piece of art. And how much harder it is to make a quality piece of art. I have had many interviewers tell me that they never saw an episode of the series, but they loved the book.

What can you share about “Moonlighting: An Oral History” that will resonate with today’s television viewers and potential readers?

I think they will get a look at how Moonlighting changed the way TV was made and produced. It is also a great reminder at how viewers want TV that challenges them. That making average TV should be thought of as the greatest crime. There is a really amazing story in this book. I was lucky to get to tell it.

Can you share some of your fanboy moments from your time meeting and interviewing some of Moonlighting’s cast/crew members? 

Look, I got to watch an episode of Moonlighting with Cybill Shepherd. We watched over zoom together. I will never forget that my entire life. Jay Daniel produced Roseanne, Moonlighting, Cybill and he is now one of my dear friends. I have been blessed to talk to the very  people that inspired me to be a writer. I will never get over how my life and their lives  intersected. This entire process has been a dream for me.

What’s the one thing you learned about Moonlighting that bowled you over?

That the network just let them spend as much money as they wanted. There was no one on set telling them to finish an episode, or cut a scene or anything. They were just left alone because the ratings were so good. I also finally figured out exactly how they filmed Season 4. I have never understood why they didn’t have Cybill and Bruce in scenes together, but they are in every episode. It just didn’t make sense. It took lots of interviews to piece together the filming sequences. But I think readers will love the answer to that question. I am not telling you, though. You’ll have to read the book.

Aside from Moonlighting, what are some of your favorite binge-able shows of all time? 

Well Twin Peaks and thirtysomething have always been my favorite. I also love anything by David E. Kelley. Right now, I love Hacks on HBO, Good Fight on Paramount + and Ted Lasso on Apple +, but my goodness, who can afford to buy all those platforms. Just forget it and read my book.

Ready for some rapid-fire questions? Here we go:

Morning person or a night owl 

Morning person (that kills me to say that now)

Television shows or movies 

TV all the way

Movie theatre or streaming at home

 Streaming, I don’t need to hear a stranger’s comments on the film. I am fine.

Popcorn or Nachos

 Nachos and piled so high they are messy.

Night Court or Family Ties

 WOW. This is an amazing question and a stumper. It is basically even, but I was so in love with Mallory, that FT has to win. But great question.

A preferred writing snack

 Grapes. I know that sounds weird, but I love to stop and start when I am writing. I adore getting up and getting something. So I love for it to be grapes. You write a few paragraphs, then you go to the fridge, get a grape and go back and sit down and then rinse and repeat.

What was the last movie you watched?

 Jackie Brown. Which will give you a hint at what I want my next book to be about. The Movies of Tarantino.

Solving Mysteries in Real-Life and Fiction: T L Bequette

Solving Mysteries in Real-Life and Fiction: T L Bequette

Hi T L Bequette, congrats on your first novel, “Good Lookin’: A Joe Turner Mystery.” We’re so excited to hear more about you and the book. Let’s get to it.

As a criminal defense attorney, your practice involves defending accused murderers. How did you shift gears and decide to write fiction?

I’ve always loved to write creatively. As an attorney, I have plenty of opportunities to write, but creativity is generally frowned upon. You can’t make up the law, after all. So, when I finally stopped making excuses and started writing, it was a wonderful feeling—like seeing an old friend for the first time in years.

How did Joe Turner start to take shape in your mind? When did you know you had to get the story out there? 

I’ve practiced criminal defense for nearly thirty years, so my job has given me quite a trove of real-life tales that are often crazier than fiction. Also, a significant part of the book follows the exploits of twin boys. As a father of teenage twins, I’ve gained some insight there as well. They would disagree, by the way

Book cover of Good Lookin' by T L Bequette
Available on Amazon

In “Good Lookin’: A Joe Turner Mystery,” how much of it would you say is fiction and how much of it is derived from real life? 

