Saturday, June 14, 2014

Memphis Music: Evil Army

The back of the Santa Fe is loaded with gear, bass amps, guitars, and the band merchandise. Tyler Timebomb sits in the front passenger seat with his bass guitar placed between his legs.  Piled in the back seat are Rob Evil, Rob's girlfriend "the best looking 'merch' girl in the business" Aaron Kelly, and Michael Murder. I steer the car on to I-40 and we head over the bridge to Arkansas.

Little Rock is approximately two and a half hours away from Memphis. It is just a quick ride from Memphis, so I jump at the opportunity to take a trip with the Memphis heavy metal thrash band Evil Army.

Although their surnames are quite intimidating and the internet is rampant with rumors about them I find these guys to be absolutely fantastic. They fill the entire four hour traffic jammed trip to Little Rock with laughter and fascinating stories of growing up in the national Metal scene. For the exceptional caliber of experience these guys hold they are extremely humble.   

If you have a chance check out the heavy thrash rifts of Evil Army and see them in a city near you.

Tyler Timebomb, Michael Murder, Rob Evil, and Aaron taking a quiet moment to smoke cigarettes before entering the Vino's Little Rock.

Rob Evil writing out the set list.

Aaron and Evil Army sitting around before the Vino's show.

Aaron has the merchandise table is set up and the guys are watching the opening act.
Memphis Metal band Dawn Patrol on the stage at Vino's Little Rock.

Dawn Patrol.

Tyler Timebomb watching Dawn Patrol perform.

Dawn Patrol.

Evil Army begins the set.
Tyler Timebomb.

Rob Evil.

Tyler Timebomb.

Rob Evil on the flying 'V', Michael Murder on drums, and Tyler Timebomb on bass.

Rob Evil and Michael Murder.

Rob Evil and Michael Murder.

A fan reaching for Rob Evil.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Level Up

A few weeks ago I was leaving Big Lots with some Pampers and diaper wipes for a baby shower I attended that same day and a sack of groceries. I pop the hatchback to quickly throw my newly acquired goods into the car. As I am doing so a bum, a man who is at least 6'4 and every bit of 330 lbs, approaches me in the parking lot to ask for some money so that he can go to the McDonald's. He asks for cash. I respond, "I don't have anything."

He takes a few steps closer, "Come on! I'm hungry." He demands, "Just give me a few bucks!"

At this point I loose it. This man does not know me, what I do for a living, my situation, that I have been on a strict diet and exercise regimen for weeks, in spite of that I have been spending money on delicious groceries that I cannot eat, and I am hungry. He is big and he wants to bully me into a few bucks for McDonald's or whatever is he is going to purchase. I put both of my hands up into fists in front of my face. I squinch my face and bend at the waist and knees in a modified squatted position. As the bum walks closer I jump up screaming the first thing that pops into my head, "I'm taking care of three kids that aren't even mine! What don't you understand? I DON'T HAVE ANYTHING!!!"

He looks terrifyingly at me like I might shoot period blood out of my every orifice at him. He puts his hands up like a police suspect waiting to be frisked. Very quickly he backs away, "Okay, okay. Okay ma'am, okay."

I feel like an awful person for screaming what I said. I'm not always perfect, but I am always proud of these Little Rottens that are not even mine, but act too much like me to deny them.

On Sunday morning I wake up to hear the front door brushing open, "Jeff, wake up. Someone is in the house. I just heard the front door opening."

"What? You are asleep. How do you hear the front door opening?"

"I don't know, but someone is in the house."

He comes back into the bedroom, "It was someone for you. She's gone now. Go find what she left for you."

In the kitchen, left on the stove top, is a dozen hot pink and red zebra striped roses with a beautiful hand written note from Pandora as a gift for "Maternal Figure Day." The note brought me to tears. I may not be perfect, but Pandora's appreciation shows me that I do something right.

This week we have some big things happening.      

On Monday, Maverick earned the rank of Life Scout in the Boy Scouts. His next step is working towards Eagle. I am so very proud of him and I know his Dad is too!

Maverick is being congratulated by a troop leader.

Also this week, Phaedra had her first and last performance with the 201 group at School of Rock.  She is moving up to the Performance group! Congratulations to her! That's so awesome! 
Here are a few photos from her performance.  

