Saturday, December 31, 2011

Looking Back at 2011

 It's officially the last day of 2011 and as I get ready to ring in the New Year, I decided to take a minute and reflect over the past year on the things that I have done and see what stands out. What I realized in doing this, is that while I did not get a big raise, go on an exotic vacation or become the rich woman I dream of being, I did do some pretty great things. In fact, 2011 was a pretty stellar year and it was not until thinking about it that I realized it. So, here is my list of things that I did and that happened to me during the past year that stand out most. And as I look at the year ahead, I am incredibly excited to see what it holds.
  • I interviewed Paul Rudd, one of my favorite celebrities, on the red carpet at Sundance. I also interviewed the exquisite Zooey Deschanel. 
  •  I discovered MMA and begin working out with fighters, ordered my own pair of pink boxing gloves and learned how to not hit like a girl, even if I still kind of hit like a girl.
  •  I went to New York, Las Vegas, California and Virginia
  • I camped along the beaches of California, saw a bobcat that hung out by our tent every morning and got ENGAGED to the man of my dreams
  • I was asked to be a runway model for two different local fashion shows
  • I got to be on the radio twice with U92's awesome Program Director, Kevin Cruise
  • I ran a, seriously, I actually ran a 5k!
  •  My beautiful niece Brielle was born and I became an aunt for the third time
  • I got to be a bridesmaid and sing at my best friend's wedding, see my other best friend of 19 years and meet her beautiful daughter
  • I interviewed "Twilight" star, Jackson Rathbone and wrote a kick-ass article afterwards
  • I lost 12 pounds!! 
  • I stood below the feet of Conor Oberst as he played right in front of me and sang nearly all of my favorite songs. 
  • I went to Lava Hot Springs
  •  Daveed and I set a date for our wedding

Monday, December 26, 2011

It's the Little Things...

My holiday weekend was pretty amazing because I got to spend time with family AND I got to relax and sleep in. Daveed used to think that on the rare days that I slept in, that I was doing it to avoid cleaning the house because I would sleep until 1 p.m., or 2 p.m. and yes, even 3 p.m. While his theory seems completely logical, it is far from the truth. I love to sleep and well, these days, I don't get to very often. So, over the weekend, while I wanted to go see movies like "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and "My Week with Marilyn," I let myself do what I do best: sleep.

When I wasn't being completely lazy, I was hanging out with mine and Daveed's families. After two and a half years with him, I realized that family gatherings are getting much more comfortable. I guess being engaged and having a house together will do that. My family treats him like he is one of their own and my five-year-old nephew, who is quite possessive of me, finally realized (with a little bit of coaxing from me), that it is okay to like Daveed because he is going to be his uncle. Once my nephew registered that, he was much more accepting.

Christmas with family was comfortable and nice. My sister-in-law made delicious food and gave me such an awesome gift: a Victoria's Secret PINK brand zip-up Dallas Cowboys hoodie. It was love at first sight. 
We spent Christmas Eve with Daveed's family around a warm fire. We had good conversation and a great gift exchange.

The next morning it was just us and our pets and it was really nice. We spoiled each other but didn't go all out. It was more about showing our love and being thankful for each other. Sounds cheesy, I know, but it's true.
And well, sometimes, love really is all you need. That, sleep and a great pair of boots. ;)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Saying Goodbye to the Kardashians

I have been a long time fan of Kim Kardashian and for the most part, I was pretty proud of it. I like that Kim represents girls with big bootys and I enjoyed watching the “Kardashian” shows, but lately, I have found myself less and less impressed by the beautiful sisters. Especially, Kim.

My descent into a lack of appreciation for Kim Kardashian happened over the summer when I went to Las Vegas for my best friend’s bachelorette party. I read in a magazine on the flight over that Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries would be there that exact same weekend for their bachelorette/bachelor parties. Not only that, but they would be staying at The Venetian and the Palazzo. I was excited because my friends and I too were staying at The Venetian.

As fate would have it, my girlfriends and I happened to be at Tao nightclub the same night as Kim Kardashian. She arrived later in the evening, closer to midnight and she had with her Khloe, Kourtney, Kris Jenner and a few other friends. The club went from chaos to mayhem and it was all because everyone wanted to get a glimpse of the Kardashian clan. I did too. And so, I stood up on the couch in the VIP booth I was in, looked over the stage with the bathtub and two nearly naked women in it, and saw Kim Kardashian, with a sash and a crown sitting down watching her sisters dance.

I have to admit that at first it was pretty cool. But then, it was just ridiculous. Hours went by and the club was still at a near standstill. People were falling over each other trying to watch what the Kardashians were going to do next. And it was really not that interesting because they didn’t do much, other than get treated like royalty, and laugh amongst each other like there was no one else around them.

I guess that is what reality TV is like. But, as I looked at other bride-to-be’s standing around, watching Kim and not even enjoying their own celebrations, I realized that I did not want to be a part of the “Kardashian” experience anymore. It was too much. We were all staring and watching them like they were animals at a zoo. Only, they were really beautiful zoo animals making bank on spending the evening at Tao.

By the end of the night, I swore off watching their shows and I have stuck to it.

My best friend who was there to have her bachelorette party is still married, which is more than I can say for Kim.

I understand the fascination with them, but I don’t want to be involved in it anymore. When my fun has to stop because a Kardashian walks in then it’s time to not put so much stock into someone else’s life and enjoy my own a little more.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Bob Schneider

We are working on our next issue and I am not going to post anything from it until it comes out in print next week but the assignment has me reflecting on some of my experiences over the past year. I remembered my experience interviewing Austin-based singer/songwriter Bob Schneider and laughed out loud.
The hunky musician was not super thrilled to talk to me when I first called because he was in the middle of practice. But as soon as we started talking he warmed up and quickly became one of my all time favorite interviews. That is saying a lot because I have been interviewing national touring bands for over eight years.
Schneider was soooo funny and had me laughing to the point of tears. He made fun of his own awkwardness on stage because he was doing a solo tour when we talked. He told me that he tends to get nervous when he is up there by himself and starts overcompensating on stage by talking too much and ends up going too far with his subject matter. For example, he told me about ending up talking about having sex with his dead grandmother. Sounds awful, but it was so funny. Turns out that even successful, award-winning musicians are human too.
There's more to come but for now, read my article on the interview. Then check out his music.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Zooey Deschanel: Those Eyes Are Even More Intense in Person

I read online today that Zooey Deschanel has earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Comedy. This nomination comes as a result of her role as Jess in Fox's "New Girl."
Daveed and I absolutely love the show and we both kind of relate to the character that Deschanel plays. Daveed especially relates to it because he too is a teacher.
Every time I watch the show I can't help but think about my experience with Zooey Deschanel during Sundance 2011. That sounds much more interesting than what really happened...I would like to say that she and I hung out and chatted over cocktails, talking about celebrity crushes and our favorite bands. Really, I was standing behind the rope on the red carpet, waiting for her to stop in front of me so I could quickly ask her a question before she moved on. Deschanel was there to promote the movie, "Our idiot Brother," starring Paul Rudd.
When she did stop in front of me I asked her about her band, She and Him. And I can't really recall what else I asked or what she said. All I can remember are those insanely blue eyes. They are more intense in person than you can imagine, trust me. I think they burned a permanent spot in my brain.
Aside from her gorgeous eyes, Deschanel is a pretty great actress and I am excited that she received this nomination. Congrats to Zooey. I hope we meet again. And this time, I will prepare myself for the "Zooey Deschanel intensity" and maybe I will be able to remember what we talk about.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

'Twilight: Breaking Dawn' Red Carpet in Salt Lake

On Friday, November 11, I had the opportunity to attend a red carpet event at the Rail Event Center. This wasn't just any red carpet event, it was one of only five that happened in cities around the U.S., featuring actors from the "Twilight" series and a showcasing of three out of 19 bands on the "Breaking Dawn part 1" soundtrack.

