Friday, May 26, 2017

901 Story - Cookie Shaped Boots

Thanks to technical difficulties in the showing of a classic film starring Marlon Brando, I instead learned about the role Memphis played (and still plays) in the film industry. After the engaging lecture, I felt the need to enjoy a cookie, and so drove to the coffeehouse that stays open late and houses a drink called Funky Monkey. When I reached the place, the nice barista sold me a freshly baked cookie the size of a saucer, and so I found a place to sit and enjoy the warm goodness. Something caught my eye and as I looked up, I noticed a man tuning his guitar. He wore a wide brim hat and looked like a rough hipster version of Harry Connick Jr.. I was immediately interested as he introduced himself as Frankie Boots. Born in California, now living in New Orleans was his line. He sang of being an only child, living in California, being in love and being hurt with a voice that seemed older than his supposed years. At one point, he dedicated a song to me about a bar stool far away and I wanted to look away, yet found myself staring at him even more so. After an hour of solid playing, he took a break and sold his music to anyone who wanted to take him everywhere. He asked for my name and I felt a connection, one that creatives get when they are able to find each other amid the sea of white noise and "fitting in". When I finally left, glowing on the inside and out, I waved goodbye to him as he sat rolling his cigarettes outside of the coffee shop. Maybe our paths will cross again - I wanted to take a photo of his guitar and the soul that possessed it.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Mind Over Murder . . .

When I first met author Steve Bradshaw, I knew he either was a cop or used to be a cop. People in law enforcement have that LOOK, the one that easily tells you that they are not to be trifled with. Although he does have that look, he is also quite a nice man and apparently one hell of an author. I tore through Evil Like Me: A Forensic/Paranormal Thriller, as published through Griffyn Ink, and I was sorry to leave that version of Memphis. It was, in short, a ride through the mind that I'll never forget.

The story, based on actual events, is thus: the United States Government began a program that utilized the talents of psychics as weapons. Years later, the program is stopped to a grinding halt and all future research has been cancelled . . . or so everyone thinks. Speed up to current time in Memphis, Tennessee, where Homicide Detective Tony Wilcox is looking for a man who may or may not be responsible for four deaths. However, as he soon teams up with Medical Examiner Dr. Victoria Petty, the two slowly realize that there's more to the deaths than they think. Everything that they consider to be of logic and reason is thrown out the window as they must handle matters of the mind . . . . literally.

This book read like a really really good episode of Law and Order, except that rather than watching the show from the comfort of your home, you are right there with Wilcox and Petty, stumbling through the dark in an attempt to understand just why a man named Hunter Keller is so important to the United States Government. Every bullet shot out and received in a bloody fashion, every chase that leads to more bodies and more questions, and every moment of suspended disbelief will have you turning the pages. You don't get bogged down with forensic details, nor is the book one giant car chase through Memphis - Bradshaw paces out the story just enough so that you get to take a breath and maybe get some water. His writing style reminds me of author Harlan Coben (I LOVE his work!) in that you are thrown into it all right from the beginning but it's so good that you don't care.

I do know that Bradshaw will be at the Memphis Comic and Fantasy Convention this year - if you get a chance to attend, do yourself a favour and attend his panels. Having the pleasure of being on a panel with him, I have to admit that he's a delight to talk with and the dude knows his stuff. If, however, you can't wait to purchase copies of his books, you can either order them through Amazon, or purchase them at South Main Book Juggler in the South Main District of Memphis.


Friday, May 19, 2017

901 Story - Cold Tea

The hip coffee shop was half full when I walked in. Due to my latest round of frustrations with my job, I figured that a cup of Darjeeling tea and a muffin would set me right. After receiving my super sized tea and muffin warmed just right, I found a table and soon started jotting down thoughts before I forgot them. As I wrote, I overheard several of the baristas talk about a young man who recently died due to a caffeine overdose. I had heard of the story and remembered shaking my head in sadness over it. Just then, one of the baristas said that when he used to work in a corporate office, he would drink cup after cup of coffee not for the caffeine but for the warmth. Soon, another barista who sat behind me agreed that that particular place had been too cold for words. I turned to face her and offered my story - that my corporate job space was cold every day and how one could almost see their breath while working. We shared a nice laugh and I returned to my tea as the stress of corporate left me. Even though I had to return soon, I knew that the tea and muffin were enough good juju to finish the day.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

901 Story - The Old Men and the Vinyl

(sample of my vinyl collection)

While searching for book titles in the library bookstore in an attempt to kill some time, I overheard two older men talk about the good ol' days via vinyl. They reviewed each album that was on sale, each asking the other if they owned a copy of it, all the while talking about their obviously massive vinyl collections. As much as I wanted to go through the vinyl to possibly add to my nice sized collection, I continued searching for books and let the men have their fun. They spoke of how they locate their vinyl at estate sales with such pride as though they were talking about their children and grandchildren, complete with photos in their wallet. Did they, I wondered, enjoy their vinyl with friends and flowing cocktails? Showing off their latest find to those who were of the Vinyl Faith? Perhaps they saved that experience for themselves, considering it to be too sacred for the masses. Vinyl spoke through the ages and those two men continued to answer the call. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

