Dipping Into Indie Funk

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If you were to listen to the songs which I have in my iTunes and Spotify libraries, you’d probably scratch your head in wonder over the vast assortment of genres which I enjoy. One of the reasons why I have so many different genres in my music collections is that I tend to obsess over a certain artist or genre for a while, soaking it up until I begin to get tired of it. The latest musical genre which has caught my attention is Indie Funk, and I specifically latched onto one band in particular, Magic City Hippies.

If you want to listen to music that has an easy vibe, catchy beat and tempo, and just puts you into a feel-good mood, then I would definitely recommend checking out Magic City Hippies, Cool Company, and other related groups which create this vibey, groovy music. The past several months have been pretty difficult for me, so I rely on my relaxing home space to provide consistency and comfort. This means that on most days when I find myself hanging out or working at home, I turn on the Magic City Hippies Spotify station. Friends and clients have actually commented on the station, asking about the musical artists featured. I’m not kidding when I say that indie funk can instantly put you into a great mood and cause stress to just melt away.

Here are a few YouTube videos from bands within this genre:

My Songbird Fantasy

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Copyright : Sergey Nivens

From the time I was a little girl, I fantasized about having a beautiful singing voice, but I wasn’t destined to be blessed with such talent.  Though I am not tone deaf, and can carry a tune, the quality of my singing voice is very basic and certainly not worthy of any type of showcase.  At least I was realistic at an early age (eight years old to be exact) about my utterly ordinary voice, and never attempted to delve into some delusional idea that I might someday develop pipes which would rival Mariah Carey.  Instead, I happily lived vicariously through my favorite singers, imagining what it must be like to have such sweet melodies emanate from one’s vocal cords.

Of course, like most of you, I’m not afraid to belt out a tune while driving my car or taking a shower.  There is something so cathartic about being able to let loose like that, so I allow myself to indulge in it frequently.  Why not?  It’s not like I’m going to try out for American Idol or The Voice.

It’s pretty sobering to think that the majority of singers never really get a chance to fully live out their dreams of stardom, despite having massive talent. I recently watched “Twenty Feet From Stardom” which follows several prominent backup singers from the 1960’s to present time. In one portion of the documentary, Merry Clayton describes her experience recording the vocals for the 1969 song “Gimme Shelter” by the Rolling Stones.

In an excerpt from an article on openculture.com, Merry describes the evening:

Well, I’m at home at about 12–I’d say about 11:30, almost 12 o’clock at night. And I’m hunkered down in my bed with my husband, very pregnant, and we got a call from a dear friend of mine and producer named Jack Nitzsche. Jack Nitzsche called and said you know, Merry, are you busy? I said No, I’m in bed. he says, well, you know, There are some guys in town from England. And they need someone to come and sing a duet with them, but I can’t get anybody to do it. Could you come? He said I really think this would be something good for you.

I said, Well, play the track. It’s late. I’d love to get back home. So they play the track and tell me that I’m going to sing–this is what you’re going to sing: Oh, children, it’s just a shot away. It had the lyrics for me. I said, Well, that’s cool. So  I did the first part, and we got down to the rape, murder part. And I said, Why am I singing rape, murder? …So they told me the gist of what the lyrics were, and I said Oh, okay, that’s cool. So then I had to sit on a stool because I was a little heavy in my belly. I mean, it was a sight to behold. And we got through it. And then we went in the booth to listen, and I saw them hooting and hollering while I was singing, but I didn’t know what they were hooting and hollering about. And when I got back in the booth and listened, I said, Ooh, that’s really nice. They said, well, You want to do another?  I said, well, I’ll do one more, I said and then I’m going to have to say thank you and good night. I did one more, and then I did one more. So it was three times I did it, and then I was gone. The next thing I know, that’s history.

Now listen to her raw vocals.  You’ll get the chills from her energy and passion:

Now that’s magical talent!

