More Than Meh

A blog about the good things of life.

Date with Myself September 24, 2017

Filed under: Books,Concerts,Life,Music,Pop Culture — dwhren @ 1:15 pm

My husband was up in NYC yesterday for World Makerfaire and visiting his family. I had previously bought tickets for a concert that weekend, so I wasn’t able to join him. In addition to the concert on Saturday night I also made plans to go to the Baltimore Book Festival on Saturday afternoon. For various reasons it worked out that the friends that I was going to go to these things with were not able to go with me, so I spent the day having a date with myself. Luckily I’m not someone who cares about doing things alone. I know some people feel self-conscious about it and would choose to stay home rather than doing something by themselves. I’m hear to tell you that you shouldn’t worry about it. It’s much better to do things that you love alone than not do them at all. Plus sometimes it even means really good things will happen to you as it worked out for yesterday.

The Baltimore Book Festival is pretty small and not something I generally get that excited about unless there happens to be a particular author I’m interested in, which there isn’t every year. This year there were two panels I was interested in, but sadly they were not on the same day. My book club conflicted with the Sunday panel, so I decided I would go down on Saturday instead. After a crazy morning dealing with a work issue I almost thought about bailing, but I didn’t and I’m really glad I wound up going because the panel was fantastic.

It was scheduled in the Food for Thought tent, which typically has food authors and cooking demonstrations in it. I don’t know how this panel came to be, but whoever put it together has my whole-hearted thanks. It was Laura Lippman, Michael Ruhlman, and Ann Hood speaking about food and fiction while cooking grilled cheese sandwiches. Laura Lippman’s forthcoming book, Sunburn, which is due out in February 2018 but which I had a galley of and have already read, features a scene where one of the characters cooks the woman he’s trying to impress a really fancy grilled cheese sandwich. Michael Ruhlman is a chef and author who Laura consulted regarding what realistically a person might have on hand in a kitchen in 1995 that they would make into a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich. His most recent book, Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in America, is one of the better books I’ve read in 2017 so I definitely recommend checking it out. His wife Ann Hood joined them. She is apparently also an author, but I’ve never read anything she’s written.¬†They were great together. The panel was really lively and fun. And I have new trick to try next time I’m cooking bacon. If the three of them had a cooking show together I would definitely watch.

The second part of my date I went to see David Gray and Alison Krauss at Merriweather Post Pavilion. The friend I was supposed to go with failed to put it on her calendar when we got tickets months prior and then wound up being out of town this weekend. I tried to find someone else to take the ticket last minute after we realized, but no one wanted it. So I just went by myself. That wound up being a really good thing.

I managed to snag myself a spot at the front of the lawn even though I got there an hour after the doors opened. The concert was not anywhere close to sold out, which helped. Plus I didn’t bring a chair, so I could sit where the lawn had a steeper slope. Being in that spot made it easy to meet up with one of my librarian friends who lives in Northern Virginia and was also at the concert with her sister. They had pavilion seats, but stopped out on the lawn to say hi to me for a few minutes. So it was fun to see her.

The concert was basically two sets with the artists co-headlining. During the set change some guy came up to me on the lawn and asked me if I was alone and if so did I want to upgrade my seat. I said yes, and sure. Then he gave me his ticket inside the pavilion. Not only that, but it turned out it was in row D down in the pit. I have no idea what his deal was, but I’m super grateful to him. At first I figured he had come to the concert to see David Gray and wasn’t interested in sticking around to see Alison Krauss, but when I got down to the seat the guy next to me told me that no one had been sitting there during David Gray’s set so I’m not sure what the guy who gave me the ticket was doing. Not only did I get to move way down front, I wound up in the best row ever. Right next to me were an older gay couple who were plying me chocolates and who were super excited about Alison Krauss. They kept shaking each other in giddy excitement whenever there were some particularly great harmonies. I loved it. And then on the other side of them was a woman who was probably in her 70s who was really getting her chair dancing groove on. Hashtag life goals. So it turns out I should be thankful that my friend screwed up and couldn’t go with me or I never would have wound up there.

