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Takoma Park Folk Festival 2014

I spent most of today at the Takoma Park Folk Festival. I saw a number of acts on a number of stages. This was at least the 5th time I have gone to the festival which was first held in 1978, and every year since then. It is a volunteer run event and there is no cost to attend, although they do ask for donations. The suggested donation is $5. The festival has 7 stages with acts performing from 11-6 on all stages. I think this festival is truly a hidden gem.

As usual I missed the opening of the festival. I believe there is a singing procession by a choir to open the event but I have never arrived early enough to see it. I got to the middle school where the event was taking place at noon, an hour-and-a-half after it started.

From 12 until 1 I was watching an Indian trio perform tradional Indian music on a sarod, a tabla, and another stringed instrument. The music was very complex and no where near as repetitive as most music I listen to. I had a hard time getting into it. I think it would take repeated sessions for me to be able to better appreciate this music.

I had tried to plan in advance which acts I wanted to see but there were so many that sounded good that I gave up on that strategy before I got to the festival. At 1 I got a bite to eat at the Sweet & Natural booth. I had red beans and rice, yams, and kale salad. I thought the serving sizes were a little small considering the price tag ($11) but it was enough to hold me for a couple hours.

After downing my lunch I headed to the 7th Heaven stage where I watched Karen Jonas and her bassist play some great country music. The set was only 30 minutes long and as far as I am concerned that is the only way in which this performance disappointed me.

At 1:30 I made my way to the grassy nook for an hour-and-a-half long set. It opened with a group teens and their teacher playing a few very lively and energetic songs on marimbas. They were followed by the Major Minors a strings and horns dance band who were also very good. Then the two groups played a few songs together. After that a band made up of teenagers called Ladle Fight played several songs, also very good. Finally the Major Minors and the marimbas came back to end the set. I thought it was a great set. I took a few pictures and even recorded a little bit of video.

Unfortunately the next couple hours weren't quite as entertaining. From 3-4, after getting a mango smoothie, I returned to the World stage to watch two-thirds of the Trio Sephardic play songs of the Jews of Spain. I wasn't blown away by the music or the singing, neither of which was as upbeat or uptempo as I had hoped it would be.

From 4 until almost 5 I hung out near the Field Stage, which was near but not actually on the field as it has been in past years. I was there to listen to Cara Kelly and the Tell Tale play a funky, bluesy style of music. I found their songs to be a bit hit or miss. Some I liked, others I did not. On the whole I liked their sound better than I did their lead singer's voice. Their set ended a little earlier than expected so I headed over to the 7th Heaven Stage.

I caught the last couple songs of the Infidel Castro's set, and wished I have heard more of it. Then I stuck around until 6 to hear all of the Jelly Roll Mortals set. The description in the schedule left me wondering what I was going to hear but once they started playing I knew that I didn't want to move on to another stage.

Once the last song had been played I headed home, after helping to clean up a little bit. On the whole it was a great day and lived up to my hopes for it even if I wasn't blown away by some of the performances.


The Addams Family (1991)

(starting Anjelica Huston, Raul Julia, Christopher Lloyd, Christina Ricci, Dan Hedaya)

This is a fun movie that I absolutely adored when it first came out. I watched reruns of the original TV show when I was in my teens and loved it too. This a good movie, with lots of little gags that I love. All the actors do great jobs in their roles and I love the special effects. This movie seemed subversive at the time it came out and still seems subversive by today's standards.

It isn't a great movie but it was fun to watch it again.


West Wing - Season 2

Season 2: Episode 4: In This White House

This show continues to impress me. This episode in particular really moved me. Both stories engaged me intellectually and emotionally. Both stories wrapped up with powerful scenes but the one about the hiring of Ainsley Hayes (aka the Republican lawyer) was strong from start to finish.

From the first scene where she unexpectedly takes Sam Seaborn down a few notches, on national television, to the ending where she turns on her friends for talking dismissively about the White House staff this story did not take its foot off the gas. My favorite scene was the one where she meets with Leo thinking that he is going to reprimand her. The dialogue was crisp and combative, entertaining and intelligent all at the same time. This scene is a great example of what I love about this show. I love the characters, the relationships, and the writing. That's what keeps me coming back for more.

That said the show isn't perfect in my eyes; subplots are often resolved far too neatly and quickly and the White House staffers don't seem anywhere near as stressed as people who put in as many hours as they do should be.

Doctor Who: Revelation of the Daleks

This is a very busy 6th Doctor story. In many ways the Doctor is only a piece of a much larger story.

