Last Week Delight 4/24/2023

After last week’s past list of delights, this week is much lighter. I was sick last week, which I’m pretty sure is a result of the foot and ankle doctor who spent our entire appointment coughing in my face maskless. I will spare you my rant on how I think it’s insane that doctor’s office and hospitals are dropping mask mandates. So here’s the few things I have for you.

  • To keep my daily Instagram story posts going, I expanded my photos from just the flamingos in my neighborhood to also include these Be Kind signs, which have proliferated in the past year or so. Sometimes the signs have flamingos on them. This week I was pretty sure that I was finally out of both new flamingos and Be Kind signs, but every time I say that more appear. My husband helped by coming home with a Be Kind sign that he bought at the farmer’s market where they were selling them. They also threw in some stickers, so I put those on some light poles in the neighborhood. Then someone added 3 new flamingo Be Kind signs at some of the major border intersections for my neighborhood. So I have a few more. Though I’m going to run out this week while I’m out of town. So there will definitely be at least a temporary end shortly.
  • A Black couple opened an Italian ice/ice cream place in my neighborhood last summer. I wanted some soft serve ice cream on Friday night, so we went to Tia’s and stood in a big, long line that was mostly Black people. The history of my neighborhood is let’s just say not great when it comes to Black people, so it’s nice to see them having a thriving business that is attracting new people to the neighborhood. When we first moved into my neighborhood I rarely saw Black people there, but now I see quite a few out enjoying various businesses and walking down our main street.
  • Saturday was Record Store Day. Sound Garden, which is my go-to record store in Baltimore, was a large part of starting Record Store Day. However, their process is too much for me. You have to go there the day before to get a numbered token that indicates your place in line on the actual day of. They have the largest selection and the largest quantity of those items, but with the larger crowds I’m not sure it’s better. So instead I went to Celebrated Summer Records, which is a couple blocks from my house. They are much smaller and are not my go to record store because they focus on stuff like punk, metal, and jazz that are not my genres. But they get a variety of stuff in for Record Store Day, so I figured I would try my luck there and if I failed I could go down to Sound Garden in the afternoon to see if there was anything left once all the betokened people finished shopping. Happily I got 3 of the 4 things that were on my list. I got the last (or maybe only) copy they had of the Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires EP and the picture disc re-pressings of The Violent Femmes and The Cure’s live album, Show. I had also been on the look out for Amanda Shires’s solo EP, but they didn’t have that. I’m guessing they never had a copy. The hot item, which I didn’t care about was the Taylor Swift album. I got in line around 8:30 and the store opened at 9. I suspect the Taylor Swift fans were the ones who had been sitting outside for hours because right before the store opened, the owner came out and said that he had 33 copies of the Taylor Swift album, and suggested that my end of the line was probably out of luck. My end of the line clearly did not care. There were two friends a few people in front of me that very much did care though. The woman kept checking in to find out how many copies were left. They got so lucky and they got the last two. I was very happy for them. The owner kept giving updates when they sold out of something. At one point he shouted out, we’re down to the last 11 copies of Husker Du! We started with 12! That cracked me up.
  • And now for your musical delight of the week. Brandon Flowers from The Killers joined Dawes for a couple of songs at their show in Salt Lake City last week. I always get so excited for people who were in the room when some crazy unexpected guest shows up at a concert because I know how awesome it is when I’ve experienced it. Despite my love/hate relationship with people recording videos at concerts, I’m happy I get to experience some of these things vicariously.

New Music Friday: Till the Flame Turns Blue by The Paper Kites

I don’t even remember where I came across the song “Till the Flame Turns Blue” by The Paper Kites in the last few weeks, but I immediately added it to my 2023 Spotify playlist after hearing it. I had never heard of The Paper Kites before, and I have yet to dig any farther into their music. There’s a lot more to explore if I ever want to though. This song is off what people are presuming will be their yet to be announced sixth studio album. The band from Melbourne, Australia has been together since 2009 and already has five albums out. So if this song is not an anomaly in their musical catalog, I have a lot of new to me music to enjoy. This song 100% reminds me of the song “Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison both in it’s lyrical themes and music. “Into the Mystic” is one of my all time favorite songs, so of course I was immediately all in on a song that feels like its spiritual kin to me. Go take a listen and let me know if you hear the same connection.