The concert itself was full of a lot of really great music. David Gray and Alison Krauss sure can sing. Alison Krauss’s melodic voice is pretty much what imagine angels singing must sound like. All the music was amazing and I can’t complain about that at all. I was very happy to sit outside on a beautiful night and listen to it.

All in all it was not my idea of a great show though. It pretty much was all about the music. For some people that’s great. I know there is a rift between people who would prefer for artists to get up stage and use pretty much all their time playing versus people who enjoy the stage banter and other things that can happen during concerts. I fall firmly on the side of preferring stage banter and storytelling along with the music. There wasn’t really any of that last night from either artist. This is the second time I’ve seen David Gray and he really hasn’t said much of anything either time, so I imagine that’s just his m.o. I’ve seen Alison Krauss before and she has talked more between songs than she did last night. It’s how I know that she’s always cold. My husband even asked if she was wearing a winter coat last night even though it was like 70 degrees because of that whole thing the first time we saw her. The answer to that question by the way was yes. I also would have liked it if they had sung at least one song together, but alas it was very much like we were at two completely different shows. It was still a lovely evening with two artists whose music I love, and who I would see again, but it’s never going to be a concert I rave to anyone about how amazing it was.

It was a really fun day all around. I’m a pretty good date. I’d definitely go out with me again.

 

Perfect Fall Weekends September 10, 2017

Filed under: Friends,Life,Simple Pleasures — dwhren @ 9:05 pm

Given the terrible hurricane that is destroying so many places right now I almost feel a little guilty about how perfect our weather was this past weekend. It was great to take nice long walks outside every day in it. In addition to all the fun activities I had it made for a wonderful weekend indeed.

Friday night we walked over to a little Italian restaurant in our neighborhood that has a nice patio. The weather was great for dining al fresco, so when my husband asked where I wanted to go to dinner that’s where I chose.

Saturday was Hampdenfest, one of the two street festivals that happens in my neighborhood every year. It’s smaller and much more neighborhood based than Honfest. I much prefer it that way. We went out to get something to eat for lunch and ran into a good friend who we hadn’t seen in awhile so we wound up wandering around with her and her friend from out of town, getting drinks, and then heading over to everyone’s favorite activity, the toilet bowl races. I ran into some other friends there. So it was a nice day to spend outside with good friends. Rat Czar was my favorite entry in this year’s toilet bowl races, although I needed to get a closer look inside because I don’t see where the toilet bowl comes into play in this vehicle.

2017-09-09 16.25.10

Sunday continued the theme of good times with good friends. My first stop on Sunday afternoon was at a 1st birthday party where I got to celebrate a little cutie, hang out with friends, and enjoy some of this delicious carrot cake. I even have some leftover cake to enjoy tomorrow. Carrot cake is my favorite, so I’m very excited about that.

2017-09-10 15.10.06

After that I headed out to the county for dinner with friends who recently left Hampden and bought a house out there. While I’m sad that they are no longer my neighbors, their new house is perfect for their family of 5 and I’m happy they have a great new home to create beautiful memories in. It was wonderful to sit outside in their little yard listening to bluegrass music and catching up with a group of friends who is very dear to my heart. I used to see most of them every week, but now that life has scattered us all to the winds it’s been far too long since I’ve seen most of them. It was great to all get back together for a few hours and enjoy a gorgeous fall evening together.

I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect fall weekend. It was a nice reminder that the world isn’t all terrible and that I have a pretty great life with a lot of wonderful people in it.

 

What I’ve Been Watching: Summer 2017 Edition September 9, 2017

Filed under: Pop Culture,Television — dwhren @ 1:00 pm

Even though summer is no longer a vast television wasteland, it still is a lot slower than the rest of the year. So it always gives me a chance to check out some new shows and catch up on ones I might have missed the first go around. I did watch a bunch of returning shows which I have written about before and won’t be writing about here because that would be too much. I’ll just leave it at the fact that I watched Orange is the New Black, Orphan Black, Queen Sugar, Playing House, Younger, Last Chance U, and Insecure and pretty much enjoyed them all. The one nice thing about summer TV is you get some of the stuff that is non-prestige drama, which is a nice break. That statement pretty much applies to all the shows I’ll be talking about as well. I probably watched some other stuff that I’m not remembering right now, but here are the shows that stuck out to me.

