Top 5 Date Night Ideas

Today, I’m super pumped to be hosting a Dreamspinner blog event called the Top 5. When the fab Poppy Dennison approached me with the idea, I was all in. Who doesn’t like taking part in a event that also allows authors to interact with their readers?

Of course, after I agreed to join the event, panic settled in. What the heck was I going to write about? I had to pick a topic that was fun, not too cheesy, but something the readers and I could sink our teeth into. That’s when it hit me: why not write about something that’s near and dear to the hearts of most romance readers and authors?


So here’s my list of the top 5 things to do on date night with your loved one that are guaranteed to be a blast!

#5–Be Silly

largeFar too often couples get mired down in the every day hustle and bustle of life and its commitments, that we often forget to let our hair down and have fun. That’s why being silly together could be just what the love doctor ordered. Challenge each other to a game of pool or head to a Dave and Buster’s and have an arcade olympics. The two of you will be laughing the entire time you’re trying to outscore the other on a classic Pacman game or even in Skeeball. You can even spice things up by agreeing that whoever wins the most games gets to decide what they the couple eats for dessert. The possibilities are…endless.

#4–Walk Down Memory Lane

Handsome gay couple on Campus

This is especially a great idea for couples who didn’t meet/date in high school or college. If you happen to live in the town where you went to school, or if your alma mater is within driving distance, you could take a short road trip, and relive your memories with your loved one. You can show your significant other your old dorm rooms or where you hung out in the quad with your college besties. Engaging in this sort of activity brings your loved one into your past and allows for some great communication.

#3–Go on a Picnic

engagement picnic bigWhile this certainly isn’t a novel idea, it doesn’t make it any less wonderful. There’s a reason picnics make fun dates. First of all, you get to either make a meal or find take out you both enjoy, then you get to eat it together–alone–in a place that both of you enjoy or find beautiful. There’s something special about sharing a romantic meal on the beach, in a park, or even in your living room. Our fast-paced lives slow down, and our only focus is the company of the person we love most in the world. There’s truly not much better than that.

#2–Enjoy a Spa Day

face-to-faceThis is especially great for couples with stressful jobs/lives and who are constantly on the run. When you indulge in a spa day, the day truly becomes about the two of you pampering yourselves and each other. You get to talk to each other while getting a pedicure and then let go completely at your couple’s massage. Afterward, you’ll both feel refreshed, relaxed, and ready to return to the real world because you took time for yourselves while doing so together.

#1–Play Dirty

51t2PcNR1vLSex is an important part of any healthy relationship, but sometimes even the healthiest of relationships could use a little spice. Why not head down to your local adult store and browse for a few toys? If your town doesn’t have an adult store, visit one of the many online retailers and browse their selections. Sometimes, even a game of strip poker could be just what is needed. Depending on your comfort level, you and your loved one could have quite the adventurous, explosive night of your lives.

So that’s my list of top 5 things to do on date night. What did you think about the list? Did any of your favorites make it? What are your top 5 ideas for a date night? I’d love to hear them because one of you just might give me an idea I’d love to try!

Top 5 Creepiest Vampires

I don’t know about you, but for the past few years, I’ve wondered exactly how vampires have changed from bloodsucking monsters into misunderstood rebels. I mean, just who is their publicist? When I was a child, the thought of a vampire terrified me. They were undead, and they delighted on preying on innocents and sucking them dry. I remember going to sleep after watching a vampire movie, eyeing what I could turn into a stake if I needed to.

That hasn’t really been the case for a few years. Vampires have turned into the ultimate bad boys. They are the anti-heroes who just need to love of a good man (or woman) to get them to change their bloodthirsty ways.

Granted, I admit the idea intrigues me, and I wouldn’t mind being turned by Eric Northman from True Blood.


Damn, that man is hot!

Even so, to me, vampires were meant to be monsters, to inspire fear and to keep us up at night (and not in the good way). That’s why today, I’m going to share my top 5 creepiest vampires

#5 Grandpa Munster from The Munsters


Now, I know many of you might disagree, but this character always creeped the s#!+ out of me! He was far too nice and saccharin and the way he talked made he shudder. I always expected him to try to lure me into his white van with candy. Shivers!

#4 Collin Ferrell’s Jerry in Fright Night


Jerry was creepy to me because he was this insanely hot next door neighbor during the day but a ruthless killer at night. He’d flash you that roguish smirk and then slice open your throat with his fangs. The combo of hot and crazy creeps me out every time because being hot kinda blinds most of us to the crazy.

#3 Danny Glick from Salem’s Lot


This kid freaked the ever-loving fool out of me! In fact, I still have trouble with this scene as an adult. I won’t go near a window after watching this movie!

#2 The Master from The Strain


I was thrilled when I heard Guillermo Del Toro was taking on the vampire genre, and he hasn’t disappointed me yet with his interpretation. While the master was creepier before we actually got to see him, he still takes spot number 2 on my list.

