Newport Folk Festival 2014: Day Three

We didn’t wind up attending all of day three because the forecasters were calling for severe storms between 11 and 3. Anyone who knows Fort Adams knows that there is absolutely no place to shelter there. Given that we take the ferry over and had no easy way to leave or a car to take shelter in we really didn’t want to be outside with a bunch of thunder and lightning. It turns out that the storms that passed through in the morning at least in Newport were rain events only, though definitely areas west, north and south got hit pretty hard including tornadoes. We kept an eye on the radar and decided though we probably would get wet it seemed like the bulk of the severe rain was gone, and decided to head over. There was only really one act I was disappointed at not seeing because of our delayed arrival, but having spent all of Friday at last year’s festival soaking wet from the rain I was happy with our decision to sit out the worst of the rain this year.


We got to the festival in the middle of Dawes’ set. I have seen them live numerous times before, so I had already planned on leaving them early to see Hozier. Thus it wasn’t a big deal to me to miss them for the most part. Luckily they played two of the songs I would have most wanted to hear, “From a Window Seat” and “When My Time Comes” right in a row, and those were the two songs I got to here. They were just as wonderful as always. When I get a chance I’m definitely going to listen to their full set.

NPR Music has an archive of their set. Take a listen.


I saw Hozier earlier this summer at the Sweetlife Festival. At the time I said I was looking forward to seeing him play at a smaller venue because I didn’t really feel like he had great command of the stage. He did perform on a much smaller stage at Newport, but I left with the same feeling. Maybe he would work out better in a small seated venue or say my living room? I still love his music, and it does sound great but both times I’ve seen him now I have not been able to hear at least 50% of what he’s saying when he talks to the audience. I don’t know why because he has a very commanding voice when he’s singing, but when he speaks I can’t for the life of me hear him. Maybe he’ll get better. Now I kind of wish I had seen him play the Museum stage, which he did several times over the course of the weekend. It would definitely be a tiny place to see him play. I’m betting that was probably awesome.

The Newport Folk Festival is always kicked off on Sunday mornings with a performance by the Berklee Gospel and Roots Choir. We obviously missed them this year due to our late arrival, but they stopped in and backed Hozier on a song, which was pretty cool.

Conor Oberst

I only saw the first part of Conor Oberst’s set. He was being backed by Dawes. I have been intrigued by this ever since they announced the album. They fit together, but it still seems weird that a band that has a career in their own rights is backing someone else. Obviously they have their reasons to collaborate, so good for them I guess. If I had a choice though I would have preferred to see more of Dawes doing their thing as opposed to listening to Conor Oberst whose music I can’t quite get into the way that I think I should given how well it fits with much of the other music I listen to.

NPR Music recorded his set, so you too can hear it.

Trampled by Turtles

Trampled by Turtles is a Newport staple. I love seeing them there, and I will go see them play every year that they show up. I am obviously not the only one as they did not play on the main stage this year and the stage they did play on was more crowded than I had seen it all weekend. My husband actually left his perch at the main stage and wandered over and when he did he commented that based on the crowd it seemed like they should have been on the main stage instead. Scheduling of course is an art form, so sometimes you have to make do. At any rate they were great fun as always and had the crowd singing and dancing the whole time.

As a fun aside, they came out to perform with Mavis Staples during her set and she referred to them as Smashing Turtles, which makes me smile every time I think about it.

Rodrigo Y Gabriela

Rodrigo Y Gabriela were one of the bands I was most excited to see at this year’s Newport. Sadly their set overlapped with Mavis Staples, so I had to leave early but wow are they amazing. You would not that think that two people on a stage playing completely instrumental guitar music could create the fire that they did from that stage, but they did. The audience was crazy into it clapping along. Gabriela is insane basically throwing herself around the stage as she plays. I really hope I get the chance to see them again soon. At least they opened their set with the one song I really wanted to hear, so I didn’t miss out on that.

Mavis Staples

Mavis Staples was the grand dame of this year’s festival. The entire festival was dedicated as a celebration of her 75th birthday. As I mentioned in my previous two posts she popped up throughout the weekend singing with other artists, and she brought out a ton of people on stage to sing with her throughout her set. It was a truly amazing and unparalleled musical experience.

She sang “The Weight” with Norah Jones and Taylor Goldsmith from Dawes, which was awesome.

She sang “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” with a bunch of people.

Some of the other artists that joined her on stage and I’m sure I’m forgetting a lot were Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig from Lucius, Spooner Oldham,  Trampled by Turtles, and Jeff Tweedy.

She ended out the set singing “We Shall Overcome” which Pete Seeger, who sadly passed away this year, closed out the festival with every year he was there. Everyone joined her on stage to sing it, and of course coming from her who actually sang it as part of the Staples Sisters during the Civil Rights movement and with Dr. King it was doubly special. It was a fantastic way to close out the festival and it will be difficult for anything else to beat how momentously special that set was.

Newport Folk Festival 2014: Day Two

I don’t have anything special to say about Saturday, so let’s get right into the sets I saw during Day Two of the Newport Folk Festival. I will say that we left before Saturday’s headliner, Jack White. I don’t know why but I just have never been able to make myself care about Jack White either as a solo artist or in his days with The White Stripes. I obviously know a decent amount of his music by osmosis, and I respect what he does as an artist and producer but somehow he is just not for me. I find that it’s nice to get done a little bit early on Saturdays as well. Even though Newport already ends very early in the grand scheme of music festivals, my introverted self can still use some extra down time in the middle of the weekend.

