The Washington Post’s Annual Peeps Diorama Contest

The Washington Post revealed the winners of their 6th annual Peeps Diorama Contest today. I look forward to seeing the creative scenes people have created with Peeps every year. It’s amazing how creative people get and how much time and energy must have gone into creating some of these dioramas. I also find it to be a really interesting look into what things have pervaded our culture over the past year or so. This year among more timeless scenes there are Peeps occupying various cities, Downton Abbey Peeps, and the Royal Wedding Peeps just to name a few of the more topical entries. Looking back over previous years entries would provide a nice look at the key things people were talking and thinking about at the time. If you haven’t already go take a look at this year’s awesome entries.

Cover of Rolling in the Deep by Judith Owen

A good cover song in my opinion is not a strict cover. If you plan to sing the same exact version of a song as the original singer, then I might as well just listen to the original. However, if you take a song and make it your own I can get behind that. It doesn’t necessarily mean I will enjoy your version of the song, but I can at least appreciate the attempt at creating something new.

Happily I do enjoy Judith Owen’s cover of Adele’s Rolling in the Deep. It is very different stylistically than the original. I like the song on it’s own merits, and the fact that it’s an interesting reinterpretation of a song I already like is just an extra added bonus. The first time I heard the song was listening to WXPN while I was at work. I wasn’t really paying attention to the lyrics, but was thinking that I really liked the song based on the music. I totally didn’t recognize it as Rolling in the Deep until after the song was over and the DJ said what it was. I immediately had to go out and find a copy of it online to listen to again so I could indeed hear that it was Rolling in the Deep. I almost didn’t want to say what the song was to see how many other people did or did not pick up on it.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find a copy of the song to embed in this post, but you can listen to it on Judith Owen’s website at this link.

The Head and the Heart

It’s been far too long since I’ve written about music on this blog. Last night I went with several friends to see The Head and the Heart in concert at Ram’s Head Live in Baltimore, which seems the perfect occasion to remedy that. If you’re not familiar with them, The Head and the Heart is a Seattle based indie folk pop band. Their music has amazing harmonies, which is one of the reasons I love them. Much of their music also features piano that reminds me greatly of Ben Folds, so if you enjoy him you would probably also like The Head and the Heart.

Now that I’ve talked about the band, I’m going to turn specifically to the concert. Ram’s Head is an SRO venue. Usually when I see concerts at SRO venues I can barely see because I’m so short and never fail to wind up behind some really tall person. Ram’s Head has a number of different balcony levels though, so there are more opportunities to find a place where you can see. Thanks to the couple who inexplicably left their prime spot against the rail in the center of the balcony right after the opening acts, I got to move up and have an amazing view of the band I actually came to see.

Speaking of the opening acts, they were not good. The first band, Black Girls (which incidentally is a band made of 5 white men), wasn’t horrible but nothing I’m going to bother seeking out again. However, the second band, Drew Grow and the Pastors’ Wives was completely awful. Their idea of music is completely antithetical to mine. It was that grating music that consists of nothing but melody-less yelling and screeching set to discordant music and instrumental feedback that was somehow supposed to be a song. It was painful to listen to. I was never so happy to see a band leave the stage.

The Head and the Heart’s music on the other hand was wonderful. The concert itself wasn’t fabulous. I prefer it when the artists actually interact more with the audience than they did. The only interactions with the audience they had were perfunctory thanks for coming out, we’re going to play some new stuff, we’re happy to be here type comments. They got up on stage and just did what they do, but did it well. I still adore their music though and despite the fact that they don’t have much of a stage presence I’m greatly looking forward to seeing The Head and the Heart again in a few short months at The Newport Folk Festival.

I had a hard time deciding which The Head and the Heart song I wanted to link to in this post because I love so many of them. Down in the Valley is one of my favorites and is the song that they closed the show out with last night. Then there is Rivers and Roads, which I adore and that provided the perfect soundtrack to the final scenes of my beloved TV series Chuck. However, I finally decided on Lost in My Mind because it was the first song of their’s that I heard and the one that made me fall in love with them. Perhaps it will make you fall a little in love with them too.

