More Than Meh

A blog about the good things of life.

Farewell My Flip Flops September 26, 2016

Filed under: Random — dwhren @ 9:12 am

Now that summer is officially over and flip flop weather seems to be pretty much over for the season, I have decided it is sadly time to retire my favorite pair of flip flops. I don’t remember exactly how old they are, but I know I’ve worn them to every Newport Folk Festival I’ve been to which makes them over five years old. They are the best pair of flip flops I’ve owned my life, but unfortunately this summer is their last. They are so worn out there is barely any shoe left under my big toes. I’m going to miss them.

They were the most comfortable flip flops I have ever known. I’ve never owned another pair of flip flops that I could walk around in as much as I did those. The straps never cut into my feet and they never gave me blisters. I’ve worn them everywhere. They’ve pretty much been on my feet at every outdoor concert I’ve been to in the past 5+ years. I like being able to kick off my shoes and be barefoot on my blanket, plus if it’s too dusty or muddy it’s easy to wash the flip flops off and not ruin a regular pair of shoes. I never had to think twice about putting them on for anything because I knew my feet would be fine wearing them. I rarely have shoes I can 100% say that about.

These were cheap flip flops I picked up at Target on a whim, and now I wish I had bought 20 pairs of them. This many years later they of course aren’t carrying anything like that now. Knowing it was time to give these up I started looking for new ones. I perused all the flip flops in places like Target, Zappos, and various shoe stores, but didn’t really see anything akin to the ones I’m trying to replace. I asked for recommendations on Twitter and ordered about a dozen different pairs from Zappos based on people’s feedback. They were all fancy name brand flip flops way more expensive than what I spent on the pair I’m getting rid of and none of them were as comfortable. I settled on a pair of Sanuk’s, but I’m still not super happy with them. They do actually have more support, but if it’s hot they make my feet super sweaty and I can tell that if I tried to walk any length in them the straps would totally cut into my feet and leave me miserable. I was hoping that they would break in a little bit and get more comfortable in that area, but it hasn’t really happened. They’ll have to suffice for now, but hopefully next flip flop season will present me with new options and I can find something that will truly replace my beloved flip flops.2016-09-25-17-30-30

 

Songs I Love: Red Earth & Pouring Rain by Bear’s Den September 20, 2016

Filed under: Music,Pop Culture,Songs I Love — dwhren @ 8:42 am

I am currently obsessed with the song “Red Earth & Pouring Rain” by the band Bear’s Den. They’re a London based band and this song is the title song off their sophomore album. I don’t remember hearing anything off their first album, so I’m not sure if it really got any play in the US or if it just flew under my radar. At any rate I’m in love with this song and the whole album really. It sort of reminds me of slower 80s guitar rock. I feel like rock of all kinds has fallen out of fashion, so I’m always happy for it to show up in my life.

 

Apple Cider Donuts September 19, 2016

Filed under: Food — dwhren @ 8:40 am

There are many things I love about fall, but one of them is apple cider donuts. I don’t know if they’re a new phenomenon (probably not), if they just weren’t a thing in the places I previously lived, or if I just somehow was unaware of them, but I don’t ever recall hearing about apple cider donuts until I started my current job 12+ years ago and one of my co-workers brought them in. Now I very much love them and look forward to their appearance in the fall.

At least near me they’re not that easy to get though. There is one farm I know of that sells them, but it’s a 30 minute drive for me to get there so it’s not like I’m driving up there frequently to buy donuts. It kind of surprises me that none of the orchards that go to the farmers’ market we go to every weekend sell them, but it’s probably for the best. I really shouldn’t have easy access to them for my own good.

I met some friends at the Perry Hall Apple Festival at Chapel Hill Farm yesterday. They too sell apple cider donuts in their little store, so after enjoying our time at the festival I stopped in on the way out and bought a couple of containers. There’s a chance someone will bring some into work once, but it’s also quite possible these will be the only apple cider donuts I get this season, so I’m going to savor them.

 

Summer 2016 TV Diary August 31, 2016

Filed under: Pop Culture,Television — dwhren @ 7:56 am

The fall television season is fast approaching, so I thought I would take a minute to catch you up on what I’ve been watching this summer. TV never sleeps anymore so it turns out that it was quite a bit. Most of these shows are things that either ran on actual TV this summer or dropped on Netflix, but there’s a few older shows that I binge watched that I’m including too.