#1 Barlow from Salem’s Lot


So, yeah, Salem’s Lot is obviously the definitive vampire story in my opinion, seeing as how two characters from this book/mini-series made it on my list, but can you blame me? Look at this guy! He’s one creepy ass mother! Watching this movie still terrifies me after all these years.

These are the kinds of vampires I remember, and to me, this is how vampires are supposed to be. What do you think? Do you prefer vampires as the scary monster or the misunderstood anti-hero?

Top 5 Prank Videos

My husband inspired this blog post with a recent video he shared on Facebook. For those of you who know me, I LOVE scaring people. Why? Well, there’s something about the thrill of lying in wait and jumping out to scare someone that really makes me happy.

Maybe it’s all the scary movies I’ve watched since I was a child, but I’m a terrible prankster. Just ask my husband, children, and pretty much anyone else who knows me.

That’s why I decided today to share the top 5 pranks that I’ve had the pleasure of viewing  on YouTube.

#5–The Ring Style Wake Up Prank

This prank was the one that my hubby shared on Facebook. I thought it was ingenious. Not only did it require a tremendous amount of preparation, but it showed this man’s dedication to the art of pranking. He’s a man after my own heart.

While The Ring itself wasn’t a terribly scary movie in my opinion, I did think that little girl climbing out of the television was pretty freaky. That’s why I just love this video. This man managed to capture the essence of the truly creepiest part of the movie, unfortunately for his wife. 🙂

#4–The Grudge Prank

This prank was inspired by the movie The Grudge. Once again, not a terribly scary movie, but the concept had promise, and the Japanese television show capitalized on that aspect. The video is a bit long, but the victims’ reactions are worth it. If you can’t watch the whole video, the first two scares are pretty darn good.

#3–The Zombie in Miami Prank

This prank was one of my favorites because the man in this video took a real life event that occurred in Miami and used it to scare random people. He’s also got a big pair of balls to chase around some of the big fellas he does. I sure as hell couldn’t have done that! When he gets his comeuppance in the end, well, that was pretty darn funny too.

#2–Ghost in an Elevator Prank

A Brazilian television show combined two common fears shared by many–getting stuck in an elevator and encountering a ghostly little girl. Now, I’m extremely claustrophobic, so that fear comes naturally to me. I also have a healthy respect for ghostly apparitions. If I ever encounter one, I plan to leave it be as soon as possible. But being stuck in an elevator, well, there’s just nowhere to go is there?

#1–Man Scares His Aunt

This prank has been my all-time favorite ever since I came across it a couple of years ago. What makes this video so great is not the prank itself, which is pretty darn good, but the aunt’s reaction to the knife-wielding intruder. It’s truly priceless!

So there you have it. Those are my favorite pranks of all time. Naturally, I’ll be on the look out for more, and if I find them, I’ll be sure to share them with all of you. 😉

Top 5 Bad Tattoo Ideas

If you’re like me, you might find tattoos fascinating. I don’t have one myself because, well, I’m a wimp when it comes to inflicting pain upon myself. I’m not afraid of needles, and I take my immunizations like a good boy, but I personally don’t want to seek out someone to plunder my skin with a thousand needle strikes in order to place an image upon my body. Besides, I lack the attention span to be able to sit still for the hours long process.

However, I did find these really bad tattoos that did make me sit still long enough to scratch my head and laugh.

Bad Tattoo #1: Really? What possessed this young woman to want a picture of a Great White eating someone in her armpit? Perhaps it stinks like chum under there or something, and this is her way of warning people to stay away. I know it worked for me.

Shark pit

The Shark Pit










Bad Tattoo# 2: I know that love can conquer all, but I don’t necessarily concur with this statement! Next time this person gets a tattoo, I hope either he or his tattoo artist double check their spelling. This is one mistake whiteout can’t fix.

Bad Tattoo Idea

Spell Check Needed









Bad Tattoo#3: Okay, I’m not really good at directions, but come on! Don’t get lost with this goofy gal or you’ll wind up in China when you were trying to get to Hawaii!

Bad Tattoo 3

Next time: ask for directions









Bad Tattoo #4: This person gives new meaning to the word fanatic! I grew up with Bob Barker, and I enjoyed his tenure on The Price is Right, but this is going a bit too far! This tattoo won’t get this person any dates, and I doubt anyone will be screaming for him to “come on down!” This person should be neutered, not his pet!

Bad tattoo 4

The Celebrity Stalker










Bad Tattoo #5: This one was funnier than just plain awful, but I just had to add it. If your arm pit hair length bothers you that much, just shave it off. No need to advertise that you want it trimmed. Makes me wonder if he has a weedwacker tattooed over his groin.

Bad tattoo 5


Lessons Learned in New Orleans

I posted on Thursday that I was being whisked away on a surprise trip by my dear husband. Well, we ended up in New Orleans, and the surprise didn’t stop there. He reunited me with two dear friends–Chris and Jill. Jill, as you may remember from my fruit fly post, was my most recent fly who unfortunately flew back home to Alabama and away from me–her fruit!