Aoife O’Donovan

Aoife O’Donovan was a nice low-key way to start off Saturday on the main stage. It often seems like they schedule very subdued, traditional folk artists at the beginning of the morning to ease you in to the day. I wasn’t really familiar with her before the festival other than listening to her on Spotify a couple of times knowing that I would most likely see her. She definitely folk with some Celtic undertones. A nice start to the morning.

NPR Music has her set recorded if you want to listen.

The Oh Hellos

The Oh Hellos completely blew me away with their set. Aside from Mavis Staples’ historic set closing out the festival on Sunday night, this was by far the best set of the festival. They had something like 13 musicians up on the stage and they are all dancing around. It was a wonder that they didn’t all collide at some point. Their music ranges from joyous, literally foot-stomping fun to slower folk ballads. Like one of my favorite performances last year by The Lone Bellow on the same stage, they ended their performance with several members of the band jumping off the stage and going out into the audience to play. Amusingly they were led by someone playing a snare drum who picked it up and jumped off the stage with it. Several other band members seemed like what the hell and followed. They were an incredible joy to watch perform. And as with the best artists that show up to the Newport Folk Festival they seemed awed to be there. At the end of their set they were recording the audience and taking pictures on their phones. I love when bands are as happy to be somewhere as the audience is. And speaking of the audience, like me everyone seemed to be taken in by them such that most everyone was standing there applauding loudly after a minute when The Oh Hellos were told they had finished early and could play one more song if they wanted, which they did. Usually as soon as a band finishes playing everyone is off and running to the next stage, but not so this time. I cannot stress enough that you should go see this band if you get the chance.

J. Roddy Walston & the Business

I made a pit stop by J. Roddy Walston & the Business. I had to walk by their stage to get back to see Shovels & Rope, and I had a few minutes so I think I listened to about 3 or 4 songs. I already knew going in that I’m not a huge fan of the band, but I figured I would see what they had to offer. They definitely are not folk in any way that I think of folk. I definitely define them as rock pure and simple. They’re pretty hot on the indie rock scene right now though. For people who like their music they seemed to be putting on a good show during the few songs that I saw.

Shovels & Rope

I’ve already seen Shovels & Rope a few times live including last year’s Newport Folk Festival and was looking forward to seeing them again. This year they moved from one of the smaller side stages to the main stage. Given that it’s just the two of them up there I wondered how they would command a larger stage than I had ever seen them play before. I needn’t have worried. They completely know what they are doing, and have the power and energy to hold their own wherever they are playing. I really like what they played from their forthcoming album, so I’ll be excited to get my hands on that when it is released.

Thanks to NPR Music you can enjoy their set too.


I only saw a few songs of the Houndmouth set as well so I don’t have much to say about it other than that they are still an excellent band and have definitely created a following at the Newport Folk Festival in their second year there. When I got over to the stage they were playing it was very crowded, and I had to stand far outside the tent where it was when most of the time I’m at least able to sneak right up to the edge of that tent for most bands.


As you may recall I saw Lucius open for The Head and the Heart recently, and I really enjoyed them a lot. At the time I said I looked forward to seeing them again at Newport should their set not conflict with anyone else I really wanted to see. It turns out that it didn’t, so I did see them again and was even more taken with them this time. They are such a delight to watch and listen to. They definitely have a very stylized performance, but it makes them stand out from the other bands I tend to see and especially those that frequent the Newport Folk Festival. And as a bonus this was my second Mavis Staples sighting of the festival as she came out to sing “Go Home” with them. The ladies of Lucius and Mavis Staples collaborated on two other songs on Sunday, and seemed like she was really taken with them. It was fun to watch. As a total aside earlier in the day on Saturday as I was walking around I saw someone else wandering around in a 3 piece suit and thought that’s an interesting choice for attire at a music festival. Of course as soon as Lucius came out on stage,  I was like duh of course that was one of the guys from Lucius who dress in matching suits on stage something I commented on after I saw them the first time. I’m sure that is only amusing to me, but it was.

Nickel Creek

I was so excited to see that Nickel Creek was going to be performing at this year’s Newport Folk Festival. I have been a long time fan of theirs as a band as well as the projects they have each worked on individually since the band went on hiatus. I love the new album they put out to celebrate 25 years of playing together, which is still crazy sounding since they’re all essentially my age. I guess that’s what happens when you start playing together as small children. The last time I saw them live was over a decade ago in a venue that doesn’t even exist anymore. I was super happy to get the chance to see them all play together again even though I’ve seen both Sara Watkins and Chris Thile at Newport in other years with her playing solo and him with The Punch Brothers. Their set was just as good as I hoped it would be. They pretty much played every song I was hoping to hear, which almost never happens from bands that have more than 2 albums.  I hope they stick together for awhile and that I’ll be able to see them again.

Lucky for you NPR recorded this set so you can take a listen.

