Explore the Story of A Tomato Grows in Brooklyn

Explore the Story of A Tomato Grows in Brooklyn

What if we told you that an award-winning chef can help you make his finger-licking Italian recipes in your kitchen? “A Tomato Grows in Brooklyn” by David Ruggerio is all you need to recreate the magic and make each meal extra special. Here’s a candid chat with the renowned chef and author where he spills the beans about his latest cookbook and more.

What was the purpose of writing A Tomato Grows in Brooklyn

It was for a few reasons; first and foremost, I wanted to return to my roots and share with my grandchildren and future generations a taste of what it was to grow up in Brooklyn in a very different era. My generation was still recognizable to my parents and my grandparents–we have now entered a period that is extremely different than my childhood. My time was colorful and raw, a period when the family got together often to share great food, long-tenured traditions, and pass on our culture. Lastly, at a time when the Italian culture is under assault in this country, I wanted to stand tall and express my pride for being Italian.

Who is your inspiration?

The women of my family. I was orphaned when I was five, witnessing my pregnant mother’s death. I went to live with my grandmother and my great-grandmother. These were women who hailed from Sant’Angelo Dei Lombardi, a storied village outside of Naples. They epitomized being Italian in Brooklyn. Like Brooklyn itself, they were extraordinarily resilient while sharing their heritage, customs, and of course the food. At our kitchen table, fresh pasta was made, homegrown vegetables were preserved, and stories were told. From that table, I understood what it was to be Italian.

Will beginners find recipes they can cook from A Tomato Grows in Brooklyn?

These recipes are straightforward, home-grown dishes that any person who wants to experience the Italian American cuisine can enjoy and get a taste of what it was like in the neighborhoods of Brooklyn.

What’s your favorite recipe from the book? What makes it unique?

“Pasta’ Ncasciata,” which is a “Baked Pasta with Eggplant with Caciocavallo.”

I adore this recipe. This was brought to Brooklyn by Sicilians. It is traditionally made with annelli pasta, or ‘little rings,’ dressed in a meaty tomato ragu made with spare ribs (It can be made with beef, pork, or even sausage). My grandmother added tiny meatballs to the ragu with the spareribs-though I thought it a bit much for the recipe. It is emblematic of what made Italian American cuisine in Brooklyn so special—that Sicilians lived next door to Neapolitans, who lived next door to Calabrian’s, who lived next door to Abruzzese. Over years, they shared recipes and they progressively melted together to create our own cuisine.

Do you grow your own vegetables in your backyard in Brooklyn? What’s your tip for the readers?

I grow nearly all the vegetables that we eat during the year. My garden is alive and producing twelve months out of the year, with not only the holy trinity-tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants- but also figs, apples, pears, blueberries, lettuce, escarole, cardoons, cabbage, broccoli, carrots, onions, potatoes, and of course, garlic! My tip was best expressed by my great-grandmother, Antoinette Quagliarello Pesce. She taught me that we don’t grow vegetables, we grow soil. By enriching the soil with many long-held traditions and tricks developed by the Southern Italians, that marvelous land made extraordinarily tasty produce that fed us throughout the seasons.

You’ve won so much recognition for your work. What do you enjoy writing the most, horror or cookbooks?

I love them both and do them both nearly every day. I work till late into the night, and during those dark, late hours, my imagination wanders into dark, scary places that make writing horror quite easy. During the glorious days, wandering in my garden or hand making cavatelli pasta on a wooden board, or making pizza in my backyard brick oven with my grandchildren, my heart burns Italian, writing about food is easy and consoling. 

What has been the highlight of your cooking career? What about your writing career?

My professional career was spent in glorious French kitchens. There are two highlights in my career. The first was as a teen finding myself at the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountain, where I found an elf-like chef, Michel Guerard who taught me how to spell magic. He was the greatest chef of the twentieth century who changed me as a person. The second, was when the famed fashion designer put me in charge of his restaurant; Maxim’s, and I garnered three stars. 

Time for our rapid-fire round. Here are your questions:

David Ruggerio

Pasta or pizza

Pasta! I can eat it every day

Cooking or writing

I was created to cook!

Jazz or classical music

Come on, I was raised in Brooklyn during the 70s! Disco!

Patio or Candlelight dinner

Outdoors on my patio, with my family

What’s your favorite cheese?

