snow patrol concert in nashville, tn

IMG_2429This past weekend, Oct. 2-4, Diana and I went to Nashville to see Snow Patrol. We left about 3:30 PM Friday and made it with time to spare to their 8PM show. Elek stayed with my mom (Gran) over the weekend and we prepared him for it by telling him a day or two in advance. To the left is a picture of the Tennessee River which is where traffic slowed down to almost a halt. We could not have picked a more scenic place for the traffic slowdown. It was beautiful!

IMG_2441We arrived in Nashville at 6:30 PM. We went directly to Jimmy John’s across from Vanderbilt to pick up our dinner. Our next stop was the infamous Frugal MacDoogal where they had Sailor Jerry (the best rum ever) on sale for $19.99 a handle. We obviously got two. At this point both of us are ravenous! We finally get checked into the hotel around 7:20 PM and made drinks/ ate our Jimmy John’s sandwiches. The Italian sandwich that I got reminded me of college.

IMG_2452We were ready to go to the concert at 9:45 PM. We stayed at the Millennium Maxwell House that we booked through Hotwire for about $59/night. I found this article on Lifehacker that shows you how to pretty accurately guess which hotel you will get on Hotwire using Trip Advisor, which was really helpful. That night we took the free shuttle down to 5th and Broadway where the Ryan Auditorium is. The Ryman is an intimate venue that is about 1/3rd or 1/4th the size of the Orpheum in Memphis.

IMG_2461We arrived at the Ryman right after the Plain White T’s finished, which was perfect. We were seated at the front right of the stage with a great view as you can see from the pictures. Snow Patrol was amazing. It was the best concert I’ve ever been to. The lead singer, Gary Lightbody, was more enthusiastic, humble, and funny than any other musician I’ve ever seen. He’s the type of person you would want to hang out with because you know you would have a good time.

IMG_2465Snow Patrol played from 9:25 to 10:50 PM, which was the perfect length. They came out for one encore where they played some stuff off of their new album. It sounded pretty good and I need to obtain their new album. Their use of piano and large four mallets was wonderful! They were equipped with two drummers, a pianist, the lead singer, lead guitarist, bassist, and an acoustic guitarist. During the show, the guy next to me who was very friendly (and intoxicated) gave me a hard time about not singing loud enough. IMG_2476He then befriended me and bought me a beer that I didn’t necessarily want (fat tire). I drank it anyway and it was great. He also returned my jacket that I tried to leave behind.

After the concert was over, we walked out onto Broadway and toward Decades where we met Dave and Ashley. Ashley has since moved in to Buckwild, which we did not make it to this trip. We went into the first floor of Decades with a $5 cover. I suppose this floor opens a little later than the upper floor. IMG_2480Last time we went to Nashville we were the FIRST people in the second floor of Decades and we were the ONLY ones there for quite a while. We played quarters for about 2 hours with Dave and Ashley. Good times. We had a good time at Decades and left a couple hours later to go home. We passed the trailer park bar, but decided against it and headed back to the hotel. The picture on the left is what the view looked like the next morning. B-E-A-UTIFUL! IMG_2491So beautiful in fact that we decided to eat breakfast/lunch at Noshville’s and head to Percy Warner Park. We were able to finagle some fries out of the cooks at Noshville’s with the help of our awesome 43 year old waitress Alisha. She is from Memphis and related to the Grisanti’s.

We drove through Belle Meade to get to Percy Warner Park. That street has the largest and nicest houses I’ve seen in Tennessee! IMG_2496Once we got there, we climbed the large staircase to the top where a wooded trail began. We started walking along it and came to a point where we asked a fellow hiker where it went. He said it was your standard 2.5 mile trail so we turned around and went the other direction toward the top of the hill/mountain. Once we were satisfied with walking along the trail, we decided to drive on the road that went around the mountain. It took us 30 minutes to get all the way around the trail, but it was so pretty! IMG_2499After we were done with the park, Chris came over around 5 PM to have a drink with us in our hotel. Somehow the topic of save a horse, ride a cowboy came up and I randomly blurted out “save a whale, ride a cheerleader”. Beats me. Afterward, we talked about where to eat and decided on the Rosepepper Mexican restaurant in East Nashville. Diana called her friend Cortney who met us there after we ordered. The food was great and you could tell it was at least somewhat authentic because there were a couple of Mexican guys knocking back some tequila at the table next to us. The portions were ample and the food was quite good. IMG_2504They brought out three different types of dip with our chips, regular, hot, and salsa verde. The dips were all very tasty though my favorite was the spicy.

