New Music Friday: Look the Other Way by Katie Pruitt

Katie Pruitt has been teasing this song, which she released on Wednesday, on her Instagram for weeks, so I’ve known for a while that this song was going to be New Music Friday post for today. I wrote about her new album, which this song is not a part of, back in the spring. It’s one of my favorites of the year, and I’m really bummed that I didn’t get to see her in concert this summer as that show was of course one of the many that I had tickets to that got canceled due to COVID-19.

I think this song speaks for itself, but it’s all about breaking out of our own comfortable lives to fight for justice instead of just looking the other way because it’s easier and/or it doesn’t affect us personally. It’s a great song and one I definitely need to be better about applying to my own life because it’s far too easy to feel defeated and feel like I have no power to change anything.

TV Diary

It’s time for yet another TV Diary because, you know, I’m watching a lot of tv these days. Luckily I’ve had a really good run of shows recently.

Teenage Bounty Hunters

I haven’t heard very many people talking about this show. I haven’t seen a single critic review it. It’s a shame because I LOVE this show. In some respects I feel like it shares a little bit of DNA with Schitt’s Creek in that it is kind of over the top and unrealistic in some ways, but also just has a whole lot of heart and wonderful relationships at the center of it. It’s sweet and funny and also fun. In some ways it feels perfectly made for me. I mean there was even a library database joke. Who is that for if not me?

Fraternal twin sisters Sterling and Blair are the titular teenage bounty hunters who accidentally wind up in the middle of a bounty hunter catching his skip during a car accident. They wind up helping catch him and in need of money to fix their father’s truck that they just wrecked they convince the bounty hunter to take them on as paid interns. Although the bounty hunting is part of each episode, it almost is beside the point. It is more about their relationships with their mentor, their parents, their significant others, and each other. If you watch one show on this list make it this one.

Harley Quinn

I had heard a lot of really great things about the animated show Harley Quinn, but I was never going to subscribe to DC Universe to watch it. Now that DC Universe has rebranded and shuffled off all their video content to HBO Max I was finally able to watch it. In this version of the story Harley and the Joker have just broken up and she winds up living with and becoming best friends with Poison Ivy who is trying to help her let go of the Joker and live her own life. She eventually gets a crew and is trying to take over Gotham City for herself. It is hilarious and also has a lot of good relationships in it. There is a lot of animated violence and gore and a decent amount of cursing. It waxes and wanes in episodes. The first episode is probably the worst on all counts. They really want to make sure you know this is not an animated show for kids of any age. I also highly recommend this show.

Ramy

Ramy stars Ramy Youssef as sort of an alternate reality version of himself in which he still lives at home with his parents and is still trying to figure out his life and his Muslim faith and how to use it to become a better person because he is a low level not great person. It’s a show I enjoyed when we were watching it, but was for some reason something I was never super excited to put on. Probably because there are a lot of things that Ramy does that are not great and meant to make you feel uncomfortable. There are episodes that focus on specific members of his family too and they are similarly as uncomfortable. There is focused on his mother in season 2 that I had to watch most of through my hands. It is a good show with a perspective that no other show has, but it’s not necessarily a fun watch even though I guess it’s supposed to be a comedy. It’s not my kind of comedy.

Taste the Nation

Taste the Nation is a sort of food travel show hosted by Padma Lakshmi. She digs into various types of cuisine and the history and culture surrounding it including a lot about immigration. It’s a really great show and it made me really want to be able to travel and eat in restaurants again. It will also make you very hungry.

Frayed

Frayed is a quick 6 episode series from Australia about a woman who fled her small town in Australia and moved to England without looking back until her husband dies and she discovers they are penniless. She winds up having to return back to Australia with her teenage kids to live with her mother and brother and confront other people from her past in the town none of which are too happy to see her again. I liked it well enough, but I really could have done without all the vomiting. I never, ever want to see tv or movie characters vomit and there was literally at least one person if not more that vomited in every episode of this show except one. So you know, if that also bothers you be forewarned. Also I’m not sure if there are going to be additional seasons of this show, but this one ended on something that seemed to come very out of left field.