The protagonist, Joe Turner is a criminal defense attorney like me. When faced with defending a client who is actually innocent, he stresses out and drinks too much. Also, a bit like me, I suppose. Joe is also a smartass and very witty—like I would be if I could magically stop conversations and take lots of time to think of great lines.

If you weren’t a criminal defense attorney, would you still write a crime mystery? Do you want to explore other genres?

That’s a great question. I’ve thought about other genres, but I have so much material and stories yet to tell, I think mysteries will keep me busy for a while.

If you have a chance to partner with Netflix, who would you like cast for as Joe Turner? 

Kyle Chandler, I think. He’s likeable.

Besides the real-life observations, where do you draw your inspiration from?

In my genre, Louise Penny is a wonderful writer. Also, you can’t beat John Grisham for storytelling.

Without giving much away, can you think of the one scene that made you go, “Ah, this is perfect!” 

Is it okay to have two? The first involves an abusive bully. Spoiler alert, I suppose, but let’s just say I enjoyed writing the resolution of that part of the story. Also, there is one final twist in the very last line of the book. I think it’s cool.

T. L. Bequette

Here are some rapid-fire questions for you. Answer with the first thought that comes to your mind. Ready? Let’s go. 

Tea or Coffee


‘Rear Window’ or ‘L.A. Confidential’

Rear Window

Jazz or Country Music


Prefer writing in the morning or late at night

Early am

Video Game or Movie


What’s the one thing you learned when writing the book? 

That organization — keeping plot lines and characters straight — is an underrated part of writing.

Tell us one thing about yourself that we likely don’t know. 

I once worked in the largest prune dehydrator in the world.

Meet the Author of Harry Harambee’s Kenyan Sundowner

Meet the Author of Harry Harambee’s Kenyan Sundowner

Gerald Everett Jones’ latest book takes us across to the Sub-Saharan African Country of Kenya. The award-winning author effortlessly transforms his readers’ experience from being passive observers to find themselves thoroughly invested in this journey. Here’s what he shares about himself and his new book, “Harry Harambee’s Kenyan Sundowner.”

Hi Gerald, you tell us about your new book, “Harry Harambee’s Kenyan Sundowner”? 

A lonely widower from Los Angeles buys a tour package to East Africa on the promise of hookups and parties. What he finds instead are new reasons to live.

Aldo Barbieri, a slick Italian tour operator, convinces Harry to join a group of adventuresome “voluntourists.” In a resort town on the Indian Ocean, Harry doesn’t find the promised excitement with local ladies. But in the supermarket he meets Esther Mwemba, a demure widow who works as a bookkeeper. The attraction is strong and mutual, but Harry gets worried when he finds out that Esther and Aldo have a history. They introduce him to Victor Skebelsky, rumored to be the meanest man in town. Skebelsky has a plan to convert his grand colonial home and residential compound into a rehab center – as a tax dodge. The scheme calls for Harry to head up the charity. He could live like a wealthy diplomat and it won’t cost him a shilling!

Harry has to come to terms with questions at the heart of his character: Is corruption a fact of life everywhere? Is all love transactional?

Who would enjoy reading it the most? Why? 

Fans of literary fiction who aren’t locked into any particular genre. I believe the fascination of literary fiction is to get inside a flawed character who is forced to dig deep into his soul. He’s not necessarily someone worthy of admiration, but we may be impressed by his courage. We might see ourselves differently as a result. And as we follow him through the strory, we go through his painful discoveries without having to look too closely at ourselves in the process. But in the end, we know we all face the same questions and anxieties.

How do the characters from the book come alive? What makes them so appealing?

Harry sets out as a tourist, a passive observer. He watches the world from the backseat of an excursion vehicle. But then when he develops an emotional attachment and decides to stay in-country, he must begin to think like a resident, like a citizen. He must decide how much he is willing to become involved, how much he’s willing to commit. There’s bravery in his decision.