Phaedra's teacher, Myra tuning guitars backstage before the performance.

The Green Room backstage before the 201 performance. Phaedra is in the background being too cool for a fun group shot.

Marc Gurley, the owner of School of Rock, introducing the 201 performance at the 1884 Lounge in Minglewood Hall.

I warned Phaedra that when she began performing keys I would be the worst kind of stage-Mom photographer since I specialize in music photography.  She thought it was a threat. This is her moment of realization that I am telling the truth.

She is a serious Rock 'n Roll artist. 

This is my favorite shot. Phaedra remains this pensive while she practices at home. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Adventures in 2014: Horseback Riding

She rears up on her hind legs. The hair of her mane flares like an uncontrollable wildfire. Suddenly, the afternoon sun sinks into a red sunset, foreshadowing my impending doom. She takes off running at full horse speed. Both of my feet are locked into the stirrups. My legs are squeezing Jasper's midsection like a vice grip, which only tells this wild-ass animal to run faster around the arena. She is naying and bucking like a bronco. I am convinced this wild horse has never been saddled before the moment I straddled my precious and portly body across her sturdy back. 

"Shit!!!" I shriek as I lose balance, but my legs are squeezing this animal so tight that I am afraid I will crush her midsection into the shape of a wasp. Somehow I am still holding onto the reins, but my core and upper body are so weak that I am being flailed around like a rag-doll that refuses to shake loose. With each gallop I see the soft, reddish brown dirt of the arena coming closer to my face then quickly further away. 

My head is rushing in a narrated vortex of jumbled words and possible outcomes, "Paralyzed. Fall. Piles of poop. Face plant."

I am determined to avoid embarrassment, I will not be the first person in my class to fall off a pony. Even though it is always funny to see a fat girl fall, it will not be this fat girl. 

Somebody is shrieking like an American Indian going into battle cry. 

"Stop screaming!" is being yelled at me from all directions. 

I am grasping at anything above me. My fingernails are weak and bending backwards as if I am attempting to scale a wall made from ceramic tile. Finally, I feel something in my left hand. It is the coarse hair of the pony's mane. I dig in. With only instinct controlling my body I reach my right hand towards my left. Both hands are intertwining in her hair. I pull up and steady myself securely in the saddle. Jasper slows to a stop, standing as still as an outdoor carousel stallion forgotten in the winter. 

I hysterically laugh, triumphant that I do not fall off of this angry, vindictive animal with blood lust in her eyes. As I sit atop the horse I reach up to my eyes because my sight is blurry. My face is soaked in tears and they just keep streaming down my cheeks.

I am sobbing as my professor makes her way over to me, "Why are you crying?"

"I'm terrified of this animal. I'm scared of horses."

"Then why are you still in the saddle?"

"Because," sniffle, "I was waiting for permission to get down."

"Get off of that pony! Why are you even taking this class?"

It is not even seven pm on Sunday night and I'm laying in bed recovering from a near death experience. I am beyond sore in places I've never felt before. Today, my life flashed before my eyes and it was not nearly as poetic as I imagined it to be.

The truth is, I am not an animal person at all. Animals are not my forte. I do not have pets. In fact, I only had one pet, a cat named Moonbeam, for a year back in high school. But, I am so hyper allergic that she was provided alternate lodging. 

I am just not an animal person. I never have been one. They are dirty. Animals waller in trash, anything dead, and their own poo. Worse yet, they eat all of that stuff too. Then they want to transfer those stinky filthy germs onto their humans via kisses or being petted. To this self-diagnosed germaphobe, that is disheartening and disgusting. To say I do not like any animal smells is an understatement. Dog breath, drool, mud splatters, animal sweat, wet-dog stench are stomach churning.  Add that to my extremely strong and sensitive sense of smell and I begin to dry heave. Then I obsess, those animal germs are seeping into every porous surface in the pet owner's home. alerting their guests that animals live here. 

As if not being an animal person is enough, I am terrified of heights. I have back problems. One swift jolt and I can be paralyzed. That is frightening enough, however, in horseback riding this terror is solely related to my inability to be in complete control while sitting on top of a wild animal. I am absolutely intimidated. 