901 Story - Pie of the Bibliophiles

We met at our usual spot, ready to play catch up and enjoy good cups of tea. Every time we get together, I'm always reminded that we met through a love of art. While eating my warmed up slice of vegan blackberry pie, she spoke of books that influenced her writing and that she adored children's books. Bibliophiles have that uncanny ability to find each other - perhaps we give off a scent that smells of used bookstores. We shared laughter and even moments of pain to show that our sums were stronger than the parts. I looked around at the other patrons in the coffee shop and realized that this was a perfect moment. Even the blackberry seeds caught between my teeth felt natural and not an annoyance. As the sun began to set, we went our separate ways as strings of words we hadn't written yet trailed behind us.

(for my friend Jenny)

Thursday, May 4, 2017

A Love Story Set to Music

An Unfinished Score, written by my aether friend Elise Blackwell, is a love letter written to music. This book was an absolute delight to read and I'm just sorry that I didn't read it sooner. The story is thus: Suzanne Sullivan, a viola player in a quartet, learns that famous conductor Alex Elling has died in a horrible plane crash. She's distraught, not only for the sake that the world lost quite a talent, but that she was his lover for several years. As the book progresses, we experience Suzanne's day to day life, now that the man she truly loved is dead. Her husband, Ben (cellist and composer), and best friend Petra (violinist) with her deaf daughter Adele, all live in the same house yet Suzanne feels only grief and loss. However, as she begins to receive strange phone calls from Chicago, Suzanne will soon learn that not everything she knows is the truth and that lies are more comforting to the heart.

I will admit that I really didn't like Suzanne, yet I still wanted to know what would come of her once she learned of her lover's death. Her husband seemed to love her but in a different way, while Alex, as excellently portrayed in past memories by Blackwell, ignited her passions and dared her to feel the music rather than just play it. Although I found Suzanne to be a weak character in emotions at the beginning, she carried the story to the very end and became stronger and better. Out of all of the characters, I truly enjoyed reading about Alex the most. Although he came off as such a pompous ass while alive, his death showed us that he had a human side, one that he showed to Suzanne frequently. The scene in which he and Suzanne make love as a violinist plays in their hotel room while blindfolded was one such example. Although Alex was married, the love he had for Suzanne was genuine and raw. True, he did have other lovers before her, but it felt as though he showed his true nature to Suzanne. I actually felt sorry for his wife, Olivia.

Thank you as always, Elise, for your beautiful words. I look forward to reading whatever else you write.


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

SYR - Celtic Folk Rock At Its Best

I love it when people in my life introduce me to different music groups. For example, I have "Viking" to thank for my now fangirl status in liking Great Big Sea (I HIGHLY recommend checking them out - they've broken up but their music is still amazing!), Alan DoyleTuatha Dea, and now SYR. After receiving a lovely care package with several CDs inside not too long ago, I decided to pop in SYR and see what would unfold.

Wow. That's all I can say. Just wow.

I've loved Celtic music for a long time - call it my Irish roots (I did the research and yes, I do have Irish blood), my love of Celtic history, or how some "Raven Headed Being Who Represents War and Death" has infiltrated my life. Regardless, I love how goosebumps appear on my skin whenever I hear that kind of music. The music of SYR does that to me and I'm gad for it. Their first self titled CD is a solid CD - there are no bad or weak tracks at all. From the first blood pumping song "Mo Gradh" to the last, and quite funny, song of "I Drove My Father To Drink", this CD will appeal to those who can appreciate good music with well thought out lyrics. Although I love all of the songs, my all time favourite is "Who Are You" - great message and beautiful accompanying music!

I look forward to many more CDs from this band - if any of the band members happen to read this post: PLEASE COME TO MEMPHIS!


Monday, May 1, 2017

A FIRE That Will Never Die

Last week, I attended an interview of underground comic artist Peter Bagge at the Brooks Museum of Art and it was quite educational. Although I'd never read his comics, I was familiar with HATE and his style of drawing. However, what really pricked my interest was when he discussed two of his works involving women who made a difference in America. One was Margaret Sanger and the other was Zora Neale Hurston. She is one of my inspirations on many levels, so it was quite pleasing to hear how much he enjoyed not only researching her life but also completing the graphic novel FIRE: The Zora Neale Hurston Story.

I will freely admit that I've read this book at least three times since purchasing it and I found something different with every read. Although it's not the complete story of her life, the book gives you enough that you can't help but want to read all of her works. Hurston was an adventure seeker, a woman who refused to allow anyone to dictate her life to her, and someone who was a force to be reckoned with. Whites and blacks admired her and if they didn't, she couldn't have cared less. She had a voice and she refused to be silent. Bagge, in his art and conception, gives her more than proper credit and respect. Even if you know nothing about Hurston and her works, this book provides just enough to educate and enlighten you on such a fascinating woman.