Charm CityCirculator

Film Fest 2015: Saturday (part 2)

I got off the Circulator and walked back over to the Tent Village where I caught a shuttle to the Single Carrot Theater in Remington. I’ve never actually been inside this new building, but their new space was a LOT bigger than the architectural drawings I saw at their temporary venue on Charles Street made it look.

The show started on time and without issue. Unfortunately, I had a very loud dry cough for most of the week (it was what woke me up both times at yesterday’s screening) and about midway through the show I checked my pocket and discovered I was out the cough drops I put there before I left. I had no choice, I pulled my bag out and as I carefully fished a few out trying to make as little noise as possible and just as I had a few in my hand I could feel a HARD slap against my left knee.

“WOULD YOU QUIT MAKING SO MUCH DAMNED NOISE,” the woman in front of me said in a low threatening growl with her waving finger shoved an inch from my nose. “I’M TRYING TO WATCH A DAMNED MOVIE!”

Apparently, she knew that I wasn’t even though I was, but it’s okay as her act of aggression was completely justifiable because, well, I’m me and abusing me is somehow okay. Me treating someone else like that is NOT okay, but those are the “rules” and I’m not allowed to object to them. I never have been, and today wasn’t a good idea to do to try it.

“I’m getting a cough dr-“ I said quietly, my knee still hurting from her assault on it.

“SHUSH,” the woman next to her said. “NO TALKING DURING THE FILM!”

I never even got to put the cough drop in, but the good news my cough went away. I spend the next 35 minutes feeling that hand burned into my knee as the people around me shouted at me in my head. If I wasn’t seated in the middle of my row I would have left 20 minutes ago, but now it was impossible without enflaming people anymore.

The movie finally ended, and the director led a somewhat dull Q&A which the angry finger pointing lady didn’t stay for. I won’t spoil the film for you as well, but I will say I already told you the most interesting part of this screening.

My next screening was also at SCT so I took the opportunity to attempt to gather up my thoughts on the movie itself – not on the screening just on the movie itself…but I couldn’t. My knee stung like hell, and I kept worrying someone was going to recognize me from the show and punch me too.

An hour passes and I went back into the theater, once again I was near the middle of my row. Fortunately, this film was much better, even if that damned cough did return about a third of the way through.

There was another dull Q&A afterwards, and then I took the shuttle back to MICA. I tried getting a slice of pizza at Two Boots, but the line was too long so I took the train back to Baltimore Street. When I got off, I realized it was almost 7:30 and I hadn’t eaten since noon so I got a 6” sandwich and a cookie before heading back to the hotel.

When I got to the lobby I could see people getting off the elevator I had been on earlier and to my surprise it took me to my floor without issue. I opened the door to my room, threw my bag on the bed and prepared for a shower. As I took my shorts off, I noticed the seam had split slightly at the crotch so I threw them away making room in my bag for the item I didn’t buy. Whatever, I’d worry about that in the morning, but first I have a pair of reviews to write…

Categories: adventures, Baltimore, Charm CityCirculator, festivals, light rail, movies, writing | Leave a comment

Film Fest 2015: Friday (Part 1)

Note: I missed the first full day of the Maryland Film Festival due to a delayed flight. I was supposed to see my first show at 7:15 that evening, but I didn’t land at BWI until 9:45pm so my coverage is a tad abbreviated – particularly since it was cheaper to leave on Sunday (actual last day of the festival) rather than Monday.

 

I found the tent village at 10:05am after dealing with a disappointing breakfast in the hotel restaurant and a particularly demanding – and entitled – homeless woman at the Circulator stop on Fayette St. If I had time, I would have stopped at the McDonald’s next to the village and gotten a REAL breakfast, but I was there to get tickets not to eat.

Tickets prices have gone up since my last visit from $10 up to $12, but there was a “3 for $30” promotion that I didn’t notice until after I already purchased my FOUR tickets. Though I will say the volunteer at the festival tent was friendly even if I had to explain to her the times and venues to her so she could explain them back to me. How do I keep getting into these stupid sitcom-like situations anyway?

