Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Little PBR Goes a Long Way

I know it has been a while since I posted, but I really need to back track a bit to Spring Break to tell of my awesome adventures.

I spent my week exploring Memphis, as planned. These adventures included a ghost tour of downtown, Memphis Tiger basketball game, Chucalissa, and Sun Studios.

The most awesome day, however, is one I must describe in detail.

Wednesday I set out to Sun Studios to further educate myself in Memphis music. I walk in to purchase my ticket and start talking to the guy behind the counter. I was wearing my PBR shirt from work (as we were given them for promotional reasons), and he started asking me where I got my shirt. I explained to him that I work for Hueys, we just got PBR, and are not doing promotions for it. When he realized that not only was I a.) wearing a cool shirt but b.) also a local, he told me to not worry about paying for the tour. Awesome! Turns out this awesome dude's name is El Dorado, and he was giving the tour.  He also plays in a punk band around town too. We got to talking about Memphis and local music after the tour.

After the tour was over, I went back into the cafe of Sun Studios to look around, and I run into Jake, the guy who lead the ghost tour I took downtown a few days prior. We started chatting, and I found out that he does bus tours of Memphis music spots around town during the day. He was doing one at the time, and the group had stopped at Sun Studios to take a look around. He said that there was about an hour and a half left on the tour if I wanted to hop on the bus and finish it with them. How cool is that?

So I hopped on the bus with the rest of the group, and we drove around town while Jake told us about past, present, and future music in the city.  Some of the stuff I already knew, as we drove by the Hi Tone and other venues.  But I did learn a lot too, especially about Elvis and Johnny Cash.

Not only did I learn a lot, but Jake also gave me a shaker when I hopped on the bus too. While he played tunes on his guitar, I jammed next to him with my shaker. We were quite a pair. Ha. Any tour that lets me sing and dance along definately gets an A+ in my book.

After the tour was over, Jake was kind enough to drive me back to my car at Sun Studios before doing another gig that night. and thus the day was over.

This day just proved to me even more why I love Memphis. The people here are so great. They are friendly, nice, and generous. In one day, I met two of the nicest, kindest people in the city of Memphis. It was a great day with great people.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Shoe Story

My Nannie was a great storyteller, probably one of the best that I have ever met. and man, did she have a lot of stories. Nannie raised me for a lot of my early childhood, because my single Mom worked all day. I also spent many weekends with her at her log cabin in Byhalia, Mississippi. We would eat tapioca pudding, watch Touched By An Angel, and she would tell me stories all day.

One story that I requested all of the time, that will always stick with me, is what I oh-so-eloquently named The Shoe Story. Now, I am not nearly as good of a storyteller as my great-grandmother was, but I am going to attempt to tell the story as great as she did.

Nannie grew up in a small, middle-of-nowhere town in Southern Illinois. Her parents owned a general store that supplied a lot of the town's odds and ends. During the summer and after school, Nannie would play in the general store while her parents worked all day. She was bound to get into mischief, just like any child with nothing to keep her entertained would.  One particular day, the general store got in a pair of shoes to sell. They were beautiful leather shoes. The were perfectly crafted. They were perfect. and they were just her size. She HAD to have these shoes.
So Nannie went to her Dad and asked if she could please, please, please have the shoes.  He said no, because they needed to sell the shoes.  They were not a rich family by any means, so they needed every penny that they could make. He told her these shoes were meant for someone who could afford to buy them.  After much begging and pleading, her dad would not budge. He was not going to let her have those shoes.
Nannie decided to take matters into her own hands. She was going to have those shoes, one way or another.  It was then that she decided on her master plan.  She took some water and sand from the store and filled the shoes (which I guess brings a whole new meaning to the Irish saying "Fill your boots man"). Now he couldn't sell them, because they were ruined. 
Her dad saw the mess and became VERY angry. But it was true. He could not sell the shoes.  Nobody was going to buy shoes ruined by water and sand. So he gave them to my Nannie. and she got her perfect shoes.
This has always been my favorite of Nannie's stories, but it has not been until recently that I figured out why.  First, any woman is going to love a story where in the end, the lady gets her perfect pair of shoes. Its a form of a fairytale ending.  I can relate to the experience of what it is like to see those shoes and know you love them so much that you would do almost anything to have them. I think any female would.
But also, it exemplifies many traits that my Nannie and I have in common. First, we are both as stubborn as they come.  We do not do well taking no for an answer. My family always jokes that Nannie went to heaven and started bossing Jesus around and telling him how to run things. We say that she told Jesus that she is going to rope off a spot for the rest of the family whenever we come to meet her, and that nobody else is allowed in the "Little Area".  As for me, I have no problem with begging, arguing, and possibly manipulating to get my way. Have I ever mentioned that I am always right? I have become better at this over the years, but the stubborn brat inside of me is still there. 
Also, we both have a drive and determination to get what we want in life.  In this story, it was a pair of shoes.  In life, Nannie did whatever she had to do in her life to stay happy and keep everyone else happy. I could go into a million nostalgic stories now of the many things she did for me over the years. But I will save those for a later blog post. I have the same drive and determination in my life as well. In every aspect of my life, I work hard to achieve everything that I want to do. I also work hard to make sure those around me are good as well. We are two of a kind.
In case you all are wondering, my Nannie passed away when I was in 8th grade. In fact, her funeral was on the day of my 8th grade graduation. Ever notice that I wear the same ring every day on my right hand middle finger? That is her engagement ring. It's a constant reminder of the great woman she was.
and also an inspiration for me to be the same.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