Legend of Korra/Avatar: The Last Airbender

I had always heard good things about Legend of Korra and Avatar: The Last Airbender, so now that they are both on Netflix I decided to check them out. I sort of did it backwards in that I started with Legend of Korra which is the spin-off series because I have been a long time listener of Janet Varney’s podcast the JV Club and she voices Korra so I have heard her talk about it a lot. I’m glad I did it that way because I don’t know that I ever would have gotten to Korra if I watched Avatar first. I know a lot of adults who love Avatar, but it seems squarely aimed at 10 year old kids. I could not get into at all. Korra felt way more adult to me even though I think she’s supposed to be a teenager when it starts. I really liked the first couple of seasons and then it went down hill for me in the final seasons. There was more relationship stuff in the first seasons than there was in subsequent seasons. I really didn’t care for the final season, which obviously had a lot of budget cuts that affected the show in ways you see all the time with live action shows, but I never would have considered in regards to animated shows before this. Most of the first season all the core team was split up and only one or two would appear during an episode and then there was an actual clip retrospective episode, which sit-coms used to do all the time but is not something I have seen done in a very long time. It was kind of odd. I’m glad I watched Korra, but I don’t think I’ll ever make it through Avatar.

Warrior Nun

This show is kind of crazy. I don’t even know how to describe it well, so I’m not going to try. You can go look up a summary if you want. I liked it more at the beginning when she was reveling in her ability to walk again and figuring out her new powers and what was going on and trying to decide if she was going to go fulfill this destiny than I was as the season went on. I definitely was only half paying attention to episodes towards the end of the season.

Lovecraft Country

I tried with this show, but it is not for me. I am just not a horror person. It doesn’t scare me. Most of the time I find it silly and I generally don’t like the plots surrounding it. I understand why people loved Get Out and like this for similar reasons, but I wasn’t into Get Out and was not into this show. I watched a couple episodes and then decided to give up. The fact that each episode seems to be it’s own thing only loosely connected to the other episodes did not help me get into it either.

Cursed

This is a retelling of the Arthurian legend from the perspective of the Lady in Lake before Arthur became king. I watched a few episodes and then told my husband he could go on without me. I did not care about anything that was happening and realized that I also want a little humor and or levity in my fantasy that this was just not providing. I don’t care about people just wandering in invented worlds and fighting over some thing. See why I also do not care about Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones.

New Music Friday: Nandi Bushell Official Theme Song by Dave Grohl

My friend texted me the other day telling me I should make this my New Music Friday song this week. Although there are a couple other songs that came out today that I could have written about I didn’t feel overly compelled to write about any of them, so I’m taking her up on her suggestion.

If you’re unfamiliar with the story Nandi Bushell is a 10 year old girl who is a great drummer and who challenged Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters to a drum off. It went viral on social media and he responded eventually declaring her the winner of round one. Then he wrote this song for her with his kids. You can read about the whole thing in this article.

I do not care one little bit about the Foo Fighters’ music. It is not for me, but Dave Grohl from what I can tell is a super awesome guy. After 1000 people in Cesena, Italy recorded a version of “Learning to Fly” to convince the Foo Fighters to come play a concert in their city Dave Grohl responded and they eventually did. He also once finished off a concert after breaking his leg in the middle of the show when stage diving. He just pulled up a chair and kept going so as not to disappoint the fans.

He also made some really excellent music documentaries in the fantastic documentary film Sound City about Sound City Studios and Sonic Highways an HBO docuseries, which explores the musical history of various American cities. I highly recommend them both if you if you have never seen them.

So my point is that even though I don’t really care for the Foo Fighters’ music myself and I will probably never listen to this particular song again, I am really happy that guys like Dave Grohl exist in the world to help bring us all a little joy.

New Music Friday: Turntables by Janelle Monae

I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about here today. I didn’t come into today with anything in mind and after listening to NPR Music’s New Music Friday podcast and what Spotify had to offer me in my Release Radar playlist I still wasn’t really feeling anything. Then right as I was finishing my walk this morning WXPN played Janelle Monae’s new song “Turntables”, which is from the forthcoming documentary All In: The Fight for Democracy. It was just the song I was looking for this morning because I really need to believe that the tables are in fact about to turn and that there is a more just America on the horizon. I’ll be over here listening to this on repeat.

