More Than Meh

A blog about the good things of life.

The Best Possible Break-in November 27, 2016

Filed under: Baltimore,Uncategorized — dwhren @ 9:38 am

The Tuesday before Thanksgiving while we were out of town visiting family our house got broken into. Obviously this isn’t something that really makes me happy, but if my house had to get broken into I’m happy for how it went down. He apparently forced open the window next to our back door and let himself in. It actually was for the best that this happened while we were out of town. Normally on a Tuesday morning my husband would have been home working in our basement. Who knows what would have happened if he had come upstairs when he heard someone walking about?

Also because we were out of town all the stuff I think the guy was hoping to take in a quick snatch and grab wasn’t here. We both had our laptops, cell phones, and iPads with us as well as our wallets of course. Although we of course have lots of stuff I suspect much of it doesn’t have good street resale value aside from the stuff that we had taken with us. He didn’t even bother with our tv I suspect because of its size.

He also didn’t seem to go upstairs at all. All of our bedroom doors were still closed and none of the drawers were opened. I don’t have a lot of it, but the jewelry I do own was thankfully all still there. The only thing we could find missing once we got home was our spare house and car keys. Again thankfully my car was still there. Once my husband noticed those were gone I was worried he stole my car, but we went outside and it was still parked on the street where I left it. It didn’t even seem like he got into it at all, which is surprising given that it was actually parked very close to our house for a change and would have been easy to find by clicking the alarm on the key fob. I park on the street, so I never keep anything of value in my car not even loose change, so he wasn’t going to find anything there even if he did look. Perhaps the fact that I drive a manual transmission kept him from being able to actually take the car itself, or maybe he found the street in front of our house too crowded to be able to do anything with the car. I don’t know, but I’m glad it was still there.

Also it’s lucky that he left the back door open when he left. The cat thankfully didn’t run away even though the door was open all day long, but it alerted our friend who was watching our cat for us that someone had been in the house. So little was touched or taken that had that door not been open it might have been quite some time before we realized that someone had broken in and taken our keys and broken the lock on our window.

It feels super creepy that someone out there has keys to our car and house, but most of that is fixable. We’ve already replaced the locks on the house and replaced the broken lock on the window. Apparently the window lock wasn’t super great, which in some respects seems bad but in other ways is good because it means he didn’t break the glass in the window like he did to the house next door. I obviously can’t do much about the fact that he has my car key other than to hope he never decides to come back for it. You can’t really change your car locks like you can the ones on your house.

At any rate if the only thing we have to do is replace our locks and the stupidly expensive car keys, then we got off pretty easy. Maybe there’s someone more we haven’t realized is missing yet, but really if there is it’s just stuff. Most importantly we weren’t home and are safe, our friend didn’t come over to feed the cat and surprise him in the process, and our cat is still here. I hope we never have to go through this again, but I’m happy that since we did it was such a minimal issue. It could have been a lot worse.

 

Fall TV Diary 2016 (New Shows Edition) October 25, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — dwhren @ 7:58 am

I feel like I’m a little farther behind in posting my fall TV reviews than I have been in the past, but with our trip to London and then just a crazy busy schedule since we’ve been back, I’d gotten behind in watching tv and then also didn’t really have time to write about it either. But at long last for the two of you who care, here’s what I think about the new shows I’ve been trying out this fall.

Sundays

Divorce

This new show on HBO stars Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Hayden Church as a couple that is getting divorced. We’ve watched the first two episodes so far, but I’m not sure I’m going to stick with it. So far the characters seem sort of ridiculous and unrealistic, and I’m not sure especially with everything going on in the real world if I’m in the mood to watch people be horrible to each other every week.

Insecure

I gather this show is based on a web series created by Issa Rae, which I never watched. So far I’ve only seen the pilot episode of the HBO series. I gather it’s supposed to be about relationships, but I don’t have a real good handle on the show yet having only seen one episode. It seems like it could be promising and critics who have seen more than I have seem to enjoy it so I’m going to keep watching for awhile.

Westworld

I really have no idea what I think about Westworld at this point. I was busy doing other stuff while I was watching the pilot and thus realized I wasn’t paying close enough attention to know what was really going on. The second time we had just gotten back to London and I was still still dealing with jet leg and fell asleep shortly into the episode. I haven’t seen anything beyond those two yet. I’m not sure this show is really my thing, but our TV schedule is so oddly light this fall, that I’ll probably keep watching with my husband as long as he’s interested in it.

