More Than Meh

A blog about the good things of life.

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit at the Lyric Opera House February 7, 2018

Filed under: Concerts,Music,Pop Culture — dwhren @ 9:53 am

Last night I once again went to see Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit in concert. I adore him so much. I don’t know anyone who writes songs like he does. He’s not really a country artist, but many of his songs are like little short stories which is definitely a country influence. However, most country songs are treacly and with a plot that feels forced. Jason Isbell’s songs are the opposite of that. They feel real and true. The lyrics are poignant with amazing turns of phrase. The songs feel well lived in. I still haven’t come up with a better analogy than saying listening to his songs feels like watching Friday Night Lights. They pull the same trigger in my soul.

I saw Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit play back in the summer at Merriweather Post Pavilion. Even though I know full well that Merriweather is considered a DC venue for booking purposes, I am never not momentarily surprised when we wind up getting a Baltimore date for a tour that’s also been through Merriweather. Thus, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that they were going to be playing at the Lyric Opera House. Unlike the Merriweather show, which granted is a much larger venue, this show was pretty much sold out. I almost didn’t manage to get tickets to it, partly because Ticketmaster is a bastard. It looked like the show sold out in seconds, but I kept checking and it seems like someone let their tickets go and 2 popped up way in the back of balcony so I snagged them. Then the next day there were tons of much better tickets open. They obviously did all eventually sell, but I was really annoyed that I could have had much better seats if I had waited, which makes zero sense. At least the Lyric is a pretty small venue, so our seats were still good even if they were far back.

In addition to seeing the concert at Merriweather, I had also watched live streams of Jason Isbell’s Austin City Limits taping and one of the 5 sold out shows he did at the Ryman Auditorium last year. The set list for all three was pretty much the same with the old variation being the order of the songs that they played. So I figured we were going to get the same thing at this show. I was surprised when there was a little bit more variation than I thought there would be. For the most part it was the same, with them of course playing a lot of music from their newest album, The Nashville Sound. 

They played more songs off of Southeastern than I’ve seen recently, which made me happy. I was literally listening to “Stockholm” the night before the concert and thinking that I miss getting to hear him play that song and then lo and behold they played it last night. Of course they also played “Cover Me Up”. That is his forever and always song. I think he’ll play that in every set until he dies. The day of this show was apparently also Isbell’s 6 year anniversary of getting sober, so the crowd went even more wild than usual when he sang the lyrics, “But I sobered up and I swore off that stuff. Forever this time.” It felt really special to hear that sung on that occasion.

This show was pretty short on stage banter, which I was a little disappointed in. If you follow Jason Isbell on Twitter you know that he’s really funny as well as an excellent song writer. I really loved how much he told stories and joked around during his set at Merriweather. Last night he was pretty much like we’ve got work to do (I mean he literally said that when his wife, Amanda Shires, who is sometimes part of his band started talking about it being the anniversary of him getting sober), let’s get down to business and play these people some music.

It was still a great show though. I love the music to deepest depths of my heart and soul. He has some pretty great fans too, which I cannot say for many of the artists I see. People who get Jason Isbell’s music like me are rabid about it. I remember listening to an All Songs Considered year end wrap up a few years ago and having Ann Powers put Jason Isbell on her best of list and Bob Boilen responding I don’t get it. I have seen him play and it’s done nothing for me, but I’ve looked at the crowd around me and they have this sort of rapture on their faces. Bob Boilen may not get it, but I do and that rapture is me.

 

Moody Guitar Rock January 24, 2018

Filed under: Music,Pop Culture,Songs I Love — dwhren @ 7:54 am

It’s been awhile since I’ve written a post about music that no one is going to read. I’ve been thinking about this one for awhile and am finally mustering up enough energy to write it. This time I’m talking about some recent(ish) songs featuring moody guitar rock. I love the sort of gloomy sounds being created in these songs.

Lo Moon was my new band obsession at the end of 2017. I love every song they have available on Spotify (all 4 of them). I can’t wait until their full album comes out on February 23. I’m still super bummed that I missed the Live Lunch concert they did at WTMD towards the end of last year. I was fully planning on taking a long lunch and going up for it, but then I had to be manager in charge for literally those few hours so I couldn’t leave the building. Hopefully they make it back to Baltimore for a full on concert some time soon.

