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.

No Need to Shop til You Drop

I generally have a hate/hate relationship with shopping. Working in retail for 4 years pretty much sucked all the joy out of it for me. I tend to only go shopping when I’m looking for something specific. This tends to lead to all kinds of problems further cementing my dislike of the shopping experience because it means I usually have some very specific idea of what I’m trying to find. I have discovered that I and the manufacturers of items do not tend to be on the same page, and thus I normally have a really hard time finding what I want. Let’s not talk about how long it took me to find a purse that I wanted. By the time I finally found one that made me happy my old one was literally falling apart at the seams.

However, the last 2 times I have gone shopping the shopping gods have smiled upon me. The last time I went shopping was in December for Christmas presents for myself. I needed the aforementioned purse and a new pair of black boots, which my parents were going to buy me as my Christmas gift. I went to exactly two stores and found exactly what I was looking for. It was amazing.

Today was pretty much an exact repeat. I had bought a pair of pants online the other week, but needed to buy some new shirts to go with them. I also wanted to buy a new swimsuit before my trip to Florida in a couple of weeks. I had very specific ideas of what I was looking for, so was sure that I would fruitlessly search for these items and come up empty handed. Not so. I found a swim suit right away at Target. Then I went to the mall and found not one but two shirts at H&M, which was the first store I went into. I also managed to find a third shirt at Macy’s, which was more than I was hoping for. I also stumbled upon a pair of navy blue patent leather ballet flats, which wasn’t something I was even looking for but which will go perfect with my new pants. Best of all everything was on sale. It was a super shopping day. If this keeps up I may actually start enjoying my trips to the mall.

Loyola is Going to the NCAA Tournament

As I have mentioned in this blog before, I enjoy college basketball. Sadly, my one true team, Wake Forest has been in shambles the past few years. I also have ties to both University of Maryland and Loyola University Maryland too though. I attended graduate school at both institutions and currently work at Loyola. As such Maryland has become my backup ACC team when Wake Forest is not doing well, though I always cheer for Wake over Maryland. They unfortunately were not a great back up team this year either as they were barely any better than Wake was.

Until this year I have never really paid any attention to Loyola basketball. I always had my ACC schools to watch, and Loyola even within one of the lesser Division I athletic conferences has been notoriously bad at basketball the entire time I’ve been affiliated with them. That is until this year when they actually started to win games. I didn’t attend any in person but did see several on TV this year, which is a first. About halfway through the season, when it became clear that neither Wake nor Maryland were going to make anything of themselves, but Loyola actually had a shot at winning their conference and getting an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament I started cheering them on like never before. Loyola somehow became my only hope of seeing a team I had a connection with in the big dance this year as improbable as that seemed.

Tonight they managed to pull it off in a nail biter of a game that had me on the edge of my seat about to have a heart attack. They beat Fairfield to win the MAAC championship and a bid to the tournament. It’s only the second time they have ever been in the NCAA tournament, the last and only previous time being back in 1994 (under the coaching I might add of Skip Prosser, who sadly passed away during his tenure as Wake Forest’s coach). They’ll probably only be a 15 or 16 seed and lose in the first round, but for Loyola basketball this is a huge accomplishment, and I’ll be excited to cheer them on in their game. That’s more than I can really say about the final Wake and Maryland games I’ll be watching later this week when they actually play each other in the first round of the ACC tournament. So I temporarily throw my full support behind Loyola and say Go Greyhounds!

Reason #837 I Love My Husband

Ok, so I just completely plucked that number out of thin air. I’m not really keeping a list (maybe I should?–I don’t want his head to get too big though). Anyway, reason #837 I love my husband is that last night I was complaining that my hands were really cold. I have no idea what was wrong with them. They were so cold it was almost painful. I know I have crappy circulation issues, but this was just crazy. The rest of me didn’t even feel that cold. It was strange. Anyway, all on his own initiative my husband got up and went into the kitchen, microwaved a mug of water so it was hot, and brought it out to me so I could hold onto it and warm up my hands. Guys, I’m seriously married to the sweetest man alive.