6 Oct

Artist:  Universal Melodies / Nashaat Salman
Album:  Universal Melodies – Vol. 1

I’m about to write a music review and I have to be 100% honest with you: I’m not entirely sure Nashaat Salman actually exists! He originally contacted me three weeks ago about reviewing his music and playing it on The Backstage Radio Program, and I was indeed intrigued. Since then, I’ve followed up with him several times in messages never to hear from him again. That being said, I know Mr. Salman lives a double-life and is quite a busy man, so I’m going on the assumption that when he climbs out of his presumably large work pile, he’ll happily come across the charmingly nice review I’m about to write for him.

So the double-life bit: I’m sure you’re intrigued. Man of mystery! 007? No (at least not to my personal knowledge), but he is an Engineer and Business Manager by trade as his day job, composing and arranging music as his passion in the evening. Based in Zurich, Switzerland, he has not only composed his own pieces, but he is a film and multimedia music composer, instrumentalist and orchestrator. He works to blend elements of both Eastern and Western music and themes which is evident in his pieces, and strives to use music to blend cultures. Isn’t that the beauty of music? It’s the language we all speak, no matter what our differences?

UNIVERSAL MELODIESThe first song I heard (and played on The Backstage Pass Radio Program on 09/25/15 ) was Summer Joy Night, a gorgeous and lush laid back samba with a middle-eastern flair to it. The piano, which appears to be Nashaat’s main instrument, is front and center here and while I’ve never been a huge fan of synthesized instrumentation, I think it works fairly well here for the horns and percussion that he needs to add in to get the flavor he’s looking for. It’s aptly named: it’s everything you’d wish for with a drink in hand on a summer night at the beach.

The next song, Dancing Star, is easily my favorite. It starts out a timid, but eventually starts moving towards it’s eventually Indian flare, but keeping some interesting aspects of dance and club music in it. I was super-happy to hear table, sitar, and I think even some sarangi instrumentation introduced in there. I personally love that more and more songwriters are following the Bollywood trend and incorporating some of the amazing Indian music themes out there. Such gorgeous themes to borrow from, and Salman’s “Dancing Star” does this quite well. You can hear this radio version live on The Backstage Pass Radio Program on Friday, 10/16/15.

There’s also some very interesting videos on his site, which I’m assuming are some of his commercial work. One of the most interesting was the video of the Waterford Crystal factory in Ireland, along with a clip to a video game called Aeon Flux. As a side note: I’ve met so many musicians who have also found commercial success in video work. I’ve been hired several times to do voice-over work for video, and it’s a natural cross-over for a lot of musicians. (Search for Titan Quest on YouTube and you’ll find a few rabid fans in Japan!)

I’m extremely impressed with how Salman has managed to find an impressive balance between his day job and his passion for music. He’s clearly hard at work creating really intricate and impressive instrumental work that’s appealing to both the casual listening and also has great appeal for commercial success. I’m sure this “man of mystery” has a lot more musical projects up his sleeves, and I for one am looking forward to hearing them (and maybe from him – I joke! I kid!) one day!

You’ll be able to hear Universal Melodies / Nashaat Salman on The Backstage Pass Radio Program on the following Fridays: 10/16, 10/23, and 10/30. Please visit and bookmark it for NOON, PST to hear him live on the program!


12 Sep

I do not think I can accurately describe in words  But I’m going to try. I’m really going to try.  And you don’t need to take just MY word for it.  They have ranked dead last in customer service not only in cable providers, but dead last in customer service IN ALL US COMPANIES.  Let me state that again for you. TIME WARNER CABLE RANKS DEAD LAST IN ALL US COMPANIES FOR CUSTOMER SERVICE.  Read the June 2, 2015 article in The Consumerist here:  “The Worst of The Worst”

Where to begin?  When the cable went out during the Super Bowl?  On the numerous occasions when the internet went out and I had to wait a minimum of a week for a tech repair appointment?  (Reminder: I work from home.) Or how about just the quality of the actual service itself?  The TV picture pixelating for no apparent reason, the internet lagging like crazy. Then, of course, there’s the very generous wait times – being put on hold when calling in to customer support.  (But no worries, if you call for sales, you NEVER have to wait.  You get right through!)

