New Music Friday: Slow Train Creek by Holly Arrowsmith

So this week’s New Music Friday cannot really be called new by any stretch of the imagination if we’re talking chronological time as it’s almost 2 years old at this point, but it was new to me this week and I’m guessing it’s new to all of you. I’ve been making my way through this year’s Austin 100 from NPR Music and discovered Holly Arrowsmith’s song “Slow Train Creek” yesterday. It really just spoke to me in this crazy time we’re living through right now with everything topsy turvy and isolation orders to try and stem the tide of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The music itself seems really calming and that’s something I think we can all use right now. With lyrics like “All is not well in this world we’re living in. Oh let me forget my sorrow if only for a day like I’ve got nowhere to be.” they also resonate as well. Ultimately the song is about being out in nature in a quiet place and embracing the silence and calm. Despite being forced into isolation I feel like I’ve been going non-stop trying to figure out this new reality, get set up for remote work, and spend all my other time obsessing over the news and stressing out about everything. This song seems like a very good reminder to stop and take a deep breath and perhaps embrace this forced time away from the rest of the world.

St. Pete Beach Trip

It feels really weird to be writing this post now in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis with everyone essentially in lockdown. My friend and I had planned a trip to St. Pete Beach for a few days of rest and relaxation and to use up some of the copious amounts of vacation time we both get. As the date of our departure grew nearer the news of the coronavirus was getting a little bit more crazy but hadn’t really reached a tipping point yet. We decided to move forward with our trip, which is something that in retrospect was probably a little foolhardy and if we had literally left even half a day later I don’t think we would have gone as things really seemed to start to get crazy literally while we were in the air. By the time I had landed the university I work for had moved to all online classes and told the students they had to leave campus by the end of the week. But once we were down there aside from moving our plane tickets up two days to immediately fly home there wasn’t much we could do.

It was nice to sit on the beach and relax with a book in the sun, but for the most part it was a rather stressful vacation worrying about contracting something from someone out in public. The beach we were at while somewhat busy was nothing like the images you’ve been seeing of spring breakers in Miami and Clearwater Beach. We were able to socially distance ourselves from anyone while sitting on the beach, though we probably came too close to a lot of people during our daily beach walk. We also ate dinner out every night which put us in close proximity to others. I was super paranoid about hand washing though and immediately went to wash my hands as soon as I had handed back my menu.

We rented a two bedroom/two bathroom condo in a little development called The Waves. There were definitely some college spring breakers around on the beach, but I don’t think any of them were in our development which seemed to be mostly older people and families with small children. It was pretty quiet aside from hearing the people in the condo above us walking around from time to time. I would stay there again if I chose to return to St. Pete Beach.

On the day we got there we couldn’t check into the Airbnb until 4 and we arrived around noon, so we grabbed some lunch in St. Petersburg and then went to the Dali museum. There was an article in the Washington Post about St. Petersburg a few weeks before we went our trip and it had mentioned a Mexican/Thai fusion restaurant called Nitallys that we decided to check out. It was delicious and definitely the best food we had of the whole vacation. The Salvador Dali museum was a little odd because the St. Petersburg Grand Prix was scheduled for that weekend and the track completely surrounded the museum. We had to park a couple miles away and then take a shuttle bus to the museum. Of course by the next day they had announced that the race would go on but with no spectators.

The rest of the food we ate in St. Pete Beach was mediocre at best. Lots of frozen and reheated or canned food. The two nights I ate mahi mahi it was at least supposedly fresh, but both nights it was overcooked. Oh well. I went down there for the beach not the food.

Now I’m home and counting down the days until I can feel safe that I didn’t actually contract COVID-19 while on this vacation. Today is day 5. We still have a long way to go before I can feel completely secure that I’m okay, but I’m trying not to stress about it too much. I can’t change what I did. I can only do what I’m doing now which is to stay inside my house completely aside from daily lunch time walks in which I zig and zag from the sidewalk on one side of the street to the sidewalk on the other to avoid coming into any contact with other people out and about.

New Music Friday: Who You Thought I Was by Brandy Clark

This morning I have a new song for you by Brandy Clark, not to be confused with my beloved Brandi Carlile. “Who You Thought I Was” is off her third album, Your Life is a Record, which came out last Friday. It’s been getting a lot of excellent praise, which is well deserved because it is a fantastic record. Brandy has been writing and recording in Nashville for about the past decade or so and despite much critical acclaim has never really managed to break through on country radio, which with this record she says she has come to terms with and is happy with where her career is now. I still think it’s a shame because she is wonderful songwriter and performer. The larger country music world is missing out.