Back In The Day…Attending Concerts

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erika8213

 

Among the memories from my childhood, teenhood, and early adulthood are all the incredible concerts I had the good fortune to attend.  I grew up in the 1970’s – 1980’s, and was exposed to all kinds of music during that time.  I was able to see most of my favorite artists perform live, some in front of massive coliseum-sized audiences, and others in cozy local venues like the Troubador.  Little did I know that when I was cheering Poison and Ratt that those bands were about to hit it big on the music scene.

Here is a partial list of some of the artists I was able to see live between 1976 and 1989:

Elton John (Dodger Stadium, 1976)

Rolling Stones (1981, 1989)

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (1980, 1981)

Pink Floyd

Mötley Crüe

Talking Heads

David Bowie

I thoroughly enjoyed being in the audience, rocking with the music, lighting my lighter (who remembers doing this?), and singing along when the lead singer would prompt the crowd to join in.  There was always a palpable energy at concerts, a buzz, and I’m not talking about the burning weed which circulated through the air.  The audiences were always so pumped, so excited to hear a favorite band play live.

I also remember wanting so badly to attend the US Festival on Labor Day weekend in 1982, but my mother staunchly refused.  Then there was another US Festival which I desperately wanted to attend on Memorial Day weekend in 1983, but my mother once again refused, pointing out that I had final exams the following week.  Some of the girls in my class threw caution to the wind and attended the festival, so I was able to live vicariously through them when they described the experience.  An estimated 570,000 people attended the 1983 Labor Day weekend US Festival, which is no surprise since tickets were a mere $20 for each day of the event.

Here’s a video of the full concert which Van Halen performed during the 1983 US Festival:

Other festivals have come to the forefront in popularity in, recent years, but now that we have spent the bulk of the year in lockdown, avoiding COVID, live concerts, with the audience standing in front of the band members, are nearly extinct.  We now rely on livestreams and virtual concerts, which don’t even come close to creating the same magic that a live concert in front of a packed audience can do.

Ventura County Fairgrounds recently hosted a drive-in setting for a live concert which apparently went pretty well.  The audience was limited to 500 cars, I wonder if this will be the new norm for concerts?  At any rate, I am thankful that I was able to see so many incredible artists live, when concerts were still fun.

 

Binge Watching

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Valerie Garner

 

How many of you have gotten sucked into a TV series during this year’s lockdown?  I have to admit that I definitely fell into the binge watching abyss back in June, when I watched season 1, episode 1 of Grimm.  It didn’t grab me immediately, but after several episodes which I watched over three separate days, I noticed that I was developing that all-consuming curiosity, that compulsion to watch one episode, and since the next episode would be ready within seconds after the previous one concluded, I allowed the binge-watching to occur over and over.

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Piotr Adamowicz

 

Since I don’t really watch a lot of television, the Grimm sessions haven’t distracted me from essential things I need to address in my life, but I have definitely spent more than one Sunday evening glued to the tube, learning about all the wesen (aka, creatures) which are only visible to the Grimms.  For those of you who are fans of Grimm, check out the site which offers an encyclopedic list of wesen.

I began to wonder what the wesen see when Nick Burkhardt shows up.  There is a scene between Nick and Monroe, and Rosalie which explains what the wesen see in the Grimm when they woge (show their physical selves to the Grimm):

Monroe: It’s your eyes.

Nick: My eyes?

Rosalee: It’s how we know you’re a Grimm after we woge.

Monroe: They turn black.

Rosalee: Not exactly black.

Monroe: No, you’re right, actually. Black’s too weak a word. It’s more like infinite darkness. And we see ourselves reflected in that darkness. We see our true wesen nature.

Since I love fairy tales, fantasy and certain types of horror (vampires, etc.), this show is right up my alley. Especially now that lockdown has really put a damper on going out at night, I truly enjoy sitting at home and watching what is currently my favorite television series.  It doesn’t matter that Grimm aired from October 28, 2011 to March 31, 2017, for 123 episodes, over six seasons.  It also doesn’t matter that Grimm was canceled due to the writers’ strike.  I have been immensely entertained by the series, and since I am only on season 2, I still have quite a few episodes left to binge watch!