Newport Folk Festival 2014: Day One

This past weekend was one of my favorite annual events, The Newport Folk Festival. It combines my two favorite things in the world music and water. You have a lovely view of the water from the festival grounds at Fort Adams, and since we take the ferry over I get to ride on a boat every day. I just wish it would stop combining with water in the form of rain, as it once again rained on this year. I have written about the festival over the past several years, so I am not going to rehash everything here about all the reasons why it is the best music festival in the world. You can go back and read my old posts if you want to read all my thoughts on that. The one thing I will emphasize this year, which I’m not sure if I’ve done before is that this festival more than any other I’m aware of is a musician’s festival. They love being there, and there is collaboration between artists at this festival like no other I’ve experienced. Artists, if their schedule allows, will come and hang out for multiple days. They don’t just come in play their set and leave. It means you get a lot of artists popping in to sing or play in each other’s sets as you will see when I go into specifics on the sets that I saw. They’ll also stop in play short acoustic sets in some of the small tents around the festival. Artists I’m aware of that were there for more than one day include Norah Jones, Nickel Creek, Hozier, Lucius, and Mavis Staples. There might be more that I just didn’t personally see. Dawes, who have played at the festival for a number of years now were only able to be there Sunday because of other tour commitments. Their lead singer even said during their set that they were only able to be there one day this year, they don’t like that, and they won’t let it happen again. The Newport Folk Festival has a heart like no other music festival and I just love it.

A few other thoughts about this year’s festival as a whole. The ferry lines were much more organized this year, so that it was much less confusing trying to figure out where you were supposed to get in line and which line was going to Jamestown and which was going to Newport. Of course I say that because it seemed more logical to me, but maybe not to everyone since one couple did wind up on our boat back to Jamestown when they meant to go to Newport. The other thing that was one of the best organization things I’ve ever seen at a concert/festival may be something they’ve been doing for years, but this is the first year we’ve experienced it. Usually the ferry we take over the morning gets us to the festival right after the gates have opened. On Saturday we took a slightly earlier ferry over, so we got there about 30 minutes before the gates opened. Instead of waiting until the gates opened to scan everyone’s tickets and do bag checks they basically had a little holding pen area set up. You walked through and got your ticket scanned and your bag checked and then they gave you a wristband that indicated you were all set to go in, so that was soon as the gates opened everyone could just walk right through showing their wristband to the staff. It was the most genius thing, and something so simple. As I said this might not be a new thing, but it was new to me and I highly applaud it.

Now on to the music. I’ll be doling these posts out over the next couple of days, so as not to create one ridiculously long post. So here’s the great music I got to experience on day one of the festival.


Anais Mitchell & Jefferson Hamer

I was not familiar with Anais Mitchell & Jefferson Hamer before going to the Newport Folk Festival. They’re very  much what you would think of when I say the words folk music. I honestly can’t say that this set had much of an impact on me. I spent most of it getting and then eating my lunch, so while I could hear the music I wasn’t paying super close attention. NPR Music recorded their set, which you can take a listen to if you want.


Phox played a delightful set. I was not that familiar with them before the festival. I only really knew the song “Slow Motion”, but I had seen enough good things written about them to know that I should be checking them out. They mostly just stuck to straight out playing their music. Monica Martin, the lead singer joked that she was sorry she wasn’t funnier, but it was too early in the day for her to be drinking that much. I imagine a show later in the evening and in a dark club might contain a little something more. It was enjoyable as it was too.

Noah Gundersen

I really enjoyed what I saw of Noah Gundersen. I didn’t stay for his whole set because I wanted to make it over to see Jenny Lewis, but the 3/4 of it that I saw was great. He reminds me a lot of Ryan Adams, and since he mentioned being super excited to see Ryan Adams later in the day I’m guessing Ryan is definitely one of his influences. His sister Abigail played the violin and his brother Jonathan played the drums. I’ll definitely be keeping my eye on him in the future. It doesn’t look like anyone has put up anything from his actual set at Newport, so enjoy this sanctioned recording from a performance at KEXP.

Jenny Lewis

I was super excited to see Jenny Lewis at Newport Folk Festival. I always enjoyed her as part of Rilo Kiley as well as her solo stuff. NPR Music had a first listen of her new album up on their site right before the festival, and I loved it so I was looking forward to hearing her play some of it live. If you know anything about my feelings on live music, you know that what I really value in a performance is interaction with the audience or feeling like I’m getting a little something more than I would just listening to a recording. I can’t say Jenny Lewis really did much of that, but it didn’t really matter because she has such an electric presence on stage. She was dancing around and just all over the place in this super flowy jacket. She reminded me a lot of Florence Welch the times I’ve seen Florence + the Machine live. She sang a few Rilo Kiley songs in addition to her solo stuff, so that was a nice bonus. I did cut out of her set early because in my hardest decision of the festival in deciding who to cut short I decided to head over for the full Lake Street Dive set. I did listen to the rest of Jenny Lewis’ set on NPR Music’s recording of it, and you can too.

Lake Street Dive

Lake Street Dive was one of the bands I was most looking forward to seeing this year. I imagined that they would be great to see live, and I was not wrong. They were great fun, and their soulful, but upbeat sound just demands to be danced to. The highlight of their set, and one of the best moments of the entire festival was Mavis Staples coming out to sing their hit “Bad Self Portraits” with them. I can not think of a more perfect song for Mavis Staples to collaborate on. It was made for her. It was such an amazing and unexpected moment. It is things like this that make the Newport Folk Festival beyond compare.

