Friday, August 29, 2014

Take me on. . .

Anyone who can perform the high note from A-ha's "Take on Me," I invite you to a contest. The first person to send me a recording of that single note where Norwegian songbird Morten Harket really lets it soar--during the phrase "in a day"--gets a free T-shirt. Just send me an mp3 or a wav file. The T-shirt might not be new, but it's the thought that counts.

And by the way, A-ha's entire album, "Hunting High and Low" is highly under-rated. There's a lot more on that album than the song made famous by its animated video. There's one song where, I swear, Harket sounds like Peter Murphy. Of course, "The Sun Always Shines on TV" is a thrilling composition.

But have you heard the song "Living a Boy's Adventure Tale"? It's pretty and unusual and worth a listen.

I'm going to look for the song on YouTube so I can embed the video. Aha, I found it!

--Sarah Torribio

Thursday, August 28, 2014

That's my soul up there. . .

I've been reading Sting's autobiography, "Broken Music," and it is quite good so far. I wonder if he will discuss his lyrical process later, because he is quite the wordsmith.

For instance, The Police's "King of Pain" offers a dazzling amount of metaphors for a tortured soul. I used to play the song when I briefly taught a writing class at Citrus College, just to encourage the students to explore the art of comparison.

Sting compares his soul to . . .

a black hat caught in a high tree top
a flag pole rag (and the wind won't stop)
a black CAT caught in a high tree top
a fossil trapped in a high cliff wall
a dead salmon frozen in a waterfall
a blue whale beached by a springtide's ebb
a butterfly trapped in a spider's web

He then goes on to say that his soul is. . .

a red fox torn by a huntsman's pack
a black winged gull with a broken back

What a virtuoso volley of metaphors. Of course, I don't need to tell you how well the song turned out, or how remarkable a band The Police are.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Spank you very much. . .

Apparently, Spanx are nothing new. It's just a catchy new name for an undergarment once referred to as --a rather utilitarian name—"Tite-Panties." The ladies have known the importance of streamlining for quite some time.

Beautiful. . .

Monday, August 25, 2014

Roller skating epiphany. . .

I had an Alex fashion intervention.

I always wear dresses. When I said I was going to buy some pants for a roller-skating excursion, Clinton, I mean Alex--"What Not to Wear" joke--said, "Wear pants more regularly."

What a concise and certain sentence from a 5-year-old. When I emerged from my room wearing pants and a top, he said. "You should wear pants and shirts all the time." I decided to get to the bottom of this conversation, the story behind the story, if you will.

"Do you wished I dressed like other mothers?" "Yes." "Do you wish I dressed more normal?" "Yes."

It's already started. I am capable of embarrassing my child.

The roller skating was awesome. Chino rink. Me gathering speed and remembering the old criss-cross move. Having ongoing flashbacks to my local childhood haven of wheels, rows of lockers, a snack bar, carpeted benches and the sheer number of traffic decisions.

Oh no, this little kid looks like she's about to take a spill. Better slow down so I don't mow down at the hoedown. Okay, now I've moved to the center of the rink, but that's where the speed demons and skate-dancers hang out. It's my first time on skates in 15 years, for God's sake.

The DJ spun tunes like "Let's Groove" by Earth, Wind and Fire and "Get into the Groove" by Madonna. That song's vid makes ample use of footage from "Desperately Seeking Susan," which is not a profound movie but is marked by the outrageous confidence and sensuality of the title character.

Madonna may be known for image, but you can't underestimate that voice. Deep, husky, unfailingly melodic and aimed to make you want to hit the dance floor. Like you're at a wedding and you're talking to someone about the weather or how you know the bride and groom and suddenly this prime song comes on and you're like, "Hold up a minute. Hold that thought. I've got to dance to this song" and abandon the conversation without apology. (The former incidence occurred to me about three weeks ago.)

The skate Dj (skee-jay?) also played "Fancy" by Iggy Azaelea and "Talk Dirty To Me." Both of the former were heavily edited, including a well-placed volume dip on the line, "You should want a bad b*!> like me" and a new chorus of "Talk, talk to me." I thought I was cool because I was able to sing along with Iggy's intro: "First thing first, I'm the realest. Drop this and let the whole world feel this. And I'm still in the murder bidness. I can hold you down, like I'm giving lessons in physics." Where did an Australian outback girl learn to say "bidness"?

