Monday, August 29, 2016

Concert: Lonestar at Rams Head On Stage

Image found here.
This past weekend, I went to Rams Head On Stage to see Lonestar. I had never seen them perform before, so I was looking forward to this local show. I didn't realize that Lonestar has been around for 24 years! So they have a lot of songs! It was too bad that the show started with two of their silliest songs, "My Front Porch Looking In" and "Mr. Mom"; I don't like kids, and any song that has "sippy cup" in the lyrics is not poetry. They also played several cover songs (most of which I didn't know; they were before my time), and when you only have a 90 minute show, I think the band should play all of their biggest hits instead of playing unnecessary filler songs (There's nothing to fill! It's such a short set!).

But the band is entertaining even past their singing! The keyboardist Dean Sams (who also plays the harmonica) was very funny, eating some cake from an audience member and telling fun stories about some of their big fans. All of the guys were making jokes and connecting with the crowd, which was fun. And the audience could really harmonize when we were singing along to the songs; I was impressed!

The band played some of their new songs (they have a new CD called Never Enders). I liked "I Know It Was You" best, but I wasn't ready to commit to buying the CD. They also performed a medley of a few of their songs, which I thought was a good idea for such a short show.

Here are some of their biggest hits:


I'm Already There

Not a Day Goes By

What About Now (I had totally forgotten they sang this song!)

One thing I should say about the venue is that the food is hit or miss. Last time I got one of the flatbreads, which was pretty good. But the pulled pork panini was sub-par, and the water tasted like crabs! I realize we were in Annapolis, but I'm pretty sure tap water should just taste like water...

I'm glad I can say I've seen Lonestar live, but I'm not sure I would see them again. I can check them off my country music bucket list, but they're getting older and not really enunciating when they sing. And the venue isn't all that. But any night on the town is better than staying in!

Read my blog post about the last show I saw at this venue.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Recipe: Strawberry-Banana Bread

Image found here.
This past weekend, I actually had an evening to myself, so I thought I'd bake something. I had just bought some strawberries and had a couple of bananas that were a little over-ripe, so this recipe from was perfect!


  • 1 c. vegetable oil
  • 3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated or ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1½ c. granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp. grated lemon zest
  • 2 large ripe bananas
  • 1 lb. strawberries
  • 1½ c. walnuts
  • 1 c. confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil and flour a 9- by 13-inch casserole dish. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt.
  2. In a medium bowl, lightly beat eggs. Add granulated sugar, oil, vanilla, and lemon zest and whisk to combine. Mash bananas (you should get about 1 cup) and stir into egg mixture. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and mix just until incorporated. Fold in strawberries and walnuts.
  3. Transfer batter to prepared dish and bake until a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool for 5 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together confectioners' sugar and lemon juice until smooth. Spread icing over warm cake, then let cool completely.
As usual, I made a few changes for my own convenience:

1. I did not "oil and flour" the casserole dish. I simply used PAM.
2. I did not bother with the lemon juice. I didn't have a lemon on hand, and it's just for flavor anyway.
3. I did not make my own icing. I just microwaved some store-bought vanilla icing and drizzled it across the top of the cake.

I should note that this isn't a well-written recipe. No where does it say to slice or dice the strawberries, or to chop up the walnuts; as a regular baker, I just assumed I should do those things. But this lack of direction reminded me of the classroom activity when the students give the teacher "clear"' directions on how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. You'll see what I mean in the video below:

But this bread is really yummy! I highly recommend it!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Phantom of the Opera at the Kennedy Center

Image found here.
This past weekend, I finally got to see The Phantom of the Opera at the Kennedy Center! As soon as I heard the show would be coming to DC, I really wanted to go! I had never seen the play before, but I knew it was a big deal (and I knew there was a Gerard Butler movie), so I was excited to experience it!
Image found here.
First of all, we were in the beautiful Opera House of the venue, which is gorgeous! Every time I go to the Kennedy Center, I am blown away by how incredible it is. The space itself is so conducive to great art!
I was BLOWN AWAY by this show! I think one of the most famous parts about this play is the chandelier, and the effects were astounding! The chandelier dropped from the ceiling, and when it was turned on, it would flicker almost like a strobe light, and pyrotechnics abounded with flames and sparks. And when the Phantom broke the chandelier, a loud popping sound startled the audience, and in the dark we were sprinkled with bits of tiny, clear plastic, meant to mimic shards of glass. How neat is that?