Pecorino Romano, I can put it on everything!

One dish you love

Linguini with Clams

One restaurant you frequent

I adore Di Fara’s in Brooklyn when Dominick, an old friend and the owner, is cooking. The best pizza in America

A Fun Encounter With a Stay at Home Dad and Author of Project Adventure

A Fun Encounter With a Stay at Home Dad and Author of Project Adventure

Taking parenting and writing to the next level is the “Project Adventure” series’ author, David Konrad. David is the author of adventure books for middle-graders and anyone who’s a kid at heart. His books are loved and adored by children worldwide. But how does he manage to juggle these hats and make time to enjoy an active outdoorsy lifestyle with his sons? Let’s find out.

Why did you decide you wanted to write children’s adventure books?

Because these type of books is what made me fall in love with reading and books in the first place. Besides, I started writing when my twin boys were 5 years old, so I hoped they would appreciate the stories and the adventure.

It looks like you draw inspiration from the expeditions you go on with your kids. What has been your favorite adventure together?

Being a stay home dad with twin boys is an adventure on its own. The three of us used to fly a lot together, ever since they were 3 years old, so that always made for some interesting adventures… Also, we always love to take a boat out on the Adriatic Sea to find cool and remote places. 

What are the strengths of each member of the Project Adventure kid-detective agency?

Ethan is a go-getter. He’s very curious, and that, paired with never endless energy, often gets him into trouble.

Matt is a thinker. He’s quiet and doesn’t talk much, but he’s always alert and acts as balance for Ethan,

Lisa is the glue that makes the trio tick. She’s a brilliant organizer, very pragmatic and able. 

Although it sounds like choosing your favorite child, we’d like to know which of the four books from the “Project Adventure” series is your favorite and why?

I would have to say the “Heart of the Island”. It was not just the first book of the series, but also my first book ever! As much as I like my other books, this one will always have a special place in my heart. 

What’s one of the most heartwarming messages you’ve received from your little fans? 

A mother once emailed me to tell me her daughter is completely hooked on my books, and can’t wait for the next one. That was after she’d read books 1 and 2, so safe to say she continued being a fan of mine… J

Growing up, what were some of your favorite books? 

I always loved this book about King Arthur and the knights of the round table, but I’d forgotten who the author was. But I still remember it clearly. And I loved Karl May’s Wild West stories, Winnetou and such.

What is your number 1 parenting tip for adventurous kids?

Pack light, but don’t go anywhere without water, snacks, and band-aids.

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

David Konrad

Hikes or Swimming 


Games or Movie night


Laundry or Dishes?

Both. I’m a stay home dad, after all.

Coffee or Tea

Coffee during the day, tea in the evening. But coffee, if I have to pick one.

Your favorite board game? 


The theme of your next project? 


One topic that you can talk about endlessly.


An Exclusive Interview With the Author of Our African Unconscious

An Exclusive Interview With the Author of Our African Unconscious

Our African Unconscious by Dr. Edward Bruce Bynum uncovers all aspects of our human evolution. It sheds light on how the arts, sciences, philosophy, and religious roots originated in Africa. Author Edward Bruce Bynum, Ph.D., ABPP is an award-winning psychologist and former director of the behavioral medicine program at the University of Massachusetts Health Services. If you want to learn more about Dr. Edward and his fascinating work in the field, here’s your chance.

Hi Dr. Edward, how do we all share a common origin? How do we all come from Africa?

I sought to create a modern medically and scientifically sound understanding of our unity as a species that was also a complete vision absolutely undergirded by the great spiritual traditions of both East, West, and Africa. Thus a good deal of anthropology, m medical genetics, ancient history, and the living history of religions. 

Why did you decide to write Our African Unconscious: The Black Origins of Mysticism and Psychology?

It was a natural evolution from an earlier book called DARK LIGHT CONSCIOUSNESS: Melanin, Serpent Power and the Luminous Matrix of Reality. It dealt, as a clinical psychologist, with the effect of this deep hidden bodily and spiritual energy better known in classical literature and practices of meditation and yoga.

What’s the best way to truly appreciate our shared consciousness and identity as a species?

A meditative discipline you are drawn to plus a deep love for another person beyond what you can explain to yourself.

