Grey’s Anatomy

Back in August my husband was away for several weeks in a row for various reasons, so I had a lot of time on my own to watch television. We typically watch most of our tv shows together unless there is something that only one of us wants to watch. At the time I wasn’t currently binge watching any old shows so I was looking for something to binge watch that I knew he wouldn’t care about. I finally decided on Grey’s Anatomy, which I had never watched before.

I didn’t have anything particularly against Grey’s Anatomy. I’m all for soapy drama. However, back in the day when Grey’s started I was in graduate school and working full time, so there wasn’t a whole lot of room in my life for a lot of television watching. Also back in ye olden times the only way we had to watch something if we weren’t home to watch it live was to record it on a VCR (kids ask your parents). I had a few long running shows I would do that for to keep up, but I certainly wasn’t trying to add any new tv to my life at that point. Then by the time I might have realistically started watching the show it was already so many seasons in. Then the number just kept growing exponentially larger and it seemed like a Herculean task to even think about watching the show. But apparently with 14 seasons streaming I decided now was the time to finally dig in. Now please enjoy my stream of consciousness ramblings on my thoughts about the show.

It’s kind of funny watching a show which for such a long time was so very much talked about. I knew so many characters and plot points before even ever watching an episode of the show. Of course some of those things played out slightly differently than I imagined them based on what I knew. I also didn’t know about how the timing of some things happened particularly in relation to characters leaving based on knowing the actors had left the show. For instance I thought Sandra Oh had left the show well before season 10. I thought when Cristina went to work at the Mayo Clinic that was her exit, but she was on the show for 2 more seasons. I also thought it was another year or two before Patrick Dempsey left the show.

It’s also weird the characters I knew about versus those I didn’t. Literally in the first season I thought Alex must not be on the show for that long because I don’t ever remember hearing about him. I couldn’t have been more wrong about that since he’s one of the few original cast members still around. I guess because he for the longest time at least during the hey day of the show never had any good romantic pairings. Plus he was a big jerk in the first 5 seasons so I don’t think anyone was rooting for him to get together with Izzie when they did, which would probably have been the one pairing I might have heard about. I do really like his character development though. I really like when long running shows allow their characters to grow. I loved him as a peds surgeon and his relationship with Arizona as his mentor. I also really love Alex and Jo together (although do not get me started on the stupid season 13 story line where he beats up DeLuca). She is the first good romantic partner they have ever given him in all the seasons of this show. I’ve never liked Elizabeth Reaser as an actress so making her some crazy patient Alex falls in love with was a particularly unpleasant plot.

With the show having been on so long it’s also kind of funny how even though I watched it in a four month time span the characters that left in the first half of the show seem so distant to me. I barely remember they were there compared to characters who joined later but stuck around longer. Even though they were there for five seasons it seems like Izzie and George were barely even on the show at this point. Also by the way I’m still kind of mad that they never really became a thing. I liked them as a couple and was annoyed when they finally got together only to be like oh maybe we’re not actually attracted to each other. That was dumb. I always thought maybe they would come back around because I thought George, not Denny and all that stupidness both before and after he died and definitely not Alex, was her OTP.

The early season relationships were definitely much better than most of anything that has happened in the last 5 seasons. Those early seasons had such intensity and emotion with the couples you were rooting to get together that the show hasn’t had in a long time. I’m guessing partly because as time goes on the characters are already paired up, so it’s harder to do that without making it feel forced which it very much does now. It’s like they have to automatically put together the few single characters left even if there’s no chemistry. See the current season where Meredith apparently has to be either with DeLuca or Linc. Before I caught up to this season I kept seeing things about Meredith and DeLuca before I even knew who DeLuca was. Then when he joined the cast I was like what? He’s a baby. That’s who they’re going to pair Meredith up with? Then we got to this season and I was still like I do not see this at all, but then they started offering Linc as an alternative and they sort of forced me to get on the DeLuca train because if I have to choose between the two of them there’s no contest. At least Linc finally cut his ugly surfer bro hair. They also seem to rush characters into relationships now instead of letting there be a nice slow burn that builds up over time.