Image found here.
The show has a new set, and it is amazing! I was especially impressed with the way the show takes you from the opera house to beneath the building and across the lake to where the Phantom lives. A large cylindrical building represents the outside of the opera house, and steps magically appear and just as quickly disappear as the Phantom leads Christine to his lair (if you will). Smoke gives the illusion of fog on the water, and candles light his bedroom where Christine (innocently) becomes blindfolded and sleeps in his bed (ahem?). The opera house is also staged beautifully, and it is fun to see a play within a play.
Obligatory selfie. Image found here.
I thought the acting and singing was very well done, and didn't think that anyone was the "weakest link." Julia Udine's understudy, Kaitlyn Davis, played Christine, and I thought she did an incredible job. She can definitely sing! The music is such a key part of this play, and it stays with you for hours (if not days) later! Click here to listen to the soundtrack.

Image found here.
Chris Mann, who was actually a contestant on the show The Voice, played the Phantom; he's quite cute in real life, but it's hard to tell with his deformed make-up on during the show.

 Jacquelynne Fontaine was very funny has the snotty Carlotta. Image found here.
Image found here.
I liked what dancing was in the play, although I will say that it's obvious why these dancers are in a play and not actually performing with a ballet company. But I'm a ballet snob!

I thought this performance was REALLY amazing and recommend that anyone and everyone see it. The show is still at the Kennedy Center until August 20th, and there are tickets on Goldstar, so you don't have to spend a fortune (although if you do, row J is pretty amazing. Just saying.). This show is definitely the experience of a lifetime!

Here's a piece from the Washington Post about the new set for the show.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Concert: Garbage at the Lincoln Theatre

Even though I just saw Garbage at the 9:30 Club in October (read my blog post about it), I was so excited to see that they were coming back to DC this summer, so I immediately bought tickets for me and my dad.

I couldn't remember if I had been to the Lincoln Theatre before or not, but I thought I had seen an a capella showcase there (which I had. See this blog post here). I thought it had seats, but since most of the concerts I go to are standing room only, I couldn't quite remember. But, yes, the Lincoln Theatre does have seats, and it is probably the classiest venue I've ever seen a rock concert in. It's beautiful inside, and the seats were so cushy! The crowd was a little older (well, Garbage has been around for a while!), so I think their clientele won't put up with a huge crowded mosh pit anymore. And while we stood up for the show, we did sit through the opener, so that was quite comfy!

Speaking of the opener, Kristin Kontrol was really cool! We thought we were going to get blown away by how loud the music was! I liked the music, but it is SO synthesized. I couldn't really even tell if she had a good voice or not because of how synthesized everything was. And her dance moves definitely need some work; they were a little trite, and the dance moves were so rehearsed that she didn't come off as natural. But she was better than Garbage's last opener, Torres, so I was still pleased with her performance. You can check out her YouTube channel here. And here is her video for her song "Smoke Rings."

Shirley Manson looks pretty severe with the back of her head shaved! (and she kept grabbing her crotch for some reason!)
Then it was time for Garbage! The crowd was so into it, especially since the band has a new album out ("Strange Little Birds"). Shirley Manson had tons of energy (as usual!), and even though the band had a substitute drummer in that night, he held his own and I thought the show was fantastic! Both my dad and I liked this show better than the last one because they played more of a mix of all their music, old and new. Here are some of their new songs they sang:

Even Though Our Love Is Doomed (this video was taped just a few months ago)



Here are the songs they played from their album "Bleed Like Me," which is my favorite of theirs:

Why Do You Love Me

Bleed Like Me

Sex Is Not the Enemy. Shirley introduced this song by talking about how the US is dealing with so much politics and how everyone just wants the same things: "safety, security, happiness, food on the table for our families." The crowd roared, and both my dad and I said, "Shirley for president!" Garbage has always been a supporter of the LGBT community, and this song is about that.