When we saw each other again this past Friday evening, the three and a half years of separation melted away as if they never existed. The four of us simply picked back up from the moment we said goodbye and never once missed a beat.

That moment was very special to me. At a time in my life when dear friends seem few and far between, it was nice to be reminded that I have true connections in this world–connections that link us together through time and space.

So in honor of our weekend in NOLA and of time spent with friends I miss dearly already, I wanted to share some lessons learned this weekend.

Lesson #1 True Friends Never Say Goodbye

  • To quote Stephen King, one of my favorite authors, from his novel Stand By Me: “Friends come in and out of your life like busboys in a restaurant.” Never than more recently in my life has this been true. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and befriending some wonderful individuals, each of whom has profoundly changed me for the better. To list them all and how I’ve grown would fill hundreds of blog posts, so I won’t even attempt that. But what I’ve learned after this weekend is that true friends are never gone from our lives. The busboy (friend) may depart your table (life) to attend to other duties (their lives), but a good busboy always returns to check the cleanliness of your table, to help clear away any accumulated mess or simply to check in on the status of your table. A true friend is like a good busboy–always in the periphery of your life and willing to return when summoned or needed. Thanks to Chris and Jill, I was reminded that even when you leave the restaurant, good friends remain on the menus of our lives.

Lesson #2 Gay Men Steal (or attempt to steal) Fruit Flies

  • In case you didn’t know, gay men are very protective of their fruit flies. It’s a relationship that’s almost as sacrosanct as marriage. When a gay man and straight woman bond, it’s till death do us part! Luckily, the husbands of our flies understand and are not threatened by the relationship. After all, we can’t steal (and don’t want to steal) their wives from them. BUT flies are in danger of being stolen by other fruits. It’s a gay man’s worst nightmare and one that I relieved this weekend! Some shirtless queen sashayed over to my fly, talking about “how gorgeous and fierce she is.” Compliments to my fly don’t intimidate me because, well, they are typically true: she is gorgeous and fierce, but the look in his eye was more than just pure admiration of her awesomeness. He was looking at my fly as if he was a fly trap trying to derive a way of making her his own. When I realized what was happening, I was like “Homo, please!” and sent him on his way. Thanks to the Shirtless Wonder, I stayed close to my fly the rest of the night. There was no way I was letting another fruit get illusions of grandeur about stealing this fruit’s fly!

Lesson #3 Beware of Motorboating Waitresses!

  • When a generously endowed waitress shoved my friend’s face between her breasticles, I thought it was hilarious. Even though he had a good time, I knew she had an agenda. The motorboat led to two shots, which led to her demanding money for her services. I was on to her game and promptly turned from her. I had no intention of finding myself suffocating between her “fleshy pillows” (Another quote from Stephen King; this time from Carrie.) This woman, however, was shrewd. Like a true motorboat, she circled the pond and went into stealth mode. Before I knew what was happening, my face was shoved between her mounds of flesh and she was attempting to force feed me two shot vials. Luckily for me, I’m immune to the charms of breasticles. My lips remained shut and nary a drop of liquor entered my mouth. She was denied her sale, and I sent her back into the pond for far easier fish. So, for anyone who goes to the French Quarter, watch out for big busted waitresses. Their milkshakes aren’t free!

Lesson #4 Flip Flops and the French Quarter Don’t Mix

  • If you’ve ever been to the French Quarter, you know how nasty and disgusting the streets are. If you haven’t been, well, just imagine strolling across pavement filled with an assortment of body fluids and you might get a snapshot of the whole disgusting picture. Though the streets are power washed daily, no amount of water can sanitize the nastiness, especially when you see how frothy and brown the water gets as attempts to clean it are made. Still, despite watching someone spew bodily fluids the night before, people actually walked through the streets during the day wearing flip flops. Really? Do they not realize that whatever liquid they walk through will be splashed across the backs of their bare legs. That’s just inviting a staph infection–or worse! When strolling through the French Quarter, always wear sneakers or footwear you don’t mind disposing of when you get home.

Lesson #5 Gay Bar + Football = A Good Time For All

  • I’m not a football fan; however, if football had been presented to me as it was this weekend, I just might have learned to like it. We watched the LSU/Alabama game at a gay bar, and I had a great time. I don’t know if it was the game or the go-go boys on the bar dancing, but it was the most fun I’ve ever had watching a televised sport (well, except maybe for figure skating or gymnastics!) I didn’t know what the score was most of the time or why people were booing or cheering, but I booed and cheered along with them–in between sips of my cocktails and ogling the barely clad boys. So, if you find yourself having to do something you normally don’t enjoy doing, throw in some alcohol and exposed flesh of whatever gender gets you going, and you’ll be having a blast in no time!