Band of Horses

I saw probably about the last half of the Band of Horses set. I don’t know what it is about me and Band of Horses, but even though I know many of their songs and they seem like a band I should really like I’m sort of ambivalent about them. As such I really don’t have much to say about what I did see. They seemed fine, and I’m sure people who are big fans were very happy with what they saw. You can check out NPR Music’s recording of their set and tell me that I’m nuts for not loving them as I should.

Ryan Adams

For awhile I thought I wasn’t going to be able to go to Newport on Friday because of a work conflict, and Ryan Adams was the act I was most devastated to think that I was going to miss. Luckily, things worked out so that I was able to go on Friday and thus enjoy Ryan Adams’ set. I saw him play in Baltimore a few years ago when he was touring his album Ashes and Fire. I loved that show. I still really liked this performance, but not quite as much mostly due to the songs he chose to play. Ryan Adams has a ridiculously huge catalog of music to pull from, and unfortunately he pulled from a lot of stuff that isn’t my favorite. I did like the new stuff that he played, so I’m looking forward to that album coming out in September. I was sad that there was zero harmonica, as I’m a sucker for his harmonica songs. I also enjoy his joking around on stage. This time I pretended to be Michael McDonald hanging out on a yacht and singing about eating lobster rolls. It was great, especially since I happen to like Michael McDonald and the music that gets classified as yacht rock. It was a great way to end the first day of the festival, and I’m really happy I didn’t miss it. If you did, NPR once again has a recording you can listen to.

Stay tuned for my coverage of day 2 tomorrow.

Saving Myself from Myself

Yesterday I almost had a horrible professional moment. A professor had asked me to come to her class to help out her students with an in-class project. It’s something I have helped this professor out with several times before. One of the schools I work for has two satellite graduate campuses, one north of Baltimore and the other south of Baltimore. Every other semester I have worked with this class it has been held at the northern campus, so I just spaced when the professor said in her email that it was at the southern campus. I think I just registered satellite campus, and it’s that class and zoomed right on along in the email assuming it was where I had always gone before.

Thankfully God was looking out for me and gave me a little tap on the shoulder to double check that right before I left the library to drive to the class yesterday. I was totally sitting at my desk whiling away the last few minutes before I planned to leave, and thought to myself I should check the room location in our registration system since the professor wasn’t positive what it was when she emailed me. That way I’ll know for sure when I get there and won’t have to search it out. Cue moment of panic when I look up the class and it tells me that it’s at the other campus. I then double check the email the professor sent me and sure enough she clearly said the southern campus not the northern one. Since to be there by 12:15 when she asked I should have left at least 15 minutes ago at that point I raced out the door and got myself down to where I was actually supposed to be. I was a few minutes late, but so were they as the students were still rolling back in from their lunch break when I arrived. Phew!

I am so, so glad something prompted me to look up the class location. If I hadn’t I totally would have gone to the wrong place and missed the class since the two campuses are over an hour apart. That would have been bad and super unprofessional of me. In the future I will definitely triple check classroom locations when I’m asked to leave the library and work with a class wherever they are meeting.

Wild West Murder Mystery

Last night my friends Julie and Heather held a murder mystery party to both celebrate Julie’s birthday as well as have a goodbye party of sorts before she moves across the country to Seattle (boo!!!!). As usual with their parties they go all out with food and decorations. They of course accumulate lots of friends who are game as well, so most everyone was dressed up in character to some degree.

The mystery was set in the town of Deadwood in some year in the 1800s that I forget. It was the end of a big poker tournament and we were all awaiting the award money to be given to the winner Mitch Maverick when he winds up dead. I had never done one of these play at home murder mysteries before, so I didn’t really know what to expect. We all got a little information about our characters prior to the party so we would know how to dress and know a little bit of background information about who we were. When we arrived we got additional information and instructions about what other characters we should be talking to and about what. The murder happened after this first act, and then we all got additional information that we were supposed to use to try and help figure out who the murderer was. You were also supposed to try and wind up with the most money at the end, so you could use your information for bribery or getting paid for telling others what you had.

My husband was actually the character who got murdered, which was probably fine with him because he’s not much into these kinds of things. He did however continue to try and win the money part of the game even after he was dead. He tried to convince people to give him money to tell them who killed him even though he didn’t actually know. A few people fell for it, but he still didn’t win. Some people were really into it talking to everyone and trying to all kinds of money. I pretty much just followed the instructions on my sheet, and didn’t really talk to any of the characters that didn’t interact with my part of the storyline. Pretty much everyone did stay in completely in character for the entire game though, which was pretty impressive. At the end of everything no one actually wound up figuring out who did it, so we obviously aren’t very good detectives. It was fun though.

I’m definitely going to miss Julie when she leaves Baltimore in a few weeks.

Photo stolen off my friend Karen’s Facebook feed

My Nice Clean House

My house is currently probably as clean as it’s ever been, and even better I’m not the one who made it that way. Basically what I’m saying is I finally have hired someone to clean my house who did an outstanding job. I put off hiring anyone to clean my house for years and years. Back when my grandmother was still alive she would tell me all the time that since my husband and I both work full-time that we should really hire someone to clean instead of doing it ourselves. That always seemed like something other people of a different sort did despite the fact that my grandparents definitely made less money than we do and they had someone. Most of my friends don’t have anyone cleaning their houses, and part of me still lives in the mindset of my salary as opposed to our household salary in which case I really could not justify the expense. As a household though we definitely make enough money to support it.

