Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What to Do on a Crabby Ass Morning

I'm having trouble with the capitalization of the title of this blog. What to do? What To Do? I don't even know. And I don't even care.

So I woke up this morning feeling groggy and crabby, which is really unusual for me, especially as of late. Because, you know, I feel pretty wonderful the majority of the time. Honestly, I do. So it wasn't a very pleasant or fun way to wake up feeling all gross and tired and bitchy. Not fun to anybody else, I'm sure, and especially not fun to me! Boooo!

So what does one do in these situations? I mean, sure, there's always the retroactive solutions of Get more sleep, Don't be up until 3 am when you have to wake up at 8 am, Do not drink a giant iced coffee and a giant iced latte in one day, Eat something more substantial than carbs all day. Sure, real easy to say now! It's today! That was yesterday! So really, what good could that do me this morning? None, I tell you. Instead, I turn to the internet. The following are things that always lift my spirits, make me feel less crabby and more awesome, and sometimes even cause me to "Laugh Out Loud." Check them out:

Shark Attack 3! I found this clip one day when I searched youtube for "giant shark." It's an absolute cinematic masterpiece. Oh, and check out the smug son of a bitch at the very end. BOOM!

"Lord of the Rings Funny Voices." I've never seen any of the Lord of the Rings movies (and for this I believe my brother wants to disown me), but I did come across this video long ago. Emil tells me it's a beautiful scene in which Frodo wakes up after a big battle and, after thinking all of his friends are dead, find out that they actually are not! Bonus fact: I had to google "Elijah Wood Lord of the Rings" to figure out the name "Frodo." Sorry, Emil. Anyhow, check out this alternate version with hilarious voice-overs:

My sister's blog entry on "Naughty Arabic." One beautiful day, Sara and Emil sat in the living room and compiled a list of words that are totally normal in Arabic, but sound dirty in English. I'll say no more - check out this brilliance.

Hobo Names! Here is a list of 700 hobo names. A little something to tickle your fancy and peak your curiosity:
#21: Mr. Wilson Fancypants
#22: Floyd Dangle
#23: Shane Stoopback
#24: Wicked Paul Fourteen-Toes
#25: Normal-Face Olaf
You totally want to click here.

Sexy People! Always good for a laugh. Recently copied by Awkward Family Photos, I prefer Sexy People's more streamlined, focused approach. To laughing at people. Take Ron, for example...

Check it!

If you're not feeling better by now, there's probably something wrong with you. I mean seriously, you've probably got a very serious problem that may be untreatable. Or, you know, maybe we just have different taste in humor. Whatever man. If you still haven't laughed yet, just google "hobo," or look at clips of the Tim and Eric Awesome Show Good Job, or go on youtube and look up "world burping champion" and see what you come up with. And best of luck with your cold, dead, humorless soul. God, how about a smile once in awhile? Jeez....

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Road Trip With Mom! Day Three: Memphis, Tennessee

Today was a full day. My head is swimming.

We started this morning by visiting Graceland, home of Elvis Presley - duh. It was pretty amazing. Mom and I had a great time seeing old movie memorabilia, checking out his fantastically flamboyant wardrobe, and posing in front of his car collection. Oh yes, we absolutely did.

He had a fantastic sense of style, in my opinion. Check out his yellow and navy tv room!

Oh, and The Jungle Room!

Lovely tour of his home. Here's mom and I outside the mansion:

Graceland was really fun, but the tour ended with a lot of emotion. In one room at the end, they played his concert from Hawaii. He did a slow version of "Dixie" in which he included part of "Glory, Glory, Hallelujah." A mix of sweat and tears ran down his face as he sang. (As an aside: In a beautiful Elvis Moment, the cameras caught a fan handing him a hankerchief to wipe the moisture from his face. He accepted it gratefully, used it, and handed it back to the fan, who screamed. Lovely). Although I'm no fan of the song "Dixie," or Dixieland itself, I got very caught up in his rendition of the song, as well as in his emotion while performing. What a beautiful man - his ability to reach his audience is incredible and probably stretched further than I can even imagine.