I arrived at the Walters Art Museum about a half hour before my first movie was set to start and took 15 minutes to write down everything that happened to me today before putting away my notebook and heading inside to the auditorium…just to find the film would be “delayed” (not the word I wanted to hear) due to “minor technical difficulties.”

The program, started about 10 minutes behind schedule, but since there was no “host” the film started immediately. I won’t get into my thoughts on the film here, but I fell asleep twice during its 104 minute runtime.

I walked down Charles St towards the Inner Harbor looking for someplace to have a nice lunch. I didn’t want fast food or a food truck, but an actual sit down meal so I was disappointed when the time on the check from Pizzeria Uno was only “1:37pm” – I still had nearly three hours until my next movie!

I took the Circulator back to the hotel, but the room wasn’t turned yet. I considered going down to the pool while waiting for housekeeping for come by, but it was too cloudy/breezy to swim so I stayed put and struggled through my first review until it was time to leave for my second screening.

Categories: adventures, Baltimore, Charm CityCirculator, festivals, Inner Harbor, light rail, movies, Station North, writing | Leave a comment

Missed connections

Everything about today was off, which stinks since it was the only good day this weekend (rained all day on Friday, snow expected on Sunday).

I left the apartment at 10:48am, made my way down the hill towards Charles St and as I began eating my sandwich, I could see the northbound circulator zipping by the window. I thought nothing of it until I was finished eating and made my way around the corner just as the same bus was pulling away from the curb. Great, now I’m stuck waiting out here in the cold until…I checked my phone for “next bus” time (which, naturally, wasn’t working), and when I looked up again there was another southbound circulator pulling up to the curb.

I arrived at Inner Harbor at 11:31am and the first thing I saw when I disembarked the bus was the westbound circulator passing above me on Pratt St. This time it really was a 15 minute wait (not counting my time walking to the stop), and, because they realigned the western part of the route and renamed some of the stops, I had no clue where I was going when I got on.

I disembarked at the renamed Mt Clare St (which was located in front of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum, but now two blocks away with a different name) at 12:01pm just as the whistle of the departing 12’o’clock train blew. As you can guess by now, that was the train I was hoping to catch when I left this morning.

So I enter the museum and a young man sells me my ticket for the exhibits, holiday layouts and the train ride to Mt Clare House (the only reason I was visiting the museum today). I wander around the roundhouse looking at all the elaborate holiday layouts which all looked almost exactly like they did last year (to be fair, all S-guage layouts look like cheap plastic junk to me). Then I went outside, walked around their permanent outdoor layout and got a quick snack in their café before it was time to board the train.

I made my way to the platform, told the ticket taker I was going to Mt Clare and he told me to take the car on the right. The attendant saw the Mt Clare ticket, and he directed me to the door on the right. I walked about halfway through the first car until I found an open seat with an unobstructed window. I sat down and about a minute later the train whistle blew and we began our slow and initially scenic ride through west Baltimore. As the train passed into less scenic area of the route, Frosty made his way through the cars to wave and have his picture taken as his grumpy-looking handler gave out lollipops (just to the kids).

Ten minutes into the trip, the train stops for a minute or so and then begins moving backwards (technically forward as the engine was facing the wheelhouse as we left). I asked the conductor when they were letting people off and he hems and haws and eventually gets around to saying I missed back when we stopped.

So the train pulls into the same station it left 20 minutes ago with me still on it. I step off the platform the conductor pulls me and an older couple aside as he proceeds to wish the rest of the guests a good day. Eventually, a manager comes over gives the three of us was a halfway sincere apology and instead of a refund he offers us complimentary driving directions so we can drive ourselves there in our own cars on our schedules. This is, of course, really nice of him because if I take the 2pm train, I’d have no way of getting back.

That’s when I had to tell him about the accident that nearly took my life and how the state awarded me for my pain and suffering by revoking my license. I literally cannot drive so if I don’t take the train I cannot get there (unless I leave the museum, wait around for a cab, give the driver precise turn-by-turn directions, pay him for my time and tip them for the pleasure of their being rude to me). He then offered to “let” me ride again and they would make sure I got off at the manor (apparently, they run a special, unadvertised pick-up-only trip to the mansion at 3pm).