Another Good Things Roundup

I’m still here trying to make sure I find the good in all the terrible that is happening. So here’s another list of some of the things that have brought me joy in the past few weeks.

  1. Beautiful Labor Day weekend weather. I literally could not have asked for better weather. The whole weekend of was gorgeous. I spent about 4 hours hanging out with a friend outside on Saturday and several hours outside reading in my hammock on Monday. Beautiful weather always makes things feel better.
  2. As I just mentioned I spent time hanging out with a friend on Saturday. Other than a few minutes when I dropped off some drinks back at her house in May I hadn’t seen her in person since March. We both got take out from different restaurants in the neighborhood and then sat outside camped out under some trees in the shade in the back of my house. It was so nice to spend time with her.
  3. And speaking of the grassy area behind my house, it has been a real life saver in these times. I don’t really have a yard to speak of. We had what was a small concrete patio that we have since had jackhammered up and turned into a proper parking pad. Many of our neighbors have also turned their outdoor space into a parking pad as well, so we have all started treating this patch of grass that separates our rowhouses from the parking lot behind them as our communal backyard. A couple people have strung up hammocks between trees. I’ve seen people sitting out there under the trees working. I and others have used it to gather outdoors with friends. In the before times it was pretty much only used for people to walk their dogs. It’s still used a lot for that, but it’s nice to see that it has taken on a new life.
  4. Carryout french fries that aren’t terrible. For my takeout lunch on Saturday I got a shrimp salad sandwich with friends from Rocket to Venus. They have handcut fries that are always kind of limp, so they were actually still pretty good and similar to their normal state even as carry out. I’ve found all the other carry out fries I’ve had since this started to be pretty terrible because as soon as they throw them in a take out container and shut it the steam builds up and makes them soggy. It’s nice to know I can get some fries that still taste pretty much like they’re supposed to instead of questioning why I’m continuing to eat cold, soggy fries that don’t taste very good.
  5. While we’re on the subject of food, you may recall in my last good things round up post that I mentioned getting biscuits from blacksauce kitchen and that I had yet to eat the peach biscuit this year, though I was sure I was going to eat one soon. I did in fact eat one since then, but even better blacksauce and the Charmery collaborated and created a roasted peach and buttermilk biscuit ice cream. Two things I love put into one delicious treat. What could be better?
  6. Pretty much since the pandemic started and artists had to leave their tours Amos Lee has been doing a weekly Thursday night concert on Instagram Live. It’s something I look forward to listening to every week. Most artists are playing online for tips or trying to raise money for some cause. He never seemed to be taking money for anything that I could tell, so I asked once and he said he was just playing music and wasn’t collecting money for anything. I bought some merch I wouldn’t have bought instead to try and throw him some support. Then a week or two ago he started off saying that his uncle had just died and he was going to be raising money for a homeless shelter in Philly that his uncle did work with in honor of his memory. In the one hour he played probably about 60% of the 1,000 or so people watching donated and raised over $16,000. It was really heartwarming to sit there and watch the amount tick up while he was playing. It felt really nice to finally be able to give something back for all the joy his music has brought me every Thursday night.

New Music Friday: Lay Me Down Easy by Carolina Story

Carolina Story is a band composed of spouses Ben and Emily Roberts. They met in college and apparently in order to impress Emily, Ben learned how to play a bunch of songs by her favorite artist, Brandi Carlile. So you know I’m already interested. They apparently spent a decade playing music wherever they could play and considered leaving the music business altogether to focus on raising their young family. Instead they wound up recording their first album in 2018. They released their sophomore album Dandelion today, their first with an outside producer.

I adore the entire album. I’ve already listened to it multiple times already today. It’s perfect Americana music. I love the whole album and had a hard time deciding what song to highlight. I settled on “Lay Me Down Easy” because it’s got both harmonica and pedal steel in it and I’m a sucker for songs with harmonica and pedal steel. Plus it has some beautiful harmonies. Basically it’s Danielle catnip.