Salt Lake City was lucky enough to be a part of the "Breaking Dawn" music event. Well, maybe lucky isn't the right word. It would make sense being that since Stephenie Meyer graduated from BYU and we are just a hop, skip and jump away from L.A., where the world premier of "Breaking Dawn," was happening a mere three days later. Nonetheless, I still think we were lucky.

I arrived at the Rail Event Center at 3 p.m. and waited outside until the musicians and actors began arriving. Being on the press side of the carpet, I felt pretty damn cool when I looked across the red carpet and saw hundreds of screaming fans pushing through each other, trying to get to a spot that would allow them just a glimpse of some of the people who play their beloved "Twilight" characters.

It seemed to take awhile for the actors to arrive, which came as no surprise to me, but being that it was November in Utah, it was getting pretty damn cold. I had the chance to interview two of the three musicians from the soundtrack who were playing later that night. I spoke with Lucy Schwartz and Aqualung, who collaborated on a song for the soundtrack.

Not too long after speaking briefly with the musicians, the fans began screaming with a newfound fierceness. And that's when the actors began unloading.

Nikki Reed, Peter Facinelli, Ashley Greene, Charlie Bewley and Jackson Rathbone were the actors that stopped in Salt Lake. I was especially excited to talk to Jacksono Rathbone. The professional in me hates to admit it but I totally have a celebrity crush on him. Not so much as how he looks when he plays Jasper Hale in "Twilight," but his normal, dark, curly-haired, dimpled-smile-self. And to top it off, Rathbone is a musician as well. One that can play at last count, at least six instruments. Be still my heart.

I was pretty nervous to talk to Rathbone and when he stopped in front of me on the red carpet I kind of lost sight of what I was supposed to be saying. At least, in my head. Despite being a blubbery mess on the inside, I was on top of my game. I asked questions that made sense and allowed him to open up about his career. He talked about his music and that he plans to direct and produce over the next year. Jackson Rathbone is about as smooth and polished as a politician. He is articulate, looks you in the eye (which is pretty intimidating considering how they are this insane shade of bright green) and does not falter in his answers. The next thing I knew the red carpet interview with Rathbone was over and he was whisked away to do television interviews.

I was on a total adrenaline rush and it felt good. I knew that I would have more face time with Rathbone a little later on, when I would interview him more in-depth about his music career and his band, 100 Monkeys.

Later, when I did that interview, Rathbone and I were sitting down in a private room with his publicist, the PR rep for Summit Entertainment, and my best friend Steph, who was there working as my photographer.

The interview lasted a total of six minutes. He talked about being an actor and a musician, the difficulties of being an artist in this day and age and even quoted Bukowski. It was a wonderful interview but I realized that afterwards, my celebrity crush was a bit diminished. I still find Rathbone to be super attractive and enjoy his music, but, now I have a bit of insight into the person behind the celebrity. He seems like a really great one, but, you know, sometimes the fun of crushing on someone you have never met is the not knowing. You get to picture them to be exactly how you want. And now that I have met Jackson Rathbone, I realize that he is so talented, so intelligent and so attractive, that anyone who is in a relationship with him, would probably be trying to keep up with him all the time. And well, I kind of like the idea of someone trying to keep up with me instead.

Read the full music article here and check back for info on Nikki Reed and Charlie Bewley

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Interviewing Mickey Avalon

Last week I did a phone interview with glam rapper Mickey Avalon and prior to the phoner, I was getting really excited over what I expected to be a dynamic interview.

When I got Avalon on the phone, I was kind of disappointed in how the interview went. I haven't seen him perform live, but in videos, Avalon takes an in-your-face kind of approach. He has been known to wear heels, feathered boas, makeup and dresses. He often performs without his shirt on showing off his "Thank You," tattoo right above his groin and in interviews, he says that particular tattoo is paying homage to all of the pretty women he has been with.

Avalon is not known to hold back in his music or in his performances. He says what he wants, when he wants and could care less what anyone thinks about it.

But when I talked to him, he was busy driving to Beverly Hills and was distracted by other people in the car and whatever else was going on around him. He seemed to have a hard time staying focused. I was hoping for a lot of energy and maybe some swearing and details on his rock n' roll lifestyle, which he uses as subject matter for his music. That didn't really happen though.

I was disappointed. However, our lack-luster interview made me that much more curious about seeing him perform live. He plays tonight in Salt Lake at In The Venue, and I have prior commitments otherwise I would be there.

I do have friends going though and I can't wait to hear what they say. I am hoping what Avalon lacks in conversation, he makes up for on the stage. Because despite my experience, I just cannot imagine him being boring.

Check out the article here.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Behind the Cage: Steven Siler

Steven Siler is a 24-year-old Orem-based fighter who participated in 11 amateur fights before even stepping into a gym for training. He began his training more than six years ago in Ogden then moved to Orem to train at Throwdown (now The Academy), and hasn’t looked back since. Since he began training, Siler has gone from a local champion to a UFC fighter, which is the ultimate goal for MMA fighters. Siler made his mark on the UFC world by trying out four times for Spike TV’s reality show “The Ultimate Fighter.” After making it on the show, he was sent to live in a house in Las Vegas with 16 other fighters and no connection to the outside world. Since the season of “The Ultimate Fighter” he is on is still airing, Siler cannot fight, but he is hoping to be able to fight in the Ultimate Fighter Finale on Dec. 3; you have to watch the show to find out if he makes it to the fight.

Becoming a UFC fighter • “UFC to MMA is like NBA to basketball or the NFL to football. UFC is the mainstream of MMA. When I got on the reality TV show, that’s what the show is, is to be a UFC fighter. You’re on TV for 12 to 13 weeks straight where everyone gets to see you every week. The reward is a UFC contract, which is every fighter’s dream. I tried out four times just to make it onto the show and I have been fighting six years just to make it into the UFC. The perks of being in the UFC is that they pay the most, you get the most recognition and fan support. This has been a dream come true for sure.”

Misconceptions about UFC fighters • “It’s definitely not as easy and glamorous as people make it look. They think everyone in the UFC is getting a big-time paycheck and living this awesome life, and in reality, you don’t really make that much. You only have three or four fights a year and unless you’re the big, big names, you don’t really make that much. The majority of fighters are struggling every day and just trying to get by. Training takes a toll on your body, it hurts. Every day you wake up in pain, just trying to make it and hoping you have a fight coming up. Now that I am with the UFC, I could lose one fight and they would cut me. It’s definitely a stressful lifestyle.”

