Every Monday, John Darling posts an editorial article documenting and challenging the latest in Neverland, Ohio.

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Why Taking Chances is the Key to Happiness

Dear readers, these recent months have been tumultuous, for me and for many of those closest to me. My brief dismissal from – and subsequent reinstatement to – the ranks of the Kensington Chronicle has inspired me to look back on how much my personal and professional life has changed since we first launched the online edition of the Chronicle three years back. With that in mind, I’ve re-read all of the online editorials that I’ve written (with the exception of some of my recent pieces that don’t really fit that description). And this trip down memory lane has made me come to a startling realization: I had no conscious idea of how much of my life up to this point had been driven by fear.

Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. For a while, even fear of acceptance; specifically, with regards to my sexuality. On that front, we’ve born witness to incredible milestones, rousing opportunities to declare loudly and proudly that “love won.” But my biggest stumbling block in finding a romantic partner has not been my sexuality. While I’ve been alone for most of my life, and feared on some level that I’d end up that way, a part of me has also been afraid of falling in love in the first place. It’s taken me 30 years, give or take, to learn that it truly is better to have loved and lost; that rejections and setbacks are survivable, and are in fact the only way for us to grow as people, the only way to find that person with whom we want to spend the rest of our lives. A proper paring truly does make two people better than the sum of their parts. I’ve seen it with my parents, George and Mary Darling. I’ve seen it with Wendy and Peter; Michael and Lily; and now, I think, with John Smee and myself.

John, woefully, has already found himself on the receiving end of my relationship hang-ups, and I am so grateful that he has elected to give me another chance. I realize now that the way I treated him in the aftermath of the Chronicle sale had nothing to do with him and everything to do with me. And I’m happy to report that now that we’re over that hump, we’ve emerged all the stronger for it.

I’m also grateful for my siblings, Wendy and Michael. That sibling relationship can ebb and flow, but I now know that it will never break. As different as we are, they will well and truly always be my best friends. And that knowledge alone is enough to get me through even the most difficult of days.

In the past, I’ve buried myself in my work, sometimes at the expense of every other aspect of my life. Now, this was in part because I’m a workaholic, and always will be; I’m simply wired that way. But it was also a way of distracting me from the other parts of my life that I found lacking; anything to avoid staring into the abyss of crippling loneliness that my self-imposed isolation was driving me inexorably closer to. But if I’ve learned anything from my recent brush with unemployment, and my blissful reconciliation with John Smee, it’s that being a newspaperman isn’t everything. Our jobs don’t have to solely define us, any more than our sexuality does. Being assistant editor in chief of the Kensington Chronicle is something I do. But John Darling is who I am.

I once wrote that “Growing up isn’t what it used to be.” And I do believe that our generation has some obstacles in our path that no prior generation has ever had to deal with, obstacles which at times can seem insurmountable. But I also believe that nothing is truly insurmountable. That we cannot allow fear, or a culture that undervalues us, to disillusion us into inaction. That we must be steadfast in our refusal to let anyone tell us what we can’t do, least of all ourselves; life is hard enough without putting roadblocks in our own path to happiness. We have to not get so hung up on finding “the one,” but at the same time be open to love when and where we find it. All at the same time striving for balance between all of these different pieces of our lives.

Growing up has never been easy. And it was never meant to be. But I couldn’t have asked for a better group of friends and family with whom to muddle through it. And I couldn’t have asked for a more tolerant, nurturing, magical place to do it in than Neverland. I love you all, Neverlandians, each and every one; and every day, you find a way to remind me of just how much I am loved. As long as we all continue to fight for that feeling, then Love truly has won. And if people like us have anything to say about it, it always will.

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Posted in Editorials
Posted on April 18, 2017

Neverspeak Weekly 4/18/17

Dear Neverlandians,

I needed to break the traditional structure of this column because this is a really special week. The last few months have been challenging for all of us as we watched our paper (and in some ways our town) become something we weren’t familiar with. Jas Hook had the best of intentions when he tried to take the Chronicle to a global level, but the truth is, Neverland can’t be bottled. It’s a rare place, uniquely its own – a sort of Camelot, or Brigadoon, or Narnia perhaps. In all my adventures across America, and Europe, and (upcoming!) Asia, I have never seen and will never see its like. But, wherever we go and whatever we do, we’ll always carry Neverland in our hearts. And we can share a little of its magic by continuing to represent the qualities that make it so great.