Orange is the New Black

I’ve enjoyed Orange is the New Black since it debuted on Netflix. The third season fell a little flat, but I felt like it was back to its true form this past season. The story around the increased prison population and the new company running the prison changed up the storylines and gave the show a new focus. They even managed to make you feel sorry for Piper by the end of the season despite her being completely insufferable for most of it. I’m not sure I really liked how the season ended, but we’ll see where they take it in season five.

Last Chance U

Last Chance U is a six episode documentary following a season of the East Mississippi Community College Lions football team. EMCC is a junior college located in the small town of Scooba, Mississippi, but it has apparently become quite the JuCo football team by recruiting students who weren’t immediately eligible to play regular college football because of poor grades or who were suspended from their teams for grades or behavior and are trying to work their way back to an NCAA team. I had no idea junior college football was even a thing before watching this, but apparently like all other football it has become quite the business.

I don’t actually care that much about football, but just like with Friday Night Lights it doesn’t really matter. Of course you’re going to see some football played, but it’s really the story of the players, the team, their coach, and their academic advisor who will definitely remind you of Tami Taylor. The whole thing is kind of like real life Friday Night Lights. If like me you loved FNL, I highly recommend giving six hours of your time to this show.

Stranger Things

Like every other breathing human on this planet I too fell in love with the Netflix show Stranger Things this summer. In case you somehow have yet to hear about this show, it’s set in 1983 and follows the adventures of a group of three boys and the mysterious girl they meet up with after one of their friends goes missing. Wynona Ryder plays the missing boy’s mother who has her own parallel storyline with the sheriff. There is definitely something sinister going on in their town and they’re all trying to figure out what it is. It is very reminiscent of a lot iconic 80s films like Stand By Me and ET among others. At only eight episodes it’s a perfect little chunk of TV to enjoy.

Mr. Robot

I very much enjoyed the first season of Mr. Robot last year, but probably we’re probably about halfway through this season and hell if I could tell you anything that’s going on. I’ve pretty much tuned out and am not paying attention to it anymore even though I’m sitting in the room when my husband watches it. I don’t have much more to say than that because well I’m not really watching it anymore. Sorry Mr. Robot, it’s not me, it’s you.

Roadies

I had so many high hopes for this show because as you know I love music and this show follows a group of roadies and was created by Cameron Crowe. I am a long time lover of Cameron Crowe movies. Say Anything is still one of my favorites. Of course had I really thought about the last time Cameron Crowe made something that was actually decent and not just saved for me by the way he used music in it, I probably would have been more leary of this show. It is not a good show, but once again the music saved it. It’s even better in this because every episode in addition to the great soundtrack had a performance by a musical act including Lucius, The Head and the Heart, and Lindsay Buckingham. That part of the show was pure delight and was what kept me watching every week. The actual characters and plot the show, not so much. It doesn’t sound like Showtime is very bullish about renewing this and the season ended with what felt like a finale, so I’m okay if this was a one and done project.

The Get Down

The Get Down was the third of the three music related TV shows I was looking forward to premiering this year with Roadies and the even worse Vinyl. I didn’t even make it past the second episode of Vinyl it was so terrible. As I just indicated Roadies also fell mostly flat for me as an actual tv show, so I was hoping against hope that The Get Down would finally be one that I would like. It’s a Netflix show created by Baz Luhrmann about the advent of hip hop in the 1970s. The essentially movie length premiere episode was actually helmed by Baz Luhrmann with the rest of the episodes just created with his input. The premiere felt very Baz Luhrmanny for good and ill and then it calmed itself down a little after that though there were still many scenes throughout that had that grandiosity of scene that Luhrmann brings to his projects. It was amusing to see how tv critics were split on whether they preferred the premiere to the remaining episodes or vice versa.

What dropped on Netflix this summer was actually just the first half of the first season. There will be another 6 episodes to come later. This show is definitely not perfect, but it is by far the best of the three shows I mentioned and I’m definitely invested in seeing where it goes.