I have seriously lost count of the number of times that I have had to call and complain to Time Warner Cable. I don’t even want to think about the actual number of minutes of my life  that have been wasted and spent on the phone with them – I’m fairly certain it would depress the hell out of me. And to be fair, I also don’t want to think about the poor people on the other end that I have often times not been very nice to. It’s really not their fault, and they always get the brunt of the call from people like me.  Their jobs REALLY must suck and I honestly feel bad that they have to work at a company like this.

So the latest (and last) fiasco is this: everything just basically STOPPED working. Our cable was crapping out left and right. Our internet was lagging left and right. We’re paying $105 a month for the LOUSIEST possible service.  That’s $105 for slow internet and cable (no phone people, just those two things).  We kept getting invitations from Verizon to switch for $60 a month (INCLUDING a land line), so I called Time Warner Cable and asked to speak to their Customer Retention Department. He, of course, treated me like an idiot saying he’d give me 3X the internet speed like that was some big deal, and I was like, “You’re going to have to do better than that” to which he responded, “Well, what do you want?”  I told him I wanted him to match Verizon’s deal. After much hemming and hawing, keeping me on hold (of course, because my time doesn’t matter per usual, (thanks, TWC!), he offered me this:

  • 3x Faster Internet Speed
  • $10 off per month on my bill ($95 a month)
  • $150 Visa Gift Card

I accepted the offer. This was about a month ago. I’m fairly certain you can all guess exactly what I got. If you guessed NOTHING, you get a gold star.  EXACTLY AS EXPECTED.  Bravo, Time Warner Cable!  Well, you know, that’s not exactly true.  I *DO* get about a million different pieces of a mail a month from them asking me to upgrade to different services.

And this gets better.  So I realized that I never got the gift card, and I called in, and was immediately put on hold for like 15 minutes.  I opted for the chat instead.  This is also much better for me because I’m slightly hard of hearing and I can NEVER hear them when I call in anyways.  SO, I get on the chat and I’m talking to someone and I explain the whole situation to them, and then they give me the online redemption code – except it’s not MY redemption code.  It’s ANOTHER CUSTOMER’S REDEMPTION CODE.  With THEIR customer information and email!!!  I could have very easily taken that information, redeemed it for myself – I could NOT believe how careless they were. Instead, I let them know  their error and there was not even a thank you or acknowledgement of their mistake.

After spending about 30 minutes on that chat, I realized that getting an online redemption code was a very, very bad idea.I requested that they MAIL the Visa Gift Card to me.  You’d think I just asked to have them gift wrap and send their first born. I was transferred to another chat rep.  I had to give the whole story again.  She then said she was the wrong person to talk to. She then transferred me AGAIN.  The chat call was DROPPED.  I had to call in AGAIN.  Same thing, all over again. The chat call dropped AGAIN.  After AN HOUR of being on chat and going through the story FOUR TIMES, NONE OF THE ASSOCIATES HELPED ME.  Not only that, NOT ONE OF THEM followed up.  None of them made sure that card got in the mail.  None of them made a phone call back.  Nothing.

The ONE positive note that I have is that we did have a technician come out and put in new wiring.  He was pretty fantastic. I forget his name, but he did an awesome job and really should be commended.  I bet he won’t even get acknowledged by TWC, even though he’s the ONLY guy that went out of his way to help us and make sure we were happy customers.  (He was at our house three times and did tremendous work.  I wish I could remember his name.  He was great.) In the event that somehow he reads this, I want to make sure he knows that WE really appreciated his hard work.

