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Why Moms Need to Know About Michael Douglas’s Sex Life By Madeline Holler

Michael Douglas

Originally posted in the blog by Madeline Holler on June 13, 2013

I’m of the mindset that whatever happened in Michael Douglas’s throat should stay in Michael Douglas’s throat. Last week, when Douglas told the Guardian that oral sex is the reason he’s suffering stage four throat cancer, I think we all learned more than we wanted to.

But as long as the cat’s out of the bag … no, that’s not what I want to say. As long as the cunnilingus-throat cancer connection made headlines (ack! I’m still seeing a pun in there) let’s try to find a positive angle in all this TMI: perhaps a greater interest in 1) Gardasil and Cervarix, the vaccines against two types of human papillomavirus virus, and 2) the benefits of these vaccinations for boys.


When Gardasil was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2006, it wasn’t spared the controversy many life-saving vaccines had gotten caught up in. Back then, British researcher Andrew Wakefield’s research that concluded a link between the MMR vaccine and autism had yet to be discredited—which it was, conclusively, in 2010. In addition to the minority, but vocal, opposition to all things vaccination related, Gardasil had the added marketing issue that it protected against the most common sexually transmitted infection, HPV. Some otherwise pro-vaccine parents refused the shot, worrying that it would encourage their 12-year-old daughters to go out and have sex.

Also, though Gardasil’s main intention was to prevent cervical cancer, the company and some doctors recommended boys get the vaccine too, as it not only showed promise in preventing anal cancer, but it also helped prevent the spread of HPV from unsuspecting infected males to their female partners. But studies showed parents rarely submitted their boys to the shots.

Perhaps now that will change.

A report in the Boston Globe found that 70 percent of all throat cancers, which are on the rise, are the result of HPV infection. Researchers think that shifting social norms and increased promiscuity could be the reason for the recent increase, now at 14,000 new cases diagnosed each year—including in patients who never smoked.

Now that we know there can be devastating consequences for men, perhaps Michael Douglas’s humblebrag will change how we think about medically preventing some types of HPV. Among my friends, there is little consensus on whether daughters should get the HPV vaccine. Very few of my fellow parents say they want their sons to get the shot.

I’m very pro-vaccination—the evidence is clear that they’re safe and effective and that my vaccinated kids and their vaccinated friends are why unvaccinated kids fare so well in our community. I’m also very much in favor of the HPV vaccine—my eldest daughter went through the three-shot cycle at 11 years old. Her sister will, too, in a few years. Were either to be diagnosed with cervical cancer, a type that could have been prevented with the shot, I would have a hard time living with the decision to pass up the vaccine. I’m grateful it exists.


Now that I know my son could be at risk, too, not just as a possible transmitter but as a patient, he’ll no doubt be going in for the shot when it’s time. (Though, I was planning to send him in for it anyway, on the notion that he shouldn’t be out there spreading HPV around.)

So, while hearing about Michael Douglas heading downtown with Zeta-Jones is more than I want to know about either of those two, I’m glad he spoke up, and so candidly. Maybe this means parents will consider vaccinating their boys at the same rate as their girls. And herd immunity will offer up protection in the bedroom, too.

Justice for Trayvon: Parents to Meet with National Bar For Conference on Gun Violence



July 31, 2013 – In the wake of George Zimmerman’s acquittal, Trayvon Martin’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, are continuing their work to combat gun violence and inequalities in America.

Fulton and Martin are meeting with the National Bar Association as their annual conference in South Florida to discuss the justice system, voting rights and gun violence.

The association is the nation’s oldest and largest association of African-American lawyers and judges.

In a statement released after Zimmerman was acquitted of Trayvon’s death, National Bar Association President John E. Page stated: “The verdict says an unarmed college-bound Black teen can be profiled, stalked, confronted and killed by an armed neighborhood watchman with hollow tip point bullets. We express our heartfelt condolences to Trayvon Martin‘s family on this tragic verdict. We also say ‘Enough is Enough — It is NOT OK to kill our youth.”

Later this week, Martin and Fulton will also speak during the National Association of Black Journalists conference in Kissimmee.

Tom Joyner on Don Cornelius & Soul Train

By Verne Gay
2012-February 1

As you may have heard, Don Cornelius is dead in an apparent suicide. He was 75. He was — as you are keenly aware — a huge influence on pop culture, particularly black culture. Here’s a good piece by radio host Tom Joyner, written late in 2010, on what the show meant, and why Cornelius was so important to African-American viewers, in particular.