After this room, we went outside to the meditation garden where his family is buried. Seeing his grave, seeing him buried next to his parents and grandmother, along with a plaque made for his twin brother who was stillborn, was incredibly moving. Personally, I have never felt a strong connection to Elvis - his life or his music or anything. Nothing like Marvin Gaye - I cry every time I think of him dying, and I cry most times I hear his music. If I ever visited his grave, I think I'd lose my mind. With Elvis, it's different - he's one of my mom's favorite musicians, he's pretty much the handsomest man in the world, and he led an amazing life. Definitely. But I've never felt emotional about him. Something happened though, standing in front of his grave. Everybody in the area got a little quieter and slowed their pace a bit. I felt slowed down and, at the same time, caught up in the heavy air outside. There was a wave of sadness and beauty and peace and quiet, all at once. There's some powerful energy there; it really seized me for a few moments...

Later in the day, we went to the National Civil Rights Museum, which is located at the Lorraine Motel on Mulberry St. This is the site of where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. To be standing just 5 feet away from where Dr. King was shot and killed, to imagine the shots being fired and him falling and his life ending on that balcony - it took my breath away. There's an immense sadness in that space, yet an insane surge of a more hopeful energy reflected by a quotation that was posted nearby: You can kill the dreamer, but never the dream.

This wreath hangs outside Room 306 at the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. King was staying.

We also got to read a lot about the history of the civil rights movement. The whole museum made me think about my sister and her coworkers who, by going to work every day in the south, fight harder than I can sometimes ever imagine. To go to your job, your work, your career, your life, and have it be a struggle and an insane uphill battle every single day...And how amazing and humbling to imagine Rosa Parks on the bus, and the people in the Woolworth's lunch counter protests, and what it must have felt like to be doing what they did. And to hear about the non-violent training people carried out: how to not react to people calling you names and harassing you verbally and physically, how to peacefully protest, and, because of what peaceful protesting was met with, how to cover your head when you're being beaten. How to stay alive when people try and hurt you. It is inspiring and sad and amazing and awful, all at once.

After a day like this, it's sort of difficult to decompress and go on and do regular things right away. I definitely felt quiet for the rest of the day. I am so grateful for this down time to write down as much as I can, attempt to sort out the feelings and transform them into words as well as I'm able, and reflect on everything we took in today. And I feel this: I wish for everybody in my life to witness amazing happenings, encounter remarkable individuals, experience life-changing events, be good people, and go through it all with grace and humility.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Road Trip With Mom! Days Two and Four: Memphis and a Bit of Nashville

Welcome to Day Two of Mom and my road trip! It's difficult to top a night at the Grand Ole Opry with all the olds, but Mom and I were determined to do our best! We had a lovely brunch on the riverfront, and bumped into a couple of lovely ladies who you all might recognize...

That's right, it's Reba McIntyre and Wynonna! Such a strange coincidence that we ran into these two superstars at a breakfast advertised as "Breakfast with the Stars" because there they were! It must have been our lucky day...

We (sadly) left Opryland, but our spirits were quickly lifted when we realized that, on our drive to Memphis, we'd be passing right by Loretta Lynn's ranch in Hurricane Mills! We stopped there and saw some fantastic memorabilia (we weren't allowed to take pictures - lame), went inside her tour bus, checked out the Motocross track, and even spied her personal horses. One had "LL" branded on it's butt. Kinda weird.

After our wonderful break, we finished the trip to Memphis. You know what man? I love Memphis. I thank the entire universe for Memphis. I know we only saw a tiny part of it, but really. This is where so much of what I love was born, and I couldn't be more thankful for that.

We spent our first evening in Memphis on Beale St. eating barbecue and fried catfish and listening to a jazz orchestra. Later, we went to B.B. King's club where we saw a blues band. My mom can totally hang! Fantastic night.

Beale St. at night.

Notes to self: On Memphis...Sometimes a city is just a city. And music is just music. And just because you're in a gigantically powerful, passionate city, listening to this beautiful music, it doesn't mean you'd fall back in love. It isn't the music and the city that make you love. It would have to be the person. This is what it means to be thirty and know yourself really well, and be open, but cautious, in affairs of the heart. Taking a cue from Johnny Cash, I'm keeping a close watch on this heart of mine...