It turns out, when I was finished with the manager I checked my watch and it was 1:25pm so I had just enough time to use the restroom on the far side of the roundhouse before heading back to the platform. Oddly enough, now everyone was keen to direct me to the “Mt Clare car” (even though they knew full well where I was headed on my previous journey) which was empty save for one other family.

As I sat down in a seat with an unobstructed window, a worker with an orange\yellow vest told me I “couldn’t sit there” (no explanation given) and then leads me to the front of the car and points to a seat next to the other family. “Sit here,” he said pointing to a seat with an unobstructed view of an informational poster and then promptly left through the end door. If I wanted scenery, I could just lean my head really far back in the seat.

Fortunately, Santa arrived (with the same grumpy attendant from before) to take pictures with the other family but when he was finished with them the conductor opened the train door so all I got from the jolly old elf was a pat on the back and shove out the door.

The mansion, like the 15 foot platform the train drops you off on, was smaller than it looked from the tracks. Granted there were additions, subtractions, restorations and the excavated outline of its foundations (though very little is mentioned of the latter on their website). Like most historic homes, the rooms were roped off with a docent standing at the entrance to explain the purpose of each area. They even had a special wedding gown on display in the master bedroom (which I initially mistook for a part of the bedspread).

As nice as the grounds and period furnishings were, I was there for the “holiday open house,” and I was sorely disappointed with what I saw. I liked how they had musicians in the foyer playing live carols, but the house was barely decorated. Yes, there was a Christmas tree in a corner by the entrance, but most of the wreaths\greens were shoved off into a side room with a plain handmade sign that read “for sale.” Even with the room by room tour, I was in and out of the house well within time to catch the train back to the museum.

I disembarked the train just in time to hear the announcement about closing “promptly in 30 minutes” which was just as well since I was leaving anyway – a full hour behind schedule. I made my way two blocks west on Pratt St to the new circulator stop, and was surprised to see it come around the corner as I arrived at the stop. Naturally, the driver turns to us and says he’s off duty and we’d have to wait on the bus until his “relief driver” arrived (about ten minutes, but at least the bus was heated).

I took the circulator to Pratt\Howard and just as I was coming off a man was standing there telling me he needed change for the light rail. Could I please help him? I considered crossing the tracks and slowly making my way over to Fell’s Point for the boat parade and lighting of the Christmas tree, but it was way too cold to stand around so I headed over to the ticket machines. Besides, I knew I’d probably run into more panhandlers as I approached the harbor.

A Penn-Camden train came around 4:07pm, but it was full. Ten minutes later, another shuttle train arrived – and it was nearly empty. When the train arrived at Mt Royal station, I disembarked without being hassled for change, but finding out that the Starbucks behind the station had closed – an hour ago.

I didn’t get a hot coffee, but it was still warmer back in the apartment than it was outside…

Categories: adventures, Baltimore, BO museum, Charm CityCirculator, holidays, light rail, museums, ramblings, writing | Leave a comment

Birthday recap 2013

I admit that I got off to a late start today – particularly since I woke up after I had expected to leave for the day’s festivities. So like it or not, I was going to have to rearrange my schedule – considerably.

By the time I was showered, dressed and ready to leave it was already 11:25am. I made my way down the hill to the light rail where a northbound train was already waiting for me to board. I had planned on going to the Harbor East, but why argue with convenience?

I arrived at Hunt Valley at 12:11pm and immediately headed over to Caribou Coffee which offers a “free medium coffee on your birthday.” Unfortunately, I couldn’t find my ID to prove it was my birthday, but they decided to waive the requirement for the sake of moving the line. The coffee was actually really good, and the young woman who gave it to me was the first person today to wish me a “happy birthday” without me prompting her.

I finished my coffee and decided to wander around the shops (which weren’t all that crowded for a weekend in December). Then I made my way to the cinemas at the back of the mall and bought a ticket for a nearly sold-out matinee of Disney’s Frozen. I won’t get into details about it here, but, suffice to say, I was a little disappointed in the film (particularly since I own stock in Disney).