All in all, the New Orleans trip was a success! I learned to value true friendship, to forever guard my fly from fallen fruits, to be wary of waitresses sporting too much cleavage, to wear appropriate foot ware in NOLA, and to add alcohol and go-go boys to every event!

Top 5 Weirdest Halloween Costumes

I’m attending two Halloween parties this weekend, and our costumes hit a bit of a snafu when they arrived yesterday. Let’s just say, spandex is not my best friend! So, it’s time to return to the drawing board. My husband is trying his best to salvage the situation. True to form, I retreat to my computer when faced with any form of manual labor–including reworking a costume.

So while he toils and troubles, I hit the Internet to find the weirdest costumes I could find–at least weirder than me in spandex.

Beach Man

#1 Beach Man

Does anyone else find it bizarre that this individual thought to attach an assortment of beach parephernelia to his body and call it a costume? I don’t typically pass by a sandbox and think: hey, I could wear that! But I’m weird that way.

What also bothers me here is that I have absolutely no idea what that monkey shaped disc covering his junk is. I don’t really want to find out, but it definitely could have been bigger. And I don’t even want to take a gander and what’s covering his rear. If I had to guess, I would say nothing, and that’s just too scary to contemplate!

I will give this man kudos, however, for daring to wear (much less be photographed) in this outfit. I wore my spandex clad costume for thirty seconds, and that was thirty seconds too long. There was no way anyone was going to see me in that!


Frog costume#2 Frog Lady?

This costume confuses me for more than how ridiculous it looks. I’m uncertain what it’s supposed to be. It looks somewhat like a frog, but from what I know about amphibian anatomy, they don’t have more than four legs. This one appears to have eight!

Perhaps it’s a bizarre frog/spider hybrid, but whatever it is, it needs to hop away.

The green track suit alone is enough to elicit screams of terror!


The Crapper#3 Mr. Crapper

First of all, I don’t even want to know how the idea for this costume came up! Far too many gross possibilities swirl their way to the top of my thinktank.

I must, however, give this costume points for ingenuity even though the whole concept seems like a bad idea to me!

You just know that some drunk fool at the party is going to attempt to pee on him or worship at his throne after too much imbibing.

He’s just an accident waiting to happen, and considering how he’s dressed, he’s really just asking for it!


#4 WTF

Words fail me.

I simply have no clue as to what this is.

I see two men in see through spandex, proudly displaying what appears to be a leather speedo and a boxer brief. But I have no idea why one has two oversized red antennae (which resemble sausages) jutting from his head while holding the hand of his friend in yellow face paint and blue spandex.

I’m stumped!

Everything about this is wrong.


Boy in a pizza box

#5 Boy in a Pizza Box

Okay, so maybe this costume isn’t as weird as the others, but I just had to include it!

It’s certainly minimalistic, but a great idea for what I can only assume is a college Halloween party.

College students sometimes lack funds to go all out for costumes, but he certainly made do with what he had–a pizza box no doubt left lying in his dorm room for the past week.

The good thing about this costume though is that it makes me want a slice of pizza or at the very least some pepperoni.









Top 5 Costume Ideas for Halloween

It’s hard to believe, but Halloween is right around the corner. In the spirit of the season, and for those of you looking for last minute costume ideas, I wanted to share what costumes I would love to see at the parties this year.

Princess Beatrice's ugly hat#1 Princess Beatrice

There would be few sights more frightening this Halloween than walking down a dark alley and seeing this hat coming at you. I think I’d rather cross paths with Jason, Michael Myers, or a whole herd of zombies from AMC’s “Walking Dead.”

So, if you really want to scare your friends, this would be a good costume for you. It really wouldn’t take too much to duplicate this outfit either.

Find something octopus shaped, dye it a tacky beige, and attach it to a hat you already hate (which has also been dyed the same awful color). Once you’ve assembled the fugly hat, get a red wig, darken your eyes like a raccoon, and then buy some hideous outfit at Goodwill.

Tada! Instant horror show!

Lindsay Lohan in jail

#2 Lindsay Lohan in jail

While not as frightening as Princess Beatrice, this one would be an instant hit at any party–just like Lindsay!

What would be more fun than tossing back a few drinks next to a drunken and staggering celebrity?

It wouldn’t take too much effort to copy this either. Simply take your old, orange correctional jumpsuit out of the closet (or borrow one from a more worldly friend), do your hair all purdy, slather on bronzer and eye make up, and then top it all off with a bottle of liquor for each hand.

Then go about the party talking trash about your family and pissing everyone off by being rude. No one will take it personally because, well, you’ll be in character.


Marcus and Michele Bachmann#3 Marcus and Michele Bachmann

This costume would be ideal for a straight couple or a gay and his fruit fly of choice. This pairing could be the new dynamic duo and rival all those gay Batman and Robin’s circling the spiked punch bowl. Not only that, but these costumes have the potential to be even creepier than Princess Beatrice, if done right.

