Sunday, September 28, 2014

Some times I like to make church signs. . .

Sometimes I like to make church signs that I find amusing. It's a strange hobby that came upon m when I first discovered the amazing church generator app on the site.

Here are a few choice creations:

I'll keep you posted on any new signs if INSPIRATION strikes.

What do you do in your spare time?

—Sarah Torribio

Throw away your newspaper. . .

Throw away your newspaper

Throw away your newspaper
Or make of it instead a blade-crisp boat
It glides across the gutters, folded seams
Dribbling words in cooling streams

Break your cable box, let static rule
Let your children wake to TV snow
Press Jack Frost noses to the screen
Use mitten fingertips to wipe it clean

Empty your computer
Of circuits, wires and elemental springs
Insert cocoons behind the screen
Wait a week and watch for wings

Give your mailman notice, seven days
Post a painted sign, "Beware of stings"
Then turn your mailbox to a metal hive
Where honey drips and busy workers thrive

Then make your phone a castle for your fish
Let golden fins brush lightly past the dial
Let mossy weeds asphyxiate the ring
Your phone is now a cradle for a king

—Sarah Torribio

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Marmee blogger. . .

Everybody knows about the dreaded mommy blogger, someone who says home with their kids and parents like a mo-fo. Like nobody's business. 

They aren't rich--no, they're a lot like you and me--and they do things that we could do if only we cared enough. Soothing your teething babies gums with breast-milk popsicles. Yes. Diapering your baby in cloth diapers made by Nepalese woman who are paid a living wage? Check. Buying your daughter Barbie-like dolls with realistic proportions and then using markers to illustrate the chakra system "And here is the solar-plexus chakra, which is the seat of our sense of security." Why not? Carrying your baby in a sling and crafting Waldorfian felted fairies and other imagination-nurturing toys? Uh, yeah. 

If I sound sarcastic, it's only because I'm more than a bit jealous of people who do good stuff like baking their own bread instead of buying the ultra-soft and quite affordable Mexican brand, "Bimbo."

Anyhow, while I have my moments I'm proud of, including regularly reading to my 5-year-old son and doing different accents for each character, I'm just not that good a mime. I will never be a mommy blogger. 

But I was thinking today. I love Louisa May Alcott. We're talking love. 

I pored through "Little Women" and "Little Men" as a child and, yes (spoiler alert), I cried when little Beth died. I cried again when I saw the 1994 film version of the movie, with Winona Ryder as Joe and with Claire Danes as Beth. 

"I was never like the rest of you, making plans about the great things I'd do." 

Didn't she just kill it?

And I realize that everything I need to know in life I learned from these little women's profound and wise mother, Marmee. She set such an example and shared so many verbal gems, that I don't even need to come up with my own content. Yes, I'm becoming a Marmee blogger.  

So on my first day as a Marmee blogger, here's the first bit of parenting advice I am shoplifting from the March matriarch. 

"I am angry nearly every day of my life, Jo; but I have learned not to show it; and I still hope to learn not to feel it, though it may take me another forty years to do so.”Marmee

The lesson I take from the above quote is that it is okay, even beneficial, to share with your children that it is a struggle for you, and everyone else, to control their anger. It makes maintaining emotional balance a less scary and more shared proposition. 

In my next Marmee blog, due to appear at the start of December, I will espouse the benefits of sharing your fine Christmas breakfast with the hungry family down the street. 

—Sarah Torribio

Of Star Trek and jellyfish. . .


Some things in nature could only have been conceived of by "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry.  Like they're from one of those episodes where Captain Kirk and his loyal crew encounter a planet so inhospitable that the poor guy in the red shirt dies twice.

Takes the jellyfish, that luminescent sandwich bag of languorous movement. And then there are those tentacles, with a sting that starts like cold vinegar and then commences to do a cha cha, wearing stilletos, on your nerves.

flickr photo by Kevin Dooley

I am able to describe the sensation with accuracy because when I was five, I found a bunch of kids on the beach, pointing at a dead jellyfish. Curiosity got the better of me and I nudged it with my foot.

I remember bawling while my mom held me under the beach shower. Years later, I got some payback when I sampled a dish of cold jellyfish at a Chinese restaurant with some Chinese friends. I didn't like the taste or texture. Stung again.

Still years later, I reached an emotional rapprochement when I composed the following dreamy little epigram:

Hey there, jellyfish. Sting me and I'll make a wish!