The movie got out at 3:12pm, and I slowly made my way towards the light rail station again. Just like earlier, the train was already sitting there, but this time it took another 10-15 minutes for it to depart the station (as of 3:35pm, not one person on Facebook wished me a “happy birthday”). It got me back to Mt Royal at 4:35pm and from there is only a 10 minute walk up the hill to my apartment…

But that didn’t mean my day was over. I went downstairs, got a shower, got dressed and was back out the door by 6pm. This time I knew ahead of time where I was going… I just didn’t know how I was getting back (as light rail and the city’s free circulator bus end service at 7pm and 8pm respectively).

My first stop was the mini restaurant row there on Charles\Preston Streets. I would have preferred a real sit down restaurant, but I knew I couldn’t risk it time wise. I was somewhat surprised by how quickly I had finished my food, and even more surprised that no one had wished me a “happy birthday” on Facebook yet.

After disembarking the circulator at 7pm, I made my way up St Paul St, across the street and around the corner to the large brick building that dominated the block because I knew if there was ONE institution that wouldn’t let me down on my birthday – it was Center Stage. They even offered me “rush” tickets without me having to ask.

I was wrong, but I’d rather not discuss it here. You can, however, read my very low opinion of their show here. Fortunately, there was an intermission about halfway through the show so I was able to make a quick exit (something I don’t normally do as a drama critic) and since it was a rush ticket, I was only losing half of what I would have paid if I bought in advance.

When I got back to my apartment at 10pm, I had a notification on my phone – someone had finally written a birthday wish on my wall. J

Categories: adventures, Baltimore, Charm CityCirculator, holidays, light rail, movies, ramblings, retail, theatre, writing | 1 Comment

Disappointment all around

It was a beautiful sunny day outside today. Unfortunately I spent most of it stuck inside doing laundry, and then I decided to go out and go out and do something productive. In fact, I pretty much bolted out of here as soon as the machine buzzed; you know Carpe Diem and whatnot.

I took the fifteen minute walk to the circulator stop, and I looked at my watch realizing that I had a lot of time on my hands. As I looked up again the bus was just pulling in, and surprisingly enough there were still a few seats left towards the very back. See, this wasn’t so bad.

I get off at Inner Harbor and walk into The Gallery. I knew what wanted, I just wasn’t sure if I wanted to get it at a dollar store. Heck for a dollar, I could get anything else I wanted – yah for wanton spending!

I get behind an angry woman yelling at her restless toddler. I finally get up to the cashier, put my 4 items on the counter and the bored looking woman rings it and it comes out to just under $15.

“Huh, four items is $15? I thought this was a DOLLAR store.”

She rolls her eyes and gives that same “you’re a moron” look I get from every retail clerk. She then points to the price column on the receipt while shoving my bag to the side and calling the next person in line.

She clearly had this conversation more than once today, but I didn’t feel like letting her ennui ruin my day. Not to worry, I would have other opportunities for that as the evening continued.

I look down at my watch and it was just after 5pm. I cross the still barricaded Pratt Street and make my way to the Banner stop at Conway Street where I quickly discovered that the barricades blocking off most of Light Street as well – including the stop.

Fortunately, they had cleared up enough space for a stop two blocks south at Lee Street, and as I was walking it I felt drops slowly falling on my head – good thing I left my umbrella at home. One Purple Route came then another one and finally after 15 minutes of waiting in the rain, the Banner Route finally showed up and it was empty and remained so for most of my journey.

I arrived at a rain-free McHenry Row at 5:45pm and immediately made my way to the Green Turtle on the main corner. I opened the door (which had a large colorful sign on it advertising “$3 Game Day Apps”) and about five staff members were just sitting there at the maître de stand. Finally, one of them looks at me skeptically and asks if I wanted a table.

I was tempted to say smart to their stupidity, but I was not about to piss off someone who can spit in my food. The maître de grabs a menu and leads me off to a booth with a view of the dark sky and completely dry patio.

The waitress does arrive, and I as her about the $3 appetizers.

“Actually, if you look at the sign, you’ll see that it says ‘Saturday and Sunday only.’ Today is THURSDAY.”

“Great,” I said trying (and failing) to match her enthusiasm (mom always said I can’t be disappointed in something that is my damned fault). “I guess that means…uh…full price….what a deal.”

“Yep, now what can I get you to drink?”