The Marcus costume would be easy. Simply put a gay man in a suit and have him act super effeminate (if he doesn’t already!). For Michele, the important part of the costume will be the wide, crazy eyes. Without those, you would simply be another woman in a Junior League pantsuit and a string of pearls.

When put together, anyone talking to you at the party will be creeped out by the constantly wide-eyed and grinning idiot with her arm around the man who wants to be the new First Lady.

Anthony Weiner#4 Representative Anthony Weiner

Since the former Republican Representative from New York sent out Twitter pics of his junk, his life hasn’t been the same, but thankfully for Halloween, it would make a fabulous costume that would have fellow party goers laughing. It might also get you a date or two!

This costume would be fun, hilarious, and well, scary, depending on how big of a Weiner (hehe) you decided to be. It would also be easy to duplicate! Simply wear a suit and tie on top and wear only grey boxer briefs for your bottoms. Then walk around taking Twit pics of your manhood and forwarding them to your friends.

If a couple is there as Michele and Marcus Bachmann, a Twitter pic of the three of you would be golden!


Occupy Wallstreet Protester# 5 Occupy Wallstreet Protester and NYC Officer

This is another good idea for a couple or even a group of friends, and you can make a political statement while doing it. Talk about hitting two birds with one stone!

As for copying this idea, there are far too many to be mentioned. Dressing as a NYC cop would be easy. All you would need is the police uniform and a taser to subdue those unruly protesters.

To be a protestor, you would need signs such as “I am the 99%,” “Wall Street Needs Adult Supervision,” or any other catch phrase. Then, dress up in torn clothing or walk about without a shirt (quite symbolic). Then, all you would need to do is piss off your friend dressed as the cop and be tased to the delight of your fellow guests.

I hope to see these costumes at the two Halloween parties I’m attending. If not, I will be extremely disappointed. As for what I’m wearing, well, you’ll have to find me at the Halloween parties and find out for yourself.

Top 5 Lessons Learned from Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley

I realized the other day that I missed the birthday of another of my favorite actors–Sigourney Weaver! (Please forgive me, Sigourney!)

I know there must be other people out there who love Sigourney Weaver as much as I do, but I challenge anyone out there who thinks they love her character Ellen Ripley from the Alien movies more than I do. Those would definitely be fighting words!

Alien was the first scary movie I saw, and I absolutely loved it! In fact, because of her and that movie, I became a rabid fan of the genre.

I was only seven years old when the movie premiered, and I begged my mother to take me to see it. Now before you bash my mother for daring to take such a young boy to such a scary movie, keep in mind that I pestered her almost nightly to see it. I wasn’t forced, and I wasn’t dragged. I wanted to see that movie! I was willing to do whatever I needed to do to see it once I saw the trailer.

In case you’ve forgotten it, here it is!

When I first saw that trailer, I remember thinking what the hell is in that egg?!?! (Yes, I most likely said hell at that age. I was always very advanced!)

The movie trailer intrigued me, and I just had to see it. Boy, was I glad I did!

Even though my mother attempted to shield my eyes during the infamous chest burster scene, I pried her hand open, so I could watch what would become a momentous cinematic event. I was neither emotionally scared nor terrified by what happened. I thought it was awesome!

Since then, Sigourney’s Ripley became my first action hero! (Well, besides Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman, but I’ll save that for a later post! Today is Sigourney’s day!)

So, to commemorate her 62nd birthday, I wanted to share some lessons I learned from watching Sigourney Weaver battle her alien nemesis throughout the years.

Lesson #1: Always Follow Standard Quarantine Rules

  • Ripley knew they should never have let Cain back aboard the Nostromo with the face hugger wrapped around his head. In fact, the science protocols for Weyland-Yutani (yup, I know the company the original crew worked for) explicitly stated indigenous lifeforms are to be kept off ship at all times! This was for the safety of the crew, but did they listen to her? NOOOO! They let Cain on the ship and then died for their stupidity. It served them right, really! Since that movie, I don’t allow anyone aboard my ship without first making sure they pass quarantine procedures. If you don’t dock safely, you could be in serious trouble. Just ask Cain or Dallas or Brett or Lambert or Parker. Ashe doesn’t count; he was a robot after all!

Lesson #2: Always Wear Good Panties (or undies)

  • At the end of Alien, Ripley had to fight the monster in close quarters, wearing only her drawers. Thankfully, she wore a nice looking pair prior to jumping into the spacesuit and knocking the Alien out the shuttle bay door. She was fierce and attractive while kicking Alien @$$. Because of that scene, I make sure that I always wear a good pair of undies in mint or near-mint condition. You never know what situation may suddenly come up, requiring you to be barely clothed! No matter the reason, wearing a good pair of underwear will boost your confidence and allow you to beat whatever monster needs beating at the time!

