About Sarah

  • Member Since: June 18, 2015


Sarah is a student at College of the Canyons and likes to take long walks on the beach. She loves everything jazz, and is aware of every kind of cheese known to man. There's no such thing as a perfect woman, but if there were, she is second to last - and she'll take it.

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Advice for Adolescents

| Opinion | December 7, 2015

Being a teenager sure is tough. This week, you guys sent lots of relatable questions that needed to be answered. Here are just a few of them.

When is the best time to vape at a funeral?

Funerals are a sad time for everyone — friends, lovers, even family members. But, that doesn’t mean that you can’t still put the “fun” in funeral. Personally, I recommend blowin’ clouds during the open casket. Nobody will question the gnarly vape storm coming from the front of the room. Just pretend to accidentally nudge the coffin. Most people will assume that the jolt of the casket rustled Ethel’s ancient hairdo into a dust frenzy. It is foolproof.

 I have this weird rash on my leg. Can you take a look?

Please leave me alone.

I got an F on a test. How do I break the news to my parents?

Ouch! This is a touchy one. Finding out that a child is underperforming in school can be detrimental to a family’s social status and overall superficial image. Stop panicking — there is a way to break the news without breaking that social order. The first step would be to initiate tragedy — make your bad grade look like a dream scenario. Pay a man on the street to make Fluffy disappear for a few weeks. Your parents will be too busy grieving the bitter loss to care about your chemistry final. Give yourself a high-five.

My boyfriend just broke up with me to follow his dream of becoming a celebrity chef. How do I cope with such a loss?

From Emeril to Bobby Flay, the path to becoming a celebrity chef has been riddled with spurned lovers. Instead of coping, be proactive. Get him back. Culinary school is the first step. Upon graduation, challenge him to an Iron Chef competition. Make him sign a marriage license (disguised as a contract) minutes before competing. Till death do you part.

Help! My mom thinks memes are funny. Am I adopted?

I remember when my mom liked memes. I checked the local library for birth records, scoped the craigslist personals for adoption stories, and even had my DNA examined by a geneticist. I eventually found out that I was indeed adopted. You should check local adoption records before your life gets any worse.



Warning: This piece is a satire. The Views expressed in this column are those of the writer, not necessarily those of Valley Publications.

I Survived the Dr. Phil Show

| Opinion | November 19, 2015

“Today is going to be a changing day in your life.”

This kind of “psychiatric” advice is only valid if it comes from a southern, bald man with a mustache-—we all know this. After watching Dr. Phil for so many years, I longed to make the pilgrimage to Paramount Studios. I longed to mindlessly clap when instructed: I longed for him.

But dreams are just dreams. That is, until you email the studio requesting tickets for a group of four or less, and they chose to let you come. Could it be that simple? Actually, it was.

Following a series of emails and several calls from an audience coordinator, I had confirmed myself and a few friends for the chance to catch a whiff of that hunk from up close.

Call time was 8:00 A.M. I stuffed myself and four 18-year-old boys into a Prius at 6:30 in the morning.

“Why do we have to wear business attire? Why can’t we just wear sweatpants?” they complained.

“There are thousands of middle-aged women who would auction off their children for a chance to see Dr. Phil,” I wisely commanded. “Be grateful.”

They were putty in my hands.

We arrived at the studio right on time. Paying $12 for parking was a small price to pay to sit 40 feet away from my complacent hero. It was freezing, as everyone lined up on the sidewalk to enter the waiting room … for the waiting room … for the other waiting room.

After they signed us in and confiscated our cell phones, they handed one person in each group a colored piece of paper. There were three colors: yellow, blue, and pink. I like to think that they were putting us into different camps— like team Edward or team Jacob. They provided watered-down coffee in a keg, similar to that of an animal trough. I was happy to be one of his cattle.

The five of us were occupying the second waiting area. By “waiting area,” I mean the outdoor lot on the side of the studio. I could tell by the nipples piercing through the shirts of overweight men that it had to be at least 60 degrees outside. After an hour of waiting, those with yellow slips could enter the final waiting room. We were next.

By then, we had made it into the studio. All of that coffee was bound to affect us sometime, but there was no getting up now. The bathroom was outside. A knockoff Ryan Seacrest came out to warm up the audience. They blasted music and threw signed books at the audience. If you were a college girl in a short dress or an Australian man in a leather jacket, they called you up to dance onstage. I was uncomfortable. Mostly because nobody seemed to inform the woman jumping up and down onstage that her short dress jumped with her. But, the white people danced on.

Finally, it was the moment we had been waiting for. The theme song resonated through the building and slaughtered my eardrums. Dr. Phil walked out onto the stage as the giant cameras got into position. He waved, we clapped. He continued to wave, we continued to clap – until a guy in a black turtleneck instructed us to stop. It was rather awkward, but everything I expected, and more. I could go into detail about who and what they were talking about, but you could watch any Dr. Phil episode and take away the same idioms and lessons every time.

dr.philDuring the “commercial breaks,” the whole studio was silent, as a pale Dr. Phil mad-dogged the camera for a solid 50 seconds. The few times he interacted with the audience, he cracked a few jokes about the agonizing filming process, to appear relatable. At the end of each taping, they again blasted the theme song and Dr. Phil grabbed his wife, Robin, as they frolicked off the set.

The best part of the entire experience was during the second taping. Michael Lohan was the guest that Dr. Phil was grilling. Just as the tension was heating up, people in the audience sounded like they were yelling, “LIAR!” In fact, they were yelling, “FIRE!” Above the stage, some panels had caught fire. The set was burning. Finally, a bathroom break.

All of the following events are true, except for my undying love for Dr. Phil.

Become a Better Person than the One You are Now

| Opinion | November 6, 2015

When you look in the mirror, do you see a reptile of a human being? Do you imagine yourself running for Congress, and then daydream about how you will NOT vote for yourself for theoretical Congress? Do you have custom flame decals on your Ford Excursion?

If so, put down that pitchfork and stop sucking the good will from those around you — there is hope. You might be thinking, “What would an 18-year-old community college student know about ethics and morality?” Well, you have read the article this far, meaning that you must be desperate. But, becoming a better person is actually excruciatingly easy with these five steps.

When a cashier asks if you would like to donate a dollar to childhood cancer research, offer to donate your own child.
Children are worth a lot of money, so doing this would earn you some serious charity cred.

Recite an impromptu poem whenever you think about the American flag.
Whenever celebrities or politicians find themselves in a jam, they just go on about how they love their country. Make their patriotism look like child’s play by reciting a poem whenever you think of the USA. “My country, you are so fine. My lady, you take away my cries.”

Give a “thank you” card to every homeless person you see.
Sometimes less is more. Find a card — preferably one that sings — and slap it in the hands of someone less fortunate. It is the least you can do.

Sell your diploma online.
In this country, education is not cheap. Sell your B.S. in environmental science on Amazon for a discounted price. Someone out there will be grateful for your hard work. On the down side, someone out there will be a terrible environmental scientist. There is a price for kindness.

Laugh at all of Bob Saget’s jokes.
If there is anybody on earth who needs charity the most, it is Bob Saget. After he left “Full House,” the laugh track left too. Just do the right thing and give him a courtesy laugh. You might think that this would just encourage him, but maybe if we laugh, it will just go away.

**WARNING:  THIS PIECE IS A SATIRE. The Views and Opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer, not necessarily those of Valley Publications/Santa Clarita Gazette.

The Whole Foods Nightmare

| Opinion | October 30, 2015

Janet, a 47-year-old mother of three, was just like any other woman. She loved knick-knacks, her husband Michael, and Rachel Maddow. Janet was the main character of a classic American success story.

Not all was quiet on the western front, however. For on this particular date, Janet was out of Vermont cheddar cheese — the very cheese used for a special spooky macaroni recipe used by the family for years. It was Halloween night, and Janet was not about to let the absent dairy product destroy Hallow’s Eve. It was then that she decided to make the pilgrimage to the one market that could soothe anyone’s consumer conscience: Whole Foods.

Mindful to grab the reusable plastic bags, Janet dove into her Prius and peddled down Valencia Boulevard.

Janet pulled into the parking lot, ejected her Bon Jovi CD, and proceeded through the dimly lit lot. She grabbed a shopping cart loaded with three empty water bottles, a used tissue, and a squeaky wheel that sounded like death itself. Janet was ready.

But as she entered Whole Foods, she began having flashbacks. The word “lactose” kept appearing in her mind — as if she was under some kind of spell.
Soon after the flashback subsided, she reached her final destination. The Vermont cheddar was within her reach. Just then, Janet was thrown into another flashback, and this time, a ghost that looked extremely like a Whole Foods employee burst through the fridge.


The ghost vaporized, leaving Janet with the sudden realization that she had gambled her love for cheese in exchange for a lower gas bill. When Janet agreed to the terms and conditions of the curse, she did not read the most important clause: “Every Halloween, Janet will forget about her lactose intolerance. Eat that, Janet.”

Janet sobbed, but that did not stop her from doing what needed to be done. She grabbed the cheese, paid the outrageous price of $32.99 and drove home. She and Michael prepared the family recipe as usual, but this time, Janet’s tears fell into the recipe.

“Janet, what is wrong with you? Get a tissue or something. Stop crying in our son’s macaroni,” said Michael.

The damage was done, so Janet ate the soiled macaroni herself — but she did not experience any discomfort. The cure for her ailment was her own tears.

“I am so relieved that I can enjoy this with my family,” Janet cried … at least until next year, when she will forget about her lactose intolerance and find the cure all over again.


Spooky Tales of Santa Clarita …and other suburban horrors

| Opinion | October 22, 2015

by Sarah Farnell and Varick Santana

The Ghost of Welfares Past

On a dark and stormy night, a young couple decided to take a midnight stroll along the side of the Santa Clara riverbed. The young woman’s husband, Drake, showed little to no remorse about the forgotten three-week anniversary. But she stayed solid as a rock. She needed to be, for tonight was to take a spooky turn.

After several minutes of silence, Drake began a casual conversation about freeloaders who live on government assistance. “This isn’t the county fair,” he said. “This is America. We don’t give free rides.”

“I, too, do not appreciate the homeless. I am glad we are married,” she responded.

They kissed, while smelling the diesel of the trucks in the In-N-Out parking lot, and attempted to depart.

CRASH! BOOM BAM! Ker-SPLUNK! Drake literally took a turn for the worse, crashing the Ford Excursion into the damp, stinky riverbed.
“Call the insurance company! We may get a free plastic surgery consultation off of this!” said Drake.

As they exchanged bitter laughter, a worn-out man with torn clothes and a Barack Obama baseball cap approached them with an empty can.

“Can you spare some change?” the man pleaded.

At first, the young couple thought he was after their precious credit card information. But, they soon realized that he was the ghost of welfares past.

“I am the ghost of welfares past! Give me your taxes and the rest of your cash,” the man rapped.

They knew that he was frightening, but the rap turned their fear into utter horror.

“We know what you are all about,” Drake yelled. He reached into the car, pulled out a pamphlet, and began quoting the founding fathers.

“Oh no! I am turning into a dutiful citizen and taxpayer!” screamed the homeless man.
And as a suit and tie began forming on his old body, he offered to call the young couple an Uber.

“Thank you for turning me into a true American,” cried the man. “If you had handed me a few dollars, who knows where I might have ended up. Maybe I would have freeloaded even more.”

The couple hugged the man, got in the Uber, and headed home — but what happened next would change their lives forever.

Next Week: The Whole Foods Nightmare

Dealing with Rain in California

| Opinion | October 9, 2015

Water— perhaps you’ve heard of it. Maybe you have even come into contact with it. But, what if I told you that water can leak from the sky? I am not making this up. Water somehow rises into the sky and falls back onto the ground. Before you slap me on a stick and send me on a train to Salem, hear me out. Though it may be rare in California, rain is an epidemic that dampens millions every year. Here are some tips to help you and your family cope with stormy weather.

Let everyone know about it online.
Now that the whole landscape is soiled, warning friends and family is your number one priority. Post about this phenomena everywhere—Facebook, Twitter, the ceilings of public restrooms. You might be thinking, “Wait, everyone probably already knows. Don’t people have windows? Or common sense?” That is where you are entirely mistaken. The amount of effort it takes to walk outside and see rain is way more strenuous than opening a web browser. Save your loved ones from a trip outdoors, save a life.

Predict rain using wet outdoor patio furniture.
If you are unsure if it has rained, check your patio furniture. Sit down on the nearest exposed outdoor chair or lawn ornament. If you land cheek deep in a pile of fresh rainwater, it is wet, and this means that it has recently rained. If you do not experience any wetness or icy chill, then it is not wet, and therefore has not rained. However, when noting wetness on your patio furniture, it is possible that you or someone you know may have spilled or poured water on the said patio furniture. Meteorologists refer to this as foul play.

Lock your entire family inside of the panic room.
Rain can be overwhelming for amateurs. If your family is inexperienced with rain, throw grandma and the kids into that cement chamber with snacks, batteries, and old reruns of Full House. That should last for about 73 days. When grandma is finally tired of Bob Saget’s silly antics, release her into the wild. She will soon learn to graze and hunt for herself. As for the kids, take them out as soon as it stops raining.

Say goodbye to the world you once knew.
When the going gets tough, give up. Sometimes you just have to know when to quit, and there is no time for wishful thinking when the earth is soggy. Use the rain as an excuse for irrational behavior. Drive recklessly. Accept your fate as a pawn in the scheme of life and roll with it.

Use excessive amounts of water now that the drought is over.
Hip, hip, hooray! The drought is finally over. Now that it has rained, we will never be in a drought ever again. Victory is ours!

**Warning: THIS IS A SATIRE.The Views and Opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer, not
necessarily those of Valley Publications/Santa Clarita Gazette.

Doug’s Rant (satire) I Rant, You Decide If You Want to Keep Reading

| Opinion | September 25, 2015

Give me a Break!

The liberal media is at it again. I mean, give me a break!

Guns, Taxes and Liberals

If liberals had even the slightest idea how the world worked, they would know that if every single human being (including infants) owned a weapon, the world would be safer. That is why we need to arm the population with tanks. Giant, green tanks. That would be sweet!

Dreams of Donald

Last night, I dreamt of him. There he was, his skin glistening in the pale moonlight. As he and his white stallion galloped along the U.S. border, he spoke the solution into existence: “Let there be an electric fence.” And it was so. Sometimes I wonder if Donald would be my friend in real life. He sure has built a wall around my heart.

Recent Headlines Catching my Attention:

New Study Shows that Liberals are Dumb: Finally a study proving what I have been saying all along.

Donald Trump admits to Mass Murder and Killing the Last Polar Bear: People make mistakes.


Quotes of the Week:

“Doug is super fun and cool.” (Doug Sutton)

“America would be so much better if I was elected president.” (Doug Sutton)

“To be humble is to be wise.” (Doug Sutton)

“Does Sarah Farnell realize who signs her paychecks?” (Doug Sutton)

Letters to the Editor:

Dearest Doug,
This is my favorite rant ever. I have framed every single rant. Without you, I would be nothing. I owe my life to you. Please do not tell my wife.


WOW! You hit it right out of the park. You are my favorite guy ever.



Slurry Appreciation

| Opinion | September 18, 2015

Slurry has paved the way for lots of exciting new changes. Out with the old, and in with the new. And since your boss fired you for being late to work several days in a row due to slurry construction, you finally have the chance to relax and enjoy the simple things that your pesky career was preventing you from enjoying.
Say goodbye to that monthly income, and hello to smooth streets! Trade in that gas-guzzling family car for a bike. Thanks to slurry, you can soar down freshly painted bike lanes with a smile that says, “I am alone and broken – scared, but in control.”
What rhymes with lane closures? You guessed it — foreclosures. You’ve always liked camping. This is like camping, but permanent. Those moving boxes have never made me feel so at home. Actually, they now are my home.
Who doesn’t love the smell of wet pavement in the rain? It’s a good thing that you can now have this scent as a permanent reminder that you are now sleeping on the sidewalk, all thanks to slurry. Ahh, refreshing!
Although slurry dries quickly, there is room for malleability. The unsolidified asphalt serves as a reminder to me that nothing is truly solidified—family, friends, careers. The only thing that is truly solidified is the nine million dollars that was poured onto the roadways of Santa Clarita. If I had even a portion of that, I could afford to buy food and water. But, who could say no to a bumpy-free ride? Not me!
Slurry is the community improvement project that keeps on giving. Without it, you might still have a job. But, what kind of life would we be living if our tax dollars didn’t eventually send us down the path to financial struggle and hardship? Thank you, Santa Clarita.

The Science of Underachieving

| Opinion | September 5, 2015

How to Stop Competing in this Competitive World

Are you sick and tired of being the best at everything? Are you constantly reminded of how great your life is? Overachieving can happen to anyone: friends, family, loved ones. The effects of an overwhelmingly high GPA and great social life can be devastating, but there is a solution to this festering disease.

The art of underachieving is a science. Centuries of trial and error within work and school environments have patented a success-proof blueprint for continuous failure. To understand the craft of this inevitable academic decline, the process can be broken down into a few simple steps.

Step one—deadlines mean nothing. You will get to that term paper when you get to that term paper. There are far more important tasks in life than preparing for your future. “Due Tuesday? Do Tuesday.”

Step two—hang out with the kid that never seems to leave the gas station. His patchy beard harbors years of teen angst and summer school that you need to grasp onto. Make friends with him, try his brownies, hide him from your parents.

The third way to sink the boat of life is to make sure you do the bare minimum—and that means cutting class a little too early every single day and only taking easy classes for the rest of your academic career. Does that pesky counselor recommend a foreign language? Well, my friend, the word “recommend” is your best pal. Tell that counselor to get real.

The best underachievers are not only known for their subpar academic careers, but also for their disgusting personal hygiene and eating habits. This means that every fast food establishment is to be on speed dial—a button away from your diabetes diagnosis. You will be swimming in cholesterol before you know it.

Who has time to bathe? Not you. You are far too busy commenting on photos of your friends having social lives. After all, harboring those pheromones is the key to attracting a mate. The longer that you go without a shower, the more the opposite sex will be drawn to you. And if you believe, you can underachieve.

The fifth and most important step is to become involved in 20/80 relationships. Your pheromones have attracted a lover that pours their heart and soul into making you happy—while you forget to even take out the trash. Be the lover that only Jerry Springer would take home to mama. As soon as you have failed at human contact, you will truly fail at being a human life.

A new generation of disturbed burn-outs is on the rise, and it is our duty as American citizens to preserve this movement. If we do not fulfill our duty and become purposeless entities that suck money from taxpayers, who else will? Who will take on the noble chore of being the worst? Only we can make a difference.

Santa Clarita’s Homeless, Giving Faces and Names to the Marginalized

| News | September 3, 2015

Jeff Baker, 43, lives with his two sons in the washes of Santa Clarita.

Raised in Joplin, Missouri, Baker recalled his upbringing. “I had a pretty good life growing up,” he said.

But after dropping out of school at the age of 13 because of his dyslexia, Baker began working at the factories in Joplin. Years later, the factories shut down and Baker traveled to Texas, where he worked several odd jobs.
But, once again, Baker found himself a victim of circumstance. Two and a half years ago, he lost his job working on power lines and became homeless. He had been all across the country, hitchhiking his way around and taking buses when he could.

“One of the worst places to be homeless is in Colorado,” he said. “In August, I could see my breath [because] it was so cold.”

Now, Baker lives in Santa Clarita and says he must panhandle to survive.

“It’s not something I’m proud of, I’m just trying to make enough to eat,” Baker lamented. “Most times I just hope I can get 10, 15 dollars. It’s hard to get by.”

And Baker is not alone. According to him, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of homeless individuals living in washes stretching from Canyon Country to Ventura County. “As far as I know, there aren’t as many [homeless shelters] here as there are in other places,” said Baker. “Down in the washes, we need water, and there are no drinking fountains.”

Although he claims water and resources may not be as readily available, compared to other areas, Baker said that Santa Clarita is still one of the best places that he has been to.

“People can be generous around here,” he said. “There are churches that give out meals. Most people are nice.”

Baker and his sons can be found along Bouquet Canyon Road between the Santa Clara riverbed and the In-N-Out parking lot.

Said Baker, “It can happen to anyone.”

Desperate and Single in Santa Clarita

| Opinion | August 20, 2015

By Sarah Farnell and Varick Santana

Congratulations—you are relatively young, single, and ready for romance. The only problem is, how and where do you find love in the Santa Clarita Valley? Well, we surveyed this city and compiled a list of the top eight places to find a partner. These hot and happening locations will score you a date in no time.

Any Grocery Store
Looking for a hunk? A soccer mom? Meeting soul mates who share a passion for wheat bread will fill the void that is sewn into the fabric of loneliness. While she is gazing at the salad dressings, you will be deciding what cologne to wear on your honeymoon. But first, you need to get her attention. Pretend to be an employee: buy the garb, take breaks, and mop floors. After two years of casual encounters, you may make “the move.” That’s right, consider the hours you put into pretending to work for Vons as a hefty investment for finding that sweetheart. While she isn’t looking, peek at that grocery list, and hide one of the items on that list. This will force her to ask you where the item is—and, luckily, you hid that item in the storage room, the perfect place to have a date.

We know what you’re thinking: Isn’t Craigslist for selling used mattresses and Pilates equipment? You’re right, but it is also for meetups and matching. Sure, you might have Obadiah from Van Nuys try to finagle a social security number and credit card information out of you, but at least your Friday night will include another human life. Just go to the website and post a “Desperate” listing. Maybe someone will respond.

Urgent Care
Nothing gets the love train going like a trip to the emergency room with the kids. Single parents drag their children to this love haven daily and, by law, are required to assist their children. This creates the perfect trap. Pretend that you have a life-threatening, hideously contagious disease. He or she will feel so badly for you that they will have no choice but to care for you like an abandoned animal. Let the romance ensue.

Central Park
Skechers, sweatpants, and just flat out sweat: the ingredients for a spicy encounter. Whether potential mates are playing with a local men’s softball league or just walking the dog, this oasis is the perfect love zone. Most of the time, the old “pretend stroke trick” works like a charm. Lie down in the soccer field and pretend to have a stroke. When that special someone comes to the rescue, act as if you were miraculously healed by his mere presence. If he still calls 911, consider the ambulance ride a first date.

The Shot Exchange
We’re pretty sure this place is a bar. And, from what we’ve gathered while watching this place on an episode of “Bar Rescue,” it would be an alright place to go if you are lonely. In fact, this might be one of the only places that you can truly find a date. We don’t know, we aren’t 21.

Senior Center
They say that the ripest fruit is the best kind of fruit. If you like your lovers ripe and ready, the senior center might just be the fix for you. You’ll feel like you’ve hit a bingo when you’re pushing that honey down the aisle. Just call up the local senior center and ask to rent an old person. If they tell you that this is super illegal, offer to keep them forever. Hook, line, and sinker.

The Courthouse
Get em’ while they’re hot and ready for the slammer. The jury is out, and you are pleading guilty on charges of love.

Youth Group
What a great place to meet someone.


**Warning: THIS IS A SATIRE.The Views and Opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer, not necessarily those of Valley Publications/Santa Clarita Gazette.

Understanding Your HOA

| Opinion | August 6, 2015

As a resident of Santa Clarita, I, like most dutiful citizens living in this orthodox utopia, understand the importance of being safe, presentable, and submissive. This valley is chained together by the camaraderie of like-minded individuals who hold themselves to a higher order. This higher order, the Homeowners Association, is founded on the morals and virtues of community, beige colored walls, and vanilla colored walls.

Let’s face it, tract housing without rules just isn’t tract housing. And what’s Santa Clarita without tract housing? The mall?

But, what exactly is an HOA? Originally a pseudo-government designed to prevent undesirables from ruining property values, these organizations are filled with locals passionate about the fences and lawns of others.

HOAs are formed to shed light on the discrepancies of your home not normally noticed by the average person with a busy schedule. Perhaps your grass is a quarter of an inch too long. Or maybe the color of your house “just won’t do.” Cream, not eggshell for the window panes. This team of investigators makes double sure that your $300 in dues and six-figure mortgages are not ruined by radical home furnishings.

We all know that the three C’s (community, conservatism, and conformity) are indeed essential to a safe, perfect neighborhood. In Santa Clarita, the HOA allows residents to feel safe, knowing that the people next door aren’t planting exotic trees or leaving garbage cans out for too long. You know, things that can really damage our moral values.

And what about pets? As long as they are less than 50 pounds, neutered, short-haired, well-behaved, quiet, registered, licensed, vaccinated, and there are only two of them, you should be A-OK!

On one hand, many would consider this type of militia to be tyrannical. On the other hand, those people just don’t understand the importance of detailed newsletters and fence length. As long as citizens suppress my right to private property and NOT the government, all is well.

When being a part of an HOA gets frustrating, just remember that it all pays off in the end. Unless you do something that is against HOA regulations, then a lien can be put on your house and you will be fined until the day you die, or become bankrupt – whichever comes first. So, sit back and enjoy the heavily chlorinated community pool. You’ve earned it.


**Warning: This piece is a satire. The Views and Opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer, not necessarily those of Valley Publications/Santa Clarita Gazette.**

Book Authored by Brain Injury Survivor

| Community | July 23, 2015

Thirteen years into her life, Christine Hermann was forced to start from the beginning – when she became a teenager with the emotional capacity of an infant.

The day before her thirteenth birthday, Hermann was playing outside with her friends, when she ran out into the street and was hit by a car. Thrown 46 feet upon impact, she slammed the left side of her head on the hood of the vehicle, ultimately suffering from the effects of her forehead hitting the asphalt, violently battering her frontal lobe.

The accident put her into a coma and left her with irreversible brain damage.

Diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury, or TBI, Hermann would be left with delayed emotional growth and development, as well as difficulty organizing, learning, and understanding new concepts.

The assault on her frontal lobe would tear years of experience from her life – depriving her of the ability to establish strong interpersonal relationships with others.

Hermann returned to school after intense recovery and would graduate on time with her class, but she felt isolated and alone. It would take her years to realize the extent of her injuries and the impact they had on her emotional development.

After high school, Hermann attended college in San Diego. But, while her classmates were following the natural progression of adulthood, Hermann found herself unable to build relationships. She was in her 20s, but had the emotional state of a 13-year-old. She wanted to marry and have children, yet she seemed incapable at the time.

Determined to find a career path, Hermann settled with teaching. Although this was not her passion, the occupation would provide enough income to support herself. But, teaching came with many obstacles for Hermann. The TBI caused her to have difficulty organizing and learning new concepts, and she had been deprived of a childhood because of the accident – making it more challenging to understand the developmental stages of her students.

After establishing her teaching career, Hermann was able to buy her first home. Being a naturally energetic person, she was highly motivated to achieve her personal goals. But, according to Hermann, something was still not right. In social situations, people would dismiss her because of her immaturity, unaware of her stunted emotional growth.

After 15 years of teaching, Hermann was laid off from her job, causing her to foreclose on her home and file bankruptcy.

While driving on the freeway one day, her situation brought her to a breaking point. “I was so angry that years of my life had been taken from me,” said Hermann. “I was angry at God because 27 years of my life had been taken away. … I was busy recovering who I had been. How do you get that back?”

At that time in her life, Hermann said that she finally realized that her brain injury had been preventing her from forming relationships. After years of feeling discouraged, she took the time to reflect on her experiences.

“I was not acting like my age. I wasn’t able to discern appropriateness. That is what happens with a traumatic brain injury,” she said.

Eventually moving back in with her parents, Hermann spent time learning about what she truly was passionate about – the study of human behavior and connections. She decided to go back to school, taking writing and psychology classes. She loves psychology and views it as a way to analyze her own struggles, as well as improve the lives of others.

“I want to encourage people to be the best they can be,” said Hermann. “I know what it is like to be discouraged and not have the tools to succeed. But if someone can walk right beside you, it makes the walk that much easier.”

Hermann wrote a book based on her life struggles, called “Because it Didn’t Kill Me,” as a bridge to help encourage those with traumatic brain injuries, as well as a tool to educate people about the needs of those struggling with TBI’s. She wants people to understand that individuals with this injury need time and patience, not isolation and rejection.

“If I would have known I had a disability, I would have been in contact with somebody to get the tools to succeed.”

Hermann continues to tutor children, and enjoys working with her publishing company, Baylin Books. Her journey has lead her to speak at conferences and share her story, building connections and fulfilling her passions.

“Jeremiah 29:11 states that God has plans for you, for a future and a hope,” said Hermann. “I believe God made me a teacher to give me back the childhood that I lost. A traumatic brain injury is not the end.”

To purchase the book, visit https://www.createspace.com/5388535 or http://www.amazon.com/Because-It-Didnt-Kill-Me/dp/0996210105.

CEO Defends Pregnancy Center

| Gazette, News | July 9, 2015

“She was wearing large, dark sunglasses that were not removed during the brief conversation at the reception desk,” said Angela Bennett, CEO of the Santa Clarita Valley Pregnancy Center, who claimed she fell victim to false allegations in a recent column questioning the accuracy of information and integrity of her clinic.

Laura Holton, writer for a local Santa Clarita area magazine, entered the SCV Pregnancy Center minutes before closing, looking to receive information about sexually transmitted disease and teen pregnancy in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Bennett greeted Holton at the front desk, slightly put off by the conspicuous demeanor of the visitor. Holton asked about STD testing, and being a few minutes prior to closing, Bennett advised her that they were unable to see her at the time and an appointment could be made for more information.

But, the appointment was not made and, based on that brief encounter, Holton wrote an editorial entitled “The Venus Flytrap,” where she accused the pregnancy center of issuing false advertising and inaccurate medical information. Prior to her appearance at the clinic, Holton had emailed Bennett a series of questions and set up an interview, but then cancelled and did not use the interview responses in her editorial piece.

In the article, Holton states that the SCV Pregnancy Center fails to be transparent with its pro-life status and is not a “comprehensive family-planning center,” though the clinic clearly states on both its website and corporate documents that the pregnancy center’s services do not include providing abortions or abortifacients (referring most often to drugs that cause abortions). The clinic specializes in providing early pregnancy diagnostics and evidence-based sexual information, education, and risk prevention, according to Bennett.

Holton also protests the alleged lack of medically accurate information. According to the website, the SCV Pregnancy Center provides thorough health information concerning pregnancy, abortions, and  contraception, and although staff members do not provide the contraception themselves, they refer patients to other clinics for those options.

The clinicians do not coerce women into making decisions about their health, according to Bennett. During the appointments, clients visualize their options by weighing them out on a sheet of paper— much like a T-chart of pros and cons. The staff members are sensitive to the patient and leave the room during this process to avoid adding pressure and stress, and the decision making is measured by importance to the patient, and not anyone else, says Bennett.

Holton also attributes the rise in teen pregnancies and STDs to the SCV pregnancy center. She states that the clinic could “pose a potential health risk” without giving any evidence that would provide a connection between the center and the increase in STDs or teen pregnancy.

Citing an interview with KHTS AM-1220 in 2013, Holton argues with Bennett’s statement that teen pregnancies would increase by 10 percent in 2015, while omitting the fact that these figures were based on a broader demographic and a projected population increase. The interview can be read on the radio station’s website at http://www.hometownstation.com/santa-clarita-news/teenage-birth-rates-on-the-rise-in-santa-clarita-36368.

Holton has also written similar reviews of the clinic on consumer sites such as Yelp, Yellow Pages, Yahoo, Great Nonprofits, and Guidestar, causing the once high ratings of the SCV Pregnancy Center to drop significantly, according to Bennett.


Curfew: Keeping the Youth in Line

| Gazette, Opinion | July 9, 2015

Every teenager in Santa Clarita knows that to live and breathe in the armpit between the Antelope Valley and Los Angeles is a gift from the heavens – a precious allowance that gives off the corporate aroma of a generation.
But what makes this city so great are the humbling restrictions on our youth. I mean, without soul-crushing regulations, how are we supposed to grow up into responsible adults? And that’s exactly what our City Council had in mind when adopting the golden rule in 1997: The Curfew Ordinance.
Without it, multitudes of teenagers would be shoveling Slurpees at Central Park in the wee hours of the morning, much like they do in other booming cities with lots of activities for young people.
And that is exactly what the city saved us from – credit card-stealing, bloodthirsty hooligans of the night, knocking over garbage bins with skateboard wheels of destruction.
But, a curfew also ensures that fundamental profiling is still prevalent in our community. Because, without profiling in Santa Clarita, it’s just not the same. If we can’t target people in dark, over sized hoodies with cargo shorts, then we might as well just turn in our neighborhood watch vests and lease a townhome somewhere else.
Ensuring the preservation of our monotony is the lifeblood of our community. People should just understand where they belong. And where the youth belong at night is inside of their homes, lying in bed with mom and dad, watching Adam Sandler rom coms, cutting coupons and counting blessings.
But don’t you worry – curfews bring families together – in court. If a youngin’ decides to ruin his future by loitering outside of Pier-1 Imports at night, he will be issued a citation: an invitation, if you will. An invitation to spend quality time with a parent testifying in a court of law. Turning lemons into lemonade is what our legal system was founded on.
A fine of $200 may seem like a hefty fee, but the fear of losing an iPhone to pay for the cost of a citation keeps youth in line like nobody’s business. The youth are our future, and we can’t let them out when it is dark outside, because Lancaster is not that far away: it is just too risky.
Besides, a little martial law never hurt anybody.

Football to Santa Clarita to Movies

| Gazette, SC Living | July 2, 2015

Brandon Miree, former NFL player and new resident of the Santa Clarita Valley, utilizes the art of filmmaking to inspire and touch lives.

Growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio, Miree had always wanted to play football. The player recalls, “I thought I didn’t have big enough shoulders to play football, not knowing they were wearing shoulder pads.”

Aside from these amusing doubts, Miree followed his dreams, continuing his passion for football throughout high school and college, but a common theme in his life has always been his interest in the captivating powers of storytelling.             Miree attended school at the University of Alabama and the University of Pittsburgh, where he played college football. In his last year of undergraduate studies, he took a creative writing course, fueling his desire to write. Intrigued by the art, Miree told his tutor that he wanted to be a writer, and began to draft and create scripts as a hobby.

Soon after, Miree was drafted by the Denver Broncos, and while playing, he began acting in commercials also, slowly entering the entertainment scene. Again, Miree began to crave the feeling that came with creating and writing. While taking a filmmaking course, he took on the task of creating a full short – and following through from start to finish.             Miree had been warned by peers that the original visions of a film project often do not follow through to the end, because of the extensive oversight and revising these works go through. So, he decided that becoming a director would allow for more control of the process and keep the original ideas and vision intact.

Following the course, Miree made connections and became co-owner of Street Radio Entertainment, where he was executive producer on the film “Everything’s Jake,” a story of two homeless men surviving on the streets. Miree continually wrote scripts and looked for new projects, always looking to bring to life new stories.

Around the time Miree finished playing for the Green Bay Packers, he moved back to Cincinnati to start fresh with philanthropic endeavors. “In the movie industry, it takes years for things to come into fruition,” Miree states. “Sometimes you work for years on a project and it’s back to square one.” So he went back to Ohio after he stopped playing and started somemarketing and real estate businesses—but he never stopped writing.

brandon miree green bay Brandon MireeIn September of 2013, Miree got married and made the decision that they would move to California, where they would be closer to Los Angeles, the heart of the entertainment industry. He started a transportation company during this period, and after a series of delays, finally made the move 13 months later. Not only does the athlete-turned- filmmaker love movies, he is a big believer in reading. He says that reading is an extremely powerful medium that gets people to feel – the same way he wants people to feel visually, through film.

Today, Miree owns an online bookstore called Sirion Books, centralized in Santa Clarita, where he helps create libraries and donates books to senior citizens. Miree’s ultimate goal is to create bodies of work that influence others in ways that inspire them to feel, all the while having fun in the process. His latest project is an online series entitled “A Beautiful Mess Inside,” a story about a woman who must find herself after her well-to-do husband leaves her. Straying from the tired, safe, formulaic ways of the movie industry, he continues to write and use his talents to benefit others. To stay connected and find out more about these projects, viewers can visit his project website, moviefield.com.

SCVTV Faces Financial Struggle

| Gazette, News | July 2, 2015

Santa Clarita’s only public television station is operating “in the red,” said Fred Trueblood III, at a meeting last week with the Joint Powers Authority, which gathered to discuss oversight of public television station SCVTV.

Trueblood, an advisor to SCVTV, gave a presentation to the Joint Powers Authority, which is the oversight entity for Santa Clarita’s public television station. It is made up of chief executive officers from the City of Santa Clarita, the city manager of Santa Clarita, the College of the Canyons chancellor, and superintendents of each district, including William S. Hart, Saugus Union, Sulphur Springs, Newhall and Castaic Union.

Trueblood explained the challenging nature of trying to sell media advertising in a competitive market. In the past, the station found political advertising lucrative, but the station made a collective decision to no longer accept  any political advertisements. Trueblood and SCVTV Station Manager Leon Worden expressed confidence that the station would pull through and find other sources of revenue.

During the public comments portion of the meeting, community member Steve Petzold stated his concerns that the organizations making up the JPA do not contribute financially to the station in any way. There is a common practice in some nonprofit organizations for board members to contribute financially.

The City of Santa Clarita is currently the only contributor of funds to SCVTV, and the dollar amount going to SCVTV in the past has been $50,000 a year. Trueblood indicated that these costs are only able to cover a portion of operating expenses.

A committee made up of three members from the JPA, including Superintendent of Saugus Union School District Dr. Joan Lucid and Sulphur Springs School District Superintendent Dr. Catherine Kawaguchi, was formed to explore new revenue generating ideas.

SCVTV is the Santa Clarita Valley’s only public news station, and covers local school districts, as well as College of the Canyons, providing internships and experience to local youth.

SCV Chamber of Commerce President Terri Crain said about the station, “They are always there for us, any time we need coverage…SCVTV is here to benefit the community.”

Others were there to show support for the station, including activists involved with “Measure S,” who worked last year to bring a billboard issue to voters. They said they were pleased with the lack of bias shown in the news coverage of the measure by SCVTV.

“We look forward to the next six months of working with them,” said Worden, SCVTV’s president.

The Awesome in ‘Awesometown’

| Opinion | June 19, 2015

You’ve finally done it–you’ve gone where the good life takes you, and you have the mortgage to prove it. You call up some friends, dump the kids off at grandma’s, and your posse is ready for a night on the “Awesome” town. With an alias like Awesometown, what can’t people do in The Clarita?

In a booming city like this, it’s no wonder that the young people are so busy preparing to become future assets to their local community. The youth are high on life, not drugs, and the local community colleges are begging for new pupils. But, if one finds himself in a rare state of boredom in this goldmine of a city, look no further. I am prepared to declassify an overwhelming list of activities Santa Clarita generously provides, thus adding spice to the soufflé that is the “teen scene.”

Whoa there, cowboy! Satisfy your inner herdsman by embracing Santa Clarita Valley heritage. What do teens love more than heading to an old house once inhabited by a vaguely known old-west actor? The answer is – nothing. If transportation is an issue, do not fret. The fantastic public transportation services run into the late hours of 8:00 p.m.

And how can I forget the bustling SCV music scene? Santa Clarita Valley considers herself a sister of Hollywood, housing only the best talent. If you are craving a washed-up ‘80s cover band consisting of middle-aged men, “Concerts in the Park” is the choice for you. Housed at the city’s very own Central Park, hundreds of teens gather to listen to the sweet tunes and promote abstinence and sobriety. Grab a blanket, some buddies, and a parent to enjoy “Journey” for the fifth year running.

Not far from the classic rock ‘n’ roll bonanza lies the one, and not only, Westfield Valencia Town Center. The first thing to capture the scene is diversity. “Is that 12-year-old smoking a pack of cigarettes?” Why, yes. “Does that guy have a blue moustache?” Of course. Keeping track of all the diversity will make you hungry. Try one of the many healthy choices the mall has to offer, such as a deep-fried corndog. But, don’t worry, those escalators will help to burn that grease right off. There is no other place in town with a clientele more eager to support Corporate America than the Westfield Valencia Town Center, but not everyone comes to shop. Caught loitering? What a great opportunity to meet the mall’s very own law enforcement. These carefully selected individuals protect citizens from people playing instruments without permits, and keep scary 13-year-olds from wreaking havoc past a restraining curfew of 9:00 p.m.

Finding your way around Santa Clarita past curfew will get confusing. Thanks to the architectural experts of the area, citizens can navigate their way through the nightlife with the vital Bridgeport Light House. And since California is in an official drought, conserving water only concerns residents without a homeowner’s association. After all, who needs an isolated, artificial lake community more than the retired upper-middle-class and yoga instructors?

Awesometown is a legend in itself, from its abundant homeless shelters to Taylor Lautner, and beyond. Our posterity is to be blessed with the fruits of Valencia, and it is this generation that will grow those fruits – as long as those fruits remain within the guidelines of city and HOA requirements.

More Mugzey in Canyon Country

| Canyon Country Magazine | June 18, 2015

Mugzey Muzic, Santa Clarita’s provider of new and used musical equipment, has recently relocated a few doors down from its original storefront, due to increases in inventory and continuing success.

Louis Concotilli, or Louie, opened his store after years of experience in music retail. After decades of working for a large music corporation, Concotilli took the initiative and raised enough funds to kick start his own business, specializing in personal relationships, quality service, and an old-school atmosphere.

The increasing success of this retro music store reflects the desire of locals for a more personable, organic experience when visiting music stores and participating in music culture. Whether customers are there to receive hands-on music lessons or simply hang out and talk to Concotilli, the ambiance always remains that of respect and appreciation for the musical arts. “I would play the guitar and jam whether I get paid or not,” he says. “So if you can do this and make a living, you’re set.”

Using the spatial increase from his recent move to “resurrect the camaraderie and the fun,” the new building includes additional rooms, like the “Vinyl Vault”– a room filled with vinyl records and other media that introduces the antiquated medium to new generations and reintroduces it to the older generations.

mug5 mug3 mug4 mug2 mug1The vinyl can be played in a room called the “Acoustic Kitchen,” where listeners have the chance to experience the sounds and depth of original vinyl. Also on display in the Acoustic Kitchen is a series of acoustic guitars and seats where people can jam and enjoy the laid-back vibe.

Mugzey has a plethora of new and used equipment, ranging from guitars to drums and, occasionally, woodwinds and other instruments. With brands like Fender, Yamaha, Ibanez, Pearl, and more, Concotilli pulls in customers of all experience levels and different needs.

Not only does Concotilli provide the public with an individual approach to music, he and his colleagues are equipped with years of knowledge and experience. Unlike many corporations, this music shop incorporates passion, musical talent, and respect for the customer. Emphasizing the importance of interaction, the store owner asserts that he “treat[s] people the way that they want to be treated.” He upholds the necessity for a genuine experience by stating that guitar strings are the same, no matter where you go, but the environment and overall attitude should remain authentic and personal.
Interaction with customers is a staple at Mugzey Muzic, and Louie Concotilli can be contacted through the store’s official Facebook page, where photos of guitars and other merchandise are advertised. He also has an email and phone number on the website. He encourages customers to contact him freely with any questions for their musical needs. Offering appraisals, repairs, and music lessons for people of all ages, Mugzey Muzic continues to encapsulate the simple, unique musical experience that keeps customers coming back.

Mugzey Muzic is located at 18346 1/2  Soledad Canyon Road in Canyon Country; 661-299-1133.

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