And then the room went dark and the colored lights came out and "Thriller" by Michael Jackson came on. What an amazing song. Who else could write a horror-themed tune that makes everyone feel fantastic? Do you remember what an EVENT it was when "Thriller" came out? How about that producing on the part of Quincy Jones? "PYT" and "Wanna Be Starting Something" are a thrilling, mind-boggling wall of sound. That sped-up chipmunk chorus on PYT! That crazy word-scatting on "Wanna Be": "You're a vegetable. . .still they eat you. . .you're just a buffet. . .they eat off you." What does it all mean?

My favorite song was always the wistful, shuddering "Human Nature," which makes me think I must have been a pretty sensitive kid: "If this town, is just an apple. Then let me take a bite. . ."

When I rewatch the "Thriller" video again, I am struck by something. Michael Jackson had some acting chops. That scene in the movie theater where his girlfriend is terrified and he is gleefully eating popcorn is hilarious. His face!

Anyhow, the upshot is that the rollerskating was amazing, and I want to go back as soon as possible. Perhaps on the third Friday of the month, which, it was announced over the PA before the crowd was invited to join in "The Hokey Pokey," is Michael Jackson Night.

It was fun AND exercise. It all served to remind me that pop music is everything, and that it feels good to move your body. Rollerskating is awesome.

*By the way, while I did have a personal epiphany, it was also a family outing. My son comported himself very well for his first time at the skating rink and wants to go back. At first we were helping him crab-claw along the rink's outside barrier, but it was a tricky business, especially with all of the other newbies likewise crab-cralling. It was when Brian I pulled him away from the wall and put him in the middle, with all of us holding hands, that he started to get the hang of it. Having kids and taking them back to a venue you loved as a kid can make you go full-circle or, in the case of a skating rink, full oval.

--Sarah Torribio

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Song of the Day: "Jump" by Van Halen

Today, I was watching the Van Halen "Jump" video and I realized something. This is a self-help masterpiece.

For all of those of you who, like me, are in daily recovery from neuroticism, nothing else poses a better, easier and more discreet lifeline than a good self-help book. I'm currently flipping through the pages of several self-help books, including one called "How to Talk to Yourself."

The main goal of every self-help book is to render the reader confident and happy. And they say a picture is worth a thousand words. So I say cut out all of the "blah, blah, blah" and get out some "rah, rah, rah" by watching the video for "Jump" by Van Halen. Because at that moment in time, those guys got it.

You will never see anyone as supremely self-confident as David Lee Roth in this video, preening over his own beauty--tousling hair that should only be seen in a 1980s girls locker room, thick with the smell of Aquanet, and doing split jumps like he just won the cheerleading nationals. And the way he slinks around in a leonine manner. Diamond Dave is clearly a man who loves himself.

And then there's Eddie Van Halen, whose child-like face exudes sheer, unbounded giddiness at the prospect of making his guitar sing while communing with his bandmates.

Confidence and happiness. And a really good keyboard riff.

                                                                       >>next song

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Potato chips and K-pop hits

I have viewed Frito-lay's latest chip flavors, delicacies like "Cappuccino" and "Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese" as the coming of the apocalypse.

So I was delighted to find a meme expressing my dismay, and one starring the charming Jeff Goldblum to boot. But if you do a bit of sleuthing around, you find that the company and other snack manufacturers have been quite imaginative when it comes to crafting chip flavors they think will appeal of people of various nationalities and tastes.

We're talking "Magic Masala" chips sold in India and "Finger Licking' Fried Pork" sold in Korea. (South Korea, I'm pretty sure.)

You might want to check out a slideshow

And speaking of Korea, have you heard of K-pop? I know, it's a bit late to ask this question of anyone who is under 25, because the young people have been onto this remarkable craze for years.

For me, it took the emergence of Psy's ubiquitous Gagnam Style video to put the genre on my radar. They don't play this song as much as they used to, but I did nearly go into cardiac arrest after trying to horseback-dance at a recent wedding.