Lesson #3: Damsels in Distress Don’t Survive

  • While I enjoyed Veronica Cartwright’s portrayal of Lambert in Alien, her can’t-save-myself attitude only got her killed. She refused to take action and sat by while others made plans or sacrificed their lives (poor Parker) before ultimately dying herself. Ripley never traveled down that road. She took action, made plans, and saw them through. She had no trouble setting the self-destruct sequence, even if it meant killing herself in the process. She was always going to be in control of her fate. Thanks to Ripley, I’ve learned to never rely on someone else to save me. If I’m going to make it out of a hairy situation, I have to set events in motion to make sure I come out on top.

Lesson #4: Stand Up for Yourself and Your Loved Ones, No Matter What (or as Ripley put it: “Get away from her, you bitch!”)

  • In the 1985 sequel Aliens, Ripley returned to LV 426, the name of the now-colonized planet that she landed on in the original movie. She went back with a squadron of  Colonial Marines, who were dubbed the baddest @$$es in the known universe. Obviously, they were all fated to die because, well, they weren’t Ripley! The marines died one by one, but Ripley survived to challenge the Alien Queen in the end. The queen’s alien drones had kidnapped Ripley’s surrogate daughter Newt, and well, Ripley was pissed off. She charged into the alien hive, rescued Newt, battled the queen, and made it safely back to the Sulako. Of course, in a surprise twist, the Alien Queen stowed away and threatened Ripley’s daughter once again. Not to be outdone, Ripley battled the queen courtesy a futuristic hydraulic lift and uttered her famous words: “Get away from her, you bitch!” Naturally, Ripley saved Newt and the day, and I learned that no matter what the odds, no matter how ugly or vicious the monster you must face, you have to stand up for those you love. Because in the end, their love is all that really matters.

Lesson #5: You Can’t Keep a Good Woman (or Person) Down

  • In the less popular third part of the series Alien 3, Ripley died, sacrificing herself for the good of humanity. You see, Weyland-Yutani, her original employer from the first movie always knew about the alien and wanted it for its weapon division. Ripley, impregnated by one of the aliens, wasn’t about to let that happen. After surviving yet another alien attack and being one of two survivors, she jumped in a pit of fire. Did that stop Ripley? Nope. She was reborn in Alien Resurrection, where she continued to survive and ultimately made it back to Earth. From her trials, I learned that a truly good person may have crap happen to them in life, but in the end the crap doesn’t win. By some force, be it sheer determination or divine intervention, the good person wins out in the end. So I do my best to be as good, strong, brave, and loyal as Ripley was throughout her run in the Alien franchise.

Looking back at everything I’ve learned, I have Sigourney Weaver to thank for helping me in my relationships and my character. If I had never seen Alien at seven years old, Lord only knows how messed up I might be today!

Top 5 Most Challenged LGBT Themed Books

Banned Book Week (September 24-October 1 2011) has just concluded, and as an English professor, the concept of banning books baffles my mind. Literature is meant to be an exploration, a journey into worlds, experiences, and ideas we might never experience in our lives. Reading is meant to broaden our horizons, to teach us lessons about love and to inspire growth as a person and as a species.

How can growth be accomplished when groups or organizations exist that constantly attempt to weed out the ideas they don’t want shared with the world?

No one person or group should be allowed that much power, for reading is knowledge and knowledge is power. By attempting to ban books, those groups are endeavoring to keep individuals ignorant, to keep growth stunted to another’s concept of morality. Those people are like a gardner attempting to prune a bonsai tree, to keep it small and weak by clipping this idea or whittling that thought from the collective garden of society.

Libraries are for everyone and should represent the multitudes. When a book is banned, a subset of our societal make up is also lopped off.

Banning books, for any reason, just should not be allowed. If those who ban books had their way, many classics we enjoy, such as The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (challenged because of language and sexual references), The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger (challenged for being “anti-white” and containing vulgarity and sex), or The Color Purple by Alice Walker (challenged for  depictions of race relations, African history, vulgarity, and explicit sexual encounters) would never have found a place among the shelves or in our hearts.

If you look closely as to why books are challenged/banned, it’s because they deal with real life situations–sex, vulgarity, race relations, and minority topics–that make the supposed moral “majority” uncomfortable, that threaten their strangle hold onto power. Consider this: why do you think slave owners didn’t want their slaves to read or be educated? It wasn’t because it was too expensive or not worthwhile. It’s because education is power. It’s because once a group learns of the persecutions being heaped upon them, then they demand and clamor for change. So those who attempt to ban books today, under the guise of protecting their children, are really using the ploy to foster ignorance and keep the down trodden down.

This is why I believe many LGBT-themed books are challenged today. It’s not merely because of the “sex” or “vulgarity.” It’s because LGBT-themed books challenge the status quo. They show gay and/or lesbian characters as real people dealing with difficult situations of coming out, questioning their identity, or overcoming obstacles that are universal in nature. These conflicts make homosexuals more human and more like everyone else and not the other many people would like to see us as.