The Bold Type

The Bold Type was probably one of my favorite things I watched this summer. I’m a little worried that Freeform hasn’t renewed it for a second season yet because I really want more of this show. The show revolves around three twentysomething women, Jane, Kate, and Sutton, working in various capacities at a fashion magazine called Scarlett. Their boss is played by Melora Hardin. One of my favorite things about the show is that it doesn’t play into all the tropes about this environment that have become so common in tv, movies, and books especially since the Devil Wears Prada. Jacqueline is actually a really nice boss and serves as a great mentor to these young women instead of beating them down and making them terrified of her. Other stories like Sutton dating one of the board members against company policy is written in a way that doesn’t seem cliched like it could have been. It’s not a perfect show. There’s some of the top ridiculousness in it. I’m not going to lie. But overall it was smart, fun and had great relationships between the characters, which is basically all I’m looking for in a tv show. If you didn’t watch it, which I’m guessing most of you didn’t, I think Freeform has it on demand so I highly recommend going to watch it. And hey maybe if enough people do Freeform will decide it’s worth giving another season to. I really hope so.

Atypical

Atypical was probably tied with The Bold Type for my favorite show of the summer. It’s a Netflix show starting Jennifer Jason Leigh and Michael Rappaport as the parents of a highly functioning autistic teenage boy and his teenage sister. Like the show Speechless it’s a heartfelt family comedy that is about a family affected by a member that has a disability, but is really about the dynamics of the family and how they are affected by the disability. It’s funny, sweet, and very well written.

Carmichael Show

The Carmichael Show just finished it’s third and final season on NBC. I’ve been catching up on it on Hulu. I haven’t finished it yet, but I’m enjoying it. It’s not a great show for binge watching, so it’s taking me a little bit of time to get through. Each episode looks at addresses an important topic but in a comedic way. It’s very smartly written so that the conversations between the characters about whatever that weeks topic is feel organic and very much how each character would react. It’s written in a way that doesn’t feel heavy handed. It’s probably the most situation of situation comedies that I’ve watched in a very long time in that the stories really revolve around the situation of the week and there aren’t any overarching plots or character arcs underpinning the humor. You just have Jerrod, his live-in girlfriend Maxine, Jerrod’s brother, his ex-wife, and their parents sitting around talking about things.

Superstore

Superstore just finished its second season on NBC and will be returning for a third in the fall. We caught up on the first two seasons over the summer. I had heard that it was a good show and we had run out of things to watch, so I suggested it. It’s a workplace comedy set in a Wal-mart like store called Cloud 9. It’s funny, and the characters have been developed well. It’s nice that it has a really diverse cast where those things are not actually part of the show. The people just are. There’s a character in a wheel chair and I’m not sure there has been a single instance where anyone has ever referred to the fact that he’s in a wheel chair. It’s a sit-com and it’s a little ridiculous sometimes, which my literal brain can’t handle. I often find myself commenting on how unrealistic things are as if there is any attempt at making them realistic happening. Some of my favorite parts of the show though are quick interstitial bits where you see customers of the store doing ridiculous things and where you hear bits of music playing. I love the music parts because whoever is doing the soundtrack work on this show is spot on. It’s totally the kind of music you would hear playing in a store like Cloud 9. I often comment on my love of the grocery store/drug store soundtrack in real life. Their tv version of it is perfect.

GLOW

I’m not sure I was over the top in love with GLOW the way that a lot of people were, but I did enjoy this Netflix series about the creation of the Lovely Ladies of Wrestling tv show. I think they did really good job of capturing the 80s in a way that seemed more real than your stereotypical 80s movie or tv show. They pulled some 80s songs I haven’t heard in awhile going beyond the sort of stock 80s soundtrack that exists. The outfits were also spot on. I’m pretty sure I owned one of those leotards for gymnastics, and my mother totally had the same perm/haircut that Alison Brie did.