I had to come around because let's admit it, jellyfish are cool. Have you ever been to an aquarium and stared at a tank of jellyfish for any period of time? It's a living lava lamp.

Wish you could have your own little jellyfish tank? You can. Place your orders now for the first small, affordable jellyfish tank, with color-changing LED lights included.  This remarkable gadget was created by marine biologist "Alex," who with the help of a Kickstarter campaign has formed the company JellyfishArt to outfit you with those aquatic pets you crave. A kit allowing you to keep and care for 1 jelly costs $366. A kit for three jellies is $685.

I like the fact that he's not overselling it, showing the jellyfish wearing party hats and living what is basically a human lifestyle, unlike those charlatans vending "sea monkeys," which are really just tiny, primitive brine shrimp. 

Interestingly enough, brine shrimp are what your pet jellyfish will be eating.

One of the best things about a Desktop Jellyfish Tank is that you can pretend that you are a lair-ensconced villain from a James Bond movie. You probably do it anyways, don't we all? ("No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die!") But now it'll be way more convincing.

Anyhow, a couple of years ago, a strange and fascinating species just got weirder with the discovery of the Turritopsis dohrni, more commonly known as the "immortal jellyfish."

Looking at this bizarre sucker, and hearing about its strange nature in various articles--"There is a Species of Jellyfish That Can Age Backwards" and "Can a Jellyfish Unlock the Secret of Immortality?"-- I became more and more convinced of a hypothesis I conceived of a while ago.

 God is "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry. Or let me put it more bluntly. "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry is God. Read this New York Times article on this living piece of science fiction and see if you agree.

To be read in a lightning-fast radio commercial disclaimer voice: 

*The above post is in no way intended to demean or threaten the religious beliefs of the reader. But come on. Jellyfish are frickin' weird!

—Sarah Torribio

Gimme a break. . .

If I see one more "selfie" I'm going to puke. #TiredOfTheSelfIndulgence.

Friday, September 26, 2014

I hate to boast but. . .

this had been the planet I came from.

If you like to geek out, you can read up on cancri e, a carbon-rich planet that apparently presents the perfect conditions for the manufacturing of diamonds.

In further cosmic bling, here's a BBC news story contenting that  "diamond rain" falls on Saturn and Jupiter.

Everyone today is pushing for girls to focus on the STEM areas of academics (science, technology, engineering and math.) And I think it really makes sense. Why? Because diamonds are a girl's best friend. Just ask Marilyn. 

Diamonds are made through scientific processes. Thus, by the transitive property, scientific processes are a girl's best friend.

—Sarah Torribio

Sanrio suprise. . .

Sometimes I fret that I can't keep up with the news. There's just so much going on.

But I recently discovered a larger problem. I can't keep up with all of the developments by the cute-centric Sanrio company. I just discovered that there is adorable suite of characters called the Sugarbunnies.

An internet search tells me they came about in 2004. Where  have I been for the last decade?

Prank call suggestion #1: The Taylor Swift Challenge. . .

Punk your best friend by calling her up and launching into the dialogue from Taylor Swift's "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together."

Uggh. So he calls me up and he's like. . .
(in a dumb guy's voice)
I still love you.
(back to your voice)
And I'm like... I just... I mean this is exhausting, you know, like...
We are never getting back together.  
(with emphasis)
Like, ever.

See if she gets it or begins to commiserate with you. If her response is the latter, go with it, inwardly enjoying the hilarity.

 Here's your tutorial:

Nail Polish for Only $300. . .

(My immersion course will help you master your favorite Easter European language before you can say kielbasa.)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Top of the charts. . .

I'm feeling restless with my Gemini moon.
Open a window and give me some room!

--Sarah Torribio

*The above chart was generated for free on the website You should try it out. Learning more about your horoscope than your main sun sign, all of the houses and planets that astrologers consider influential, can be  illuminating.  Did I mention that it is free?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Cheese plate therapy. . .

Some people find their zen in Buddha. 
I find mine in brie and gouda.

—Sarah Torribio

Hey there. . .

(photo is by Gemma Harris on Flickr)

Hey there, Jellyfish.
Sting me, and I'll make a wish.

—Sarah Torribio

Song of the Day: "A Silent Film" by Anastasia

The Killers plus Bombay Bicycle Club equals the band A Silent Film. I like their song "Anastasia."

 < <  previous song 
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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Girls just wanna cry. . .

Today, I came across a video by a guy who can sad-ify anything, though the use of the melancholy minor chord. Here, as part of his "Major to Minor Series," young Chase Holfelder presents "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun."