After the Mexican food, we rode to Five Points in East Nashville and had a drink at one of their bars. Chris bought Diana and me a Bushwaker that was way too filling after Mexican. At that point, unfortunately, Diana and I had to call it a night. We went back to the hotel in utter pain and went to bed. The next morning ended our stay in Nashville. We headed back to Memphis at about 9 AM. Talk about a great birthday weekend! And remember, “Save a whale, ride a cheerleader.”

Also, below are two short clips that give you a feel of the Snow Patrol show. Enjoy.

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week long family vacation to gulf shores, alabama

IMG_1966Last week (9/12/09-9/19/09) Annabeth, my family, and I all went on vacation to Gulf Shores, AL. We rented a beach house that I used to stay in with my family as a child that was fabulous. The house is owned by Bob Wheat and there are pictures on his website. We stayed in the 4 bedroom Gulf Beach house. The week long forecast was saying that there was a large chance it would rain the entire time we were there (like it did in Memphis), but we really lucked out. The rain came and went maybe 2 days and for only a brief amount of time.

IMG_2032We made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the road and left Memphis Friday after work at about 6PM. We cruised into Jackson, MS after about three hours on the road. My mom’s sister Nancy was nice enough to put us up for the night. It was great to see her and her wonderful new treasures she found at an estate sale. There were two copper giraffes about three feet tall painted in intricate designs that she got for $20! The copper alone is worth much more than that.

IMG_1994The next morning we were on our way again at about 9AM or so. We managed to make it to the beach around 4PM. While Diana and Elek got to play on the beach in the (what we thought was going to be rare) sun, my mom and I went to the grocery store to buy food for the week. Keep in mind it is MUCH cheaper to buy food and cook most of the time when you go to the beach. To give you a little shock comparison, a handle of Captain Morgan Spiced Rum in Memphis is around $22, but on the beach it’s about $56. Yeah, expensive. I also noticed that happy hour was earlier on average. The one sign I saw for happy hour said from 2 to 5PM.

IMG_2043Saturday night we made hamburgers and baked beans. I brought a small Webber grill that was surprisingly efficient, though we forgot the charcoal chimney, which is the best grilling invention ever. I used Kingston Matchlight and it worked like a champ. The grilling surface on this grill was pretty large and the coals were so close, it took less coals to cook than a larger grill. This was good considering to add more coals would have been a total pain. This is the point the relaxing officially began.

IMG_2311Elek was allowed to stay up much later than usual of course, though this didn’t affect his uncanny ability to wake up at 6AM on the dot. Usually we would put on a show for him and go back to bed for about 45 minutes. Sunday it was overcast for about half the day and sunny for the other part. It shifted back and forth so that the weather determined our beach visits. The best thing about this house and the beach in front of it was that it wasn’t crowded at all and we had the nicest and what appeared to be the largest amount of beach in front of our house.

IMG_2148Over the next several days we went for walks on the beach finding interesting things like abandoned houses with no stairs leading up to them and a rather large boat that appeared to have been burned. The sunsets were beautiful and the night beach walks were a lot of fun as well.

We spent a lot of time playing RummyKub, which was a lot of fun. It turns out Annabeth is a master at this game so if you ever want a swift whooping, ask her to play. Another game we all got into we learned from my mother. I’m not sure what the specific game is called, but it’s solitaire with two decks of cards. You line the 4 kings from each deck vertically, then you deal out 12 stacks of cards between them. It took a little while for it to catch on, but once it did we couldn’t stop playing it.

jacksonMy cousin Mary came to visit us for a day with her son Jackson. My mom, Mary, Jackson, and I went crabbing with no success. It happened to be during the hottest part of the day. Needless to say, that’s not a great idea. We all also sang and the two boys danced while Annabeth played her guitar. I’m glad she brought it. Elek absolutely loved it and was fascinated with the guitar. I’m pretty sure his favorite song was “Pop Goes the Weasel”. Luckily I got some video of him singing and dancing to it.

bdaycakeTuesday was my birthday (Sept. 15). What better way to spend your birthday than on the beach!? I hadn’t really thought about it before, but it was great! Diana baked me a cake (pictured) and Annabeth helped her do the icing. My mom also made a baked oyster dish that was the best I’ve ever had. Speaking of, I need to get that recipe! Elek was very excited about the cake and ice cream. We deemed him a cakehead since he acts like a fiend whenever there is some around. I got some really cool thin ties and button up shirts from my mom and the cards I received were hilarious! Diana is taking me to Nashville Oct 2-4 to see Snow Patrol for my birthday present. I can’t wait!

karyWednesday night the girls (Annabeth and Diana) went out to Karaoke at the Pink Pony Pub. They had a really good time. I stayed in, relaxed and watched a few minutes of TV. The next night we went out to eat at a local place that was pretty good and not too expensive. My mom and her friend Linda that came down to visit for a couple of nights took Elek back to the beach house and Diana, Annabeth, and I went out. We first drove to the infamous bar Flora-Bama, but since they were charging $5 a person on an off season Thursday night we headed to the Pink Pony Pub. We sat on the beach a while and then the girls got up to do a couple songs. We danced a bit before heading back to the beach house.