Kindness. Neverlandians welcome all who come here with open arms and inquiring minds. Whatever their occupation, inclination, or species, those who come to Neverland find friendship, fun, and understanding. The Neverland Fate Stalkers exists solely to facilitate the process of falling in love – that bush next to you isn’t just a topiary, it’s your own personal matchmaker. And Neverland Wish Granters raise money to make Neverlandians’ dreams come true!

Community. It seems like every other week, we’ve all gathered at the Jolly Roger Soda Ship to listen to Fish Girl Pond or to celebrate some sprecial occasion. At Neverland Books you can find a story to fuel your imagination or a sympathetic ear from Bri or Mia. Lola will teach you how to ride, Amanda will tell you your fortune, and Enya Rose will keep you fit. Wherever you are in town, Sheriff Tacos and Slayer Teresa Delacruz make sure our town stays safe.

Creativity. We make things here! Katie will make you the best ice cream you’ve ever tasted (in wild flavors like Pan Punch). The Darlings are always writing something, be it insightful, zany, or derrière related. Juliet Parsons builds beautiful houses, Aria Griffiths dances, and we are all acting in Broadway level productions like Panlet and The Wedding Crashers.  Also, this girl I know writes this fabulous column that keeps track of it all…

Magic. In case you missed it, we got a lot of fairies here in the land of Never. Besides the irascible Tink (just recently crowned The Fairy Queen!), many residents have shown a supernatural inclination. Little Lilly-Jane can be seen constantly flying out of Jo and Freddie’s arms. Amy and Nanny Ams (who is mysteriously missing!) have been coaching brand new fairy Aria and may need to offer their wisdom to Teresa who has sprouted wings of her own.

Love. The thing that makes Neverland stand out to me the most is all the love. There must be something in the water (or in all that fairy dust). Soulmates just seem to find each other here. We’ve witnessed the weddings of Mia and Eli Traynor, Juliet and Wes Parsons and soon Bri and Sheriff Tacos and Teresa and Neal. More recently, true love has found Gemma and Anna, Aria and Charlie, and Peter and Wendy. And if the sight of John and John walking around town arm in arm doesn’t make your heart grow three sizes, you need more fairy dust!

We may not be able to take Neverland with us on our journeys across the world, but we can always hold onto the things that make it special. Be kind to yourselves and others, find your people and make room for the unexpected additions. You never know who you greatest friends, allies and inspirations will be. Keep using those beautiful imaginations to tells stories and express what’s in your heart. Never stop believing in magic, and don’t forget that it all comes from love. As long as you keep coming back to that very simple truth, you will never be far from Neverland, Ohio.

Love, love, love,

Morgan

Posted in Editorials, Neverspeak
Posted on April 18, 2017

Hook is Back

My fellow Neverlandians: longtime readers will be aware that our editorials are traditionally written by John Darling. Well, you may have heard that Mr. Darling is no longer with the K-Chron. A few other familiar faces have been let go as well. Honestly, ever since I took the reins from George Darling, I have had struggles with some of our legacy employees. I’ve been trying to take the paper in a brave new direction, and some people were just a little too entrenched in the old way of doing things. Sometimes taking a ship in a new direction means manning it with a whole new crew.

You may have also heard that my engagement to Wendy Darling is off. I want to say, I truly believed everything I wrote about Wendy in my last piece. I thought she felt the same way, but apparently I was wrong. It appears that no matter where I go, or what I do, people wind up finding reasons to hate me. I’ve tried to be everybody’s friend for so long; it’s things like this that make me wonder why I bother.

I tried to strike a balance between the way George ran the paper and the way I wanted to run it. I tried to ask my employees what they wanted to cover and our readers what they wanted us to cover. But I was fought every step of the way, to the point of insubordination and outright contempt. Suffice it to say, I’m done asking for people‘s permission for me to run my newspaper my way. Hook is back, ladies and gentlemen. The Hook who built a media empire out of nothing, all by himself. I didn’t need anybody then, why would I need anybody now?