The first Christmas after we got married my husband’s gift was for us to get someone to clean the house. Of course being my husband he likes to gift ideas and then make me do all the work. Thus I was the one who wound up calling around to get estimates, and then couldn’t make myself pull the trigger. I just kept thinking about how that was a lot of money we could use on something else. So I never wound up hiring anyone.

I would think about it or talk about it randomly over the next five years, but the money thing was always in the back of my mind of course. And more importantly my anxiety over making phone calls prevented me from ever contacting people. I do not like the phone. I basically talk to my family once a week or so and my husband if I happen to be out of town. I rarely call anyone else, and the thought of calling people I don’t know is crippling to me. I put off so many things just because I don’t want to have to call to make appointments or contact someone about them. Thank god I live in the age of electronic communication. I’m not sure how I would have survived when phones were the only means of distance communication. At any rate I digress.

At some point earlier this year I’m not sure what changed, but I finally decided I was going to find someone. I picked someone that I found on Craigslist who had a nice website that laid out all her prices that seemed very reasonable and who let me book online. She then no-showed on me twice so she was out. I then tried eliciting feedback from people on Facebook and Twitter. One of my friends got back to me and recommended someone he used to use. We used her for a couple of months, and she did an ok job for more money than I had really wanted to pay but we had someone. I would have kept using her except that she is moving out of state, so obviously could not continue cleaning our house.

The same friend had also given me another name for someone he used to clean his new house recently after we had already hired the first person, so I wound up contacting her. She came for the first time yesterday, and she was fantastic. This is the feeling I was hoping to have with paying someone to clean my house, but really had not with the first person. I came home yesterday and everything was spotless and organized. There is one rack in our kitchen I’m still trying to figure out what she did because I thought I had it decently organized but every inch of it was taken up. Now it’s super neatly organized and there’s a ton of space left on it now. Even my toaster oven, which I had not anticipated her cleaning is gleaming. Even better, aside from yesterday’s initial cleaning, we’ll be paying her less than the person who didn’t do as good of a job and more along the lines of what I had been hoping to pay someone when I started looking. Hopefully she sticks around and doesn’t plan on going anywhere because I will happily pay her to clean my house for a long, long time.

Family Weekend in Baltimore

This past weekend my husband’s sister and her husband came down to visit with our niece and nephew. I had suggested this weekend awhile ago because the Yankees were going to be in town playing the Orioles and I thought it would be fun to take the kids to a baseball game now that they’re a little bit older, but I’ll get back to the baseball game in a minute. More than anything else the kids were excited to see our cats. I don’t think Scout and Charlotte shared their excitement. Our cats are generally very friendly and love for people to pet them. That doesn’t really extend so much to a couple of rambunctious three-year-olds though. The cats do not like being run at with grabby hands, and the kids didn’t get the concept of letting the kitties come to you and then petting them gently. We have a cat door leading into our basement so the cats spent a lot of time running down there, and the kids spent a lot of time like this.

Kitties are you down there? Come out and play with us.
Kitties are you down there? Come out and play with us.

After lunch on Saturday we headed to Port Discovery, which is the children’s museum in Baltimore. We had given them a family membership to the children’s museum in New York for a birthday or Christmas and they actually have a reciprocal relationship with Port Discovery so their pass worked for us to get in there as well, which was awesome. Having no kids of my own it was the first time I had been in Port Discovery. It’s pretty great for little kids. There’s lots of different areas for them to play in, and there’s a huge crazy climbing structure in the center that goes up the center of the building all three stories. They were too young to actually play in that this time, but I’m sure it will fun for them in the future. These are only a few of the things they did in the museum. I didn’t get any pictures, but I’m pretty sure their favorite part was the diner. We sat in a booth and they pretend cooked and waited on us. They might have stayed in there all day if we hadn’t told them it was time to move on.

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We hadn’t actually purchased baseball tickets early enough to actually get them from the actual Orioles. Yankees and Red Sox games at Camden Yards are always pretty full especially on a weekend because you get lots of fans that come in from out of town. Add to that the fact that the Orioles are currently in first place in the AL East so that Baltimore’s fair weather fans are actually going to games right now, and the game actually was pretty much sold out. Of course who knows what percentage of those tickets were snatched up by ticket resalers. The stadium definitely wasn’t full when we were in there. At any rate we waited until about an hour before the game started and then bought some tickets off of StubHub that had dropped way down in price as they were just trying to recoup some of their money. We hopped on the Charm City Circulator, Baltimore’s free bus, and went from the museum to Camden Yards. Since we bought the tickets on the phone and obviously weren’t anywhere we could print them out we had to get them scanned off of the phone to get in, which was as little tricky and took awhile. I think everyone in line behind us was ready to kill us. Oh well. We got in. We knew the kids weren’t going to last for the entire game. We were betting on 3. They made it about 4 as we didn’t actually get into the game until the second inning and we left after the fifth. Hopefully they’ll enjoy it a little more when they get a little older and maybe if we go when it’s not quite so hot.

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Sunday morning we checked out the new playground on our street. There’s been a playground there as long as we’ve lived there, but they recently replaced all the equipment with stuff for younger kids as well as replaced the mulch area it was located on with one of those rubbery surfaces that I think is made out of old tires. The kids had a great time playing on it. I’m still curious as to what else the city is doing in that park though since even though the new playground equipment is in they updated the work in progress sign there to say the project completion date isn’t until December.