 

The War on Drugs put out one of my favorite albums of 2017. They are nothing but good for moody guitar rock. I mean in some respects a lot of their songs sound very similar, but I’m here for that sound so I don’t care.

I’m fudging a bit with the last one because while Nathanial Rateliff and the Night Sweats are guitar rock you can’t generally consider them very moody. I feel like the first single off their forthcoming new album takes a turn from the completely jaunty sounds of their first album to something slightly moodier in its undertones. I’m really liking it.

 

2017 Playlist January 3, 2018

Filed under: Music,Pop Culture — dwhren @ 8:28 am

In 2016 I made a song a day playlist of songs from any time that happened to strike me on any particular day. I didn’t always remember to do it, I had a hard time figuring out a new song for each day, and only wound up with 363 songs so I missed a few days. I decided that was less enjoyable than I hoped it would be and I’d probably wind up with a lot of the same songs if I did it again, so I went with a different strategy for 2017.

This year I made a playlist of songs released in 2017 that I particularly liked. I didn’t always remember to add to it on a regular basis so there was a bit of me rushing to add songs I liked towards the end of the year. I did like this approach though. I relistened to the playlist the other day and it seemed like a nice encapsulation of the year in song to me. Granted there are a number of pop songs on it that I added early-ish in the year that I am extremely tired of at this point, but a little further removed it will be fun to see what songs I was listening to in 2017. I’m going to try and do this again for 2018 too just hopefully a little bit more regularly throughout the year.

 

 

2017 Tea Advent Calendar December 31, 2017

Filed under: Simple Pleasures — dwhren @ 9:51 am

I enjoyed my tea advent calendar from David’s Teas last year, so I decided to get one again this year. I cheated this year and looked up the flavors that came in it to make sure there weren’t a lot of pu’reh teas, which I discovered I did not like last year. There weren’t, so I decided game on. People seemed to enjoy my thoughts on my tea advent calendar from last year, so I thought I would keep track again this year.

Day 1 – Let It Snow

This was a green tea with lots of fruit and spices. It was good, but sweeter than I prefer my tea to be. The candied pineapple, stevia, and white chocolate made it very sweet and overpowered the green tea itself. I was happy to realize that what I thought were raisins when I opened the tea turned out to be black currants instead. I looked at the ingredient list because I didn’t taste an garbage raisin flavor in the tea. Down with raisins.

Day 2 – Chocolate Macaroon

This was a black tea with chocolate and coconut flavors. I made this running on the door to catch a train, and I’m not sure I steeped it long enough as it tasted kind of weak. I’ll have to see what I think of it when I finish it off at a later date.

Day 3 – Strawberry Rhubarb Parfait

This was a fruit infusion with a bunch of fruits and nuts. It was pretty tasty. Though in general I prefer my tea to have actual tea leaves in it.

Day 4 – Organic Silk Dragon Jasmine

This was a jasmine flavored green tea. It was a pretty standard tasting green tea. I enjoyed it.

Day 5 – Glitter and Gold

This was a black tea with lemon peel and cloves and cute little gold sugar gold stars. It was very tasty. I’m a fan of spiced black teas and this one fit the bill nicely.

Day 6 – Organic North African Mint

This was a green tea flavored with mint, but ginger, cardamom, licorice root, fennel, cloves, and black pepper. I am not usually a big fan of mint, but I think all these other flavors helped round it out nicely because I liked this way more than I thought I would. I don’t much care for the licorice or fennel flavors either so apparently putting multiple flavors I don’t like very much all together creates a flavor I do like?

Day 7 – Organic Saigon Chai

I’ve already said black spiced teas are my favorite. That stands for this tea too.

Day 8 – Buddha Blend

This is a mix of green and white teas flavored with hibiscus. It was a really lovely fruity tea. I think it would also make an excellent iced tea.

Day 9 – Forever Nuts

This is the first tea that I recall being a repeat from last year’s calendar. It’s a fruit and nut infusion with apples and almonds flavored with cinnamon. It sort of tastes like drinking a red hot. I do not mind.