With my then 4-year-old son obsessed with the song, I began exploring YouTube to see if there are any other catchy songs hailing from Korea. That's when I came across a group of young ladies so bad-ass that they make The Rock look like The Pebble. They make Megadeth look like Winger. They make Slipknot look like the Aquabats. I'd better stop because my metaphors, which started out bad,  are getting worse. Suffice it to say that 2NE1's K-pop boast-fest will change your life. For the better, I hope.

If the above vid is a bit hard-edged for your taste and you want a K-pop chaser with more whimsy than bad-girl posturing, you may also welcome the stylings of Orange Caramel with the song "Lipstick," which is the first video I've seen that has managed to craft a plot around ping pong and unrequited love.

Potato chips and K-pop hits have something in common. You can't stop at just one!

--Sarah Torribio

Friday, August 22, 2014


flickr photo by H.Tarar

I sit upon a wooden dock, my feet hang off the end
And at this moment I am sure that I don't need a friend
I cannot touch the water, though my sneakers try their best
And then I kick them off a while and lay back for a rest

The sky is like a bowl of cream suspended upside down
The peaks are whipped in such a way they never touch the ground
Instead, they hug the pretty top of such a pretty bowl
I spend an hour on my back, and just admire the whole

--Sarah Torribio

Haters need not apply. . .

Punish the deed, not the breed.

Mermaids and underwater tea parties. . .

When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time in the pool with my legs together and my feet splayed, pretending to be a mermaid. That just what girls do.

My mermaid love was further fueled by the dazzling beauty of Daryl Hannah in the movie "Splash."

I have to admit that I've always felt a bit betrayed by my genes and their refusal to make me grow up into a 5'10 blond amazon. I also have to admit that the movie "Splash," besides still being delightful, makes me ponder getting a crimping iron. My sister had one in the '80s that I borrowed sometimes, and it did add fantastic body and texture to my stick-straight hair.

So today, I was on Pinterest, as I am every day, trying to fill the whistling void within my soul by hoarding ideas I hope to someday pursue. And I came across this pin:

So now, I want to go back in time and give the amazing FINIS Mermaid Swim Fin to my child self.

Perhaps a more practical idea is for me to get one of these babies for Savannah a few years down the line.

And now I have another idea for a swimming pool accessory designed to make every little girl happy. Remember having an "underwater tea party," where you stay underwater as long as you can and pretend to sip an imaginary cup of tea? Perhaps the imaginative pool-owner could affix a pretty little tea table and chairs to the bottom of their pool. There are probably some safety concerns there, but one might say that life itself poses some safety concerns.

Happy swimming!

--Sarah Torribio

Cactus. . .

I went through a period where I was writing lots and lots of epigrams--very short poems. Considering that I will be heading with my family to Arizona and the Grand Canyon next weekend, I thought I would pull out a couple of epigrams inspired by cactus.

flickr photo by devra

I'm dry as dust, but even cactus blooms.

Cactus come-on
I would like to spank you bare,
with the business end of a prickly pear.

*You can use the above pick-up line if you want, I give you permission. It might, however, result in a restraining order.

--Sarah Torribio

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Song of the Day: "Genesis" by Grimes

This year, I made a conscious decision to acquaint myself with some new music. I had become stuck in a rut, which is not good considering that I'm working on a screenplay that's entirely about rock music.

I think another factor that spurred me to venture onto YouTube to see what was out there is that I turned 40 in July. There's a saying by Woody Allen, whose writing and movies I still admire despite recent allegations about his personal behavior. What can I say? I separate the artist from the act.
This doesn't mean that I'm eager to collect paintings by John Wayne Gacy or to obtain the folk rock album recorded by Charles Manson. But I admire "Rebel Without a Cause" and "On the Waterfront" despite the fact that director Elia Kazan reputedly sang like a canary during the McCarthy hearings. 

In "Annie Hall," Woody Allen's character Alvie Singer says the following to his girlfriend Annie, played by Diane Keaton:
“A relationship, I think, is like a shark, you know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we got on our hands is a dead shark.”

Later, Liz Phair, a remarkable singer and songwriter, penned a song on the subject, called, you guessed it, "Dead Shark." 

My point, and I generally have one, is that if you consider yourself a music lover but stop moving forward, then, when it comes to your status as a music aficionado, I think it kind of dies. You end up having a Dead Shark on Your Hands.