The draw to watching MMA • “It’s a fast-paced sport that two people are just in there trying to go at it. And people love violence. People love seeing people get knocked out. The majority of time there are a lot of knockouts and people like seeing that.”

Favorite part of being a fighter • “I feel like the lifestyle [is my favorite part], I am able to choose when I wake up and train. I get to get my aggression out. Since I started fighting I am not an angry person at all. I have had people try to pick a fight with me on the street or try and throw a punch at me and I’m just able to block and be like, ‘Dude, I’m not going to fight you. There’s no point in trying.’ I have no anger anymore. I don’t yell as much and I’m just a very calm guy ever since I got into the sport.”

His future in fighting • “I hope to be going till I am 40, but we will see how my body holds up. I don’t want to be 50-60 years old and not be able to walk the way I should. I want to make sure to stay healthy at all times and make sure that I can do things for my kids, when I have kids.”

The fighter’s reputation for partying and violence outside of the cage • “There are fighters who might get into drugs or might drink a lot at a party or things like that, but it’s not all fighters. I rarely drink. If I drink, I feel horrible the next day and that makes it harder for training. I haven’t been in a street fight since I started doing this. A lot of guys that fight are probably the nicest people I have ever met. They’re very calm and relaxed. A lot of times when people do find out you’re a fighter, that’s when they try to size you up and try to fight you. I have never engaged in it. I have nothing to prove — a lot of fighters I know try to keep it quiet and try not to stir anything up.”

(Photo by Francisco Kjolseth for Now in Salt Lake)

Behind the Cage: Jordan Smith

Jordan Smith, a 26-year-old Layton-based fighter, was a science teacher at West Point Junior High for three years before he retired to dedicate his time to fighting. Since making MMA fighting his full-time job, Smith has traveled all over to train. He has gone to Los Angeles, where he trains as a member of the Black House Fight Team at Black House in Gardena, to Brazil, where he spent more than two months over the summer training, and at One Hit MMA in Layton, where he trains locally. Smith has won 15 fights, has only two losses and one draw.

His attraction to MMA • “My brother took me to a live fight in St. Louis while I was playing college football. The sport was so pure, one man versus another, I just knew that I was going to fight someday. So, when I finished my last year of college football, I found a gym and started training.”

Leaving teaching to fight • “I enjoyed getting the opportunity to be a teacher. The relationships you build with colleagues and students is something only people who have teaching experience understand. But it was very difficult to train as hard as I needed to for fights and keep a full-time job. It came to the point where I needed to decide on one career, and while I’m young and healthy, the choice was fighting. So, I decided to retire from teaching so I could be free to travel and train anywhere in the world.”

On MMA fighting misconceptions • “People often describe MMA as human cockfighting as if it is a barbaric sport. In reality, MMA is the purest form of sport that there is. You have no teammates in the cage with you, no ball, little equipment, and it is your skills matched against another man’s skills to see which man is better. It’s often comical to me when I’m watching other sports, such as hockey, and the players get so frustrated with each other, they will always turn to fighting. This is almost always the most exciting part of the game for fans. I believe that the sport of MMA brings the most exciting form of sport to the fan better than any other sport in history.”

Being in the cage • “I think every fighter experiences a fight differently. For me, being in the cage is the most alive any person can ever feel. Nothing else I’ve ever been involved with has given me the same feeling. There are thousands of people watching you and another man fight to see who is the better man. The pressure, the adrenaline, the fear and anxiety all combine, and when you can overcome and rise above them all to defeat your opponent, you can never match the feeling of triumph MMA gives you.”

MMA fans • “The fans are what makes MMA the best sport in the world. People who love MMA are the kind of people who can be true to their own human nature. They know, whether it is subconsciously or instinctively, that the winner of the fight is the one who is more suited for survival. I think people who hate MMA just don’t understand the sport. To be able to watch it taps people into their own human instinct of survival, and it makes for the best entertainment that you can get out of sports.”

Hopes for his future • “Every fighter’s goal is to make it to the UFC. There is no higher level of competition in MMA anywhere else, and I’m no different than other fighters in this respect. I am fighting to test myself against the best in the world, and the UFC is the best. Making it into the UFC and being able to compete against the best would be the greatest accomplishment of my career.”

(Photo by Leah Hogsten for Now in Salt Lake)

Behind the Cage: Jesus Herrera

Jesus Herrera, a 32-year-old business and family man, is also a fighter. The owner of local restaurant La Palapa (two locations: 1824 W. 3500 South and 5600 W. 6200 South), Herrera has been training as an MMA fighter for the past five years. Currently, he trains with Griffen Reynaud at MMA 21, and is getting ready to fight in the Nov. 4, fights, which he had a little over three weeks to train for. When he isn’t spending time with his family or working endless hours at his restaurants, Herrera is training four days a week, 2-3 hours a day, and though his wife may worry just a little, he plans to continue his hobby for as long as he can.

Why he started MMA training • “I wanted a sport where I can be physical. I was training at Gold’s Gym and I needed my body to work out more and get in better shape. That wasn’t working out. I always liked MMA, so I enrolled in one of the schools here in Salt Lake. It’s very challenging and I wanted to see how I felt going into the cage.”

The feeling of fighting in the cage • “It’s almost like being in a car accident. Everything goes like that fast, in seconds. You start the round and by the time you notice, five minutes are gone. It goes really fast. Each round is five minutes and there are three rounds.”

Being a hobby fighter • “I wake up every day at 6 or 7 in the morning. I go and work, come here [MMA 21] at 11 a.m., go back to work and come back and bring my kids [who take kids classes at MMA 21]. That’s right now while I am training for a fight but on a regular schedule, it’s the same, seven days a week I work from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., then come and train, then go home because I don’t have the energy to do anything else.”

Training through the exhaustion • “[I get discouraged] when I’m super tired out of excessive work and excessive training but I love it. I come here and I feel sleepy and tired and I do my workout and all the stress from the business, from the family; it helps a lot mentally. It’s a good medicine. A lot of people that have the same routine that I have, they are big and overweight, they always have medical problems.”

Encouraging someone to try the sport • “The first thing is they have to like the sport. But it makes you feel good. Your body gets in good shape and it just relaxes you. I feel like that, it relaxes me a lot. And if they like to be challenged then this is the place.”

(Photo by Scott Sommerdorf for Now in Salt Lake)

Behind the Cage: Griffen Reynaud

A lifelong athlete, Griffen Reynaud is a black belt in jiu jitsu and the co-owner of MMA 21, a gym in Sugar House that specializes in mixed martial arts. It is here that Reynaud takes nearly 20 years of MMA experience and passes it on to eager fighters who want to learn from one of the best, how to take down an opponent in the cage. Reynaud also teaches Muay Thai boxing, which he has been involved in since 1999. Before he became a world-renowned trainer, Reynaud was a fighter who fought in Utah's first MMA event.

