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Last year I went to the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore because it has free admission on Martin Luther King Day. (The regular admission price is $15.95 for adults under 60 and $13.95 for people age 60 and up.) I had a blast even though I arrived too late in the day to get a free slice of birthday cake that the museum usually serves for that occasion. This year I decided to do it again except I made every effort to wake up early and get out of the door so I could arrive by noon (when the birthday cake would be served).

So I managed to arrive earlier than last year while braving the cold weather (the temperature was in the low 20’s that day). I took the light rail into the city then transferred to the Charm City Circulator bus. I managed to arrive shortly before noon. The main disadvantage is that the museum was way more crowded than I remembered last year when I arrived later in the afternoon. But I still tried to make the best of my visit since it was free admission day.

One of the buildings had a new exhibition which featured this giant dragon sculpture that was made entirely from balloons.

There were a few wall hangings that were literally displayed on the ceiling of that building.

I managed to arrive on the third floor of the building where the birthday cake was being served along with a few other activities as well. There was an opportunity to create buttons, which I didn’t get to do because the museum had run out of button making supplies by the time I arrived. But I managed to get a photo of a couple who were able to make buttons.

The entertainment featured a children’s gospel choir known as the Cardinal Shehan School Choir, who came from one of the local Catholic schools in Baltimore. This group has been featured on Good Morning America after one of their videos went viral. After hearing them, I understood why because this choir was so phenomenal, especially since the singers were all children.

In fact, I shot this video of them doing their final number called “Rise Up” that I think you will definitely enjoy.

While the choir was performing I got a chance to look at the birthday cakes that were served to the general public on a first-come, first-served basis. The cakes were available in a variety of flavors.

The museum also gave out a variety of hot beverages (including hot chocolate and a few different flavors of tea). The next photo shows my cup of hot chocolate and the slice of cake that I chose.

This next photo should give you an idea as to how crowded this room got with people making buttons and consuming cake and hot drinks.

I stepped out of the balcony on that third floor where I got a great view of both the museum’s main building and Federal Hill.

Once I finished eating my cake and the choir finished performing its set, I left that large and crowded room and explored the rest of the museum where I took these pictures.

The museum had this special exhibit called The Great Mystery Show, which featured art related to science and mysticism. This NASA astronaut sculpture in the next photo had me thinking about how my ex-husband would’ve loved this since he works for NASA and he told me that he once wanted to become an astronaut only to find out that his eyesight would’ve been considered too poor for such a position. (He managed to study computer programming so he found another way of working for NASA even if he never became an astronaut.)

The statue in the next two photos intrigued me because it was made mostly from sea shells.

The most memorable part of the museum was seeing this sculpture of Edgar Allan Poe that was made entirely from marshmallow Peeps.

The base of the Poe sculpture was flanked by a black cat and a raven, who were both also made from marshmallow Peeps. (Those two were references to two of Poe’s famous works—The Black Cat and The Raven.)

Near the Poe sculpture was this heart that was made from glass, which was a reference to another famous Poe piece known as The Tell-Tale Heart.

The most surreal part of the museum was seeing a TV monitor that had non-stop showings of Martin Luther King giving his famous “I Have a Dream” speech while the monitor was flanked by flowers, tarot cards, two gold masks, and an Ouija board.

I was amazed by this life-sized sculpture of what looked like the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz.

I found this interesting recipe posted on the museum wall that I would like to try at some point in the future.


I really liked this colorful and funky cat illustration.

This dress looked like it was made from glass with all of the glass beads.

I couldn’t resist taking a picture of this inspirational quote from Leonardo da Vinci regarding science and art.

I really liked this next photo, which is a painting of Albert Einstein.

I was also amazed by what this one artist did with small tins (such as a sardine tin and a tin box that was about the size of a pack of Altoids). This person created scenes with paper cutouts. The tiny details were astounding.

I made only one purchase at that museum. I found this crochet pattern book for $5 that was about creating tiny equipment, furniture, and buildings that were small enough for LEGO Minifigs, tiny dolls, and other types of tiny toys. It looked really interesting.