To prove my point, let’s take a look at some of the most challenged LGBT themed books.

And Tango Makes Three

And Tango Makes Three

#1 And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson, Peter Parnell, and Henry Cole and published by Simon and Schuster.

This children’s book is challenged because it is pro-homosexuality, anti-family, and unsuited to age group. Here is what the story is actually about. It’s about two real life penguins from Central Park Zoo in NYC, who nested together and tried to hatch a rock. Zookeepers decided to give the partnered male penguins an egg from a male/female pairing of penguins who had one too many. Had the zoo not done so, one of the eggs would have been sacrificed and would have died. Instead, by giving the extra egg to the two male penguins, the chick hatched and was nurtured and raised by their loving fathers.

This book is hardly anti-family since it is all about family. In fact, the book’s message seems more pro-life to me, and I thought that was one societal issue most conservative Christians supported. Are they saying it’s better for chicks (or children) to die or be cast off than to be raised by homosexual parents? Now, that story seems more anti-family and unsuited for a child’s age group to me!

Daddy's Roommate

Daddy's Roommate

Heather Has Two Mommies

Heather Has Two Mommies

#2 Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite and #3 Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman. Both books published by Alyson Books

These children’s books are challenged because they involve characters engaged in same-sex relationships. These two books depict how two different children are raised by same-gender parents. The lives these families lead are ordinary. They do household chores, they argue, and they spend time as a family–all very typical and mundane aspects of every single family. The only difference is the same-gendered parents. The moral of these stories is to show everyone that a family is a family, no matter what the family dynamics. The only universal tie is the love that brings the family together.

I can’t help but feel as if that is precisely the reason these two books are challenged. Remember my comment earlier about the slave owners keeping their slaves ignorant. Well, the same idea applies here. The conservative Christians don’t want people to realize that homosexuals are not only capable parents but that there is no distinction whatsever between homosexual and heterosexual parents beyond the gender of the adults.

King & King

King & King

#4 King and King by Linda De Haan and Stern Nijland and published by Tricyle Press (previously published in the Netherlands)

This young children’s book was also challenged because of its homosexual content. What’s intriguing about this book’s challenge, however, is that the couple who sought to ban it did it to keep children from having to worry about “homosexuality, race, or religion.” Their attempted ban though increased the circulation of the book in their library and in their township. All of this over a twist on the classic fairy tale. The Queen wants her son to marry, so she can retire. The Prince doesn’t like the princesses brought to him until he meets one of the princesses’ brothers. The two fall in love and marry, and the Queen gets to retire while the two Kings take care of the country and the retired Queen.

The homosexual content that is apparently objectionable–since there are no graphic sex scenes or vulgarity–is the love shown between two boys. The boys do nothing wrong in the story. They obey their families, and they get married. They even take care of the grouchy mom, who gets to sit poolside and sun. No one is abandoned, and the responsibilities of the kingdom are met. Unless taking care of family, falling in love, and fulfilling responsibilities are objectionable, I just don’t see how this story differs all that much from “Cinderella” or “Sleeping Beauty.”

Baby Be Bop

Baby Be Bop

#5 Baby Be Bop by Francesca Lia Block and published by HarperCollins

This young adult book is challenged for explicit language and promoting the homosexual agenda. It’s about a young boy’s struggle with his sexual identity, a common theme of today. The protagonist falls in love (which is unrequited), is beaten to near death by bullies, but learns that true love comes to us all.

Obviously, this is a book children, who suffer from extensive bullying in the school system, shouldn’t read! Why should children who might be different not learn that it gets better, that love is waiting in the wings, and that family will (and should) always be there when we need them?

When a rational person, who doesn’t carry the repressive yoke of hate or fear around their necks, looks at these books, he/she can see these books are about love, family, and acceptance–all integral values to a society. These ideas shouldn’t be banned anymore than the Bible or the Koran. All books teach valuable lessons, and it is an individual’s right to choose for him/herself what book to read.

No one should do that for us!

Top 5 Lessons Learned from Olivia Newton-John’s Films/Music

Yesterday, one of the most important women of my childhood celebrated a birthday–Olivia Newton-John. (This would have been posted yesterday, but my hosting server crashed. My apologies, Olivia!)

I imagine there are many gay men who also fell in love with ONJ in their youths. Not only was she beautiful but she was amazingly talented, and her songs bewitched me the first moment I heard her open her mouth. I still remember when I first saw her in Grease on the big screen. With my mother sitting next to me munching on popcorn and nachos, I was transfixed upon seeing her playing on the beach as Sandy with John Travolta’s Danny. The song “Love is a Many Splendored Thing” played in the background of our first glimpse at their burgeoning love.

I was hooked. I had to shush my mother for interrupting the dialogue, when she asked if I wanted some popcorn.

