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611. Romantic Times Rewind: April 2005 Ads & Features


Sarah Wendell: Hello and welcome to episode number 611 of Smart Podcast, Trashy Books. I’m Sarah Wendell, with me is Amanda, and, y’all, the April 2005 issue of Romantic Times magazine continues to give us immeasurable treasures. So many of you told me that episode 609, when we looked at the reviews, made you laugh so hard you cried? So let me give you some highlights about what is about to happen to your eardrums: the Mr. Romance cover model pageant was a six-episode reality TV show on the Oxygen network, and I had no idea. I missed it when it ran, and it’s not even on YouTube! I found a few clips, and I have links, but it’s not on YouTube. We also have the arrival of what I call the venti-sized paperback; remember those? And we’ve got romance writers with dedicated rooms for Star Wars collectibles. There’s even gimp masks on Poser people. This episode and issue has it all, so come on over. Strap in; it’s going to be a lot of fun.

I want to say hello and thank you to our podcast Patreon. Hey, folks! Thank you so much. A special hello to Vicky, who just joined the podcast Patreon. And this is a reminder: if you are a member of the Patreon community, you get the massive, like hundreds of pages, PDF of the RT magazines, most of which aren’t available online. Some of the scans are made by me and my flatbed scanner over like an hour and a half, so if you are looking to read the whole thing, join the Patreon! You get every issue. Plus you support the show, you make sure we keep going, and you make sure that every episode has a transcript hand-compiled by garlicknitter. Hey, garlicknitter! [Howdy! – gk] Your support means a lot, so thank you for considering the Patreon. If you’re interested, have a look at patreon.com/SmartBitches.

Support for this episode comes from Caraway. We love our Caraway cookware. We ordered the entire cookware set in Navy, and they’re gorgeous, but they’re also really useful, and the cookware set comes with a lot of pieces. There’s a fry pan, a sauté pan, a saucepan, and a Dutch oven with lids, and they come with storage. I love that part so much, I’m not sure I could fully explain it. Every set comes equipped with easy-access storage solutions so that you don’t have to stack them one inside the other. There’s a little magnetic slot, and each pan fits in its own little house. I love this so much. Caraway, as I mentioned, has a ceramic coating that’s non-toxic, but the pans only need a tiny bit of oil or butter to create an excellent non-stick surface. Yesterday we made French onion and farro, which means caramelizing onions, which takes about third of your life, but the color development was even, and it was very efficient too, and they work. My goodness. We sauté vegetables, we make pasta, we simmer sauces, and the pans can move from the stove to the oven and back. They work so well. As a reminder, the iconic cookware set comes with a sauté pan, a fry pan, a Dutch oven, and a saucepan, plus lids for all of them, a canvas lid holder, and a magnetic pan rack for storage. It is the ultimate kitchen setup and will save you a hundred and fifty dollars versus buying them all individually. Plus, if you visit carawayhome.com/SARAH, you can take an additional ten percent off your next purchase. This deal is exclusive for our listeners, so visit carawayhome.com/SARAH or use code SARAH, S-A-R-A-H, at checkout. Caraway: non-toxic cookware made modern.

All right, are you ready? This episode has so much! And do not miss the visual aids; there’s a link in the show notes. On with the podcast.


Sarah: So let’s talk about the ads and features from April 2005, starting with this cover. This is the original cover for Brenda Jackson’s Unfinished Business, and I put the new cover in our document as well so we can sort of compare them? They’re very different.

Amanda: Yes.

Sarah: This will all, this will all be in the visual aids, which if you’re listening to this, you should not miss, because there’s lots of pictures, and they’re very fun.

The, the, the Unfinished Business cover is very magenta and orange. This was an era, especially in romantic suspense, when they would take a photograph and then just wash it with a particular color so it would be like a black-and-white image, except everything is magenta or yellow or gold or light green. Minty people.

Amanda: And it gives me, it gives me, like, Miami Vice or, like –

Sarah: Very Miami Vice colors!

Amanda: – south, South Beach vibes.

Sarah: Yeah.

Amanda: Like hot, intense –

Sarah: And what’s interesting is the cover in the magazine and the cover of the book, she, the, the, it’s a very close-up of a woman’s face. She’s got great lipstick color; it’s like a light red-pink? Like, really great, and – it could be the color wash; I could be wrong about the color – but her hair is also curly and orange, but everything’s out of focus. She’s –

Amanda: Yeah, it’s a little blurred.

Sarah: – not in focus at all, and then there’s a guy behind her looking off to the side. He is in focus.

Amanda: Also, do you think those eyelashes are Photoshopped on?

Sarah: Oh! They do start –

Amanda: ‘Cause one eyelash is much different than the other one.

Sarah: They do very, start in very sto- – they do start and stop very abruptly, and it doesn’t look like she has eyelashes in the other one, in the other eye. That is a good point.

Amanda: Yeah, it’s kind of like with the –

Sarah: [Laughs] We’re both, like, zooming into the screen and putting our nose up –

Amanda: I know.

Sarah: – against the monitor like, Are those real?

Amanda: Enhance! Enhance the image!

Sarah: And then the new cover is the Brenda Jackson covers that you see where it’s stuff.

Amanda: Yeah.

Sarah: There’s no people. So if you didn’t know that Brenda Jackson was writing about Black people, there’s no Black people on the cover. There’s a white chair and – you think that’s a dress?

Amanda: Yeah, it has, like, a red, a slinky red dress.

Sarah: And some shoes on a very furry rug.

Amanda: I think they’re both communicating different things?

Sarah: Oh, that’s very true. And the –

Amanda: So –

Sarah: – Miami Vice one looks dated.

Amanda: Yes.

Sarah: I mean, it’s almost twenty years old, to be fair! [Laughs]

Amanda: Is this like romantic suspense? I’m looking at a – well, she’s an investigative reporter, and he’s a PI –

Sarah: Oh yeah.

Amanda: – so I think if you, if you want to communicate, this is a little bit, this might have, like, a mystery or it might be a little suspenseful or thrilling?

Sarah: Mm-hmm.

Amanda: I think the original cover communicates that, but if you want this to be more of like, oh! This might be like a steamy contemporary, not with a focus on any sort of suspense elements, then I would go with the newer one. So I think it depends on what is trying to be communicated, and I can’t tell from the book description how, how much danger –

Sarah: Yeah.

Amanda: – is in the book.

Sarah: Yeah.

Amanda: And, like, the genres are tagged Contemporary Romance and Romantic Suspense, so, like, they’re both tagged there.

Sarah: Right. And I’m pretty sure the Madaris series is about a very wealthy family? So the one on, the newer cover does communicate more wealth.

Amanda: Yeah.

Sarah: Yeah. But it’s interesting.

So I wanted to look at the first ad. Our first ad right out of the gate, inside cover: Ellora’s Cavemen: Legendary Tails, T-A-I-L-S, number one, featuring five guys who are taking the wearing of headdresses extremely seriously.

Amanda: We’ve seen this ad before –

Sarah: Yep!

Amanda: – I will say –

Sarah: Yep!

Amanda: – and I had hoped we would never see it again!

Sarah: Oh no, they spent a lot of money on those headdresses; you’re going to see them. They’ve got, they bought the, they bought the staff with the snake on it! Like, they’re going to keep using it! That one guy’s holding an ankh!

Amanda: I remember growing up, we had a lot of, like, Disney toys, and I remember there was a Disney toy of Jafar’s staff, of the cobra?

Sarah: Ohhh!

Amanda: And if you, like, there was like a button on the bottom or something, so if you, like, tapped it, it would make noise and its eyes would glow.

Sarah: Oooh, you think he got one for this?

Amanda: That’s what this prop reminds me of is, like –

Sarah: That’d be so awesome if it was that!