New Music Friday: Care by beabadoobee

beabadoobee is the stage name of 20 year old British-Filipino singer Beatrice Laus. “Care” is the first single off her forthcoming debut album, Fake It Flowers. The song came out back in mid-July, but I heard it for the first time this week. It has a real 90s female rock vibe going on that I am digging. I’m pretty much into anything that makes me nostalgic for times that aren’t these at the moment. Take a listen.

New Music Friday: Devon Gilfillian and The Killers

So I have another twofer for you this week. I spent most of the week thinking I was going to write about Devon Gilfillian’s new song, but then this morning I kept hearing songs off of The Killers new album that came out today and I was more in the mood to write about that so I thought I would just switch out my song choice. But then I felt bad not writing about the Devon Gilfillian song so I’m doing both.

Cracks in the Ceiling by Devon Gilfillian feat. Joseph

“Cracks in the Ceiling” is a song that Devon Gilfillian wrote with the sisters from the band Joseph as part of NPR’s Morning Edition Song Project in which they are enlisting artists to write songs about this moment. Devon Gilfillian was thinking about a difficult conversation he had with a friend who grew up in the South and voted for Donald Trump about Black history and his own experiences as Black American and wrote this song about needing to seize this moment when the world has stopped to have difficult conversations about race and racism.

My Own Soul’s Warning by The Killers

The Killers are a band that I like okay and generally enjoy when I hear a song by them, but I also have never gotten super into them. I’ve never bought one of their albums nor felt compelled to go to one of their concerts, which should pretty much tell you what you need to know. But as a band that has now been around for 20 years and still very much has an identifiable sound, even their new music makes me feel a little nostalgic for what now seems like much simpler times. As I said above writing about The Killers today was not on my radar at all, but I heard two different songs off the album this morning and they just really felt like music I wanted to listen to right now. The sort of grandiose sweeping sound of their songs was just what I needed today. I probably never would have listened to this entire album except for the fact that I heard these songs in the exact moment that I did. I’m digging the whole thing especially the songs that feature k.d. lang and Weyes Blood even though I’m not sharing either one of those songs. I just went with this song because I felt like it exemplified The Killer’s signature style and the mood I’m going for.

New Music Friday: Kathleen Edwards and Ashley Ray

I bet you thought I wasn’t going to have a New Music Friday post for you today. I actually wanted to listen to several new albums that were out today before I decided on what to write about. That meant I couldn’t write up anything until after work instead of first thing in the morning. I couldn’t even settle on one song after that, so you get two today.

Birds on a Feeder by Kathleen Edwards

Kathleen Edwards put out her first album, Total Freedom, in eight years today. She had actually quit her music career and opened up a coffee shop called Quitters in Ottawa, Canada. Then Maren Morris apparently invited her down to Nashville to do some songwriting together and it ignited a spark. So here we are with a brand new album most people thought would never happen. The whole album is lovely. I highly recommend listening to the whole thing. Even better go watch the online album release concert she did from her coffee shop for World Cafe.

I’m going to highlight the song “Bird On a Feeder” because it feels like being wrapped in a warm blank on a cold winter’s day to me. It just makes me imagine sitting in front of a fire in a cabin wrapped in a blanket with a dog sitting at my feet. I feel like it’s a song I’m going to be coming back to a lot this winter.

Just a House by Ashley Ray

Pauline is Ashley Ray’s third album and hopefully the one that helps break her out in the country music scene because it is amazing from top to bottom. It’s a very personal record, which I’ve seen called a photo album of her life growing up in Kansas. I feel like that’s a very apt description. The album title comes from her grandmother and the song of the same name on the album is about all the good and bad things she inherited from her. It’s full of fiddle and banjo and I love it, but it’s not even the song I’m going to talk about. One of the things I love about the album is how much it features the aforementioned banjo and fiddle as well as pedal steel. I love all these things, so it’s no wonder that I’m highly attracted to Americana and country music for which these instruments are staples. Oddly then I’m choosing to highlight a song that features none of those instruments.

