This was another great week for new music. Both Joseph and Nickel Creek dropped new singles in conjunction with announcements of forthcoming albums. Instead of writing about one of those songs by bands that I have written about before, I decided to go with a song and band that are new to me, although the band itself is not new. I had never heard of The Hackles until this week. It’s actually surprisingly hard to find out much about them at least in the 10 minutes I spent looking. Their website doesn’t offer up much information and they don’t appear to have a Wikipedia page. NPR tells me that the band is composed of Kati Claborn and Luke Ydstie from Blind Pilot and Halli Anderson from River Whyless and Horse Feathers. It’s unclear to me if this band is something they do on the side or if they’re all just doing this now. Either way they have several albums under their belt that escaped my notice. I will have to go back and listen to them because their new song “Damn the Word” is right up my alley with its folky goodness. So if you’re like me and this band has passed you by until now, take a listen.
I am not feeling very delightful right now. I’m ready to take my body and hurl it off a cliff. Don’t worry. I’m not threatening to commit suicide here. I want my being to go on, I just want a new vessel to keep it in because my current body is making me pretty miserable. I upped a dosage on a medication back in the fall, which led to some pretty terrible reflux issues. So I’ve now been off that drug for about 10 days, but things are so screwed up that even being off the medication and pivoting to a low acid diet is not helping that much. For now that means pretty much eating practically nothing. Seriously try finding recipes that don’t include onions and/or garlic in any form. It’s particularly impossible for vegetarian meals, so I’ve been eating some fish at home. That means I have to cook my own dinner now because my husband won’t cook meat. Plus a fun, weird side effect of the new medication I’m on to replace the one I dropped is feeling like a have a catch in my side all the time. So that’s super fun. And my foot is still not better, partly because I haven’t been completely resting it like I should. I just scaled way, way back on what I was doing instead of getting off it completely. I just hate being a complete couch potato. Not good for my physical or mental health. I spent way too much time standing on this weekend, so now it seems as bad as ever and we’re starting from square one. So basically the few joys I had in my life like my daily walk and food don’t exist right now either. But I’m still over here trying to keep that hoping machine running. Don’t you like how I start all these delights posts with like 10 minutes of whining first? I’ll try to be better.
- One of the reasons that I was standing around a lot over the weekend was that we went to the Harbor Point Ice Festival. It wasn’t really what I was expecting, and it was a little lame but it was also nice to get out of the house and go do something. Since it coincided with the Lunar New Year, it was Lunar New Year themed this year. There were ice carvings of all the animals from the Chinese zodiac. While we were there they had dragon dances and we got to see someone do an ice carving demonstration. I’m not sure I’d bother going again in future years, but I’m glad we made the effort to go this year.
- I got the official word that I’m finally done with my Invisalign treatment. I’m still not done done because I had to make an appointment in a few weeks to get the attachments taken off my teeth and for them to give me my retainers, but it’s nice to know that I’m pretty much there. Though there seemed to be some suggestion that I wear the retainer on my upper teeth all the time. That does not seem realistic. I will happily wear it to bed, but I just want to be able to eat things when I want (if my body ever lets me again) without having to worry about taking something in an out of my mouth and brushing my teeth after.
- I’ve started off the new year with a couple of really good books. I read a whole bunch of middling books last year. I read very few books that I was really in love with, so I was starting to forget how great it is when you’re reading a book you don’t want to put down. I’m back to a middling book right now that I wouldn’t have kept reading except that it’s for a book club, but hopefully the first couple books portend a better reading year this year. In case you’re wondering what the books are, I have advanced reader’s copies of both so you can’t buy them yet, but they’re Prom Mom by Laura Lippman and Charm City Rocks by Matthew Norman. Incidentally two books set in Baltimore by two Baltimore based authors. Charm City Rocks in particular, which is as the title suggests a romance book heaving featuring music, might be very much in my wheelhouse and perhaps something other people may not love as much as I did. I adored it though and think it would make a really great tv series. So someone who has that power should adapt it. Also, I have to say that I was a little surprised that I found out through the acknowledgements of Prom Mom that Laura Lippman and David Simon got divorced back in 2021. They’re some of the most well known people in the city and it’s Smalltimore after all, so I’m a little shocked that I hadn’t heard in some other way before now. Like they obviously don’t owe me or anyone else information about their private lives, but if I was going to find out that information somehow I was definitely not expecting it to be through an off-hand mention in the author acknowledgements of one of Laura Lippman’s books.