“I had planned to do this blog on my way back from the Soul Train Awards, but since it was so late at night/early in the morning, I fell asleep midway.

But as I rested, I reminisced about all that “Soul Train” meant to Black people. If you’re an African American of a certain age, “Soul Train” was as important to your weekend mornings as your milk was to your cereal. You had to have it. Like Ebony magazine, my beloved HBCUs and “The Tom Joyner Morning Show,” “Soul Train” knew who it served and wouldn’t forget it.

And that’s crucial. It’s not as easy as it sounds and it certainly isn’t the most profitable way to go. As we become more global, and the cry for cultures merging and a post-racial society get louder, some people think an ideal world is one where we become colorblind.

First, it’s not going to happen, and second, who wants it? Not me. But you know how I feel. Not only do I want to celebrate our Blackness, I want us to keep it ours. That doesn’t mean that other people can’t or won’t check us out. It just simply means that our job is to super-serve our audience.

Crossover is not a goal. My mentor, John H. Johnson, told me that when you try to cross over, you cross out your base audience. “Soul Train” unabashedly super-served Black people, and it broke ground doing it. “Soul Train” was the first Black-oriented music/variety show on American television. It first aired in syndication in 1971 in seven cities, including Atlanta, Cleveland, Detroit, Houston and Los Angeles.

By May of 1972, the show hit the goal of reaching 25 markets. The show’s creator, the legendary Don Cornelius, who was too ill to attend the awards show taping Wednesday evening, began his career in broadcasting and was never truly over it, even though he had a good job at an insurance company for many years.

When he got the chance to get back in broadcasting, he did it for a lot less money so he could learn more about the business he loved. While he was working as a substitute DJ, he got the vision to create “Soul Train.” At first, no major advertisers were interested in a Black-oriented music show, but Cornelius was persistent. Finally, WCIU-TV agreed to air five shows on a trial basis, starting in 1970, and it didn’t take long for the Chicago audience to embrace it.

Don Cornelius was the producer, host and salesman five days a week. He worked without a salary until the local advertising community began to buy time. It was more than a history-making Black music/ dance show. It was great for Black radio. Thanks to “Soul Train,” more Black-oriented shows were put on FM stations; black music got more exposure.

“Soul Train” caused Black music to explode and record sales soared. Fast forward more than 30 years later. I’m the announcer at the Soul Train Awards, another brand established by Don Cornelius. The show started two hours late and lasted until well after midnight. There was more security than at the Source Awards, and that was just one of my observations. Here are a few more. I couldn’t leave the show, even though I had to fly back to Dallas to be on the air in just hours. Ron Isley couldn’t leave either because he was being honored.

And there’s nothing like seeing a 71-year-old R&B icon, fresh out of jail, trying to keep up with his fouryear-old baby backstage. I was disappointed that more stars didn’t turn out. Atlanta is like the Black Hollywood of the South. Maybe they were all at Bible study. Myra J. was working on the Tyler Perry set, so she’s off the hook.

Our very own “Seriously Ignorant News” chief correspondent Damon Williams warmed up the crowd. And I know he saw that man wearing that seriously ignorant hat with tassels on the sides. Dkembo Mtumbo was there. He stood up in the front row, and none of the balcony could see the stage. Not to be outdone, Ray J was wearing 2-inch boots. Go figure.

But all that makes “Soul Train” “Soul Train” – the security, the fashion, the legends and the people who had no idea who the legends were. It’s all good, it’s all necessary, and there was also some cool synergy going on.

This morning, Soul Train Awards performer Jazmine Sulliivan – who turned it out, by the way – performed right here in the Red Velvet Cake Studio. Check it out. But the “Soul Train” synergy goes deeper than that. Everyyear, The Tom Joyner Foundation awards a fullride scholarship to a deserving student.

So, as R. Kelly was performing (and missing a few needed notes, I might add) with the orchestras from Clark Atlanta and Spelman colleges, our scholarship recipient, Cheyenne Boyce, was right there playing the cello. It was music to my ears, and was my proudest “Soul Train” moment. It brought everything full circle for me and reminded me once again why “Soul Train” is and always will be “the hippest trip in America.” It brought families together for years, sometimes to watch on the only television in the house. It launched careers. It made history, by never trying to do more or less than that its original mission of entertaining black people first. And that’s, in the slow words of Don Cornelius, “a stone gas, honey.” So is catching up on my sleep! I finally did it, and I’m ready for the weekend.