I just got my bill in the mail, it’s exactly the same.  I have never received the Visa Gift Card in the mail. Our internet speed is exactly the same, even though if you mention it, they’ll interrupt your modem, reboot it and tell you your speed is perfect. I called into Time Warner Cable this morning to complain again about not getting the gift card and my bill not changing, but I was immediately put on hold for a minimum of 12-15 minutes, and I’m just done being on hold for you any more.  Broken promises, broken customer service, broken everything.

UPDATE: I posted this on Twitter, and of course, they IMMEDIATELY wanted to help (laughable).  Asked me to send them a direct message, which I did with all the details.  It’s been over 24 hrs and I’ve heard nothing back.  I DID, however, get the standard BS Twitter responses the REBOOTS interrupting my service AGAIN, and then a log of all the nonsensical, BS, non-help.  Not one single person has gotten back to me about the gift card problem, no one has apologized, not one customer service person has responded about this blog, nothing. They obviously just DO NOT CARE.  

I’m posting this on Twitter and running a little “Retweet Contest.”  If you RT this by Friday. 9/18, you’ll be entered to win any online gift certificate of your choice for $10.  Ends at NOON, PST on Friday 9/18.  Every RT = 1 entry.  Have fun! :)


8 Sep

If you tuned in to last Friday’s Backstage Pass Radio Program, then you already know that this Friday I’ll be giving away a pretty sweet prize: a $100 Online Gift Certificate to Bravo Bra Pads!  The extremely generous and awesome gals over there have sponsored this amazing prize, AND are also offering a 25% discount code using DRESSADDICT when you stop over to the website at or by clicking on the graphic here:

promo for Dress Addict

So you’re probably thinking, “Taunia, I don’t need bra pads,  I already have boobies and so do you.” GIRL, if you have ever lost a significant amount of weight or if you’re about to lose a significant amount of weight (that’s YOU my weight loss surgery girls), you know why these are important. OR, if you’re starting to reach uh, middle age, and gravity is starting to set in, these can CHANGE.YOUR. LIFE. They have ALL different types of inserts:  swimsuit inserts, “lift” inserts, and more.

I’m actually going to post a video review tomorrow (Wednesday) so that you can see what they look like (the inserts, people, the inserts!) and why I love them so much. I’m seriously a HUGE fan of this company and I think you will be too!


BRAVO BRA PADS WINNERAnd in case you missed my video review, it’s right here:



28 Aug
this_is_me_cover_artNick Festari (also known as Roberto Festari) is a Writer/Arranger/Singer based in Italy with a pretty ecclectic background – also very apparent in his music.  He has an impressive resume:  over 800 songs in his catalog, his own record label creation, numerous collaborations, and the music courage to continually try and break new artistic ground.  Sometimes this can be an artist’s downfall, but in Nick’s case, I think it’s only fueling his creative fires. He approached me about having one of his songs “There Will Be No Prize” played on The Backstage Pass Radio Program (note:  he will be featured on the September 4th @NOON, PST program here:, and from there I got to know more about him and his music.  

He recently released his EP “This Is Me…Slower and Faster” to some really great reviews, and it really displays who he is as a musician. The opening tune, “You Make Me Want To Fly” is so outstandingly catchy:  it has a very distinctive 80’s vibe crossed with a Beatles-ish sound for a few moments here and there.  (As a child of the 80s, I highly approve.)  The next tune immediately changes pace to a very pretty ballad marred only a slight bit for me by the obvious accent issues with the English pronounciations (but hey, you don’t see me trying to tackle Italian, so I’m in no place to judge).  Still, I really like the tune itself a lot – it’s one I’d probably want to sing myself, and I don’t often say that in a review.

He also offers a free download of the third song on the EP called “The Song I Wrote For You.”  I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not big into techno/dance/eurobeat, but I have to admit that this is super-catchy!  This has a really energetic and happy vibe to it, and I think it’s just overall a very well-written song.  The thing I really like about his delivery is that you don’t question his sincerity.  He wrote the tunes, he believes in what he’s singing, and it’s obvious that this is how he communicates with the world (and he does it well).

