My very coherent, not drunk at all (one glass, whatever), thoughts on Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” Video:

Posted By Raya Yarbrough on September 12, 2013

( after seeing an onslaught of tweets and Facebookings on the subject, I decided to give it a look-see. These were the immediate drippings from my head-sponge)


First off, Those nails were impractical for the handling of large hammers. Second, when doing construction work, boots alone are not enough for proper safety – although the tiny tank and undies certainly offer free range of movement and good ventilation. I assume the lipstick was flame retardant and SPF 30 or above?

True analysis:
As for proper wrecking ball etiquette/best riding practices, nudity is not common any longer. Nude wrecking ball riding was abandoned in 1896 after a Mrs. Betty Smythson of Cincinnati suffered what was referred to at the time as “the pink twerk” (no doubt the inspiration for Miley’s other musical exploration) which was the colloquial term for clitoral injury.

Mrs.Betty Smythson,
“ball rider,” in her

Cincinnati home, 1895
After the unfortunate ride of Mrs. Smythson, wrecking ball saddles or “Ball huggers” were instituted into common use and considered standard (although true standardization was not instituted until 1900, when the production of wrecking balls intended for riding was taken over by the Ford Motor Co.) Clitoral guards, or “vag-vests,” became somewhat of a fashion statement and status symbol for upper class women who could afford the luxurious accouterments of the Wrecking Ball set.

Although Cyrus was somewhat lambasted for her “sparkly onesie” from the VMAs, it is important to understand that it was not, in fact, a “onesie” but a historically accurate “vag-vest” of excellent quality.
A 19th Century doctor
attends to a woman suffering
the “Pink twerk”
Lastly, the handling and licking of the hammer, though clearly an homage to cold war propaganda communist murals, seemed a bit blatant, but not to be hasty on judgement, it is probable Miss Cyrus meant the gesture as a public service hint for Tetanus awareness, reminding us all to stay on top of our booster shots.


and…Good night.

Before I meet the cast…(countdown to the show)

Posted By Raya Yarbrough on May 23, 2013

It’s been this way at this time of night lately, when I’m puttering around the house with no goals lasting more than 30 seconds before they dissipate and I forget why I’m in the kitchen. I’m walking in odd geometry, no economy of movement, I’m literally bouncing off the walls.
Very, very slowly.


You see, it’s been 3 days since the casting calls have gone out for NOSWOV (“North of Sunset, West of Vine” my musical), so I actually have something tangible to wait for. It’s all been in my head, on my own schedule, making words and tunes for my imaginary people, and now they’re going to be real.

I’m going to meet them.

I’ve never been on this side of the casting table. My director, Mary Jo Duprey, says it’s really fun, but I don’t see how I can avoid having sympathetic nerves for the auditioning people. I was always nervous for auditions.

The music is almost done…I mean it was done being composed a while ago, but now I’m tasked with actually making legible, the stuff that rolls out of my brain through my mouth. It’s more complex than I thought. And drippy.
Many 16th notes (it wasn’t just the caffeine), but a lot of it is also open to interpretation by the actors, that’s what they do, and it will be so exciting to hear my tunes rolling out of someone else’s brain and through their mouth.

Lo…and behold the 16th notes. Actually a very slow song, not scary.

So here I am. The end of Wednesday night, with nerves like it’s opening night, wandering in shuffles with excessive blinking.
Turning lights off obsessively, then on again when I come back to do something I already forgot about.
We’re not up for a month (June 28-30)I should probably smoke a joint but I never got into it.
I should meditate. Last time I did, my chakras were full of old emails.

Ok. Time for the inner house cleaning before I meet the cast.
More soon…

Italy Impressions #6

Posted By Raya Yarbrough on April 23, 2013

….Sei vivo?…

Italy impressions #9:One moment in Siena

Posted By Raya Yarbrough on April 19, 2013

From the top of a medieval tower in the Piazza Del Campo (center of town, “plaza of the race,” Siena has yearly horse races), we could see beyond the old city walls, into the rolling fabric of Tuscany…but it was a hard won sight.

The Torre (tower) del Mangia, in the Piazza Del Campo (more…)

Italy Impressions #8: Leaving Venice – I came to see you.

Posted By Raya Yarbrough on April 16, 2013

Some places lay beyond the veil. If you don’t know what I mean, go to Venice.

We were there four days, but I hadn’t been able to write about it.
I had no idea where I was, and I still don’t.

We arrived by train in the evening. Out the window, the land smoothed to water so quickly it seemed like an illusion. Lighting posts in the water. A train station. Seemed like any other train station.

Weary, we crack-a-lacked our baggage through the station, to the exit, where I expected we’d get a taxi to our hotel. Faintly, through the exit I saw a bus go by, I asked if we should take a bus instead, Bear said, “that’s not a bus.”

I don’t think I’ve stood with my mouth agape, so shamelessly…ever. (more…)

Italy Impressions #7: The Train To Venice

Posted By Raya Yarbrough on April 14, 2013


Goodbye Firenze.