- Speaking of Laura Lippman, this morning on Twitter she posted a snippet from the poem “Improvement” by Danusha Laméris. It seemed very apropos for where I’m at right now
“So much goes downhill: our joints
wearing out with every mile,
the delicate folds of the eardrum
exhausted from years of listening.
I’m grateful for small victories.”
- I love this Reel posted by Brandi Carlile of her daughter Eli reacting to some new cartoon that she is apparently in. Her little voice saying “this is amazing” is the sweetest. (Sorry I don’t know why it’s embedding weird.)
- And now it’s time for your musical delights. There were many this week. Music never lets me down. Also, this week was a prime example of why I will never stop listening to the radio. How else would I accidentally encounter songs I forgot about. I know a lot of people stream their own music in their cars these days, but I’m still 100% radio all the way. I mean my car is old and has no bluetooth connection, but I’d listen to the radio on my commute anyway.
- As I mentioned in my most recent new music Friday post there was a ton of excellent new music out this week including new music by boygenius, Peter Gabriel, Arlo Parks, and Daughter.
- Some days I wind up with a really good music mix on my way to work. Those are the best days. This week I had a stretch of “Take a Picture” by Filter, “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears, and “Freedom is a Highway” by Jimmie Allen and Brad Paisley.
- And finally I will leave with another song I heard on the radio this week that I had completely forgotten about. Like I could have named songs until the end of time and never mentioned this one, and yet as soon as it came on I was bopping along to it and singing every word.
This week has seen a lot of good singles portending new albums I’m really excited about. There were new songs by Peter Gabriel, Arlo Parks, and Daughter just to name a few. However, the most exciting drop of the week was not one, not two, but three songs off the new boygenius album, The Record, due out on March 31! This is the most exciting news ever. boygenius is a supergroup composed of Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus, and Julien Baker. They put out an EP back in 2016 and that seemed like maybe that was that. But then seemingly out of nowhere they announced the band was back together and putting out an actual full length album. There is a suggestion that they will tour behind it. Right now the only date that is listed is for Coachella, which you could not pay me enough money to go to. So hopefully they tour somewhere near me this time, and if they don’t I’m probably gonna have to travel to see them because I don’t want to miss out again. Of the three songs they released, I’m sharing “Emily I’m Sorry” because I think it showcases the way their three voices interplay with each other in a beautiful way. I can’t wait for the full album. Oh, and I also recommend reading this Rolling Stone cover story about them.
I don’t really have much to report on the delights front this week. I am temporarily sidelined from my daily walks because I screwed up my foot, so I’m trying to be good and rest it for a couple of weeks. I hate not exercising, but better to get it under control now rather than injuring it worse and dragging it out longer. I realize that a lot of my delights come from things I observe on my walks, so without walks I’m a little short.
- It was nice to have a three day weekend. All weekends should be three day weekends.
- My favorite podcast, Make Me Smart came back from their winter break last week. It was nice to have some new episodes after they were off for almost a month.
- January 11 was the two year anniversary of my #FlamingoADay project on Instagram. Back in January of 2021 I needed a little motivation to go out into the cold and dark to take walks, so I decided to start posting a photo a day of the flamingos I found in my neighborhood because there are a lot. I figured I would be able to do it for a couple of months, long enough to get me to spring. Little did I know that I would be able to post photos for just over two years. I posted my last flamingo today. There were several other times I thought I was running out of flamingos to post and more would always show up, especially when a decorating holiday like Halloween or Christmas came around. I even found 3 more new ones literally on the afternoon that I had already posted what I told people was my final post. I finished posting those photos today, and now I am officially out of flamingo photos. It was a fun little project that made me walk around streets in my neighborhood that I probably never would have bothered to walk on. And it seemed to bring joy to people. I’m going to miss it.