Even though I had that slice of cake, it was no substitute for lunch and I was starting to feel hungry as I was touring the museum. I thought about eating in the museum’s cafe until I saw that it was very crowded. I began to become tired of the throngs of people who were crowding in the museum because they were also taking advantage of the free admission. I decided to leave the museum and walk along the Inner Harbor while taking some photos. This next photo shows a building in the middle that’s under construction complete with a construction crane.

The weather had been mostly non-stop freezing since Christmas with an exception of a couple of days when the temperature reached the low 50’s just a couple of days before MLK Day. Unfortunately that respite was short-lived and the area was plunged into yet another deep freeze. The next few pictures clearly show the effects of the below-freezing temperatures had on the water itself where you can clearly see ice that had been forming.

Some of the litter thrown into the Inner Harbor had been encased in ice.

A pair of ducks were swimming in the non-icy portions of the water.

These stone installations resembled three Adirondack chairs.

The next photo shows the statue of William Donald Schaefer, who served as the mayor of Baltimore and governor of Maryland.

I walked by Harborplace where I visited It’s Sugar.

 

I bought a few things in that store, including a special pack of Skittles that  was known as “Sweet Heat” because spices were added to the candy. I tried them and I found the spicy taste to be interesting but, to be honest, I prefer regular Skittles.

I bought a small box of this treat called Marshmallow Madness. The idea is based on the Lucky Charms cereal except that the cereal part has been excluded so all you get is just small colored marshmallows in a variety of shapes. I’ve seen Marshmallow Madness be available in cereal-sized boxes. On this trip I saw that there were smaller box versions of Marshmallow Madness so I decided to buy it to see what it tasted like.

My verdict is that while the marshmallows are tasty, I found myself missing the cereal part. (I used to frequently eat Lucky Charms cereal as a child. Even though I rarely eat presweetened cereal these days, I still found myself lamenting the lack of cereal in Marshmallow Madness. I guess old habits die hard. LOL!)

I purchased a pack of orange-flavored Donald Trump-themed gummy candy known as Make America Sweet Again mainly because the package design was such a hoot. I took a bunch of detailed photographs of this product so you’ll get the idea.

I haven’t opened that candy as of this writing. I have an idea of doing something creative with this candy so I don’t want to just eat it right now, especially since there are only two It’s Sugar locations in the entire Baltimore-Washington, DC area (one at Harborplace and the other in the Chinatown area of DC) and I don’t really live close to either location so I can’t shop there too often.

I took a couple of photos of Harborplace, which showed it becoming more and more of a dead mall. This was shot on Martin Luther King Day when a lot of people are off from school and work. I remember Harborplace in better days when it used to draw a huge crowd of shoppers. I remember the days when I made special trips to this place so I could spend the day there. Despite the presence of It’s Sugar, H&M, and Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium, this pavilion is still pretty much empty. I didn’t even bother with visiting the other pavilion because I know it’s the same situation from previous visits. Too bad, so sad.

The sign announcing a “New Tradition” at Harborplace that “Begins Fall 2016” had me laughing. Or maybe having a mostly empty mall is Harborplace’s idea of a “new tradition.” LOL!

The only area of Harborplace where I saw quite a few people was at the temporary ice skating rink that was set outside of one of the pavilions.

There weren’t really a lot of affordable place to eat lunch at. (I still remember the old days when that pavilion I had just visited used to have an entire floor dedicated to a food court that had all kinds of foods ranging from pizza to sushi to Chinese to Subway subs.) I decided to go to the Così that’s located across the street from the Baltimore Convention Center for a late lunch. Except when I arrived just 15 minutes before 3 p.m. I saw a notice on the door saying that Così would be closing early at 3 p.m. for MLK Day. I basically got my lunch to go and walked around the area looking for an appropriate place to eat lunch. Unfortunately it was way too cold to eat anywhere outside. I ultimately walked to the Hilton Baltimore where I sat down in one of the cushions in the lobby and quietly consumed my TBM (tomato, basil, and mozzarella) sandwich with a bag of potato chips and a Diet Coke. That hotel was very empty that day where the staffers outnumbered everyone else.

