More Than Meh

A blog about the good things of life.

Songs I Love: Empty Me Out and Call Off Your Dogs January 29, 2016

Filed under: Music,Pop Culture,Songs I Love — dwhren @ 8:47 am

In my last post I was talking about a song I love from the 80s, The Outfield’s “Your Love”. Today I’m talking about 2 recent songs, but ones that evoke the 60s and 70s vibe for me. The first is Liz Vice’s “Empty Me Out”. Although she gets labeled as a gospel artist, something she herself finds a little odd even though she started her singing career in church. Many people also talk about how her music evokes the early days of Motown, which is what it reminds me of. I’ve been in love with it since I first heard it a few months ago. It has a great vibe to it and I really love that era of Motown music, so I’m happy to hear it influencing music today.

I’ve also been digging Lake Street Dive’s “Call Off the Dogs”, which has more of a 70s disco vibe to it. Although I guess they’ve been around for awhile I didn’t become aware of them until their previous album Bad Self Portraits, which I really liked. It felt very different than anything else I was hearing at the time. “Call Off the Dogs” is the first single off their forthcoming album, Side Pony, due out in February. Based on this song I’m very much looking forward to it as well.

 

 

Songs I Love: Your Love by The Outfield January 27, 2016

Filed under: Music,Pop Culture,Songs I Love — dwhren @ 5:16 pm

Usually when I write about songs I love they tend to be more current, but I’m heading back to the 80s for this one. For no good reason the opening lyrics of this song make me really happy. It’s not the words themselves, it’s just something about the way he sings Josie in that first line that gets me. I can’t explain it.

The harmonies that chime in from time to time also delight me. There’s a lot going on in this song music wise. It’s always a little bit of a surprise, which makes it fun to listen to. Back in the 80s it’s nothing that I ever would have said was my favorite song, but in recent years I’ve really come to appreciate it. I’m always happy to hear it when it pops up on the radio or when it shuffles up in my music. I’m sure it’s not a song that anyone else is writing down in the history books as great music, but it goes down in mine.

 

 

Snow Day Four and Half January 26, 2016

Filed under: Life — dwhren @ 4:35 pm

Today marks my four and half snow days for me. Four and a half because we got let out of work at noon on Friday anticipating the snow starting that afternoon. I’m pretty sure today will be my last day and I’ll be heading back to work tomorrow. My street was finally plowed out at some point over night last night. The rest of my commute can be done on streets that are all snow emergency routes so I know they’ll be fine. It’s only the street the library is on that I’m worried about. I guess if I get there and can’t down it then I’ll be turning around and taking a vacation day.

Unlike all the people who I’ve seen complaining about cabin fever and going stir crazy, I would happily stay in my house for a few more days. I do of course benefit from living in the city and having friends in the neighborhood so we did get out on Sunday night and have dinner with a bunch of friends. Other than that I’ve just been enjoying reading and watching TV when I haven’t been digging out my car repeatedly.

I said as much on Twitter yesterday, but I’m also very thankful that I work at the job I do. When we get large snow storms we just shut down and I don’t have to worry about going into work. I still get paid. I don’t have to use vacation time. If for some reason we’re open and I choose not to go in I don’t have to worry about losing my job. I know all of this is a great luxury, so it’s something I’m trying not to take for granted. I know there are a lot of people in this city who are forced to find a way to work or risk losing their jobs. Others who work hourly or run small businesses are losing money if they aren’t working or their businesses can’t open. Even if they are open they’re going to be taking a financial hit from people being unable to get out and patronize them for days to come. I’m very lucky and I know it.

 

All Things Must Pass January 24, 2016

Filed under: Movies,Music,Pop Culture — dwhren @ 3:43 pm

Way back in 2011, Colin Hanks was a guest on the Nerdist podcast and mentioned that he was hoping to make a documentary about Tower Records. Over the next 4 years I never stopped hoping that the documentary would actually be made. When I finally heard All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records was being released in theaters this past fall I did a little happy dance.

It would have been happier if it had ever actually made it to a theater in Baltimore. It was one of those things that opened in New York and Los Angeles to start and then eventually made its way around the country in spurts. For whatever reason as far as I can tell it never came anywhere in Maryland. I don’t know why. There’s several theaters I can imagine having played it.

At any rate I resigned myself to waiting for it to become available online before I was going to get to see it. Last time I checked it still wasn’t available. Then last night as I was scrolling through my Twitterfeed I noticed a tweet from Colin Hanks that was retweeted by Jason Isbell, a musician I’ve mentioned eleventy billion times telling people that they should watch All Things Must Pass before the blizzard passed. I got super excited and did just that. We rented it from Amazon with some credits we had built up from declining the 2 day shipping on our Prime account.