What are some of your cherished moments from your time in Kenya that may or may not have made their way in “Harry Harambee’s Kenyan Sundowner”?

Most of the time, my wife lived in Diani Beach, a small resort town on the white sands of the Indian Ocean. Some of my favorite times were Sunday afternoons at Forty Thieves Bar and Grill on the beach. It was a buffet for ten bucks. Almost everyone you knew in town dropped in at some time. There was a band playing, alternating American pop coverage with authentic South African rhythms. We all sat there, gossiping, eating, and drinking until the sun went down. And our two terriers amused themselves endlessly chasing crabs in the surf. (This scene isn’t in the book!)

If it is made into a movie, who do you think should play Harry Harambee’s character?

Christian Bale has proven he can play just about anybody, but think of him plumped up with thinning hair as he was to play Dick Cheney. But with more affability and heart. I describe Harry as a bit pudgy, something of a couch potato, but with a friendliness and charm. Then again, Jack Nicholson just the way he shows up these days?

Mystery-thrillers or literary fiction, what do you enjoy writing the most? Why?

I prefer to write literary fiction because there are no rules. Almost none at all. But I enjoy writing mystery-thrillers because after I get going, I let myself go and let the characters make the decisions. And the ending is always a surprise, to me and I hope to the readers.

What are you reading, watching, and loving? Any recommendations?

After I started writing the book, I realized its similarities of setting and expat intrigue with The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene (set it Sierra Leone) and The Constant Gardener by John Le Carré (set in Kenya). I reread both of those recently, and the movie of Gardener is well done. There’s also a movie of the Greene story. It’s available to stream on Amazon and I intend to watch it for the first time soon.

Rapid Fire time! Answer the following questions with the first thing that comes to your mind.   

Orange juice or Coffee

Organic French Roast. At least two cups with soymilk first thing in the morning.

Writing in silence or with music

I’m a music lover – mostly classical and jazz, and especially opera. But if I listen while I’m writing my head gets jammed and it’s a distraction.

Kindle or Paperback 

Kindle especially when traveling. Paperbacks when making notes, especially for research. I love a paper book, but if I get one I have to gift it because I just don’t have the space to hold them all. That’s another reason for Kindle – a thousand books in your library in the cloud.

Podcast or Video 

When I’m recording a podcast in the studio, I love the sound of my voice in the headphones, and I relax. I enjoy doing video but I tend to be both animated and self-conscious at the same time.

One item from your “bucket” list you’d like to share

I’ve often thought of investing in an art gallery on Canyon Drive in Santa Fe. I’d work there part time, but never miss the parties on openings. I’m not sure my wife is ready to let me do this, though.

Favorite holiday destination

I lived in Paris on the Left Bank for a time as a student. Never bored going back. My French has gotten better. They now accuse me of being either Belgian or British. They know I’m not local! My wife Georja went to school in Rome, and that’s at least one place where I shut up and let her talk.

A favorite author you’d love to meet

I’d love to have a leisurely chat with Hypatia of Alexandria. And I’ll ask her what she thinks of the book I wrote about her. Most of her writings have been lost, so I’m sure the conversation would be revealing – particularly regarding who destroyed them and why.

Are you a Collector? Why Not Make a Living from Your Passion?

Are you a Collector? Why Not Make a Living from Your Passion?

People from all walks of life get tremendous pleasure from collecting things; it might be antique furniture, sports memorabilia, luxury watches or even promotional sets that are given out when you buy certain products. There’s nothing wrong with such a passion and if you are one of the many who love what you collect, why not start a niche business and enjoy a good living from doing what you love?


Of course, all collectables involve high levels of knowledge and the more you know about your chosen field, the better. The Internet hosts a wealth of information and a few hours of Googling will certainly teach you some things that you did not know. You should also be very confident that you have something to offer other collectors, otherwise people will not have any incentive when dealing with you. Take a leading Australian ceremonial sword dealer as an example, https://www.swordworld.com.au/, where you can read all about various eras and the swords that were used at that time. As a dealer, you should offer all site visitors useful information about every aspect of your field, with a blog page specifically for this purpose.