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Posted in Editorials
Posted on April 10, 2017

TOP 5 REASONS CLICKBAIT IS BAD JOURNALISM

1. IT IS MANIPULATIVE

In the days when your brick-and-mortar local paper was one of the public’s only news sources, newspapers were built on subscribers. People had their paper delivered every day, already paid for; there was no question about whether or not they were going to buy the paper, the only question was what parts of the paper were they going to read? But in our current digital news landscape, profitability is entirely click-driven. In the good old days, the art of headline writing was always important, but your paper didn’t live or die by it. Now many online sources feel they have to resort to crafting headlines that trick you into clicking through.

2. ITS OUTRAGEOUS CLAIMS INFLUENCE READER OPINIONS

Misleading headlines that promise more than the article can deliver are undoubtedly annoying. But is there truly any harm to it, outside of clicker’s remorse, that feeling that you’ve just spent five minutes that you’ll never get back? Well, studies have shown that the same article with two wildly different headlines can dramatically affect the manner in which the content of the article is perceived by the reader. This is partially because of the short-attention span of online readers who don’t always read articles in full, but also because these outrageous titles that have been crafted simply to attract clicks can color everything a reader sees after.

3. IT REPRESENTS THE DEATH OF EXPERTISE

Employing freelancers is more affordable than having an actual writing staff, and unfortunately we, the public, get what these news sources pay for. Cost-cutting measures have pushed digital news sources towards content that can be produced by pretty much anybody. So we have people who are not qualified to write good content being paid next to nothing to produce pieces that barely qualify as journalism in the first place.

4. ITS CONTENT IS NOT KING

Because clickbait is all about driving traffic to your website, the content of the articles themselves tends to be deliberately-shocking, and to pander to the lowest common denominator. What’s more, it is the antithesis of the hyperlocal news that this reporter was brought up on; the problems of a small town in Ohio don’t amount to a hill of beans in this clickbait world.

5. IT DAMAGES YOUR CREDIBILITY AS A NEWS SOURCE

Because of everything we’ve already talked about, clickbait’s tendency to be manipulative, fear-mongering, trite and banal, propagating that kind of content damages your news organization’s reputation in the long run. More reputable sites and search engines are already taking steps to weed clickbait out of circulation. So while those short-term gains of a massive influx of online viewers can be attractive, savvy readers are getting wise to the ploy and learning to tune out that kind of content. It is this reporter’s hope that online new sources will soon begin to realize that this kind of “journalism” is harmful to their readers and to their credibility as a news organization, and will cease to engage in it post haste.

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Posted in Editorials
Posted on April 3, 2017

TOP 5 REASONS I LOVE WENDY DARLING

Hello, my friends! This is Jas Hook. John Darling has graciously allowed me to use this space to write a guest piece this week. In case you missed the news, I got engaged! To a woman you K-Chron subscribers know well: Wendy Moira Angela Darling. So this week, I’m taking a moment to enumerate a few of the reasons why I asked her to marry me in the first place. I know that some of these reasons are a little cliché, but I think the reason something becomes a cliché is because it has an element of truth to it. So without further ado, I give you: The Top 5 Reasons I Love Wendy Darling.

1. SHE MAKES ME WANT TO BE A BETTER MAN

Wendy has told me on more than one occasion that one of the reasons she loves me is because of how driven I am, how I give so much of myself to my work and to the businesses I oversee. But I understand now that I need to channel at least as much passion into my personal life as I do into my professional one. This might come as a surprise to you readers, but I haven’t dated much; not seriously, anyway. When I was a kid, I was overweight, stuttered, and was stepped over and stepped on by many of my peers. This didn’t do much for my self-esteem, and in turn I was never a very attractive dating prospect. As an adult, the opposite has been true, I’ve had no dearth of romantic options, but very little time to pursue them. On top of that, once I became an international name, it became difficult for me to tell whether people were truly interested in me, the shy Neverlandian who was just starting to come out of his shell, or the rags-to-riches legend that the rest of the world was starting to see me as.