I can’t say I was ever really someone who shopped at Tower Records. Their real hey day had passed by the time I was old enough to really be amassing a music collection. At one point in the documentary they talk about how even before Napster and the digital era they were already facing issues from places like Wal-Mart, Target, and Best Buy selling CDs at much cheaper rates. I amassed most of what once was my fairly extensive CD collection at Best Buy. It may not be cool, but it was way cheaper than buying them at somewhere like Tower Records. I definitely was in some Tower Records from time to time, but it certainly wasn’t an institution to me like it was to some people. It’s more of a signifier of the music business and how it’s changed so much in the past 15 years or so.

Even though I wasn’t a real patron of Tower Records they were iconic and as an avowed lover of music I was still very interested in this documentary. It’s basically exactly what the title says it is. It’s a documentary about the rise and fall of Tower Records, simple as that. If that sounds like something that interests you then I would definitely watch it. It was something I was interested in and I enjoyed it, but I doubt it’s something that appeals to everyone. You know which side of the equation you fall on.

At any rate I’m glad that Colin Hanks got to make the film and that I finally got to see it. It was perfect timing finding out it was available when I was stuck in my house thanks to a blizzard and had time to sit down and watch it.

 

Blizzard 2016 January 23, 2016

Filed under: Baltimore,Life — dwhren @ 4:52 pm

Sorry I’ve been a bit absent from the blog lately. I’ve been traveling a lot and too tired from work to think about blogging when I get home. After my trip to Boston 2 weeks ago, last weekend I was in Rhode Island checking in on my in-laws who just moved there from California a few months ago. It’s a good thing I got those two New England trips in when I did because I have no excuse to not blog today given I’m good and snowed into my house.

As I’m sure anyone who looks at the news or lives along the eastern seaboard is aware there has been a blizzard raging for the past 24 hours. At last look we were at 26 inches of snow in my yard and it’s still coming down at a good pace. I won’t be surprised if we end up with 30 inches before it’s all said and done.

Tomorrow when I have to dig my car out I’m going to be a big grump about it as I am every other day until it stops being a ridiculously icy messy that I have to drive, walk, and park in every day. A fan of winter I am not. Today however it was a nice forced break in my always busy life. Granted it’s making next weekend insane for me combining all the rescheduled activities from this weekend and adding them to what was already scheduled for next weekend. Now on Saturday I’m seeing Centerstage’s production of “As You Like It” in the afternoon and then going to a friend’s 40th birthday party that night. Then on Sunday I am now seeing Garth Brooks in concert at 3 pm, which will be followed directly by our already scheduled tickets to see “Phantom of the Opera” at the Hippodrome.

Today though I am doing a whole lot of nothing and it’s lovely. It’s almost 5 pm and I’m still in my pajamas. I have no plans to change that. I never do that, but I figure if you can’t spend the entire day in your pajamas when there’s a blizzard when can you? I’ve been lucky in being able to stay inside all day. My husband and a neighbor have been trading off shoveling our sidewalk, and I’m not going to think about tackling my car until tomorrow. It’s always nice to see people being neighborly during these things. The street that t-bones into our house always has a number of people who go out and shovel the whole block. It always warms my heart. Sometimes they’ve even done the street if it’s taken too long before plows get to it. They’re impressive.

I’m warm and dry in my house. So far we haven’t lost power (fingers crossed). I’ve been curled up under a blanket with a snuggly cat on my lap for much of the day reading a book and watching the Wake Forest basketball game. It’s been a lovely day of being forced to slow down. The only thing that would have made it better was if it happened on a weekday and got me out of work. As it is I’m thinking we might get Monday off anyway. Baltimore doesn’t deal well with snow storms of this magnitude. It’s going to take awhile to dig out from this one.

 

ALA Midwinter 2016 in Boston January 11, 2016

Filed under: Food,Friends,Travel — dwhren @ 2:08 pm

I’m currently writing this while sitting in the Boston airport waiting for my flight back to Baltimore. I spent the past 4 days in Boston at the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting. I’ve spent a decent amount of time in Boston in my life, so based on what I knew I figured it would be a good location for a conference. Of course I would have preferred it not be in January. Luckily we didn’t have any real weather issues.

At any rate even though the weather was not too awful aside from the torrential rains Sunday afternoon, it turns out Boston is not that great of a city to go to a large conference in. I’m sure it’s perfectly fine for smaller conferences that take place in the Hynes, but for something as large as the ALA conferences where we take over the BCEC, which is not in the center of the city plus several hotels which are it makes for an annoying conference.

They always provide shuttle buses, but in my experience these always take way more time than it should. Between waiting and riding the shuttle between Copley Place and the convention center it took me almost an hour to get between meetings. I could have walked it faster. I only like going to conferences where I can easily walk between the convention center and whatever hotels the meetings are in. Acceptable cities based on my experience are Seattle, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, DC, Philadelphia, and New Orleans. Unacceptable are Chicago, Las Vegas, and Boston. Although sort of walkable I hated Anaheim and Dallas for other reasons. I’ll let you know for sure about Orlando in June, but I’ve heard it’s hell so I’m not looking forward to it.