On his MMA experience • "I became interested in the sport shortly after I started training. My instructor had the "Gracies in Action" videos, which were taped challenge matches that the Gracie Jiu Jitsu family would record at their dojos. The Gracies had a standing challenge that they could defeat anyone from any other martial arts style, and naturally people took the challenge. Gracies were out to prove how powerful Jiu Jitsu was, and that was the beginning of the UFC and MMA. I was training in a martial art, what better way to see if what I was learning was practical and effective. There is something primal about one-on-one combat that is undeniable. All sports have metaphoric combat, but MMA is as real as it gets, as real as it can be and still be a sporting event. I think the most important credential is my experience. I have been in the gym learning, teaching and coaching for nearly 20 years. I have a black belt in Jiu Jitsu, but what I really have is a PHD in unarmed combat; I know more about how to incapacitate another human than your doctor knows about your cold or sore shoulder."

Training fighters around the world • "I've been lucky to develop solid relationships with fighters in other parts of the world. When you go and compete in another country, you have some opportunities to train with those guys and they like what you do, or how you coach and want to learn something that they aren't being taught where they are. I've had 14 or so Japanese fighters come to Utah to train with me, four Finnish fighters and fighters from all over the U.S. It's a cool brotherhood most fighters share; we relate to each other in a way that is unique. You may get along with your co-workers at work, but you have different interests outside of your job; our job is our life, it is our interest. It's pretty well all-consuming to someone that makes a living fighting."

MMA's popularity in Utah • "I think Utah is pretty blue collar and MMA is championed by the blue collar. I think average people can relate to the guys that fight, they look at a guy and say, 'I knew a tough guy like that in high school.' We have a really high level of wrestling in this state, and I don't think there is a better base for MMA than wrestling. Wrestling is an individual pursuit, as is MMA, and it teaches the work ethic it takes to become a fighter."

His training techniques • "I believe I have a high fighting IQ that not everyone has, but the most important difference is the care I take in teaching and developing people. You have to genuinely care about teaching or it shows in the development of your students and fighters. There are different levels of fighters and preparation for the different levels. One of the best things I ever learned was told to me by a former UFC champ: As an up-and-coming fighter you need to be prepared to fight on short notice, you should be ready to take an opportunity on a week's notice. So unless you are the UFC champ, you should be training as if you have a fight coming up all the time. It's rare, unless you are a contracted UFC fighter, that you will have six weeks to get ready for a fight, so I try and keep guys at a high base level of conditioning at all times, and when you have a fight, SPAR, SPAR, SPAR."

What a fighter learns • "It is not for everyone, but you would find out more about yourself in five minutes than you would in five years of therapy!"

(photo by Scott Sommerdorf for Now in Salt Lake)

Behind the Cage

I have been wanting to do a story for Now in Salt Lake on MMA fighting for quite some time now. In fact, it's been since March of this year since I did my first story on MMA 21, a local gym that is owned by Griffen Reynaud, a jiu jitsu black belt who trains fighters around the world. Reynaud told me back then that there are some stigmas attached to MMA fighting that are just not accurate. Some of the things that he mentioned that stood out to me are that many of the fighters have bachelor degrees, are family men and are anything but aggressive, something that seemed strange to me given the nature of fighting.

After meeting Reynaud, I decided to take some classes at his gym because I wanted to learn self defense. It has been eight months and I have learned a lot. And I finally got to write my cover story. For the story, I interviewed Reynaud, a fighter that he trained for an upcoming fight (at least it was upcoming when I wrote it), a full-time fighter who used to be an eighth grade science teacher and a UFC fighter.

I had taken nearly five weeks off from working out at MMA 21 but by the time I finished my story, I was reminded of why I love it so much. So, I am back at it. And it feels good.
I will post each story separately. And you can read the article here.

(Photo: Local fighter, Jordan Smith, taken by Leah Hogsten for Now in Salt Lake)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Jumping on the Maynard James Keenan Bandwagon

Sometimes, I wonder why I am so late to catch on to things. This blog is a great example. Another example is that it took me until last night to realize just how cool James Maynard Keenan is.

Tool fans would be yelling at me right now about the genius of Maynard if they were anywhere near me. I should have realized this a long, long time ago.

I saw Maynard perform with A Perfect Circle over the summer and it was good, but I wasn't overly excited by the show. But then there is Puscifer. Last night's show was really, really good. Amazing. I felt hypnotized by Maynard's magic and realized that evening that he is a true artist. The review that I wrote for Now in Salt Lake is posted below.

If you happened to be anywhere near the Capitol Theatre Wednesday night, you may have been a little confused by the huge crowd of leather jacket-wearing, tattoo-bearing and cigarette-smoking people hanging around outside. Puscifer's show was a far cry from a ballet -- though anyone who is familiar with frontman James Maynard Keenan knows that a Puscifer ballet is not so far-fetched.

The Puscifer show started promptly at 8:30 p.m. and began with Keenan donning a cowboy hat, cowboy shirt, jeans and big glasses, setting up a camp onstage while talking to audience members. The stage was set with a picnic table (which Keenan covered with a checkered tablecloth), camping chairs, another table set up with wine glasses and two bottles of wine that band members drank throughout the show (a plug for Keenan's wine, Caduceus), an Airstream trailer and a fake rattlesnake that Keenan placed at the front of the stage.

Keenan went to the trailer and opened the door to Carina Round, a dark-haired British singer/songwriter who served as the opener for Puscifer. Round helped Keenan set up, pull out an uncovered trailer with a drum set on it and then the two took their places behind microphones.

That's when the magic began. The stage had a large screen behind Keenan and Round that went from ceiling to floor and throughout the evening had various images flash across it, ranging from desert landscapes, to oceans, to weird colorful bubbles, clouds and more.

Keenan stayed to the rear of the stage, a shadowy figure for most of the show, with only the outline of his cowboy hat visible as he danced back and forth with Rounds, who accompanied him on every song. The pair make sweet music together. Round's voice perfectly harmonized with Keenan's and had me wishing she was on all the songs on his new album, "Conditions of My Parole," which she does appear on.

This show was to promote the newest release and that was quite evident. Keenan's performance, musically and theatrically, was outstanding.

The two-hour show left fans sitting in awe.

Some standout moments: "Oceans," "The Rapture (Fear Is A Mind Killa Mix)," "Telling Ghosts" and "Toma."

At the end of the show, Keenan thanked the audience and reminded everyone that Puscifer is a DIY project, one that embodies everything he brought to the stage that night, including the wine. "It's grassroots, bitches," said Keenan. Then he took a bow, grabbed a glass of wine and left the stage.

Diehard Tool fans may have hoped for a different kind of concert, but I left feeling inspired, knowing Wednesday's show will be emblazoned on my memory for some time to come.

(photo taken by Rick Egan for Now in Salt Lake and The Salt Lake Tribune)

Rockstar Mom

Last week I talked to a musician who by the time I finished with our interview, had me completely smitten with her way of band life.