Thing 2: Luann Carra Gallery

Don’t worry I didn’t forget about my goal of doing 20 things in and around Baltimore in 2020. I thought maybe it would get me out of my February hibernation mode for a change, but it didn’t. February is still dark with gross weather and I was sick for part of it, so I didn’t wind up doing anything new and different in February. I did actually eat at a new restaurant in my neighborhood, but since part of the reason I’m doing this is to get me out of Hampden on occasion I’m not counting it. I do have several things lined up in March though, so I’m getting back into things now that spring is coming.

Last Thursday I went to the Luann Carra Gallery in Fells Point to see my friend’s first solo photography show. I’ve never been to any art galleries in Baltimore. It was fun to go out and support my friend and see all her lovely photographs.

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New Music Friday: Gaslighter by the Dixie Chicks

The Dixie Chicks are back and this time with new music! They did a reunion tour a couple years ago that I went to, but they didn’t record any new music to go along with it. They’re releasing a new album for the first time in 14 years on May 1 and just dropped the first single, “Gaslighter”, from it on Wednesday. Shock of all shocks my local country radio station even played it! I never thought I’d hear another Dixie Chicks song on mainstream country radio again. Add in their history with country radio to today’s antipathy towards female country artists and it’s a modern day miracle!

It’s not my favorite Dixie Chicks song ever. It may or may not grow on me. The Dixie Chicks have never been a band where I have loved every single song that they’ve put out, so I’m not that concerned that I don’t love this particular song. I’m super excited to have new music by them and am very much looking forward to hearing what’s on the rest of the album.

Winter 2020 TV Diary

Jeopardy Greatest of All Time

We watched the primetime Jeopardy tournament they did featuring Ken Jennings, James Holzhauer and Brad Rutter. It was fun to watch, and I appreciated how much fun it seemed the contestants were having with it and each other. I’m happy Ken Jennings was the winner. I thought the format they used was a little wonky though as it pretty much telegraphed that Ken had won given that there were no more episodes scheduled. It took a little bit of the drama out of it.

Cheer

I’m sure no one here needs me to tell them how they really need to watch Cheer on Netflix, but if you somehow haven’t yet you really should. It’s obviously their continuation of a similar series to what they started following junior college football players in Last Chance U, which is also a really good show by the way. Cheer follows cheerleaders from the award winning Navarro College cheer team. I always knew cheerleading was hard, but this show really shows how physical it is how much stress these kids are putting on their bodies. A lot of the kids they follow have really heartbreaking stories, but also seem to be fighting for their futures especially with the help of the coach, Monica. You really just want nothing but the best for them and want them to be able to succeed in cheer and in their future lives. And seriously, if nothing else you really do have to watch the show for Jerry because we should all live our lives a little more like Jerry.

Virgin River

Virgin River is a Netflix show that I imagine to be somewhat of a cross between Hart of Dixie and Northern Exposure, although I’ve never seen Northern Exposure so that’s a little bit of a guess. It definitely shares the same DNA with a medical professional (in this case a nurse practitioner rather than a doctor) moving to a small town to take over a medical practice. In this case it’s a rural town in northern California and oddly the doctor whose practice she is joining against his will is played by Tim Matheson who is plays practically the same character on Hart of Dixie. The nurse is running away from her past, which exactly what that means you get doled out over the course of the season through flashbacks. There’s a love story with the local bar owner, who apparently doesn’t ever actually have to work at his bar since he’s always offering to drive her to whatever remote locale she needs to get to for that episode’s medical case. It’s sort of like a 10 hour Hallmark movie. I can’t say it’s a great show, but I also kind of really like it. I started watching it when I was home sick from work and watched like 6 episodes in one day and finished off the remainder in short order. I’m already looking forward to the next season, which probably won’t be out for like another year but I’m happy to already know they’ll be one.

On My Block

On My Block is yet another Netflix show. With the characters being teenagers I’m sure it’s supposed to be aimed at teens, which is perhaps why I haven’t heard many people talking about it, but really they should because it’s a really good show. I like teen shows so I had added it to my queue when it first came out but never watched it. Then someone I know was talking about catching up on season 2 before the third season comes out next week and saying how much he enjoyed it. I was in need of a new show to watch at the time, so I decided to finally give it a shot and I’m so glad I did. I’m about 2/3 through the available episodes, and I love it. It’s about teenage friends in a poor neighborhood in L.A. and it’s kind of hard to describe the rest of it. At the heart of it the show is about their friendship, but it also has some Goonies type capers in it, it has real drama about living in and around gangs, it also plays with stereotypes in a lot of ways too. It kind of is all things. It’s humorous, it’s dramatic, it’s sweet. It’s just an all around great show and I highly recommend it. The episodes are 30 minutes or less so you can get through it pretty quick.

Katy Keene

Katy Keene is a spin-off from Riverdale with Josie of Josie and Pussycats heading out from Riverdale to New York to pursue her music career where she befriends the titular Katy Keene who works at Lacy’s department store and dreams of being a designer. Gorge who is a drag queen dreaming of being a Broadway star and Pepper who seems to be somewhat of a con-woman attempting to be a great artistic icon rounding out their friend group. It’s completely frothy and ridiculous drama and stupid fun. It is exactly what you expect from it and that’s perfect. I could use a little bit more mindless fun in my tv these days.