If you have a “Soul Train” memory you want to share, let’s hear it!

Guys’ One Minute Guide To Love

2012-January 27
Guys’ one-minute guide to love
By Dave Singleton

Times are ‘a changin.’ Guys are now giving dating advice on the frequent,
Are guys suddenly more open to getting — and giving — dating advice? It seems so! For whatever reasons, more men are weighing in with real advice for their fellow men.

In my article titled “Dating advice books for men,” I scoured the self-help and nonfiction bestseller lists and found a plethora of dating advice books written specifically for women. But I found only a handful for the guys, which I found troubling. Given the men I’ve spoken with recently, it seems that the male point of view on romance is rather underrepresented. So I took to the streets to interview real men, aged 18 to 66, to get their best dating tips.

We’ve come a long way from the days when men were silent on matters of the heart. Some of my interviews took only a minute or so, but as Long Islander Eddie, 32, told me: “Sometimes the best advice is the quickest advice, you know? It doesn’t have to be a soliloquy if it makes sense. Guys might actually prefer hearing quick tips — especially if they’re straight from the heart, from [another] guy who’s been there.”

So without further ado, here is my guys’ one-minute guide to love, including 10 top tips from men who share the one crucial piece of advice they believe other men need to know:

1. Don’t settle, but don’t commit halfheartedly, either. “My one piece of advice is this: Don’t settle, but don’t commit half-heartedly, either,” says Los Angeles native Larry, 45. “If you’re in, be all in. It’s easy to look around and think there’s something better to the point that it stops you from making a real commitment. But that’s immature; real men grow out of that.”

2. Don’t take love for granted when you find it. “Realize what you have when you have it,” says New Yorker Ethan, 32. “That’s really the key. So many guys just play with love and at love, not realizing sometimes when they have it in the palms of their hands and letting it slip away. They are either careless or disloyal. You have to hold on tight to a good thing — not too tight, but tight enough to keep it in your grasp.”

3. Life’s too short to fight constantly with your partner. “Limit the fighting,” Says Marylander Walter, 66. “My first marriage ended because we fought all the time, over mostly little things. Over some big things, too, but I’ve learned that life’s too short. I was a guy who was told to always win a fight. But the truth is that men also know how to be good losers with a mate. Being right doesn’t always get you what you want. You can win the fight, but lose the war.”

4. It’s up to you to make dating more exciting. “Keep it exciting,” says San Franciscan Matt, 18. “It’s up to you to not get bored. Don’t be a bore, either; plan stuff, keep your dates surprising, and have an occasional ‘wow’ factor — something over-the-top special.”

5. You don’t have to understand a woman in order to love her. “Loving her doesn’t mean you have to understand her,” says North Carolinian Al, 51. “Whoever told us we needed to understand our partner? I’ve learned that you can talk a problem to death and never solve it. Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing. Sometimes, [just] listening is enough. Acknowledging that you heard [what she said] doesn’t mean having to say you understand.”

6. Know what you want. “Know what you want,” says Washingtonian Mike, 39. “It takes a while to figure out what you want, but that’s what you have to do on your own. Figure it out! Only you know what will make you happy. You learn what your basic type is, who can make you happy — and also, you learn who you can make happy. That’s important, too.”

7. In relationships, having a space that works really matters. “Create a space that works for you and your wife or girlfriend,” says Florida resident Andrew, 35. “My dad told me the secret to his marriage of 40 years was [having] separate bathrooms. And now, after being married for five years, I agree with him. You have to create space where you both are really comfortable. Shared space is good, but you need your separate space, too. You want to know where size really does matter in a relationship? When it comes to where you live!”

8. Make sure you really know a woman before making a commitment. “Before you commit, make sure you really know her,” says New Yorker Frank, 44. “Make sure you see her during all moods, times of year, occasions, and with different people, your friends and family and hers. Because you never really know each other until that happens. Go slow, despite your wanting to have it all right away. It takes time to see each other in every light.”

9. Just be yourself. “Be yourself,” says Washingtonian Adam, 32. “It’s simple, but it’s true. Guys spend too much time trying to act the part and being comfortable when their dates act the part, too. It’s important to just be honest. If you want to date casually, say it upfront. Don’t hedge on important stuff like that. Let her know who you really are so she can make an informed decision for herself. Believe me — it’ll work out best for you in the long run if you do.”