Amanda: – that, like, Jafar –

Sarah: [Laughs]

Amanda: – staff toy that I had in the early ‘90s.

Sarah: That’s so cool.

Amanda: Trying to find a – oh my God, look at it! 1992 –

Sarah: Ohhh!

Amanda: – Mattel Disney Aladdin Jafar Cobra Staff. Ninety bucks on eBay; someone’s selling it for four hundred dollars on eBay. Damn, I should have saved it!

Sarah: Holy hell! That is really expensive!

Amanda: I know!

Sarah: My gosh!

Amanda: Yeah!

Sarah: Please –

Amanda: That’s what it reminds me of.

Sarah: Please also note: available at www.ellorascave.com and Borders Books Music Movies & Café and Waldenbooks.

Amanda: RIP.

Sarah: Ah!

Amanda: For-, force them out.

Sarah: I remember my route around the mall when I would always go to the same mall, what stores I would visit. There’s always a trip to Spencer Gifts; there was always a trip to, like, whatever accessories store; and then I would spend most of my time wandering around Waldenbooks in the mall.

Amanda: I remember our Borders were usually freestanding. They might be, like, in the same complex as a mall, but they had their own location?

Sarah: Mm-hmm.

Amanda: And they were like two stories, and I remember Borders had such a good, like, sale, by one get one free or whatever section.

Sarah: Yeah.

Amanda: …so good.

Sarah: The big Borders in Pittsburgh that opened was in South Hills, and it had like multiple levels. It was massive, it had fireplaces and chairs, and I was like, I could just live here.

Amanda: That sounds amazing. [Laughs]

Sarah: Like, we went on, like, a family field trip, and I was like, This is amazing; I didn’t know this was a thing.

Then on page 3 we have a bunch of books from, from Ellora’s Cave. Ellora’s Cave is a gift when it comes to cover snark, and these covers are particularly incredible. In the top middle – okay, what is the title of this book? I’ve been trying to figure this out.

Amanda: Which one?

Sarah: Top –

Amanda: Top middle.

Sarah: Top middle. Rapture’s

Amanda: Elysium? Antesium?

Sarah: Antesian?

Amanda: I don’t know what that is…

Sarah: It is Rapture’s Etesian! I’ll be gosh-darned! Rapture’s Etesian, starring a heroine –

Amanda: So –

Sarah: – named Lady Kynthia Ancaeus. And the cover appears on, in this ad. The book cover that shows up when you look at it on Goodreads is a different cover? The cover of this ad, they’re doing it! Like, that’s a coitus picture.

Amanda: Also, if you’re curious about what an Etesian is –

Sarah: I was! Thank you for looking it up!

Amanda: – it’s –

Sarah: That was my next task!

Amanda: – it’s a, it’s a summer wind that blows over the Mediterranean.

Sarah: Well, okay! Well, it’s rapturous, apparently, and those people are doing it. There’s also a lot of hair on Jan Springer’s A Hero’s Kiss. You can’t kiss that guy; he’s busy with his hair. So much hair. But the one that really just – this cover – okay, if you don’t look at the visual aids for anything else, just look for this cover: Shelly Monroe’s –

Amanda: It is so unlike the other five covers.

Sarah: It’s unreal. Never Send a Dog to Do a Woman’s Job.

Together: What?

Amanda: What were you having the dog doing? Like, what was the dog supposed to do that it failed at?

Sarah: It, this is book two in the Talking Dog series, I’ll have you know. The first –

Amanda: I also thought… 

Sarah: The first one being Talking Dogs, Aliens, and Purple People Eaters. This was definitely some kooky romance. But can you, can you describe this cover? Like, this cover is wild!

Amanda: It’s illustrated, but the, there’s two figures, and the, the male figure I thought was a woman, ‘cause he, he’s very shapely.

Sarah: Oh –

Amanda: He’s got a snatched-in waist –

Sarah: [Laughs] Yes.

Amanda: – and the pecs are huge, to the point where I thought they were like a woman’s bust. So I thought these were two women on the cover, and I was like, Ohhh! In 2005? But no, it’s just a top-heavy man in a Speedo.

Sarah: And it’s very artistically stylized where it’s just, like, swipes of color and, and, like, very fine lines? And everything is very vague.

Amanda: She has a bikini with snowflakes on it, which is an interesting choice.

Sarah: It’s pretty much the only thing that’s clearly –

Amanda: [Laughs]

Sarah: – that’s clear in this cover, except for the silhouette of the dog in the background.

Amanda: Yeah, I don’t – but, like, the other covers that it’s positioned with are, like, the, the rendered, what I call the Second Life character covers –

Sarah: [Laughs]

Amanda: – and then this one is just a straight-up illustration.

Sarah: Mm-hmm!

Amanda: So it does not look like it goes here at all, and then all of them are dark, except for this one, which is like light blue!

Sarah: Yeah, they, they really, they really assembled a set of covers that one of them just stands out because everything else is sooo dark and murky. And ab-ular –

Amanda: Yeah.

Sarah: – very ab-ular. [Laughs]

On page 8 there is an ad for a book called Masks, and then the ad continues on the next page. The one I wanted to talk about was bottom center: The Erotic Adventures of Ulysses: The Lotus Eaters by Lady Isabeau – somebody watched Ladyhawke – and it is a naked man holding an absolutely absurdly long sword.

Amanda: But the, the Masks cover is what grabbed me, because it’s an interestingly shaped mask. It, like, blends with his skin?

Sarah: Yeah.

Amanda: And it goes to his eyes, so there are eye holes, and then the cheek parts, like, droop down over his face? And it reminded me of, of a reverse Hannibal Lecter mask.

Sarah: Oh, that’s really – yeah, that’s a really good way to describe that.

Amanda: It’s unsettling, ‘cause it looks – the mag-, I mean, the magazine is not in color, except for, you know, the cover –

Sarah: Yes.

Amanda: – the front ad, and, like, the back ad?

Sarah: That’s an important distinction: everything is in black and white.

Amanda: Black and white? So it just reads as similar to the same shade that his skin is, and it looks like a skin mask.

Sarah: It’s very creepy. Like, it’s –

Amanda: Yeah.

Sarah: – extremely creepy. Oh! Hold the phone! It appears that we, we snarked this cover?

Amanda: We snarked Masks?

Sarah: No, the Lotus Eaters! Or it’s part of something, because the image search that I did pulls up –

Amanda: Our site.

Sarah: – Smart Bitches, page 801. Like, if you’re just paging all the sites, it’s on page 801 of our content, and apparently the holder of – [laughs] – I’m the holder of the relic of this cover image, ‘cause it’s not anywhere else.

So in the Editor’s Letter from Kathryn Falk, Lady of Barrow, there does not seem to be any advice on how to live forever, I am sorry to say, but there is an announcement which will continue on later in this episode; it’s not the only time we mention this. On March 14th at 10:00 p.m., friends and the RT Book Club staff will gather round the telly for the first televised version of the Mr. Romance cover model pageant, produced by the Oxygen channel.

Amanda: Is, does Oxygen still exist? I, I remember a lot of, like –

Sarah: I mean, I hope so! I’m breathing it right now!

Amanda: I remember, like, Snapped was on the Oxygen channel for a while. Oh! So now Oxygen used to be, like, a women’s channel, right?

Sarah: And now it’s all True Crime!

Amanda: Now it’s all True Crime!

Sarah: So Oxygen was originally founded by Oprah Winfrey, and it was lifestyle entertainment, and it was meant to compete with things like Lifetime TV.

Amanda: Yeah.

Sarah: The Oxygen network produced a television program, the Mr. Romance cover model pageant. The best part is the way that it describes it: there’s judges; comedian Fred Willard and Gene Simmons of Kiss leant glamour to the final episode.

Amanda: What a weird pairing.

Sarah: What was that like? Like, what do you –

Amanda: What a bizarre pairing.