From Fandom to Fretdom

Dear Weezer,

It is with utmost regret that I must inform you that you are in serious threat to being removed from my list of top five favorite musical artists of all time.  Today, I finally was able to listen to your newest album, Raditude, that was released back in November. I must admit that I was sorely disappointed.

This is nothing like you, Weezer.  I feel that we have had a close, meaningful relationship over the past many years.  I feel like I know you really well, and I know that this record is not you.  I know your sound. I know your style. I know what you are all about.  Each time I put on one of your albums, I anxiously await the alternative garage rock tunes to blare out of the speakers so I can enthusiastically sing and dance along.  However, this last album has you away from your roots and resembling a dancy-pop-rock-indie band such as Panic! at the Disco.

I am not saying that Raditude is a terrible album. I actually enjoyed it. It is not anywhere near my favorite, but I could still enjoy it.  but what concerns me is that it sounds ABSOLUTELY nothing like you. I heard the first lines of the first song and thought I had tuned into the wrong artist. Surely, I must have pressed something wrong on my iPod, because this is not Weezer. It sounds like a completely different band from a completely different genre of rock-n-roll. The last four songs, I must attest, do kind of, slightly, maybe have some original Weezer resemblence.  I might be able to justify saying the last four songs could have been you performing. Maybe. But it stops there. You sound like a completely different band.  Once again, not a bad band, just a different one. Not the band that I fell in love with many moons ago.

What has become of you, Weezer? What is going to become of us? our relationship?  Did you finally sell out to the record label? When Make Believe first came out, I must admit I was leary of your fate.  Yes, the music was still attuned to your roots, but I could feel you slipping away with every catchy, radio-ready beat. Now my worries have evolved into much bigger problems. You have grown out of your sound after all.  The record label was finally able to take you, mold you into their little figurine, and mass distribute you to millions for a large profit.  You succumbed just like the rest, didn't you? This is a sad day for me, Weezer. A truly sad, sad day.

I remember all of those good times we had together. I jammed to you in my car for countless hours upon hours. For several months, I listened to the Blue Album on repeat. It is still on my list of top 5 favorite records of all time. The entire album is good. I cannot pick a favorite song off of it.  I know every word to every lyric to every song on the Blue Album.  I even painted your epic symbol, the =w= (a W with double lines on the ends), on my toes at the beach one year. I threw up your sign on my hands frequently, like I was a part of some gang. This is true representing, true fan dedication. I loved you guys. To the deepest, most center core of my heart.

and its not like I still don't. Rivers, I subscribe to your Twitter handle! I have your tweets sent to my phone! I still am a 100% true fan of you guys.

so you must be aware that I am saying this out of sheer concern. For you. For your career. For your fate. and for your fans, the ones who have truly supported you from the beginning.

Please, return to what you truly are. Return to the Weezer that we all love, not the one that has evolved most recently. Be the band you have been. I really do not want to take you off of my list of top 5 favorite artists. However, if records like this past one continue to be produced, I really will have no choice.

All my love,


Thats Me, The Nice One

I was at work the other day when a coworker asked me if there was anyone in this world that I just did not like.  First, I found this hilarious because I was in the middle of a relentless teasing session directed towards him, but everyone who knows me knows that I only tease out of love.  However, this question did really make me stop and think. and honestly, there really is not one person in this world that I just do not like.