Party of Five

On the exact opposite end of the spectrum is the Party of Five reboot where rather than dying the kids are left on their own because their parents were undocumented immigrants who were sent back to Mexico. It’s a really smart and timely way to reboot the show. I only watched part of the original as I didn’t start watching when it first came on when I was in high school and back then if you didn’t watch when it was on you just had to start in the middle of show with no real watch to catch up (kids ask your parents), and I quit it before it finished it’s run because I grew frustrated with the storylines. Plus I had gone off to college by then and it was harder to keep up since it wasn’t as easy to record shows if you weren’t around to watch them (again kids ask your parents). I really do like the new one a lot and appreciate it every time I’m watching it, but it’s also generally a depressing watch and I admit that I often put off watching it for awhile but then am happy I watched it once I do.

McMillions

We’re four episodes in to the six episode documentary series on HBO about the McDonald’s Monopoly games scandal where essentially no one real one the game all through the entire run from 1989 to 2001. I really didn’t know much about it, so I’m learning things and it’s a decently made documentary. I’m also pretty sure it could have been half the length and conveyed just as much of the story. It definitely feels a little bit dragged out to me, but I’m obviously going to finish it.

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist

This is a fun, silly little show with actors I like getting to sing and dance. Jane Levy plays a character who somehow while getting an MRI when an earthquake takes place somehow winds up with something happening to her whereby the people around her sing her songs conveying the feelings they’re having at the time. Lauren Graham plays her boss. Skylar Astin plays her coworker/best friend/potential romantic interest. Mary Steenburgen plays her mother. Peter Gallagher plays her father who has some sort of neurological disorder that prevents him from communicating, but who she is now able to somewhat able to communicate with due to hearing his song thoughts. It’s definitely ridiculous, but again I’m all in on tv that is kind of mindless and silly at this point.

Encore

Speaking of singing and dancing, Encore is a show that you can now watch on Disney+. The first episode aired on ABC some time ago, but obviously didn’t do very well and they shelved it. But now that they have Disney+ why not make available all those episodes they already had in the can. It’s a reality series where they get back together casts of high school musicals to reperform whatever musical they did in a week’s time. As a musical lover I enjoy it, but to some degree the episodes are a little bit samey despite the different musicals and different casts so I can only watch one episode at a time. Thus I still have a lot of episodes to get through, but I’ll make it eventually.

Gentefied

Gentefied is a new Netflix show that follows a family, a grandfather and three of his grandchildren who are all involved in some degree in the taco business he has been running in a now gentrifying neighborhood. Now they’re trying to figure out how to save the business as the rents go up and tastes are changing. We’re only a few episodes in, but I’m enjoying it so far. Be aware that due to the characters speaking a lot of Spanish in addition to English there are a significant number of subtitles.

Everything is Going to Be Okay

Everything is Going to Be Okay is a show on Freeform following an Australian in his mid-twenties who winds up becoming the caretaker for his two teenage half-sisters who he barely knows in LA after their father dies of cancer. One of them is on the autism spectrum. This show has been sort of hit and miss for me. I like some episodes and others don’t do much for me. I’m still watching at this point, but it’s definitely one of the last things I watch each week.

Medical Police

Medical Police is a show on Netflix that is a spin-off of the Cartoon Network Adult Swim show Children’s Hospital. I never watched that show so I don’t know how it compares other than that this one is much longer with the episodes running between 20 and 30 minutes as compared to around 12 on Cartoon Network. Given the comedy style that is the parody sort like the Naked Gun or Airplane! this one might have been better if the episodes were shorter as well. It was dumb as one might expect from a show trying to double spoof medical and cop dramas with some of the doctors from Children’s Hospital being drafted into a secret force run by the CDC. Oddly enough though a little too much of it seems weirdly relevant with all the coronavirus news. If it hadn’t been released during an otherwise slow tv time I’m not sure we would have started watching it and if we didn’t use it to fill in weird little times where we had 20 or so minutes to kill we probably wouldn’t have finished it. I get bored with that kind of comedy pretty quickly, so I would be curious to know what people who are really into that sort of thing think.

New Music Friday: Stone Me by Margo Price

“Stone Me” by Margo Price has been on my list for New Music Friday for awhile now. She debuted the song back in January on Full Frontal with Samantha Bee on the episode where Sam did a segment on the state of women in country music. It also happened to be the night before I went to Nashville and seemed very prescient. I’ve been meaning to write about the song since I heard it, but for whatever reason I kept putting other songs in front of it. Now I’m finally circling back around to it. It’s an excellent song about not letting other people’s judgments bother you.