When I started watching I wasn’t sure I would make it through all 14 seasons that were available at the time. I knew there were plenty of points where people jumped ship on the show. I know the whole Denny/Izzie ghost sex story line was something that did a lot of people in back in the day. It’s funny to me now because yeah season 5 for most shows would be a point where they were running out of ideas and the show would be nearing the end of it’s run, but in this case it was only 1/3 of the way to where we are now. Even though there’s not that heady excitement of the first half of the seasons, I still mostly enjoy the show. I think binge watching it certainly helped because the story lines that I hated I could get through in a day or two of watching even though it sometimes felt like a slog as opposed to it dragging on for half a year. There was a whole stretch in the middle seasons where I came to dread the season finale because there would always be some giant disaster befalling the people of the hospital that would then result in people having various forms of PTSD that we had to watch them deal with for half a season, which just felt so tiresome. Had I been watching some of those seasons in real time I’m not sure I would have kept with the show. I certainly would have dropped it in season 13 when the aforementioned Alex beating up DeLuca story dragged on for the entire season not to mention that they were obviously trying to save money by doing all these special episodes that only starred one or two cast members doing something outside the hospital. That season was probably the lowest of the low for me.

Now that I’m caught up to season 15 in real time I’m definitely not loving the show the way I did in the first half of its run, nor am I even loving it as much as I did 3 or 4 seasons ago, but at this point it sounds like season 16 will probably be it’s last if Ellen Pompeo sticks to her guns about leaving after her contract is up, so I feel like I should just finish it out. Watching in real time is going to be a whole different experience though, and I think it may be harder to hang on since there aren’t many characters left that I like that much.

Callie and Arizona have always been my favorite characters. I always loved their relationship, and probably my favorite part of the whole series was their little trio as parents with Mark before he died even though I never had much use for him before that. I was super bummed when they broke up. Penny was a super drip of a character and I never bought that she would be the grand love of Callie’s life. I was even sadder when Arizona left at the end of last season even though they intimated that she was going to go to New York and get back together with Callie. The way they wrote that was just kind of dumb because a. Penny’s fellowship was only supposed to be a year, so why couldn’t she and Callie just tough it out or why didn’t they come back when the year was up? Also if Callie and Penny broke up as was suggested when Arizona was leaving why would Callie stay in New York instead of coming back to Seattle to be near Sofia? I know it’s all predicated on the actresses leaving the show and then wanting to belatedly give the viewer some closure on their relationship, but it just bugs me that my favorite characters never got to have a proper happily ever after. I am super missing having at least one of them around this season now that both Sara Ramirez and Jessica Capshaw have left the show.

All along the way there have been new characters I have liked and others that haven’t done much for me. I laugh at myself because after 9 seasons later I still say Mercy Westers are the worst like the characters did in the season where Seattle Grace and Mercy West merged. They got rid of a lot of those characters fairly quickly which was fine by me, but I never really cared that much for Jackson or April. Jackson has just always been boring in my opinion, and the actor’s accent makes it sound like he’s mumbling all the time. April I always found to be annoying. I can’t say I’m missing having her around this season. Jo was the only one I ever really cared about from her class of interns. I’ve like a few other people who have come in along the way like Teddy. I’m glad she’s back this season even though I kind of like where Amelia and Owen are in their relationship. That’s really the only story I care about so far this season. In general Amelia kind of annoys me though as does Maggie because neither of them ever shuts up. They just ramble on all of the time. It was part of my problem with April too. Just shut up for a minute. It’s like the writers decided all the female characters should have verbal diarrhea because obviously that’s how women are. The new interns aren’t doing much for me this season either. I know they’re supposed to be green and not really know what they’re doing, but apparently the writers think the only way to make them interesting is to make them grossly incompetent at everything.