Super Art Fight

Tonight I shall be attending Super Art Fight at the Ottobar in Baltimore. What is Super Art Fight you may ask. Well let me tell you I say. It is an amazingly fun graphic art competition. A bunch of artists (mostly web comic artists I think), of whom my friend Bryan is one, have a drawing battle on a giant wall sized canvas all set to amusing commentary from your Super Art Fight hosts. The artists are given new topics to draw every few minutes with a spin of the wheel of death. They battle it out taking over each others drawings and turning them into something new. It’s kind of hard to explain, so have a look at this highlight video from one of the previous Super Art Fights to get a better idea of what I’m talking about.

It’s lots of nerdy, awesome fun which is the best kind in my opinion. There are usually 4 bouts during each Super Art Fight with bands playing between the various bouts. There are two bands tonight, one of which is Paul and Storm. I’m not familiar with the music in that I’ve never heard any of it.  However, they are frequently mentioned by nerdy celebrity types that I much enjoy like Wil Wheaton and Christ Hardwick, so I’m kind of looking forward to seeing what they have to offer.

If you’re in Baltimore and not doing anything tonight, I highly suggest getting yourself over to the Ottobar for a great night of fun. I believe there are tickets still available. You won’t be disappointed I promise. If you can’t make it tonight, keep an eye out for future Super Art Fight events.

Druid Hill Park

Druid Hill Park was Baltimore’s first municipal park. Today it is home to the Maryland Zoo, one of Baltimore’s public swimming pools, tennis courts, basketball courts, pavilions, and a track that runs around the reservoir in the park. On nice days instead of going to the gym I prefer to get my exercise by walking over to the park and then around the track (which isn’t really a real track, just a concrete track, but it serves my purposes just fine). The walk from my house to the park around the track twice and then back home is approximately 5 miles, which is just about the perfect amount of exercise for me.

It is great to get outside and enjoy the pleasant weather whenever we have it, which as I mentioned yesterday can be a rare occasion in Baltimore. I also enjoy the much nicer view of the water and the city in the park than what I get at the gym. There’s a really great view of Baltimore from one of the corners of the track because as the name of the park indicates it’s up on a hill.

I also appreciate the cross-section of people I get to see while walking the track. You get everyone from people like me out to get some exercise, to people walking their dogs, moms and dads with kids on bikes or in strollers, runners, bikers, people alone, people in groups, people from all walks of life. These are the people who live in Baltimore all out enjoying some time the park. Also, the park seems to bring out the friendliness in people. It’s stereotypically true, but living in the city people often are going about their business just caught up in their own world. People don’t tend to greet strangers on the street, but I don’t think I’ve walked the track without at least one person saying hello to me or asking me how I’m doing. Today two people did.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget in a city that can often seem run down and just plain full of concrete, that there are some really beautiful spaces it. All it takes is a walk in the park to be reminded.


The Smell of Fresh Air in My House

Thanks to the absolutely unseasonally gorgeous weather we’ve been having in Baltimore the past few days, we have been leaving some of the windows in our house open. I love the smell of the fresh air in my house. It’s especially noticeable when I open the door to the bedroom, which we keep closed to keep the cats out. Baltimore weather is pretty horrible usually. We generally only get a handful of days that are worthy of leaving the windows open all day. It’s either too cold in the winter or way too hot and humid in the summer. We’re one of the lucky few living in the city with central air conditioning, so when it’s hot and gross out we turn on the air and shut the windows. It’s these few days in between the horrible weather of winter and summer that allow for us to leave the windows open and enjoy the weather. I’m hoping that this beautiful weather keeps up for quite some time. I’m a little afraid of how hot it’s going to be this summer given how warm the winter has been, but for now I’ll just keep enjoying the great weather I’m being given.

Daylight Savings Time

A lot of people I know, my husband included, grumble about Daylight Savings Time. They think it serves no purpose, leads to problems, makes them lose an hour of sleep, etc. I on the other hand am a huge fan of Daylight Savings Time. I hate the cold, dark days of winter. The return of Daylight Savings Time marks the end of what is by far the worst season of the year (though this year hasn’t been so bad because of the super mild winter). I love the pronounced change in how long it stays light outside. It makes it much more dramatic and noticeable than the gradual day by day changes that occur naturally. I love that last week when I left the gym after yoga on a Monday it was pitch black out, and this week there was still light. I adore the long, light days of summer and Daylights Savings Time marks the beginning of that wonderful time of year.