Last Week Delight 4/17/2023

Buckle in. I’ve got a lot of delights for you this week.

  • I had an upper endoscopy last Monday to try and find out what has been causing my relentless reflux issues. It originally wasn’t scheduled until 2:30, so I figured I wouldn’t really get to eat until around dinner time. For some reason they called that morning and asked me to be there at 10 instead. So I was home in time for lunch, and didn’t have to feel starving all day. It unfortunately didn’t shed much light on anything, but at least for right now all that acid hasn’t done any damage to my esophagus. So that’s good news at least.
  • I’ve had a very busy stretch of days. I think this is the most things I’ve done in a row since pre-pandemic. And even then 6 days in a row of activities was not the norm. I was already too old and too tired for that back in 2020. I kicked things off on Wednesday night going to see Lucius with Danielle Ponder at Rams Head Live.
  • Thursday night was a surprise baby shower for some friends from church. They were indeed surprised, and it was a lovely night to be outside and hang out with friends.
  • Friday night a group of us went out to dinner to belatedly celebrate a friend’s birthday. It’s nice that the weather is warming up again so that I can go out to eat at restaurants again, and I appreciate friends who make sure to make outdoor reservations so that I can join them. I’ve missed out on a lot of friend gatherings over the winter, so it’s nice to be able to be a part of things in a somewhat normal way again for a little while.
  • Saturday my husband and I drove down to the DC area to have dinner with friends who live down there and to celebrate one of their birthdays. We technically ate dinner in Maryland, but just over the line because we must have parked in DC as when we started driving home our GPS welcomed us to Maryland, so we must have crossed over the line at some point. The weather was rainy and thunderstormy all day, so we were very much keeping an eye on the weather to see if we needed to shift our plans. Luckily the weather wound up cooperating, and it was a lovely night to eat dinner outside. I was also very excited when we got dessert and they told me that the apple hand pie on the menu had been replaced by a strawberry shortcake with cardamom ice cream. I love cardamom and was immediately sold. It was delicious.
  • Sunday night we had tickets to see Hadestown as part of season tickets to the local touring Broadway shows. Hadestown was actually the last show I saw on Broadway before COVID happened. I had very much enjoyed it then, and I had seen it with the original cast and wasn’t sure how well the touring cast was going to be able to live up to it. They did a pretty darn good job. I was particularly worried about Hades because I didn’t see how anyone could come close to living up to Patrick Page. He wasn’t as good, but I will say that the actor whose name I unfortunately don’t know did a pretty good job. He had a similarly deep, booming voice which I think was key.
  • For my final night of sociability, I have book club tonight. We read the book Remarkably Bright Creatures, which I loved. It’s really type of book we tried so hard to find to read during the last 5-7 years when everything has just felt terrible all the time in the real world but that we so very rarely were able to find. Something that feels light and clever, but that isn’t just complete fluff that leaves us nothing to discuss.
  • It was also a beautiful morning for our first outdoor church service of the season. I’m sure it will get cold again before we really settle into summer weather and we’ll have a few mornings when we’re shivering with the breeze off the harbor. Yesterday was absolutely perfect though.
  • Speaking of church I was sitting near a couple of pregnant women yesterday, and a little girl who is probably around 3 and half came up and was looking at their baby bumps, so one of them asked if she wanted to say hi to the baby. The little girl then gave her baby bump an elbow bump. It was adorable. I’m like you can tell this kid has been raised during a pandemic.
  • I don’t know why it delighted me so much, but it did. A couple blocks away from church while I was stopped at a light one of the guys on our worship team zoomed by me on one of those electric scooters that are left all over the city for you to rent.
  • One of my friends on Instagram kept posting stories about how she was already doomed to be humiliated by her Spotify Wrapped at the end of the year, so eventually I DM’ed her and said I must know what you’ve been listening to. So she she told me she better not be in the top 1% of Shaggy listeners. I responded with this joke, which I am inordinately proud of. “You: It wasn’t me. Spotify: Caught you red handed.”
  • Ross Gay has written a sequel to The Book of Delights, which is what got me into doing these delights posts in the first place. It’s called The Book of (More) Delights, go figure. I got a galley copy of it and am in the middle of reading it. In one of the delights in the book he shares that due to his original book people send him lots of mail in which they recount their own delights. One of them shared about their friends cat whose names is OREO Speedwagon, which was also a delight to him, and something he thought we should also know as to bring us delight. It did indeed delight me, and now I feel compelled to extend the delight to you.
  • We have a craft table at work that is covered in brown butcher paper that people draw and write on all the time. This morning I spotted that someone drew a heart on the table and inside of it said, “A proud dad brought his accepted daughter here for a visit.” I thought it was super sweet, and it put a smile on my face.
  • And now for your musical delights. First up the song “Nina Cried Power” by Hozier featuring Mavis Staples. I adore this song. I heard it this week for the first time in a while, and it made me very happy. Seeing them perform it together live is still one of my favorite Newport Folk Festival moments, and it takes a lot to make it towards the top of that list because there are so many darn amazing things I’ve seen over the past decade there. I was also delighted to discover that Mavis Staples is featured on a song on the new Abraham Alexander record, which I did not realize until I put my new vinyl on while I was doing the dishes and all of a sudden Mavis was singing to me.
  • And also the song “Heavenly Day” by Patty Griffin. I don’t have anything to say about. It’s just a song I love and heard this week.