For a young boy struggling with his sexual identity, she was my first official fag hag, before I even knew what that was or meant. Her fresh, innocent face and gorgeous blue eyes had me hopelessly devoted to her. After Grease, I watched every movie she starred in (okay, there were only three others, but I anxiously awaited each one), I collected every single vinyl record she ever put out, and I danced and sang to her tunes in the privacy of my own room. She was my BFF, and she knew exactly what I was feeling. When she sang, she did so just for me–to help me get through those tough times in life.

So, for her 63rd birthday, I decided to write some lessons I learned from the Australian-born singer/actor’s career in film and music.

Lesson #1 from Grease’s Sandy: Bad boys LOVE the innocent type, but they like them even more if they occasionally take a ride on the wild side.

  • Being a good boy at heart (Those of you who know me well can stop laughing! I am a good boy!), I knew I needed to adapt my image if I wanted the boys I liked to actually take any interest in me. While I didn’t immediately adopt those lessons at the time of my youth, when I grew up I knew exactly what I had to do. Men enjoy trash for sowing their wild oats AKA Rizzo and Cha Cha DiGregorio, but when it’s time to settle down, they want the tart wrapped up in a helping of sweet. So, during my single days (and a bit still today), I was the good boy capable of hopeless devotion but who was also known to don leather pants, smoke, and make the boy strip off his sweater for a mere chance of singing “We Go Together” with me. And, eventually, I found my own husband, a mixture of the good and the bad himself, and who must’ve watched Grease a lot too!

Lesson #2 from Xanadu’s Kira: When you play hard to get and act aloof, the boy wants you that much more!

  • As the mythological muse in this not-well-received movie, ONJ’s character remained just out of reach of her intended Sonny Malone played by Michael Beck. That drove him crazy! He pursued her relentlessly, even challenging her father Zeus, for merely a chance of spending one more moment with her. Lesson quickly learned. I realized men, no matter how much I loved them, had very short attention spans. You give them everything they want, and they lose interest quickly. But when there’s a challenge, something for them to overcome, they will run whatever obstacle course you place before them for the mere chance to get to you. And let’s face it, we’re all worth a challenge. Some boys failed the challenges. They were promptly eliminated and sent packing. But, eventually, you meet the boy who overcomes all the obstacles until he finally reaches you. When that happens, even if your father is Zeus, you know you’re good for eternity just like I am.

Lesson #3 from Two of a Kind’s Debbie: When you sacrifice all for love, incredible things can happen.

  • Even though this ONJ movie took some serious hits from critics, her character still taught me a lot. ONJ played a good girl turned bank robber, and she clashed with fellow bank robber Zack AKA her Grease co-star John Travolta. They spent the movie trying to outdo each other and falling in love, and it was their love that eventually saved the world. (Apparently, the devil and God struck up a bargain. If God didn’t find true love on the planet, then the devil would be granted dominion over the Earth.Yeah, I know, it sounds awful, but lessons can be learned from awful too!) Thanks to her character’s selflessness, I learned that for the sake of true love you sometimes have to put everything, your reputation and even your life, on the line. After all, it’s not true love if you’re not willing to do that!

Lesson #4 from ONJ’s “Physical” video: You can’t win them all!

  • I’m sure many of you have seen the steamy video I’m mentioning. In it, ONJ is training some rotund fellows at the gym, all the while singing about more than just physical education. However, once her work is complete and the boys are sculpted masses of superb man flesh, the boys fall for each other and not her. While it was a hard lesson to learn in life, it was one that everyone needs to accept. No matter how attractive we might make ourselves and no matter what we might do to catch the attention of that guy, sometimes, he might just not be into you. That is no reason to fret, though. Men are like tissues. When one leaves, another pops up as ONJ found out at the end of her video. That lesson helped me through many a heartbreak, so if heartbreak happens to you again, be confident that just beyond the gym room door (or bar door, or club door, or whatever other doors you open), the right man is waiting on the other side. We all find him. Eventually.

Lesson #5 from It’s My Party’s Lina: A good friend is always there–no matter what!

  • In this movie, ONJ played the best friend to Eric Robert’s Nick. Nick was dying of AIDS and rather than continue to live in pain, he wanted to end his life on his own terms. ONJ’s Lina didn’t want him to do it. She begged him not to do it, but he went through it anyway. She didn’t like it, and she was deeply sad to watch him do it, but she stayed by his side–a true blue friend indeed. This was a lesson that I try to hold true. I have friends, some of whom have changed drastically, and though the distance between us may now be great, I will be here when those friends need me again. True friendship is not a ship that should be missed. Once you board it, you’re on it for life!

Looking at these lessons I’ve learned, it’s easy to see that I am indeed a fan of Olivia Newton-John, and I always will be. She was there for a fat, insecure kid who grew into a man I think she would be proud of.

So for her 63rd birthday, I want to thank you personally, Olivia (we are on a first name basis now), for the lessons on love, life, and friendship you taught me throughout your career. They have shaped me into the person I am, and I love you for it. I will always be Hopelessly Devoted to You!