IMG_2228Annabeth, Elek, and my mom all fed the seagulls chips and bread. It was a very weird site. I took several pictures and a video of it. There were tons of birds flocked together in a small area. I think Elek’s favorite part was scaring them off by running at them. Elek also managed to catch a sand crab one evening. He held it in his hands while I got a picture. I believe it was feigning death while in his hands. Jackson had caught one days before and Elek must have thought that was great.

IMG_2382The trip was a massive success and I would love do it again. This year it was very fortunate that we got to do it in the off season since it wasn’t crowded. I’m really glad that we came back on a Saturday so that we had time to get back on schedule.

If you’d like to see more pictures, you can see them on my facebook page.

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elek in august

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the day jeremy payne died

J2What did I feel when I heard Jeremy Payne died? Complete disbelief. Where was I? In my kitchen picking up the house phone. It was Annabeth with some disturbing news. I was shocked and at first I didn’t believe it. I started looking for evidence online. Then the Facebook posts started appearing on his and his sister’s wall. I half expected there to be some huge misunderstanding that would manifest itself online. Or maybe another really close call. My progression of feelings was disbelief, shock, and as it slowly sank in, sadness then anger and back to sadness. My last sputter of hope that this was a misunderstanding was extinguished that morning with his sister’s blog.

My Jay-Bo
July 29, 2009 at 4:31am

I keep telling myself this is not appropriate… but my journal is in the car, and it is 4:02 AM. Bubba would be proud-I am up past 9:30.

All I can think about is: my daddy, being at home in our house on Andrews (which I am not), and curling up in Jay’s bed. Why? I don’t know. Does that sound weird? I know it does… But I don’t care. Who’s judging me now-I don’t care about that either. Like Jamie said, the only people judging now are the ones who didn’t know him whole-heartedly. Sometimes we do all we can and it will never be enough. You want it to be, and they want it to be, but the battle is almost always a losing fight. I never gave up on him, but I understood his daily pain.

I came to the realization a while back that he did know how much we loved him; he finally knew he wasn’t alone, he knew some of the “friends” he had were not friends at all. But you know what? People like that accept people like themselves-but he was not like them. He was an angel from God.

I am mad sometimes. I think about all these stupid freakin dopers, and by that I don’t mean the ones who battled with him (you know who you are- my heart goes out to you as well). I mean the dopers who took advantage and looked at him like another one of them. He wasn’t like you-Jeremy had a heart of gold, and a love of life, a passion for helping others and was NOT a lost cause.
But what is life when you cannot live it? I am thankful he is at Peace, and I know he is; God has reassured me of that. However, no one can convince me it is real.

I shouldn’t be writing this. It is 4:08 am now, I am wired to the brim, drinking coffee because food won’t suffice, and very much alone. God’s Word says I am never alone-but is it okay to sometimes feel like you are in a black pit and everything is moving around you? Because I am lost..

I am hurt, angry and scared-Why did you leave me alone? You said you would always be there, and where are you now?! I know this is selfish, and I suppose realizing that is a good start. But what am I supposed to do without my brother? My BIG brother who loved me no matter what, talked me through my first anxiety attacks, my first dates, my first days of high school and threatened to kick anyone’s ass who touched me? What do I do now? I couldn’t cry anymore before, but here come the tears. If I could, I would give you all my tears so you could dry them and tell me it will be okay. I know you would. I want to hold you and get my big bear hugs, the ones where you never let go and I can smell your cologne. I tried to protect you, I tried to save you. What did I do wrong?! Why couldn’t you stay here, with me?

The Lord knows what he is doing, and I knew it was coming. He told me the other night, but it wasn’t real, and I saw you online-you were there. Things would be fine.. just taking it one day at a time. But He knew you were tired, He knew it was Time.

I feel like by leaving you in Memphis I am leaving you all alone, and you hated being alone. I don’t want to go without you… I need you, I need you.