I couldn’t resist “Just a House” though. It’s co-written with Natalie Hemby and is all about Ashley trying to encourage her mother to leave the house that’s sort of falling down around her, but her mother doesn’t want to leave because it’s where she lived with Ashley’s father who died in a tragic fall on their farm when she was a child. It’s a very sad, but beautiful song.

Good Things Roundup

It seems like it’s pretty hard to come by good things these days, so I want to make sure I’m documenting them when they do happen. There were a number of things that made me happy over the past week or so, so I thought I would write up a quick post about them.

  1. We have now entered one of my favorite times of year when all the noisy bugs of summer are out in full force in the morning and the evening. Cicadas, crickets, katydids are all out there humming away now and I love it.
  2. I got a couple of surprises from friends that made me feel loved and it reminded me that I have some really great friends even if I don’t really get to see them much in person these days. Some friends went out to a farm and cut a bunch of sunflowers and dropped one off to me as a nice little surprise. That happened on a day when I was feeling really down on life and people, so it was perfect timing and very sweet.
  3. The other day I was watching TV and a character eating popcorn for some reason really made me crave the caramel/cheddar popcorn mix from Garrett’s Popcorn in Chicago. I looked into how much it would cost to have some shipped to me and decided I didn’t want popcorn that much. I did find two different brands of cheddar/caramel mix popcorns at the grocery store that I decided to do a taste test of. The Cretors came closer to the Garrett’s, but still wasn’t as good. The Smartfood I didn’t care much for. I posted about all this on Facebook, and then a couple days ago I opened up my door to a tin of popcorn from Garrett’s that one of my friends sent me after seeing my post. I have the best friends y’all.
  4. I got to actually see some friends in person this weekend. Some friends from DC drove up and we got carry out brunch and sat socially distanced in the grass behind my house. It’s a friend I’m used to getting together with fairly regularly, but who I hadn’t seen since we parted ways in the Tampa airport after going on what was in retrospect a very ill-advised trip to St. Pete Beach on the very week that the world decided that COVID-19 was a pandemic. Had our trip been one day later we would have canceled, but literally up until the point we were in the air flying to Florida the media was still downplaying how bad this was going to be. It was really good to be able to see each other again. I’m trying to be a little bit braver while also being completely responsible to see friends in person while the weather is still nice enough for us to sit outside because unless things change I don’t see myself spending time with people inside this winter. It’s going to be a long, lonely winter.
  5. Blacksauce biscuits are also making me very happy. Blacksauce is beloved staple at farmer’s markets and festivals in Baltimore serving up delicious biscuit sandwiches and more. I always got a Blacksauce biscuit for breakfast every Saturday morning pre-pandemic. For 3 months we did not eat any food that we did not cook in our own house. After the research kept reiterating that it was unlikely you would get it from eating carryout, we finally started getting carryout on my birthday. That opened the door for me to also finally start eating Blacksauce again. They are not at the farmer’s market right now. Instead they’re cooking out of a restaurant that closed last year and are doing scheduled pickups in their parking lot. The sandwiches rotate every weekend and some of my favorites only ever come around once or twice a year, so it’s been a nice stretch over the past three weeks with some of my very favorites: fried green tomatoes, roasted figs, and fried chicken with spicy honey. It’s summer so the roasted peaches have been in heavy rotation. I love that one too and will get it as soon as one of the rare ones that I love isn’t on the menu.
  6. Both universities that my library serves announced last week that they are going virtual for the fall semester. There was one day where it seemed like one would be virtual and one in person, which was going to make life very complicated. So I’m happy they got on the same page and that my co-workers who were going to have to go back to campus and interact with a bunch of students get a reprieve from that. I’m also grateful that I was and still am able to work from home through this.
  7. And that leads into my perpetual reminder to myself that as terrible as all of this is I have it really good. I am as I just said able to work from home. I still have a job. I enjoy spending time with my husband and my cat. We’re doing this in a time where it’s possible to still stay connected with people virtually instead of being completely cut off. And I’m not having to make any agonizing decisions about what to do with my kids this school year. I am extremely privileged in this situation, and I don’t want to lose sight of that either despite it still generally sucking.