In December I sat down and took a review of my life. I examined what I have accomplished and explored activities I want to attempt. The brainstorming session turned into a Bucket List. I call them my Adventures in 2014. They include such items as attending Mardi Gras to having my birthday party at Sky Zone. I choose at least one activity to complete every month. This is to force me to step outside of my proverbial box. Which leads to the reason why I am even taking horseback riding lessons. 

Since I have not ridden a horse in 20 years, I was at summer camp on a trail ride the last time a horse reared up while I was on his back, I wanted to conquer my fears. I have a momentary vision of grandeur. I imagine myself mastering my terror so that the next time my boyfriend and I take a vacation in Mexico we can remake random Antonio Banderas-esque, horseback riding scenes on the beach. I will post on the galloping horse and not a bit of fat jiggles on my body as the waves gently caress the shores as our horses splash through the surf and a random photographer or cinematographer beautifully captures our silhouettes framed against a stunning Mexican sunset.

I can tell you now, that romantic beach horseback ride is never going to happen. Remember above when that pony Jasper shot off on the wild hell ride forcing my life to flash before my eyes? She was actually being led by a 10 year old child at a child's jogging pace. I simply lost my balance while posting. Flailing like a rag-doll, nearly falling off the pony, and shrieking like a Freddy Krueger victim, that all happened. Subsequently so have my panic attacks associated with riding a pony. You win some you lose some; I am not always Confidently Awesome. I guess next month I will try to double up on my Adventures. 

I am currently enrolled in an English-style Horseback Riding course taken at Showcase Equestrian for credit at the University of Memphis. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Choices One Makes: Giving Up for Lent

This morning I made a public declaration that I am giving up soda for Lent. Tonight, as I closed my eyes I can feel the pain bubbling behind my forehead, a lack of caffeine headache. 

Searching for Advil in the dark to satiate my throbbing headache when I accidentally kicked the wooden block that holds up the foot of the bed. I'm yelling curse words, the likes have never been heard before when J2 rolls over and opens his eyes. Illuminated by the flashlight of my cellphone J2 sees me make a split minute decision between cradling my poor baby toe or issuing immediate retaliation to the bed for making me stub my toe. I hunch over in a crippled, old lady sort of way and scream at the bed as I punch the mattress, the way a badly trained girl would throw a baseball. 

J2 laughs hysterically at my action and reaction. I'm crying in pain he's nearly crying from laughing. 

By this point my toe is bleeding like a geyser and throbbing in horrific pain, like the devil himself is milking my pinky toe.  

J2 asks to look at my toe because he has First Aid training. 

He flicks it a couple of times. I'm sure he was nicer than that, but I'm crying and it hurts so badly. 

He starts to tell me something, but I stop him. I can't handle blood and injury. He says, "You want my medical opinion?"

"No. No. No. Don't tell me!"

He ignores my pleas, "It's kind of crumpled."

"My toe is crumpled!?!" I begin laughing as I'm crying. 

He thinks it's broken, "You'll be living with a slightly crumpled toe the rest of your life." 

On the bright side he made a baggie of ice for this old, crumpled toe of mine. And, at least it's not cockeyed. Right? 

Perhaps I should have given up cursing for Lent. After all, if I had my caffeine I would be peacefully sleeping, not searching the blackness of the bedroom for my Advil bottle. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

That's Some Kind of Classwork

This cannot even be real! It's unfathomable to me. 

My 1992, pre-pubescent self is so upset, stomping around, and screaming, "This isn't fair!"

Phaedra gets to watch Newsies in her eighth grade history class. That's some kind of class work! 

Did you hear me??? Newsies!!! Christian Bale! David Moscow! Gabriel Damon!! Newsies!!!!!!! Newsies!!!! <possessed 13 year old girl who has taken a whiff of testosterone for the first time demon inside of me voice> Newsies!!!!! 

<back to normal voice> Oops, sorry. 

Disney! Dancing! Singing! Hotties from the 1990's! Newsies!!! Too numerous slumber parties spent watching Newsies!!! 

Phaedra's not even grateful! She has no clue! And!!! To top it all off, Phaedra hates 'singing movies.'

Needless to say, I'll be attending her second class period tomorrow, swooning, dancing, and singing along, "Open the gates and seize the day..."