 And here are some other songs they performed:

Stupid Girl

Push It (not to be confused with the Salt-N-Pepper version)

Only Happy When It Rains

Automatic Systematic Habit (not to be confused with The All-American Rejects song "Dirty Little Secret")

I Think I'm Paranoid

What a great show!!! I definitely need to go to Amazon and buy some more Garbage CDs now...

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

DC Improv Comedy Show

Image found here.
Last week I went to the DC Improv to see some stand-up comedy. I go to this venue every once and a while, and though I wasn't really familiar with the main act, I was ready to see some professional comedians (I had seen some amateurs perform at Buckeye + Bear a few days before, and it wasn't pretty...).
Image found here.

The show started off with Cerrome Russell, who walked out on stage saying, "Yeah, I don't recognize you, either!" I had never heard of him before, but he was hilarious! I thought one of his funniest jokes was when he said his wife wouldn't perform certain sexual acts because she wasn't "raised that way." And he fires back, "Who is 'raised' to do any of those things?!" I couldn't find any good YouTube videos, but if you see that he's performing somewhere, I definitely recommend you go!

Image found here.
Then it was Katrina Pope's turn. This comedienne did a great job! I loved her jokes about dating men who really weren't the greatest (like the deadbeat without a job who sleeps on an air mattress), and how she prayed to Jesus to change her ways. I believe she lives in Brooklyn now, so if you're headed to New York, check to see if she's performing!

Tony Roberts was the main act, and he was HILARIOUS! This was one of those shows where I was laughing so hard that I was actually crying. Here are some videos to similar jokes he told that night:

"You Need Your Ass Beat" (i.e. his version of Jeff Foxworthy's "You Might Be a Redneck" jokes)

"Ass Eaters"

Tony Roberts Raps

"Jesus on a motorcycle!" I mean, how can you NOT laugh at that visual? Definitely one of the best comedy shows I have been to in a long time. What a fun night!

Monday, August 1, 2016

2016 Delaware State Fair

Every summer (or almost every summer), I visit the Delaware State Fair. I grew up going to this fair, so it's nostalgic for me every time I go. My dad and I went a few weekends ago, and we had so much fun!

Because it was so hot, we started with all of the inside activities, which really just means looking at a bunch of tables with people trying to sell you something or convince you of their political cause. We breezed through these because, quite frankly, they're boring. We also went to the building where there were ribbon-winning arts/crafts and vegetables. It's fun seeing how creative people (especially children!) can be with their quilts, photography, paintings, and the prize-winning veggies like squash and ears and corn is neat, too!

After that we sat under a tent and watched a pogo stick performance by XPogo. I've only tried using a pogo stick once, and I certainly didn't do anything fancy. But these three guys bounced more than six feet in the air and did really neat tricks! Henry Cabelus was the most talented: he did multiple back-flips in a row on his pogo stick! You can see some videos here.

Then we went to see all of the animals, which is my favorite part! The chickens and rabbits weren't there yet, so we think they come to the fair later in the summer. But we did see all the other mammals, including a giraffe!

Look at these cute little goats!
And these fluffy sheep!
"He's a big pig!"
These cows are huge! I had my dad stand next to them for scale!
This is the tiniest horse I've ever seen!
I got to feed carrots to a giraffe!
The other giraffe had a liking for this pole...
Some of the animals are quite the fashionistas:

Sheep in leotards!
Hmm, a little too much like the KKK for my taste...
This horse is very colorful!
The animals are really the reason we go. We rarely go on any rides or play the carnival games, and this year we barely ate any fair food (other than the biggest snow cone I've ever had in my life). We sometimes go to see country music concerts, but I had seen most of the acts that were coming to the fair this year. So not exactly the quintessential fair experience, but we still had a good time!