After I finished lunch, I decided that it was time to head back to the light rail station and get out of the city. I walked past Orioles Park at Camden Yards and took this one last photo. The place definitely looked pretty sad and deserted in the off-season. Baseball season will begin in a few months so this area will have a lot of Baltimore Oriole fans entering through those gates. (It also reminded me of the fact that the last time I attended a game there was back in 2007. It was the year before my hip replacement and it was also when I was still married because I used to accompany my husband to those games. I don’t know when I’ll ever attend another game there in person.)

Santa Claus

I wasn’t able to get to Behnke’s Nurseries before Christmas so I decided to spend the day after checking out the post-holiday sales. There were still plenty of Christmas and Hanukkah decorations that were available for sale at discounted prices.

I made only one purchase. It was a cute Ginger Cottage that I purchased for 25% off.

Here are a few reasons why I prefer Ginger Cottages over Department 56: 1) They are smaller, which means they take up less space in my modest house. 2) They are more affordable for my budget than Department 56. 3) They are actually made in the USA while Department 56 cottages are made overseas in countries like China.

Santa Claus

I wanted to enjoy myself this Christmas Eve. That morning I checked out the Christmas pageant at my church, which included a living nativity scene. After church I decided to go to downtown Washington, DC. I wanted to check out an exhibit at the Renwick Gallery that was on its final weeks.

It was a special exhibit called the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death, which uses dollhouse-sized dolls and furniture to create dioramas of real-life crime scenes. I first heard about this when I attended the Utopia Film Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland in 2012. One of the films shown, Of Dolls & Murder, was narrated by film director John Waters about this very topic and I found that documentary to be totally fascinating. When I heard that the Renwick Gallery was having a rare public exhibition of these dioramas, I knew that I had to check them out. I ended up going on Christmas Eve when I found that this exhibition was going to close in January. A lot of other people had that same idea, as you can see in the next photograph.

These dioramas were done by Frances Glessner Lee. The attention to detail she provided in these dioramas were astounding to see in that documentary I saw a few years ago and they are even more astounding to see in person. I heard many people debate about who could’ve been responsible for many of the crimes depicted. As for me, I was just content to marvel at the realistic scenes.

The rest of the museum was far less crowded than the Nutshell exhibition. Next to the dollhouses was this exhibition by Rick Araluce, who’s an artist and scenic designer.

The next photo shows the back of the structure that makes up that exhibit.

The back of that structure also have a couple of peepholes where, if you look in them, you can see a miniature scene of a subway stop.

But when you walk around to the front of the exhibit, you’ll see a life-sized reproduction of a subway stop that looks incredibly realistic down to the train tracks.

Another high point of being in the Renwick Gallery was seeing a digitized 3D printed version of Hiram Powers’ sculpture The Greek Slave.

At first glance you would never realize that this is actually a replica that was done on a 3D printer.

If you look really close in the next photograph, you could see a few of the lines that are common in 3D printed items.

I hung around the Renwick Gallery checking out the other exhibits until it was close to closing time.

Once I walked outside I decided to walk along Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House.

I was walking next to Lafayette Park when I was at the White House. There is an antiwar protest that has been ongoing since 1981 (when Ronald Reagan was in office). The last of the original founders of that protest, Concepcion Picciotto, passed away in 2016 and I was curious to see if that protest would still go on without any of the original founders still alive. I found that it’s still up as a presence against U.S. foreign military policy.

I didn’t stay too long in Lafayette Park because it was very cold that night. I walked along the area while taking a few pictures.

I eventually reached the historic Willard InterContinental Hotel, which was well-decorated for the holidays.

I needed to use the bathroom so I stepped inside. After I finished with the restroom I marveled at the lovely tasteful holiday decorations in the hotel lobby.

The coolest Christmas decoration was this gingerbread reproduction of Mount Vernon, which featured tiny figures of George and Martha Washington done in fondant. The details on this structure were amazing to see.

I was getting hungry (I hadn’t eaten dinner yet) so I decided to head for home. I took this photo of one of the doors to the Trump International Hotel when I was on my way to the Federal Triangle Metro station. I’ve only been inside of that hotel once and it was on the day before Donald Trump won the elections. I haven’t felt the desire to step inside of that hotel since.