Mondays

Timeless

I wasn’t initially planning on watching this show, but I saw a couple of good reviews of it before the new tv season started and figured I would give it a shot. I’m glad I did because I’ve enjoyed it so far. Abigail Spencer stars as a historian who is recruited to join a team of people with a time machine who are being sent back in time to stop someone else who has stolen the only other existing time machine. He appears to be trying to change history by messing up historical events and they are trying to keep him from screwing up the world. So far they’ve dealt with the Hindenburg crash and Lincoln’s assassination. Even though the historic events are still happening with their intervention they are changing history in small ways, which so far has mostly been played out with differences in Abigail Spencer’s character’s life. Her mom is no longer dying, her sister never existed, and she has a fiance she doesn’t know.

Conviction

All the reviews I saw of this show indicated that it was terrible, but I decided I wanted to give it a try because I like Hayley Atwell and am still sad that Agent Carter was canceled. This show was terrible as all the reviews warned me and I won’t be watching anymore. Hopefully it will see a quick cancelation and Hayley Atwell can get involved in something more worthy of her.

Tuesdays

No Tomorrow

No Tomorrow is a sort of romantic comedy in which a woman finds herself falling for a guy who thinks the world is going to be struck by a meteor and end within a year. He has a sort of bucket list of crazy things he’s working through before the end of the world. At first she gets caught up in the excitement, but now is starting to wonder if he’s just really crazy. I enjoy it whenever I’m watching it, but for some reason I’m not super attached to it. I kept forgetting it was even a show until I would see it on our DVR, and I gather that the ratings for it are terrible and I don’t find myself worried that it might be canceled. I guess I’ll just enjoy it for however long it’s on when I remember to watch it.

This is Us

Everyone has been saying This is Us is the new Parenthood or at least that it will fill the Parenthood shaped hole in your heart. I definitely don’t have the same love for it that I have for Parenthood though. I get the comparison since it’s a sprawling family story with the extra added twist that one of the four family stories is actually the story of the parents of the people in present day back when they were kids. I don’t seem to have developed the love for this show that a lot of other people have at this point, but I’m hoping I’ll get more invested in the characters. I definitely plan to keep watching because I’m starved for this kind of character driven family story that is rare on tv these days.

Wednesdays

Speechless

One would not think that a show about a teenager with cerebral palsy and his family would be good fodder for a sit-com, but this show starring Minnie Driver as a mom fighting for the rights of her child and dragging the rest of the family along with her is excellent. It’s smart and funny and I’ve really been enjoying it so far.

Atlanta

Atlanta is the excellent show from the mind of Donald Glover, who also stars in it as a sort of lazy main character Earn who has somewhat stumbled into managing is friend’s fledging rap career after one of his songs takes off in Atlanta. Earn also has a daughter who he obviously loves and tries to take care of in a sort of inept way while being in a somewhat on and off relationship with her mother. The show is pretty much whatever it wants to be. The episodes change focus and styling from episode to episode with some being more typical tv episodes and others being rather high concept pieces. It’s extremely clever humor and often very visual. You have to pay close attention to what’s happening on the screen if you really want to get the jokes.

Queen Sugar

Moreso than This is Us, Queen Sugar has been a Parenthood replacement for me. In case you’ve never heard of this show and are wondering what it is, it’s actually on the OWN Network and was something produced by Oprah. It’s based on a book by the same name, though having read it I can tell you it’s only very loosely based on the book. Three siblings are brought back together in Louisiana after the death of their father. The brother has recently been paroled and has returned home to get his son back and set up a life for himself. The eldest sister returns to her childhood home with her teenage son in the midst of a sex scandel surrounding her famous basketball playing husband, and the other sister has been in the town for the long haul and does not look kindly on her siblings returning and trying to take charge. They decide to try and save their father’s sugar cane farm, but none of them really know what they’re going and they are fighting against some long odds.