New Music Friday: Lights Light Up by Fenne Lily

I first came across this song bout a month ago when Jay Sweet who runs the Newport Folk Festival shared it on social media and said he had basically had it on repeat for days. So of course I had to check it out. I did indeed agree that it was a great song, and then stuck in my back pocket for a New Music Friday post figuring that it was going to be new to other people even if I didn’t write about it right away. I had decided that today was the day I was going to pull it out, and lo and behold that was very serendipitous because when I went to look it up to share it, I discovered that the album that it’s on, Big Picture, was released today. So it’s a perfect New Music Friday to share it.

Fenne Lily is from Bristol, England though it seems like she’s has moved to New York in the last year or so. Big Picture is actually her third studio album, though this is the first I’ve heard of her. Like so many artists these days she got her start as a teenager. She’s still only 26 years old and has three albums under her belt. It doesn’t seem like she’s had a huge breakthrough in the US yet, but I can see that changing with this album. By big, I mean that people who listen to indie radio might finally discover her. I think most people only find music on TikTok these days, and as a non-TikToker myself I have no idea what her presence there is like. It doesn’t seem like the kind of music that would go viral there, but if you’re into melancholy, folky indie rock then this album is for you. Given Jay Sweet’s love for her I at least expect that if she’s not at this year’s Newport, which is still announcing it’s lineup for the year, she’ll be at next year’s.

Lucius with Danielle Ponder at Rams Head Live

Last night I went back to Rams Head Live for the first time since the pandemic started to see Lucius with Danielle Ponder opening. Rams Head is an ok venue. I don’t have any super strong feelings about it one way or the other. I don’t think it’s an amazing place to see a show, but I also don’t think it’s a terrible place to see a show either. The best part about it is how close to home it is. I like a venue I can get to in 15 minutes with parking that is quick to get out of.

This was my first time seeing Danielle Ponder. She’s only really starting to make a much bigger name for herself. She was a public defender for most of her adult life. She quit that job back in 2018 to start to pursue a music career, and in 2021 finally quit her job as a lawyer completely just before her 40th birthday to really go after her music career full time. It seems to be working out for her. I first became acquainted with her music a few months ago when she was WXPN’s artist to watch for the month. I think the phrase Funk & Soul & Hip Hop & Love & Justice that she has written on a bunch of her merch pretty much perfectly describes what she’s all about. Her music pulls from those influences and more while a lot of her lyrics are about love and justice. So there you have it. It was a fairly short set, but I very much enjoyed it. You can tell she loves performing and interacting with an audience. She finished off her set with a soulful cover of Radiohead’s “Creep”, which she made sound much better than they ever did.

