Saturday, June 27, 2009
Eva Cassidy's Wikipedia page does a far better job telling her story than I can. The hi-lights are that she had an incredible voice, and she had a distinctive style that she applied to multiple genres. She tragically died in 1996 at the age of 33 from melanoma. Her popularity grew after her death, especially in Europe. The following quote can be found on her Wikipedia page.
Jazz critic Ted Gioia writes, "you might be tempted to write off the 'Cassidy sensation' [...] as a response to the sad story of the singer's abbreviated life rather than as a measure of her artistry. But don't be mistaken, Cassidy was a huge talent, whose obscurity during her lifetime was almost as much a tragedy as her early death.
I first heard her music back in 1999. It was a live album taped at Blues Alley in D.C. The album was appropriately called Live at Blues Alley. It's still my favorite Eva Cassidy album, and being a blues guy, my favorite song on the album is Stormy Monday. According to the story, the plan was to record over two nights. A technical glitch caused the first night's recordings to be useless, and Eva wasn't happy with the second night's recordings because she had a cold. Luckily, she was convinced to use the second night's recordings for the album, and a friend of hers also videotaped the performance the second night.
The following are links to YouTube videos of Eva Cassidy. Some were recorded at Blues Alley.
Chris Jones was the teenager from Crofton who was allegedly beaten to death by a group of teenage boys last month. One Bowie connection is that Chris Jones' mother graduated from Bowie High.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
The Bowie Baysox are working with area libraries to do their part. Sunday, July 26 is Summer Reading Night at Prince George's Stadium. The Baysox are taking on the Reading Phillies at 6:05pm. Fireworks will follow the game.
Students can earn free youth tickets to the game by participating in the 2009 Summer Reading Program through the Prince George's County Memorial Library System. Activity sheets, reading logs and suggested reading lists are available at the library, including the Bowie branch.
Students can register on-line or in person. There are still plenty of tickets available as of June 16th, but tickets and other prizes must be picked up in person at the Bowie branch. I'm not sure if tickets are available at any other branch.
Discount tickets are available for family and friends by completing a special order form. I found a similar form on line from the Baltimore County Libraries, but you can also pick up a form at the library. The following information was also provided on the form:
Pre-game ceremony to honor all kids who participated in the Summer Reading Program. Plan to be in the ballpark at 5:15 by the carousel on the 1st base concourse. Ceremony will begin around 5:30.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
If you want ice cream in Bowie, you can always go to Cold Stone Creamery, Baskin-Robbins, Rita's or Dairy Queen. But if you want good homemade ice cream, you have to go to Simple Pleasures Ice Cafe.
Simple Pleasures is located in the back of the Bowie Antique Depot in Old Bowie's antique district - 13015 9th St (Route 564) - across from the post office and fire station. They have a small seating area. You can walk through the antique store to get to Simple Pleasures, or you can use the back entrance. The Simple Pleasures space was once occupied by the Retro Tea Room.
You can click here to learn more about Simple Pleasure's dessert offerings. They also sell soups, salads and sandwiches.
The restaurant is family owned and operated - a plus if you like to give your business to the little guys.
They also take their business on the road. In the past, they brought their ice cream cart to various events in Bowie. This summer they can be found at the Cheverly Community Market on Saturdays, and at the Greenbelt Farmers Market on Sundays.
I've made the mistake of going to Simple Pleasures on a Monday, and they were closed. The latest hours posted in the store indicate that they are only open Wednesday through Sunday - 12:30pm to 8:00, except they close at 7:00pm on Sundays. They have Winter hours from October through April, closing at 7:00pm each night that they're open.
Bowie also hosts a Sunday concert series from 7:00pm to 8:00 at Allen Pond Park. A schedule is on the City of Bowie Web site, but that schedule doesn't appear to be complete.
This year's Saturday series will once again feature Project Natale.
We attended a Project Natale performance at Town Green Park several years ago. My daughter was not quite two years old at the time. She picked up a stick, and she tried to imitate drummer Lou Natale. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and Lou thanked her by giving her a pair of his drumsticks. Great music. Nice people.