The rest of the album is equally as likeable, and as he crosses over into the dance/euro territory, I think Nick is going to find an entirely new fanbase.  His writing is equally as strong, and I could very easily hear other artists picking up these tunes as well.  He’s clearly a strong musician with is own voice, and it’s a voice you should take a listen to.

Find out more about Nick at and don’t forget to get your free download of “The Song I Wrote For You” on his music page. You’ll hear more of Nick on the September 4th episode of The Backstage Pass Radio Program, and my guess is many other places as well.


26 Jun

I am FURIOUS right now.  I trusted the United States Post Office to deliver my Father’s Day gifts (my first big mistake) and paid nearly $20 a package to have it shipped it two days.  I sent them out last Thursday, June 18th.  The boxes were not only NOT delivered in time but they both arrived at least a week later.

I went on to the completely USELESS USPS site to track down the packages and there was no information. I then called the post office I went to and spoke to a woman who was NOT helpful at all.  When she saw that the state address was MA, she said, “So it went to Maine?”   Um, excuse uh – don’t you work AT THE POST OFFICE?  Aren’t you supposed to know state codes??  She then placed me on hold for so long that I hung up, immediately got in my car, and drove the 20 mins out of my way to speak to someone there.  I gave them the tracking numbers and information, and then I waited. And waited.  I waited so long that some of the other cashiers said, “Is someone helping you??”   When she finally came back out of the office, she had ZERO information for me.  And she actually had the nerve to say to me, “Well, we can’t help what happens when it leaves here.”  She then told me to go home and fill out a claim for each.

Then, I tried contacting USPS “Help” online and I was asked to give them my tracking numbers.  There was no way to direct message them, so they wanted me to post the numbers publicly on a response where everyone could see my parents home address.  Uh, I have over 60,000+ on my Twitter account and I really don’t want them knowing where my parents live.

So I went ahead and filled out the claim.  And now that the packages have been delivered, I wanted to edit my claim and guess what?  The website does not have that basic functionality.  Additionally, you can’t cancel a claim and you also can’t post a second or follow-up claim using the tracking number.  So now, both of those claims will come back as “delivered” (who knows how long it will be until someone processes the claim) and I have no additional way to discuss this with ANYONE, other than Twitter, where they just redirect you to the website.  Absolutely HORRIFIC customer service.

Each box had homemade gifts for my Dad and my father-in-law. I bought high-end gourment ingrediates and handmade their gifts for them, which took me HOURS.  Then, I marked EVERY SIDE of the boxes as FRAGILE. My father in law go his yesterday (one week later).  My parents got the package TODAY (8 days later) and it ws COMPLETELY DESTROYED. My mom sent me these pics:



They delivered it in a plastic bag – because they KNEW they had broken it. They delivered it with a note that said “no duct tape and no return address.”  I admittedly forgot to leave the return address, but I had the tracking number and the credit card information I used along with the receipt.  Those pieces of information should have been able to track down these packages. PLUS, the online site has my home address and my email address.

So now, I’m FURIOUS.  All the time and energy I spent not only shopping for and making the gifts but the incredibly frustrating and ridiculous amount of time I’ve had to track this down and get any resolution.

My next stop?  A BBB complaint, and a complaint at the Office of the Inspector General:

I’m also (of course) going to post this everywhere online until I get my money back.  Horrible, horrible, horrible business practices.  I will never ship USPS again.


3 Jun


DarkoZoricHR149textWEBOne of the best things about me hosting my radio show “The Backstage Pass Radio Program,” is that I get to hear music from folks all over the world – many of whom I may not have ever come in contact with otherwise.  Darko Zoric is one of those artists, hailing from Sydney, Australia.  (And anyone who knows me will know that you could read the phone book to me with an Australian accent, and I’ll be a fan forever.  lol)  Zoric has recently released his album”Road To Somewhere” which is a collection of songs he has written over the past decade.