Sarah: What an absolutely bizarre pairing. The winner won fifty thousand dollars and the opportunity to appear on a Harlequin novel. I do not think that the winner of Mr. Romance at the conference got anywhere near fifty grand in cash, and I’m pretty sure it was a Dorchester cover –

Amanda: No.

Sarah: – but they upped it to Harlequin for the TV version. So I have been searching on YouTube. One of the contestants, Anthony Catanzaro, has a channel, and he has little clips of it. It’s like ten minute long, and it is so of-its-time. It is so of-its-time. I will put a link in the show notes. It’s kind of amazing. Maybe there’s better sleuths out there that can find more episodes, or maybe it’s, like, maybe it’s somewhere on, like, a DVD? That would be kind of cool? But yeah, this was apparently a whole televised version of Mr. Romance. I did not know –

Amanda: Wow.

Sarah: – that this was happening. I mean, the site, in April 2005, the site was three months old. I did not know this was a thing?

Amanda: [Laughs]

Sarah: Oh. My. Gosh. Can you imagine –

Amanda: Can you imagine if you had?

Sarah: Can you imagine, can you imagine if we had this now?

In the Mail Bag are two things that I found so interesting. Number one: there is a letter from Donna Blair of West Virginia titled “Bummed by Bigger Books.” They own a new and used bookstore, and they are really, really upset because in the March issue RT states that Simon & Schuster and Penguin are going to be releasing a larger and more expensive mass market book in the near future.

>> I’m trying to figure out what authors we’ve published at this new price, ‘cause I’m already getting complaints from my customers about it. No one is happy about the price change, and my customers are already stating that they will not pay ten dollars for a paperback.

Amanda: Wow. Boy, do I have news for you.

Sarah: I’m really sorry to visit you from the future –

Amanda: Ahhh!

Sarah: – and I have some news. I believe that this was what I used to call the venti that was like a taller paperback? I don’t think this was trade; trade existed at this point, right? I’m pretty sure this was the venti, which was the tall, skinny paperback one that looks taller than mass market paperbacks and was slightly narrower than mass market. ‘Cause recently we had people trying to do a wider mass market paperback; remember that? They were like –

Amanda: Mass max…

Sarah: Mass max or maximus max; whatever? That was, that was a couple of years ago. This is almost twenty years ago, and people are mad that the paperback’s ten dollars. I remember seeing them at the grocery store when we lived in Montclair, which is, which was at this time, and they just, they stuck out; they were much taller. They were uncomfortable to hold. I remember picking one up and going, Well, this is not going to work for me. But the ones that I saw were Nora Roberts novels? And, like, big, big titles like Tom Clancy or whatever. I wrote about the venti in June of 2006 because I saw them –

Amanda: Oh my God.

Sarah: – saw them in the Stop n’Shop. I’m going to put a link in the document so you can take a look.

Amanda: Venti Brown.

Sarah: Yeah, it was a Dan Brown novel.

Then there was a letter from Madeline Baker, and it is adorable.

Amanda: This is “Star Wars Struck”:

>> Wow, I thought I was the only romance writer with a room dedicated to Star Wars collectibles. It’s nice to know I’m not alone. I’ve been collecting since the first movie came out and continue to do so. My husband doesn’t understand my obsession, for it is truly an obsession, but what a fun one. I wish I had the shelves shown in the pictures accompanying the Suzanne Enoch article in your March issue. I’d like to say that Star Wars is my only obsession, but I also collect Beauty and the Beast, Phantom of the Opera, and a smattering of Lord of the Rings memorabilia, and Suzanne, am I not mistaken, or did I spot an Aragorn figure amongst the Star Wars goodies?

Sarah: Aw!

Amanda: And I was like, I would love to talk to Suzanne about Star Wars!

Sarah: Yep! And then they run a picture of Suzanne Enoch with her whole collection of figurines and collectibles because it didn’t make it into the issue in March, and so they ran it as a correction in this and paired it with a letter? But she is a –

Amanda: Yeah.

Sarah: I see some Jar Jar Binks? There’s a whole collection there.

So now we move on to the cover feature, which is in color. This is – I mean, I’m sure you can tell from the scan – this is newsprint paper? Very delicate; like, this flatbed scanning of it is a very patient and, like, I, I can’t –

Amanda: [Laughs]

Sarah: It’s not glossy; I can’t flip through it. I have to actually be careful, ‘cause also it’s a twenty-year-old magazine almost.

So the Brenda Jackson cover feature is all about the newest Madaris Family novel, but there is a tenth-anniversary cruise, and I think this is so cool. The whole article opens with this:

>> When the Carnival cruise ship celebration sets sail from Florida to the Bahamas on April 14th, it won’t be filled with typical vacationers. Instead, the four hundred travelers on board will be heading off for an exotic destination with a bestselling author to get the scoop on all of her fabulous stories and to interact with the creative force herself. What author would spend four days and nights in close quarters bonding with her readers? The dynamic African-American romance and women’s fiction author Brenda Jackson. A good friend said it would be nice to celebrate my tenth anniversary as an author, and now she has an author cruise.

That’s awesome!

Amanda: [Laughs]

Sarah: I also think it might be a sign. [Laughs] We keep reading about cruises!

Amanda: We keep reading about cruises. Do we need –

Sarah: Last episode –

Amanda: – to go on a cruise?

Sarah: Now, last episode we had the book where the woman’s mom came back from the wasteland dream world looking younger than her daughter, and the solution to that was – [laughs] – they went on a cruise. Is the universe trying to tell us to plan a cruise?

Amanda: And I feel like before that too, the previous episode, we talked about a contemporary romance novel where a woman just wants to go on a singles cruise –

Sarah: Yep!

Amanda: – and she does, and there’s this guy on the cruise trying to, like, get her for, like accounting fraud or something! [Laughs]

Sarah: Yes! And then there were ads for full-on author cruises with lots of authors on board, also a Carnival ship. Okay! I, I, I get it; message has been received; I understand the message here.

Amanda: [Laughs]

Sarah: Okay. Just, we’re going to pause for just a second on page 21, which is page 23 of the scan. Just make a note of this author photo, ‘cause I’m going to come back to it? Just, just make, make a little note there. Okay.

Amanda: It gives me Julie Andrews/Mary Poppins vibe.

Sarah: I’m not mad; I’m just disappointed.

Amanda: [Laughs]

Sarah: On page 23, we have another “Under the Covers with Flavia Knightsbridge,” who’s featured later in the American Title stuff, which –

Amanda: She’s a – I’m going to say some bad words – she’s a fucking bitch in that competition.

Sarah: Oh, she’s so mean! My gosh!

Amanda: [Laughs] She, so mean!

Sarah: She took the role of being the Simon very, very personally? And I think she’s – I mean, look, no, even now, no one, no one knows who she was. I mean, I’m sure somebody does, but it’s not public, it’s not googleable, it’s not indexed anywhere.

Amanda: We tried.

Sarah: Believe me, and Amanda is not to be fucked with when it comes to deep dive on somebody, who the fuck they are, and where they’ve been. But, like, she was, she’s writing behind a pseudonym and is brutal in the American Title section, but there’s no good gossip in here. This is all just like –

Amanda: No.

Sarah: – here are some, here are some books that are coming out, and it’s all written like a gossip column? But it’s just PR –

Amanda: Yeah.

Sarah: – for publishers and, like, okay, well, it’s more interesting when you’re dripping blind items about authors – [laughs] – who are –

Amanda: Yeah.

Sarah: – on bulletin boards acting poorly. No hot goss! Whoa.

On page 28, there is a whole section, and it is like six or seven pages, all about –

Amanda: There’s several YA features. Many.