What are your thoughts on the varied different ethnicities that exist? How can we thrive in today’s world?

This is a complex question. However, as a species at war with itself, we have come to the point in our development as a species on this volatile planet of vast changes and rapid changes that we either learn to love each other despite our difference or we die !! It is that simple and uncomfortably true.

Would you say one of the predictions made by George Washington is yet to come?

Yes, 2 of them have already occurred. He predicted the American civil war and a great civil confrontation yet to come involving Africa and the notion that ‘all men are brethren”. Is that not where we are today in the USA?

Could you share one fascinating piece of information that you came across during your research for the book?

Yes. That America’s first war over slavery was not our civil war but about ‘white slavery,’ the war with the Barbary Coast pirates of north Africa that far arose soon after the founding of the republic. They were raiding ships at sea and stealing white women to sell to the harems of the sultans.

How do quantum mechanics, string theory, and relative physics weave into the book?

They are all part of the emerging new paradigm in science that takes us past Einstein.

Could you answer some of these rapid-fire questions for your readers?

Dr. Edward Bruce Bynum

The most peaceful place for you…

On the deck at home on a warm summer afternoon or in my meditation setting in the early morning at home.

A book that made a significant impact on you

Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramansa Yogananda and also The Phenomenon of Man by Teilhard De Chardin

Dusk or dawn

Both actually, but perhaps dusk most

Jazz or country music

Jazz but I also like  classic country music by the greats like John Denver

Podcasts or documentaries


What’s your next project?

I am also a published poet with an equal number of texts in psychology/psychiatry as in poetry: I am finishing up a long poem that is 7,777 words in length titled “If I Trusted Poetry Completely”

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

I was an altar boy as a child.

A Chat With an Award-winning Author About Her Latest: A Plague of Flies

A Chat With an Award-winning Author About Her Latest: A Plague of Flies

Award-winning YA author, Laurel Anne Hill returns with her latest historical fantasy, A Plague of Flies: Revolt of the Spirits,1846. Needless to say, it’s going to be an unforgettable adventure you don’t want to miss out on. Laurel explores her family history and finds a fantasy-filled story of a brave sixteen-year-old, Catalina. Read more about her experience and your soon-to-be-favorite book, A Plague of Flies.

Hi Laurel, you released your latest historical fantasy last month, A Plague of Flies: Revolt of the Spirits, 1846. Could you tell us about it? 

Available on Amazon

In 1846 Alta California, Catalina Delgado daydreams about her future: roping cattle, marrying Angelo Ortega, and raising children. But now, invaders from the United States—the Bear Flaggers—have declared war against Mexico, her country. Bear Flaggers have imprisoned one close friend of her family and murdered others. What fate might befall her parents, grandfather, and younger brothers? And what about her best friend, a Costanoan servant girl? How can Catalina, only sixteen, help protect all those she loves?

The spirits provide Catalina with answers, but not the ones she wants. Plus she fears the strange spirit man who rides a black Andalusian stallion through the sky. For the sake of all she holds dear, Catalina must risk her reputation as a chaste young woman, her future with Angelo, her life, and her very soul. When hopes and dreams clash with cold reality, Catalina finds the fortitude to accomplish what only she can do.

Why did you choose to write about 1846 Alta California?

At the time I made the choice, I still believed my paternal great-grandmother, Hipólita, had lived there during the 1840s. I thought my Mexican family had lost their land to the United States as a result of the Bear Flag Rebellion in 1846. Then I discovered they’d not come to California until the late 1850s or early 1860s. Once in California, they’d been taken advantage of in some other manner, possibly by one of the US railroads.

What is the one thing about Catalina Delgado that your readers are instantly going to fall in love with?  

Catalina, a young mestiza, has ideas of her own about her personal future, including who she wants to marry. Without sisters, she competes with her four younger brothers for approval. She is not afraid to ride astride (instead of sidesaddle) and can rope longhorns almost as well as her father’s vaqueros do. Regardless, Catalina remains closer to being a sixteen-year-old woman of her time than to becoming some bigger-than-life kick-ass heroine. She wishes to honor members of her family—even when she doesn’t agree with them—and her Catholic faith. Yet she finds herself questioning aspects of both her faith and her family. 

What can you share about the Spirit Man that your potential readers don’t know yet?  