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They left after we had lunch and ice cream, and the cats breathed a sigh of relief.

Summer 2014 Television Diary

I tend to do these in the fall when a lot of new shows are starting, but between mid-season replacements and all the shows the cable channels schedule in the summer these days there’s new TV shows all the time it seems. I missed talking about mid-season stuff entirely, but for lack of anything better to write about at the moment I thought I would do a round up of the stuff I’ve been watching this summer. Some of it started in the late spring so is already over and a few shows won’t be starting again until next week, but this is essentially what I have been or will be watching this summer.


Rectify is now in its second season on the Sundance Channel. This is a show that’s definitely not for everyone, but I love it. I imagine most people would be bored by it, but I love this kind of character work. If you’re not familiar with the show it’s about a guy who was in prison for 19 years after being convicted of murdering his teenage girlfriend. He gets out on a technicality, and not necessarily because people don’t think he did it. We still don’t know if he did or not, and the show doesn’t seem particularly interested in telling us. I imagine they will at some point, but it’s not really the focus of the story at all. It’s really more about what it’s like for him to reenter the world after 19 years as well as the effect that his return has on his family. Not much happens plotwise week to week, but as I said it’s a lovely character study, and I like it quite a lot.

Melissa & Joey

I have no idea what season this show is in at this point because the way ABC Family splits seasons. I can’t keep track. It’s probably at least it’s third or fourth. It’s a goofy little sitcom that seems like a throwback to sitcoms from earlier days. It’s sweet, but also has some much more adult humor than I would expect from something on ABC Family. I still laugh at it quite a bit, and it was always something I looked forward to watching it when it was on. The teenagers on the show have obviously aged out of the demographic ABC Family is trying to appeal to, so they wrote some dumb storyline at the end of this season whereby Joe finds out he has a long lost teenage daughter he never knew about. I’m kind of annoyed with that plot line. I hate when shows do that. I beg of you TV writers please stop it with addition of previously unknown children to shows. Nothing good ever comes of it. I hope somehow this turns out not to be the case for this show, but I doubt it.

Chasing Life

ABC Family is also great for kind of old school feeling dramas. The kind that you used to get on the WB back in the day. Chasing Life is it’s newest addition. It’s about a girl named April, who finds out that she has leukemia but continues to try and juggle her messy family life, a new boyfriend, and her stressful job at a newspaper. It’s not the greatest of shows, and for a show whose central character has cancer it would have been nice if they had cast somebody who cried realistically, but it’s good enough for summer viewing. I’m also amused that this show is single-handedly trying to support actors from 90s sitcoms. Steven Weber plays April’s uncle, the actress who played Fay on Wings plays her grandmother, and the woman who played the mom on Major Dad plays the mom here as well.

The Fosters

The Fosters is now in it’s second season on ABC Family. I like this show a lot. It’s about a lesbian couple and their 5 (soon to be 6) children, most of whom are adopted or foster kids. Again it’s a great family drama. They don’t always know what do with all of the characters all of the time, but there are some really great relationships on the show, and there are some decent plotlines. If you haven’t watched it I would recommend checking it out. The first season is on Netflix streaming or at least it used to be.

Covert Affairs

I’m still watching Covert Affairs on USA despite the fact that this show is past it’s prime. Not so far past that it’s completely horrible like Burn Notice at it’s end, but I don’t look forward to watching it the way that I once did. It’s a fine background noise show for now, but I don’t think I’m going to bitter end it the way I did with Burn Notice. Once it starts building up on the DVR I’ll decide it’s time to let it go.

The Leftovers

We are now two episodes into The Leftovers on HBO based on the book by Tom Perotta. I haven’t read the book, so I don’t know how this compares so far, but I have to say I’m not really taken by it. I’m not sure I’m going to keep watching. My husband and I were discussing that so far we’re still trying to figure out what the point is. Maybe there’s not one and that’s the point. The show is set three years after some percentage of the population just up and disappears. No one knows what happened to them or why certain people were taken. There doesn’t seem to be any connection between them. Now we’re focused on those who remain in one suburban town. The focus seems to be on Justin Theroux’s cop character and the members of his family who have all scattered from each other in trying to deal with what happened, though there are many other characters too. So far nothing has grabbed me, and as I said I’m not really sure why I should keep watching as there seems to be no point to the show. I’ve heard from critics that the third episode is a departure from the style of the first two, so I’ll at least watch that. I’m not sure about past that though.

The Last Ship

The titular ship is a navy ship that was sent on what turns out was a mysterious mission that kept them completely cut off from the rest of the world. When they return they discover that the scientist who was on board was actually the real reason for the mission as she was trying to track down the start of a virus that has spread quickly around the world so that she can create a vaccine. Now pretty much the people on the ship are the very few who have not been infected. They can’t return to their loved ones on shore, and they have to try and find a way to save the world. Michael Bay is involved somehow, so that should tell you the level of sophistication we are dealing with here. It’s pretty much about blowing things up and ridiculous speeches. I have now seen three episodes of The Last Ship and I still don’t know any of the characters’ names, and I’m perfectly ok with that. It’s not really a show where something like that matters. At this point it’s just bad enough to be worth watching.