Sarah: It’s, it’s a whole thing. Like, the cover is Brenda Jackson; this issue’s about YA. A whole section of teen reads, and the whole angle of this is so interesting; it’s so much YA content. One of the things that I found so funny – I was telling Adam about this – one of the articles talks about how teens should put down the remote and pick up a book? And I’m like, Wow, the thing that they’re putting down is different, but the language is still the same. Children aren’t reading! Yes, they are. It’s okay; calm down. The angle here seems to be what do, what do YA authors have to say to teens – who I don’t think are reading this magazine – and –

Amanda: No!

Sarah: – what are the teen reads that you should try to convince your kids to read? My favorite part of this whole feature – which I don’t know exactly who the audience was, ‘cause it’s not consistent? – a lot of it is You’re reading this magazine – it seems to me – You’re reading this magazine about romance, and obviously you buy books, and if you have children and you want them to read, here are all the books that your kids should be reading that we know about. It’s like a whole, like, let’s include YA. Maybe this is when YA gets its own section; I don’t know. Or after this. But my favorite part is on page 31. The movies that have been made out of famous books? Because of Winn-Dixie, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and Ice Princess with Michelle Trachtenberg, written by Meg Cabot. This one section made me so happy.

Amanda: And Joan Cusack is the mom. There’s Kim Cattrall –

Sarah: Yeah.

Amanda: – and Joan Cusack –

Sarah: What a pair.

Amanda: – are in Ice Princess.

Sarah: I’ve never seen that. Do I want to see that? Is it completely bonkers? I mean, Kim Cattrall and Joan Cusack should do, they should do a buddy comedy? They should do everything.

Amanda: Did you see the more adaptations? Apparently Lindsay Lohan was supposed to star in Gossip Girl. That did not happen!

Sarah: No, that did not happen. Written by Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino? What?!

Amanda: Yeah.

Sarah: And Kristen Stewart and Steve Zahn in Speak?

Amanda: I don’t remember that either.

Sarah: I don’t remember that either.

Amanda: [Laughs]

Sarah: I don’t remember that at all.

Then there’s a whole pearl-clutch-y article about Fast Times at YA High, about how Gossip Girl and Clique and Insiders feature city teens living a good life and –

>> Living the good life and indulging in bad behavior. How do you decide if they’re appropriate reads for your teen?

Oh boy.

Amanda: So there was this series that I read growing up that was kind of like this.

Sarah: Mm-hmm.

Amanda: Like fast, Fast Times at YA High or whatever. And it’s by Ann M. Martin, and I was obsessed with these books called the California Diaries.

Sarah: Oh yeah!

Amanda: And –

Sarah: Ann M. Martin wrote the, created The Baby-Sitters Club!

Amanda: Yeah. So she had like an edgier teen series called the California Diaries that I read probably like in middle school, or maybe like fifth grade. And I remember my religious grandparents would not buy these books for me, because they were worried about the content. I remember going into a bookstore in a mall when I was visiting them, and, like, Oh, I want this, like, third book in the series, or whatever, the fifth book, the one that I’m on, and they’re like…We’re not going to buy this for you.

Sarah: This was a spinoff of The Baby-Sitters Club! The first one is about Dawn!

Amanda: Oh! See, I never read The Baby-Sitters Club growing up. I just read this.

Sarah: So The Baby-Sitters Club, Dawn was the one who had diabetes and was cool, and she moved to California, and the first book is Dawn: Diary 1. I moved to California, and everything’s changing too fast. And then the next one is Sunny, who’s got anger and grief because her mother has terminal illnesses, so she cuts schools, hang, cuts school, hangs out at the beach, and considers running away. That’s not even that bad! That’s completely understandable! Wow.

Amanda: Yeah, I remember, like, the, the guy best friend is Ducky.

Sarah: [Laughs]

Amanda: Christopher “Ducky” McCrae. But yeah, this was my, like, teen series where, like, you know, they were like sixteen and, you know, Oh, we’re going to sneak out, and, you know, they’re dealing with –

Sarah: Wow!

Amanda: – different teen problems. Very dramatic. I forgot all about these books, but yeah, this was, this was my teen series.

Sarah: The only thing that I remember the most about the teen series I read, I was very much into Sweet Valley High and then later into Sweet Dreams, but mostly Sweet Valley High have an astonishing amount of Sweet Valley High lore? The thing that I think stuck with me was the body shaming and the anti-fat bias. That was, that was destructive! Don’t recommend that!

The best part of this whole feature, though, is page 33. It’s a list of names. Full color page, required reading. If your kids aren’t already reading these folks, chances are they will be soon! Check out these quality authors.

Amanda: I reco-, I, I recognize a lot of these names, and I’m real surprised Jacqueline Woodson’s in here; I didn’t know she’s been writing for that long. But then I saw the name Rob Thomas, and I immediately thought of the lead singer of Matchbox Twenty.

Sarah: [Laughs]

Amanda: And I’m like, Oh, is he an author too?

Sarah: What’s interesting –

Amanda: But I don’t think it’s the same Rob Thomas.

Sarah: No, I don’t think it is. There’s a lot of dudes on this list, too.

Amanda: Yeah.

Sarah: Like, it, it’s like, Here’s a list of author names. Not books, not genre, just names written on a piece of paper. It’s –

Amanda: Just go forth!

Sarah: It’s the worst listicle? It’s the worst listicle.

Amanda: Aw, there’s, there’s Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging! That’s another series that I went bananas for. Lou-, Louise Rennison series.

Sarah: Oh. That’s a cute…

Amanda: Oh my God.

Sarah: That’s a cute book!

Amanda: It’s so…

Sarah: Oh!

Amanda: Taking, taking me back!

Sarah: Taking you back.

So on page 47, once we exit the YA middle section – and all of that was in color – there is an ad on the bottom of page 47, and it is just truly incredible, isn’t it?

Amanda: I hope she’s living her best life –

Sarah: A gift –

Amanda: – in the year of our Lord 2024.

Sarah: >> A gift for someone you love. Who murdered the princes in the tower? Richard III: White Boar is a fascinating tale of intrigue, revenge, betrayal, death, and victory. Richard III: White Boar by Kathleen Ann Milner. And the cover, the cover of this book is a colored pencil illustration of Richard III and a boar. Very fuzzy –

Amanda: Yeah.

Sarah: – very fuzzy looking. But would you, would you read the author bio, which is in type-, typeface that is just as big as the book description? So this is very important text here.

Amanda: So the bio of the author, Kathleen Ann Milner, there’s a photo of her in a red, like, mock neck sweater next to a white horse –

Sarah: Mm-hmm.

Amanda: – and the bio is:

>> Kathleen Ann Milner is a natural-born psychic.

Sarah: Well, there you go.

Amanda: >> Part two explains how the book evolved through site exploration –

Site as in S-I-T-E.

>> – research, and out-of-the-ordinary experiences.

Sarah: Okay, so that should have been the whole ad right there. I want to know about all of that.

Amanda: But what’s part two?

Sarah: Must be part two of Richard III: White Boar? One thing I do feel like we should explain is that we don’t do a lot of googling while we read the magazine? We, we save the googling and the Wait a minute! For while we’re –

Amanda: While we’re on air.

Sarah: – while we’re on air, while we’re recording, which means that the reactions are genuine, but it also means I edit out a lot of the part where we’re typing and talking slowly.

Amanda: I don’t see a part two, but Kathleen Ann Milner wrote a book called Becoming a Shaman: It’s Never Too Late to Be Who You Might Have Been.

Sarah: Oh my! Shamanism, symbology, herbs, and reincarnation!

>> Kathleen Ann Milner is internationally recognized as a proficient natural healer and psychic. She offers in-person and over-the-telephone sessions. She walked into the other worlds of spirit.

Maybe she met that chick’s mom in that book!

Amanda: Just go on a cruise; you’ll be fine.

Sarah: You’ll be fine. Just, Kathleen, go on a cruise; that’s all you need to do. Wow! That’s quite an ad, and quite a journey from a half-page ad.