Spirit Man is a complicated being, far more than just a scary character. He has taken the shape of others in the past, and presumably, will do so in the future. Spirit Man has the capacity to serve as a loyal friend or become a terrifying opponent. 

Is there a heart-warming review or comment you received for A Plague of Flies that you’d like to share with us?

Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2021: In her second YA novel that’s set in a magical-realist 19th-century California, Hill gives readers a wonderfully imaginative, unsettling view of events leading up to the 1849 gold rush. Many narratives emphasize the excitement of this time and California’s newfound wealth, population growth, and influence, but this book foreshadows the disasters—starvation, slaughter, dispossession—inflicted on Indigenous people. It’s a theme that could become heavy-handed, but Catalina’s passionate teenage energy gives propulsion to the dramatic plot.

At what point during the research of A Plague of Flies did you have the sequence of the story plotted? 

Not until I finished the first draft, over ten years after starting my project. Please understand, however, that the hiatus between finishing the first half of draft number one and starting the second half amounted to five of those ten years. I wrote the second half of the initial draft in three months. 

What do you enjoy writing the most – historical fantasy or science fiction? Why? 

Historical fantasy. I love to delve into the history of a setting, and fantasy gives me a fair amount of freedom in world-building. Besides, I worked most of my adult life in the field of science or science technology. Although I write occasional science fiction or science horror stories, doing fantasy returns me to a special place I loved as a child.

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

Laurel Anne Hill

A preferred writing snack:  

Morning: Coffee with caramel-flavored creamer.
Evening: A glass of wine.

What was the last soundtrack you heard?  

The opera, “Mefistofele” (by Boito), with Luciano Pavarotti singing the role of Faust.  “Mefistofele” is my go-to inspiration when I need “big sound” to deal with one hell of a challenge.  

Countryside or the beach:

These days, the countryside. For most of my life, the beach.

Tea or coffee: 

Coffee with caramel-flavored creamer.

Kittens or puppies:

Puppies. I love kittens, but cats interfere with my ability to breathe. (Ah-choo!)

Your biggest pet peeve is…:

Spam telephone calls.

Your favorite movie of all times:

The original “Star Wars!” 

Dames Handsome Brings You the Fairy Knights

Dames Handsome Brings You the Fairy Knights

If you’re a parent or teacher of middle graders, you’d know how challenging it is to get them to read. Equally difficult is finding books that can entertain and inspire kids to grow into empathetic human beings. We met with an author who writes stories that kids love reading to not only have fun but to learn from. Dames Handsome is a father, teacher, and excellent author of the most-loved book series, the Fairy Knights. Here’s Dame’s story in his own words.

Hi Dames, how does one come up with such a cool name as Dames Handsome?

From my students! Here in Korea teachers are addressed by their last name and then the word teacher. My actual last name sounds a lot like Handsome so they started to call me Handsome Teacher. And then the Dames part is an old high school nickname so when it came to me making my pen name I found that really it had already been made and it was just waiting for me to pull out and dust off to be made official.

Why did you decide to write children’s books? 

I didn’t haha. All of this started when I sat down with my wife and son to play a role-playing game that I’d made. It was an awesome time and afterward, I realized that I wanted to remember it all forever. So I wrote it all down. And then after it was down I decided to make a story out of it for my son. I adjusted this and that to make it into a real kids’ story. One that I also torqued to teach him a lesson, as all good kids stories do. I read it to him and he loved it. Then it sat on my computer for months. I shared it with some people here and there and they loved it as well. So, finally, I decided that I should “make it real” and publish it. And so it all began.

How did Fairy Knights come to life? 

When I asked my friend Warwick, who teaches people how to be Kindergarten Teachers, to read it and how much it would cost me for him to make a cover for me. He read it and got back to me and asked if he could make pictures for the inside as well. I really can’t imagine the series without him. Our partnership really makes these books snap and I’m so happy to be working together.

What are the unique “superpowers” each of the Fairy Knights possess?

I’ll start with everyone’s favorite, Hamster Rick. He’s a hamster pet that my son named after one of his teddy animals. But rather than being all fat and round like most hamsters, he is super strong and he is incredibly chiseled. A handsome hunk of hamster.