 And just in case that made you sad, here's a little pick-me up, in the form of the OG Cindi Lauper song. You know you love it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

There's something about this song. . .

I just came across a song that I like called "The Feeling" by a band called Lakes.

I think I like it because it sounds so much like Alkaline Trio. Alkaline Trio, fronted by the breathtakingly handsome Matt Skiba, is pretty dark.

I got into Alkaline Trio during the aftermath of my separation and subsequent divorce from my first husband. My world was turned upside down but the benefit was that I went through a sort of second adolescence, which awakened my desire to find music that described what I was going through. It didn't hurt that I was working at a community college at the time with journalism students in their late teens and 20s, who freely shared their musical tastes.

I fell in love with a number of bands and artists at that time, including Imogene Heap, Alkaline Trio, Interpol, The Killers and, looking back a few years, Kate Bush, specifically her "Hounds of Love" album.
My first new boyfriend also introduced me to some bands I still really like, especially Ash and the Sheila Divine. If you like good alternative music, their song "Hum" will change your life.

I was clearly a woman in search of a new soundtrack. I'll admit it, I even bought a "Fall Out Boy" CD. I would try to apologize for that, pretending I'm too cool for early 2000s emo music, but I do know all of the words to "Sugar, We're Going Down." I've also lately been influenced by a profanity-laced but profound quote by Nirvana alum and Foo Fighters frontman David Grohl: "I don't believe in guilty pleasures. If you f-ing like something, like it." Alright, Dave, I will take ownership of my eclectic taste.

My goth side has faded a touch with age and parenthood. Oh, it's still in there, but I've got too much on my plate to go to "that place" very often. Besides, watching dozens of episodes of Nick Jr. shows like "Max and Ruby" kind of brightens your soul by a few shades. (Although if you've seen the cartoon or read the books, parents, there is a darker subtext to the show. Where are the parents? Why is Ruby the only one around to take care of her toddler brother? It's really a story of neglect.) Still, it's too cute for its own good.

Despite the cutification of my innards, I still find Alkaline Trio irresistible.

Some of the music by Skiba's side project Heavens is arguably even darker. But I love the song "Dead End Girl." First I like it because of the words, including a metaphor I dig: "Dead end girl made a promise to herself. That this dead end world will be forced to eat itself at gun point." It's a colorful way of describing someone who is fed up with just about everything. What I really love, though, is the guitar, particularly at the end of the song.

Speaking of the guitar, it has been months since I've played guitar or bass and I need to remedy that. Because I keep having a recurring nightmare that I'm on stage with a band trying to play a guitar whose strings are broken. They are literally stretched until you can't make any notes or chords. Say what you will about my angsty ways, my subconscious is rarely subtle. Rather than giving me gentle hints, it prefers to hit me over the head with a frozen halibut.

And speaking of guitar, I think one of the best lines about the instrument and what inspires someone to play it hails from Interpol's "Slow Hands." Allow me to share a number of lines from this confection of perfection. Again, look for the metaphors, of which I am a connoisseur:
I submit my incentive is romance. I watch the pole dance of the stars.
We rejoice 'cause the hurting is so painless, from the distance of passing cars.And I am married to your charms and grace. I just go crazy like the good old days.
You make me want to pick up a guitar, and celebrate the myriad ways that I love you.

I've got a little tip for you, ladies. If a man ever says anything that uniquely complimentary about you, let alone sings it to you, marry him. I guess this longtime divorcee, currently engaged to her two-time baby daddy, isn't so jaded after all!

*Note: I don't claim ownership of any of these songs. I just like them. If you like them and have the money, I encourage you to buy them.

—Sarah Torribio

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Hot guys of the past. . .

That awkward moment when you develop a crush on a long-gone gentleman in a daguerreotype, even though you sense his poetic brooding and carousing ways would eventually make you miserable.

And this is why cats are awesome. . .

Check the original site to see a too-cute animated gif of these kitties getting cozy.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The spice of life. . .

The main principle of blogging is regularity. You sit down, ideally every day, and expound on whatever aspect of this mortal coil that is your niche.

If you're a mommy blogger, you talk about something you do for your kids above and beyond what any of your readers do, something that will inspire emulation or self-loathing among more haphazard parents.

Maybe you share how you leave a note in your kid's lunch box every day--a little reminder that they are loved, an inspirational quote ("If you can dream it, you can do it!"), a knock-knock joke, etc.