Anyhow, I have begun trolling the Internets for music I can love and I've found a few songs. One of my techniques is to go onto Pinterest, where I have a board called "All the Singles Ladies," devoted to songs I love. None of the videos I have posted are my intellectual property but each of them is among the musical properties of my heart. When I find a song I really like, say the haunting and atmospheric, "Three White Horses" by Andrew Bird, I then go down the rabbit hole, poring through the musically-themed boards of people who likewise like that song. Chances are, they have musical taste that is complementary to my own.

Anyhow, I think that is how I first encountered the song "Genesis" by Grimes. It is from the future. It is from outer space. It is gorgeous. It is strange. And the video is weirdly compelling. I hope you like it, too!

                                                                      >>next song

It's about who you know. . .

That awkward moment when Facebook lists William Howard Taft among "People you may know."

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Albert Einstein and the theory of multiple intelligences

In the old days, kids who didn't excel in reading, writing and arithmetic were judged to be less intelligent that other kids. Kids with challenges like dyslexia, ADD or talent in extra-curricular areas like sports and music as opposed to traditional academics were judged to be emotionally sub-par.

Then, developmental psychologist Howard Gardner pioneered the theory of multiple intelligences in his 1983 book "Frames of Mind." Rather than judging all people by the same intellectual yardstick, like an IQ test, he proposed there were many different ways in which people can be adept. The eight abilities he chose are as follows (disclaimer, the following list is lifted straight from Wikipedia): musical–rhythmic, visual–spatial, verbal–linguistic, logical–mathematical, bodily–kinesthetic, interpersonal, intra-personal and naturalistic.

"He later suggested that existential and moral intelligence may also be worthy of inclusion," according to his Wiki profile.

The theory of multiple intelligences allows for the sensitive parent or teacher to focus on a child's specific strengths, cultivating, celebrating and encouraging them. A kid that is visual-spacial might turn out to be highly skilled at electronics or car repair, for instance, the kind of gifts that may well provide a rosy future for a kid who struggles with reading. Another child might find math an enormous challenge, but demonstrate a propensity for making friends, pleasing teachers and authority figures and helping her peers solve interpersonal problems. As an adult, she may well prove to be a fine business manager or a insightful psychologist, despite any deficit when it comes to numbers.

As educators have become more aware of the multiple intelligences, they have learned how important it is to provide extracurricular activities that appeal to each kind of thinker. A student who is musical-rhythmic and has access to music education, a student who has body-kinesthetic intelligence and is exposed to sports or dance and a student who has visual-spacial acumen and gets regular art instruction is far more likely to enjoy and stay in school and grow in their confidence and in the area of goal-setting. In short, they will see themselves as somebody, and as someone who is likely to be a successful adult.

Albert Einstein, who famously struggled during his early education, was on to this concept long before Mr. Gardner and his theory of multiple intelligences burst on the scene. Check out this spot-on quote by everyone's favorite genius, Albert Einstein.

Talk about a visionary!

--Sarah Torribio

Monday, August 18, 2014

Check yourself before you wreck yourself. . .

I found this meme on Pinterest, and it is so true.

As a child, I loved Mr. Rogers. It wasn't necessarily the shows'  respective messages, but how he delivered them. I sensed the man's goodness early on. You knew he would never forget to feed those fish. As a latch-key kid who was often plagued by anxiety,  I craved that reassurance and watched that show longer after most kids my age, 10 or 11, had outgrown it.

My love for Mr. Rogers wasn't just about sensitivity. It was about style. I had a funky aesthetic as a kid. When I was in fourth grade, I would pair a twirly mini-skirt with an oversized multi-colored sweater and tights, even in the summer. Then I would put on some nice, clunky shoes. For instance, I had some red and white saddle shoes, a great buy from Payless, that I favored at the time.

I would top this look with a hairstyle of my own invention. I would wear the bulk of my long, dishwater blond hair down but I would part my overgrown bangs in the middle, fastening the hair in ponytails on either side of my face. I would tug on the hair until my rubber bands made it stick out in a satisfyingly Pippi Longstocking fashion.