My Perfect Asswhole

I love this fantastic and hilarious piece which was written by a friend and fellow medical colleague who has requested anonymity.  Enjoy!

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Copyright : Richard Villalon

 

I knew a guy who was simply an unequivocally reliable asshole. From day to day, his demeanor varied depending on what he intended to leach out of those around him, but, over the long-haul, he was consistent. Given enough time (and toilet paper), he always proved his assholedness. Some described him as a narcissist—he undoubtedly was—but he was also a class-A (and you can imagine what that A stands for) asshole. 

A friend listened once as I described my acquaintance to another person. I called him a narcissist. My friend, who knew the big brown eye, said, “Nah. He’s just an asshole.” How refreshing is that? Not that one’s ass should be an air freshener; but it’s refreshing when a person just calls something—or someone—as it is. No apologies or feigned political correctness: just unabashed candor. 

Sometimes I think of certain people as having an asshole titer. A titer is an objective measure of concentration. An antibody titer, for example, quantifies the concentration of antibodies in a person’s blood: the higher the titer, the higher the concentration. It’s not speculation or guessing; it’s a measurement, free of judgment. 

A titer might express a person’s exposure to a certain trigger, like hepatitis; or their immunity to an infection, such as mumps. In a broader sense, among those comfortable with the lingo, the word is used more casually. A woman with a high granola titer, for example, has Brillo Pads in her armpits and a particular propensity for tree-huggedness. 

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could measure a person’s asshole titer—an objective measure, that is, of one’s assholery. At present, calling someone an asshole implies judgment: as if we can’t make an objective, unbiased observation. One isn’t questioned or scrutinized for saying Dolly Parton has big breasts, or that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is tall. They’re just observable facts. One might be judged if they said Gary Coleman was short, but that depends on context and tone. If we’re not being pejorative, it’s just an observation. That’s the way it should be with assholes. We should be able to call them what they are without accusations of being judgmental. And doing so would be a lot easier if we could simply measure one’s asshole titer. 

If we could measure asshole titers, we’d remove guesswork and tiptoeing. We wouldn’t have to pretend everybody’s nice while waiting to find out otherwise. We wouldn’t have to ignore that little warning itch on our ass when we meet someone we know is malevolent, even if they haven’t yet proven it to us. (Believe me, they’ve proven it to others.) A good friend might have an asshole titer of five, but a ninety-five could be kept at arm’s length when sober and avoided altogether on weekends. 

As an aside, for the sake of completeness, we should note that titers are not percentages; they are measures of concentration by way of dilution. They do not stop at one hundred. They can soar into the thousands. We all know a person whose asshole titer rivals the national debt. But, for this discussion, let’s just say that a titer of one hundred is a complete and total asshole—also known as an asswhole (a homonymous designation that only works in print). Notice I didn’t say big asshole, as if size mattered. No. It’s the quality that matters. Over the years, the asshole in my life has proven that repeatedly. He is consistent and accomplished at it. 

Even better than just measuring an asshole titer, what if the number were tattooed on a few foreheads? Just think how much frustration and angst we could avoid. We could enter a room, instantly assess the asses—or the average assholedness of the gathering—and head for the door. Maybe we’d rescue the poor seven at the bar on our way out, but we wouldn’t waste time trying to be nice to the eighty-and-above crowd. They could massage one another’s egos (and wipe one another’s butts, for that matter) while we move on. We’d know up front where to spend our time and what to expect. Wouldn’t that be sweet? 

Some titers are good. Some are bad. It’s not fun, for example, to have an unusually high titer of rheumatoid factor. There’s a cadre of titers one would rather not have at all, like an HIV viral titer. On the other hand, it’s nice to have a high antibody titer against polio, especially in some areas of the world where polio is making a comeback. 

Titers change over time. When I get the measles, my titer shoots up as my immune system pumps out more antibodies. Ten years later, my titer may wane. That’s why the ER doc asks about my tetanus shot. I need a high titer to step on rusty nails and still avoid the lockjaw. The same is true with rabies. 

