Last Week Delight 11/29/2022

  • There is a local meteorologist who loves snow and refers to any potential chance of snow long range or short range as the snow train. Basically as soon as it gets cold he starts talking and tweeting about the snow train coming. His snow train references are now out in full force. I love his obsession with the snow train and doubly love my husband’s obsession with his obsession with the snow train.
  • I had two moments baking over the Thanksgiving holiday where my measurements were perfect. When I was putting together my pie dough I was weighing out the amount of flour the recipe called for and managed to scoop out the exact number of grams that I needed in one go. Then I was making rolls and had to split the dough in two and I managed to split it into two exact even halves. I love when stuff like that happens.
  • Speaking of Thanksgiving, it’s my favorite holiday. I love the food, and it feels special because we only eat it once a year. It feels like there is less pressure than Christmas. It’s just a nice chill holiday with time off work, delicious food, and family time.
  • I got my Christmas decorations up over the weekend, so now my house looks lovely. I always like how pretty everything looks bathed in the soft glow of Christmas lights.
  • I’m not really generally a Black Friday shopper. I have occasionally gone shopping with family on Black Friday, but not for many, many years. In fact, maybe not since high school. I definitely have never gone to any door buster sales where I had to be waiting in line the wee hours of the morning. I did however go stand in a short line on this Black Friday at my neighborhood record store for the Black Friday version of Record Store Day. The Cure released a 30th anniversary vinyl version picture album of Wish. The vinyl itself looks like the cover the album. In fact the gatefold literally has holes cut out of the front and back and vinyl inside serves as part of the images on the album. It’s very cool, and I wanted one. So I got that and a couple of used records as well.
  • We watched the movie Spirited starring Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds on AppleTV+ over the weekend. It was super delightful. I loved it and will definitely watch it at future Christmases. The music for the film was written by some people who have written for Broadway and it very much felt like a Broadway show. It had lots of great production numbers. The songs were very catchy. If you want a little joy bomb of singing and dancing Christmas fun I highly recommend it.
  • And for your musical delight we have the song Amadeus, which I loved as a kid and heard somewhere this week. I remember the first time I heard the song I was with my neighbor who was a couple years old than me. I was probably 7 and of course had no idea who Amadeus was, so when she was telling me that the song was called “Amadeus” I kept thinking she was saying the song was called “On My Desk”. It was in fact my introduction to the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. So thanks for the history lesson Falco.

New Music Friday: Lonely Nights by Cecilia Castleman

I almost forgot to post a song today because with the Thanksgiving holiday I have no idea what day it is anymore. Luckily I had this song waiting in the wings when I remembered. I don’t actually remember where I came across this song recently, but I liked it enough to add it to my 2022 playlist. Looking it up for this post I see it’s not actually all that new. Even thought I only heard it for the first time in the last few weeks, it apparently was released as a single back in June. I can’t find much about the singer other than that she is 21 and set to release her first album, which this song is off of, in 2023. I’ll look forward to hearing the rest of it, since I am enjoying “Lonely Nights”.

Last Week Delight 11/22/2022

I have a few extra minutes this morning before an orthodontist appointment, so let’s try and get this done before I have to leave.

  • There was a long time store in my neighborhood called Ma Petite Shoe that sold shoes and chocolate. They sadly closed in 2020 during the height of the pandemic. I never shopped there much. I have a couple of pairs of socks from there, but my feet are too broken to wear anything but old lady comfortable shoes. I cannot look stylish without being in terrible pain, so their shoes were not for me. At one point they also had a crepe shop next door called Choux, which I thought was a very clever tie in. I do miss that place, but it was gone long before the pandemic started. Anyway, they recently announced that they will be reopening in a bigger space this coming weekend. Even though I’m not a frequent shopper I’m very happy that they are coming back because they were a staple of the neighborhood, and I’m glad they’re getting a second life.
  • There is a fire hydrant on the corner where the side street my work is on connects to a major road that I drive by every day going to and from work. Someone just painted it to look like a Dalmatian and it pleases me.
  • The Sex Lives of College Girls came back on HBOMax this past week. I love this show so much. There are only two episodes out so far, and I am eagerly awaiting the release of the next two. So far I’m loving it just as much as the first season.
  • We have season tickets to the touring Broadway shows in Baltimore, so on Sunday night we went to see Tina, the Tina Turner musical. I don’t love juke box musicals in general. This one was fine. Better than I was expecting. That at least was my opinion. Even more enjoyable than the show itself was watching the woman sitting in the row in front of me having the time of her life at the show. She was chair dancing and cheering every time a song with any sort of beat came on. I don’t think the guy sitting next to hear was appreciating her enthusiasm as much as I was, but I had a good time watching her enjoy herself.
  • I walk by the local elementary/middle school on my morning walk every day. I’m usually passing by on my way home right as morning drop off is starting. The other day I saw a dad dropping off his daughter, and he got out of the car, opened the door for her, and then gave her a kiss goodbye. It was mostly notable because she definitely looked like she was probably one of the middle schoolers. You know the age at which kids want to pretend that they sprung from the earth and have no embarrassing parents that all middle schoolers are saddled with. So the fact that he kissed her goodbye and she didn’t recoil in horror was really sweet to me.