Day 10 – Walnut Orange Scone

This was a white tea with walnuts and orange. It mostly tasted liked oranges. I liked it because orange flavored teas are my second favorite after spiced black teas.

Day 11 – Alpine Punch

This is a rooibos tea with coconut, almonds, and a bunch of spices. It didn’t really taste much like coconut to me, but I found it to be a very tasty tea.

Day 12 – Coffee Pu’reh

I skipped drinking day 12’s tea. I do not like coffee, and in doing this advent calendar last year I also discovered that I am not much of a fan of pu’reh teas either. I don’t think putting them together was going to create any kind of winning combination for me, so I decided to give it a pass and not torture myself.

Day 13 – Organic Cinnamon Rooibos Chai

I thought I would really like this tea. I like chais and I like rooibos, but there something I did not like about it. There was some kind of aftertaste that I did not care for.

Day 14 – Lemon Pound Cake

This tea actually really tasted like drinking a piece of lemon pound cake. It was really tasty, but it’s not something I would make an every day tea. More of a special once in a while tea.

Day 15 – Raspberry Cream Pie

This tea tasted like drinking a piece of raspberry cream pie. Just kidding. I have no idea what a piece of raspberry cream pie tastes like. It did taste like raspberries though. Fruity teas are not my favorite. I didn’t hate it, but it’s definitely not something I would buy for myself.

Day 16 – Sleigh Ride

This was a repeat tea from last year. My review last year was “Another fruit infusion. This one had lots of fruit in it, but one of those fruits was raisins and that’s all I could taste. Why would you put raisins in tea? Why would you put raisins in anything?” I stand by that statement.

Day 17 – Caramel Shortbread

This tasted nothing like caramel shortbread. It didn’t really have much flavor at all. It was mostly like drinking sweet hot water. Thumbs down.

Day 18 – Organic Cream of Earl Grey

Earl Grey is one of my favorite tea flavors, so I was looking forward to this tea. I don’t know what the cream part is based on since the ingredient list was only black tea, marigolds, and cornflowers. I just looked at the David’s Tea description and it claims that vanilla gives it a creamy taste. I thought it gave it an off taste. I’m not sure if it tasted gross to me because it didn’t taste like Earl Grey to me at all or if there was something not right about this tea. At any rate I took 2 sips and then dumped it. 0 stars would not drink again.

Day 19 – Organic the Spice is Right

A green tea flavored with cinnamon, cloves, and orange peel. I’m not sure I could distinguish it from any other spiced tea, but it was tasty.

Day 20 – Carrot Cupcake

Did this taste like a carrot cupcake? It did not. Did I like it? Yes, I did.

Day 21 – Candy Cane Crush

A black tea with white chocolate and peppermint candy in it. This was okay. I don’t love mint, so this was never going to be my favorite, but I will drink the rest of it.

Day 22 – Hot Chocolate

Actually it turns out hot chocolate was really day 21 and candy cane crush was day 22, but I don’t know how calendars work and drank the candy cane crush a day early so I switched them around. Hot chocolate was a repeat from last year. It’s a black tea with chocolate in it. I’d rather drink plain black tea or actual hot chocolate. The watered down chocolate flavor of this isn’t great.

Day 23 – White Cranberry Bark

This was a tasty tea, though the cranberry did leave a tart flavor in my mouth

Day 24 – Santa’s Secret

Turns out Santa’s secret is that I didn’t drink this tea until December 30. We were out of town on the 24th and I thought it would be a little ridiculous to fly with this tea across the country. It’s another black tea with peppermint in it. It’s a nice tea to end the year with.

 

 

My Most Memorable Pop Culture of 2017 December 30, 2017

Filed under: Books,Concerts,Movies,Music,Pop Culture,Television,Theatre — dwhren @ 10:24 am

Once again it’s time for my post on what was the most memorable pop culture of the year to me. It’s pop culture I consumed in 2017, not necessarily things that were exclusively released in 2017. And once again I point out that this is the stuff that made the greatest impact on me. It’s not a list of the top anything. Even I acknowledge that there are things on this list that I would not put in a top 10 or even top 20 list. They’re not necessarily the best of anything, just the stuff that I enjoyed the most or which had some special meaning to me.