Santa Claus

After spending one Sunday morning at my church, I went north to Baltimore because I had decided to take part in this art show that was being held at Trinacria’s Ristorante & Bar and Sunday was the day where we had to submit our artwork.

When I arrived at the North Linthicum light rail stop I was surprised to see nearly every single parking spot taken up with cars. I’ve taken the light rail on weekdays before and the parking lot had never gotten filled up like that. I later learned that Fox was doing a live broadcast of the Baltimore Ravens Game at M&T Bank Stadium and that was why the light rail parking lot was so crowded. Luckily for me I saw one car pull out of a parking spot and I managed to snag the last open spot at that station.

The game had started so I had no problem with purchasing a fare ticket because there were very few people at that station. I rode the light rail and got off at the Centre Street station, where I took these pictures.

That block where the light rail station is located is incredibly run down and seedy. But when I walked a half-block away from that station, it was a different story. I went inside of the Mount Vernon Marketplace, which is located inside of the former location of a Hochschild Kohn’s department store, where I took these pictures.

This marketplace has an art gallery.

Mount Vernon Marketplace is an upscale food market where you can purchase various types of food and it also has plenty of bars and restaurants with signs in English and a few other languages.

I found one reference to Christmas at this spice store, which sold these ball-shaped Christmas ornaments that were filled with different kinds of spices.

I finally came across Trinacria’s Ristorante & Bar, where I dropped off my artwork. I took a few shots of the place while I was there.

Trinacria’s had the Baltimore Ravens game on the TV screen and there were people who were watching and cheering.

Here’s the artwork that I submitted to the show at Trinacria’s.

Robot Diavolino

Robot Diavolino
Mixed media (Diavolino electronic board, polymer clay, beads, enamel paint, hand-shaped charms, acrylic gel, plastic skulls, scrapbook paper, and tin on canvas)
5 inches x 7 inches
13 cm x 18 cm
You can learn more about how I created this piece right here.

I was invited to an artists reception that was scheduled for December 8 but it got cancelled at the last minute due to forecasts of a snowstorm coupled with below-freezing temperatures that was supposed to hit the area at the same time. (As it turned out, the temperature started to get below freezing on Friday night but the snowstorm didn’t start until very early Saturday morning.) The art show is still going on as of this writing until January 8, 2018. For details and directions, I suggest that you check out Trinacria’s Facebook page.

As I was walking back towards the Centre Street light rail station, I took a few photos of these vintage signs that decorate the outside of the Maryland Historical Society building.

This next photo shows the dog Nipper with the gramophone in a giant life-sized rendition of the famous advertising art that once served as the logo for RCA and it had the tagline “His Master’s Voice.” I have memories of that statue when I was a child because every time my father used to drive to Baltimore he would always pass the RCA building, which had that statue on top of it. That statue was later removed and it moved around to various locations, which you can read about right here, until it landed in its present location. Seeing that statue brings back childhood memories of my car trips into Baltimore whenever my dad drove.

I took the light rail at Centre Street when there were very few people. By the time we reached the Hamburg Street station, which is the closest stop to the M&T Bank Stadium, it became obvious that the Baltimore Ravens football game had ended due to the huge amount of people at that station.

This is what my train looked like after it stopped at Hamburg Street.

I was seated by the window, where I was able to take these two sunset photos.

Santa Claus

I had a busy day on December 2. First I went to The Doll and Teddy Bear Show in Gaithersburg. I took so many pictures at that one event that I decided to make a separate post about the other things I did on that day after I left the show.

When I went to The Doll and Teddy Bear Show, I noticed that there was a flea market being held, which I don’t recall ever seeing before during visits to previous Doll and Teddy Bear Shows. (I hadn’t gone to that show since 2011 and I never went to those fairgrounds for any other event.) So after I went to that show, I went to the flea market that was located on the other side of the Montgomery County Fairgrounds.

The flea market had a variety of dolls and action figures on sale as well, except they were all of the more recent variety than the predominantly pre-1960 vintage/antique dolls that were on display at The Doll and Teddy Bear Show. I found a vintage Barbie doll-sized Michael Jackson doll from the 1980’s on sale. (This doll even had the sequined glove on one hand, which was Jackson’s trademark look at the time.) The doll that’s next to the Michael Jackson doll reminded me of Diana Ross. (I have no idea if it was actually a Diana Ross doll or not.)