And now on to our musical delights.

  • Speaking of being embarrassed by your parents as a middle schooler, I remember driving in the car with my dad, my sister, and a friend at that age and the song “My Lovin’ (Never Gonna Get It)” by En Vogue came on and my dad said that’s not what your mom said to me last night. Talk about wanting to die. Anyway, I heard that song this week, and I never hear it without thinking about that moment. It’s a good thing the song is so awesome so that it was not ruined for me forever. The “now it’s time for a breakdown” part is one of the best moments in a song ever. I will fight you on that.
  • I also heard the song “32 Flavors” by Ani DiFranco this week. In my memories that song was a lot more poppy than it actually is. It’s even sort of soulful. It’s something I hadn’t heard in a long time and that didn’t sound how I remember it. I really enjoyed it and should listen to it more frequently.

Last Week Delight 11/15/2022

  • Our washer died about a week and half ago. It was 18 years old and my husband had already fixed a couple of things on it previously. He started to suggest buying another part, but when he told me that he wasn’t sure which part he actually needed and how much they cost I told him it was time just to get a new washer. Although I was not excited about having to buy a new washer and throwing in a new dryer because it made sense to just go ahead and replace them both, luckily it happened at the perfect time. I looked at the reviews in Wirecutter and Consumer Reports and the top pick in the Wirecutter was tied for top rating in Consumer Reports, so that seemed like an easy choice. Then when I went to research how much it cost and where we could buy it from I discovered that there must be a manufacturer sale because every site had it on a significant sale for a few more days. So perfect timing. We picked Home Depot because they could get it to us soonest. Now we have a fancy new washer and dryer.
  • While I am not a fan of the fact that it gets dark so early now, I do like that it means I now get to be a creeper on my evening walk after work. I don’t know if people don’t know or don’t care that people can see straight into their houses when they have no curtains or shades drawn, it’s dark outside, and their lights are on. I live in a neighborhood of rowhouses. Everyone’s windows are pretty much right there at eye level with you on the sidewalk. I’m shocked by how many people near me don’t cover up their windows. But it means that I can spy on what the inside of people’s houses look like, which I enjoy. I swear I’m not stalking anyone or even trying to see what they’re doing inside their houses. I just like to look at how their houses are set up.
  • Last February we went away for President’s Day weekend with some friends. They brought some bagels from a place near them in DC. One of the flavors they had was za’atar. I’ve literally been dreaming about those bagels since that trip. I finally decided to try my hand at making my own. The ones I made are fine. I don’t love the base bagel recipe I used. It’s not as good as one I’ve used in the past, so I’ll try again. I ordered the za’atar from somewhere on Amazon that sold it in multiple sizes. I accidentally bought a way bigger bag than I meant to, so the good news is I have plenty of za’atar to try and perfect my za’atar bagels with.
  • The play Ain’t No Mo’ is getting ready to open on Broadway. Interestingly there is also a production of that play currently running in Baltimore at Center Stage. My husband and I went to see the Center Stage production this past weekend. Prior to the pandemic a friend and I were long time season ticket holders to Center Stage and I can say that this was the most diverse audience both in age and race that I’ve been in there. So it seems like their goal of drawing in an audience more representative of the city and not just a bunch of white senior citizens is working at least to some degree. My friend and I went to see Our Town earlier this season and despite the mostly Black cast and Baltimore themed set, our audience was still mostly old, white people. I really enjoyed the show, though I imagine it has offended a number of people as well. I was not at all surprised that a couple people walked out of my show in the middle, but I was surprised that none of them were old, white people who were surely there because the show was part of their season package.

And now I have several musical delights for you this week.