But I need you to know how proud I am of you. You were the smartest person I knew and such a big teddy bear too. You were passionate about helping other people, and you wanted to live life like all of those around you. But the torment wouldn’t let you, and I understand. I want you to know I understand. I forgive you for giving in(-but I am still mad). You were the best brother I could have asked for. I will cherish every minute of our time together, even if it hasn’t been much lately. I will miss your blogs, and your cynical (VERY cynical) sense of humor. Only you can make people laugh by saying things like that. I am thankful you were at home, and even more thankful you let us in your life the last year-we needed that, you needed that. I think He knew we needed that time to build back those relationships with you before you Left. I am thankful.

Last year I wrote a blog about 2008 being the worst year ever, and how I almost lost one of the MOST IMPORTANT people in my life-YOU. But now, I am alone… and I regret ever saying I still had you. Maybe I jinxed it. Maybe I didn’t pray hard enough, or try hard enough. But I was so afraid of pushing you away! I didn’t want to lose you again, like before.

I am, in your own words, so blessed to have a family that had you in it. With that, I will leave you for now, but I will see you when I am able to sleep-I always have and I know it won’t stop now.

I love you Bubby,

J1Minutes after Annabeth told me the news, a heavy rain started. I remember thinking that the movies are right, it does rain during sad parts. I am fortunate in that I’ve never had someone I’ve known as well as Jeremy pass away until now. Just the night before I heard about it, I talked to him on the phone at 8:02 PM CST. While he could barely get his thoughts together on the phone, I never thought he would overdose pass away hours later. He told me that he had a car full of groceries and that he needed to call me back. I said OK and didn’t think much of it at the time. While I was convinced he actually did have a car full of groceries last night, I’m not so sure this morning. How could he drive when he could barely form coherent sentences? Apparently he did have a car full of groceries. I’m so glad that I was convinced correctly. While I know it wasn’t my fault that he died, I can’t help but feel like there was something… anything I could have done to save him. This was the first time I cried in front of my son, Elek whom Jeremy was very fond of. Jeremy also got along really well with my wife, Diana. These were her words:

it was great to have you in our lives for a short time, Jeremy. thank you for sharing your self and your time with us. we are so lucky to have known a happy, healthy and truly sweet soul.

for those of you who had the pleasure of meeting Jeremy, he is no longer among the living… please send your love and light to his sister… and those who loved him best.

I am thankful that I had the opportunity to get to know Jeremy, though I’m sad that I didn’t have more time with him. He was always so happy to see me. Jeremy Payne was a cuddly bear of a guy. He had no harmful intentions. He was sincere, intelligent, funny, animated, straightforward, and kind. Jeremy was my friend and all I can think about now is giving him a hug.


Donny was a good bowler, and a good man. He was one of us. He was a man who loved the outdoors… and bowling, and as a surfer he explored the beaches of Southern California, from La Jolla to Leo Carrillo and… up to… Pismo. He died, like so many young men of his generation, he died before his time. In your wisdom, Lord, you took him, as you took so many bright flowering young men at Khe Sanh, at Langdok, at Hill 364. These young men gave their lives. And so would Donny. Donny, who loved bowling. And so, Theodore Donald Karabotsos, in accordance with what we think your dying wishes might well have been, we commit your final mortal remains to the bosom of the Pacific Ocean, which you loved so well. Good night, sweet prince.

Below are some comments some of you left Jeremy and his sister, Meghan.
Facebook - Photos of Jeremy Payne_1248973762605
Facebook - Jeremy Payne_1248973189745
Facebook - Meghan Payne Wright_1248973578601

Jeremy’s memorial was held this past Sunday Aug. 9, 2009 at the P&H Cafe in Midtown Memphis. It was simply amazing. Kendall and Sam really did a tremendous job at putting the whole thing together. Their skit with Kendall doing Jeremy’s voice was hilarious. Kendall’s solo of Amazing Grace was so very touching. The duet with Kendall and Sam’s sister was awesome. Annabeth’s instrumental piano piece that she wrote for Jeremy was absolutely amazing. I am so glad that my wife and I got to go. It was great to see everyone that Jeremy was friends with and to meet his sister. I loved hearing the different stories that people had to tell about Jeremy. This event really helped people with closure and that’s very important when you lose someone like Jeremy Payne.

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highschool stereotypes theme party

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trip to washington d.c.

Allow me to give you interesting tidbits about our exploration of DC. First of all, Mike and I happened upon a concert so we’d thought we’d go check it out. Turns out it’s a Gay Pride concert. Not only that but when we got there, immediately this guy came up and took our picture. We fully expect to have our picture in the publication Metro Weekly in DC. Wow, ok… did not expect that. We rode all over DC in bikes (I highly recommend this approach). Last time we walked everywhere and my feet were killing me, not to mention that severely limits how far you can go.

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