The viewpoint of the series so far has come from Ching Goo and his school’s specialty is changing shapes. Depending on how much Magic Mana he uses, he can become about anything he can imagine. And he has a few more magic tricks up his sleeve as well. He can make himself travel very quickly, he can become super strong, he can make people believe that he is famous, and he can be very lucky. He has to be careful, though, because all of those spells cost mana and if he runs out he can’t cast any more magic for the rest of the day.

And of course, we have Oma Bell, the responsible voice of reason. She is an arcane spellcaster which means she can do powerful spells if given enough time to cast them. But more often she uses her fairy dust to create small but immediate magical effects. She can fly and she also has a mean right hook so you don’t want to mess with her. She has some more spells as well that are more specialized. Her super-smart spell makes her twice as intelligent and she can use magic to become about the cutest kid you’ve ever seen or talked to.

How have Ching Goo, Oma Bell, and Hamster Rick grown from one book to another?

At the very start of the series, Ching and Oma were just besties who liked to hang out, and Rick was Ching’s familiar, an animal pet that bonds with their owner to become something very special. But by the time the fourth book has come, we see that Rick has become a full-fledged hero in his own right and is even enrolled at Boogie Elementary School. Oma and Ching have gone through a lot together and Ching has become more mature, responsible, and kind. He has overcome the fear of being no-good, the complexities of jealousy in friendship, and he has more realistic expectations of himself and his friends. He is no longer quite so silly and headstrong. And Oma has let herself loosen up a bit. She has learned that while her ideas and plans may be brilliant, they are always better as a team. It is actually a lot of fun to chart out their lives as they go from book to book, and yet a little sad at the same time because they grow alongside my son, and each little success and every little bit of maturation means he himself is getting that much older and wiser, and that much less of my little baby boy. 

Could you share one heart-warming comment you received from a reader recently?

A father told me that his daughter was all excited about the series and kept talking about how she was going to be super good so she could level up and be a hero. That really made me laugh and smile.

What is the one lesson you’d like your little readers to learn from the Fairy Knights books?

That it is okay and natural to feel anxious, scared, and not as good as the others. And that everyone else feels that same sense of doubt and unworthiness. It is a natural part of growing up and it is okay to feel it and to talk to people about it.

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

Dames Handsome

Morning person or night owl

Night owl

Kindle or audiobook


Panda or koala


A preferred writing snack

Sour gummies

Your favorite movie of all times

Free Guy

Do you still have your favorite book from childhood? 

I don’t but that’s because it wore through!

What’s next?

Warwick has told me that the next one needs to be something special and different. So we are working on an anthology of 5 stories told by different characters within the series. But that won’t be out until at least January due to the Holidays.

4 Simple Ways to Host Your Holiday Parties on Your Patio

4 Simple Ways to Host Your Holiday Parties on Your Patio

A patio is a great place for party hosting, not only in the summer months but also for the holidays. You can get things set up well out there for a special time with your family and friends. There is nothing like a good holiday party, and these ideas for the patio will make it your best one yet.

1. Take All Your Decorations Outside

When you are hosting your holiday party outside that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on decorating but you can do that on the patio. Buy decorations that are made for the cold and bring out some of those you already own that will withstand the elements. You can even put up a tree on the patio or use one that is standing in your yard for all your ornaments. Decorate the patio with plenty of twinkling lights and it will be a beautiful place to host your holiday party.

2. Invest In Outdoor Heaters To Keep Everyone Warm

One of the most important things to do before hosting a holiday party on your patio is to invest in some quality outdoor heaters. You want everyone to feel comfortable while on the patio, and if you place the heaters all around, then they will stay that way. You can buy as many as are needed for the area. If you have a large patio, then space the heaters and firepits out so that everyone can feel the heat. The warmth that comes from them will create a great atmosphere and make everyone enjoy the time outdoors during the holidays.

3. Plan For The Right Entertainment

When you are hosting a party on your patio, you might feel concerned about what you can offer for entertainment. You can still play some of the same games as you would indoors, as long as you have enough tables and chairs set up. You could also have an ugly sweater decorating contest, do some cookie decorating, or do any of the things that you would do indoors. If you have gifts to exchange, then you can take your time and pass those around for some good entertainment, and you could also play a gift exchange game like a white elephant game to keep things interesting.