Essential Contacts

Any collectable has a network of passionate players and if you are looking to sell sought-after items, you will need to have contacts in the auction world and other events where such items are offered up for sale. If you’ve been an avid collector for quite a few years, you will no doubt already have a long list of useful contacts and this can form the basis of your connections.

What Are You Offering?

If you are planning to launch a collectables business, you need to define what you are offering; that isn’t as obvious as you might think, indeed, you could set up a website that doesn’t buy or sell, rather it offers free information and you would make money by advertising on your site. While some collectors/dealers are very secretive about their field, the ones that do well are the dealers who are happy to offer free advice to all. Once you have defined your goals, you can set about researching how to register a collectables business and put together a comprehensive business plan. Here’s an interesting blog on how storytelling goes hand in hand with advertising.

Web Design

Of course, in this digital age, your website will be your window to the world and it should therefore be of a professional standard and designed in a way that is easy to navigate. Using a single provider, you can obtain the following services:

  • Domain name registration
  • Website design & construction
  • Web hosting
  • Site administration
  • Digital marketing
  • Cyber-security

Simply search online for a leading digital marketing agency and they will tailor their services to suit you and your business. From the marketer’s perspective, it is much easier to promote a niche company than a mainstream business. So, you should expect to see your site on page 1 of Google search results if you enlist the services of such an agency and that will be very good for business.

Click here for Australian government information on setting up a business, which every entrepreneur should read.

Things to Consider if You Are Going Camping

Things to Consider if You Are Going Camping

If you are going camping, then you should make sure that you are prepared for your adventure, how long will you be going for, what do you want to do whilst you are camping, who are you going with and where are you going are a few of the things to add to your list. To help you get properly prepared here is a more in depth look at things you should think about before you head off.

What do I need to think about?

There could be a lot to consider so make sure you are prepared; many people have found themselves in an awkward situation of not having enough provisions to last them their entire trip. The most important thing you will want to ensure is that you have;

  1. Enough clean drinking water to keep you properly hydrated.
  2. Battery power, oddly enough, before food you will want to take enough battery power with you for your mobile devices. You will, at the very least, have your phone with you and you will need enough juice to send a message or make a call should you need to. 
  3. A suitable bag is really important, you want something that is going to be comfortable, but also be up for whatever you throw at it, something like a Feel Free Gear’s camping bag would be a great choice. There are a variety of styles and materials that even cover things like waterproofing.
  4. Food, prepare or buy enough packaged food to last you. You could take pre-prepared food or you could go all out and take a small BBQ with you, or make a BBQ when you get to where you are going and cook your own grub.
  5. The people you are going with will most likely determine what kind of trip this will be so think about that also. For example, some will want an intrepid adventure, others will want a calming retreat, somewhere they can sit back and consider life, others may use it as an excuse to have late night campfire parties. You may want to use the trip to do everything so make sure you have all you need, and check out these hacks on preparation.
  6. Think about what it is that you want to do whilst you are camping, you might just want to go for walks in the woods or forest, or you might want to go swimming, cycling, kayaking or even paddle boarding. 
  7. Clothes can sometimes be forgotten, not entirely, of course, but the type of clothes that are best suited for the trip you are going on. When camping, you will want clothes that either keep you cool or keep you warm against the elements and that protect you against things like grazes, scratches and bites.
  8. Footwear is a really important consideration, the last thing you want is a sprained ankle or similar injury just because you weren’t prepared and didn’t take the proper footwear with the correct support.

Off you go then

That should be all you need to consider, although camping is quite a personal thing so take what you need to make sure you are comfortable. Most importantly, take enough clean water, battery power, a suitable bag and enough food to keep you going!