I order an iced tea, and a sandwich. I felt somewhat bad about not ordering an appetizer, but truthfully I really wasn’t hungry for one anyway. Besides, if it were as bad as my sandwich then I made the right call (usually I like their food).

She drops the bill off on the table, and I felt bad again. Then I realized, it was 6:25pm and I didn’t have time for pity. I was on a schedule, and I was determined to keep to it. I left the bar as the southbound Circulator zoomed by which meant I wouldn’t be waiting too long for a northbound bus.

It took just under ten minutes for the northbound bus to arrive, and I rode it all the way back to Oderbein where I got off in time to be caught in a sea of people heading over to the Orioles game (that I seriously forgot was going on tonight) and the various street vendors that serve them. Yes, having a Light Rail station at Camden Yards can be so convenient at times.

I walked over to the ATV and swiped my Smartcard. When I turned around, an empty “Penn-Camden” train was just pulling into the station. I get on, and as I’m checking FB on my phone, the operator comes by talking on her phone. She stops in front of me, points at me and says “where are YOU going?” Her tone sounding more like an accusation than a question, but I told her “Everyman Theater” and she walks off mumbling about “not knowing where THAT is.”

I was about to tell her when I noticed the northbound Hunt Valley pulling into the station. I remembered that normal MTA trains (non-Penn-Camden) have priority on this line so I crossed the platform and waited for the fans to get off before talking one of the few empty remaining seats on my two stop journey.

I got off at Baltimore Street and took a moment to get my bearing as I’d never been to Everyman’s “new” venue (it opened last year to HUGE fanfare). I look left, and as I turn to head right I nearly run into a man standing a few inches in front of me.

“You don’t understand how bad of a night I’m having,” he pleaded. “All I ask from you is some change: 10-cents, a dollar, anything you can spare. Please I’m begging you.”

Yep, that’s me the default ATM of Baltimore’s poor and disenfranchised. Every time I leave my apartment…but on the plus side, it was nice to hear other people having problems. With him gone I was able to find the theater in peace…and wandering all the way to UMD Hospital without seeing it I finally pulled my smart phone out, checked the map and realized that I had just walked three blocks down the wrong street. I made it to the theater with twenty minutes to spare, and a damn near miracle they still had seats left. All that being said…

There is a certain amount of irony in being disappointed by a play about disappointment. Unfortunately for Everyman, I hate irony… almost as much as I hate sitting here trying to justify why I disliked a show with no “objective” flaws. Sometimes I hate this job… but then again I’ve always been, as one of the characters in the play said: “a good Christian martyr.”

After a seeming eternity in the theater, the show let out after only 90 minutes (it felt like a lot longer) – just in time to get caught up in the wave of people coming out of the Orioles game. In fact, the first train was completely full. The second one, which arrived about 4 minutes later, was crowded, but there were still a few visible seats near the back.

Yah, I was going back to the apartment. I could rest, unpack my shopping bag and begin coming up with reasons to not hate this evening…

Categories: adventures, Baltimore, Charm CityCirculator, Inner Harbor, light rail, locust point, sports, theatre, transportation | Leave a comment

An almost perfect day

As a part time game reviewer, I spend a lot of time in my apartment. However, even I’m not stupid enough to waste a day inside when its 59 degrees outside – particularly when said day is in the middle of January.

The only problem was: where did I want to go?

After a quick consideration of my options, I chose Locust Point because it was far enough away to make getting there feel like an adventure, but close enough that it didn’t take forever to get there. Besides, the bus transfer (Purple to Banner) was at the Visitor’s Center so I could stop for coffee at Barnes & Noble on the way down or get dinner at Power Plant Live on the way back.

I left just 10:30am, and made my way to the Purple route on Preston Street. I got there just as the bus was pulling out so I waited there for about 17 minutes for the next one (slightly longer than their stated wait time, but I wasn’t in any particular hurry). I ended up sitting across from some tourists arriving from Penn Station and was able to eavesdrop on them as we made our way towards the harbor.

It was after 11am when I off at McKeldin Fountain as I decided to forgo Starbucks and walk along the promenade to the Visitor’s Center. I was pretty sure B&N would still be there next week, besides I didn’t want to waste a gift card on a cup of overpriced coffee.