10. Know when to walk away if things get bad. “When it’s bad, know when to walk away,” says 37-year-old Ken from Los Angeles, CA. “If it’s not right for you, don’t pretend that it’s OK. If your gut says something is off, pay attention to it. If you need to address something, address it. And if you give it your best shot and it’s not working, don’t beat your head against the wall. Don’t stay with a partner out of guilt or because you’re trying to be a nice guy. In the end, it never, ever works. You do no favors for the other person — or yourself.”

Dave Singleton, an award-winning writer and columnist for since 2003, is the author of two books on dating and relationships. Send your dating questions and comments to him at


2012-January 26

I love you Mrs. Gabrielle Giffords. Each time I see you on the telly, tears of joy sprout upon my face as I see a real miracle before my eyes. Every so often God gives us glimpses of his presence in a modern day “burning bush” and I see God every time I see you Mrs.Giffords-Kelly! I commend you and your husband Mr. Mark Kelly for all of your contributions to our great country. I love you both. My utmost in the highest to the both of you. May you continue your remarkable recovery as I will be praying for you both.

‘Help! I Hate My Husband!’

2012-January 25
Iris Krasnow Author, ‘The Secret Lives of Wives: Women Share What It Really Takes To Stay Married’

“Help! I hate my husband.”

This is how a letter starts in my Inbox today. It’s from a 41-year-old woman named Cindy in Dallas who has been married for 12 years. I get hate mail like this using slightly different language several times a week. Substitute the word “hate” for “loathe”, “despise”, “can’t stand” and occasionally, “wanna kill”.

I always tell these women the same thing: You are definitely not alone. Plenty of wives feel this way. Plenty of wives think about divorce at least once a month, if not more, and manage to stay married for decades. My conclusions about the see-saw between hate and love come not as a psychologist or as a minister who counsels her flock. I am an author of five relationship books, including The Secret Lives of Wives, to whom women tend to tell all, about joy and sorrow and cheating and lying, about hot sex and no sex – and lots of dish in between.

Any woman married for longer than six months, if she is honest, knows the eggshell thin line that separates loving from loathing The deeper the love, the deeper the potential to hate. Any wife who is honest knows the compulsion to throw things, to hiss, to swear, to sit in the driveway in your bathrobe, engine running, sobbing.

What wife among you hasn’t occasionally sucked down too much wine to numb the pain of grinding against the same person, in the same house, every day, for weeks, months, years?

Yet we stay married because the love out-muscles the hate in our relationships. On those days we are socked under a gray malaise, we are suddenly lifted into the light as we walk by an old photo of the family, arms looped, heads pressed together, as if we are one big animal. And so it goes; happy some moments, miserable some moments, yet grounded in this flux of emotions by a fundamental commitment to each other, to the children, to forge onward.

I know from my own 24-year marriage and from the resilient women in The Secret Lives of Wives who have stuck it out for up to 60 years that marriage is ever-changing. Their own survival stories prove that periodic explosions can open up the channels to richer and stronger relationships.

I ended up having an hour-long email conversation with Cindy from Texas. She hit my heart. I felt her pain. I’ve been there, and persevered. Hopefully these snippets from our exchange will help you swing through the moods of hating toward loving, or at least toward liking him a lot, again.

From Cindy:

“At some point every week I feel like leaving him. When we got married I imagined this great life we would have together and instead we seem to always be fighting, about the kids, about the fact that he is so remote, about the stupidest things.”

From me:

“Are you still attracted to him?”

From Cindy:

“Sex is still, good, yes. But we don’t have it very often. I find myself lusting after other men.”

From me:

“Have sex more often with your husband. Keep the lusting in your imagination unless you want a torn up heart and buckets of guilt. Fantasy can be way better than reality; take it from one married woman who told me how she took a hubba-hubba office mate to a nearby hotel. Once he took off his shirt she saw a back that was so hairy she couldn’t even kiss him: As she put it: ‘He was gorgeous in his suit and I should have left it at that.’

“Sorry if this offends because your husband has a hairy back. I’m sure he’s adorable, but it wasn’t this woman’s taste.

From Cindy:

“No hairy back – don’t like them either. I know I’m lucky to be married to someone sexy. Some of my friends don’t go near their husbands. But this hate I feel, it simmers and I wonder if it’s a sign that there could be a better partner out there for me. Little things grate on me every day. My husband chews his food loudly. I hate his father. I hate our domestic hum-drum. This can’t be love!”

From me:

“Does he beat you? Is he gambling away all your money? Is he verbally abusive to you? Does he whack your children? Is he a philanderer?”