Lucius is still touring behind their album Second Nature, which is was one of my favorite albums of 2022. So of course the majority of the songs they played were off the album, though they did mix it up with some older song, a new song, and some covers. They sadly did not play my favorite song off the album, which is “Dance Around It”. They did play “Heartbursts”, which is my second favorite, so I guess I’ll take that. It was a very dance inspired show because the album itself is very dance and disco influenced with the idea of dancing your way through the pain. The pain in this case being both the pandemic and the divorce of singer Jess Wolfe and the band’s drummer Dan Molad. I joke a little that this is their Fleetwood Mac moment because they made a really great break up album and are still out there playing together. I don’t know how they go out there on stage together every night and sing songs about what I would guess is one of the worst times in their lives, but good for them I guess. I mean I’m still happy the band is around and making great music and performing fun shows. They did play some more ballad-y songs as well including “The Man I’ll Never Find”, which is a great song. When the album came out I read a story somewhere in which Jess said that she wrote it about the end of their relationship but told Dan she wouldn’t share it if he didn’t want her to. He apparently told her it was the best song she’d ever written and it had to go on the album. I don’t know what it was called, but they played one new song that I adored. It was much more guitar forward than a lot of their previous music which is pretty synth and keys heavy. I didn’t recognize it but was thinking wow I really love this song. Why do I not remember it? Then they said it was a new one. So that it explains it. Anyway, if that’s what I have to look forward to on the next album I can’t wait.

The show was far from sold out. They didn’t even have the upper levels open to keep everyone corralled on the main level to create more of a crowd. This is why we can’t have nice things Baltimore. I don’t know why Lucius doesn’t have a bigger following here. I personally enjoyed having some space and not being smushed in a crowd of people. Plus I was able to walk right up and get my favorite spot along the rail in the weird raised area in the back next to the sound booth. It means I’m a few steps higher than the people in front of me so I can see over the crowd and there are generally fewer people trying to stand back there even when it is a sold out show. My husband has never gone to a concert with me at Rams Head and even he knows about my spot. As I was walking out the door he shouted, “I hope you get your spot!”. Thankfully I did. Even though the crowd was not that large people were into it, so it was a fun night all around.

Last Week Delight 4/10/2023

This week’s delights are heavy on the music. Some weeks are like that.

  • Things are in bloom in Baltimore and everything is very pretty. Sherwood Gardens, which is known for its tulips, is pretty much in full bloom. It’s about a mile walk from my office, so I walked over on my lunch break a couple of times last week. Monday there were some tulip beds in bloom, but after a few days of really warm weather things had really exploded by Thursday. For some reason the tulip beds never all bloom at the same time, and it seems variable which ones come up first. Also, by the time all the tulips are up usually the daffodils, hyacinths, and cherry blossoms are gone. This year there seemed to be more overlap than normal, so it was a great time to see some pretty flowers.
  • Also speaking of cherry trees, my favorite cherry trees are now in bloom as well. The kwanzan cherry trees always bloom later than everything else, but they have these gorgeous full pink blooms that I love. I honestly don’t know enough about trees to be able to accurately identify all the different flowering trees we have around here, but there are a lot. It’s one of the things I love about where I live even if all the pollen is making me want to scratch my eyes out.
  • The new Broadway show Shucked had its opening night this past week. They invited Tariq, “the corn kid” to the show which is just awesome. So there’s some very cute video of him on the red carpet and giving his review after the show.
  • I’ve been making my way through the tv show Bluey despite the fact that I am a childless adult, and it is aimed at like five year olds. In a moment of serendipity I happened to put on an episode on Easter that was about Easter, so that was kind of fun even though any episode where Bingo is sad breaks my heart and Bingo was very sad in this one because she thought the Easter bunny forgot about her.
  • The Jason Isbell documentary, Running With Our Eyes Closed, premiered on HBO on Friday night. The filmmaker set out to make a documentary about him recording the album Reunions, and wound up getting a lot more in the process as COVID hit in the middle of the filming and Jason and his wife and sometimes band mate Amanda Shires hit a very rocky point in their marriage, which they do not shy away from in this film. They had been very open about it during all the press when the album came out, but it’s kind of different to actually watch it playing out on film than it is to just hear them tell about it. It’s shockingly raw and honest. There’s one point where Amanda is reading an email that she wrote to Jason about what was going on, and she’s literally physically shaking because she’s so upset. I do wish that I hadn’t learned that Amanda hates listening to the song “Cover Me Up”. I’ll never be able to hear it the same way again. I had always thought of it as this sort of great love song of them making it through his addiction, and him getting sober because he realized what a good thing he was going to mess up if he didn’t. I gather that’s how he sort of thought about it too, and then seems to find out during all of this that she actually hates it because it brings up a lot of bad memories for her. He still plays it at every show, so I guess they’ve worked through that at least enough. It’s definitely not going to be the same next time I see him play it live though. Since the documentary was shot in late 2019 and early 2020, their daughter Mercy was only 4 at the time. It was fun to see her so cute and teeny tiny again. I thought it was a great film, but as a huge fan I am not an objective observer. I don’t know how interesting it would be to anyone who is not already a Jason Isbell fan or just someone who is so into music documentaries they’ll watch one about anything.
  • I bought a used copy of the Peter Gabriel album So at a record bazaar a couple weeks ago. For reasons this weekend was the first time I actually got to put it on and listen to it. Man that is such a good album. Not really a bad song it, though I’ve never been the hugest fan of the song “Sledgehammer” even though it’s probably Peter Gabriel’s biggest hit.
  • And speaking of great music, I heard the song “Break It Down” by Tears for Fears on the radio. It’s such a good song and not one that people ever really seem to reference in relation to that band.
  • WXPN has a segment called “90s at 9”. Last week they were playing a bunch of songs that for some reason made me think they should be playing a Paula Cole song, and then they did. I very much appreciate that it was the song “Me” instead of one of the two Paula Cole songs that you actually know.