Kori Gardner is half of the husband-wife duo, Mates of State, who are currently on tour promoting their album, "Mountaintops." Gardner and her husband, Jason Hammel, have been making music together for over 14 years. They began as friends and then became lovers, then got married and later had two little girls. Throughout the course of their time together, the Mates of State pair has grown stronger in their relationship and has changed the face of touring.

What makes this pair different than many other bands is that they bring their children on the road with them. In fact, the band is pretty much known for having two girls in tow at all times and according to Gardner, anyone who comes on tour with them knows that the kids come first.

After talking with Gardner, I was in awe of how much this lady rocks. She is a wife, a mother and a rockstar. She talked to me about finding herself again after becoming a mom and the business that she started for musician moms on the road called "Charter Nannies."

I want to be just like Kori Gardner when I grow up.

Check out my interview with her here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Something Mystic This Way Comes

Last week, my colleague Daisy, and I, were assigned to get psychic readings done for our cover story. I was totally stoked on this idea. I love the metaphysical and learning about energies and things that go beyond our earthly realm and into the unknown. It is because of this love that I assumed my reading would be a fun experience that had me bonding with the psychic. My experience was quite opposite of what I imagined it to be. I had two readings done and the first one left me on-edge and feeling completely drained. The second one was a much different experience and had me feeling drained but in a good way. My parts of the article are below along with the introduction that I wrote. Read the full story, which includes the details of Daisy's readings here.

Many psychics have said that the veil between the spirit world and the earth is thin this time of year, and because of that, even the skeptics sometimes seek out readers to test the metaphysical waters. The thin veil means that communication with spirit guides and the deceased is easier to achieve and if you are looking to get some guidance from the beyond, now is the time to do it. We sent two Now In Salt Lake writers to sit down with three different psychics and then discuss their personal experiences to give you an idea of what a psychic reading can be like and find out just how thin that veil is.

Golden Braids Books, Jade Moser
I knew before we event went to The Golden Braid that I was heading for trouble. I was not worried about my psychic reading but whether or not I would be able to resist spending money while there.

I have had tarot readings before and even dabble in the cards myself. I am very open to all things metaphysical and because of this, I assumed that I was going to have a fun reading where Jade and I ended up joyously connecting on all sorts of levels. That was far from what actually happened.

I was worried about my reading with Jade as soon as I met her because while Daisy laughed and chatted, I kept glancing over at Jade and caught her staring at me intensely. It was then that I knew that my reading was going to be anything but light.

With Daisy by my side, Jade had me go first and asked me to put the hand that I don’t write with on the cards. She then laid the cards out on the table and told me that she is not a card reader but rather a channeler. She does not care what the cards have to say, but she does tell you what your guides want you to know based on what is turned over. My guides wanted me to know that I need to have more sex. When I heard that, I was a bit perplexed but knew my fiance would be overjoyed. Apparently, there is no such thing as too much lovin’ in the sack.

After that, I learned that I have four guides watching over me. Two are male and two are female and the stronger presence is a female guide who Jade says is Egyptian with eyes so blue that they are almost violet. She told me that I should wear more gold to create a better connection with this guide and if I did this, I would be more open to hearing what she wants me to know.

I was stoked about my Egyptian guide. I have always been fascinated with Egyptian history and symbolism and one of my first tattoos was of the Egyptian Ankh (for any skeptics reading this, that tattoo was not visible).

The beginning part of the reading had me smiling on the inside, but I soon hit a wall of emotion when Jade said that there was something bothering me from my past that I needed to work through in order to move forward. She then asked me to try and remember something from my childhood that we could discuss to see if it is related to some of my issues now.

It was at that moment that my reading turned in to what felt like an intense therapy session. My smile faded when I was asked to go into detail about the memory that came to mind and suddenly, issues that I have spent years working on surfaced right there in front of Daisy and a stranger I had just met.

Jade walked me through her Quantum Neuro Linguistics Programming, where we take a bad memory and imprint it with a new memory. Psychologically, we are creating a new memory in the past that will help us move forward in the present. I liked the idea of NLP and plan to discuss it with my best friend who would totally be in to this but overall, by the end of my nearly 30-minute reading I was emotionally drained, tired, angry and slightly embarrassed.

Later, Daisy admitted that my reading was intensely personal and that there were moments where she wondered if she should get up and wander around while I worked with Jade. I did a lot of thinking and that night I processed everything that we had discussed.

I guess I still have a lot of issues from my past to work through but what I realized through Jade is that my past does not need to hold me down nor does it determine who I am today.

I was fascinated by Jade and though I am grateful for the bonding that Daisy and I were able to experience through our readings, I plan to make my next trip to Jade a solo one.

The Pamela Michaels Healing Center, Pamela Michaels

If I had my way, I would hang out at the Pamela Michaels Healing Center every day. The Pamela Michaels Healing Center calms you before you even meet its creator, Pamela Michaels, and if ever you doubted the power of the universe and its energies, then the PMHC will make those doubts disappear in an instant.

Each room is beautiful and unique, and themed for different chakras. My favorite room was the sound room, a room filled with different crystals such as Rose and Smoky Quartz, all of which balance your chakras. The best part were the tables that held on them Sound Energy Healing bowls. The beautiful bowls are used to create sounds to center you and help with meditation and balance.

Pamela and Tawnia played the bowls and suddenly, Pamela stopped and placed her hand in front of my forehead and said, “I am just centering you real quick. You have a lot of family energy coming off of you.” I smiled and mulled over the past 24 hours, which consisted of processing my previous reading with Jade. Pamela then told me that I needed to stop multi-tasking and just focus. I was taken aback by how she seemed to know exactly what was going through my mind and I began to wonder if my aura was just screaming “issues!”

Because of my intense reading the day before, I asked if Daisy and I should do personal readings. The plan was that because there were two psychics, we would spend a little bit of time with each. The plan was a good one, but Daisy and I connected so well with our individual psychics that there was not enough time to do two readings.

My reading was with Pamela in the Hindu room, which Pamela refers to as the “relationship room.” It is in this room framed by paintings of Hindu gods and lovers that Pamela has given readings to couples about their relationships. What Pamela has read for some of these couples is anything but happy and so I was very pleased to discover that according to the cards and my guides, I have a great relationship.

Pamela and Jade both commented on how good my relationship is and how well Daveed and I work together and how happy we will be. I don’t doubt my relationship so that part of my reading was fun more than anything else.

Pamela spoke to me about my relationship and mentioned characteristics of Daveed and I that were dead on but that she couldn’t have possibly known unless I told her, and I didn’t. She talked about some things that we would work through before our wedding and even said that she would be shocked if we waited until next October to get married. She said that she sees a spring or summer wedding, but I would personally be shocked if it was any earlier than our original plan.

Pamela then moved on to talk about my career and my artistic side, and said I would reconnect with my musical side, which I found interesting because I have been considering returning to singing and playing the violin for the past couple of months, but have not really mentioned it to anyone. She told me that I have a very strong psychic energy and that I had a gift that I should explore further.

We talked about my reading with Jade and the stuff from my childhood and it was weird to me that she said, “you don’t remember your childhood much, do you?” Because Jade and I had just discussed that yesterday.