Yes, I had a nascent punk rock style that has changed little over the years. And I had a sense that Mr. Rogers had it going on. Those sweaters, in hip colors like bright red and mustard, were perfect--casual but impeccable. And how cool that he changed into a comfy sweater and Keds when he got down to the business of make-believe, a grown man dressing a like a teenager after shedding his confining suit and dress shoes.

I liked the way Mr. Rogers was somehow both retro and fashion-forward. And without a hint of self-consciousness or irony. A few years later, we would see grunge icons like Kurt Cobain donning knitted sweaters, and the members of the band Weezer in the "Buddy Holly" video wearing 1950s-style cardigans.

Of course, clothes are somewhat superficial. The more I have learned about Mr. Rogers insides, though, the way he thought, the more I love him. As a journalist and a parent, I am keenly aware that all of the bad and sad and violent and warped news of the world can make us soul-sick.

Mr. Rogers had a pro-active approach to countering the helpless angst fostered by a media barrage. This is what he Rogers said about those times when the unthinkable happens--when the Twin Towers topple to the ground, when there is a shooting at a school, or when forces like global warming seem to threaten our very existence. It is genius advice, perfectly indicative of an ordained minister with a gentle Pennsylvania upbringing.

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of 'disaster,' I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers--so many caring people in this world."—Fred Rogers

Look for the helpers! Every parent and teacher and kid needs to hear these words, and to follow these directions when the fit hits the shan.

Want to hear more of the late Mr. Roger's simple but profound words? Check out this remarkable musical mix of some of Fred Rogers' most benevolent moments, each aimed at inspiring thoughtfulness, creativity and confidence in kids. Between the wistful keyboard and Fred's saint-like demeanor, this song just might make you go misty.

He's right here, too. It is good to be curious.

--Sarah Torribio

My cat cheated on me. . .

This happened to me. Seriously. Only in reverse.

My mom had a friend who was a communist sympathizer. Somehow, we inherited two female cats from her, which were my two first real feline loves. One was a very rotund tabby named Nikolaia. The other was a similarly plump black cat named Jamesa. Actually, she was black but when you rubbed her fur, you could see another layer of russet-red fur. And when she got to be a senior cat, you could also see white fur.

I believe the cats' names were Russian. I have no idea how to spell them, because I was little and figured out the spelling myself. Nikolaia was my favorite of the two cats, because I forever love a tabby and because she was fatter than Jamesa. (I was obsessed with those illustrations of big fat tabby cats with small heads drawn by Bernard Kilban.

As often happens with cats who lead the indoor-outdoor lifestyle, Nikolaia eventually disappeared. I was heartbroken, for a time. But her absence allowed me to bond further with Jamesa, who as the quieter cat had almost flown under my radar. She was quite a cat. Jamesa was dignified of dignity, but she was also down-to-earth. She regularly smelled like motor oil because she loved to roll in patches of dry but still extant oil in the garage. She never acted like a complete pet--she liked to come and go, and preferred to be petted while she had all four feet on the ground rather than scooped up. Still, I was protective of her and would set up a sort of campsite for her, comprised of a towel or comforter and a propped umbrella, when it rained.

Anyhow, back to the point of the story. We began seeing Jamesa less and less. Her visits to our porch were still regular, but they were intermittent. Then, one day, a family that was new to our street saw us fawning over Jamesa on our porch and came over to talk to us. They were excited to meet someone else who knew the fat black cat of whom they had grown fond.

Jamesa had adopted them as a part-time family, they shared. She would come into their garage and enjoy a bowl of kibble. Later, she would return to us and graze a bit from the bowl we provided.

This double-life struck me as a bit disloyal. Jamesa was mine! And to top it all off, the kids confided that they had given a name to our cat: "Winky." The ordinariness and cuteness of the name sounded insipid and demeaning to me, because Jamesa's queenly name matched her elegance. But, like all feline enablers, I came to accept Jamesa's part-time love, enjoying her presence like a precious gift--as, I'm sure, her on-the-side family did--until she disappeared.

Jamesa was very old, and probably went off to die alone. Still, I impulsively drew up a wanted poster, using crayons. There wasn't a picture, just the words "Lost Cat, Jamesa. One million dollar reward." I don't remember if I was practical enough to leave a phone number.

No one came to claim their $1 million reward, but Jamesa was, indeed, one in a million. She also, like the ornery cat in the meme, tried to move into another home. It is a testament to her appeal that she partially succeeded.