Amanda: I know.

Sarah: And now it’s time for page 50.

Amanda: So much tan.

Sarah: [Laughs]

Amanda: So tan. Everything is brown.

Sarah: One, two, three, four –

Amanda: Brown and tan.

Sarah: – five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve guys, shirtless in black pants, and it looks like dress shoes and no socks for some of these guys; that’s uncomfortable.

Amanda: Yep. They’re all brunets or have black hair.

Sarah: They’re all very bronzed. And they’re all very shiny.

Amanda: Yeah.

Sarah: This is a lot of abs. And then over to the left, Fabio is pointing at me and making me very uncomfortable.

Amanda: But Fabio is not very tan.

Sarah: No. I’m so sad that I didn’t know that this was on. I don’t even know if I had the Oxygen network. I’m sorry I can’t watch this online!

Amanda: There’s no one we can call?

Sarah: Oh my God, it was multiple nights! It’s like The Bachelor.

>> On Monday nights, March 14 to April 11, twelve gorgeous guys will train for the Mr. Romance competition in five weekly episodes –

Amanda: What –

Sarah: >> – co-hosted –

Amanda: – training entail?

Sarah: Bronzing, apparently! And oil.

>> Co-hosted by cover model Cindy Guyer, the king of covers Fabio will make special guest appearances and offer advice to the hopefuls!

Oh my God! How is this not on YouTube? Someone must have this somewhere.

Amanda: The final episode aired on my birthday! That’s a sign!

Sarah: Yeah! Clearly you’re meant to know about this. Wow!

Amanda: I turned sixteen when Mr. Romance was crowned.

Sarah: Oh, what a, what a major event in everyone’s lives!

Amanda: [Laughs]

Sarah: Holy cow. Seriously, look at this! And these guys are all attempting to smolder at the camera, and some of them are leaning over, and they’re about to fall down.

Amanda: Look, look at the one guy whose entire body is covered, but he’s just a head between two heads?

Sarah: Oh yeah, he’s peering –

Amanda: On the far –

Sarah: – he’s peering over that guy’s, like, Hello!

Amanda: I wouldn’t be surprised if, like, he wasn’t even there during that shoot, but they just took his upper body –

Sarah: Plopped him in?

Amanda: – and put him back there.

Sarah: So I have to say that as a person, speaking solely for myself, the hypertrophied masculine musculature, tanned and bronzed and shiny, has never done it for me. Like, that has never been like, Whoo, that’s sexy! It, it, it’s never, like, this has never done it for me? But I remain curious to why they’re all bronzed almost the exact same color? Maybe two dudes who are gentlemen of color, possibly three, but everyone has been bronzed to be the same! [Laughs]

Amanda: I bet they got a, I bet they got, like, a deal, like a twelve-for-one deal where they’re all in the tent, the spray paint, spray tan tent.

Sarah: [Laughs] And then that one guy in the back, third from the left? Where’s –

Amanda: Maybe he had a big streak and they messed up his tan, and that’s why he’s hiding his body.

Sarah: The third from the left, that guy’s, like, pulling his pants down to show, show off his iliac crest, and I’m like, Whoa, whoa! Stop there. Stop there. We’re good. We’re all good.

Amanda: It’s interesting because, like, grow –

Sarah: Oh, the smolder!

Amanda: Like, when I first started reading romance, I probably put, like, envisioned this as a cover model? Like, smooth like a baby dolphin, shiny, no body hair. But then, like, as I got older, like, this doesn’t have as much appeal as it did for me when I was like nineteen. [Laughs]

Sarah: No.

Amanda: You know what I mean?

Sarah: Nope! This is like a whole collection of the male version of Spencer Gifts posters in the back of the Spencer Gifts in the big rack. It’d be like Samantha Fox and this, these guys. This is like the male version of Spencer Gifts posters.

Amanda: I want to know how tall that one guy is in the back. He looks very tall.

Sarah: He’s leaning over, too.

Amanda: Yeah!

Sarah: And there’s someone in front of him, like, leaning down in front of him; they’re both all, they’re all, they’re all tall and bro-, so bronzed. So bronzed! I will absolutely be putting this in the visual aids. I’ve got to scroll away; Fabio’s pointing at me.

So now we have the American Novel question. There are two finalists, and the thing they have to be judged on is a sex scene, and there’s nothing less interesting –

Amanda: Compelling. [Laughs]

Sarah: – compelling than reading a sex scene out of context. Like, it just, it’s not great, but I guess that, you know, you have to write this part of a romance, and this is the final, and this is what – I mean, I can understand why it was structured this way, but I don’t think it’s actually, like, a valid way of critiquing someone’s writing?

>> RT’s ever-elusive, albeit slightly tipsy columnist, Flavia Knightsbridge, would not object to getting Under the Covers with any of the heroes in this contest.

And she’s, she’s labeled as the Simon.

Amanda: Yeah, she makes a comment which I also think is like internalized misogyny for one of the sex scenes, and I’m like –

Sarah: Yeah. So each person, one is Janice Lynn, who wrote Jane Millionaire, and the other is Lois Winston, who wrote Resurrecting Gertie, you just, you got just the sex scene. There’s – which, I mean, again, I, I, I don’t see as – [laughs] – a good way to evaluate.

Amanda: Yes! This first one, she says:

>> I have a big problem with this scene, which you’ll find in any modern romance with its “shocking” hot-for-it heroine and reluctant hero. This is what’s plaguing the romance genre today: generic tripe. Do authors truly think that having the heroine be the bold one is a fresh twist? Maybe it was novelty in the mid ‘80s, but now it’s beyond cliché. Where’s the originality?

Do you want her just to go back for the, the hero being the, the one, like, initiating an intimate scene? That’s kind of the two options! Or maybe, like, JK, they just go to bed, and that’s it.

Sarah: And then for Resurrecting Gertie, Flavia Knightsbridge just goes off for another paragraph:

>> There’s, this is a little much, and it’s studded with some horrifying space metaphors, what with the creation of galaxies and universes of pleasure and the like, but at least it’s pretty straightforward and doesn’t force readers to endure another tired round of cat-and-mouse mind games – You want it? No, I don’t want it. Yes, you do – and faux emotion.

Amanda: So what does Flavia want?

Sarah: I don’t know what Flavia wants; I think Flavia’s just cranky.

Amanda: I don’t – yeah.

Sarah: My favorite line from this sex scene, by the way, in the middle of the bottom of the middle column?

>> We made love to each other with teasing lips, dueling tongues, grasping fingers, entwined limbs, searching eyes. Every part of our bodies joined in the frenzied rush of discovery of each other.

And all I could think of was, And dueling banjos! [Laughs]

Amanda: I don’t like those descriptions.

Sarah: [Still laughing] That’s, that’s what this love scene needs is some dueling banjos!

Together: [Humming “Dueling Banjos”]

Sarah: Grasping, twisting, dueling, okay. Faster, deeper, harder are, in fact, words in that sex scene, too.

Amanda: It’s like Daft Punk! Harder, better, faster, stronger!

Sarah: [Laughs] Daft Punk: The Love Scene!

You wanted to look at page 80.

Amanda: Eighty. So 80 of the PDF.

Sarah: M’kay.

Amanda: There is, I’m assuming, a werewolf man flashing a couple –

Sarah: [Laughs]

Amanda: – in the bottom left-hand corner of this ad! It’s Leader of the Pack, and it’s just, like, this couple who are maybe out on a date, but the guy’s shirtless in jeans, and then there’s a nude guy that’s just coming up and just showing off his goods to this couple, who are out on a nice walk!

Sarah: I don’t understand! I don’t think this cover is still online; I’m looking for it. I want to see it in color!

Amanda: Get, get that off of Al Gore’s internet.

