Thursday, September 15, 2011

TwiHard and Proud!

I am a HUGE fan of the Twilight Saga.  Most of you already know this about me.  For those of you who do know this or do not realize the extent of my obsession love, I'm writing this blog to try and explain.

Let me start by saying I have been a "fangirl" pretty much all of my life.  I was "fangirling" waaay before "fangirling" was even a word.  Can I stop using the quotes now?  K, thanks!

I first started being a hardcore, obsessive fan (aka fangirl) when I discovered Duran Duran at the age of 9.  I literally referred to myself as a "Duranie", if that gives you any idea how far my love for those stylish Brits went.  From there, I went on to love many bands, actors, books, and movies, specifically The Beatles, Queen, Poison, Kiefer Sutherland, Viggo Mortensen, Harry Potter, The Lost Boys, and The Lord of the Rings.  Nothing, though, prepared me for the world of The Twilight Saga.

I had not heard any thing about the Twilight books until the first movie was about to be released.  I remember seeing the trailer for Twilight and realizing that "Cedric Diggory" was in another movie and I was so happy to see his gorgeous face on the big screen again.  I soon found out many of my friends had been reading the books and loved them, so I immediately asked for the book set for Christmas!

Because my husband and mother love me so much, they each gave me the on Kindle and the other in the hardback form.  Because the hardback set was on back order, I started with the Kindle books and was instantly hooked!  I read the first book within a couple of days and HAD to see the movie.  Lucky for me, it was still showing in my hometown on New Year's Eve, so I "made" Scott take me to see it for our anniversary!  Romantic, right?  Yes, for me...not so much for Scott.  *Love you, Honey!*

This is one of my favorite scenes!

I finished the series within a few days and my life was forever changed.  I know that sounds so dramatic but that was how I felt.  I didn't want the stories to end.  I wanted MORE.  So, I did what every other Twi-fan did, I read the books again....and again.

Fast forward a few months and my mom and I were adding fuel to our Twi-fire by attending the first TwiCon in Dallas.  Not only were we able to meet many of the stars of the movies, but we also met other fans.  This was a big deal to me because I realized, outside of my mom (who is also a huge fan now), I had no one else to share my love and devotion for all things-Twi.  Yes, I had friends who had read and loved the books but that was where it stopped for them.  Sitting with my new Twi-friends in Dallas, discussing the books and movie (this was before New Moon was released) in great detail, I felt relief...I felt free.  Free to embrace my inner TwiHard and wave my Twi-flag proudly.

Me (in my Team Rathbone shirt, of course) and some new TwiHard friends at TwiCon!

Believe it or not, it is NOT all about the movies and stars for me.  First and foremost, I love the books.  I think the story is original and wonderful with amazing characters and settings.  I love that it does not follow the usual vampire lore with garlic and coffins and such and I love that it is a story that can be enjoyed by people of all ages.  Notice, I said "people" not just women.  In fact, after my TwiCon weekend, Scott read the books to see "what the fuss was all about" and he admitted that he liked them, too.  By the way, he's Team Alice.

Having said all that, I also love the movies...mostly.  I have quite a few problems, gripes, and opinions with the movies (I probably need to save that for another post) and so I keep them separate from the books in my mind.  They are not perfect but I love them for what they are.  I also love the actors in the movie...mostly.  And I'll just leave it there. ;-)

So, now it's almost 3 years later and I am way deep into the fandom.  Thanks to Twitter, I have made friends with other TwiHards all around the world and it is amazing to be able to call these women "friends."  In fact, I am meeting quite a few of these new friends in less than 2 weeks when we all travel to Forks, Washington (where the stories take place) to see where the author, Stephenie Meyer, got her inspiration.  My new bestie, JennyKate, is traveling with me and our other roomie, Michelle, has promised to have bail money set aside for us.  Not that it will be necessary or anything.....right, JK? Although, it would be funny to say we got to ride in the Forks Police Chief's cruiser...but I digress.

Nope, no bail money needed for us in Forks!

I promise to keep you updated with our Twi-adventures on all of the usual forms of social media and, if you want a postcard from Forks, you still have a few days to get me your mailing address!

Monday, September 5, 2011

My 2 Nights with 100 Monkeys

I love 100 Monkeys.