Orphan Black

Orphan Black has ended for the season, but it’s still worth a mention. Tatiana Maslany still plays an incredible array of characters in an impressive fashion. I’m sure you’ve all seen people online being outraged that she was once again snubbed for any Emmy nomination this year. It really is a crime. The plot in the second season did get a little convoluted, so it wasn’t as great as the first,  but it’s still a really good show. And it’s definitely worth watching to see Maslany’s impressive acting feat alone.

Orange is the New Black

It took us a couple of weeks to get through the second season of Orange is the New Black, which I think was a good rate. We got to spread it out a little and enjoy it, while still somewhat speeding our way through the 13 episodes on Netflix. This season Piper is not the main focus of the show. I’m not a Piper hater like so many people. She’s definitely not a sympathetic character a lot of the time, but she’s not supposed to be. So the first season focus on her didn’t bother me the way it did a lot of people apparently, but there are enough great actresses and stories in this show that neither does it suffer for shuffling her to the background much more this season. I do think we could now stand to lose her family and friends from the storyline going forward though. It doesn’t make that much sense for them to be as prominent as they were in the first season. Sorry Jason Biggs.

Masters of Sex

The second season of Masters of Sex doesn’t start until Sunday on Showtime, so I obviously don’t really have anything to say about it yet other than I’m looking forward to it’s return. I very much enjoyed the first season, and I am hopeful that it will remain an excellent show this season.

The Bridge

I was really interested in The Bridge when it first started last summer. The plots about life across the US/Mexico border around Juarez seemed like it had a lot interesting stories to tell, but then it got very convoluted and didn’t really focus on the things that attracted it to me in the first place. My husband was interested in it though and since I didn’t completely hate it I kept watching with him. I haven’t watched the Danish show it’s based on, but I gather it followed the same general story arc. Though I also understand that of all the foreign versions of this show the US one is the worst. I don’t know how the second season is following any of those story wise or if it’s going off in it’s own direction this season. At any rate I did get kind of bored with this show by the end of the season. Even more so than I realized because even though I watched the entire first season when I was watching the previously on scenes that preceded the start of the new season this week there was a lot of stuff I totally didn’t remember. I’m guessing the second season isn’t going to magically get so much better that I’ll be in love with it, but as long as my husband is interested in watching it, it’s probably something I’ll keep watching too.


Obviously because it’s Mythbusters. Duh. And what says fun summer television more than blowing stuff up.


And now to switch gears a little, I often find the time to binge watch older shows during the summer. These are the ones I’ve been working on so far.


I’ve watched the first four seasons of Justified. I’m still waiting on the fifth season to be released, and then I’ll go ahead and watch the sixth and final season as it airs whenever that is. My husband cheated on me and watched it all without me despite knowing that I wanted to watch it. For shame on him. I was surprised that the first season was much more episodic than I was anticipating with every week being a case of the week plus a little overarching storyline for the season. Based on what I had gathered about the show before watching it it wasn’t what I was expecting. The rest of the seasons definitely abandon that though and became much more of the show I was expecting. Definitely the second season was the best, which I don’t think anyone would argue. I enjoyed three and four too though. I’m curious about five since I gather it wasn’t that popular, but I’ll have to wait and see what I think about that I guess.

The OC

I am two episodes away from finishing the first season of The OC. I’m not really loving it, and yet I also can’t stop watching it for some reason. I don’t know if I’ll watch all the seasons though because I do remember people thinking the show dramatically dropped off after the first season and became a real mess. Since I kind of already think it’s a mess character and plotwise, and am not super invested in anyone on it I’m not sure that I’ll be able to stick it through. I’m a little disappointed because I thought I would at least love the first season that everyone raved about back in the day. I’m a sucker for a good teen drama. Need I remind you of my binge watch obsession over One Tree Hill? I also loved Chuck, which was also created by Josh Schwarz, but this doesn’t have the same heart behind it that Chuck did. This show just isn’t doing it for me and I’m a little sad about it.

San Diego Vacation

I recently got back from a trip to San Diego, well technically La Jolla, with my family. Now that they’ve all abandoned the east coast for Arizona, it is a 5 and half hour drive for them, so they have been taking their beach vacations there the last few years. On the other hand I have been flying out to see them in June in Arizona the past few years, which is just an awful time to be there. This year we put on our smarty caps and decided I should meet them in San Diego instead.

We had a nice big house within walking distance to the beach. Everyone got their own bedroom and bathroom including my 2 year old niece if you count a walk-in closet with a crib put in it as a bedroom.

View from the porch of our rental house.
View from the porch of our rental house.

Sunday we left the 2 year old with a babysitter and went to a Padres v. Dodgers game. It was kind of like what happens when the Red Sox or Yankees are in Baltimore and it feels like they are the home team instead of the Orioles. There were way more Dodger fans there than Padres fans.

Padres v. Dodgers
Padres v. Dodgers
Baseball games require cotton candy. I think somebody likes it.
Baseball games require cotton candy. I think somebody likes it.

We of course spent time at the beach several days. My eldest niece was really excited to play in the sand. She spent hours digging holes and offering us all “smoothies”. The younger one just liked to smash whatever I was trying to build. Sadly there were strong rip tides the whole time we were there so we really didn’t get to spend much time in the water. I took a walk on the beach most days as well.

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We also went to seal beach one morning to check out all the seals there.