Sarah: Yeah, but Leader of the Pack is just dog training books! Oh, oh, oh, oh, I think I found it. I think I found – oh, Jesus, it’s even worse in color. Oh no!

Amanda: Oh, I think I found it too. Oh wow! Why does he look like that? Sorry, I’m getting close to my computer. What’s happening? So the man is not shirtless? But the, they’ve clearly taken a shirtless model of a man and literally painted a white tank top on him, ‘cause you can still see his ab outlines and pec outlines. And then the naked man is, like, hairy and sort of green?

Sarah: [Laughs] Oh my gosh! I am so excited to see this cover. That’s, okay, this is Poser art, by the way; these are computer-generated people. So they just generated a guy and painted on a wife beater!

Amanda: Yeah!

Sarah: Wow!

Amanda: I thought it was, like, a bustier at first, but I think it’s supposed to be like a tank top!

Sarah: Yep.

On page 82, there is something that this magazine should have more of, and that is recipes. There’s a –

Amanda: This is very meat-heavy recipes.

Sarah: It’s very meat-heavy. So there is, in the Kresley Cole paranormal romance font, “Tortellini Temptation and a Tantalizing Tale: Dinner and a Book with Shirley Jump,” who is publishing a book called, I kid you not, The Devil Served Tortellini. As you do. Would you read the rec-, the ingredients to this recipe? It is – wow.

Amanda: So let me preface this where you’re making your own pasta, so…from scratch.

Sarah: Yeah, that’s the part where I was like, You’ve got to be fucking kidding me here.

Amanda: >> Two tablespoons unsalted butter, two ounces minced ground pork, two ounces minced ground turkey, two ounces finely chopped sausage, two ounces minced mortadella.

So that’s four kinds of meat.

>> Half a cup grated parmigiano reggiano, one pinch of grated nutmeg, one pound fresh pasta dough made with your own two hands.

But they –

Sarah: No recipe, though.

Amanda: They don’t tell us how to make the pasta dough.

>> And then salt –

Sarah: No, you’re just supposed to know that.

>> – and pepper to taste.

Also, what, like, are, are we putting a sauce on this thing? There’s no sauce!

Sarah: No! No.

Amanda: It’s just dry tortellini!

Sarah: And a big pile of meat.

Amanda: And a big – it’s just meat tortellini.

>> Cap the meal with a kiss and a promise of more dessert to come.

It says serve with a meat sauce and a good red wine.

Sarah: There’s already meat! There’s like four kinds of meat! We just went over this!

Amanda: So much meat.

Sarah: There’s a half a pound of meat in this recipe already! Okay, this is my favorite part about this recipe, though. In the description of how to make the tortellini?

>> Shape into the sexy curves of a belly button with your pinky.


Amanda: So you shape it with your pinky?

Sarah: Into the sexy curves of a belly button. Like, I know what tortellini –

Amanda: So you go, so, like, if you’re, if you’re sticking a pinky in a belly button –

Sarah: Woogety-woogety? [Laughs]

Amanda: – like, do you make the belly button curve with your pinky?

Sarah: Yeah, that’s weird, right?

Amanda: That’s very strange.

Sarah: It’s a very strange recipe. I’m all for recipes in here because, you know, I like eating, but this one was a wild, wild choice.

Amanda: That’s a lot of meat; that’s so much meat.

Sarah: It’s also really pre-, it’s also a bit pretentious to be like, Fresh pasta dough made with your own two hands. No?

Amanda: I’m not doing that.

Sarah: There’s no recipe! I’ve made my own pasta, it’s great, but, like, that, then you’re going to make a whole other thing? No. I just want to eat the pasta. I just made pasta; I’m tired!

Now, earlier I had mentioned the author photo where she looked like she wasn’t mad at me, but she was, she was disappointed.

Amanda: Yeah.

Sarah: On page 88 of the PDF, of, of the magazine, which is page 90 of the PDF, there’s another ad with a full-length author photo of an author named Denise Hamilton, and she looks like she’s mad at me too! All these thriller author –

Amanda: They’re all mad at you!

Sarah: All the thriller writers are mad at me! Like, what, what – she just, her, she’s got one arm bent, and she’s holding her opposite elbow, and she’s wearing black heels and black pants and a black shirt, and she just looks pissed! Like, I have messed up!

Amanda: [Laughs]

Sarah: Oh! So if you were a thriller writer –

Amanda: I think there was, like, a period of time where that’s kind of where it was. Like, dark, like – you’ve got to be wearing, like, a leather jacket.

Sarah: Oh yeah. Yeah.

Amanda: Yeah.

Sarah: That’s what, when Nora Roberts switched over from the paranormal, paraNoras to the romantic suspense, you started seeing her –

Amanda: The paraNoras.

Sarah: – in a leather jacket.

On page 95, down at the bottom there, Running Anonymous by Jesse Casavant is very disturbing.

Amanda: I would consider myself sexually adventurous, for sure. But nothing creeps me out more than a gimp suit.

Sarah: [Laughs]

Amanda: I tried watching the first season of American Horror Story? And there’s, like, that guy in a full-on gimp outfit who just crawls around –

Sarah: Yep.

Amanda: – and I noped out of there, and I’m like, I’m okay, Ryan Murphy!

Sarah: [Laughs]

Amanda: You and I are not on the same wavelength. I will never watch any of your productions ever, so. [Laughs] And I hate this!

Sarah: So there’s two people, two naked white people – they probably are computer-generated models.

Amanda: Yeah.

Sarah: One guy is sitting in, like, the chair that’s in a conference center. It’s just metal rails, square metal rails and, and, like, arms and a back, and it’s very uncomfortable-looking; no padding. Wearing a gimp mask. Holding a woman who’s sitting sideways across his lap, also wearing a gimp mask, and they’re both looking at us.

Amanda: And they’re naked.

Sarah: They’re naked.

Amanda: Did we mention they’re naked?

Sarah: They’re super naked, except for the gimp masks. And I’m really sad to say that it does not look like this cover exists on the internet to share with people, aside from this ad, which is in black and white. Very disappointed that I can’t see the full-color version, ‘cause I imagine it’s even more unpleasant there!

Amanda: I’m, let’s see if I can –

Sarah: The other thing that’s great about this ad, which is an ad for heatwaveromance.com, an exciting new site for erotic romance like the tumid heat of a tropical paradise – oh.

Amanda: I found it; I found the color, cover photo.

Sarah: No, you did not.

Amanda: Yes, I did.

Sarah: Oh my gosh, they have short stories called Tingles! I’m going to have to call Dr. Tingle.

Amanda: Tinglers!

Sarah: I’ve got to, I’ve got to, I’ve got to tell Dr. Tingle that proving love has been going on for quite a while, my friend. There’s short story Tingles.

Amanda: So this one I don’t know if this is the original; there’s a, the, she’s not looking directly at us –

Sarah: Ahhh!

Amanda: – but –

Sarah: The cover in the magazine and the cover on this page are different poses, but that’s –

Amanda: Slightly different.

Sarah: Yeah, she’s looking at him, and he’s looking at her, but in the ad they’re both looking at us. Ohhh my God, it’s so unpleasant! The other thing that’s great about this ad is at the bottom. If you are an old eBook user, you will enjoy this:

>> Formats available: HTML, PDF, RocketReader, REB11000, REB12000, HieBook, Mobipocket, PalmPilot, MS Reader, Franklin, and PocketPC. 

All of those eBook formats! Dear God! [Laughs] There used to be –

Amanda: Wow.

Sarah: There used to be .LIT; there used to be all of these formats that you had to figure out.

So yeah, I think you should find that romance Running Anonymous; I think you should, I think you should read it!

Amanda: No!

Sarah: [Laughs] Counterpoint: no!

Amanda: That cover is awful!

