How to Fight Like Sherlock Holmes

Bartitsu, the Victorian art of self defense, is making a comeback.
It’s sundown at a small park in Burbank and I’m dressed in head-to-toe black, carrying a big stick and ready to street fight, Sherlock Holmes style.

I’m not exactly a ninja—the closest I’ve been to hand-to-hand combat was fighting over the last cupcake at Thanksgiving.

But even so, I have signed up to learn bartitsu, the esoteric and gentlemanly Victorian art of self defense. [READ MORE]


The Positive Side of Negative Thinking

Elle Somewhere along the way, positive thinking became the holy grail of self-help. Catherine Townsend taps into the power of so-called negative thinking.

“Come on, give me a smile!” I was hungover and hiding behind sunglasses. The Starbucks barista was the only thing standing between me and my morning coffee, so I tried my best. “Have a nice day, and don’t forget to think positive!”

Since moving to Los Angeles, my pre-latte existential crises were becoming more frequent. I was dealing with a pile of rejections, lack of friends, an empty savings account, three flat tires, a then-boyfriend who said he “couldn’t do commitment,” and a text from my mom saying the family pug died. But faking good cheer for a caffeine hit didn’t make me feel better. It only made me feel more “positive” that I wanted to punch him in the face.

For several years I had lived in London, where moaning about the weather and public transportation is a national pastime. But here, in permanently sunny L.A., the real power cult isn’t Scientology. It’s The Secret. Norman Vincent Peale wrote “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade” in his mega-bestseller The Power of Positive Thinking, telling us to make the best of bad situations and turn failure into opportunity.

I get it: If I smile, project confidence, and take calculated risks, I vastly improve my chances of people wanting to hire, help, and sleep with me. According to the laws of attraction, imagining success will make it materialize. Conversely, if I fail, it’s my fault for attracting negativity. But in a town where, for every movie star immortalized on Hollywood Boulevard, there are 10,000 people whose only line of dialogue is “Would you like fries with that,” ignoring the possibility of failure doesn’t make sense.

The more I try to get rid of a thought, whether it’s a Maroon 5 song or my mortgage, the more times it comes back. [READ MORE]

Private Investigator Magazine

Botox and Body Language

Many detectives are trained to identify micro-expressions and body language, but being a ‘human lie detector’ can be complicated – especially in cities like LA, where Botox is everywhere. I recently wrote a piece for PI Magazine in which I posed the question: “How can investigators read expressions when everyone’s face is frozen?” [READ MORE]

Daily Mail

‘So rough our pit bull got stolen’: Growing up in America’s most violent small town


When people ask me where I grew up, I have a throwaway joke: ‘Pine Bluff, Arkansas—a town so rough that our pit bull got stolen.’

Since I was a kid, Pine Bluff has been famous for all the wrong reasons. The headlines are grim: Most recently, it was named the second most dangerous metropolitan area in America after Detroit based on violent crime statistics such as murder, rape and kidnapping. ranked city the seventh most dangerous for women. Walking around gives you a one in 10 chance of being a victim of violent or property crime.

It’s also home to an army installation that housed chemical weapons. An X-Files episode where Mulder and Scully are faced with a biological element that melts human skin is called ‘The Pine Bluff Variant’ after the Pine Bluff Arsenal.

When a reporter visited the town recently to do a police ride-along, acting Police Chief Jeff Hubanks said that ‘the little old white lady with the kitten on her lap is perfectly safe in this town’. He seemed to infer that crime was confined to drug dealers and rough areas.

But violence in Pine Bluff isn’t limited to the wrong side of the tracks. These days the town’s nickname is ‘Crime Bluff’, and the last time I drove through I saw a boarded-up Main Street that looked like the zombie apocalypse had already happened.


Every call you take; I’ll be watching you: The truth about stalker spy apps

Why are teachers so hot for sugar daddies? Website that pairs young women with wealthy men reports a surge in sign-ups from educators

A website that pairs wealthy men with younger single women has claimed that 51,043 teachers have signed up in search of extra income. To find out why so many teachers are being tempted I posed as ‘Anna’, a 29-year-old PhD candidate and educator.


Goodbye sugar daddy, hello ‘Splenda daddy’: Older men who fund younger girlfriends’ lifestyles are making LESS money than ever

‘I’m not a creep, just looking to help out’: The lusty landlords using Craigslist to offer free rooms in exchange for ‘maid service’ and sex

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