My conversations with Pamela were more comforting than with Jade but this is neither better nor worse, only a nice change of pace from what the day before had been like for me.

The part of the reading that gave me goosebumps was when Pamela got quiet and looked past me and then told me that there was an older woman who came into the room and stood behind me when we were talking about my dad. She assumed it was a grandmother but since both of mine were alive, that wasn’t the case. It was pretty weird and I am still wondering who the old lady watching over me was. Maybe it was Daisy’s grandmother popping in to check on who her granddaughter is hanging out with these days. Hopefully, she approved.

I had so much fun talking with Pamela about her gifts, how to delve deeper into mine and how to let my creative side loose. The time flew by and before you knew it, it was time for Daisy and I to go. I didn’t want to leave. I felt like I had met a kindred spirit who could teach me so much.

The best thing about that experience is knowing that I can go back. And I cannot wait to take my mom to meet Pamela and Tawnia, and maybe one day, Pamela will let me have a sleepover there. We can do tarot readings and hang out with the ghosts that haunt the neighborhood.

(This article originally written for Now in Salt Lake, Oct. 27, 2011, issue)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Parlotones Win My Heart

I like many things in this world and two of these things are men who wear makeup (if they wear it right) and accents. I recently interviewed South Africa-based band The Parlotones and got to listen to guitarist Paul Hodgson talk with an awesome accent and when they play in Salt Lake on Oct. 26, I will get to watch a great show performed by a hot band consisting of a lead singer who ... you guessed it, wears makeup. Sigh.

The interview with Hodgson was really cool. I first saw The Parlotones last year when they opened up for Blue October, a band that I have grown to deeply appreciate. Opening acts are always hit and miss. Most of the people in the audience are impatiently awaiting their headliner band to take the stage and a lot of fans are not that interested in hearing an opener. I am that fan often enough, but on the night of this show, I could not help but pay attention to The Parlotones.

On stage, the group wears all black framed by a red neck tie and of course, lead singer Kahn Morbee draws lines of black under his eyes. Their music is pretty addictive. Once you start listening you don't want to stop.

The group is HUGE in South Africa and has sold more albums in their home country than Coldplay and The Killers. U.S. publications have cited them as the next Muse. I think you get the point.

I was stoked to be able to talk to this band at a time where they are trying to create a fanbase in the states like what they have done in South Africa. Check out my article here.

And then go take a listen on their website. You won't regret it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I Ran a 5k!

I have hated running my entire life. In high school I consistently failed the mile run test and though I wanted to do better, I just could not run the way that some of my peers could and I did not have the motivation to get out on the track and work on my endurance.

After coming on as a full-time writer for Now in Salt Lake, I somehow began gravitating towards the Healthy and Fit section. It started with features on local yoga experts and the next thing I knew I was talking to cyclists, runners, 5k organizers, Zumba instructors, belly dancers ... the list goes on. I have never been an athletic person and the closest that I ever came to being an athlete was dedicating two nights a week to yoga practice.

After talking to so many athletes in various genres, I became interested in branching out. A close friend of mine suggested that we run a 5k together and after talking to the organizer for Salt Lake's "Night of the Running Dead" 5k, I decided that October 15, 2011, would be my first-ever 5k. I did not give myself very much time to train for this. I had a total of 3 1/2 weeks to go from not being able to jog for more than a minute to jogging three miles. Daveed told me that I was ambitious with my goals but he couldn't have been prouder when I told him three days before the official 5k that I made it to my three-mile mark.

I was incredibly proud of myself and the day of the race I got decked out in zombie makeup and a cute little skirt, put my running shoes on and hit the Utah Fairground to compete.

There were over 2,000 people there to run and it was a really exciting moment. When the horn blew I took off and with my friend Natalie, by my side, we jogged our way through the course.

There were some set-backs. The heat was pretty daunting for my first time running especially because I had been training in the morning or twilight hours, so it has been much cooler. At nearly 90 degrees, there was no shade over the fairgrounds. There were a few problems with the markers on the course and some runners ended up running nearly four miles while others ran less than three. Natalie and I felt like we did run more than three miles but there is no way for us to be certain since there were no mile markers and we did not have our MapMyRun programs turned on on our phones.

Regardless, I did it. I finished in like 505th place or something like that and I am totally fine with that. My goal was to finish and I did. Somehow, I ran at least three miles and that is a pretty incredible feeling.

My next 5k is on Nov. 5, and I am working on improving my time and my posture. I noticed in a photo that Daveed took of me that I am slouching and that would explain my sore back after I jog.

My experience was pretty great and the hardwork paid off. I am looking forward to the next 5k. And I am still a little weirded out that I not only "like" running, but I am looking for more opportunities to do it.

Take that, high school gym class!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Looking Back: Blogs That I Have Written

Due to the changes that are being made to our publication, our old website, is no longer accessible. We knew that the website was going to be taken down but we did not have any warning as to when it would happen. It went something like this...

The new website is up.

Holy shit, the old website is gone! How are we going to get all of our articles?

Luckily, I have access to an archive of that old website, for which I wrote a large amount of blogs and nearly five years of my work is published on. So, I am going to start adding some of my favorite blogs and articles to this site so that my work is not lost forever.

I will include the original posting date at the end of each blog and hopefully some of the older stuff will still be entertaining to readers.

Let's start with this one:

"Kendra's Reality Woes"
When former playmate Kendra Wilkinson was one of the three Girls Next Door living in Hugh Hefner's mansion, she was more of a Sporty Spice to me than a Playmate, and quite honestly, she annoyed the hell out of me. I am not sure if it was after she found love with Hank Baskett Jr., or after she became pregnant and had a baby, but somewhere along the way, Wilkinson became more tolerable to me. I would stumble upon her show, "Kendra", on E!, and would find myself stopping on the channel, and actually staying there until the show was over. This usually resulted in marathon episodes of "Kendra" in one sitting because it seemed to be my luck that every time I stumbled upon E! it would be during one of their reality marathons.

Nowadays, I find myself an avid "Kendra" watcher. How this happened I have yet to figure out. But Kendra somehow became not-so-annoying to me and even though I am still not a fan of her laugh, I watch her post-pregnancy and find myself not only feeling sorry for her, but actually identifiying with her!

My newfound television connection with Kendra is not because I have had a child, because that is definitely not the case, but more so because the former Playmate goes through an extremely hard time dealing with her new body, which she reveals is now at a size 27, and was a size 23 before becoming pregnant.

With my hips and a bootie that just won't quit, I can only dream of what being a size 23 would be like. But, I can sympathize with gaining unwanted weight, and looking at yourself in the mirror with sadness and disgust. No matter how you look to other people, it's the person in the mirror that judges the hardest. It's Kendra's vulnerability in this season's episodes that I connect with. When watching her cry to her husband over her big belly (that really still looks like there is a baby in it), while her hot and thin Playmate friends are in the other room, I found myself getting emotional and my eyes tearing up a bit. She actually appeared human. Yeah, she is married to a hot NFL player, and lived in the Playboy mansion and is making more money off of one episode of "Kendra" than I will probably ever make in my entire life, but by god the woman is human. No amount of money could make her look at her new figure and feel comfortable.