Now, I know I am a bit of a people pleaser. Okay, a lot of a people pleaser. I really like it when everyone around me is happy. It makes me happy. But I don't think that is the real reason. 

In this split second I re-evaluated my entire life and who I am as a person. I came to the realization that I have a talent of finding a common interest with just about everyone. I have such a wide range of interests, that I can relate to almost everyone in this world (I say almost, because I have not yet met everyone in this world).  and if I cannot find a common interest of any sort, then I am really curious to learn more about the other person and why they like the things they do. I am a curious person by nature, and lets be frank. People love to talk about themselves.

Now don't get me wrong, there are people who annoy me at times.  There are people with whom I disagree on many topics. There are many people that sometimes I just want to slap and scream ARE YOU AN IDIOT? But this is not all of the time.  I can honestly say that I still like all of these people.  Some people I like more than others, as there is a large spectrum on which everyone in my life sits. But I can find good in everyone and in every situation. 

Now some people may see this as a flaw, but I personally see it as a good thing. 

So after this split second re-evaluation of my outlook on the world of people, I simply looked over the bar and replied, "No. I guess not."

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Spring Break is SO NOT a Bust

So this is the first year since I have started school (i.e. Jr. K when I was four) that I have not gone out of town on Spring Break. Spring Break has become a tradition for me.  It is a time to get away, away from Memphis and away from life.  It has always been my time to relax and see a new part of the world. I have gone to many different places on past Spring Breaks, including out West, up North, to the beaches South, and out of the country completely. However, this year, for the first time since I was four, I will not be going anywhere for Spring Break. Nowhere.

Since my Plan A (Cancun) and Plan B (New Orleans) fell through, I am officially going to be home for that week. My boss wanted me to housesit, and since I don't have any plans, I agreed to do so. Therefore, I will be out of my Arlington housing situation and living in East Memphis that week.

So now, Spring Break for Shannon is going to be known as "Enjoy Memphis Week".  There is so much that I have not done in this city, and Memphis has so much to offer.  I decided that I can pick a couple of places to go every day that I have never been. I can try museums and take tours. At night, I want to see local live music that I have never experienced in local venues that I do not normally frequent. I can explore my city to the greatest depths. and I am actually kind of excited about it.  

Between seeing Memphis during the day, working, and enjoying the nightlife after, I can say that my Spring Break is still going to be pretty eventful.

Here is a brainstormed list of things I want to do so far...
Sun Studios
Civil Rights Museum
Cotton Museum
Fire Museum
Ghost River Brewery Tour
Java Cabana jam sessions

Anybody have any more suggestions? I have a whole week to fill up here! and also, company is always nice. If anyone wants to join me on my week long quest, please let me know! Things are always more fun with friends.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

And the Foodie in Me Comes Out

One of my internships this semester is with Folk Alliance, which happens to be located in the South Main Arts District. This allows me once a week to explore a part of Memphis that I do not normally see on a regular basis. Now, I love this part of town. Next to Cooper Young, it is probably my most favorite part of Memphis.

and one of the best parts? The food. The food downtown is fantastic. There are so many locally owned, amazing restaurants in this part of the city. Therefore, while I am interning this semester, I have made it a goal of mine to try a new place to eat every Tuesday for lunch, while on my break from interning.

So far this experiment has gone great.

The first week, I went across the street to Earnestine and Hazels and had a soul burger and chips. Now, the food was nothing to rave about, but then again, I have been working at Hueys for nearly four years. I am kind of pretentious when it comes to burgers. Sorry, but it comes with the territory. Anyway, the burger was mediocre, and Lays potato chips are, well, Lays potato chips. The part of this meal that made it memorable was the company. There were only three people in the entire place: me, another lady, and the man running the place. The lady and I got to talking and were carrying on a nice conversation. She was telling me what it was like to live downtown, as she had almost her whole life (and she was in her 70s). Not to mention she was drinking beer at noon. Old ladies who drink midday always make me happy. The nice, old gentleman behind the bar/working the grill was great company too. He had a million stories about Memphis and Earnestine and Hazels. He talked about all of the legends behind the building and many stories about how it used to be a brothel. Talk about pure entertainment. and cute old men can always make my day. Especially ones that wear fashionable hats. So I ate my burger and chips, but ended up staying for over an hour just talking to these people.

For my second week, I packed my lunch but ate it across the street at Bluff City Coffee. All you restauranteers stop frowning at me, because I did order stuff while I was there. I order a coffee, tipped, and sat down at a table to eat. And let me tell you, that place knows how to make a cup of coffee. Local coffee shops are always my favorite, and this place is no exception. They have a cool atmosphere, and can keep me caffeinated happily. Two thumbs up. Not to mention that now they fuel me every Tuesday before I go into my internship in the morning.