Like The Doll and Teddy Bear Show, the flea market had a variety of Christmas decorations available for sale, including Santa Claus.

The flea market was a total vintage treasure trove.

The flea market had stuff other than vintage items on sale as well, such as packaged food, hair dye, and even tires.

There were some good prices on a few computer laptops.

Cash-strapped parents of school-aged children can buy school supplies at the flea market.

I’ve long heard conservative Republican politicians complain about poor people and immigrants who still have consumer goods and they use that argument to favor such things as cutting programs that would help them. When I was at this flea market I heard a lot of shoppers speaking Spanish to each other and many of the vendors are bilingual. I realized that this is how many of these immigrants are able to afford consumer goods on very tight budgets. This particular flea market operates every Saturday and Sunday so cash-strapped shoppers have an affordable place to go when they need to buy something. Heck, if I lived closer to Gaithersburg, I would be shopping at this flea market on a regular basis. (Depending on the traffic, Gaithersburg is about a 30-45 minute drive from my house so it’s really not feasible for me to make regular trips to this flea market unless I happened to be in the area for a different reason on the weekend and I decided to make a brief stop while I was there.)

I saw one table that had toothpaste on sale. I bought this tube of Colgate toothpaste for only $2. The package was a little bit bent in one corner but, otherwise, the toothpaste was still usable. In fact, I’m currently brushing my teeth with this toothpaste and it works just as well as the toothpaste I’ve purchased in the regular supermarkets and pharmacies.

On the way back home I went to the annual Festival of Lights Craft Show that was held at the Greenbelt Community Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. I really wanted to go to that show since I missed the opening ceremony of the Festival of Lights the night before mainly because I had opted to go to the Holiday Warm-Up Party that was held at my church instead. One of my friends was selling her fused glass jewelry and plates. On top of it I ran into several of my other friends who happened to be there at the time. Here are a few of the handcrafted items that were available for sale.

I’ve gone to previous Festival of Lights Craft Shows but this was the first year I’ve ever seen a vendor table with a 3D printer. This vendor made items that could be used in spinning yarn.

The Festival of Lights Craft Show was held in the Greenbelt Community Center, which also had this display explaining how some of the earliest Greenbelt residents had celebrated Christmas during the height of the Great Depression.

The Greenbelt Community Center also had a special red mailbox where people can deposit their letters to Santa Claus.

When I was on my way back to my car after visiting the festival, I noticed this hilarious car sticker.

I only purchased soap at the Festival of Lights Craft Festival. I purchased two bars of Lilac Wood soap—one is for me and the other I planned to give to my mother for Christmas.

I bought one additional soap that I also plan to give to my mother. The cupcake in the next photo is actually soap. That’s right, it’s soap that looks like a cupcake. I think it’s cute.

Like I wrote in my previous post, I decided to go to Baltimore on November 25 because I wanted to check out the Christkindlesmarkt at the Zion Lutheran Church. But I got stuck in horrible northbound traffic then I waited a long time for both the light rail and the Metro subway. By the time I arrived at the church I only had 45 minutes left until the event ended for the day. (They would continue it on the next day but that day was Sunday and I wasn’t able to make it at all due to commitments I had with my own church that took up most of the day.) I eventually made it to the church, where I saw this statue outside of the church that’s dedicated to all of the Baltimore City firefighters both past and future.

Outside of the church were these trees that produced wonderful red colored autumn leaves.

Despite finally making it to the event so late in day before closing, there were still plenty of things to see and do.

There were a lot of stuff I would’ve loved to buy but I couldn’t due to tight finances. I purchased two German-imported Santa Claus chocolates that were more patterned after the original bishop, Saint Nicholas, than after the fat jolly man who hangs around with elves and reindeer. I kept one for myself and I plan on giving the other one to my mother for Christmas.

I also purchased a pack of Haribo gummy candies that were all cherry flavored and they were even shaped like cherries.

I was bummed that I arrived at the Christkindlesmarkt event so late in the day. It was still daylight outside so I decided to just take the Charm City Circulator bus to the Inner Harbor where I checked out the Christmas Village in Baltimore and the Inner Harbor itself.