I’m  on a train from Firenze (Florence) to Venezia (Venice). I was looking forward to a relaxing ride, with my head back, enjoying the passing countryside…didn’t realize this was a high speed train which spends most of the trip in tunnels. Nada much to see so far…so I’ll talk about somehting else for a second.

Ok other things.

Well, the sun was out in Florence today, so we sat by the river, in sight of the Ponte Vecchio.

Ya know, just hangin’ out lookin’ at the Ponte Vecchio (that bridge over there).
No big deal, whatever.

I also bought myself some Florentine fleur de lis pins to mark my trip.

Now we’re leaving the station after our first stop, a suburb of Florence I guess, I missed the name. It’s the other side of the tracks literally. Tall, monochromatic, cement monoliths, with laundry lines, and graffiti, splashed on every stone surface. Industrial. Not  Da Vinci’s World anymore. (more…)

Italy Impressions #5: Hey Da Vinci, YER MOM! (and yer cat)

Posted By Raya Yarbrough on April 12, 2013


My day at the Ufizzi Gallery, or:


The Ufizzi Gallery in Florence is an endurance test.

I mean, it’s a museum, with some of the world’s masterworks by the likes of Bottecelli, Da Vinci, and Michalangelo…but it will wear your ass down.

By the end of your time in those priceless halls, under the beautifully grotesque painted ceilings, you will find yourself looking at the amputee Roman sculptures with their blank marble eyeballs, saying, ”yeah man, I feel ya.”

That said, go. Just go, when you can.

The vibrations of human perception, inspiration, and interpretation have energized these works for hundreds of years, and it bounces right back at you.
I saw Botticelli’s Venus, which I’ve seen a million times on fridge magnets, t-shirts, you name it, but to see the full sized work in context with his other work, in context with other contemporary art, is to understand why the guy was popular. Subject matter in those days, was not a free for all. Botticelli could not paint a picture of his bandaged ear or splatter paint on a canvas, it was all religion, or politics (commissioned portraits etc.) or mythology, so your distinction was all style.  Botticelli is, basically (and I am clearly not an art scholar) nice to look at. Beautiful. There’s a hell of a lot more going on with him, but that was the biggest impact for me – lyrical, flowing, feminine lines (in my opinion) gorgeous.  In contrast, the Michelangelo I saw brought out a bright, colorful, three-dimensionality, which seemed eerily 20th century.  Have to check him out some more, I have no context for this observation.

Photography is not allowed in the Ufizzi, so in case you are unfamiliar with the work,
I submit my rendering of Botticelli’s Venus from memory.

But truly, one of the last pieces I saw will stay with me forever.

Da Vinci’s version of The Annunciation. Remember last post when we talked about  that? The angel who came to tell The Virgin Mary that her baby was gonna be dope? That scene. (more…)

Italy Impressions #4: Two dudes, a virgin, and a kid.

Posted By Raya Yarbrough on April 11, 2013


…and buns of solid marble.

There are no photographs allowed in the Galleria Dell’ Accademia, but you’ve all seen the David. I think that was my “I am actually in Italy” moment. I’ve seen the David in so many films and photographs, that when I walked into the gallery, I had to blink.

His hands are actually very large.The veins on his hands are so lifelike I expected him to twitch.  He’s not sinuous, but the muscle definition is warm, strong and relaxed. His feet are also very large.

These are my only bodily observations.

As for other observations, Italy touts them with vigor and humor.

So the pieces which grabbed my interest were actually the paintings. (more…)

Italy impressions #3: Jet Lag with lovely people

Posted By Raya Yarbrough on April 9, 2013

Tuesday, 4/2/13

Around 5 pm, after laying in bed paying penance for something I ate, I opened my eyes and silently discussed my wardrobe with myself. Bear was on the laptop clicking the keys like one of those Ghost In The Shell robots with extra mechanical fingers. Headphones on. So I looked back at the ceiling and plotted a mental pathway to the bathroom sink.

Made it to the sink. The mirror must be kidding. Either genetics, or products with a comedic sense (probably both) have made my hair resistant to physics. Not just gravity. Physics. I condition one bit of my head, and then the other side goes wack in exactly the same way, after I swear I already fixed it – as if that wack bit had a dual manifestation on my head, like electrons which exist in two places at once. My hair is an adventure in science fiction.

Outside the Odeon Theatre (the oldest movie theatre in Florence, so ya know) people were already lined up along a red carpet.   (more…)

Italy Impressions #2: Belated Easter

Posted By Raya Yarbrough on April 1, 2013

At the Piazza Pitti, Bear and I considered blending in with the Florentine locals. We would get asymmetrical haircuts, chic sunglasses and short cigarettes. We would recline on the angled sprawl of the Piazza, looking relaxed yet slightly… disappointed.
That EU kind of disappointed.
The kind you can only have when you’ve grown up surrounded by thousands of years of architectural glory, and it is just so 5 minutes ago.

We decided we couldn’t pull it off, and instead stood in awe. Unabashed.

It is still Easter weekend (Monday, April 1st), so the streets of Florence are a single rolling organism of people. (more…)