From Cindy:

“No, he’s a gentle man and a hands-on father. I have never been suspicious of him being with other women. He makes a good living, and that has enabled me to stay home with the kids.

“My hate comes from this feeling that I’m missing out on something else.”

From me:

“Here’s what you are missing out on, according to some wives who write to me. How about the agony of finding out your husband is sleeping with your best girlfriend? Or, getting daily critiques from your husband that you are repulsive to look at and lazy? One woman shared with me how her husband grew so frustrated with their autistic five-year-old he tossed him across the room.”

From Cindy:

“Yikes! Okay I admit I don’t have any really big problems. So what about this sense of just feeling bored?”

Last one from me:

“In the early years of marriage, during my 30s and into my early-40s, I often longed for a different life. In my 50s, I am grateful for a predictable routine with the same husband who has helped me raise four interesting sons. We loathe and we love and we carry on. When boredom hits, I go drinking with my girlfriends.

“Could my life be better with someone new? Perhaps, until the new becomes old, which it inevitably does. Does my head get turned by chiseled men in well-cut suits? Yes. Then I remember that I don’t want to necessarily see what’s under those threads. Acting on lust often turns out not to be true love but to be true disappointment. It takes grit and prolonged intimacy to love deeply and hate deeply and thus is the rhythm of family relationships. Ever tell a sibling or a parent, ‘I hate you’? Then, an hour later, you are hugging and wetting each other’s faces with tears.

“It takes a lot of love to hate.”

This blogger’s book, The Secret Lives of Wives can be found here, and she can be found on:

Singer, Etta James Succumbs to Leukemia

2012-January 20 –


Blues singer Etta James, who is most famous for the hit song “At Last,” has died from complications of leukemia, her manager confirmed to the Associated Press. She had been diagnosed with chronic leukemia in January 2011.

Court records show the 73-year-old entertainer also suffered from dementia and kidney failure. She had been under the 24-hour care of Dr. Elaine James, who is unrelated.

James was born in Los Angeles to a 14-year-old mother and an unknown father. She was brought up by a series of caregivers and began taking vocal lessons at the age of five through her local Baptist church.

James became a gospel prodigy and began singing with two other girls in a doo-wop trio called The Peaches in San Francisco. At 14, James met bandleader Johnny Otis, known today as the “Godfather of Rhythm and Blues.” Otis produced James’ first hit with The Peaches, called “Roll With Me, Henry” (which was later renamed “The Wallflower”). The song was released in 1955 and soon reached No. 1 on the R&B charts.

Following the success of “Roll With Me, Henry,” James left The Peaches and toured with singer Little Richard and guitarist and singer Johnny Watson. Her first major solo hit, “All I Could Do is Cry,” reached No. 2 on the Billboard R&B Chart in 1960.

In 1960, James signed with Chess Records and recorded “At Last” a year later. In 1968, she released the album “Tell Mama,” which included the song “I’d Rather Go Blind.” It became an instant hit, as did the album’s title track. In 1962, James recorded the hit song “Something’s Got A Hold of Me,” sections of which were used this year in rapper Flo Rida’s song “Good Feeling.”

The singer battled a heroin addiction in the 1960’s and 1970’s. James had several legal problems relating to her addiction, including being accused of heroin possession, cashing bad checks and forgery. In 1974, after being in and out of rehab for over a decade, James was sentenced to drug treatment instead of serving time in prison and spent 17 months in the hospital. In 1988, at the age of 50, James returned to treatment at the Betty Ford Center in California.

James’ career made a comeback in 1989 with the album “Seven Year Itch.” Four years later, she released “Mystery Lady: Songs of Billie Holiday” as a tribute to her idol. James was awarded her first Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Performance, for that album in 1994.

Throughout her career, James has released 30 albums and 58 singles. She has explored the musical genres of gospel, rock and roll, rhythm and blues, and jazz.

“In concert, Etta James is a sassy, no-holds-barred performer whose suggestive stage antics sometimes border on the obscene,” wrote All Music Guide’s Bill Dahl.

James was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001, and the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999 and 2008. In 2003, James received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. She was awarded six Grammys and 17 Blues Music Awards, and was named No. 22 on Rolling Stones’ 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. Beyonce Knowles played James in the 2008 movie Cadillac Records. After Knowles sang “At Last” for President Barack Obama’s inaugural ball in 2009, James said Knowles was going to “get her ass whooped” for singing her song. Her son Donto attributed James’ comments to dementia.

James is survived by her husband, Artis Mills, and their two sons, Donto and Sametto.

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