Anyway, as I’m finally nearing the end of this ridiculously long post I feel like I probably need to talk about Meredith and Derek since their relationship was so much the heart of show for so long. Meredith and Cristina too I suppose. Certainly their will they or won’t they was such a driver of what made this show tick in the beginning. It was a really well done love triangle with Addison and all of Meredith’s relationship issues. By the time Patrick Dempsey left the show I wasn’t so much sorry to see him go though. Derek had become kind of a jerk by that point in the show, and I don’t really miss him. However, I can’t really picture Meredith with anyone else at this point. Derek was her one great love, and with the time the show probably has left there is no way they can develop a relationship for her that will ever rival what she had with Derek and I wish they wouldn’t even try. Just let her be happy with her kids and her work.

I don’t know if anyone reading this actually made it this far, but I’m super glad I finally watched Grey’s Anatomy because I really did love it. I have spent the last four months of my life obsessively watching it and now that I’m all caught up I’m not really sure what to do. It’s still on so it’s not quite the same feeling of loss that I normally get when I finish with a long running show, but there’s definitely a little hole in my heart for all the characters I loved that have already come and gone.

New Music Friday: A Phoebe Bridgers Trifecta

It’s after Thanksgiving so we have now officially entered Christmas music season, which makes it very apropos that I have some Christmas music for you today. Last year I was obsessed with Phoebe Bridger’s album and this year I have been obsessed with the temporary supergroup boygenius that Phoebe Bridgers formed with Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus. So today I have three songs from Phoebe Bridgers and boygenius for you.

Yesterday she released a cover of McCarthy Trenching’s “Christmas Song” with backing vocals by Jackson Browne. It’s not a song I had ever heard before, but it’s about feeling lonely at Christmas even when you’re not alone. I love me a melancholy Christmas song, so it’s right up my alley.

Speaking of melancholy Christmas songs, one of my favorites is “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”. In reading the article about the new Christmas cover I discovered that Phoebe had recorded a version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” last year. She appropriately uses the “muddle through somehow” over the “hang a shining star” lyric and makes the song sound even more haunting than usual. I approve.

And on a non-Christmas song note I figured I would also throw in this recent cover of the Dixie Chick’s “Cowboy Take Me Away” that boygenius has been doing on their short tour, which sadly came nowhere near me. I’m holding out hope that they’ll reunite to play a set at the 2019 Newport Folk Festival. This is a gorgeous cover of this song. Their voices are so good together. It’s too bad their 5 song EP is all we’ll probably get out of them as a group.

Wye Oak at Ottobar

Wye Oak is a Baltimore indie rock band who has met with some success, but they always come home to play at the Ottobar. They ended their most recent tour there this past weekend. I had actually never seen them live before and wasn’t actually sure I was going to go this time. The first show they announced was on a Sunday night on a day I already had tickets to two different plays, so I definitely wasn’t going to that one. After that sold out really quickly they added a second show for Saturday night. I sort of waffled on it because while I really love 50% of their music I’m either indifferent to or don’t care for the other 50%. They play some stuff that’s sounds more experimental and spacey to me, which I don’t love, but anything they play that has a good beat and melody to it I dig. Anyway my friend Paul texted and said he was going with some other friends and asked if I wanted to go, so that gave me the kick in the pants to do it. It felt very prescient then that leading into the final song of the evening singer Jenn Wasner talked about how whenever she’s getting ready to go out on tour she gets really nervous about it and just wants to stay curled up in the safety and comfort of her home, but that it’s always really great to get out into the world and actually share the same space with actual people in real life. It took all the energy I had to force myself to get up off my couch and go out at 9 pm (I’m too old for shows that don’t start until that late. Why aren’t there matinee concerts?), but like she said it was really great to get out and listen to music and enjoy the evening with other people.

The opening act was some band called Thor and Friends. I had no idea what to expect from them going in. Apparently what I should have expected was marimba. So much marimba. It’s not the most offensive opening act I’ve ever seen because it’s not like it was aurally unpleasant, it was just sooo boring. One of the people I was with joked that it was like going to see Pure Moods in concert. I guess if I needed something to meditate to it would have been fine, but as something I’m listening to live. No thanks. I also appreciated the joke made by one of the guys I was with about creating a Thor and Friends cover band called Loki and Friends. At least we got some laughs out of it even if we didn’t get any good music.