Movie I Saw in a Theatre

I saw quite a few movies in the theater this year, probably more than I have in a good long while and I enjoyed a great many of them. There were some really great comic book hero movies (Wonder Woman, Spiderman: Homecoming, and Thor: Ragnorak) that seemed to bring something different to the table and kept me entertained without being so smashy smashy, which bores me to tears. I also saw a lot of great smaller movies as well including I am Not Your Negro, Lady Bird, and Call Me By Your Name. I very much want to give this category to The Big Sick, which I actually saw twice in the theater, which is something I haven’t done in at least a decade, probably two. I miss rom-coms and this movie was so sweet and funny. I hope it’s a harbinger of more movies like it. If it weren’t for a little documentary called STEP, The Big Sick would have taken this one.

STEP made me feel all the feelings. At a time when Baltimore feels like it is literally falling apart this movie, which follows a group of girls on a Step team at a Baltimore high school, showed what is good and bad about this city. There was so much joy and so much pain. Kids struggling to overcome hardships that no kids should have to deal with in order to help create better lives for themselves. It’s heartbreaking, delightful, and triumphant all at the same time. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend it.

Movie I Watched at Home

Every year I threaten to get rid of this category because we so rarely watch movies at home. The only movies I can really remember watching are Mudbound, which I didn’t like and Get Out, so Get Out wins. I heard so many people raving about this movie before I saw it that there was no way it was going to be able to live up to my expectations. I did think the premise of it was very clever, but I’m not much of a horror person. I tend to find horror movies silly and boring, and those parts of it felt, well, silly and boring.

Fiction Book

My favorite fiction book of the year was hands down Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied Sing. As usual Ward creates a detailed world in rural Mississippi that draws you in and makes you feel like you are there. The book deals with important themes like race, death, and family but it always feels real (even when delving into the spirit world). It’s a beautiful and heartbreaking book that continues to bolster Ward as one of the great authors of our time.

Non-Fiction Book

Like with my fiction book, there was no contest this year that my non-fiction book choice would be The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt. This is the first and only item on the list this year that was not actually released during 2017. However, there could not have been a more perfect book for this  year. I picked it up because it was the first book club selection for the Make Me Smart podcast (see below). Haidt uses moral psychology to discuss people’s views on politics and religion. If anything it made me feel even more hopeless about the current state of our country, but at least it did help shift my perspective to help see where others may be coming from even if I vehemently disagree with them. I guess that’s something. Aside from that I just found it a really fascinating book. As someone with multiple degrees in psychology this book fell perfectly in my sweet spot.

TV Show

Everyone is calling right now the golden age of television where there is so much excellent tv to watch you can’t even keep up. To some degree that’s true if you are into all the prestige television shows. I do enjoy a good number of them, but in some cases I’m getting tired of them. I don’t need all the television I watch to be capital I important. Sometimes I just want to have something that makes me want to invest in characters lives. I want a good family drama or a good teen or even adult drama with some love triangles or a decent will they or won’t they thing. They don’t seem to make those any more. I have tried and tried to like This is Us, but I just don’t even though I’m still watching it because it’s the only thing remotely resembling a family drama on television now. The CW, which used to be the go to for that kind of show has turned into all comic book hero shows all of which I have given up on (Supergirl excepted) as their plots have become convoluted and the character arcs that were driving the stories in their early years have fallen by the wayside. I feel like I’ve even watched my way through every television show that I missed the first time around so there aren’t even any older shows for me to go back to and fill the void at this point.

All that being said the way I choose my favorite show of the year is by thinking of the one I can’t wait to watch when an episode shows up on my DVR or if I’m binging it on a streaming service that all I want to do is stay at home and watch the show. This year the show that came closest to fitting that description was The Bold Type. I will refer you to the full review I wrote about it earlier this year. Happily it did get picked up for another season, though with a new show runner so hopefully it doesn’t change too much. I also want to give an honorable mention to the One Day at a Time reboot on Netflix, which was a sweet, smart, and funny sit-com that brightened my days considerably in the immediate fall out of garbage president taking office. I’m very much looking forward to its second season dropping in January.