The next week I decided to go a couple of doors down and try The Arcade. Hey, if it was good enough for Elvis, then it is good enough for me. I knew that I had to try the breakfast there, because that is what everyone raves about. So when I opened up the menu and saw a little note by the sweet potato pancakes that said "Food Network Favorite", I knew it was destiny. Not only do I love sweet potato pancakes, but I also LOVE the Food Network. a lot. My pancakes came with bacon, eggs, and hashbrowns. Also include was enough grease, butter, and syrup to give all of Africa a heart attack. Just the way I like it. In the next 20 minutes I consumed my weeks worth of calories. But man was it worth it. The food was amazing. and now I can officially say that I have been to Elvis' favorite restaurant (which makes up for the fact that I have lived in Memphis almost all of my life and have never set foot in Graceland).

This past week I decided to walk down a block or two and try Pearl's Oyster House. I have always heard great things about this place, but have never been. I did not want to eat a plate of oysters midday, thinking it might upset my stomach for the rest of the day. So I tried the crabcake off of their express lunch menu. Man, do I love crabcakes. and theirs was definatelty delicious. It came with rice (buttery delicious) and a vegetable meddley. Now, normally vegetable meddleys are nothing to get incredibly excited about, but this meddley needs further explanation.

Here we go... I do not eat squash or anything in its family. Ever. I am not a picky eater by any means, and in fact, pride myself on the fact that I will try anything once. This family of veggies is pretty much the only thing I shy away from. Squash. Cucumber. Zucchini. Pickles. et al. This vegetable meddley at Pearl's consisted of only squash and zucchini. When the plate arrived, I looked at it with a frown. But then I thought, it is the only source of veggies available to me for lunch, so I might as well try to eat it. I took one bite and it was actually pretty good! I was shocked! Congratulations to Pearl's for getting me to eat yucky squash! I ate the whole veggie meddley and for the most part enjoyed it. I dont know what they put in it (special imported secret seasoning, crack, etc), but personally I am okay with it. So any restaurant that accomplished this automatically gets an excellent rating from me.

Aside from the food, another thing that attracted me to this place was their selection of beer on tap. They had two types of the local Memphis Ghost River that I had not tried yet. I opted to try the brown ale, and I loved it. As an English-wannabe, I am an ale girl through and through. So kudos to Pearl's for their beer.

Not only was the food good, but the people were very friendly. I had a lovely conversation with the guy grilling oysters. He said he was disappointed I was not trying his oysters, but I promised to come back another day and try them.

But one of the best aspects of my trip to Pearl's Oyster House? The whole time I was there, they played albums by The Beatles and Neil Young. Anyone, and I mean anyone, who does this has a direct, one way ticket into this girl's heart. Even if the food was not that good, the fact that they had good taste in music would have encouraged me to give them another shot.

So overall, my foodie experience downtown on Tuesdays has been excellent. The food has been great, but the service and atmosphere has been even better. I cannot wait to try more places. My next venture? The Rumba Room. I have been there on weekend nights to dance and have had a blast, but during the week for lunch they serve cuban food! How fun! Its interesting and different, and I cannot wait to give it a try next week.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Welcome to the Future?

Dear Black Eyed Peas,

Not only was your performance at the 2010 Grammys a bit (or a lot) unimpressive, but your exclamations after the finale confused me just a bit.

When you shout repeatedly to the audience and the cameras "Welcome to the future", I cannot help but rhetorically analyze your statement.

First, I am confused as to exactly what you mean by "the future". Is it not technically always future? Are you welcoming me from yesterday? the day before? this morning? an hour ago before the Grammys began? or five minutes ago before your 'epic' performance?

Or are you referring to the future of technology? Is that why your back-up dancers were dressed in silver boxes that I presume are supposed to be robots or stereos? If so, then how are you representing the future? You are using present-day technology to sing and perform your songs.

Are you referring to the future of music? Because you are just singing another typical catchy pop song with rhythmic hip-hop beats. This is not the future. This is the present and somewhat past.

Are you referring to the future of social justice? Because I think your anti-semitic lyrics and misuse of "Mazel tov" are not progressive one bit.

So please, Black Eyed Peas, please indulge me. How are you welcoming the world to the future? and how did you get there quicker than the rest of us so as to throw together a Welcome Party?