So, Kendra hires a trainer and works her ass off. All the while, I am rooting for her from my couch while sometimes eating those 100 calorie bags of popcorn. As I find myself looking forward to the next new "Kendra" episode, I decide that I will work out the free way, and pretend that this Hollywood charmer is my workout buddy. With weekly updates on her weightloss progress, I feel like I can compare my progress to her. I know it sounds crazy, but I swear Kendra somehow wrapped me around her finger and I decided that since I can relate to how she is feeling with the whole bigger body thing, I don't want to be getting bigger while she slims back down.

Way to go E!, you have done the impossible and I now call myself a Kendra fan. Dear god, reality TV strikes again.

(this blog was originally written for on April 15, 2010)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Mission Accomplished: Interviewing Annie Clark

Last weekend I wrote about the Spin magazine feature on Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent. After reading that article, I wanted desperately to interview St. Vincent. In the piece that I had read, Clark was articulate, thought-provoking and insightful and the writer of that piece did an excellent job of allowing those characteristics to come through in the story.

Today, I got my chance to delve into the world of Annie Clark.

Before I describe this interview, I want to discuss the journey to getting it.

When I met with my editor last week to go over our assignments for this week's issue, I had three music articles planned. The one that I wanted to do the most was St. Vincent, and that was the only one of the three that I had not heard back from the publicist on. The other two interviews were nearly ready to go. Just waiting to hear back from tour management.

My deadline is every Monday and by Friday, I still did not have an interview with not only Annie Clark, but neither of the other two bands that I had been assured I would speak with. I started to get really nervous. I reached out to all three publicists and one by one realized that the interviews were not going to happen.

I was soon hit with dread as I realized that come Monday, I would not have a music story for the section that I am in charge of. And then it happened. On Saturday, I was confirmed for an interview with Annie Clark.

I found it both odd and incredibly wonderful that the one interview I was pretty sure wasn't going to happen actually did.

So, here we are at the end of today and I am still buzzing off of my interview with Clark. Listening to her talk is almost as mesmerizing as listening to her sing, maybe more so. She has a very calm and soothing voice that emanates wisdom, maturity and a little bit of uncertainty. Clark is relentlessly curious about the world around her and expresses this in our interview.

She spoke to me about her newest album, "Strange Mercy," about her love of touring and her theories on creativity.

When it was time for me to get off of the phone, I felt like I had just stepped away from real life for the last 15 minutes and traveled off to the strange and inspiring world of Annie Clark.

I am even more excited than before to see her play in Salt Lake. Thanks, Spin, for introducing me to such an interesting artist.

And thanks to her publicists for following through when the other two failed me.

Read my article here.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Unexpected Flashbacks

It's weird how random things can trigger an emotional response that you don't see coming. Mine happened on Thursday.

My 5 1/2 month old kitten was going in to get neutered on Friday and the night before I reminded Daveed that we needed to remove his food and water so that he didn't eat anything too close to his surgery. Soon after saying this I began to feel really sad and anxious. I was dreading having to be the one to take Lestat in and leaving him at the vet the next day.

I later remembered that the last time I had been to the vet's office was with my last cat, Charlie. Charlie had been my pet for over ten years and she meant the world to me. She had been there with me through some of the hardest moments in my life. My first real broken heart, the divorce of my parents, a drug addict boyfriend and more. There were many days and nights throughout those ten years that I would be curled up in a ball crying and Charlie would always come and lay next to me, comfort me and sometimes lick my tears and lay her head on me. She was my companion and made my life more enjoyable.

In May of this year, Daveed and I went on a six-day road trip and it was on that trip that he proposed. I was so excited to come home and tell people but more than than, I was excited to come home to my Charlie and Dylan. When we finally got home, I walked in and saw Charlie and burst in to tears.

In the six days that we had been gone she lost nearly six pounds. She could hardly walk and was emaciated. Her back legs basically gave out and I knew that if we had come home any later she would not have been here.

Charlie had started to have medical problems in October of 2010 I had taken her in for X-rays, ultrasounds, blood work and more. The vet could not find anything wrong with her but it was obvious that there was something because she was slowly losing weight over short periods of time.

I am thinking that Charlie had hung in there for me because she loved me and knew how much I loved her. When we left, Charlie finally gave in to her illness. She perked up when I came home and I was able to spend two nights with her before it was time to permanently say goodbye. It was one of the hardest things that I have ever done.

The Monday after I came home from that trip my sister went with me to the vet and it was there that he told me that there was nothing that we could do at this point to save her. She was on her way out and it was only a matter of time. I did not want to let her go, but I knew that her quality of life was gone. I cried and held her and cried some more and I was there when she took her last breath. I had to leave the vet and later that day Daveed picked her up and we buried her in our yard. I was devastated.

A few weeks after that experience one of my friends told me that he had found some feral kittens and told me that I needed one. I thought it was too soon and I didn't want to do it but I had always wanted a black cat and my mom thought that it would help me heal. I gave in and after Lestat stopped nursing I brought him home.

He has been a wonderful addition to our little family. He and Dylan are best of friends and Daveed and I are so happy with our little prince. He really did help me heal. But I have not forgotten Charlie and it was taking Lestat to the vet that triggered an emotional response that had me laying in bed crying over my beloved Charlie.

Lestat's surgery went fine of course, and he is back at home making us smile and loving his family unconditionally. I am glad I have him. But I will always miss my Charlie.

R.I.P. Charlie. I love you.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Get Over It ...

Tuesday is the worst day of the week for me and my colleagues at Now in Salt Lake magazine. It's "layout day." While us three staff writers like to joke that it's the day we whip out our bikinis and lay under the sun, the truth of the matter is that our real "layout day" is not nearly as relaxing.

Layout day for us means laying out our publication and getting it ready for print. The day is filled with stress, a lot of swearing and short tempers but it ends with us being really excited about the print edition that will come out two days later.

Today, I decided to make this layout day a better one by getting up and going to the park to jog/walk with my dog. I got up bright and early and kissed Daveed goodbye before he was even ready to leave for work. This never happens unless he is off track from school. He always leaves before I do and when he does, Dylan (the dog) and I are curled up in bed with Lestat purring between us.

By the time that I go to work, I felt great and was ready to face the day. I think that the early-morning exercise actually helped. The downside was that I was absolutely starving all day and I realized that I needed to stock up again on my healthy snack foods.

By the end of the day, I was exhausted and so ready to come home but I decided that instead, I would do more exercise by going to boxing class. I work out at MMA 21 in Salt Lake City, and I love it. I had been working out there two-three times a week but now a days I am lucky to get there once a week. Tonight was my first time back in two weeks.

I got my ass kicked and was yelled at for not punching the bag hard enough and I kept thinking, "don't they know how tired I am?" That's when I realized that even if they did know, they wouldn't care. These guys are hardcore, some of them former and even current UFC fighters and to them, my light jog/walk in the morning followed by nine hours of editorial design work at a desk and then 40 minutes of boxing was nothing. These guys live for the next fight, the perfecting of the next level in combination routines and to them, I am more than likely a comedy sketch on the bags than someone who has potential to kick someone's ass one day.