Noticeably absent from this year's line-up is Jericho Bridge. If you get a chance, it's worth checking out their CD, Bluegrass with a Twist. Have you ever known any bluegrass band to cover Pink Floyd, the Beatles and Tom Waits - all on the same album?
And while you're at the concert, you have to stop by Simple Pleasures for an ice cream, Italian ice or lunch. Watch for a posting on Simple Pleasures.
Dedicated by the City of Bowie, 1985.
Next, the unthinkable happened. The problem got progressively worse to the point where we couldn't even watch a YouTube video! Oh, the horror! That meant no more evenings sitting at the computer watching Laughter Yoga or the Arlington Rap.
I still dreaded a call with Comcast support. I had already done my own troubleshooting by removing the router from the configuration and by comparing the results on two different computers, and I didn't want to endure more pain while a remote technician walked me through similar steps at a snail's pace.
I turned to Google, and I found two helpful things.
- A Web site called SPEEDTEST.NET that provides a feature for checking your download and upload speeds. Instead of having a generic complaint about slow performance, I now had the ability to tell them exactly how slow it was. My download speed for the first test was 0.08 Megabits per second! Compare that with the 6 Megabits per second or higher that are advertised!
- I found an e-mail address for a special Comcast support team called the City Desk that deals with difficult problems. I believe the team was created in response to customer complaints about the difficult support process.
A technician was dispatched based on my e-mail to the City Desk and a brief scheduling call. The technician couldn't find a direct cause of my problem, but he replaced all connections between the pole and my computer, and he worked with the technicians at the office to increase the speed on my account. The process also involved several resets and re-boots of the cable modem. By the end of the day, I was experiencing 16.0 Megabits per second downloads, and I was given a credit for one month worth of Internet usage fees from Comcast!
Downloads were good for about a month, and problems returned this week. I decided to buy a new modem on the chance that the existing modem was the problem. I came to realize that I had been renting the previous modem for $3 per month for over seven years, so I had already paid over $252 for a modem that I still don't own. I bought a Motorola SurfBoard SB5101 at Best Buy for $80. The install, unfortunately, did require a call to the Comcast support center, but it was quick and painless. The result is 20+ Megabits per second downloads, and a waiting line to use the family computers. Now I can laugh again without the aid of a Laughter Yoga video.
Friday, June 12, 2009
My siblings already had multiple copies in the house, but I thought that it was time to start my own collection. I listened to it over and over and over.
We were a much more independent generation back then. I earned money shoveling snow and mowing lawns, and I walked to the record store by myself, and made the purchase myself.
It took Mom maybe a week to discover the album, and when she did, she took it away. "These people sing about drugs," I was told. I didn't know what she was talking about.
The story was that the song Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds was an ode to LSD, but that long held belief came to an end this week when Julian Lennon announced that the song was really inspired by his good friend, Lucy.
I called Mom in search of an apology. "Don't forget," she said, "they were also getting high with a little help from their friends!"
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Doug shakes down area residents for donations. The top of his clipboard contains numerous checks - neatly fanned out so that you can see the generosity of your neighbors. The reward for a contribution is a discount coupon for Sears Portrait Studio.
We always donate, despite not completely understanding the concept of a volunteer fire department in a county with nearly one million residents. Our kids enjoy the annual December visit from Santa riding on the fire truck, and last year we attended Company 39's fire prevention day events. I figure we have reasons to hand over a check.
Doug looks the part. He wears dark blue Dickies pants and a blue t-shirt with the department logo. You can just picture him hanging out with the other firefighters at the station.
I don't know why, but while Doug fills out the paperwork for our donation, I feel compelled to "talk shop." I might say something like, "I heard about that blaze over in the 'M' section. Apparently someone forgot about their empanadas on the stove." Or, "I saw your team working the rollover on old 450. The jaws-of-life can really come in handy."
Doug always gives a generic reply like, "oh, yeah."
Last year, my wife overheard my attempts at small talk. "Don’t be naive," she said after Doug left. "He's not a real firefighter. He's a fundraiser. Didn't you notice his beard? Firefighters don't have beards."
She seemed to make sense, but I had trouble accepting the fact that I might have been duped. Doug should prepare himself for a new round of questioning during his next visit.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
The American Legion
The Marine Corps League