  • About a decade ago there was a version of the Rolling Stones “Gimme Shelter” going around the internet in which it was just Merry Clayton’s isolated background vocals from the song. I know it was a decade ago because I referred to it on this very blog back in 2013 while writing a review of the excellent movie 20 Feet from Stardom. For some reason that isolated vocal and the great story about Merry Clayton recording that song were going around the internet again this past week. Iw as happy to encounter it again because her voice is amazing and the story is fun. Here’s a clip from the movie that includes the story and a snippet of the isolated vocal.
  • I was listening to an episode of NPR’s All Songs Considered podcast last week where they were talking about songs that make you happy on my walk one morning. Then on my drive to work shortly after that I heard the song “The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World. They did not in fact talk about that song during the podcast, but upon hearing it I was like this song perfectly fits what they were talking about. Who isn’t happy listening to a very jaunty tune trying to build you up with its lyrics. I mean don’t always listen to that song when I hear it. Much to the chagrin of one my friends whose favorite song is “The Middle”, I sometimes turn the radio channel when I hear it. But that morning it felt absolutely perfect.
  • Finally, I don’t really have a story to go along with the song “Left of Center” by Suzanne Vega, but it’s a song I really like that I don’t hear very often. I heard it this week though and it brought me joy, so now I share that joy with you.

New Music Friday: Let Me Back In by ZG Smith

I was actually wondering what I was going to write about today. I didn’t have anything waiting in my docket and none of the new albums out today were inspiring me. Then I saw the artist Kyshona, who I follow in Instagram share her excitement over a release by someone named ZG Smith. I decided to check out the 2 song EP that he released today and like it. So now I have a song from it for you today. Apparently ZG Smith was the long time front man of some Americana duo called Smooth Hound Smith that I had never heard of somehow since it seems like they had a fairly decent career.

Anyway, I’m sharing the song “Let Me Back In”. Even though the song sounds like a love song and that’s how most people will probably interpret it, apparently it’s actually about his ex-roommate’s dog. The roommate would leave for work and then the dog would come beg to be let into bed with ZG Smith. So that’s a fun little twist.

Last Week Delight 11/7/2022

Happy Monday y’all. I know I’m going to hate that it gets dark so early now (it was so cloudy here yesterday it was hard to tell), but I did very much enjoy having light for my morning walk again this morning. For the past month or so my walk has been almost entirely in the dark. I know it won’t be long before we’re back to that. January is particularly bleak in that regard as some date in mid-January is the latest sunrise in Baltimore, but for now I’ll enjoy the light again. And let’s get into the rest of our delights.