The Night Of

The Night Of is a long shelved project at HBO. It’s been in the works so long that James Gandolfini was attached to it. I don’t know why they finally decided to finish it up and trot it out this summer, but they did. I very much enjoyed the first episode and then sort of lost interest in it along the way. It had its moments, but I never felt like it lived up to what it had set up. The show revolves around Naz, a twenty-something boy who takes his father’s cab without permission to drive to a party, accidentally winds up picking up a fare in the form of a sort of manic pixie dream girl, does a lot of drugs with her, and then discovers her dead from 22 stab wounds when he wakes up from his drugged stupor. He winds up arrested for the crime, and the rest of the series follows him in the prison system and going through the trial process. His ambulance chaser of a lawyer is also a main character in the series and you see a lot about his life as well including a lot more about eczema than you probably ever wanted to see. If you think you’d be interested in a long form crime procedural you would probably enjoy this show.

Marcella

Marcella is a British crime show starring Anna Friel as the titular Marcella available on Netflix. At the beginning of the series it is obvious that Marcella has had some sort of breakdown that has caused her to leave her job with the police until a crime that is eerily reminiscent of cases she was working on occurs. The new case causes her to return to job, but the stresses of the case and her deteriorating home life may mean that she might be more involved in what’s happening than she realized. This was another decent sort of short crime story.

Game Show Reboots

This summer ABC has been airing reboots of Celebrity Family Feud, $100,000 Pyramid, and Match Game on Sunday nights. I don’t care about Family Feud that much and only ever watched one episode of that show, which reminded me that I didn’t need to keep watching it. I have been enjoying $100,000 Pyramid and Match Game though.

The original Pyramid shows hosted by Dick Clark are some of my all time favorite game shows. This version is better than some of the other reboots of the show, but it’s not as good. Michael Strahan is definitely no Dick Clark, although I do think he got better as the season went on. Mostly the problem with the show was the celebrities they had on. They were mostly terrible at playing the game. I’m like do they not vet these people at all to see if they can even manage to play the game halfway well. In pretty much every episode aside from the one with Yvette Nicole Brown and Zacharcy Levi at least one if not both of the celebrities were terrible. The show would have been much better if they had found some people who could actually play.

The Match Game reboot did mostly better on the celebrities, but it was the game itself that had some shortcomings. Alec Baldwin does a good job as the host and the rotating panel of celebrity contestants has mostly worked for me with some weeks being a bit better than others. The main issue is the questions. They written in such a way that either it’s almost impossible for the contestant and celebrities to get matching answers or one of the questions in the round is almost a gimme for matches and it makes it really unbalanced between the two contestants and guarantees one is going to win over the other. If they get some better question writers this would be an excellent reboot of this game show.

OJ: Made in America

If you had told me  at the beginning of the year that I was going to spend so much time this year watching stuff about the OJ Simpson case I probably wouldn’t have believed you. After watching The People vs. OJ Simpson dramatized version of the OJ Simpson case you wouldn’t think I needed to watch a 5 part documentary about OJ Simpson, but you would be wrong. Had all the reviews of this not told me it was excellent and a nice complement to The People vs. OJ Simpson, I would not have watched it. It was indeed an excellent documentary that traced OJ’s entire life and placed it in the context of the world around him and the times he was living in.

The Fosters

I can’t keep track of what season The Fosters is on because it’s one of those ABC Family, I mean Freeform, shows that splits into summer and winter half seasons. I never know when a new actual season is starting. The show is about Stef and Lena who are raising Stef’s biological son plus their four other teenage foster/adopted children. The show is definitely not as good as it used to be and has sort of run out realistic story ideas so everything is becoming more outlandish, but there are still one or two episodes every season that are so good that I’m still watching.

The Jim Gaffigan Show

The Jim Gaffigan show was a somewhat autobiographical sitcom about Jim Gaffigan’s life living in a small New York apartment with his wife and five small kids as he pursues a career as a stand up comic. It was a pretty amusing show, but this season will be its last. Jim and his wife Jeannie who is the co-creator announced that they are walking away from the show because it was taking too much time away from their kids. I have no doubt they’ll be creating something else excellent in the future.