In the beginning of my relationship with Wendy, it definitely helped that we worked together. Wendy was able to see me at my best, to witness firsthand my unbridled passion for the work that I do. And Wendy was the first person in a long time (maybe ever) to see the real me; not the one that my childhood bullies saw, and not the one the paparazzi and the international news created. No, she saw the real me right away, and that was the me she fell in love with. Wendy has taught me that people can be good, and being with her has helped me realize that people can like the real Jas Hook if I just allow myself to let my walls down and let people actually see him.

For a long time, I’ve used my work as a way to run away from my personal life. But now with Wendy, I actually want to spend every my free moment I have with her, and want to find a way to make those moments less fleeting. Old habits die hard, but the great thing about being a captain of industry is that captains get to delegate.

2. HER PASSION MATCHES MY OWN

Wendy has a relentless drive all her own: a thoroughly selfless desire to help people, even strangers. Through her advice column, Wendy has literally made helping people into her career. And in bringing that to JH Media, she’s reminded me that a media company should be in the business of helping people, not pandering to the lowest common denominator.

3. SHE INSPIRES ME

You might not think that a man who built an international media empire out of nothing would be wanting for inspiration, but the truth is, the skills it takes to build an empire aren’t always the same ones it takes to successfully run one. And when you become responsible to shareholders, hundreds of employees, and all of the people who consume JH Media content, it gets a little difficult to see the trees for the forest. Whereas Wendy, even at this level, still uses her column to help one person at a time. The way Wendy approaches her life and her job reiterates that empires are made up of people, and serve at the pleasure of the people, and that as much as possible, I need to keep that in mind moving forward. And the way she connects with people reminds me of why I got into media in the first place.

4. SHE COMPLEMENTS ME

Wendy is just naturally fun, and knows how to bring out the fun in others. For a person like me who’s spent the better part of his adult life putting fun on the back burner and focusing on work, the ability to experience the former can begin to atrophy. Lately, I’ve been actively trying to have more fun, but I’m learning that, when it comes to fun, it’s do or do not. It’s not a matter of trying, it’s a matter of being open to it, of being in the moment. Not worrying about the future, but being rooted in the now, being present wherever you are and whatever you’re doing. When I’m with Wendy, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be. And that’s making me reevaluate the way I lead my life and the way I run my business.

5. SHE IS MY ROCK

My tendency is to not burden other people with my problems. I’ll sit and stew with it, soldier through it on my own. But for as long as I’ve known Wendy, she hasn’t allowed me to do that. And weirdly enough, I haven’t wanted to. She wants me to tell her about everything, the good and the bad, and from day one I’ve felt like I really could tell her anything. Having her in my life makes every part of my life better, even things we don’t talk about. And I hope the reverse is true for her too.

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Posted in Editorials
Posted on March 27, 2017

8 PIZZA TOPPINGS THAT WILL BLOW YOUR MIND!

This week I’ve been tasked with writing a listicle that’s at least (relatively) wholesome, if still not in the strictest sense actually news.

8. Butternut Squash and Sage

With garlic oil, homemade ricotta, roasted butternut squash, fresh thyme and crispy sage.

7. Rhubarb Basil 

With Apple Honey BBQ Sauce.

6. Shrimp Scampi

As good as a pizza as it is a pasta.

5. Deep Dish Reuben 

Topped with corned beef, swiss cheese, sauerkraut.

4. Baked Mac ‘n’ Cheese

Dangerously delicious.

3. Hummus and Grilled Zucchini

I think this one speaks for itself.

2. M&M’s

I’ll bet you can guess which Neverlandian submitted this one.

1. Fairy Dust

This one is a Neverland original!

And speaking of pizza, remember that there’s no better place in Neverland to get it than our local Shakey’s!

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Posted in Editorials
Posted on March 20, 2017

Clearing the Derrière

Neverlandians, today I’ve been tasked with answering the question that apparently everyone but me has been asking re: pop-star Derrière Diva: “Booty real or booty fake?” In case, like some of us, you have better things to do with your time, allow me to bring you up to speed. Ms. Diva’s appearance at this year’s Siren Awards has kicked off the latest in a disturbing trend of bootygate scandals. The ratio of Ms. Diva’s behind to her waistline does seem to defy what we would think of as standard body proportions, but just because it is unusual does not mean it isn’t naturally possible. There are a lot of facets to this question, and I shall endeavor to address the issue respectfully while keeping my journalistic integrity intact.