If you're a blogger who caters to gamers, you might share how to swiftly level up as a Death Knight Priest in World of Warcraft or how to build an replica of the Sistine Chapel in Minecraft.

And if you're a political blogger, you might expound on the ineptitude of President Obama or rail against House Republicans for obstructing meaningful political change, depending on whether your ideological ship lists to the left or the right.

But my blog has no particular theme and so, given a creative dry spell, I don't even know where to start. I guess I'll take a leaf from the second word in my blog title, "Battlestar Eclectica," and share some eclectic observations.

#1-Nature, or God if you are spiritual-minded, is infinite in its beauty and humor.

Take, for instance, the rare glasswing butterfly, which is loveliness and grace epitomized.

But then, just when you think creation is all about the pretty, you come across this cactus, pilosocereus palmeri, which when it is in full bloom has the hair of an elderly bohemian who in a moment of whimsy has tucked an enormous flower in her luxuriant white hair.

So, assuming there is a higher power who created both a see-through butterfly and a crazy white-haired cactus, is he a curator of beauty or a comedian? I think the answer is both.

#2-Nature's pretty/funny duality is a bit like the late Robin Williams.

Everyone knew that Robin Williams could do funny, from the time he burst to national notice with his stand-up act, which was a symphony of ADHD, and his starring turn as Mork in the TV show "Mork and Mindy." (What I wouldn't give to be a fly on the wall at the meeting where the show's producer pitched that premise: "He's an alien. She's a human. The only thing they share is white-hot chemistry.")

We all knew he was a spot-on mimic, who could channel any accent and any character.

But who knew that he also harbored within his joke-filled soul a serious actor of Oscar-winning caliber, one who could make us cry as well as laugh?

I didn't know it when I started this blog, but it's really about Robin Williams and how he epitomized the variety of humanity. He was half glasswing butterfly, half fright-wig cactus.

I don't usually grieve for long the loss of celebrities I don't personally know, no matter how much I like their work.

But man, I miss him.

--Sarah Torribio

Friday, September 5, 2014

Plush turtle costume provides refuge for troubled bulldog...

I recently came across this video about a dog with some issues. Lily is a rescue dog, literally, as she was found in a trashcan, along with her litter mates, at 4 weeks old. How anyone can view any living thing, let alone a baby living thing, as trash is beyond me. (Okay, sometimes my compassion doesn't extend to all living things. I've been known to turn the garden hose on ants that crawl up my legs when I am out gardening.)

The point is, between the abandonment, being the runt of the litter and having some medical issues, this bulldog has some serious anxiety and trust issues.

The truth is, I have dealt with some serious anxiety for all of my life, so I get it. In fact, I have considered at times appealing to a saint called "Our Lady of the Social Anxiety Disorder." Okay, so I made her up. But still, I think it's a fabulous idea. In fact, I even have come across a prayer candle that I think fits the bill.

For some reason, I picture her looking like a benevolent, loving and all-understanding Dolly Parton. I don't think I'm the only one who feels a spiritual connection with Dolly Parton, considering that the GreaserCreatures shop on Etsy sells a St. Dolly Parton prayer candle.

But back to the neurotic dog. As it turns out, when Lily puts on a plush turtle costume, she suddenly feels empowered. She snaps into an alter-ego who is happy, friendly, sociable and upbeat. As Lily's owner explains it, she always puts the turtle costume on Lily when she has to take her to the vet and when she does, "She walks in there like she owns the place."

I wonder if there is a magical outfit that could make me--or any human for that matter--instantly feel confident and ready to party.

Perhaps something along the lines of one of these numbers. . .

But I digress again. Back to the dog. Check out this adorable vid:

I love the pet psychic. She is, indeed, doing God's work. As as for Lily, forget the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. She is a true hero on a half-shell!

Here's to you, Lily.

--Sarah Torribio

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

We're not in Kansas anymore. . .

I just got back from a road trip through Arizona with my family.

Thanks to the episode of the Brady Bunch where America's favorite blended family headed out to the Grand Canyon State, part of me felt like we should be driving in a station wagon instead of our Cadillac.

Heads up. When you make a journey, however, epic, with a small child, know this: they will be more dazzled by the hotel swimming pool than they are by the grandest of views. Five-year-old Alex was delighted by the indoor saltwater pool at The Grand Canyon Railway Hotel in Williams and by the two lovely pools at The Wigwam, a swanky resort outside of Phoenix.