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Tuesday we went to the aquarium. It’s a lot smaller than the Baltimore aquarium, but also a lot less crowded, so in some ways much better.

Is it wrong to eat goldfish crackers at the aquarium?
Is it wrong to eat goldfish crackers at the aquarium?
Posing at the aqurium. Little sister trying to be just like big sister
Posing at the aqurium. Little sister trying to be just like big sister

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Wednesday we took a trip to the Sand Diego fair. It seemed like a pretty big fair, but we mostly just spent all of our time in the family fun zone or whatever it was called watching my nieces play games and ride rides. We didn’t even eat any fair food like the disgusting sounding fried chicken skin on a stick or bacon wrapped churros.

Pony ride
Pony ride
I think she was more excited about that pink hat than the actual pony ride
I think she was more excited about that pink hat than the actual pony ride
She said the real horse was better
She said the real horse was better
It's hard to get a 2 year old to look at you
It’s hard to get a 2 year old to look at you
Kind of a lame log ride
Kind of a lame log ride

Wednesday night I met up with a librarian friend who lives in San Diego. We had a delicious dinner looking out over the boardwalk in Pacific Beach. It was fun to meet up with her, and it worked out well since we didn’t manage to run into each other at all while we were both in Vegas a few days later for a library conference.

My poor sister wound up coming down with food poisoning on Wednesday night, so Thursday was kind of a bust with really doing anything. A few of us took my eldest niece to the beach, but that was about it.

I also got to spend a lot of time playing hide and go seek, or find the hidden stuffed animal, and coloring while I was there. I know you will be shocked to hear that the 2 year old was not very good at playing the hiding games. She would hide with you and then giggle the whole time or try and show you where the hidden animals were. I thankfully did not have to play Barbies a single time while I was there though. I am not a fan of playing Barbies now that I am an adult.

Turtle and PIggy
Turtle and PIggy
That sullen look is totally on purpose. Someone didn't want her picture taken.
That sullen look is totally on purpose. Someone didn’t want her picture taken.

It was a fun trip, and I enjoyed getting to see my family. With them living across the country now I don’t get to see them nearly enough.

ALA 2014 in Las Vegas

Well hello there my poor neglected blog. Sorry for the radio silence around these parts. I’ve been traveling over the past 2 weeks or so. First I was on vacation with my family in San Diego, which I get into more detail about within the next couple of days. I haven’t had time to sort through the pictures I took for that post yet. So I’m going to go a little out of order and post about the trip I took to Las Vegas for the American Library Association conference immediately following that vacation. This will be a fairly quick post because this blog is supposed to be about happy things and lets face it Vegas is not really my thing. I am not into the gaudiness. It reminds me of Times Square in New York, which I also loathe, except that it’s the entire tourist part of the city. I don’t gamble. I can’t drink. I am not fond of it being 110 degrees. I don’t like walking through people’s smoke. I don’t like being lost and wandering around aimlessly every time I have to find somewhere in a casino hotel because they refuse to sign things well in order to keep you trapped in there. I don’t like being propositioned by skeezy men. I don’t like being surrounded by stupidly drunk people on public transit. Need I go on? I don’t think so. You get the point.

So what pray tell could I possibly write about that was good about this trip? Well first off, the conference itself was useful even if I was not fond of the location it was in. I went to several good sessions that provided me with information that will be helpful in my job. The committee meetings I went to were productive, and I think we’re moving in a really good direction. I also had several opportunities to do some networking and hopefully be helpful to some other people in what they’re looking to do in the future. You always hear that networking is the real reason you go to conferences. I don’t think that I’m super good at connecting with people who I might have a mutually beneficial relationship with work wise, but this conference I got to chat with at least two people about common things we’re working on.

Case in point about my lack of beneficial networking, generally I somehow manage to connect with librarians that are doing entirely different things than me. Not that this is a bad thing because they’re awesome people and I like having them as friends, but I wouldn’t call it networking as such because there’s not much for example that a children’s librarian is doing that is going to be relevant to my work in an academic library. Anyway, I did get to use the conference to connect with some friends that I usually only get to interact with online, so that was fun.

Although Vegas is somewhat known for its food these days with lots of celebrity chef restaurants, I can’t say that I had any super amazing meals. I had a decent burger and yummy milkshake at Gordan Ramsey’s BURGR in Planet Hollywood. The fries were subpar though. One of my friends and I decided to splurge and go out for a fancy dinner one night while we were there. We went to the Eiffel Tower restaurant at the top of the Paris hotel and casino. It was fine, but nothing I was overly impressed with especially for the price. Though the potatoes alone might have been worth the $75 price of my meal.

Also I cannot fault Vegas for its workers. Obviously a good chunk of their population makes a living working in the hospitality/tourism industry and they apparently know it. Aside from one waitress that wasn’t great, the service I had the entire time I was there was great. Everyone was super friendly and helpful. And I was in multiple sessions where an AV person came to set things up and checked on us multiple times and let us know where they would be if we had problems. Most of the time if the AV equipment isn’t working right good luck finding someone in a convention center or hotel who can help you out in a timely fashion. So kudos to Vegas for really having well trained customer service staff. We in libraries should have been taking notes on that during our conference.

All in all despite my numerous complaints about Las Vegas itself, the conference was good. This was the first time that the conference has been held in Las Vegas since 1973. Here’s hoping it’s another 30+ years before it’s there again.