New Music Friday: Joiner by Blondshell

I’ve been enjoying the song “Joiner” by Blondshell for several months now, but finally decided to write about it today because the self-titled album that it’s on came out today. Blondshell is the band name for indie rock artist Sabrina Teitelbaum. This is her debut album under that monkier, though I gather she had a previous project called BAUM that I am unfamiliar with. The album is guitar rock driven, but not in the pop-punk way that is pretty much the only guitar you hear on mainstream radio these days. The video features a woman listening to a discman, to which I had anti-nostalgia if that’s a thing. What a horrible piece of technology that was. Thank goodness mp3s came along and saved us from it. Anyway, if you miss pure rock music go check out the new album by Blondshell.

Last Week Delight 4/3/2023

I always feel like I need to introduce my delights posts in some way even though by this point it should be fairly obvious what I’m doing here. Some weeks I have stuff I want to say before I get into it. Some weeks I don’t. This week I don’t, but now I have an introduction. Let’s do it.

  • The library I work at celebrated its 50th anniversary last week with a great little celebration. Even better that I was one of the few people that was not involved in any part of planning or executing it. I just got to enjoy it. I will take credit for being the one to point out last year that we would be celebrating 50 years this year. I started at the very end of our 30th anniversary year in 2003, so even though I missed any celebration they did back then I remember hearing about it when I started so the year 1973 stuck in my mind, and I remembered when no one else did. Granted there are only a couple of people who have been here longer than the almost 20 years (eep!) that I’ve been here at this point, and I don’t think we ever really talk about the specifics of the library’s history that much. So I would bet that at least 90% of people who work here didn’t even know what year the library was founded until this year.
  • The Baltimore City Department of Transportation has a pretty great Twitter account. This past week they posted a picture of a passport issued in 1943. The twist? It was for Herman the Cat. Turns out that working cats who lived on ships to help deal with pests were issued passports until the mid-20th century. Everything about it is delightful. The fact that it’s filled out like a regular passport. Height 15 inches. Weight 11 pounds. Hair color grey. And it’s signed with a paw print!
  • My husband gave me a sock of the month club subscription for Christmas 2021, so I got a new pair of socks every month last year. One of the pairs has vinyl records on it and it’s one of my most frequently worn pairs. Even though I’ve worn them dozens of times at this point, I just realized this week that for some reason that particular pair has an inscription sewn into the inside of the top band of the sock that says “In Socks We Stand”. I don’t know how I never noticed it until now.
  • Most kids have lemonade stands, but I drove by some kids on my way home from work on Friday set up with a Pokemon stand. I was driving, so I only got a quick glimpse. I guess maybe they were set to sell or trade Pokemon cards with other passersby?
  • I wrote about the show Grand Crew in one of my TV Diary posts last year, but I have to say that just really find this show to be so delightful. Sadly, I almost never hear anyone else talk about it and when they (thankfully) brought it back for a second season they relegated it to Friday nights at mid-season. I’m not super hopeful that there will be a third season. It certainly has its share of ridiculous, over-the-top sit-com zaniness, but I very much enjoy hanging out with these characters as part of their little gang each week. It’s also full of really funny and smart jokes, some of them fly by so fast you barely catch them. There were a couple of really great ones in this past week’s episode. There was one about one of the characters