Frequency

Based on the film by the same name, which I never saw Peyton List plays a woman who has somehow discovered that she can talk to her father who was killed 20 years prior via a ham radio. She warns him of his death in order to stop it, but in doing so she changes the present such that her mother is now dead and her whole life is different. She can remember both pasts and is now trying to work with her father in the past to change things so that everything turns out okay for everyone. It’s an ok show so far. I’m not sure I think they can pull this story off in any meaningful way for multiple seasons, but it’s decent for now.

Thursdays

The Good Place

The Good Place stars Kristen Bell as a woman who was a horrible person on earth, but who accidentally gets sent to “The Good Place” instead of the “Bad Place”. Ted Danson stars as the architect of their neighborhood in the Good Place who thinks that it’s his fault that everything is going awry even though it appears that it’s Kristen Bell’s presence that is causing the issues. I gather that it’s designed to only be 13 episodes per season instead of the typical 22, so it’s already halfway through it’s run for this season. I’m not head over the heals in love with it, but I love Kristen Bell and Ted Danson as well as the other stuff from the creators of the show, so I’m giving it plenty of time to develop into something I love.

Pitch

Pitch is about the first female pitcher in major league baseball. So far I think it’s trying to make too much of a statement as well as giving it’s characters some annoying back stories, but I’m hoping it will eventually settle into something a bit more realistic and less moral of the week type stories. I haven’t seen the ratings for it, but I gather based on one of my podcasts that they’re not great, so I’m not sure it will get the chance. We’ll see.

 

 

 

London Trip Part 2 October 11, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — dwhren @ 9:33 am

We took a red eye flight on Wednesday night through Toronto and arrived in London early on Thursday morning. After making the trek from Heathrow to our hotel and dropping off our stuff we set out in the city. As I mentioned in my previous post I studied abroad in London, so I wanted to go back and check out my old neighborhood. I lived in Camden, which is in north London and is home to the Camden Lock Market and Stables Market, two adjoining markets with tons of people selling things, food stalls, and all kinds of interesting stuff in a labyrinthine setting. I kind of forgot how cool it is until we went again.

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Camden Lock

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Camden Lock Market

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Regent’s Canal

Speaking of forgetting, my memory is apparently terrible. To even walk by my old house I had to use Google maps to semi-recreate through muscle memory my walk from the Chalk Farm Tube station in order to figure out what the street name was. Pretty much the tale of the entire trip was me not remembering things or vaguely remembering things. Apparently I shouldn’t wait another 18 years to go back again.

After we grabbed food and walked around in Camden market we walked along the canal and then up to Primrose Hill. You can get a really good view of the city from up there. It’s amazing how much has been built up since I was last there. The city is being taken over by glass skyscrapers everywhere with lots more coming if the number of cranes you can see are any indication.

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View of London from Primrose Hill

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Terrible selfie on Primrose Hill

From Primrose Hill we walked over to my old house so I could see it and take a picture. It hadn’t changed any, but the house across the street where Noel Gallagher from Oasis used to live when I was there is now owned by someone else. That means the white gate walls are no longer covered in Sharpied graffiti notes from his fans and there’s no longer an almost constant contingent of people standing out front hoping to talk to him and get his autograph. I never had any interaction with him and based on stories from the time he doesn’t sound like a stellar human being, but I also appreciated that if he was home and a fans waited outside long enough he pretty much always came down and signed something for them.

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The street where I used to live in London

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My old Tube stop 

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The house I lived in in London. My room was the window on the middle left.

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The house across the street from where I lived where Noel Gallagher from Oasis lived back in 1998.

I can’t remember the name of the pub that we used to go to at the end of street, and my memory of it’s location seems off from what is there now, but I’m guessing the giant brewery/beer hall that now sits on the corner at the end of the street was built on top of that pub. Certainly what’s there now was not there 18 years ago. My memory isn’t that bad.

Although I’ve already forgotten why we wound up at Westminster Abbey after we left Camden. I had suggested going a little farther north to Hampstead Heath and going to the Kenwood House, but my husband feeling the jet lag didn’t want to get farther away from our hotel. Once we were back around Westminster we were trying to figure out what we wanted to do. My husband had never been to Westminster Abbey, so I suggested that. However, I’ve been to Westminster Abbey at least four times and he decided he didn’t care enough about it to pay £20 to go in.