Darko’s lineage is one based in music. His father was a successful performing musician, and Darko studied piano from a young age – often performing with his father. (Sidebar:  I’ve always been completely envious of families that can share music together like that.  Unfortunately for me, I am the only musician out of four siblings and two parents together.  I envy people like Darko who have had the opportunity to share that with family members!)
“Road To Somewhere” is quite diverse:  showcasing both triumphs and tribulations over his musical career.  Darko’s voice is incredible – reminding me of  Sam Harris (of Star Search & Broadway fame), with a ridiculous range and versatility.  His tone is rich, his voice incredibly powerful, and it’s he displays a remarkable amount of vocal control when he delivers a variety of songs.  As a voice teacher and professional vocalist myself, the only one very small drawback for me is the wide vibrato that creeps in every now and then.  I’m a big fan of creating textures in vocal stylings, and using a straight tone to turn or end a phrase.  I’d love to have an opportunity to hear Darko sing with a straighter tone on something a bit more understated in the future.  Knowing what a crazy amount of talent he has, and how gifted he is vocally, I really think he could knock it out of the park with a more subdued vocal approach.  But that’s really just me being very knit-picky, because this guy has just got a HUGE amount of vocal talent.

What I most enjoy about the songs themselves is the diversity in them.  I’m always impressed when an artist takes chances musically and explores different genres and styles.  The title track of “Road To Somewhere” is a solid piano and vocal piece, reminiscent of 70s and 80s power ballads, really showcasing the lyrics and the vocals.  “One Little Room” has a complete “Beatles” style and influence to it – telling a story about his family all living in one small room when he was younger.  “We Used To Be” is one of my favorites with a much more contemporary pop-rock feel, and showcasing his super-strong belting voice.

And then there’s “Darko and The Light Fantastics,” which is an old-school music review featuring the classics of Frank Sinatra, Tom Jones, Englebert Humperdink (my aunt’s FAVORITE and she’d be an instant Dark0 fan with this), Elvis and more.  Being a jazz vocalist and a huge fan of the American Songbook, I’m sure I’d LOVE this show.  I think it’s great that Darko pays homage to the classics while still keeping one foot firmly planted in contemporary music as well. Versatility as a musician never goes out of style.
You can hear Darko Zoric on The Backstage Pass Radio Program every Friday in June (2015) at NOON, PST in the LA area:

To learn more about Darko Zoric or to purchase his album “Road To Somewhere,” please visit:


8 Apr

Don’t forget that today is #wipeitoffwednesday!  To enter, you just need to post a fresh-faced pic of yourself (a #nomakeupselfie) and tag it with the #wipeitoffwednsday hashtag and my Twitter name @divataunia.  Post it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest, and you’ll automatically be entered into a raffle to win a bottle of sunshine (kind of):


Prize:  St. Moritz Instant Self-Tanning Lotion

For girls who prefer a lotion application that develops into a fabulous golden tan and leaves you with a feel good glow, this award winning St Moriz Instant Self-Tanning Lotion – Regular is for you.  A unique blend of beautifully fragranced active tanning agents work their magic, leaving you looking subtly bronzed and ready for anything. St Moriz Instant Self-Tanning Lotion – Regular is ultra easy to apply, quick drying and very moisturising, great for dry skin.

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Dimethicone, Dihydroxyacetone, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/ Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Isohexadecane, Phenoxyethanol, Ceteth -10, Laureth-4, Polysorbate 60, Methylparaben, Parfum, Isobutylparaben, Butylparaben, Isopropylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Citric Acid, Citronellol, Coumarin, Butylphenyl methylpropional, Alpha-isomethyl Ionone, CI 16035 (FD&C Red40), CI19140 (FD&C Yellow 5), CI42090 (FD&C Blue 1).

Photos must be posted between 12 midnight (Tues) to 12 midnight (Ends Thurs 4/10/15) so it falls on #wipeitoffwedesday.

Have fun, and good luck!  :)


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