Halt and Catch Fire

I’m sort of getting a two-fer with Halt and Catch Fire because I spent the first part of the summer binge watching the first two seasons of this show and now the third season has just started. I did watch the first few episodes of this show when it first started but quickly bailed on it even though my husband kept watching. After the second season started I kept hearing critics say that it was a huge turnaround and that the show was vastly improved. I finally decided to give it another try this summer and catch up before the third season started. It was much better in season two and I’m enjoying season three so far as well. It’s about the early days of personal computers  and the internet in the 80s. Now that the story is more focused on the female leads rather than one of the anti-hero male leads it’s much better.

The Fall

My husband and I had watched one episode of The Fall years ago but for some reason never finished it. After really enjoying Archie Panjabi in The Good Wife and realizing she was in this, I decided to go back to it. Her part is fairly minor as the medical examiner. The show really focuses on Gillian Anderson as an outside investigator who is connecting a series of murders and stepping on toes of the local police as she attempts to find who is killing the women. Jamie Dornan plays the killer who you also follow as he completes his crimes while also living a mundane life as a family man. I enjoyed it and it wasn’t a huge time investment. It was nice to watch some short form shows this summer instead of investing in another 6 or 7 season series.

 

Aberdeen IronBirds Game August 30, 2016

Filed under: Friends,Sports — dwhren @ 8:32 am

Sunday night we headed out to an Aberdeen IronBirds baseball game. The IronBirds are a Short Season A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. They are owned by former Oriole Cal Ripken hence their name being a combination of Ripken’s nickname The Iron Man along with birds for the Orioles.

I’ve been to other minor league team games before, but this was my first IronBirds game. My other minor league games have been in places where there isn’t a major league team. We live within a couple of miles of Camden Yards, so there’s no need to trek all the way out to the northern reaches of Maryland to watch a minor league team play. One of our friends got a group of people together to go up on Sunday though because they have a crab deck at Ripken Stadium where you can order crabs and sit out at picnic tables and eat them during the game. It’s all very Maryland. I figured it would be a good time to check out the IronBirds and spend some time with friends.

It turned out to be a really nice night for a baseball game. Perfect summer weather in my opinion. So even though I didn’t wind up eating crabs, it was still a fun outing. It was also dollar hot dog night, so by the time people decided to move to the crab deck I had already eaten a hot dog and fries and decided I wasn’t going to bother with crabs. Other people seemed to enjoy them though.

In addition to dollar hot dog night it was also Halloween in August, so all of the people working there were in costumes as were a lot of people in the crowd. I was actually surprised how many people actually showed up in costume. Good for them for getting into the spirit of things. That’s the thing about minor league baseball, everything seems just slightly goofier, but in a good way. There’s lots more stuff they do to try and keep the crowd entertained. It’s all very low budget, but I find it endearing.

The baseball itself was not great. There’s a reason these guys aren’t playing in the big leagues. The game went into extra innings. I gave them one more inning to win before we left. Based on how the last few innings had gone I had a feeling it was going to be awhile before anyone scored and broke the tie. I was right.We had driven the 45 minutes home before the game was over. Our friends that stayed said it went into the 13th inning and they were there for a good hour after we left.

It was a fun night and it’s a completely different experience than going to an O’s game, but I would probably need a pretty good reason to trek up there again for a game. We spent just as much money on tickets for the IronBirds as for an O’s game. Granted that’s comparing fourth row seats at Ripken Stadium to upper deck seats at Camden Yards, but it’s still comparing what we would actually pay to see a game at each place. Plus you can bring in food and drink to Camden Yards, which you can’t at Ripken Stadium. I guess at least the hot dogs at Ripken Stadium were better. I don’t like the ones they have at Camden Yards. Aberdeen is a little far to drive just for a hot dog though. Probably if I want to see a baseball game in the future I’ll stick with the Orioles, but I’m glad I got to check out the IronBirds after so many years of driving past their stadium on 95.