In effort to find some store he thought he had seen saw coming out of the Tube station we happened upon the ticket line for visiting Parliament, which is not actually near the entrance at all. Thinking about it I thought that as many times as I’d been to London I couldn’t remember actually ever doing a tour in Parliament though I had obviously seen the outside many times. I was indeed correct on that as I knew I had definitely never done it before once we got inside. It was an interesting tour and I’m glad I finally did it.

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Parliament

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The Elizabeth Tower with Big Ben inside and the stupidly overpriced London Eye in the background, which I will never pay to go on

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St. Stephen’s Hall inside of Parliament. One of the few rooms you are allowed to take photos in.

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The only other place inside of Parliament where photos are allowed

At that point we were running on fumes so we headed back to our hotel to figure out dinner. We found a well-rated Sichuan restaurant called Ma La Sichaun, a few blocks from us and went there. It was quite tasty and the food came out insanely fast. It took us forever to get the check after that so we still didn’t get out of there very quickly. After that we were pretty much toast after the red eye flight and going all day.

Of course we went to bed and then I woke up 3 hours later at what would have been 7 pm at home. My body was like that was a nice nap, but why are you trying to sleep at 7? I got up and read for a few hours and was then able to fall back asleep. All in all, I wasn’t nearly as miserable with jet leg as I anticipated. I was really happy about that. Stay tuned for more posts on the rest of my trip.

 

Dawes at The Sound Garden August 24, 2016

Filed under: Concerts,Music,Pop Culture,Uncategorized — dwhren @ 7:58 am

Yesterday I got to see Dawes play a short set at The Sound Garden, which is a record store in Baltimore. They are doing as short tour playing some record stores promoting their forthcoming album, We’re All Gonna Die, due out on September 16. If you pre-ordered a copy of the album from Sound Garden you got a wristband to see the performance.

It was serendipitous that I even found out about it. I don’t go to Sound Garden all that often, so I didn’t see any in-store promotions they were doing for it. In fact wandering around Fells Point this week I was astonished at how much had changed since I last spent any time down there. I need to get out of Hampden more often. Anyway, I saw a tweet from WRNR, which is a radio station in Annapolis saying listen to win tickets to some private event they were hosting with Dawes. Seeing that made me think Dawes must be doing something in Maryland because it seemed doubtful that they were coming just for a radio event. I was surprised since they had just opened for Brandi Carlile and Old Crow Medicine Show at Merriweather in July, sadly while I was away at the Newport Folk Festival, so I wasn’t expecting them to be back in these parts any time soon. I decided to check their tour page though and see what was up. That’s where I stumbled upon the information about this show. I of course pre-ordered my CD, so I could go.

Obviously it was a very intimate show given that it was taking place in a record store. I managed to get pretty close, which I was happy about because had I been in the back I’m sure I wouldn’t have been able to see anything between the racks and tall people. They played for about a half hour. I wish it was longer, but it was about what I was expecting for a “free” show in a record store. They played a nice mix of stuff from the new album and older stuff. I’ll definitely be looking forward to hopefully getting to see them play more of the new stuff when they start really touring to support the album.

After the performance they stuck around to do a signing. There were some promotional posters they were giving out that you could have signed seeing as how there wasn’t actually an album to sign yet. I was amused when I heard the guy in line front of me tell them that he had seen them play at Bonnaroo and then heard the guy behind me scoff and say Bonnaroo? I saw them at Newport. That made me laugh because yeah my feelings exactly guy.

It was a fun little break for my Tuesday night. There’s always something special about getting to see one of your favorite bands in a non-standard venue, and this was definitely that.

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Garbage at Rams Head Live August 3, 2016

Filed under: Concerts,Music,Pop Culture,Uncategorized — dwhren @ 7:20 am

It took me 20 years to see Garbage live, but then I managed to see them twice in one year. After I saw them play at the 9:30 Club in DC last fall I knew if I got the opportunity I would definitely see them again, so I jumped on tickets as soon as I saw they were going to be playing in Baltimore at Rams Head Live. Of course by the time the concert rolled around months later my desire to go at that exact moment was not great. The show was on a Sunday night and as an introvert I tend to not want to do things on Sunday nights because it’s my time to get mentally ready for the forthcoming work week. Plus I wasn’t going to the show with anyone. I don’t mind going to Rams Head alone, but it means I don’t have that extra bit of motivation from someone else to go. Of course I had already paid for the ticket and didn’t have a real reason not to go. Plus I knew once I got there I would have a good time. So I went and of course was glad I did.