Sorry for the cryptic junk - get plenty of vodka in me sometime and maybe I'll explain that one some time...Okay, so on to Day 4. I'm skipping Day 3 for now because I really need to process that entire day a bit more, but I don't want to keep you all waiting too long. I mean, I know it's very difficult to carry on with your regular life when I'm not blogging...sorry dudes!

We woke up in Memphis on Tuesday morning and headed straight to Sun Studio. Sun was a recording studio and record label in Memphis started by Sam Phillips. Okay. Deep breath. Dudes, we were in the room where Elvis, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Louis, Carl Perkins, Howling Wolf, and so many others recorded! Seriously, this was so cool. We heard original recordings of all these artists, including Elvis's first record ever - he'd recorded a song for his mother for her birthday the first time he walked into Sun.

Jerry Lee Louis, Carl Perkins, Elvis, and Johnny Cash.

Later, we went to the Stax Museum of American Soul. This was absolutely the high point of this trip for me. Do you even know how much I love Otis Redding? Ever since the first time I saw Pretty in Pink and Duckie danced to "Try a Little Tenderness," I was in love with Otis Redding. I love every song he sings. I love the way he dances. I love everything about him. Once in awhile, as I walk by Lake Monona in Madison, I feel a surge of anger and sadness - this was the lake that swallowed Otis's plane when he was just 26 years old. To think that he accomplished so much in such a short life, expressed so much amazing music and art - it just blows my mind.

Stax was fantastic. Here's the hall of records - I think it's every single record put out by Stax. It went on forever...

That afternoon, we drove back to Nashville, checked into our hotel, and had a lovely sushi dinner at Ru San's, which is my absolutely favorite sushi restaurant! The Hodi-Totonchi family, plus many of my sister's friends, have spent many hungover lunches and dinners at Ru San's in Atlanta...and there was one in Nashville. Fantastic!

Here's a view of our hotel - it used to be a train station. I'll get more daytime pictures today.

I'm really loving it down here.

Next up! Day Three: Graceland and the National Civil Rights Museum.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Road Trip With Mom! Day One: Glenview to Nashville

Um...have you all ever taken a road trip with your mom? I have. It rules.

We started early Saturday morning - 7 am - and made our way south. We stopped at a Bob Evans for a hearty breakfast. This is how adorable Mom is first thing in the morning:

And THIS is how adorable I am first thing in the morning:

Bob Evans was pretty great. Tasty and affordable breakfasts brought out real quick. Although, they did have this poster hanging in the entrance of the restaurant...I'm not sure what Apple Pie Fries are, but we did not stick around to find out. Barf!

We made amazing time; it took only eight hours from Chicago to Nashville! We arrived at our first hotel - The Grand Ole Opry Convention Center. Why stay there, you ask? Oh, no reason. Maybe just because we had tickets to see Crystal Gayle and Patty Loveless at the Grand Ole Opry that night! Whoa!!! More about that later...The hotel was incredible. It was sort of like Disneyland, minus the rides, and as if it was located inside a greenhouse. Does that make sense? Check it out:

This stuff is all inside the hotel. It's like a giant greenhouse with a billion plants and flowers and a zillion lanais and some nice restaurants. Fantastic.

The reason we went straight to Nashville Saturday night was, as mentioned before, so we could go see The Grand Ole Opry! It was amazing. I'll post a couple of pictures here, but if you want to see the whole mess of them, check out my Picasa album. Mom kept commenting on how it must be Geriatric Night - and she made a good point! At least half of the performers were definitely of the senior persuasion. And damn, were they amazing performers. Check out Little Jimmy Dickens, 88 years old and about 4'10"!

And here are the ladies themselves, Patty Loveless:

And Crystal Gayle. Her hair is still down to her ankles. Mom wondered how she dyes it all. Oh snap! Who said that?!

I loved The Grand Ole Opry - the hotel and the show! It was amazing. Oh, and I even got to play the piano at the Opry!!!!!

Coming Up! Day Two: Nashville to Memphis. Where did we stop on our long drive, you ask? Oh, just a little somewhere called Loretta Lynn's Ranch! Wait til you read about it...