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A journey through 2018’s top pop culture moments

And the top pop culture moments of 2018 are ... Wait. WAS there any pop culture this year? Of course there was, but you could be forgiven for forgetting, because more than ever it was politics, politics, and more politics occupying the zeitgeist and sucking the proverbial air out of the room. ...

Christmas trees and their decorations have evolved

In the story of St. Boniface, a Thunder Oak decorated with lit candles and gilded apples was glowing in the dark forest one Christmas day in 8th century Germany. The pagan god Thor was to be appeased with a human sacrifice. But Wynfred, an English Christian missionary later to be known as St. ...

RIGHT AT HOME: Scene-setting home fragrance names

The home-fragrance market has long been dominated by relatively simple iterations of popular aromas: vanilla, cinnamon, evergreen and citrus scents. But that marketplace of diffusers, candles and room sprays is full of fun, evocative names to distinguish the scents — names meant to pique ...

Holiday entertaining in small spaces is an art

For those in small homes, holiday entertaining can feel daunting, or even impossible. But with a little planning, that needn't be the case. "I don't think anyone who enjoys hosting should stop themselves from entertaining just because of space constraints," says Sarah Carey, editorial ...

Stand-up world shaken up in 2018 by a pair of comedians

NEW YORK (AP) — Two comedians who caused a stir this year took very different approaches: One stood in a sold-out Australian opera house, speaking into a traditional microphone on a stand. The other paced a darkened American studio without an audience or mic, drifting in and out of the ...

Delight yourself and others this season with kindness

Want to really enjoy this holiday season? Try giving to others out of delight, not duty. Sure, there are gifts we feel obligated to give. But the magic of Christmas comes when we re-create the spirit of the season for another person just because we feel like it. It’s not hard. Ask Katie ...

AP’s top 2018 albums: Janelle Monae, Kacey Musgraves, J Cole

NEW YORK (AP) — The top 10 albums of the year by Associated Press Music Editor Mesfin Fekadu. 1. Janelle Monae, "Dirty Computer" When Janelle Monae released the masterfully brilliant "The ArchAndroid" in 2010, it was hard to imagine how this futuristic, already-seasoned artist could ...

AP names Nicky Jam and J Balvin’s ‘X’ its top song of 2018

NEW YORK (AP) — The top 10 songs of the year by Associated Press Music Editor Mesfin Fekadu. 1. Nicky Jam and J Balvin, "X'': Nicky Jam and J Balvin's "X'' is not just the Latin song of the year — it is SIMPLY THE SONG OF THE YEAR. A year after the uber-successful "Despacito," comes "X'' ...

Janet Jackson, Def Leppard, Nicks join Rock Hall of Fame

NEW YORK (AP) — Janet Jackson joins her brother Michael and the Jackson 5 as members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, earning induction on Thursday along with Stevie Nicks and the top fan vote-getter, Def Leppard. Radiohead, the Cure, Roxy Music and the Zombies will also be ushered in ...

Doo doo doo doo doo doo: ‘Baby Shark’ bites into the culture

NEW YORK (AP) — In the wise words of James Corden, there comes along a song every so often that defines a generation. Doo doo doo doo doo doo. The late-night TV host, carpool karaoke king and father of three young children was referring specifically, and wryly, to "Baby Shark," now the ...

kindness is contagious: Showing up with kindness helps soften the blow

Sometimes it’s not the first blow that knocks us down, it’s the second or the third. We can hold it together for the initial bad news, but all too quickly comes a totally unrelated problem that causes us to come unglued. I think they call that the straw that broke the camel’s ...

Saving ‘niece-mas’ by getting with the program

Well, at least I got to save Christmas. Let me explain. Many years ago, one of the assorted sons-in-law in our family nobly carried a bowl of gravy to the table while we were all sitting down to Christmas dinner. He probably didn’t do this so much to be helpful as he did to hurry up chow ...

Minding Our Elders

Dad with dementia repeatedly asks for his dead wife Dear Carol: My dad was the primary caregiver for my mom during the first years that she was sick with cancer, but during her last years, he began to show signs of Alzheimer’s. When Mom died, Dad was devastated. He seemed to comprehend what ...

They’re the unicorns of the sea: Give the gift of a narwhal

NEW YORK (AP) — Technically speaking, narwhals are Monodon monoceros, or medium-size whales with long spiral tusks protruding from their heads. To fans, the crazy looking arctic creatures are more like unicorns of the sea. Narwhals may be wacky, but they’re nipping at the heels of llamas ...

Empty boxes top high-tech toys on doctor-recommended list

Skip the costly electronic games and flashy digital gizmos. Pediatricians say the best toys for tots are old-fashioned hands-on playthings that young children can enjoy with parents — things like blocks, puzzles — even throwaway cardboard boxes — that spark imagination and ...

Kid ride-ons explode with cars, tractors, monster trucks

NEW YORK (AP) — Mercedes or Mustang? John Deere or Jeep? Electric ride-ons for kids are busting out all over this holiday season. Target will add nearly a quarter-million square feet of new space for toys across more than 500 stores. Some of that real estate will show off a broad selection ...

Got $7.1 M? Neiman Marcus tops 2018 fantasy gifts with yacht

NEW YORK (AP) — Need a $7.1 million yacht? How about jumping out of a plane on a top secret spy mission with a $315,000 price tag? Perhaps a backyard luxury clubhouse sounds better, or a million pieces of candy. No matter your taste, if you’ve got big bucks this is your time of year. The ...

Netflix maintains high-priced relationship with ‘Friends’

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Netflix will still be there for fans of the old TV series "Friends," but maintaining the relationship will come at a steep price. The video streaming service paid $100 million to keep showing "Friends" in the U.S. through 2019, according to a report in the New York ...

HOMETOWNHOLLYWOOD: Sweating the small stuff as birth of our son approaches

LOS ANGELES — A lot is happening few weeks from now. My husband Jason and I are hosting family for Christmas in Los Angeles. I’ll be on a holiday break from work. And what else, what else ...? Oh yeah, our lives will be changing forever with the birth of our son. Last year at this time, ...