My destination was McHenry Row, an apartment complex laid out like a faux-“Main Street U.S.A” with mid-range chain retailers on the first level with the residents above (like Harbor East for us “poor” people). As much as I like window shopping, my first task when I got off the bus was finding someplace to eat.

This wasn’t all that hard of a decision as there are only two restaurants in the complex. I wasn’t sure if it was some kind of “blue law,” but the Green Turtle Sports Bar was practically empty when I walked in despite it being almost noon. I got a table overlooking the equally empty plaza connecting the main street to the garage. The food was decent, the service was fair, and I received my check at 12:34pm.

I walked around a bit, passing on both Dunkin Donuts and a frozen yogurt place and a few specialty stores before making my way towards the bus stop. I considered getting a haircut, but it looked like there were a lot of people already waiting.

I walked two blocks west on Fort Avenue to Southside Marketplace. The wind was getting stiffer, but I still managed to make a full circle around the low-end mall. I thought about stopping into the Starbucks at the entrance, but I did get a few things at Radio Shack (who knew blue internet cables were so expensive).

I spent what seemed like an eternity waiting for the northbound circulator to show up, but, like this morning’s bus, it was in fact only 17 minutes. I arrived back at McKeldin Fountain at 2:15pm, crossed the street, and waited another ten minutes for the Purple route to arrive.

The day wasn’t over yet, but my adventures were.

Categories: adventures, Baltimore, Charm CityCirculator, locust point, ramblings, transportation | Leave a comment

Life beyond art

I left the apartment at 11:23am, and after detouring around the polling place at Brown Memorial, I decided to take the subway towards downtown (mostly, because said detour took me halfway to the station entrance anyway).

The station was nearly empty, and I was pleasantly surprised when the train came within 5 minutes of stepping off the escalator. I was also surprised to have to cut through Power Plant Live, but it didn’t seriously impede my progress. It was the closure of the restaurants at non-Live Power Plant that put a crimp in my schedule, but I figured I would just pop into the new food court at Harborplace (soon-to-be-home of Moes Southwest Grille) as it was on the way to my destination anyway.

As expected, Harborplace was nearly deserted (“tourist season,” such as it is, ends around Labor Day) meaning I could walk up to any eatery there without waiting in line or searching for a table afterward.  I took a table at Johnny Rockets, and my food was delivered before I could even open Facebook on my phone.

After lunch, I looked around the pavilion for an ATM and found it was in the same part of the former food court as it was last time I was up there. It was almost sad looking since the second floor of the Light Street pavilion is little more than H&M and the backside of Ripleys.

It was 12:37 when I left Harborplace, and on my way down the promenade, I decided to check out the new “Life Beyond Earth” exhibit at Maryland Science Center (review here). They also had two new planetarium shows (2pm and 4pm), but I only had time for one. Unfortunately, the one I saw at 2pm, Space Odyssey was as poorly animated as it was scripted though they get credit for having the characters speak their obligatory scientific lessons in modern English without condescending too much to their audience (though I found the film’s consistently defeatist tone annoying).

The film ended at 2:37pm, and I exited the museum making my way around the promenade towards my ultimate destination – the American Visionary Arts Museum.

Fortunately for me, it was only a 10 minute walk away (as it was getting slightly cold out). I still think they overcharge for admission, but, then again, I only have to review one show a year there so I guess it evens out somewhat.

The exhibit was called “The Art of Storytelling: Lies Enhancements, Humor & Truth” (review here), and like every other AVAM show I’ve seen it uses its broad title as more of an abstract starting point than an actual thematic guide (which makes reviewing them in under 500 words next to impossible).

However, their usual schizophrenic collection of mini-galleries they use for their exhibits was confined only to the north side of the staircase with the south side devoted to (as one of their docents said leading a large group through the museum) showcasing elements from their permanent collection and all – or nearly all – of them used in previous exhibitions with no attempt to tie them into the current one that they are presumably a part of (at least according to the front desk, website and other employees).

Remember: This is AVAM – even a half-floor show is pushing my word count.

So after about 45 minutes in their museum, I was back on Key Highway on my way back to the promenade. It is too late in the day to just go back to the apartment, but too early to get dinner – that’s when I remembered about that second show at the planetarium (and I still had plenty of time to get to it).