- Gentlemen, take a seat. Ladies, let’s talk bras. For years and years I’ve been getting Facebook ads for Third Love bras. I absolutely do not trust any products I’m being advertised on social media, so I always just sort of ignored them. Plus they are more money than I generally want to spend on bras. Given I wear them more than almost any other clothing that I own, I probably shouldn’t be so chintzy, but why does a tiny piece of cloth cost so much? Anyway, I have rarely found bras that I feel like fit me well. The straps are always falling down, or they are just slightly too small, or slightly too big. Third Love finally got me to give them a try with a sale and selling me on their 1/2 sizes. I thought might as well give it a try. I can return them if they don’t fit. Turns out the 1/2 size was the key to my problem. They fit like everyone says a bra should. They clasp for me on the last hook. The cup covers my whole breast. The little piece of cloth between my breasts actually rests of my chest. The straps don’t fall down. I am not super in love with the fluted look of the straps on the t-shirt bra, which is what I bought. But no one else really sees them but me and my husband, and I can guarantee he does not care and would have no idea what I was talking about. So I should probably start throwing out some of my old ratty bras and upgrading them when I can snag these bras on sale.
And now for your musical delights
- My husband got me a gift certificate to a local record store for Christmas so I can feed my new vinyl hobby. I’ve been enjoying finding cheap copies of old albums from the 70s and 80s. I popped over there after church last Sunday and managed to add a couple of Lionel Richie albums, a Steve Winwood album, a Loggins and Messina album, and an Expose album to my collection for not very much money. I feel like Expose weirdly got lost in the 80s and rarely shows up even in 80s music mixes despite having a double platinum album that had 4 top 10 hits including one that went to number one. I had the Exposure album on cassette as a child and loved it. I’m happy to have it again on vinyl this time.
- My husband and I have been watching an old BBC show called the Detectorists. I’ll have more to say about the show whenever I write my next TV Diary post, but today I have the theme song for you because I have very much been enjoying hearing it every episode.
Today is the first big release date of 2023 and Margo Price is back with her highly anticipated album Strays. The whole album is great. It was apparently written over the course of six days while on a magic mushroom trip with her husband and musical collaborator Jeremy Ivey. I’ve heard it referred to even by her if I recall correctly as psychedelic country. Basically Margo Price just continues to write her own musical story and make what she wants with no desire or expectation to be part of the mainstream country music world. I had a hard time choosing which song off the album I wanted to share, but I eventually went with “Radio”, which features Sharon Van Etten. It definitely has a Sharon Van Etten flare to it, but I also feel like it somewhat pulls all the musical threads of the whole album together in one song. Have a listen.
It’s time for my/your weekly delights. Let’s get to it.
- You may recall the salt box art I’ve written about here before. The same woman who is the artist behind that has now expanded her guerilla art in the city with phone booth art. There are still a lot of empty pay phone booths scattered around the city. Some of them have broken phones still in them. Some are just the shell. She has started placing artwork inside of them. My most favorite one so far is this one of Lionel Richie saying Hello.
- I was talking last week about hashtags or intentions for the year with some friends from church. I was struggling to come up with a short word or phrase that was actually an intention and not something like stuck or hopeless, which is pretty much what I feel going into this year since it’s unlikely anything is really going to change from the state we’re in. Then I saw someone online somewhere share Woody Guthrie’s New Year’s Rulin’s from 1943. The whole list is pretty advice, but based on how I’m feeling I connected with number 19, “Keep hoping machine running”. If you don’t already have the hope, do what you can to find it I guess.
- I was on my way to work the other day and stopped at a stoplight. Someone on the cross street drove by me in a DeLorean. I wonder if they were headed back to the future. I’ll see myself out.
- I saw a really cool hawk flying around on my normal walking route the other day, which is not something I normally see.