TV Episode

Until I looked back at my picks for 2016 in preparation for writing this post I had forgotten that my favorite tv episode from last year was from Halt and Catch Fire, which is appropriate I guess because that show also features my favorite television episode from 2017. As I said last year I am so happy that I gave this show another try or I would have missed out on how wonderful it got. Thank you to every television critic who told me to give it a second chance. My favorite episode this year was Season 4, Episode 8 – “Goodwill”, which I don’t want to say too much about because it does give away a major plot point. It just treats its characters so lovingly and true to who they are. It also uses the Dire Straits’ song “So Far Away” so perfectly that I have a whole new perspective on it. I adore what this show became and I definitely always chose it first to watch when it showed up on my DVR. It’s the loss of another character driven show that I will miss immensely.

Album

No one who has been here long should be at all surprised that my favorite album of the year was Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit’s The Nashville Sound. I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about this album when he first announced it. Southeastern and Something More than Free, which were my favorite albums of 2013 and 2015 were both him solo and had a much more folky sound for the most part. When he brought back his band for the whole album this time I was afraid I might not like the rock sound nearly as much. I needn’t have worried one little bit. He’s still an amazing songwriter whose lyrics drill right down into my soul. With songs like “Hope the High Road”, “White Man’s World”, “The Last of My Kind”, “Cumberland Gap”, and “Anxiety” this album was perfectly written for 2017.

Song

There should also be no surprise that my favorite song of 2017 came from my favorite album of 2017. “If We Were Vampires” is the song that everyone talked about off of this album, and rightly so. It is by far the lyrically and creatively superior song from the album, but “Hope the High Road” was my mantra for 2017. If you only knew how many times I sang the lyrics of this song to myself every time something new and terrible happened over the past year. So basically hourly.

“We’ll ride the ship down
Dumping buckets overboard
There can’t be more of them than us
There can’t be more”

Concert

For Christmas last year my husband gifted me with a trip to Nashville to see Dawes play at the Ryman Auditorium. Because I am who I am I have a concert venue bucket list and the Ryman was second on it right behind Red Rocks. I also got to check The Grand Ole Opry off my list on that trip, but seeing Dawes, a band I adore, play in that amazing venue was the highlight of my concert year. For as many concerts as I see every year I just figured out this year that when a concert is listed as “An Evening with …” it means that there is no opening act. This was An Evening with Dawes at the Ryman Auditorium and they played for a good three hours. It was wonderful and everything I hoped it would be.

I also have to say a word about the final Tom Petty concert I will ever see. Tom Petty has meant so much to me over the course of my life. He’s really the first artist whose passing has really felt like the gut punch to me that see other people have for celebrity deaths. I am so happy I got to see him perform one final time in a sing-a-long love fest that seemed like the perfect ending to a 40 year career.

Broadway Theatre Production

I saw a good number of wonderful things on Broadway this year, but my favorite was definitely Come From Away, which is the best thing I’ve seen since Hamilton. Based on the true story of a small town in Newfoundland that took in 6000 displaced airline passengers after 9/11, it mad me laugh, it made me cry, it made me smile with pure joy.

Baltimore Theatre Production

I had a hard time figuring out what I wanted to put in this category this year. The Center Stage season was short due to renovations on the theatre, and I wasn’t overly excited about a lot of the things I saw during the parts of the Hippodrome seasons that fell in 2017. It was nothing new and certainly not the best production of Rent I have ever seen by far, especially given that I saw most of the original Broadway cast perform in London, but I’m going with the 20th anniversary tour of Rent because it is still one of my all time favorite shows. Every word is still burned into my brain, and it was fun to revisit it after a good long time away.