I climbed back up the stairs of the Science Center, pushing up the left sleeve of my sweatshirt slightly (I really should have put on a heavier jacket this morning) to make my wristband more obvious.

No-one stopped me, so I guess it worked. I still had about 10 minutes until the show started so I took a seat on a bench outside of “Race: Are We So Different?” and began condensing some of my notes from the two shows I saw today.

I don’t have a review to link to, but I will say: what a difference two hours makes. Not only was the straight (non-narrative) script for “We Are Aliens” much better (even if they squandered the title) but so was the animation. I was surprised more of the audience didn’t pick up on the film being narrated by Harry’s best bud Ron (Rupert Grint, not a good choice for a film like this).

The film ended at 4:37pm, and I decided it was probably a better idea to have dinner downtown than trek back to the apartment.

Then I saw a young woman standing at the maître-de stand outside Bubba Gump Shrimp. It isn’t my favorite movie in the world, but I didn’t want to walk all the way over to Power Plant just to find everything closed again.

She immediately led me inside and to a booth overlooking the water (the restaurant’s blue\red color scheme reminded me it was Election Day). I sat there for about 10 minutes, and just as I was about to grab my hat off the window and leave another woman came by to take my drink order (though she made a point to say she wasn’t my waitress).

My real server arrived a few seconds later, and I made my order. It was the last I saw of her until she delivered my check 45 minutes later as I’m pretty sure it was someone else who brought out my disappointing appetizer and slightly-better than average entrée.

I paid the bill almost as soon as she came by with it and left immediately thereafter not even waiting for my change. I was in an awful hurry to get absolutely nowhere which is why I took the Circulator (at the Gallery) to the Starbucks at Charles and Preston.

The line was relatively short, but there were no open seats. It appeared as if I was getting it to go, but at least I had something hot to drink on the cold walk back to my apartment.

Categories: adventures, art, Baltimore, Charm CityCirculator, md science center, metro subway, museums, writing | Leave a comment

An almost normal Saturday: Part 2

I left the apartment (again) at 4:25pm, returning to the same Circulator stop I stood at less than three hours before. Fortunately for me, the bus arrived pretty quickly and I was walking along the promenade by 5pm.

There was a performance of some sort in the amphitheater. Tours of the visiting NE Brazil had just ended, but there was a huge crowd at the Ripleys across from said ship.

However, I was here for dinner so I went into the relatively new Bubba Gump Shrimp at the Light Street pavilion. The service was fairly good, but the sandwich I ordered wasn’t. Whatever, I was out of there by 6pm, and crossed over to the other pavilion to hit the ATM before heading off to Fells Point.

I wasn’t sure what the best way to get there was. Taking the Orange Route to the Green Route seemed a bit convoluted. I could walk over and catch the Green Route at Market Place, even though I wasn’t entirely sure where the stop for that was.

I browsed through Barnes & Noble for about a half-hour to think it over, and then decided to walk over to catch the Green Route in Harbor East. It’s only 4 blocks, and you can tell when you’re getting close because the putrid smell of the harbor intensifies to almost lethal levels.

Fells Point is one of those odd neighborhoods that you can hear well before you reach its famously cobbled streets. Drunken costumed revelers, tone-deaf karaoke singers and crappy cover bands: it’s no wonder I avoid this area on a Saturday night – especially around Halloween.

I arrived at Vagabond Players just after 7pm. However, it took a while for them to print my ticket due to the “new system.” I’m left standing there for twenty minutes of:  “no…go back… now try that…no, that’s not it either…”

Hopefully, they’ll figure it out by the next showing, because it is otherwise a nice looking theatre with a similar layout to FPCT (but without the wood paneling). The lobby had just been remodeled, and I kept hearing other patrons remark about how much nicer the space looked.

The show started at 8:07pm, with an intermission an hour later. They did have cookies and coffee in the lobby along with light chatter, I almost felt like I was at an NA meeting (not completely inappropriate given the subject matter of the play). The show restarted, and I left the theatre when the show ended at 10:29pm.

I make my way to the Circulator stop on Caroline St, but it’s closed so I walked back along the promenade to the Orange Route at Harbor East. I got off the bus at President Street, made my across the ripped up sidewalk past a broken retail window and down the steps into the subway.