 

 

Bonnie Raitt at Pier Six Pavilion August 26, 2016

Filed under: Concerts,Music,Pop Culture — dwhren @ 9:04 am

My first real memory of being conscious of the fact that Bonnie Raitt was a singer who exists in the world was back in middle school when the song “I Can’t Make You Love Me” was inescapable. I wasn’t particularly fond of the song then. Being all of 13 years old it really didn’t speak to me at the time. It has grown on me over the years, but it’s still not one of my favorite Bonnie Raitt songs. I do know some older Bonnie Raitt songs that either seeped into my world after they came out or which I knew, but as a child never really connected with Bonnie Raitt. Essentially what I’m saying is that Bonnie Raitt first came into my life at a time when I wasn’t really ready to embrace her, but as I’ve gotten older and wiser I’ve fallen in love with her music.

Thus at this late date in her musical career I finally saw Bonnie Raitt live on Wednesday night. I admit that I probably wouldn’t have made a great effort to go see her. She’s also playing at Wolf Trap this week, which as you know is one of my favorite venues but it’s a trek to get to and I don’t know that I would have decided to make it for her. However she was playing at Pier Six Pavilion which is very close to my house in Baltimore and is a nice little venue right on the harbor, so I decided it was definitely a show I should go to.

I’m glad I did because it was a great concert. Sometimes you see people who have been performing for a long time and think I definitely missed out on seeing them in their prime. Bonnie Raitt is the opposite of that in that I thought wow she’s a veteran performer and it shows. She still commands the stage and plays a mean guitar.

She played a really good mix of songs stretching from her decidedly blues songs from the 70s to the more pop rock and country influenced music of the 90s, up to her recent albums that have more an Americana feel. They all blend together and overlap, but I at least feel that’s the way her music has sort of evolved over the decades. She included a number of covers and did a lot of talking to the audience between songs, both of which you know I really like in a concert. She is a fantastic performer and really shows why she is part of musical history.

In addition to the great performance it was just a perfect night to be at an outdoor concert. The view was beautiful and there was a nice breeze coming off the water. It really was a perfect summer night and reminds me why I love this time of year so much. There’s nothing like sitting outside on a beautiful summer night listening to live music under the stars.

 

 

Dawes at The Sound Garden August 24, 2016

Filed under: Concerts,Music,Pop Culture,Uncategorized — dwhren @ 7:58 am

Yesterday I got to see Dawes play a short set at The Sound Garden, which is a record store in Baltimore. They are doing as short tour playing some record stores promoting their forthcoming album, We’re All Gonna Die, due out on September 16. If you pre-ordered a copy of the album from Sound Garden you got a wristband to see the performance.

It was serendipitous that I even found out about it. I don’t go to Sound Garden all that often, so I didn’t see any in-store promotions they were doing for it. In fact wandering around Fells Point this week I was astonished at how much had changed since I last spent any time down there. I need to get out of Hampden more often. Anyway, I saw a tweet from WRNR, which is a radio station in Annapolis saying listen to win tickets to some private event they were hosting with Dawes. Seeing that made me think Dawes must be doing something in Maryland because it seemed doubtful that they were coming just for a radio event. I was surprised since they had just opened for Brandi Carlile and Old Crow Medicine Show at Merriweather in July, sadly while I was away at the Newport Folk Festival, so I wasn’t expecting them to be back in these parts any time soon. I decided to check their tour page though and see what was up. That’s where I stumbled upon the information about this show. I of course pre-ordered my CD, so I could go.

Obviously it was a very intimate show given that it was taking place in a record store. I managed to get pretty close, which I was happy about because had I been in the back I’m sure I wouldn’t have been able to see anything between the racks and tall people. They played for about a half hour. I wish it was longer, but it was about what I was expecting for a “free” show in a record store. They played a nice mix of stuff from the new album and older stuff. I’ll definitely be looking forward to hopefully getting to see them play more of the new stuff when they start really touring to support the album.

After the performance they stuck around to do a signing. There were some promotional posters they were giving out that you could have signed seeing as how there wasn’t actually an album to sign yet. I was amused when I heard the guy in line front of me tell them that he had seen them play at Bonnaroo and then heard the guy behind me scoff and say Bonnaroo? I saw them at Newport. That made me laugh because yeah my feelings exactly guy.

It was a fun little break for my Tuesday night. There’s always something special about getting to see one of your favorite bands in a non-standard venue, and this was definitely that.

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