The story takes place at Tranquil Repose, a funeral home on the planet Necros. In addition to the Doctor and Daleks this episode also has Davros, a DJ for the dead, a Don Quixote type assassin, and more.

Taken as a whole the story doesn't work but some of the individual elements are great. Unfortunately due to the length of the story and the amount of material, characters, and plots most of the elements don't get much room to breathe.

The documentary included on the DVD (Revelation Exhumed) is a lot of fun, runs about 45 minutes long, and includes interviews with a number of cast and crew members.

I taped this when it aired on Channel 26 (or maybe 32) back in the late 1980s and subsequently watched it a number of times. Bits and pieces of the story came back to me as I watched the DVD. It didn't live up to my memory of it but it was fun to reminisce and the extras on the DVD made it worth the my time and money.

Upstairs, Downstairs (1971) - Season 1

This show probably wasn't made with a viewer like me in mind but I enjoyed the first season. Not every episode was a home run but there were enough of them that were home runs that I want to see where the show goes next.

It's a toss up in my mind as to who is the most interesting character: Rose or Sarah. Both are servants in the house and thus part of the Downstairs. They room together for the first few episodes of the season. Rose is a realist, a prim and proper servant. Sarah is the wild child who can't be contained. She departs the household before the season is half over, only to return and depart and return once again in the second half.

Richard Bellamy, the father of the household, is my favorite of the Upstairs portion of the cast. He is caught in the middle between his wife (Margaret) and his children (James and Elizabeth). Quite often he seems like the only member of his family who looks at things realistically.

There is a certain amount of volatility in the Downstairs portion of the cast over the course of the season.

The first season of the show spans a number of years (1903-1909) and covers a number of topics (rape, extramarital affairs, male homosexuality). In many ways the show probably feels dated in today's environment. Still, there are some extremely well played moments in a number of episodes which on more than one occasion involve confrontations between Rose and Elizabeth.

The Wire - Season 2

I've now watched 8 of 12 episodes in this season and I've got to say that I just don't get it. I don't love it. It's not awful but it's not great either. The story is more interesting than the characters. I prefer character driven stories to plot driven ones. Obviously this show wasn't made for me. I plan to finish watching season 2 but after that I think I'm gonna throw in the towel and find something else to watch, probably Homicide: Life on the Streets.

It is entirely possible that I will change my mind about throwing in the towel but that's how I'm feeling right now.

Alias - Season 2

Starts slow but quickly takes off.

There is an extremely sudden game-changing twist in the middle of the season. I didn't see it coming at all and wasn't sure what to expect afterwards.

There is a great fight scene in the final episode of the season, in which Sydney faces off against one of the bad guys, a minion of Arvin Sloan. It was really all out and put most other fight scenes to shame. It also left me wondering how much of it was stunt women and how much was done by the actual actors.

The first season ended with the introduction of Irina Derevko, played by Lena Olin. She is a regular cast member for this season and was a great addition to the cast. There are going to be some major changes to the cast in Season 3, one of which is that she will no longer be a regular part of the show; which is too bad.

The twist at the end of Season 2 could be seen as a cliffhanger although I prefer to consider it to be set-up for Season 3. I wasn't sure what to expect in the final episode of Season 2 but I wasn't surprised by the addition of a twist that leaves Sydney at what looks like beginning of a new challenge.

I'm a little surprised that I watched all of Season 2. Sometimes I have a hard time taking it as seriously as the characters on the show do and find myself laughing at the leaps that are made and what seem to me like obvious breaches of security. I plan to give a Season 3 a try, at the very least. Alias is not my favorite show but there's something about it that keeps me engaged.

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Television - May 14, 2013

I've just started watching The Wire, for the first time. I'm 3 episodes in to Season 1 and so far I'm not loving it. It's not bad but it isn't great. Maybe the show will grow on me over time.

One thing that I found a bit jarring about the third episode is how it was shot on video. I'm fairly certain that first two were shot on film.

The most interesting character, the only character that interests me, is D'Angelo Barksdale. I'm not sure if he is supposed to be the central character but if they kill him off in the first season I will be very disappointed; which isn't to say that I will definitely watch the entire series. At this point I'm not interested or intrigued by any of the cops. Many of the actors playing cops seem to be overdoing it on the acting which just makes me groan and roll my eyes.

May. 13th, 2013

In a bit of a rush this morning heading out the door and this is what happened...


Daily Thought - Oct 15, 2012

I love my pea soup but it is a bit on the sour side. I often get a slight stomach ache after eating it. I hope it isn't doing any permanent damage to my system. I should probably have more than just a single slice of bread with it.

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