Sarah: Now, you noticed the subscription card, which I was very careful to make sure that I scanned in, because it was, also is the only thing lending stability to this entire magazine is the cardstock –

Amanda: [Laughs]

Sarah: – of the subscription card!

Amanda: I know these existed, but the thought of writing my credit card number on a piece of paper –

Sarah: Mm-hmm! Yeah!

Amanda: – and just dropping it into the mailbox.

Sarah: Yep! It’s a postcard!

Amanda: Yeah, so it’s like the postage is already on it.

Sarah: Yep!

Amanda: Is wild. Or you can mail them a check or money order!

Sarah: Uh-huh!

Amanda: Just the thought of writing my credit card details on a piece of paper and dropping it into the mailbox and just being like –

Sarah: Here you go!

Amanda: – Jesus take the wheel! Hope you get to where you’re going!

Sarah: [Laughs] On page 120, this ad caught my attention just because – [laughs] – at the bottom – okay. So first of all, this is a full-page ad. It is a Medallion Press ad; I’m convinced that the only place they placed ads was in the magazine. It’s a full-page ad for a book called Dolores J. Wilson’s Big Hair and Flying Cows.

Amanda: I think it was reviewed; I think I saw it in one of the sections.

Sarah: And there’s a, an illustration of a woman with really big hair, and a small flying cow has landed on her head and stuck its face into the curls of her hair. But that’s not the –

Amanda: Yeah.

Sarah: – weirdest thing about this ad. This ad is plenty weird, but at the bottom it says:

>> Film rights available. Info at medallionpress.com.


Amanda: I mean, I was immediately, when I saw this title, I thought of Twister?

Sarah: Yes! Cow!

Amanda: I’ve got to go! We’ve got cows!

Sarah: I’ve got to go; we’ve got cows. They’re in, they’re in this girl’s hair! If you’re curious, Big Hair and Flying Cows is available on Kindle and in paperback for $10.99. The cover is not as good as this illustration. This illustration has nothing to do with the cover. There are flying cows and there is big hair, but there’s not anybody with a cow in their hair.

Amanda: Shame.

Sarah: Then on page 142, we finally have the big, big coverage of Mr. Romance at the conference, because they’ve got contestants for the contest. They are not all the same shade of bronze, I don’t know if you noticed, though they are photo-, you know, photographed in black and white.

>> Be sure to get up close and personal with these great men and vote for your favorite.

Do you remember that aspect? Were you ever there for Mr. Romance?

Amanda: No. I think the one I went to in Dallas might have had one of the last sort of like cover model events –

Sarah: Yeah.

Amanda: – but it wasn’t, I don’t know if it was Mr. Romance or if they had sort of made it into something else.

Sarah: Yeah. The RTs that I remember attending, the cover models had to solicit votes from the conference attendees, so they were, like, constantly on, charming you, holding out your hair, offering to carry stuff, and they would just wander around being super chivalrous and, like, trying to make a – it was like being, it was like being at one of those speed dating things where you’re trying to make an impression, but what this guy wants is for you to vote for him. And so then there would be factions; like, this guy had all of these ladies, and that guy had all of those ladies. And so they really told the models, You need to go and charm all the attendees; that’s part of the thing, and I look at that now and I’m like, That’s just asking for bad, bad times. That’s –

Amanda: Yeah.

Sarah: – just not good. And also, one of the models here? I googled some of these guys. I mean, Scott Smith I’m not going to find; forget it. Ed Scott, I am not going to find.

Amanda: Yeah.

Sarah: But Andrei Claude? He was on Game of Thrones! Good for him!

Amanda: Good for him!

Sarah: Good for him!

Amanda: Also, Ed Scott looks like a dad who’s just trying his best.

Sarah: Yep. He’s, he’s just put down the, the wrench because he was getting your hair ties out of the sink drain for like the tenth time, and –

Amanda: Yeah.

Sarah: – you know, the sink was spraying, so his shirt is wet, so he took it off. He just looks like a dad! Who’s cleaning your hair ties out –

Amanda: He just looks like a dad.

Sarah: Yep, totally. Very much so.

And then the back cover. What the fuck is this?

Amanda: Oh boy. Oh boy. Did I look at the back cover?

>> Feeling is believing.

Sarah: >> Romance sound tracks. Now, instead of simply reading your next romance, you’ll be able to feel every word like no one, no, like never before!

Amanda: What, what a novel idea.

Sarah: So $9.99 each to begin building your library of romance soundtracks –

>> – that become a companion to all your favorite styles of romance reading. You can choose from Bliss, which is contemporary; Edge of Midnight for romantic suspense; Emerald Passion for Celtic romance; and Somewhere in Venice –


>> – exotic locale.

Is Venice not exotic?

Amanda: I don’t know! I guess! Maybe in 2005. I mean, you have ghosts telling people to go there on vacation –

Sarah: I mean –

Amanda: – and not tell their wife –

Sarah: Fair enough.

Amanda: – so.

Sarah: >> Upcoming romance soundtracks include Historical, Regency, Paranormal, Inspirational, and Western.

But it was a, it was a – [laughs] – it was a C –

Amanda: An audiobook, essentially.

Sarah: It was a CD of music to go along with your reading! It wasn’t even a book; it was just music!

Amanda: I thought it was an audiobook, and I’m like, Wow!

Sarah: [Laughs] It’s a soundtrack! It’s like if you ever turn on, like, low-fi hip hop to just, like, have some background, ambient music while you’re doing something. I do that a lot to tame my, the Jack Russell terrier part of my brain. This is a soundtrack, whether at home, slip in the soundtracks to your CD player, which of course you have, and settle in with your favorite novel.

Amanda: What do you think? What genre do you think would have the worst/most distracting romance soundtrack?

Sarah: I’m going to guess Western. I’m going to guess a West- –

Amanda: [Hums Western movie theme style music]

Sarah: [Laughs] Yes, exactly where my brain went! Spaghetti Westerns!

Amanda: [Laughs]

Sarah: [Hums Spaghetti Western movie style music] Like, there’s like some guitar and some banjo, and then there’s some Spaghetti Western music!

Amanda: I mean, I feel like, like a Highlander romance with just nothing but bagpipes –

Sarah: Oh, bagpipes and, and the –

Amanda: – would get old after a while.

Sarah: – that, the, the, the whistle, the whistle over the mouth harp, yeah.

And if you look, they’ve got, like, couples in embracing in, in, like, different poses for the covers of this – I, I’m so mad these aren’t on YouTube. I looked for them. Wait, I didn’t think to check eBay.

Amanda: Like, what would contemporary romance be? What would contemporary romance be? Like, what –

Sarah: [Hums] Wubba-wubba-wubba.

Amanda: That’s so strange. I’m also looking. No, it keeps giving me like romance movie soundtracks. We’re on the hunt now.

Sarah: Yeah, I, I have not been able to find any relic of these. I haven’t found it on, on YouTube. ‘Cause you’d think someone would digitize this. This is so wild. This is so wild to me. Like, it never would have occurred to me to put together music to enhance the reading experience.

Amanda: I know. I just keep finding, like, Here’s a playlist for my book!

Sarah: They’re all so generic that I’m going to be able to find them.

Amanda: Yeah.

Sarah: I’m just going to find books called Edge of Midnight, including one by Beverly Jenkins, but I cannot find any relic of these. If anyone listening remembers having one of these, I need to know everything. This sounds incredible.

Amanda: Or if you’re able to find it…

Sarah: Yeah! Oh my gosh, I would love to digitize this. I will take this to Costco and digitize this from a CD. Can you imagine? This is the kind of thing where there would be like a booth at RT and you could, like, put on some headphones and zone out. What a wild relic of 2005!

Amanda: I know! I’m curious if you ever used the –

Sarah: I am dying to know. I would love to know if anyone has one of these.