Happily Wye Oak was much better. They definitely played a few songs I didn’t care for that much, but overall I liked what they played. I enjoyed getting to hear them play “Civilian” live, which if you know a Wye Oak song at all it’s probably that one. It’s been used like like 185 tv shows, so there’s a good chance you’ve heard it even if you don’t know it. It was a good show with a good crowd, and I’m glad I got myself up out of my house to go.

New Music Friday: Two by Amos Lee

We’re hitting that point in the year where there isn’t much new music being released so I’m going to have to start getting a little more creative with what I’m considering new. So this week I’m talking about two songs off of the deluxe version of Amos Lee’s newest album My New Moon, which was just released yesterday.

One of the new songs on the deluxe version of the album is a cover of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On”. I wish this song wasn’t still so relevant to today. There was so much great protest music written in the 60s and it’s kind of disheartening to listen to it today because the lyrics still fit so well and you can see that we haven’t come very far.

Marvin Gaye’s version of this song has never been one of my favorites from that era, but I love what Amos Lee has done with it. His voice is perfect for the song and I think the even more slowed down and mellow tone he gives it work really well.

 

That brings us to “No More Darkness, No More Light” which was the first single off the album. It was a song I thought about writing about for this series multiple weeks only to have something else edge it out until it no longer felt new enough to fall under the new music Friday moniker. But since I’m writing about another song on the album I thought I would go ahead and sneak it in here.

Despite the uplifting tone of the music, the song itself is actually pretty heavy. Amos Lee took apart the whole song and rewrote the lyrics in the days following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting as the students there started to call out people for the hollow “thoughts and prayers” they were offering. I feel like the song offers a bit of hope at the end even if it seems to indicate there’s a long road before we ever get there. I keep trying to follow that hope even though most days I find it harder and harder to even see the road. I like when my music keeps reminding me to push forward.

New Music Friday: Power Over Me by The Lone Bellow

 

If you read my blog post about seeing The Lone Bellow in concert earlier this week you may recall that I mentioned that they recently came out with a new EP of acoustic music called The Restless that includes some new stuff, some acoustic versions of old stuff, and a cover of Adele’s “Water Under the Bridge”. One of the songs off the EP that they sang and which I heard for the first time during the concert was “Power Over Me”. It’s a beautiful, simple song about grieving the loss of someone you still love deeply. I absolutely adore it. I have listened to it about 500 times since the show. I highly recommend you do the same.

The Oh Hellos at Baltimore Soundstage

I usually write up these concerts posts much quicker, but I went out of town the day after I saw this show and have been pretty busy in the evenings since I got back home and haven’t had time to write anything. But I like keeping a record of my concerts so I’m still doing this one a week late even though I know no one really cares about these posts but me.

The opening act was someone named Samantha Crain, who I had never heard of before. It was just her and her guitar up there on the stage. She had some amusing stage banter, but her music didn’t grab me. It wasn’t terrible, but for some reason I just didn’t connect with it. The person standing behind me however was SUPER in love with her. So she’s obviously up some people’s allies more than mine.

This was my fifth time seeing The Oh Hellos. I saw them twice at the Newport Folk Festival, which is where I first became acquainted with them. I saw them as an opening act for needtobreathe at the Fillmore Silver Spring, and I saw them once before at Baltimore Soundstage. They are just joy personified. They have so much fun on stage. Every single one of them. All 8 of them. They were a little more stationary this show than at some of the other ones I’ve been to, but a lot of times I wonder how they don’t all crash into each other dancing around as they do.

They always have really great interactions with the audience as well. There was a whole deal at the beginning with their lead singer chugging down a bottle of water and saying he was going to need a bottle every other song as warm as he was. It sort of became a thing that I think became a little performative because of the audience interaction. At one point I said something to my friends about him needing to eat some chips or something because he was drinking a concerning amount of water with no salt intake. Pretty much right after that someone else from the audience yelled out “eat a pretzel”, so I obviously wasn’t the only one thinking that.