It took about 15 minutes for the westbound train to arrive, and even then it moved slowly, prone to sudden starts\stops that doubled the time it took to travel requite 3 stops back to State Center. I got off the train, climbed the surprisingly well-lit stairs and began the walk back to my apartment as Saturday slowly faded into Sunday.

Categories: adventures, Baltimore, Charm CityCirculator, Fells Point, metro subway, theatre, writing | Leave a comment

An almost normal Saturday: Part 1

Today is the 6th annual Chinese Auction at St John’s UCC in Shamokin. It is also the 5th annual Harbor Harvest in downtown Baltimore. I’m not attending either of them. Sorry.

I spent the morning writing a review of “Little White Lies,” and getting a head start on this post before leaving again for the Charles Theater.

That was the plan…until I realized I was out of milk.

I grabbed my large grocery bag, and left the apartment at 1:25pm. I got to Lexington Market around 1:54 and tried to find the Burger King on aforementioned street.

It’s on Fayette Street.

According to the receipt, I made my order at 2:07pm, and I was out about ten minutes later. I made my way up to Fresh & Green’s on Charles and Saratoga Streets. It was surrounded by cop cars, and the entrance was nearly blocked off by police officers. None of whom actually stopped me from entering, but according to what little I was able to piece together from store employees, I missed quite a scene.

I left the store at 2:37pm and dragged my surprisingly heavy bag over to the light rail on Howard Street. It was only two blocks, but it felt like a mile. The actual half-mile uphill walk to my apartment from Cultural Center station felt like an eternity, but I finally arrived in one piece at 3:07pm.

Yes, both the Chinese Auction and Harvest Harbor were over, but that didn’t mean my day was over yet…

Categories: adventures, Baltimore, Charm CityCirculator, Inner Harbor, theatre, writing | Leave a comment

Tourist Trappings

I arrived at the Walters Art Museum just before noon, and I made a point to ask if “Public Property” was a considered a regular free exhibit or a “Special Exhbition” (non-free). The woman behind the counter looked at me like I was nuts, but answered my question in a cordial, professional manner:

“All work on that display is owned by the Walters Art Museum, so, of course, it’s free.”

“So was ‘Mesoamerica,’ and I was still charged for entry. That’s why I had to ask.”

A man standing at the brochure rack turns to me and says: “Look, kid, I’ve been around this world a long time, and the one thing I learned is: never argue with ‘free.’”

Um, thanks for the obvious, unsolicited and utterly clichéd advice

I made my way into the Special Exhibitions gallery – or the back half of it – where the exhibit was being held. I’d say I was underwhelmed, but why repeat myself? I then went upstairs to their “Temporary Exhibits” gallery where I say a slightly smaller, but much better organized show called “Beautiful Women” (same link as above). They were somewhat older than my taste, but then again I’m just a “kid.”

I had a horrible, overpriced lunch somewhere along Charles St (why give them extra publicity?) and then took the Circulator back to Inner Harbor. I crossed McKeldin Square and made my way to the double dragons at the center of the Light Street Pavilion (ignoring the silly carnival act in the amphitheater).

It was a newly opened tourist museum on a Saturday in the middle of summer, so of course there was a line to get into the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium of Baltimore. It didn’t help that the newly hired staff wasn’t accustomed to the register system yet, or that the register they were working at was out of receipt paper. But eventually, I did get in, and you can read my official review here.

It was just after 2:30pm when I left Ripley’s, and I considered revisiting the National Pinball Museum on Water Street (as I had brought my plastic “Play Card” with me), but, frankly, I was tired and had a slight headache and simply decided to walk back to the Light Rail on Pratt Street.

I will say that the new food court in the Light Street Pavilion is coming along quite well, most of the tables have been opened to the public and the various stalls are looking like they were almost finished with most of the signs and equipment installed.

I also want to note that the building Sports Legends\GEM is located appears to be having some exterior work done on it. I’m not sure what all they’re doing, but I look forward to seeing it when it’s done.

Categories: adventures, art, attractions, Baltimore, Charm CityCirculator, Inner Harbor, light rail, museums | Leave a comment

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