Amanda: ‘Cause I don’t, yeah, I don’t listen to music as background noise. I think we’ve talked about this. I like people talking, so I’ll put on, like, a YouTube video or some, like, I don’t know, mindless television show. I’m not a music person, so I’m curious who used this.

Sarah: I am a music person, and I would absolutely frigging love to see, to listen to one of these. I would just love to…

Amanda: Ambient music.

Sarah: I would love to hear the, what – ‘cause you know that the Emerald Passions/Celtic romance is pan flutes and some wind sounds. Maybe some birds.

Amanda: Maybe waves, some water.

Sarah: Some water; it’ll make you have to pee. Definitely the one set in Venice, the exotic locale, there’s going to be water sounds –

Amanda: It’s like your –

Sarah: – and I’m going to have to pee.

Amanda: Yeah, you’re, like, on a gondola.

Sarah: Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh. Oh my God. Incredible, right? So –

Amanda: I’m so bummed. Internet, I feel like it’s been scrubbed from the internet.

Sarah: How does this not exist? It was physical media; it must be somewhere. Now every time I see, like, used CDs, I’m going to start looking for the romance soundtracks. Wild, though, right?

Amanda: Yes!

Sarah: Absolutely incredible.

Amanda: In, what’s inspirational romance? Is it just, is it just hymns?

Sarah: Do you remember when monks chanting was like this hot music? That’s what it is? It’s a bunch of chanting monks. [Laughs]

Amanda: I grew up, when we were going to church, we went to the, the contemporary – what is it called now? I can’t…

Sarah: Contemporary Christian? Like –

Amanda: Contemporary Christian, like, congregation? And I just remember, I don’t know if “Our God Is an Awesome God” is familiar to you?

Sarah: It is indeed!

Amanda: That’s what, like, what if it’s just “Our God Is an Awesome God” playing on loop –

Sarah: [Laughs]

Amanda: – for the inspirational romance. [Laughs] Or, like, “He Came from Heaven to Earth to Show the Way”?

Sarah: [Laughs] This is wild.

So what did you think of this issue?

Amanda: I don’t like the lack of color. I, I feel like I respond better to everything being in full color?

Sarah: Mm-hmm.

Amanda: Because as you, as people have heard, we’ll google something because a lot of the, the ads are in newsprint –

Sarah: Mm-hmm.

Amanda: – and in black and white, and we’re like, Oh, it’s so much worse than we thought it –

Sarah: [Laughs] Yeah. The advent of color instead of newsprint made a very big difference.

Amanda: In terms of completely bananas covers, I don’t think we would have seen a Running Anonymous cover in, like, an issue for 2014 –

Sarah: Nooo.

Amanda: – so, you know –

Sarah: This was definitely an era with some weird cover art.

Amanda: – there’s a tradeoff!

Sarah: And the erotic presses were starting to spring up, because you just, like, listed your books in, in all the different formats and got some –

Amanda: Yeah.

Sarah: – computer-gener- – like, listen, people talk a lot about AI art, and it’s one of those, one of those, like, I’m on the rocking chair of the Old Folks Home: Oh, I remember AI cover art. I remember Poser. I remember computer Poser! Oh, it’s bad cover art! I mean, those covers are really creepy. They’ve got this Uncanny Valley shininess to them.

Amanda: Yeah.

Sarah: Oof.

So for next month, would you like to go to May 1994?

Amanda: 1994?!

Sarah: It’s one of the earliest epi-, issues that I have. Amy M. sent me a whole bunch, and one of them is 1988 October/November, and one of them is May 1994.

Amanda: So ’88, for everyone, for context, for ’88, I wasn’t even born yet.

Sarah: [Laughs]

Amanda: And for ’94, I probably couldn’t even read; I was five.

Sarah: [Laughs more]

Amanda: So I’ll have probably zero context for –

Sarah: Oh, it’s going to be weird. It’s all about Zebra.

Amanda: – either of them.

Sarah: Oh yeah.

Amanda: What are the, what are the covers? What are the cover stories?

Sarah: You’re not going to believe this – oh my goodness. So first of all, this was purchased for fifty cents, though the cover price is not, oh, yeah, four, four dollars cover price. It was purchased for fifty cents, May 1994.

Amanda: Okay.

Sarah: Are, are you ready?

Amanda: Yeah. Oh boy. Oh, we’ve talked about those mustaches.

Sarah: Yeah! We’ve got mustaches. I’m trying to reduce the glare. Look at that.

Amanda: Okay. Okay.

Sarah: So we’ve got Romantic Times Magazine, Romantic Riches from Zebra. It’s all about Zebra, which published some fantastic romance. This is also newsprint and a small color section in the middle. But we’ve got special features about Roseanne Arnold. Like, Roseanne Barr-Arnold. Stell- –

Amanda: Yeah…you say Roseanne Barr.

Sarah: Stella Cameron, Cassie Edwards, Countdown –

Amanda: Cassie Edwards!

Sarah: – to Camelot. Yep! Oh yeah, she was big at this point. Countdown to Camelot and the Book Lovers’ Bash in Nashville. Pageant winners’ debut on the cover of Bobbi Smith’s Heaven. Cheryl Beaudine poses with a romantic Frenchman who won the Illinois cover model pageant, Guy de Boo.

Amanda: Oh boy.

Sarah: [Laughs] Oh my God, look at this!

Amanda: Oh my God.

Sarah: And we have reviews in Historical, Mainstream, Science Fiction, Mystery, Series, and Regency. There’s no contemporary. Flavia is still in here, and then there’s author profiles. This is a very different magazine.

Amanda: No, let’s do the mustaches!

Sarah: Mustaches?

Amanda: Yeah.

Sarah: All right. This is a very old issue. I shall digitize it, and I shall share it.


Sarah: And that brings us to the end of this week’s episode. I need to know, did you ever attend Mr. Romance at RT? Did you see the Mr. Romance pageant on the Oxygen network when it, when it aired? Do you remember it, and did you have a romance soundtrack CD? There are so many mysteries, so many unfathomable questions in this issue, and if you have the answers to some of my questions, oh my goodness, please get in touch. You can email me at [email protected]; you can comment on the website smartbitchestrashybooks.com/podcast under episode 611; you can just yell. I don’t, I don’t mind. I mean, I won’t hear you, but I am dying to know if you have ever experienced the Mr. Romance pageant on TV or in person. I’ve seen it a few times, but I love listening to people tell me their impressions, ‘cause it was a wild time.

I will have links to many, many things in the show notes, including where you too can buy Jafar’s staff and some of the clips of the Mr. Romance pageant from one of the contestants named Anthony Catanzaro. I will have links to all of that in the show notes, and there will be a link to the visual aids, so all of the visuals that we talk about, you can take a look and follow along with us. You can even press Play in that entry and follow along while you listen. Do not miss the extras, because they’re really, really fun.

I want to say thank you for the reviews. Stenellalong wrote:

>> This is a smart podcast!

Thank you. And added that the episodes:

>> offer insight into the writing process and a chance to know more about the book industry as a whole.

Thank you, Stenellalong! I am still learning about the book industry, and it baffles me every single day, so thank you for coming along with me on that ride!

Your reviews help get the show in front of new listeners so we can continue to thrive, so if you have an opportunity and you are so inclined, thank you.

As always, I end with a terrible joke, and this joke is from JF Hobbit. Hi, JF Hobbit!

What do a selkie and a Ziploc bag have in common?

Give up? What do a selkie and a Ziploc bag have in common?

They are both re-seal-able.

[Laughs] Resealable! Thank you, JF Hobbit! 

On behalf of everyone here, we wish you the very best of reading. Have a wonderful weekend, and we will see you back here next week!

Smart Podcast, Trashy Books is part of the Frolic Podcast Network. You can find more outstanding podcasts to subscribe to about all sorts of books at frolic.media/podcasts.

[end of music]

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