And that brings us to another idea. Wouldn’t it be great if we could generate an anti-asshole antibody? Now that would be a valuable titer, though the immunization might be a shitty experience. Antibodies gobble stuff up, bind things together, inactivate them, and get rid of them. Perhaps the rabid, rusty assholes would be more tolerable if we just had enough anti-asshole antibodies. 

There are all kinds of assholes. Everybody knows the run-of-the-mill asshole: irascible, obnoxious and temperamental. But there are also specialty assholes: the ones with particularly ironic twists. There are the assholistic health-food nuts, preaching the benefits of sprouts and antioxidants in between their cigarettes. There are the asswholesome hypocrites—mostly politicians and preachers—who are closely related to the assholier-than-thou crowd. They have a penchant for placing themselves on pedestals; so proud of their own humility, they often stumble while patting themselves on their own ass (or, more often, patting someone else’s younger, shapelier ass). 

Twenty years ago, Dennis Leary sang the Asshole Song. It went like this: “I drive really slow in the ultrafast lane | While people behind me are going insane | I’m an asshole | I’m an asshole | I use public toilets and piss on the seat | I walk around in the summertime saying, ‘How about this heat?’ | I’m an asshole | I’m an asshole | Sometimes I park in handicapped spaces | While handicapped people make handicapped faces | I’m an asshole | I’m an asshole.” 

You may not like the words, but you have to admire a guy who owns his assholedness. At least that gives you a chance to acknowledge and avoid. 

Be careful, though. If you avoid polio and its vaccine altogether, you’re vulnerable. You have to be exposed to be immune. That’s why an asshole immunization stinks. On the other hand, you don’t want too many antibodies, or antibodies of the wrong kind. That’s the problem with Lupus, anaphylaxis and multiple myeloma. One needs a balanced exposure to assholes, but the burden of maintaining that balance falls on you. One not-so-endearing quality of assholes is their lack of moderation. Given enough time, they’ll shit on everything. 

Here’s the rub: If we have too many anti-asshole antibodies, we could end up with an assholeless life—and that could be a problem as well. (An imperforate anus is a serious medical problem, but that’s not my point.) I’m talking about the color, texture and variety the assholes bring us, if only to remind us how much we hate them. Yes, assholes are people too—unwiped, perhaps, smelly and pimpled, but people nonetheless. My asshole—a person, separate and distinct from my anus—has brought me a few things; like caution, mistrust, self-preservation and, ironically, a healthy dose of CYA (cover-your-ass). And those, my asshole-hating friends, are necessary elements to surviving and thriving in a world of assholes. 

Perhaps the day will come, as with small pox, when we won’t need anti- asshole antibodies because all the assholes will have been eradicated. Until then, we need to be prepared. We may never be able to measure an asshole titer, but we all have a gestalt about these things. You know when something stinks. Trust your nose. And be grateful for the shit in your life that prepares you to deal with the assholes.

I’m A Jasmin Influencer!

I am so thrilled to be a Jasmin Influencer!  I have been with them since early December, and I have a blast creating highlights for the site and posting every day.  Yes that’s right, every single day, even on holidays and weekends!

Please follow me at www.Jasmin.com/staceynaito  and check out my highlights and daily story elements!  You can also direct message me anytime through the site, and I also make myself available for Video Calls for a pocket of time every day.

Topics I cover include:

Dating

Relationship

Soul Mate

Fitness

Flirt Advice

Beauty

Lifestyle

Travel

Fashion

I haven’t posted anything on Dance, but who knows?  I may talk about my three year stint with salsa dancing on the Jasmin platform!

You can sign up for FREE and get 15 FREE CREDITS!

 

I am also always open to suggestions on topics which you would like to have me cover.  Want more nutrition tips?  Beauty hacks?  Travel deals? Relaxation techniques?  On the go workouts?  You tell me, I’m open!