--Sarah Torribio

Song of the Day: "Carry Me" by Bombay Bicycle Club

Sometimes I think I'm too old and set in my ways and I'll never bond with any new music.
Then, suddenly a group like Bombay Bicycle Club comes along. I celebrate their entire catalog, and will see them in concert in October.

Considering I have a 5-year-old and an 8-month-old, I haven't been to a show in like three years, not since I saw a solo gig by Matt Skiba (swoon!) of Alkaline Trio.

A lot of their songs are quite lovely and laid back, but their song "Carry Me" is a perfectly-crafted and invigorating rock song. Here it is on YouTube (not my intellectual property, of course.)
Enjoy the magic!

                                                                            >>next song

Great kids programming: "Classical Baby: The Poetry Show"

Everyone knows, when you have kids, you end up watching the same programs over and over. And many of them become extremely annoying after a viewing or two. Not "Classical Baby: The Poetry Show." This HBO special--which highlights poems by writers like Langston Hughes, Edward Lear and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, among others--is a treat for all ages.

There are vivid animations accompanying each poem and adorable kids sharing their thoughts on the art of poetry. It's relaxing, but not boring. Babies love this show. As a baby, my son Alex would break into a grin when the kids would discuss the poems, especially when one vivacious little blond would come onto the screen to expound on Sheakespeare's "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day." ("It's really about love, really.") And now, my eight-month-old daughter Savannah shows the same delight. And Alex, age 5, still likes the show, as well as other Classical Baby offerings like The Art Show, The Dance Show and The Music Show.

The best thing about this show is that it not only exposes your kids to literary classics ("How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. . ."), but you'll find yourself memorizing poems by heart, which is a lost art. I can now recite Edward Lear's "The Owl and the Pussycat" as well as William Carlos' Williams "This is just to say": "This is just to say/I have eaten the plums that were in the icebox/that you were probably saving for dinner/Forgive me, they were delicious/so sweet and so cold."

You can buy the DVD on Amazon, but if you'd like to give it a gander before, the video has been posted on YouTube.

HBO Family also created a number of other charming, animated videos illustrating classic poems and songs, several of which are also posted on YouTube. Here is one of the most fun: "Calico Pie," a poem by Edward Lear, sung by Natalie Merchant.

Keeping your kids entertained while introducing some culture? Winning!

--Sarah Torribio

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Thomas Mann, on writing

I write obits and education stories and feature stories for a community newspaper. I write poetry, write songs, write screenplays, write comedic essays, write blogs and write music reviews/interviews. I love and hate all of it. I never stop writing. I'll be gardening and suddenly go into a fugue state, grab an old seed packet and start scribbling down jokes or ideas or scenes. Other precious crumbs of writing have been scrawled on napkins, paper plates and envelopes.

My significant other, Brian Hall,always quotes a line to me from "Throw Mama off the Train" to me, in which Billy Crystal says, "A writer writes. Always." With all that in mind, this quote I came across on Pinterest really struck me as true:

Does this definition fit you?


Chandeliers, a poem

flickr photo by Miami_Beach

Ice tears are dangling beneath my eyeliner again,
tinkling against the waterproof mascara of the night sky.
I don't get tired of crystal facets, not even when I walk through
middle-class lamp showrooms where fixtures wink, "Come, dine beneath
my glittering glory. Invest in me as in a child's education, as in a grandfather
clock, as in civilization itself.”

When my eyes get tired of costume jewelry, lit by jaundiced bulbs,
I find refreshment in another chandelier, the spectrum-splitting drops
tossed from the clouds like Mardi Gras beads to prove that beauty is no myth,
invented by 18th century poet-suicides. It's no coincidence the sun only shows
her color when it rains. Everybody loves a chandelier.

--Sarah Torribio

Saturday, August 16, 2014

On the magic of reading. . .

There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.
~Walt Disney

*Quote and pic lifted from Pinterest

Friday, August 15, 2014

Once. . .

Once I go a little bird and put him in a cage. And then I got another bird, and then they got engaged.