who is currently driving for a living claiming his car is his office that had a lot of the kinds of ribbing jokes friends make against each other that ended in just a chef’s kiss of a punchline. And there was one of the one’s that just went by so fast that you almost could have missed it that I won’t even try to explain. I was sold on this show from the beginning. I know a couple of people who tried it when it came out and didn’t think it was that great, but maybe give it another chance. So many comedies take a season or so to find themselves, so you might like it better now. Or not. I don’t know. As I said I always liked it.
  • Our weather was kind of bonkers on Saturday. Chilly and rainy in the morning. Warmed up to be a sunny, gorgeous spring day for about 5 hours after lunch. Then around dinner time a cold front came through and produced crazy thunderstorms, hail, and even a small tornado about an hour north of us. Then on the back side of that there was about 6 hours worth of crazy winds gusting up to 70 miles an hour. Anyway, in the brief window where the weather was great, I went out for a walk. I happened to be walking down my friend’s street when I ran into her going out for a walk. So I extended my walk and joined her. We used to go on fairly regular Sunday afternoon walks before I screwed up my foot. I definitely pushed the limits walking with her on Saturday and paid for it later, but no regrets.
  • I’m usually anti-April Fool’s Day jokes. Either they are not funny at all or I find them to be mean and trying to trick people. Like very rarely do they hit the sweet spot where they are just almost believable enough to be real, but if you think about it for half a second are clearly not. I saw several that I thought worked really well this year, which is a rarity. First there was the build your own Oreo with Funfetti frosting. I mean they would have to package the frosting differently than that, but why is this not a product? I suspect it won’t be too long before it actually is. UVA had a pretty great one claiming they were rebranding to UV because the A means nothing. I also got a big smile out of this one from Sesame Street. I saw the first tweet at some point in the morning, and didn’t think anything about it. I was like I guess Sesame Street creates fake forecasts for their universe and just kept scrolling. I did not make any connection to the lyrics of the theme songs “sunny days, sweeping the clouds away” or to April Fool’s Day at the time. Then hours later I saw the second tweet. That photo in and of itself delighted me, but when it all clicked in my brain it was a little jolt of joy. Plus Grover is without question the best Sesame Street Muppet.
  • And finally for my musical delight for the week, I present you the song “The Final Countdown”. We watched the Tetris move on AppleTV+ last night. When I saw the trailer for it a couple months ago, I was like this looks absolutely ridiculous. It was like trying to make Tetris the biggest espionage thriller of our modern times. I was very in. I was afraid that the movie would in no way live up to the promise of the trailer, but oh it did. I know it’s based on true events, but I suspect very, very loosely and that what happened in the movie was way more dramatic. It was a super fun movie though. It did not disappoint. Anyway, there was one scene in the movie where they were in a Russian club dancing to “The Final Countdown”, which just added to the whole sense of drama the movie was trying to create. It made me think that really you could put that song over just about anything and make it seem dramatic. I remember tweeting a million years ago back when Twitter was just silly and fun that doing the dishes while listening to “The Final Countdown” made it seem like a much more dramatic activity. I stand by the statement. If I was someone who TikToked, I think it would be a great TikTok series to do mundane tasks to that song to up the drama factor. I would not be surprised if this is something that already exists that I just don’t know about.