The practice of using the suffix “-gate” to denote a scandal, of course, originated in the early ‘70s when the Nixon White House was implicated in a burglary of the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters which happened to be located inside the Watergate Complex in Washington D.C. I’d hazard to say that the authenticity of Derrière Diva’s booty is of significantly less national import than the dirty-dealings of a one-time-president of the United States, but you wouldn’t know it from the way this so-called scandal is trending on Twitter.

So what do we actually know? Surgical procedures to enhance one’s posterior have existed for more than 30 years, two of the most common being fat injections and silicon implants. Now, as it turns out, there is a fairly definitive way in which to identify the presence of booty enhancements. Both of these methods of posterior augmentation would show up on X-ray or CT scans, tiny calcium specs called “microcals” for the former and the implants themselves for the latter. Not surprisingly, however, there do not appear to be any publicly available scans of Derrière Diva’s backside to settle this debate once and for all. And even if there were, journalistic integrity would demand that rigorous pains be taken to ensure that said scan were, in fact, performed by board-certified Radiologists.

Absent this definitive medical evidence, the question of “Is Derrière Diva’s booty real or fake?” seems to be largely a matter of opinion. Still, it has been made clear to me that I am expected to draw a conclusion, sparse though the actual facts may be. So to that end I say, we must presume that it is real until such time as it can be proven otherwise. This is America, after all.

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Posted in Editorials
Posted on March 6, 2017

Welcome to OpenWindow – Hooked on Love

Are you looking for love or friendship in Neverland?

Well JHMedia and the K-Chron have your back!  OpenWindow is here, a place online where you can connect with other Neverlandians.  Rate whether you want to open your window to them or close it!  Those with Twitter accounts shared allow you to connect with them.

You can join up or just rate!

Click here to begin.

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Posted in Editorials, Tech Updates
Posted on March 3, 2017

5 THINGS YOU PROBABLY DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT FAIRY CULTURE

1. In fairy society, only the young can lead. Of course, fairies live for hundreds of years, so “young” for them is a little different than it is for us. When they reach Twilight (100 years old), fairy government officials – including the queen – are expected to resign.

2. Theirs is a matriarchal, dynastic monarchy. So when a queen dies, or turns 100, the crown is passed down to her youngest daughter. Incidentally, Queen Opal Mab I’s Twilight ceremony occurs next week, and she has no female heirs! For the first time in fairy history, the fairy ruler will be a male, Opal Dawn’s son Crimson.

3. You probably know that the current fairy queen is her royal highness Opal Mab I, but what most people don’t know is that “Mab” is not a family name but a royal appellation, like “Caesar” in Ancient Rome. The name Mab is assumed by each queen upon coronation, in honor of the first fairy queen.

4. The 1950 chart-topping song “Dust Cloud Saturday,” written by Neverland’s own Isaac “Dusty Wind” Mannering, is actually a chronicle of a real event! In 1949, a Great Fairy Dust Storm caused most of the fairy folk to leave our local Garden of Light, and settle in the four corners of the globe.

5. Anyone who’s seen a fairy is familiar with the fairy dust they leave in their wake. What a lot of people don’t realize is that fairy dust color is actually a family Trait!

Posted in Editorials
Posted on February 27, 2017

Ask Wendy Live! on March 1st

Hello my Wendy Birds!

This Wednesday evening (March 1st) at 10pm Neverland, Ohio time (EST) I will be hosting a one-time-only LIVE Ask Wendy.

When it is happening, you can ask me questions and I will let you know my thoughts.  In the meantime, you can ask me questions or comment on things in a couple of ways:

  • Tweet to me @ItsDearDarling using #AskWendyLive
  • or fill out the form below!
Fields marked with a * are required.

(note: we will not post your email address or twitter handle)

Have an empowering day!

-Wendy D.

Posted in Editorials
Posted on February 26, 2017

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