—Sarah Torribio

'80s Video Awards: Toto's Africa

Most Obscure and Convoluted Lyrical Reference

This dubious honor goes to Toto's "Africa" for the following tongue-twister: "I know that I must do what's right. As sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus from the Serengeti."

Man, that's a mouthful! Toto really pulled out all the stops on this one. Kilimanjaro, Olympus, Serengetti: Have you ever heard so much geographical name-dropping in one line? All this in a song named after a continent. Check out the video to listen how David Paich strains to make the syllables of this song fit into the time signature. Notice how the "Ser" and "ti" in Serengeti are awkwardly emphasized:

Other observations/questions:

* In profile, vocalist David Paich looks more than a little like John Ritter.

*Why does the late drummer Jeff Porcaro (God rest his soul) look like he's cross-dressing in this video? Is it the women's glasses, the blouse or the necklace that is so prim it may as well have been June Cleaver's classic string of pearls? Is it speaking ill of the dead to say that Porcaro looks like a young Janet Reno? Is it speaking ill of Janet Reno?

*Is it just me who is rendered hopelessly dizzy by that incessantly spinning globe?

*Little known fact: The woman at the desk who keeps looking suggestively through her bifocals is actually the band's accountant. That's not busywork she's doing. It's their taxes.

*Notice what a workout this song is for keyboardist Steve Porcaro. If you watch closely, he's wearing sweatbands on his wrists.

*Notice how smug Paich looks when, despite the slight inconvenience of an intruding spear and a bit of fire, he finds the perfect book for his report on Africa.

*Why, oh why, did that lion and zebra on the wall have to die for this video? Was it worth it? Why did those glasses have to be broken?

*Little known fact: Those oversize books the boys of Toto are using as a stage? They belong to Steve Lukather, who was a prop comedian on the side.

Clearly, a special award for this video, which remains legend on YouTube, is long overdue. Long live Toto! It's going to take a lot to take me away from that band.

If you like rock humor, check out the book "No Air Guitar Allowed," a humorous guide to rock concerts now available on Amazon.

Sarah Torribio

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Smoldering beauty

We lost another great actor yesterday. . .
"I am not a has-been. I am a will-be." --Lauren Bacall

Pippi Longstocking: "If you say it fast it's funny."

This is what feminism looks like. . .

Song of the Day" Edie (Ciao Baby)" by The Cult

Pictured here is cult leader Ian Astbury. Actually, he is the lead singer of the band The Cult. I can't love music by The Cult purely, without a tiny touch of irony, because the band is so dramatic and earnest, without a hint of humor. And yet, I absolutely love the song "Edie (Ciao Baby)," tribute to doomed Warhol It Girl Edie Sedgwick.
She was a model who rose to prominence after being featured in a number of short films by Andy Warhol.

Unfortunately, her life was marred by eating disorders, mental problems and drug dependency, and she died due to a combination of drugs and alcohol before she was 30. Sorry to bring you down, but that's the truth, according to Wikipedia.

I haven't yet seen the biography of Sedgwick's life, "Factory Girl," starring Sienna Miller as Sedgwick. I think I'd have to be in the right mood to watch it. I'm not a huge fan of tragedy. I know "Death of a Salesman" by Arthur Miller is brilliant and "The Glass Menagerie" by Henrik Ibsen is brilliant and Tennessee Williams' "A Streetcar Named Desire" and John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men" is brilliant, but they also make me real sad. I was absolutely destroyed when I saw much of "The Elephant Man" as a small child, peeking through the door to our "TV room" as my parents watched the movie.

 Anyhow, back to The Cult. The lyrics of "Edie (Ciao Baby) are some of Ian Astbury's most dramatic.

"Always said you were a Youth-quaker, Edie. A stormy little world shaker . Warhol's darling queen, Edie  (He really gets into it here. . . ) An angel with a broken wing."

"The dogs lay at your feet, Edie. And we caressed your cheek. Stars wrapped in your hair, Edie. Life without a care. But you're not there."

 "Caught up in an endless scene, Edie. Paradise a shattered dream. Wired on the pills you took, Edie. Your innocence dripped blood, sweet child."

"The dogs lay at your feet, Edie. We caressed your cheek. Stars wrapped in your hair. Life without a care. Ciao, baby!"