Because of the getting around issues on Saturday I felt like so much of the day was wasted and that it wasn’t a super productive day. My one committee meeting Friday and all the stuff I did Sunday were productive and useful so those were much better days. I also got to see some new products demo’d from vendors that look really interesting.

In the midst of all the getting around issues on Saturday I lost my new gloves somewhere, which you would think would be a bummer. However almost immediately after losing them I managed to replace them in such a serendipitous way that made me so happy that I’m almost glad I lost them. As I was walking to grab lunch after my meeting before catching the shuttle back to the convention center from Copley Place I realized I didn’t have much gloves. I spotted a Marshall’s across the street and figured they would probably have something to replace the gloves I lost, but I need to walk to the end of the block to cross the street. As I was doing that I stumbled on a Nordstrom Rack on the side of the street I was already on. That’s where I bought the original pair of gloves, so I thought perfect I hope they still have them. They did have exactly one pair left in my size and they’d been marked down a couple of times so they only cost me $10. It was the best experience of losing something that I’ve ever had.

Other than that I as always got to meet up with some far flung librarian friends. I always enjoy conferences to meet up with people that I only really ever get to see at them. I’m always sad that we don’t get to see each other more often. I had dinner in the North End on Friday night, which if you’re not familiar is Boston’s Italian district. It was within walking distance of my hotel, which was nice. We had some delicious Italian food for dinner and then got dessert from Mike’s Pastries.

Saturday I finally got to meet up in person with a Twitter pal. We’ve been trying for a couple of conferences now, but her schedule is always so crazy at these things that it’s hard for her to find free time. We wound up having dinner with a couple of other people she knew and then someone else’s coworkers. It was a fun night and nice to meet a couple of more new people.

Sunday night I didn’t have any plans so I wound up having dinner with my friend Alison, who is always great company. If I can make other plans I try to not just have meals with friends from home who I see all the time, but her plans fell through and we were both around so it worked out. I really wanted some clam chowder. I was in Boston after all. Plus it’s almost impossible to find clam chowder in Maryland. Everywhere serves Maryland crab soup and maybe cream of crab, which is more similar to clam chowder but still not the same. Since it was within walking distance to our hotel we wound up at Union Oyster house, which claims to be the oldest operating restaurant in the United States. It’s also right along the Freedom Trail, so it’s a restaurant that certainly caters to tourists. As such the quality is as mediocre as one might expect from such a place. I guessed that would be the case going in, but it was within walking distance of our hotel and it had clam chowder and plenty of fish options for entrees, which is what I was in the mood for. I had clam chowder and swordfish. The food was middling, but since I had already figured it would be I wasn’t particularly disappointed. Plus I learned some stuff reading the back of the menu, so I call it a success.

Even though there were some annoying things dealing with getting around on Saturday, all in all it was a good conference. I’m always happy to visit with my librarian friends. I’m sad so many of them are skipping out on the annual conference in Orlando this summer. Although I don’t blame them. If I wasn’t committed to going I might skip out on it too. I’m sure I’ll try and make the most of it though.

 

Carol and Brooklyn January 6, 2016

Filed under: Movies,Pop Culture — dwhren @ 8:53 am

Once upon a time in my life I used to go to the movies quite frequently. In high school and college it wasn’t unusual for me to go almost every week. Then life got busier and tv shows got much better. Now I tend to prefer watching tv to movies. In general if I don’t manage to see a movie in the theater than I’m not ever going to see it. That being said I still only usually go to the movies a handful of times every year at this point.Thus the fact that I’ve gone to two movies in the first five days of 2016 is kind of crazy.

Sunday my friend Karen and I went to see Carol. It takes place in the 1950s and stars Cate Blanchett as a housewife in the midst of a divorce with her husband played by Kyle Chandler. She meets Therese, a young shop girl played by Rooney Mara, with whom she strikes up a relationship. I won’t go into any more detail than that since that’s basically what I knew about the film going in.┬áThe story went in a direction that I wasn’t quite anticipating. It’s a much more subdued and tortured film than I was anticipating. It was lovely nonetheless.

Then last night I went to see Brooklyn with a bunch of friends. I adored the book by Colm Toibin that the movie is based on and even had the pleasure of meeting the author and hearing him talk about when he gave a lecture at my library. Based on timing I didn’t think I was going to make it out to see this film in theater, so I’m happy it stuck around long enough that I got to see it.

It too was a very lovely film set in the 1950s. Saoirse Ronin plays Eilis a young Irish girl who emigrates alone to America where she builds a life until a family tragedy draws her back to Ireland. The movie is really well adapted from the book. It’s been years since I read it, so any changes at this point were lost on me. The overall large plot points that I remember and the overall feeling of the novel have been retained.

Of the two films Brooklyn is the one with wider appeal. There is a lot more humor in it as well as other things that elicit emotion. It was a beautiful movie. As the woman sitting in front of me said, “I’m not ready for it to be over yet. Can we just stay and watch the next showing?”

If either of these movies sound like they would be your thing I high recommend them both.