- I’m trying to take more advantage of the art we have in this city, especially since several of our museums are free. I walked over to the Baltimore Museum of Art on Saturday morning to check out their current paid exhibit, “A Movement in Every Direction: Legacies of the Great Migration”. It wasn’t my most favorite exhibit. There were a few cool pieces of art, but there was way too much video art for my taste. I just have never been able to connect with most video art. I did really like the Omar Ba: Political Animals exhibit. Ba is from Senegal, and I believe if I’m remembering correctly that this is his first major U.S. exhibit.
- And now for your musical delight I have the Choir! Choir! Choir! version of the Tears for Fears song “Shout”.
It’s a new year and new music is still a little sparse, but I did come across this song that seems very appropriate to kick off my 2023 New Music Friday posts. It’s a little bit more hopeful about what the new year holds than I am, but perhaps if I keep listening some of its optimism will rub off on me.
First delights post of 2023. My first delight should probably be that I remembered to write 2023 instead of 2022. I don’t have high hopes that 2023 is going to be any better for me, but good riddance 2022.
- My first delight is related to why I don’t have many delights. It was a pretty low key week for me. I was off work, and I didn’t do a whole lot. It was a nice relaxing time.
- Obviously my trip to New York was a delight, but you already have a full run down of that in my previous post.
- I got a walk in with a couple of friends on New Year’s Eve before the rain set in.
- I had no idea what to get my husband for his birthday this year. It’s always hard because it’s so close to Christmas, so I have to come up with multiple gifts back to back, and he’s no help. So this year I gave him either the best gift or the worst gift. He’s the one who does almost all the cooking in our house, so I gave him 12 coupons to redeem for me cooking dinner instead of him. I chose 12 because I figure that’s one per month, though he isn’t required to redeem them that way. He seemed very amused by the gift if nothing else.
- In the before times we used to have a big New Year’s Eve party every year. It had sort of dwindled a lot in the years even before the pandemic because too many people had kids and couldn’t come out anymore. I’m still mostly avoiding large indoor gatherings where it doesn’t make sense for me to be masked unless people have tested themselves for COVID, so this year instead of a party we just had one other couple over. We had a little dinner party, played some games, and walked over the neighborhood ball drop at midnight. It was a nice chill way to ring in the new year.
- I love our neighborhood ball drop. It’s on the same block that has all the Christmas lights. My favorite part about it is just seeing all the people pour out of their houses and head over there shortly before midnight. It’s a very eclectic mix of people, and it makes for lots of good people watching. It was also nice this year that it was relatively warm and the rain had stopped before midnight. Way better than the years when it’s freezing cold.
- I discovered that moths ate the sweater I normally wear on Christmas, so I was on the look out for a new red sweater in the after Christmas sales. It was actually way harder than I was expecting it to be because every time I found something I liked it was out of stock in my size. I never shop at Talbot’s, but I figured they probably have a red sweater. They did indeed have one that I liked and was super on sale, but I decided I didn’t want to pay the $9 in shipping for it. There’s a Talbot’s not that far from my house (I didn’t even have to go to the mall!), and I figured I might as well run over there and see if they had one in stock. They did indeed have exactly one red sweater left in the store, and it was in my size. Score!
- It is no secret that I have love polar bears. One year for my birthday my husband flew me to Buffalo to spend the day watching their two polar bear cubs at the zoo. My dream trip is to go to Churchill, Manitoba to go on one of the polar bear watching excursions there. The polar bear at the Toledo Zoo recently had twin polar bear cubs. You can watch them online for part of the day, though mostly they’ve only been sleeping when I’ve popped in. Will my first post-COVID plane trip involve a trip to Toledo? Whose to say?
Hey look at that. It turns out I had more delights than I thought since I literally had two things written in the notes app on my phone. And now for your musical delights.
- I was watching the Kennedy Center Honors. One of this year’s inductees was Amy Grant. Many people probably remember her from her cross-over pop album, Heart to Heart. I of course had that on CD, but my favorite part of her tribute was the medley they did of her most popular straight up Christian hits from the 80s. We had two of those cassettes, and I listened to them a ton as a kid. That medley was a pure joy hit of nostalgia.
- This video of Fiona Apple covering The Waterboys “The Whole of the Moon” is two years old, but I just ran across it for the first time this week. Brilliant.