  • The weather has been unseasonably warm in Baltimore since last Friday. I have very much been enjoying it and trying to take advantage of it because I think today is the last day it’s really warm, then we get a few middling days, and the long range forecast looks downright cold which I am not looking forward to.
  • There were a few days earlier last week that were also warm, so I suggested to my husband that we grab dinner at Blue Pit BBQ and eat outside at their picnic tables. Too bad I didn’t realize they were closed on Tuesdays, so we got there and no one was there to feed us. We wound up at Wicked Sisters instead since we know they have a nice big patio. In addition to the traditional Smith Island cake they always have a special flavor too. That night it was chocolate Oreo Smith Island cake, which I could not turn down. It was delicious.
  • I was out for a quick walk after work one day last week. There was a guy in front of me walking his dog. At the end of my block is a small warehouse type building for a company that makes industrial type paint coatings for things like vehicles and planes. Anyway, some guy was standing outside taking a break and I noticed that as the dog went by he gave him the one finger wave with his index finger that people do to animals sometimes. I thought it was sweet.
  • I had jury duty on Friday, which decidedly did not make me happy. Jury duty in Baltimore is a miserable experience. I hated being jam packed in the jury waiting rooms before COVID and I was especially not keen on it now. In Baltimore jury service is for one day if you don’t get picked for a trial or for however long your trial lasts if you do. I have heard tales from many people of just going to sit in the waiting room and then being let go for the day. I have in all the times I’ve gone to jury duty ever gotten to do that. I haven’t always been placed on the jury, but I have always at least had to go into a court room to go through the voir dire process where they pick the jury, which is so boring because you’re not allowed to do anything while they screen all the other potential jurors. This was the first time I have ever gotten dismissed without having to go into a court room. We even got let out early. We came back from lunch and they let us go like 10 minutes later. It was also a really nice day, so it was nice to walk from the courthouse down to the harbor and grab lunch and eat outside.
  • Speaking of that lunch. I went to Shake Shack and while I was there I saw lots of people wearing name tags and many of them had book related tote bags and just looked like librarians to me. So I looked up what was happening at the convention center and it turns out it was some combined conference for various agricultural and soil societies. So I was like guess I was wrong. Then later that night a friend shared photos taken at the Renaissance hotel right down the block from the Shake Shack, where there was apparently a symposium for the Young Adult Library Services Association happening. I knew it! Glad to know I can still spot a librarian in the wild.
  • It’s always a good weekend when blacksauce kitchen has their fried chicken with spicy honey biscuit on the menu. They have a stand at the farmer’s market we go to every weekend, but they also have a storefront that is open on Thursdays and Saturdays. Usually I just grab a biscuit sandwich at the market because we’re already there picking up food, but the fried chicken biscuit was at the storefront this week and not the market. So I skipped the line at the market and we stopped at the storefront on our way home.
  • I wanted to take advantage of the nice weather this weekend, so I dragged my husband up the fall festival happening at Star Bright Farm. They apparently have different events and concerts there. I’ve been getting Facebook ads for them for quite some time, but have never gone. I was hoping we could find some friends to go with us, but everyone was either out of town or sick. We still had a good time, though we just pretty much went for the music. They were having a beer release with a locally brewery for a blueberry sour beer that was made with blueberries from the farm. I can’t drink and that is not a beer my husband would drink, so we didn’t participate in that. There were some activities for small children, which we don’t have so we didn’t take advantage of that either nor did we get food from any of the vendors there. I did buy a couple of things from the farm store, but for the most part we just sat in the middle of a lavender field and listened to some music and people watched. I found it to be an enjoyable afternoon and would definitely go back for future events.
  • And for your musical delight this week we have the song “Stockholm” by Jason Isbell. It was the song that made me fall in love with him. Although he had several solo albums after he left the Drive-by-Truckers, Southeastern, which this song is from, was his first album after getting sober and the one that really started his career trajectory to where it is now. He’s apparently on a European tour right now, and his first show was in Stockholm this past week. He posted a photo from Stockholm on Instagram with the caption, Stockholm- you know the rest. It delighted me.

New Music Friday: Palomino by First Aid Kit

I’m very delayed with my New Music Friday post today because I had jury duty. I had to be at the courthouse early, so I didn’t have time to write the post beforehand. I happily for the first time ever got to go to jury duty without being called into a court room, and we got sent home early. Thus, I could have written the post while I was just sitting there, but I didn’t take my computer and didn’t want to write a post on my phone. So here we are.

Today is a pretty good day for new music. There’s new albums out by Phoenix and The Lone Bellow. I think Love Songs for Losers is one of The Lone Bellow’s best albums, but I recently wrote about a song off it, so I’m going with something different today. First Aid Kit also has a new album out today. Palomino is the fifth album by the Swedish band the features brilliant harmonies between sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg. I’m sharing the title track which closes out the album. Go take a listen to it and the whole album.

Last Week Delight 11/1/2022

I’m very delayed with my delights post this week. Afternoons and evenings too full of Halloween stuff Sunday and Monday and work days too busy to write anything. But I’m finally sneaking in some time to write a post before I start work for the day.