This statement may confuse some of you.  You might be thinking "But, Jennifer, I thought you collected ladybugs?" or "Why 100 monkeys?  Why not just 1 or 2?"  Let me explain.

100 Monkeys is a band.  Specifically, they are a band of incredibly talented and passionate musicians who  also happen to be sweet, funny, and down-to-earth guys.  Oh, and they are very easy on the eyes, I must add.  It is nearly impossible to describe their music because it covers almost every style imaginable from rock to funk to blues to country.  When explaining their sound to others, I tend to simplify it and call it "good time party music" but it is so much more than that.  Their songs are fun and quirky but also serious and melancholy.

The first time I heard of 100 Monkeys was 2 years ago while I was online purchasing my ticket for TwiCon in Dallas.  For those of you who don't know, Jackson Rathbone, who plays "Jasper" in the Twilight Saga movies, is also in 100 Monkeys and the band was playing a concert at TwiCon.  This lead me to visit their website and check out their music.  I only listened to snippets of a couple of songs but I could tell that it was different to what I normally listened to, so I decided to wait and see how their concert was.

In short, it was, well, short.  I think they only played 4 or 5 songs but it was great all the same.  What impressed me the most was, what the band refers to as, "The Monkey Switcheroo."  These guys can each play multiple instruments, so they switch or change instruments depending on what song they are performing.  It is incredible.  It keeps things fresh and entertaining and it is so much fun to watch.  They also take suggestions from the audience for an "improv" song every night!  Needless to say, I instantly became a fan and even skipped the "Volturi Ball" at TwiCon to see them perform at a local Dallas club and then again at the after-party.

I've been a fan for 2 years now, following their website, facebook pages, and Twitter accounts, as well as buying all of the music they have released.  They have only gotten better over the past couple of years, with their music and style gelling into a perfect eclectic sound, and I have been chomping at the bit to see them live again.

As soon as their summer tour dates for this year were announced, I made arrangements to see them in Dallas and Tulsa, just 3 days apart.  To say I was giddy with excitement is putting it mildly.  I was bringing Scott with me to Dallas but he was less than thrilled.  I "encouraged" him to listen to their CDs but he was still unsure.  I assured him that he would love them once he saw them perform live.

In Dallas, we were fortunate enough to get VIM (Very Important Monkey) tickets that allowed us to attend a "soundcheck party" with the guys.  This "party" included a short acoustic set and the opportunity to take a picture with the band.  We also received a t-shirt and autographed picture.  It was incredible!  There were only a handful of fans there at this time, so it was very intimate and special.  Scott was griping that he was the only guy in the audience but I could tell he was having a great time.

We spoke to the band briefly while we took our pictures and they were so nice.  They loved the fact that Scott was there!  I imagine they don't get a lot of men at their shows, especially ones who will take a picture with them or ask for an autograph!

An hour later, the "real" concert started and it was nothing less than amazing.  Bleeding Horse Express was one of the opening bands and they were great!  If you like gritty, Southern rock music, then you should definitely buy their CD.  Of course, the Monkeys rocked the house and Scott was able to witness me "fangirling" first hand.  I even made some new facebook and Twitter friends in the audience, including some that were at the same TwiCon that I attended 2 years ago!

Having said that, let me clarify that I am not a fan of 100 Monkeys just because Jackson Rathbone is in Twilight.  Being a fan of Twilight lead me to discover 100 Monkeys but I am a fan simply because I love their music.  Seeing them perform live and witnessing their pure talent and love for what they do only makes me love them more.

The night was incredible and Scott even had fun, with the exception of a "Thwilla moment", but I'll save that story for later.  It's best told in person, any way.  We talked with the guys some more after the concert and they autographed a couple of things for us.  I just can't gush enough about them!

Fast forward to 3 nights later..... Scott did not go with me to the Tulsa concert but my friend JennyKate did.  I was so tickled that Scott and JK both saw their first Monkey show with me!!