4. Keep The Food Simple And The Atmosphere Casual

When entertaining on the patio you have the excuse to keep things simple and casual. You can serve simple foods off the grill if you would like. You can also ask people to bring a dish to pass and have a potluck. You can keep the atmosphere casual with some holiday music playing and a buffet of food set up, as well as plenty of warm drinks to go around for both the young and old, and it will be a fun and relaxing party.

Host your next holiday party on your patio and everyone will have a great time. Keep your guests warm with heaters and keep the party going with plenty of entertainment. Serve the right foods and drinks and set up the right seating for your guests so that everyone will have a good time on the patio.

Meet the Babe in the Woods: Yvonne Wakefield

Meet the Babe in the Woods: Yvonne Wakefield

We bet you have a dream, a wish, or a goal of being off in your secluded cabin in the woods. Our guess, you want to escape the city or even, seeking for inspiration from nature — to create the best work of your life. Whatever your reason, you’ve got to hear Yvonne Wakefield’s story of building her cabin and her life one log at a time. Who knows, you might find the motivation you were looking for in this interview or her books from the Babe in the Woods series. So, here it is.

Hi Yvonne, when did you decide you needed to tell your story as the Babe in the Woods?

I’d previously published some really early, very raw, scattershot journal material and wanted to tell the story about my relationship with the cabin and living there alone.  After publishing “Suitcase Filled with Nails: Lessons Learned from Teaching Art in Kuwait,” the book I wrote about working as a professor in the Middle East teaching art to university-aged Muslim women, I decided to continue on a book about my life at the cabin.

What can your readers expect to find in the first book from the Babe in the Woods series?

The story of a young, naive but determined orphan girl who pushes herself to learn skills to rebuild a home she lost.  In the process, she builds connections with the locals and heals from a sorry past.

Babe in the Woods: Self Portrait was released recently. What part of your journey does it cover?

Self Portrait takes up where the first book leaves off.  It resumes my story of living alone in a wilderness log cabin. But it is also the story of coming and going there over several summers that includes my development as an artist, log cabin builder, and unfortunately my experience with rouge bears.

Why did you choose to build your cabin on an Oregon mountainside?

In high school history class, I learned about the Oregon Trail.  When I came of age and was ready to set out on my venture I headed to Oregon, not knowing if this was the spot on the map where I’d eventually settle.

You don’t seem to miss the city. But in the beginning, what were some things that you missed or wished you had access to?

I still don’t miss the city.  What I miss still, I was at the cabin last weekend during snow and rainstorm, is a good road, Other than that, I have everything I need there.  It just takes a lot longer to get hot water and heat if you first have to fall a tree, buck, and split it to build a stove fire.  Everything is the same as it was when I moved into the cabin as a teenager.   The same kerosene lamps provide light, the same stove heats the interior and all my original tools hang on nails below the porch. I still draw buckets of water from the creek. I did build a bathhouse that is really the only luxury addition.

Is there a fascinating bear-related story you’d like to share here?

One summer when I returned, I discovered bears had gotten into all of my food stores below the cabin.  These weren’t wild bears, but habituated ones relocated into the wilderness above my cabin.  No matter how diligent I was about keeping my food under lock the bears continued to raid my cabin.  When I found myself between a sow and a cub, I had to make a big decision contrary to my philosophy of co-existence.

Being an artist, what’s the best part about having your studio in the forest?

Yvonne Wakefield

There are no electronic or telephonic distractions because there is no electricity or cell phone reception.  I don’t even have a radio.  On the contrary, I can’t extend oil painting sessions past sunset unless I’m working by full moonlight.  One snowy night I was finishing a watercolor painting inside the cabin and went to rinse my brushes in the sink and I noticed it wasn’t draining as usual.  I went back to finish the painting and during this time the gray water drain pipe had frozen.  I had to haul buckets from the creek heat the water and pour it in the sink until the pipe thawed.  If I’d had modern plumbing this would not have happened.

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

Artist or writer

In my mind’s eye, I don’t distinguish between the two

Country or Folk music


Writing in the morning or late at night?


Your favorite book of all time…

The Living by Annie Dillard

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

I’ve never had a bucket list

One thing you can’t live without…

my little dogs

What’s your favorite holiday memory?