  • I managed to snag myself a ticket to see Maggie Rogers in concert in February. My husband is probably even more delighted by this because he doesn’t have to go with me. The Anthem is a 6,000 person venue that is mostly standing room only save for a couple of rows of seats that line the front of the balconies on the second and third floors. I’m old and short so I prefer to have a seat in venues if possible, and I can afford to pay the extra money for one so I do. By the time it was my turn to buy a ticket I had the choice of buying two seats in the worst row on the third level or a single seat in the front of the second level, so I bought the single seat and will be going alone. I saw her there alone the last time, so no big deal.
  • My neighbors who were dressing up skeletons in various costumes throughout the month of October had one tableau in which the skeletons were dressed as sharks including the little skeleton dog they bought for their Scooby Doo scene dressed up in a shark costume made for an actual dog. They also had a skeleton dressed as Batman on top of their porch roof at that point, so I decided that one of the sharks must be King Shark and the rest of the sharks were his family.
  • Although I will miss all the leaves on the trees over the next several months at the moment I am enjoying tromping through all the crunchy leaves that are covering the sidewalks right now.
  • Speaking of leaves, I have very much been appreciating how this house across the street from me and the tree out in front of it are currently color coordinated.
Tree with maroon colored leaves in front of house with maroon painted trim at the top
  • On Sunday I participated in my church’s trunk or treat event. My car was an artic theme with a backdrop that looked like an ice berg in the ocean. I added a bunch of artic animals to it and then dressed as a polar bear. I always enjoy seeing little kids dressed up in costumes, so it was fun. Mirabel from Encanto was by far the most popular costume, so I was a little surprised that I didn’t see that many of those on actual Halloween.
  • My neighborhood gets tons of trick-or-treaters. Luckily we didn’t wind up buying as much candy as usual because it was rainy and thus not as busy as normal. Still busy, but last year I gave out candy to 350 kids and ran out by 645. This year I had candy for only about half as many kids and still had a tiny bit left when I called it a night at 7:45 because I wanted to eat dinner and it started raining again. My favorite parts of the night were when a kid about three years old told me to be safe, and when some other small child told me they liked my costume. I was wearing a rain coat and rain boots since I kept having to step outside in the rain to hand out candy. Not sure who she thought I was. My favorite costumes were sisters who were either twins or very close in age dressed as Salt and Pepa and a kid in the best home made costume that was dressed as a Christmas snow globe. It was the perfect costume for the rain since the top of the globe was a clear umbrella. It even had lights in it. Very clever. My absolute favorite just because of the great mashup of a kid who obviously can’t choose between costumes and because how very excited she was tell me that she was Spidergirl with wings. She was a Spiderman costume and then had those silky fabric butterfly wings that attach to your hands so that when you hold your arms out the wings open up and you can flap them. It was very adorable.

And now for some musical delights

  • As I mentioned in my most recent New Music Friday post, I am not a huge Taylor Swift fan, but it does delight me that she currently has all 10 of the top 10 songs on the Billboard Hot 100, which sets a record.
  • I adore the song “Home (Leave the Lights On)” by the band Field Report. I heard it this week and thought what a perfect fall song. Also, is it just me or do parts of that song remind you of the Reading Rainbow theme?
  • Every year for Halloween the band Lake Street Dive creates a video for a cover song in which they dress up as the original band. This year they dressed up as the Traveling Wilburys and sang the song “Handle with Care”

New Music Friday: Lavendar Haze by Taylor Swift

As I suggested in my New Music Friday post last week, I do have some thoughts on the new Taylor Swift album. I have said in this space many times before that for the most part Taylor Swift is not for me. I do not know what it is about her voice in the way that she sings in most songs that grates on me. I can’t really put my finger on it, but there’s something I do not like about it going all the way back to her early country days. I respect her as an artist. She’s obviously insanely savvy in creating a fan base and working within while also subverting the business music establishment. So more power to her, but I just don’t particularly care to listen to most of her songs.

I have listened to Midnights all the way through. There are a handful of songs that I like, but they’re all the ones that don’t sound like Taylor’s normal voice and in some ways remind me of other artists and songs. I like “Anti-Hero”, which is good since it’s the single out there right now. It’s catchy and Taylor’s voice is either synthesized enough or has her singing in a high enough register that it subverts the quality in her voice that bugs me. “Vigilante Shit” is giving off real Billie Eilish vibes to me. I’m going to focus on the song “Lavendar Haze” because it demonstrates perfectly all the things I’m talking about.

Her voice in “Lavendar Haze” is lowered enough in most of it that for most of the song it doesn’t trip whatever is in my brain that turns me off from Taylor’s voice, though there are a few times that happens. This song immediately reminded me of other songs that I like in various places. At the 40 second mark where she starts singing “I’ve been under scrutiny” immediately reminded me of Halsey’s “I Am Not a Woman, I’m a God” and directly leads into a drum fill that sounds exactly like the one used in “Fallingwater by Maggie Rogers. For someone who loves music so much, I have no music talent and cannot process things likes beats and chords. So they might both be using the same drum fill coming from the same drum machine, or it might be entirely different but just sounding similar to me. I cannot say. Then the tenor of her voice in starting at the 52 second mark is at least to me reminiscent of part of another Maggie Rogers’ song, “Alaska”. But then at the 58 second mark, we get to the Taylor voice that irks me in the line, “I’m damned if I do give a damn what people say”. This song is barely tolerable to me. Her voice is edging on that sound for most of the song, but only sometimes fully tips over into it, whereas “Anti-Hero” avoids it altogether. So this is all to say that Taylor Swift still mostly not for me, but there’s a couple songs on Midnights I can add to few other Taylor Swift songs I actually like. I’m happy for all the Taylor fans out there who are eating every second of this album up though.