I am also sending her to school with a note, on personalized stationary, asking the teacher if we can borrow the tape, errr DVD for encore performances. Well, I suppose I should phrase it as added homework assignments. 

Do not call me tomorrow after five pm. Something just came up! I'm busy! Newsies!!!! 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Good People of Memphis

am hurriedly shopping at the half-price Goodwill on Highland. It is nearly closing time, precisely fifteen minutes until 6pm and the employees are encouraging customers to make their final selections. 

I am digging through the dresses when a lady walks up my aisle from the back of the store. Both of her arms are loaded with donated stuffed animals of every size, color and animal imaginable. 

Instantly, I make a judgement about how disgusting used stuffed animals are and the possible amount of infectious germs covering and residing in the fur that cannot be washed away. Those sad, used, and forgotten animals always give me the willies in thrift stores. 

Once the lady passes me she heads to the register and I forget about her. My attention is drawn back into the dresses. 

My ears perk up when I overhear the Goodwill employee behind the counter ask, "What are your plans with all of these stuffed animals?"

The lady, whose hands are now free, wrings them in the bottom of her number 32 Steelers jersey. She is quiet for a moment, takes a step back, swallows and manages to say, "My daughter died on Sunday."

The air in the store instantly becomes still. The three Goodwill employees behind the counter gasp.

"She was 36 and had congestive heart failure. She has a 20 year old son and a sixteen year old. We are going to put these on her grave."

As a collective two of the three Goodwill employees move around the counter. One of them says, "Oh Baby, that's tough. Let me give you a hug. You need a hug." 

The women hold on to each other letting the mother cry. Her shoulders begin to shake and they are holding the mother up, patting her on the back and whispering in inaudible tones of consolation.

One of the Goodwill women grab the husband of the mother. He is wearing a matching Steelers jersey, "You need a hug too." 

They pull him into the hug. 

I am so moved by the beauty and genuine sincerity of these strangers in this scene in the Goodwill that tears are rolling down my face. 

There are good people in Memphis, I am a witness to that. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day 2014

J2 and I celebrated our third St. Valentine's Day together. 

The girls were given Starbucks gift cards and Valentine's socks. Phaedra immediately put a pair of her socks on and ripped a hole in them. Whomp-whomp! Maverick received a Starbucks gift card and an entire container of hot chocolate mix. He has been mixing and guzzling chocolate milk all evening. 

I hid a small movie gift card in J2's iPad. All day long I waited not-so-patiently for him to acknowledge that he found it. I kept imagining him slinging his iPad across the room and the gift card disappearing in a secret location with the rest of the unmatched socks. Finally, he texted and I was relieved.

I got all dolled up. 

J2 and I went out to dinner, without reservations, to a little, local Italian joint in Bartlett called Bruno's Italian Restaurant. As always it was fantastic!

When I walked in the door I was treated with salutations and large smiles. The staff always seems spectacularly pleased that you chose Bruno's for your dining experience. Since we did not make a reservation, the hostess said there would be a 20 minute wait. Not even five minutes later we were at a table with drinks and menus in our hands. 

I am serious when I say everything I have had a Bruno's is spectacular. Spinach and artichoke, bruschetta, fried ravioli, meatballs, Italian sausage, marinara sauce, stuffed chicken breast; all of it is mouth watering. 

Last night, since I saved all of my calories for the day, I ordered the Steak and Alfredo. My steak was perfectly rare and bursting with flavor. The Alfredo sauce is creamy, savory, and simply scrape-your-plate delicious. Thinking about it now is making me salivate.

Their portions are generous, very generous. I had enough pasta to cover the entire face of my plate. So, I brought half of it home. 

At Bruno's, their service is always remarkable. Their servers are always delightful and adorable. They are kind and their suggestions and recommendations are spot-on! Kenya, our server last night was superb. She was prompt, courteous, and simply delightful! 
Their prices are reasonable, around $8 to $25 an entree. The food and atmosphere  are worth it! The Little Rottens love going their too! 

I am extremely picky about my Italian food. I look forward to dining there. Bruno's holds the bar in Memphis for Italian food. 

As for my Valentine's gift, it is perfection!