I do feel like the sound mix was a little bit off though. For some reason the bass was turned up super loud, and The Oh Hellos are not a band that I consider to be bass heavy. A lot of their stuff has more of a Celtic vibe to it and bass is not really the focus. At any rate the bass was overpowering and was so loud it was making my body vibrate. Even with my ear plugs in it screwed up my ears and set off my tinnitus for days. I really hate that. Even when the instrument mix isn’t out of whack I don’t understand why they have to have the sound turned up so loud, especially in such a small venue. I don’t understand how anyone who works in these places or the bands and themselves have any hearing left at all.

Ok, now that I’m done with my old lady shakes her fist at the sky moment I will say that aside from the unruly sound it was a great show as always. The Oh Hellos never disappoint. There is no way to leave one of their shows without a smile on your face.

The Lone Bellow Acoustic Tour at The Barns

I still owe you a post on The Oh Hellos concert from last week, but I’m already so far behind on that one I’m going to kick it down the road a little bit farther and go ahead and write about The Lone Bellow concert I went to last night. Usually when I’m talking about how much I love Wolf Trap and that it’s my favorite concert venue I’m generally technically talking about The Filene Center at Wolf Trap, which is their outdoor venue. They also have a very intimate winter venue called The Barns, which is composed of two 300 year old barns. It is also a wonderful place to see a show.

Last night I went down there to see The Lone Bellow’s Acoustic Tour with Naia Izumi opening. I thought I didn’t know anything about Naia Izumi until we got there and I realized he was the winner of the most recent NPR Tiny Desk Contest. I didn’t particularly care for his music when I watched that Tiny Desk Concert and I can’t see I much cared for it last night either, but I will say that he is a very interesting and talented guitar player. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone play a guitar quite like him before, but I can’t say I’ll go out of my way to listen to him again.

The Lone Bellow however was fantastic. This all acoustic tour took them back to their roots with just the three main band members Zach Williams, Brian Elmquist, and Kanene Pipken on stage with some acoustic guitars, a mandolin, and a grand piano. Although they’ve never been an entirely acoustic band they’ve always done some acoustic stuff and in more recent years have had some additional people sitting in as part of the band including Kanene’s husband Jason on keys. At one point near the end of the show Zach said that this tour has been like a reset button and breathed new life into the music for him and it couldn’t have felt more like that last night. I’ve seen The Lone Bellow many times over the past five years and they’re always delightful and fun so I hadn’t actually realized that anything was missing until I saw it again last night.

They were silly and free and just genuinely seemed to be enjoying being up stage together and watching and listening to what each of them can do. That led to a lot of riffing and them winding up messing around with a lot of cover songs they don’t actually know the lyrics to generally due to Brian starting something. They used to do that all the time in their early shows, but I haven’t seen them be that loose with a set in a long time and I forgot how much I love it. Brian sang one line from the Patty Griffin song “Let Him Fly”. An audience member encouraged them to keep going, but they didn’t know any other lyrics. She shouted that she did and she wound up singing part of it with them joining in. After they mistakenly attributed the song to the Dixie Chicks it turned into a whole Dixie Chicks thing complete with a cover of “Wide Open Spaces” being danced to with pantomimed lyrics. There was also a cover of Boys II Men’s “End of the Road” at the beginning of the encore. In addition to all the silly off the cuff covers they also did a legit pre-planned cover of Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth”, which was amazing. Kanene singing that song was gorgeous.

The actual set was great too. It was wonderful to hear so many of their songs played acoustic. I also had not realized that they put out an EP of acoustic songs, which includes some new songs, some acoustic versions of previous songs plus a cover of Adele’s “Water Under the Bridge”, a few weeks ago until they mentioned it last night. I really liked the songs they song off that last night am happy to know I have some new Lone Bellow music that I didn’t even know about.

It was a really wonderful show filled with a lot of laughter, fantastic music, and moments that made me grin from ear to ear. It was way better than sitting home watching election returns and well worth the long drive down to Wolf Trap.