I Miss Soul Train

From the time I was a kid, I remember watching Saturday morning cartoons, all the while anticipating the treat which would come after cartoons were over. The Soul Train theme song would play, and I would settle in for an hour of some of the best music around. I continued this pattern through my early 20’s, and would plan my Saturday around Soul Train, carving out time to watch like the faithful fan I always was. At the 45 minute mark, the Soul Train dance line would form, and I would be glued to the television set, watching all the moves, and looking at all the cool outfits. The Dance Line began as a couples line, then by the 1980’s, it morphed into singlets and the occasional group of dancers moving across the dance floor:

The first Soul Train episode aired on October 2, 1971, and the show ran through March of 2006. That’s 35 years and 1,117 soul, dance, R and B, and funk-filled episodes. Thanks to creator and host Don Cornelius, Soul Train brought black culture into America’s homes, broke down barriers, and wowed people like me. Don Cornelius would close out every episode with a sweeping thrown kiss and a wish to the viewers for “love, peace, and SOUUUUUUUULLLL”, a uniting and loving gesture which became a signature for the show.

For those of you who loved Soul Train as much as I did, you’ll get kick out of the following video, in which former Soul Train dancers share their experiences of being on the show:

Here are two video compilations, one which features the top ten female Soul Train dancers, and the other which showcases the top ten male Soul Train dancers:

Happy Moments

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Copyright : anyaberkut

All too often, we carry around feelings of negativity and allow them to color our days. If we are feeling anxious, dejected, or angry, then we will create that environment for the day. And then what happens? we may say, “well it figures” or “I knew this was gonna be a crappy day”, because it was a self-fulfilling prophecy. Yes, we will have to deal with bad days every now and then, but if we can start every single day with good intentions and a positive mental attitude, we’ve won half the battle against challenges and upsets.

So this is what I want you to do today, especially if your day is especially frustrating or challenging:

I want you to call to mind one of the happiest moments in your life, a moment in which you felt pure joy, pride, elation. Bring it into view. Remember how you felt.

Now I want you to carry that memory with you throughout your day. Allow yourself to bask in that moment, to reminisce. See how it changes your attitude towards the day. Take note of how you respond to minor irritations today.

You know something? You can take that happiness, carry it with you every day. If your happy moment had something to do with an accomplishment, then allow that feeling of pride to shine through, to empower you today.

We all have the power to transform our days, our lives. Simply by harnessing positive, happy thoughts, we become powerful, we become strong.

A Princess Dream Come True

Our court from 1991. I am second from left on the bottom row. This was taken about a month before our Nisei Week Pageant and Queen selection.

Over two decades ago, my first seemingly dreamy and unattainable goal was to be involved in a yearly Japanese-American festival in Los Angeles known as Nisei Week, which was established back in 1934.  Aside from a period of seven years between 1942 and 1948, during which World War II raged and carried a solid and jarring impact on the Japanese-American community, the Nisei Week festival has continued to run throughout the decades.

As a child, I remember seeing the Nisei Week Queen and court each year, and it became a dream of mine to be selected as a court member when I got older. However, I got sidetracked by life and didn’t bother to enter the  competition for the local queen selection until the year I turned 25.  I was stunned when I was chosen as the Queen of my community center (the San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center, or SFVJACC) for that year.

Once I was selected, I spent the next three months in regular meetings with the queens from the other eight participating communities, meetings in which we would practice all the routines for the beauty pageant which would mark the beginning of that year’s Nisei Week. We competed in that pageant for over 1,000 audience members in a 3 hour event, and though I didn’t win the Nisei Week Queen title, I was happy with being a Nisei Week Princess. We rode on floats, visited businesses, and fostered good will throughout the Japanese-American community.

August 16, 2015: Nisei Week Queen and Court on the float of Nisei Week Japanese Festival Parade at Little Tokyo in Downtown Los Angeles.

When we were on stage, on parade floats, and on visitations, we would wear our sashes, a definite marker which identified us all as queen and court.  On some occasions, we would wear our crowns, and were either clad in matching dresses, or in kimono.

Queen?  Princess?  I guess so, at least in pageant terms!