Again, the show was great even though they didn't seem as energetic as they did in Dallas.  I assumed it was because the Tulsa show was in a smaller venue but it could also be because they were exhausted!  I got their autographs again and spoke to Jackson about being at the Dallas show.  He remembered meeting Scott and even mentioned TwiCon for some reason but there is NO WAY he would have remembered meeting me there 2 years ago.  I think he was just trying to be nice but, who cares??  He could've babbled about anything and I would've been thrilled!  I also talked with Ben Johnson from the band and told him about a Twitter account that was dedicated to the fact that he wears tan pants all of the time.  He laughed and assured me that he does, in fact, have more than one pair of tan pants.  It was a very funny moment which, incidentally, awarded me with many cudoes from other Monkey Junkies and gave me even more facebook and Twitter friends!

It has been almost a month since seeing 100 Monkeys in concert and I miss them so much!  I would watch them perform every night if I could!  It's a good thing there are so many videos of them on YouTube.  In fact, you can watch the 2 videos I posted from the Tulsa show to see the guys and have a giggle at JennyKate!  I also posted the improv song from Dallas.

Thanks, again, 100 Monkeys for an incredible tour!  Can't wait to see y'all again!

Please, check out their website at

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Summer Reflections

Now that the kiddos are back in school, I guess it is time to catch you all up on our summer vacation.

This was one of the busiest summers we have had, I think, and that includes the summers in which we moved. We ended up going on 4 road trips this year and the trips were spaced out about every 3 weeks or so. When I say "road trips", I do not mean being in the car for a couple of hours. I mean, we put in some major windshield time. Ok, let me rephrase that: the kids put in some major DSi time, Scott put in windshield and iPad time, and I put in windshield and iPhone time. Clear as mud? I thought so!

Also, to pass the time while traveling, we did what we always do when we are in a car: we counted "Beep-Beeps", aka VW Beetles. So, here is a recount of our travels and, yes, how many Beep-Beeps we saw.

Trip #1 West Virginia/Washington, D.C. 
I've blogged about two exciting events that occurred on this trip, both of which involved my children getting hurt, but we did have fun in other ways, too! We drove through 8 states and D.C., saw so many beautiful places, and got to spend some wonderful, quality time with Scott's parents. You'd think with as much driving as we did on this trip, we would've seen tons of Beep-Beeps but I was disappointed with our total being only 56. Maybe I set my expectations too high.

Trip #2 Louisiana
The kids and I drove down to La. to visit my parents for my dad's birthday and Scott flew in to spend Father's Day weekend with us. We were there for about a week and we had a wonderful time eating, spending time with our family, and more eating. Did I mention we ate a lot? Every time I plan a trip to La, I make a mental list of all the places at which I want to eat. The food is so good in La, I just can't help it! Seriously, though, on this particular trip, I gained 5 ONE week! I only gained 2 in DC! And, then I go and gain 5 more in La! I should have walked to Louisiana instead of driving! Anyway, speaking of driving, on this road trip, we saw only 29 Beep-Beeps.

Trip #3 SE Texas
This was the same drive as the trip to La but we were able to stop in the Beaumont, Tx-area, where we celebrated the 85th birthday of Scott's Grandma Cele. This also was a great time, spent with more family members, including a very memorable canoe trip in the rain.

Trip #4 Iowa
This trip was unplanned but wonderful all the same.  Scott's grandmother (his dad's mother) passed away, so we drove to Grinnell, Iowa for the funeral.  Grinnell is a charming town surrounded by beautiful corn fields and we were happy to finally see where Scott's dad grew up, even though we were sad about the reason we were there.  Believe it or not, we did not count Beep-Beeps!

In between Trip #3 and Trip #4, Scott and I had a little weekend get-away to Dallas to see the 100 Monkeys in concert and I'll be blogging about that incredible night soon!

I also wanted to let you know that I will be traveling to Forks, WA at the end of the month!  All of you fellow TwiHards know the significance of this trip and can probably feel the excitement vibes I'm sending right now!!  I can't wait!!  Of course, I'll be blogging, tweeting, and posting pics on facebook but I also wanted to offer to you the opportunity to receive a postcard from Forks!  If you would like for me to send you a postcard from the actual post office of Forks, WA, let me know and send me your addy in the comments, on fb, by email, which ever method you prefer, and I'll make sure you get one!

Hope you all had a fabulous summer!!  Can't wait for Fall!