Podcast

I have an overabundance of podcasts that I listen to, so I always have a backlog of episodes. Like with television shows I choose my selection for my favorite podcast by thinking about what podcasts I listen to as soon as they drop and which ones I let episodes build up on until I have nothing else to listen to. This year a number of my previous favorite podcasts like Pop Culture Happy Hour, Invisibilia, and Out of the Blocks have made changes in their formats that I am not a fan of and has made me like them less and/or not even listen to everything they drop. However, a new podcast for 2017 topped my list. Make Me Smart with Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood of Marketplace was by far the podcast I looked forward to listening to the most this year. He’s an economy reporter and she’s a tech reporter so they talk a lot about those topics, but that’s not all they cover. The tagline for the show is “none of us is as smart as all of us”, so they always have guests that they interview about various topics as well as always include feedback from listeners in the form of voice memos that are sent in. When the podcast started out they talked about politics a lot, especially in a segment that often started the show called the news fix. As the podcast went on they got away from doing the news fix, which I do miss sometimes. I don’t know if they’ll bring it back at all in the future now that they’re done with the long series they did on moral capitalism, but that was really great too. They also do book club episodes where listeners vote on a book to read and then they devote an episode to discussing it. My favorite non-fiction book for the year came out of that. It’s also fun to listen to people answer what they call the “Make Me Smart question”, which is what is something you once thought you knew, but then found out you were wrong about? They have a really great rapport and they always make me laugh even while I’m learning a lot. I’m super sad that they’re abandoning me until mid-March when season 2 of the podcast starts up.

Podcast Episode

My favorite episode from a podcast I listened to this year is actually a three part series from NPR’s Code Switch and Education Week called Raising Kings: A Year of Love and Struggle at Ron Brown College Prep. Education Week reporters followed students, parents, teachers, counselors, and other staff at Ron Brown College Prepatory school, a newly opened high school specifically aimed at black boys in Washington, D.C. and staffed almost exclusively by African-American men. It’s a wonderful series full of so much to think on in terms of education, race, and inequality and how even people with the best of intentions can disagree about how to address the systemic issues facing these many of the kids attending this school.

 

NYC Weekends December 3, 2017

Filed under: Family,Theatre,Travel — dwhren @ 5:39 pm

I spent the last two weekends in New York City. As we often do we went up to the city for Thanksgiving with my sister-in-law’s family. The day after Thanksgiving we did a number of things around the city. We started off by visiting the Intrepid museum, which was my niece’s vote for what to do. We decided she made a good choice because the weather was actually pretty nice, but the museum wasn’t overly crowded.

As a perk from his company my husband gets into a number of New York museums for free along with a guest. This is the first time we’ve really gotten to put that into practice, since a lot of times I go up to New York without him and can’t take advantage of his discounts, or we’re up there with his family and aren’t going to the places where he gets a discount. He got the two of us into the Intrepid for free.

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I feel like we spent a decent amount of time there, but with two six year olds we didn’t really spend much time looking at anything and we certainly didn’t have to the chance to really stop and read anything. This was a good for a first pass, but some day I’ll probably go back and actually spend time looking at and reading the exhibits.

After the Intrepid we took the twins bowling for the first time. With all the back issues I’ve had over the past year I decided to sit out doing any bowling myself because I didn’t want to screw it up any more than it already is. I decided tossing heavy balls around was not the best idea. The kids did pretty good for their first time. My nephew even managed to get a strike in which the ball didn’t even bounce off of the bumpers on the way down the lane.

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Paul giving our nephew some sage bowling advice.

Friday night Paul and I headed out on our own. We ate dinner at Chai Thai. I’d eaten there with a friend before, and knew Paul would like it so I decided that would be a good place for us to grab dinner before our show. After that we had time to kill so we wound up walking over the Schmakery’s for cookies.

Our show this trip was The Band’s Visit. I had been waffling on what to see because I wasn’t super excited about anything, and there were several things that were possibilities but hadn’t been reviewed yet because they were just in previews. This show got a rave review in the New York Times when it opened a few weeks before Thanksgiving, so I finally decided on it. By that time tickets were few and far between, so Paul and I actually didn’t sit together. We sat in mirror image seats on the right and left sides of the theatre.

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I’m not actually sure how I felt about the show. I think Paul liked it more than I did. I know the New York Times reviewer definitely liked it more than I did. I didn’t dislike it, but I also didn’t love it. Even weeks later I’m trying to even figure out how to describe it. It’s a very sedate musical about an Egyptian Police Band that winds up accidentally stuck in a small town in Israel overnight. The experiences the band and the townspeople share that night seemingly both affect their lives while changing nothing about them.

Saturday before we headed home we took advantage of Paul’s work discount again and went to the New York Historical Society museum. I’m definitely glad we got into this one for free because I didn’t see anything aside from the children’s area in the basement.