Before my parents died and Christmas was a time for family and celebration I got a red kick scooter.  I was five years old. Before I could use it on Christmas morning, I had to finish my breakfast.  I stuffed my mouth like a chipmunk, was excused from the table, hopped on my little scooter, and spit scrambled eggs in the gutter as I scooted down the sidewalk.

Multimedia Mogul Charlamagne Tha God Takes on Television with Comedy Central Show

Multimedia Mogul Charlamagne Tha God Takes on Television with Comedy Central Show

It’s no small achievement to become a well-known personality within the media. It takes a potent combination of charisma and grit to capture the attention of the masses in one space, let alone across multiple media platforms. 

But Lenard “Charlamagne” McKelvey –– also known as Charlamagne tha God –– is up for the challenge. Over the past two decades Charlamagne has made a name for himself as a radio personality, building an audience of more than 4.5 million listeners a week for his syndicated radio morning show “The Breakfast Club,” as well as authoring two books, acting and hosting a podcast. Now the multimedia mogul is applying his signature wit and style to a new medium with his new show on Comedy Central, Tha God’s Honest Truth.

Over the course of his career, Charlamagne has made a name for himself as someone who doesn’t shy away from giving his opinion or asking tough questions, and has said that people should expect nothing less from him in this weekly late-night series. According to the Comedy Central website, the show will use a variety of deep dives, sketches and social experiments to tackle relevant social issues and unpack the most pressing topics in politics and culture, and the first three episodes that have been released do not renege on that promise. With episodes entitled “Decrackerfication” and “Critical Racist Theory,” Charlamagne has already shown the ability to deliver his uniquely thought-provoking and uninhibited observations in this new medium. 

Born in Moncks Corner, South Carolina, Charlamagne grew up in the small town of the Palmetto state. Although his school teacher mom instilled in him a love of reading that he carried with him his whole life, his teenage years were fraught with turmoil as he neglected schooling in favor of the more glamorized street life. However, after a few run-ins with the law he eventually escaped the worse fates of many on his path, attending night school and eventually graduating high school. These successes enabled him to get an internship with a local radio station, and through it he was able to discover his passion earlier than many in their lives. Within a few short years, he was able to turn that internship into an on-air position that saw him gain statewide recognition for his irreverent and straightforward style. 

In 2010, Charlamagne became a co-host of The Breakfast Club alongside DJ Envy and Angela Yee, which quickly exploded into one of the most popular radio shows. Syndicated by Premiere Networks on nearly 100 stations across the country, today it is widely known as the most informative and entertaining top-rated hip hop and R&B morning show. Last year, the show celebrated its 10-year anniversary and the three co-hosts were inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame for their work.

With radio providing a solid launching point, Charlamagne has been able to parlay that influence into many other types of media. In 2014 he began hosting the widely-acclaimed podcast Brilliant Idiots alongside Andrew Schultz, where the two provide their reactions to news in pop culture and the world. The show’s popularity has seen them able to take it on the road, appearing on stage in cities across the globe for live tapings, and each episode is streamed and downloaded by hundreds of thousands of listeners and fans. In 2017 he added author to his repertoire, coming out with “Black Privilege: Opportunity Comes to Those Who Create It.” Published by the Simon & Schuster Inc. imprint Touchstone, the book outlines his belief that living life authentically is the fastest way to earn success. It was well-received by critics, making the New York Times list of best-selling hardback non-fiction and opening the doors for him to release his second book “Shook One: Anxiety Playing Tricks on Me” in 2018. 

Television is far from a new medium for the multimedia mogul, but Tha God’s Honest Truth may be the best way he is able to utilize his unique conversational talents for the platform. In 2011 he was made a cast member of Guy Code, a comedy television show on MTV2 that talked about a special code of conduct just for men, and also starred on the MTV2 show Uncommon Sense with Charlamagne, which evolved into the show Charlamagne & Friends. He served as a co-host for MTV New Year’s live from Times Square for two years in a row, and in 2015 was also a correspondent for the pre-show of the MTV Video Music Awards. 

At the end of the day, that appears to be the secret behind Charlamagne’s ability to translate himself across multiple platforms. Although he has called himself at times everything from “prince of pissing people off” to “ruler of rubbing you the wrong way” to “architect of aggravation,” the lack of contrivance in the way he approaches any subject or person ultimately garner the respect of those he interviews and the people who tune in to hear what he has to say.

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.