So, there you have it. My realization that no matter what you are going through, or how tired you are or feeling sorry for yourself, there is someone out there who really just doesn't give a shit because they are right there with you and are taking themselves to the next level rather than focusing on their hard days.

In reality, I have no idea what my classmates or my trainers are really thinking, but when I look around and see them working their asses off and pushing themselves to the next level of toughness, I feel a little more motivated. And that's why sometimes, it's good to just tell that whiny voice in your head to shut the hell up. And once you do that, move on to the next obstacle.

(Photo for today's blog is an iStock image)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Looking Back at Jerry Joseph and the Jackmormons

Jerry Joseph and the Jackmormons is a Portland-based jam band that has a huge following along the Pacific Northwest and especially in Utah. I was introduced to the band many years ago by an ex-boyfriend who may not have been the best of guys to date, but who had pretty good taste in music.

My first encounter with Jerry Joseph happened long ago when I did a phone interview with him for an article that I was working on. Joseph was on the road and he was a lot of fun to talk to. The phoner went on for quite awhile and I had some great laughs throughout it and thanks to his ability to tell great stories, I was able to write a pretty decent article on Jerry Joseph and his band of Jackmormons.

At the end of the interview, Joseph asked me to come and say hi to him at his show. So, I did. I will never forget that experience because his reaction when I introduced myself was pretty funny and served as quite the ego stroke. His eyes kind of bugged out and he asked, "You're Autumn Thatcher?" I laughed and told him that yes, yes I was. He then proceeded to say, "Sorry, I am just not used to reporters being so attractive."

I was flattered and embarrassed and feeling a bit awkward so to get rid all of those feelings, I toasted a shot of whiskey with Jerry Joseph to a fun interview. For awhile after that experience Joseph and I remained in touch. He would let me know when he was coming in to town and I would come and say hi and check out his show, which was always a good time.

It was thanks to this connection that I got to experience meeting the one and only Bob Weir, of The Grateful Dead. It went like this: prior to the show, Joseph invited me to come back stage and I said hi to him and his bandmates and we caught up for just a minute. Out of nowhere, Joseph said, "Autumn, this is Bob Weir," and when I heard the name, I tried to make sure that my jaw remained shut. I turned around and sure enough, there was Bob Weir, white beard and all, standing backstage at what is now Bar Deluxe. I shook his hand and smiled, telling him that it was nice to meet him and trying to play cool. In my head however, I was thinking, holy shit! It was a very brief meeting and I only had time to say "hi" before it was time to go out and watch the show.

It has been a long time since I have been to a Jerry Joseph and the Jackmormons show and the whole reason that the previously mentioned memory surfaced in my mind is because as I was doing the music calendar for Now in Salt Lake magazine, I saw that Joseph and his Jackmormons will be returning to SLC on Thursday, October 6.

I know quite a few people who are diehard Jackmormons fans and who even travel abroad to spend weekends at the beach with the jam band and from what I hear, it is always a good time. I myself can say first-hand that the guys put on a great show and are worth checking out. And you never really know who you will run into.

Check out Jerry Joseph and his many side projects here.

Speaking of Female Music Writers...

Shortly after I posted my little blurb about not knowing too many female music writers, I ran across the cover story for the August "Style" issue of Spin magazine. And what do you know! It is a story about a female musician (St. Vincent) by a female writer, Julie Klausner.

I ate the story up not because it was written by a woman but because it was very well-written and I am excited that I came across it. On a side note, St. Vincent is playing in Salt Lake in October and I am desperately trying to get an interview with her. If I do get the interview, I only hope that I do half as good of a job as Ms. Klausner did. I encourage you to read the article here.

I also found Klausner's website and wow, she has quite the resume and on top of it all, she's funny too. Check her out, you won't regret it.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Being a Chick and Writing About Music

A couple of months ago I had the opportunity to take part in a teleconference with Mark Hoppus and Tom DeLonge of Blink 182. At the time, the band was getting ready to embark on their reunion tour promoting their newest album, which was released earlier this month.

I was a big Blink 182 fan during my late teens and was pretty excited that not only are they back with a new album, but I was going to be a part of the interview.

Teleconferences are my second to least favorite way to interview a musician, my first least favorite are email interviews. The thing that sucks about teleconferences is that you only get to ask one question and if you are lucky, you get two. These type of interviews usually happen with big time musicians. For example, I have done a teleconference with Katy Perry and Kings of Leon. So, you get the idea. Nonetheless, I was more excited to be able to listen to the interview and even ask a question than I was concerned about having to wait my turn while reporters across the nation took theirs.

I decided that I would take this opportunity to listen to how other writers interviewed. While I think I am pretty good at interviewing, I know that there is always room for improvement and being that I am no longer in school, this appeared to be a great way for me to learn.

As I listened in, I began to take notice that there were hardly any women asking questions. In fact, in the hour and a half-ish that I was on the teleconference I could count the number of women reporters on one hand. What?! After that interview I started picking up music magazines and began paying attention to the names of the journalists. I am noticing that similarly to the teleconference, the names of female writers focusing on music are few and far between.

I wonder why that is, exactly? I know some really amazing female writers and a lot of them know their fair share about music. Yet, when you begin to take notice of the journalists writing about music out there the bylines belong to men.

I do not have the answer as to why this is but I hope to be the exception to whatever music writer rule there is out there and be among the women who get their byline next to stories in national music publications. I have done enough articles to know that I can definitely hang with the guys.

I do not think that overall, editors are making their decisions on who writes what based on gender but I do intend to continue proving that chicks can write about music too. And guess what, they can even be smart and attractive too! I'm just sayin'.

In the meantime, check out the article that I did on Blink 182 after that teleconference.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Better Late Than Never, Right?

The writer in me is irritated. Firstly, because it took me so long to create a blog. Secondly, because I am creating a blog.

It's not that I have anything against blogs it's just that I have kept a journal since the age of eight. I am currently writing in my 16th journal and by currently, I mean about once every couple of years. The thing about journaling is that it is a way for me to let out my frustrations with the world around me, or write about nonsense until the root of what I am really depressed about is revealed.

These precious notebooks were filled up with words written through eratic emotions and it was special and sacred because it was between me and the journal. No one else was or is allowed to open those books and scan their pages. Blogging opens up my crazy mind to the world, or at least anyone in the world who chooses to read what I have to say. The privacy that I have with journals is non-existent in the world of blogging.

Alas, modern society wins and I finally created a blog. In this space, you will find links to articles that I have written for print and much more. I will write about my experiences interviewing celebrities and will give you a behind-the-scenes look into being an entertainment writer. It is going to take a lot of time, I have been writing for over eight years now so putting up my favorite pieces of the past is going to take a minute. But hey, I can type a lot faster than I write with a pen so maybe there is something to this after all. Time will tell. In the meantime, here I am blogging world. Ready or not.