Little Castles


My grandmother’s favorite craft/hobby was to construct these little castles from leftover scraps and refuse from around the house. Sometimes her depression era ways would confound and annoy my brother and I but nowadays she’d be rather fashionable. We should be having a resurgence of depression era habits very soon.

She would gather empty cereal boxes, baking soda boxes, oatmeal canisters, toilet and cardboard tubes and the ubiquitous Bisquik boxes that seemed to be everywhere in her house (her breakfast specialty was waffles) and glue them together to form the shape of the castle. She’d then spray paint them whichever color suited her fancy but usually white. From the Sunday Los Angeles Times magazines she’d collect clippings of windows, doors and all sorts of other objects which she would glue on the exterior of the castles. The steeples were made from construction paper. We’d sometimes help her but she seemed to find solace and relaxation in creating these little castles on her own.

Favorite Video of the Week: Ağrıdan tulum


Many thanks to blog commenter Secret for recommending this link of the Kurdish dance agridan tulum (I hope I got that right!) and letting me know the difference between halay (which is a Turkish word) and govend (which is Kurdish). Between youtube comments and online sources, I try my best to get information on the videos I post but I’m not always accurate. My main goal is introducing you all to bits of world dance you might not encounter other places. Cheers!

ağrılı tulumcular 2

Besides the amazing dancing, this clip features the musician, Yakup playing this hypnotic music. El Mariachi anyone?

Favorite Song of the Day: Vele Vele

The artist seen in this video is Kurdish singer Ibrahim Tatlises but he is not the singer you hear. I have not been able to determine the name of the singer.

My dad was one of the first mobile DJs in our part of Los Angeles, east of the Los Angeles River. He apprenticed my brother into the trade. I also accompanied my father to his “gigs” where I would help carry equipment (the easy stuff like cords) and watched as he mixed records and MC’ed the various parties, quinces and weddings he was hired to DJ. A few times he’d set up the turntables so that I could mix two songs together but I was always too shy and nervous to try. It’s one of the few regrets I have in life, I never learned the family trade of mobile DJing.

Whenever we have parties, naturally my brother and father are in charge of the music and they sure know how to pack a dance floor! But I’ve always craved a more challenging mix of music for my parties, familiar songs you wouldn’t think to put together peppered with obscure, catchy tunes. Finally this weekend, at the last big party I will hostess for a long time, I got the nerve to make my own mix and play it – it was a proud moment for me. The mix was playing from my IPOD and I didn’t have to match any beats or anything but the party attendees listened and responded. It even inspired a few to try out some newly learned Flamenco moves. Eventually though, my brother reclaimed his territory and the dance floor filled with folks gleefully singing along to songs they know and love.

Later in the evening, when the crowd thinned, I took the opportunity to play music I like to dance to, music like this delightful Egyptian pop song above. With a few friends, we danced a halay and they shouted for more Balkan music, more Bulgarian pop and it was like the last little piece of the puzzle had clicked into place for me. No more fear on the dance floor or in the DJ booth!

I’ve wanted to share this clip for over a year now but because I wasn’t sure who sang the song or why it was matched up with Ibrahim Tatlises visit to the show Mezdeke Komedi, I waited until I could get more information. So far, all I have is the name of the song. That’s enough for me – no more waiting for everything to fit, here we go!

By the way, if you’re wondering what kind of music this is considered, some folks call it Egyptian pop or Arabic pop. It’s one of my favorite genres of music and I hope to include more of these tunes in upcoming posts.

Favorite Song of the Day: I’m Still Here

I’m Still Here-The Notations

I wasn’t familiar with this old school jam until about a month ago when a friend shared their oldies collection with me and told me this was one of their favorites. I’ve been sharing it on Facebook and thought it was a good candidate for song of the day.

Hummingbird’s nest


This is a hummingbird’s nest I came across in my garden. Funny, that I walk by it everyday and did not notice it until it had been vacated. The hummingbird does make frequent appearances. Just today, it hovered over me as I watered the plants. It watched me for many seconds, as if pondering my appearance in it’s garden and then abruptly flew away.

Hospital Quiet


A photo of my great-grandmother Matilde taken somewhere in Los Angeles, perhaps Echo Park. Her heavy coat suggests the photo was taken in the winter.
Although, she died long before I was born, something about her smile seems familiar and knowing. It’s as if I can tell exactly what kind of person she was through this photo: spunky, warm, mischievous, responsible and independent.
She died in her 50s and quite tragically of a heart attack. It was told to me that this heart attack came after she received a error ridden phone bill of an extremely high amount. Her second husband was never told of the phone bill because the family believed if he knew this was the cause of her death, he would have gone to the phone company and killed someone!
I was told they were very in love with each other.

Favorite Video of the Week: Amarain

Amarain by Amr Diab

I racked my brain for days and days to identify the song on the previous video of the week’s sample. I knew it so well, like so many other Egyptian pop songs but with the exception of Ehab Tawfik, I am horrible at remembering the artists’ names. Well, I finally found the title, artist and now this video! I am easily placated and excited by such small discoveries.

A little background on this song…If it isn’t initially obvious, this tune tries to incorporate elements of Flamenco style into the arrangement. This is also reflected in the video, the dancing has Flamenco inspired hand movements and some of the dancers wear polka dots, etc. Around the time this song was popular, almost ten years ago, there was a pervasive trend of Flamenco-ish sounds into Arabic pop, most notably Spanish guitars and palmas (hand claps). I read an article once where a traditional Arab musician bemoaned the Flamenco scourge that was ruining the sound of the music. I found the statement very amusing because as a Flamenco aficionado, I am more accustomed to reading how Flamenco is being ruined by outside musical influences. Despite some unfortunate results, there is no stopping the merging, meshing and sometimes clashing of music and culture…and I am happy for it!