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My niece’s favorite part of the museum was reshelving all the books in the kids’ part of the museum. A future librarian in the making perhaps?

I headed back to New York again a week later just for a day trip to meet up with my sister. She just moved to New Jersey, and while she’s waiting for the rest of her family to join her, she asked if I wanted to meet up with her to see The Rockettes’ Christmas Spectacular. As many shows as I’ve seen in New York, I’ve never been to the Rockettes so I said sure.

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We had lunch at Brasserie Ruhlman down the street from Radio City Music Hall. The food was really good, but it was definitely a splurge as it was quite pricy. I don’t know if they’ve added new security to Radio City Music Hall since I’ve never been before, but I suspect that may have been the case and they didn’t anticipate how much it was going to slow down people getting in. They do 4 shows on the weekends and there is definitely not enough time in between them to turn the theatre over. We had tickets to the 2 pm show and after 45 minutes in line just barely made our seats right as the lights were going down. There were still a ton of people in line behind us, which was annoying because for the first part of the show you still had lots of people blocking your view as they found and got into their seats. I would have been even more annoyed had we had been one of the people who didn’t get inside before the show started. They definitely need to space the shows out another 30 minutes.

I can now say I’ve seen the Rockettes. I enjoyed it well enough, but I don’t think I probably ever need to see the show again. I mean if my nieces or nephew wanted me to go with them, I would. It’s definitely aimed at kids, but as an adult without kids I see no reason to go again.

After the show we just wandered around the city. Since we were right there and it was almost unavoidable we saw the tree in Rockefeller Center, which is something I once vowed I would never do again. Luckily this time it was a much less terrifying experience. The first time I went to New York with Paul after we started dating it was this same exact weekend, which is the first weekend the tree was lit. The crowds were insane and I got smashed in between so many people I literally got lifted up off the ground and was being carried along by the crowd. I had no control and had I fallen I would have been trampled. This year we were there before dark, so I suspect it was slightly less crowded than it might have been a couple hours later. At any rate, it wasn’t nearly as crowded, and I got to see the tree without thinking I might die.

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We did give up on walking down Fifth Avenue though because it was just too stupidly crowded full of people. Same with the Christmas Market in Bryant Park. We sort of looked at the Macy’s windows from a distance over the heads of the crowds of people. So basically we sort of did all the touristy Christmas things that the movies and tv make you think are so great, but are really terrible because they are way too crowded.

The weather was pretty good for this time of year though, and it was a pleasant day to walk around the city and catch up with my sister. It will be really nice to have her and her family so close by so that I’ll be able to see them more than the once, maybe twice a year I normally did when they were all the way out in Arizona.

 

Friendsgiving November 20, 2017

Filed under: Food,Friends,Life — dwhren @ 8:31 am

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. The food is delicious and feels special because it’s really the only time of year that you eat it. There’s no pressure for figuring out gifts like there is at Christmas. Instead it’s a time to give thanks for all the things we already have.

One of the things I’m very thankful for is my friends. And one of the other great things about Thanksgiving is that it does lend itself to large gatherings of friends over a delicious Thanksgiving meal. I’ve participated in these Friendsgivings in various forms. Sometimes it’s like this year getting together with friends I don’t always get to see that often anymore over a delicious meal prior to the holiday. Sometimes it’s gathering together a group of Thanksgiving orphans who aren’t spending the holiday with their families on the actual holiday to share a Thanksgiving dinner, or gathering together with friends and having a potluck dinner with everyone’s Thanksgiving leftovers.

It’s always fun to see all the variations on the standard Thanksgiving food recipes that people have. Also there are always the random things people have that for some reason whether cultural or family tradition always show up on their Thanksgiving table. I’m still not ever eating that sauerkraut weirdo Marylanders think is Thanksgiving food though.

This year I had the pleasure of attending three different Friendsgiving meals over the last few weeks leading up to the holiday. They were all wonderful gatherings with friends, some of whom I definitely don’t get to see nearly enough anymore. I loved getting the chance to catch up on each other’s lives, share food, great conversation and laughter, and remember that these are all the things I’m thankful for. It’s been hard to focus on the good things this year, so it was nice to have some great reminders that there are still lots of simple good things in this world.