I was a little afraid once I got down there that the show as actually not going to happen thanks to a power outage. I wasn’t that surprised when I got the venue and they said they had no power because I tried to park in a parking garage near there and couldn’t get in because there was no power to the ticket machine or gates. Getting back out of the garage and finding somewhere else to park was a bit tricky since the entrance is up a long, steep, curvy ramp. I finally got someone who works there to move some pylons for me so I could get into one of the exit lanes and didn’t have to back all the way down.

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Staring a darkened stage during the power outage.

I don’t know how long the power was actually out for, but it came back on about 20 minutes after I got there. They just wound up cutting the opening band’s set pretty much in half with Garbage still taking the stage at 9:15. It’s a little too bad about the opening, Kristin Kontrol, because I was actually quite enjoying them. Though I did spend their whole set trying to figure out if their lead singer was actually only wearing a large windbreaker over pantyhose, which is what it looked like. I hadn’t really listened to any of their music prior to the show, but I had seen that the lead singer used to be in the Dum Dum Girls, whose music I enjoyed. I also really liked Kristin Kontrol too. Like Torres at the 9:30 Club show last fall, I thought Kristin Kontrol was a perfect opening act for Garbage. Their musical stylings though not the same are very complementary and both bands are fronted by some very dynamic female vocalists. I would definitely go see them again all on their own.

I’m glad the show went on because Garbage of course was excellent again. According to Shirley Manson in 21 years of touring this is the first time they’ve ever had a power failure at a show. So yay for firsts I guess. I still am in complete love with Shirley Manson, which was made even greater by her saying the first time she had ever heard of Baltimore was from reading an Anne Tyler novel and also talking about Baltimore in relation to Edgar Allen Poe. Literary references, be still my beating heart. She is just so much fun to watch on stage too. Their normal drummer, Butch Vig, apparently has to sit this tour out due to some sinus infection he can’t shake, but the person filling in for him whose name is escaping me did a good job.

When I saw them last fall they were doing a special tour celebrating the 20th anniversary of their first album, which of course contains all the songs I really want to hear them play. I wasn’t sure how this show was going to be compared to that one since they have a new album out. I thought I might not get to hear all of my favorite songs in favor of them playing more of their new music. While they did obviously play some stuff off the new album, they also still got to all the hits I wanted to hear which made me happy. By the time the encore rolled around the only song I wanted to hear that they hadn’t played yet was “#1 Crush”. It was the song they ended their set with last time, so I figured there was a pretty good chance I was going to get it in the encore, and I did so I left a very happy girl.

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Staring a darkened stage during the power outage.

 

Ghostbusters July 16, 2016

Filed under: Movies,Pop Culture,Uncategorized — dwhren @ 10:05 am

I haven’t been writing around here these days because the weight of the world has just been too much. The relentless beating the world is handing us in 2016 has left me without much to feel extremely happy about, and the little things that are giving me some joy seem too trivial to be writing and posting about in the midst of all the chaos and sadness.

The new Ghostbusters is something I finally feel like writing about. So I decided to write (a mostly non-spoilery) review of it. I have a memory of seeing the original Ghostbusters movie in the theater and my sister freaking out at the beginning at that ghost in the library, but then I also see based on the date that I would have been six and my sister would have been five so I highly doubt my parents actually would have taken us to see that movie. I may be having some false memories about this one. At any rate whether it was in the theater on VHS a few years later when I first saw it, I have seen and loved the original Ghostbusters movie many times. I own it on DVD and when it was re-released in theaters the other year for the 30th anniversary we went and saw it. For our birthday the year Ghostbusters II came out my sister and I each invited a couple friends for lunch at Pizza Hut and to see the movie as our “birthday party”. So what I’m saying is I have a long relationship with this movie franchise.