Thanks to a handsome tax return and the magic of online hotel bargaining, we stayed in luxurious accommodations the likes of which we would not usually have considered. Suddenly, I feel entitled to be ensconced in opulence as opposed to embedded at the local Cloud 9.

Of course, if you have a small child and an 8-month-old baby to boot, pretty soon your swanky hotel room looks like your own messy house. We're talking toys strewn every which way but loose and an overflowing trash can.  How is it that when you've packed light for a three-day journey, you can manage to have so many clothes overflowing your suitcases and finding their way onto the floor. Maybe that's just messy people problems, but we had to undertake a significant clean-up job before we left the 'Wam, and I made sure to leave a decent tip for the beleaguered housekeeping staff.

We left the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel on Saturday afternoon and got to the Grand Canyon just before sunset. The enormous gorge—that geological layer cake, that symphony of reds and browns and pinks—was lit up as if from within. Unfortunately, I didn't snap a single scenic picture of my family gathered on the world's most famous precipice. (The above photo comes courtesy of the Grand Canyon National Park Service.)

I did, however, come back from Arizona with some cool souvenirs and an interesting story, all  hailing from a little town called Quartzsite. I'd never been there or even heard of the place but, given the name, I correctly deduced that the town is "The Rock Capital of the World" and chose it as our lunch stop on the I-10.

I believe in The Secret, at least some of the time. If you haven't seen the motivational film by the same name, here's the upshot:  your thoughts become things.  I've watched it often in order to try to brainwash myself to overcome my miles-wide pessimistic streak.

My tentative belief in the Law of Attraction was further reinforced when I manifested the bookstore of my dreams in Quartzsite. Sort of.

I said to my significant other, Brian, "This is the kind of place that has a fantastic bookstore, something with a name like 'The Reader's Magic Garden." Just as I said that, I encountered a large sign advertising a book-nook that I'll call 'The Refuge' in order to avoid libel.

As we pulled up to the place, I was excited, as only a die-hard book-lover can be.

There was even a large display of free books outside that you could rifle through, given that you were up to spending any time outdoors in heat that was, quite literally, hovering at 108 degree Fahrenheit.

Brian remained in the air conditioned car with the baby and Alex and I walked into the place, hand-in-hand. It was, indeed, full of books, books that I'm sure were trying to call my name, but as it turned out, there was no air conditioning, just a small portable swamp cooler plugged in in one corner that was dissolutely blowing out warm air.

I moved us further into the bookstore, in search of children's books. Suddenly, a rangy man, with long gray hair and desert-brown skin appeared. He was wearing nothing but what appeared to be an aboriginal sling about the very lowest part of his nether regions. He somehow looked more naked than he would have had he not been wearing a thong that he surely purchased from a catalog called "Sensual Outback Adventures." He greeted us and then headed up some stairs, possibly looking for his pants.

I'm a bit of a prude, something I'm always trying to fight against. For a moment, I said to myself, keep browsing, everyone has different fashion choices. But the combination of the furnace-like heat and the feeling that we had walked into someone's bedroom as opposed to their business sealed the deal. "Let's go," I said to Alex and we got back to the car. "Should we have stayed even though that guy wasn't wearing much clothes?" I asked Alex later. "No, we should have left," he replied with certainty.

At another exit in Quartzsite, where we hit a Carl's Jr., I was almost as excited to head to a huge emporium of stones as I had been for the bookstore. The prices were great, there were stones and pebbles and boulders and crystals and jewelry of every ilk. There also happened to be these giant, rock-like formations of glass in various hues. Desert glass? Beach glass? What process made them? I don't know, and if I hadn't been sitting on this blog like a bird on an egg, I would probably look it up.

Seeing the large glass rocks, I had an idea. I've promised my mom I will make her a Wizard of Oz garden in one portion of our yard. There were green rocks, luminescent and looking like nothing so much as like the rubble from the Emerald City. They looked like this. . .

Pretty cool, huh? So I bought about nine of them as a starter. I currently have them piled on a copper tray atop a plant stand in the Oz garden. I'm not sure if I'll keep them there for inspiration or try to do something more elaborate. Perhaps I'll return to Quartzite for more and actually try to craft an emerald tower or something like it--the kind of thing that MacGyver-like DIY artists post on Pinterest.

And who knows, maybe I'll venture back into that bookstore. Because despite the heat and the near-naked proprietor, I suspect that "The Refuge" has the most amazing cache of books--profound books, clever books, funny books, life changing books--in all of La Paz County, Arizona.

--Sarah Torribio