Sunday, November 11, 2007

THIS & THAT: Sing, sing, sing, but don't call me

I received several calls last week from an out of state phone number I didn’t recognize. When I finally took the call, it was a salesperson in Michigan, I think, trying to sell me a subscription to the Santa Barbara News Press.

I calmly offered Cliff Notes on the meltdown to the sweet sounding lady on the other end of the phone, adding that the papers circulation had dropped over 14%, the highest of any newspaper in the nation. Then I asked her if a lot of people had hung up on her.
“Yes,” she said.

I also inquired as to whether she was being paid by the hour or working on commission?
“On commission,” she replied.
“Oh, honey,” I said, “I am so sorry. You better ask your boss to give you something else to sell.”
I truly felt sorry for the salesperson, but not sorry enough to subscribe.

Happy Birthday
Half the fun of this column are all the amazing and unexpected people I’ve met and heard from — including judges, lawyers, politicos, street people, prisoners, shopkeepers, retirees, mothers, artists, musicians and a host of others from all walks of life — each with their own unique stories to tell, opinions to share, and observations of the world.
What’s been sweetest are the readers that have taken the time to write. One of my favorite pen pals and supporters, due to our like-minded political leanings, has been Dick Eigen. We’ve never met. But last week Dick invited to join him for not one, not two, but three of his birthday parties to celebrate his time thus far on the planet. I would also meet his son and daughter, as well as his gal Carol, among others.
“Would I like pizza, salad, beer, wine or one his special dirty martinis with gorgonzola stuffed olives at his place on Friday night; dinner at Opal on Saturday; or a barbecue on Sunday at Carol’s house?” he asked.
I opted for the Friday pizza party where I was warmly greeted by a most congenial, friendly, intelligent and interesting group of friends, old and new, and family that had traveled from Washington, Oregon, Arizona, and other places around the state and country to toast the birthday boy. I didn’t know what to get Dick for his birthday, so this will have to suffice: Happy 39th birthday Dick, you look absolutely mahvelous!

Zak Attack
Guess who’s coming to town tomorrow and the next day, boys and girls? The “literally entertaining” Zak Morgan, a children’s folk singer and performer who will be dishing up free performances at several public libraries from Carpinteria to Goleta. Zak—who originally hails from why-o, why-o, did you ever leave Ohio—uses magic, theater, comedy and folk song to encourage children to read books, use their imaginations and participate in his own special blend of fun.
I phoned Zak to ask him about an attempt I had made to talk to Julian, aged 8, who lives next door to me. Julian was giving his full attention to a Gameboy (a problem I learned many parents grapple with) and I couldn’t seem to penetrate his world. I doubt I would have interrupted Julian if he was reading a book, although I might have asked what he was reading at some point, and if he were listening to music, well, I might have even sung along. But he was lost in the video zone.
“What about these video games?” I asked Zak, who has a kids DVD, Grammy nominated CD, and is working on developing a children’s television program, “Are we gaining or losing ground in terms of children’s creativity, reading and imaginations?”
“I know parents who swore they would never sit their kids in front of something, but there are times when it’s helpful,” Zak said, adding his main caveat, “There are healthy things kids can watch on TV, like Mr. Rogers, but you have to be careful because there is stuff marketed as kids material that is not appropriate for children. A lot of people are writing and producing this stuff that don’t give a damn about children!”
Zak told me he’s always loved children and has always been a ham. He discovered his passion while entertaining youngsters at a dude ranch. While a sales rep for children’s audio books, he started imitating the narrators and “writing some kids songs.” Soon after, his current career bloomed.
In his show, Zak challenges kids with “big words, imaginative things, and educational components, without being preachy.” He teaches new words and new concepts with the underlying theme “I can do it!”
Zak promises that attendees will get to go a little wild in the library, shooting their imaginary tongues in the air like a frog waiting for the next delicious frog to come along, moving their bodies, shouting and clapping, capped off with quiet moments. The entertainer swears he knows how to “calm ‘em back down with the promise of another cool surprise” during his story telling.
We ended up chatting about politics and the next Presidential election (which I won’t get in to here) before the self-proclaimed Mr. Rogers fan let me know that he’d like to “take over in a more modern way” where Rogers left off.
Check Zak out, all the events are free, free, free!


10:30 AM: Goleta Branch of the Santa Barbara Public Library, 500 N. Fairview, Goleta

3:30 PM: Carpinteria Branch of the Santa Barbara Public Library, 5141 Carpinteria Avenue, Carpinteria

10:30 AM: East Side Branch of the Santa Barbara Public Library, 1102 East Montecito Street, Santa Barbara
3:30 PM: Central Branch of the Santa Barbara Public Library, 40 East Anapamu Street, Santa Barbara

SB Songwriter Showcase
I don’t know where you will be on Thursday evening, but I hope to check out the tenth concert of the Santa Barbara Songwriter Showcase at the Jensen Guitar "Mainstage" Electric Shop.
This really big show will feature Jamie Green, Donna O’Connor, and Al Marcelline, as well as three “Mystery Songwriters”, emcee/organizer Christina Grimm reports. The $10 show ($5 for under 21, under 12 free with an adult) starts at 7 p.m. at Jensen Guitar "Mainstage," 2905 De La Vina. For info/song samples, go to
The site states that pretty show organizer/singer Christina Grimm is 103 years old. Hard to believe. Her sound therapy healing must do something I don’t know about.

Leslie Westbrook’s column appears every Monday in the Daily Sound. Contact her via e-mail at

No comments: