Category Archives: Thoughts

The Pleasure-Enhancing Music Experiment: Day Two

Or “How I Plan to Discover New Songs on the Internet + Not Let it Kill My Love of Music”…… On Friday, I wrote about how the internet’s been messing with my pleasure in discovering new music. While the 24-7 availability of the world’s music catalogue should in theory please the hell out of a music obsessive like me, it’s actually done the opposite. It’s killed the thrill of the chase, the mystery, the intrigue, the anticipation that builds from reading/ hearing about a song and finally getting to listen to it. Every time I log onto facebook, twitter, e-mail, I get bombarded with so much music that I don’t even know where to begin. It’s all just a click away, yet I have little desire to listen. Judging by many of the comments and e-mails I’ve received in response to my piece (thank you kindly!), I’m not alone in my inability to manage such mind-boggling access. So rather than let it lead to total paralysis, I’ve decided to follow a strict musical diet in hopes of the “less is more” approach reviving my zest for discovery. The plan is five … Read more

How I Plan to Discover New Songs on the Internet + Not Let it Kill My Love of Music

Music journalist Sophie Heawood wrote in the Guardian recently about wanting to free herself from the clutter of her music collection, and promptly disposed of her life’s worth of CDs, LPs, and tapes. She believed the internet, home to nearly every single piece of music ever recorded on the planet, would provide a far greater listening experience–the freedom to listen to anything you wanted, anytime. Instead she found herself listening to only Rihanna, streaming on Spotify, and soon realized that the internet actually killed her love of music. Fairly shocking for someone whose life was defined by music.  It turns out her relationship with music is a bit more complex than the very black and white physical format versus digital debate, but I can empathize with the overwhelming choice available on the internet as a whole lot less liberating than one would expect. The idea of being able to listen to any song I wanted, whenever I wanted would’ve prompted an ecstatic fit from an 18-year-old me, but in reality, it’s proven to be more overwhelming than thrilling. And the attempt to listen to so much just makes me wanna run to my safe and … Read more

Behind the Beehive

Last week began with a super-fun research trip to Miami and ended with my cat Pumpkin requiring emergency surgery. I was born with the inability to handle trauma, so while I should have carried on updating Cha Cha Charming and attempting to resume my life as normal, I’ve been paralysed with sorrow and playing cat care-taker 24/7, tending to Pumpkin’s every need in hopes of nursing her back to health. She has a major infection on the left side of her face, which has paralyzed her left eye. The surgical site is ghastly, and she has to wear one of those horrible cones for the next two weeks and be given heavy doses of anti-Bs. I’m told this infection may just be the tip of the iceberg. Ugh. Thankfully, a much-needed break from cat duties came on Monday night with Ronnie Spector’s one-woman show, Behind the Beehive. We were seated next to the most adorable Ronnie look-a-like, who wore her hair in a massive black bouffant, with a little lace top and gingham capri pants. Ronnie’s back-up singers noticed her from the stage, and excitedly pointed her out. I had seen … Read more

More like Mae West, please!

“When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I’ve never tried before.”-Mae West It’s hard to watch a Mae West film and not feel short-changed by the lack of ballsy, wise-crackin’, confidence-oozing, sexually fearless females in today’s popular culture. I’m wholly thankful for a very long list of women in the spotlight who dismiss the status quo in their performances, songs, and words, but the likes of Mae West—playwright, director, actor, comedian, singer, skilled seductress, and unabashed pleasure seeker–come around far too seldomly. Lena Dunham has come close–as the writer, director, and star of her own TV show, she dares to show a side of female sexuality that rarely gets exposed in public. But most still operate within the male narrative, where the young, skinny, and not-so-brainy rule. That Mae West managed to make her Hollywood debut at age 38, stand up to the all-powerful studios, battle it out with censors, maintain her curves, and write plays about sexually-aggressive women in the 1920s is testament to her balls, talent, late nights at the typewriter, and sheer force of will to get things done exactly as she … Read more

How To Be Free

A few years ago, my career suffered two brutal blows. A job that I once called a dream turned ugly and abusive, and the one that followed blew up in my face. After my parents’ divorce, it was the most severe trauma I had endured, and it left me mentally bruised and battered, a fragment of the person I once was. I grew up amongst the ambitious and the driven, where the importance of a career was rammed down my throat from teachers, parents, and friends. Post-college, it was rare to go to any social engagement without being asked “what do you do?” The moment I could no longer answer that question, age 32 without a “career” to boast of, I retreated from all occasions where I’d be reminded of my job-less insignificance. I was lost and afraid. Three years have passed and I can hardly connect with the experiences I detail above. Not because I’ve latched onto another career (I haven’t), but because when shit hits the fan, twice, you can either continue the vicious cycle, or buckle down and challenge the hell out of why and how you got there in the first … Read more


I came home to find this handmade postcard in my mailbox, sent from a friend who lives just down the road and who knows how much I love spiders. I’d written a piece a few weeks ago on the magic of receiving postcards, which you can read here. It’s automatic mood-elevation. Someone somewhere is thinking of you, and has taken the time to let you know it. Or in this case, my ridiculously talented friend Meghan Moore decided to illustrate a spider on a skateboard because, as she writes, “you should never buy something you can personally make.” I spent the next hour drooling over the illustration, re-reading the postcard, and feeling awesome. The joy of such a simple pleasure! My offer to write you a postcard still stands, so please send me your mailing address. sheila (at) chachacharming (dot) com. I have a new mix all ready to put up, but somehow all the music on my site has stopped working. It’ll go up as soon as everything’s fixed.


I had planned to get straight back to writing upon my return to New York, but I have completely under-estimated the brutal, brain-attacking, energy-sapping, total mind and body shut down that is readjustment to life in the Northern hemisphere. Our return to NYC involved a one-hour flight from Melbourne to Sydney, a 13-hour flight from Sydney to LA, a 2-hour wait in LAX, and finally a 5-hour flight from LAX to NYC. The guy sitting next to me does this trip once a month for work. Sweet jesus. I wouldn’t wish this feeling on my worst enemy. And I happened to be randomly selected for intense security searches in both Sydney and LAX airports. And I was shouted at by a customs officer for opening my carry-on bag to remove my sneakers because according to his logic, I could have been taking out a weapon. Ooooookay. America and airports do not mix. Hopefully tonight I will be able to sleep more than 2 1/2 hours. Cha Cha Charming updates will resume (more frequently) on Monday. 

A Spider Story

A Mexican Tarantula n’ me at the London Zoo I’ve just spent 24 hours at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo, sleeping in a tent overlooking the Sydney Harbor, taking a night tour of the lion’s den, and finally getting to see a koala, kangaroo, platypus, and tazmanian devil first-hand. It was also a chance to get very close to Australia’s enormous arachnids, many of which were hanging out on webs and walls outside of the official displays. It’s clearly the season of the golden orb weaver spider, with a leg span larger than my hand and the most beautiful, elaborate webs. They were everywhere. When we went to visit the “behind the scenes” feeding of the Orangutans (which, by the way, are also gigantic and we’re told, very strong and thus very dangerous), I saw my first huntsman spider, an extra-large, scary-looking thing that likes to scale walls and doesn’t require a web to catch its prey. These spiders are FAST. No fly or cockroach stands a chance with a huntsman around. They are also harmless, despite their menacing appearance. Six months ago, I never would’ve been able to write so enthusiastically … Read more

Mad About Pop

Give me a glass of wine, and I will scream and shout about the sorry state of music for hours. Last night’s rant was prompted by my friend playing me the vocal track (no music) of Lindsey Buckingham singing “Go Your Own Way.” And then a young Michael Jackson ad-libbing at the end of “I Want You Back.” And then Martha & the Vandellas harmonizing on “Jimmy Mack.” I could barely breathe. And by a quarter past wine o’clock, I was begging a table full of friends for the answer to the question that plagues my life, WHAT HAPPENED TO POP(ULAR) MUSIC? The music that allows a band like Fleetwood Mac to sell out arenas worldwide thirty years past their prime. Every single top ten hit from Motown. The Bee Gees. Abba. Phil Spector. The Beach Boys. The songs and artists that were equally adored by four-year-olds and 70-year-olds because they were SO FRIGGIN’ GOOD. The voices like Lindsey Buckingham and Michael Jackson that just overflowed with passion and personality. The undeniable pop song that even the staunchest pop-hater couldn’t resist. Please don’t mistake my love of music from the … Read more

Send Me a Postcard, Darling

Call me a Luddite, but e-mails don’t hold a candle to getting hand-written correspondence. Yesterday I came home to two postcards–one with just one line. “Sheila, I found this in a car and I thought of you.” It was a photo from 1975, a girl in a muted pink tank top, with rounded edges. Another came from Palm Springs, from two friends saying thanks for the tips on where to go (they loved Melvyn’s and Cheeky’s). It made my day. It was also a refreshing change from the usual computer-generated drab in my mailbox. Compared to an e-mail, sending a postcard is a time-consuming pain in the ass. But somehow taking the time and care to write a postcard or listen to a record, or cook dinner, or make a cup of tea (tea leaves, stove-top kettle) oddly ends up being so much more satisfying than anything quick n’ easy. Somehow these “inconveniences” or chores have become the anti-thesis to the non-stop, multi-tasking, not-enough-time-in-the-day, time-is-money, do-it-faster, progress! progress! progress! messages that bombard modern living. Convenience was meant to give us more time for leisure. Instead we have even less time, less vacation … Read more