"Sweet little sugar talker. "Paradise dream stealer. Warhol's little queen, Edie. An angel with a broken wing . . .Why did you kiss the world goodbye? (Ciao, Baby!) Don't you know paradise takes time? (Ciao, Edie!)  . . . Ciao, Baby! Ciao, Baby! Ciao, Baby! Ciao, Baby!

Ian Asterbury's delivery is all but operatic. He is committed to that song. As a result, it makes for some enjoyable car karaoke. Are you unfamiliar with the song, or experiencing a wave of nostalgia? Check out the vid.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Adsense and sensibility

It seems to me you can't get anything for free--what I mean is that when you do something for monetary reasons, it leaves a small smudge on your soul. Or maybe I'm being overdramatic.

Let me explain. I want to monetize this blog. So I have opted to use Google Adsense. From what I gather, if I get enough visitors to my sight, I'll start to see some money from it.

The only problem is that I don't pick the kind of ads that show up. So when I viewed my blog today, there was an ad about dating hot Asian girls. If I really have to have an advertisement starring an Asian girl, why can't it be this young lady who is elegantly hawking some kind of liquor or medicine?

—Sarah Torribio

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Insecure browser

I feel really sorry for my web browser. I just got a message that said, "You are using an old version of Firefox that is no longer supported and is insecure."

Random musings: President Obama is my wingman

Thanks Obamacare. Now I have more friends with benefits. (wink)
P.S. Don't you find it to be a laugh riot when someone refers to our president as Barry Obama. Gets me every time. 

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Random Musings: Mariachi-phobia

Mariachis make me nervous. It's like they're wooing you and you've never even met.

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Gustav Klimt plus Lana del Rey

Isn't this picture beautiful?
Lana del Rey is amazing. She's very melancholy—almost too much so for anyone past their 20s. We grownups (i.e. displaced children having a "Freaky Friday" experience) have to keep our keels even. But when I get in the right mood, my favorite Lana del Rey videos are "National Anthem," "Ride" and the Cedric Gervais remix of "Summertime Sadness." That remix is an irresistible song to dance to, as I recently learned at the wedding of my friends Jessica and Zach.

Gustav Klimmt was very interesting. His gold technique makes his photos shine beautifully, but the implied metal also makes a kind of armor that keeps the viewer from connecting with his subjects. We admire the beauty of the people in his photos, but we don't wish we knew them. I think. You can probably convince me otherwise.

Charles Schultz is my hero

My dream book club.

Brilliant booze-smuggling idea

Feminine hi-jinks product.

The only guy. . .

The only guy who hates the phrase YOLO more than you.

My candy crush

I'm not a player, I just crush a lot.
How do you choose? Where do you even start?

A soldier's break. . .

If this isn't touching, I don't know what is.

Self help me!

I have a longstanding pattern of saying to myself, "I am depressed." Lately, whenever I do that, I correct myself and say, "No, I am tired or overwhelmed." And almost inevitably, it's true. The difference is I know I'll feel better after a good night's sleep or after meeting my story deadline, etc. Another good idea comes straight from "The Sound of Music":

Disney doll dilemma

I thought I had avoided the family curse: Every woman in my family eventually ends up collecting dolls. And then Disney had to go and turn me into another crazy doll lady. I already have three—Hawaii, China and Africa—and want the whole collection. If I can't afford to go to Disneyland, by God, I'll turn my home into Disneyland!

Loopy for lack of lucre

Money goes fast at the grocery store, even when you're buying the store brand cereals with names like "Happy Loops" and "Fortunate Trinkets."

From Ghandi to Tupac

Can you imagine a rap song with this quote as the chorus. Can you imagine Tupac performing said rap song? Best. Song. Ever.
(To be read after this post in that speedy voice they use on commercials when they want to deliver a disclaimer or to tell you about how your medication could potentially cause you to explode: "The previous gag is in no shape or form meant to diminish or minimize the enormous contributions of Gandhi towards the causes of equality, peace and nonviolence.")

Font of wisdom

Conclusion of a joke only graphic design nerds would find funny: "And it turns out they were using Comic Sans Bold!"

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Ground Control to Major Tom

Sometimes I think I like Peter Schilling's '80s hit "Major Tom" more than David Bowie's "Space Oddity," by which it was inspired. I sense that makes me lowbrow.