I’m generally tired of the constant rebooting and remaking of every movie ever made, but for some reason the thought of this one never bothered me probably because of it being with women Ghostbusters. It’s not even that I’m so rah, rah women, it was more that it at least makes the movie something different in some way and gives it somewhat of a reason to exist. Although don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate having good female led movies too. As they announced the cast for this movie it definitely made me even more excited and hopeful that it could be something good.

The new Ghostbusters came out this weekend and I went to see it with a bunch of my lady friends last night so that we could go out and support seeing a female led comedy on it’s opening night. The movie did not disappoint at all. I haven’t actually read a full review of the movie, but based on headlines and commentary on Twitter I’ve seen about reviews it seems like they’re generally positive, but basically call it nothing special but a fun summer romp. I guess that’s accurate, but also in my mind Ghostbusters is meant to be a fun summer romp. It’s not high art and was never meant to be. I don’t think anyone could claim that about the first movie either even though it’s deemed as a beloved classic now.

I will say that the plot in this one is weak and it’s a good thing it’s not what the movie is hanging it’s hat on. The plot of the original Ghostbusters isn’t crazy deep, but it definitely hangs together a little bit better than this one and there seems to be a bit more there, there than this one. No matter because the new Ghostbuster is a joke machine. I laughed delightedly throughout the whole thing. It was so joke dense that I expect that should I see it again I will pick up on even more stuff. I feel like it’s even more of a comedy than the first Ghostbusters, which seems darker than this one. There’s not really any scary in this movie like there was in the original. I’m okay with that though. It makes this movie more of it’s own thing rather than an attempted beat by beat remake of the original but with women. I think there were a few too many winks and nods to the original. I appreciated that there were some, but after awhile it felt a little bit like lazy joke writing. Oh hey look it’s just like such and such and so and so from the first one. Kate McKinnon as everyone has said is a revelation in this movie. She is just pure joy to watch and really gives the stand out performance in this movie. She alone is worth the price of admission.

It really was a delightful movie and if you’re looking for something fun to divert you from all the horrors of the world as of late I would highly recommend it. I already told my husband if he wants to see it I would happily go again.

 

High School Reunion at the O’s Game June 5, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — dwhren @ 8:54 pm

Last night I met up with my friend Tina and her husband at the Orioles game. They were in town visiting Baltimore for the weekend and wound up settling on the O’s game as a place to meet up while they were here. Tina is one of my friends from high school who I’ve kept in touch with over the years despite us not living in the same place since we graduated. Facebook certainly helps with that of course.

I said it was our own personal 20 year high school reunion because as hard as it is for me to believe our 20 year high school reunion is this summer, but neither of us is going. We graduated with 1300 people and neither of us has any connections that would warrant us going back to Texas at this point. So I don’t feel the need to pay a bunch of money to fly to Dallas and get a hotel just to go to a reunion where I might not even wind up knowing anyone if I went. This was much better.

It actually wound up being the second O’s game I went to in a week, which is not normal for me. We usually go to one or two a season, definitely not two a week. It’s like I’m not even me anymore. But don’t worry starting Tuesday I’m going to 5 concerts in two weeks, so I’ll be back to my normal in short order.

Despite the fact that the O’s lost it was a fun night. The weather turned out to be really great, and that’s one of the best things about going to a baseball game in my opinion is just getting to be outside on a beautiful night for a few hours. Sadly the O’s lost, but at least they kept it interesting at the end. Of course it seemed like was going to be a blowout the first 2/3 of the game, but the O’s scored 6 runs in the 7th inning in very exciting fashion. Sadly it wasn’t enough and that was really their only good inning. Oh well.

I was also amused by a guy sitting one section over from us. He definitely had a few screws loose, but apparently not so much that he couldn’t afford some pricy seats at Camden Yards. He was dressed in a plaid flannel shirt under an O’s jersey with an O’s hat on, but was walking around with a plastic Nationals’ microphone and every time there was a substitution in the lineup he would make a big announcement to the section he was sitting in and then the section we were sitting in about who it was. He would finish that off by telling us that he was going to drink some ridiculously large number of beers followed by a large number of shots after the game. I believe the final tally was 188,000 beers followed by 18 shots of Smirnoff vodka and then in his final announcement added that he was going to marry 54,000 women. He also loudly announced “Ladies and Gentlemen I’m out”, when he left during the 9th inning. He definitely made things interesting.

It was definitely a fun evening.