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Click here to learn more.

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On the Friday before Halloween I wanted to have fun. I found out that there were two events happening on the same night. One was the Final Friday Art Walk in Hyattsville and the other was the Greenbelt Pumpkin Festival. I decided to go to the Hyattsville one first since that one was scheduled to end earlier. Costumes were encouraged for all ages so I put on my Rainbow Dash hoodie. When I arrived in Hyattsville I decided to check my smartphone to see if my camera was even working and—to my surprise—I found that it was working. I decided to use that opportunity to take a rare selfie.

A Rare Selfie

Sadly my smartphone camera stopped working after that selfie. At least I have my Canon camera with me to continue taking photographs with. The only bad thing was that I discovered that I didn’t have much battery power left. I managed to take a few pictures nonetheless.

The entire Art Walk trail was marked by orange balloons, such as the one in the next photograph.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

I first went to the horn sculpture that is located outside the Hyattsville Court House.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Next I went to Art Works Now, which was all decked out for Halloween.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Art Works Now had this hands-on demonstration in a type of printing process using acrylic paint and glass plates.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Here is what I created.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

I briefly visited this new place known as Uzu, which provides Japanese comfort food. (No, I didn’t eat there.)

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

I went to the Artist & Craftsman Supply store, which had a special art exhibit done by the store’s employees.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

I visited Tanglewood Works, which held a meade tasting by a local supplier who plans to set up shop in Hyattsville soon.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

A marching band was playing music as it walked along the sidewalk.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

I went inside this haunted house that was created using upcycled and recycled materials.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

I went inside this place that housed a recording studio and a tattoo parlor.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

The last place I went to on the Final Friday Art Walk was to the Pyramid Atlantic Art Center. By that point my camera battery had died and the art walk was going to officially end soon. So I took these last two pictures before I got back in my car and headed for the other event.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

I headed to the Greenbelt Pumpkin Festival, where people were still carving pumpkins. I pulled out my camera in the hopes of being able to get one picture and, miraculously, I managed to take this picture of a pumpkin carving in progress.

Greenbelt Pumpkin Festival, October 27, 2017

But then my camera totally died. I tried my smartphone camera since it had worked earlier only to find that it wasn’t working either. I decided to duck inside the New Deal Cafe and make an effort to recharge my battery for a few minutes before I would go back outside and take more pictures of the lit pumpkins. I rested for a few minutes when I suddenly got this urgent Facebook Message from someone whom I’ve been doing some recent video work for.

On that note, I’m going to violate my own personal policy of never writing in this blog about ongoing projects I do for other people until after the project in question is done because I can’t really go any further in this narrative unless I write a little about this project. Here’s the thing. The New Deal Cafe is a non-profit cooperatively-run eating establishment that’s located in Greenbelt, Maryland. (You can read more about it here and here.) Ever since its inception it has hosted live music (mostly from local bands). The performers don’t get paid by the cafe (mainly because it’s totally run on a very shoestring budget) but the cafe provides tip jars and that is how the musicians make any money. From time to time I’ve shot videos there of various acts over the years, all of which I’ve uploaded on to YouTube and embedded in various posts throughout the seven years that this blog has existed.

A few months ago this filmmaker whom I’ve known for a few years came up with this idea of doing a documentary featuring the various music acts who have played at the cafe over the 22 years that the cafe has existed. He found out that I had been shooting some video and wanted to use what I’ve got. I gave him the video footage that I have on my laptop (and it’s also the same footage that I’ve uploaded on to YouTube) and he has been contacting other people who have also shot videos in an effort to obtain their footage as well. He also planned on interviewing various people to get their recollections of what it’s like to see these bands or work with them or even play in those bands.

Despite the video footage he received from myself and others and his plans to interview people, he still wanted new footage of recent band performances and he asked for my help in filming. Fortunately I had recently purchased a used Canon digital camera off eBay so I had a more reliable camera than my nearly four-year-old smartphone camera, which only sporadically works these days.

So I shot some recent footage of various bands over the past several weeks, which is why you’ve been seeing more embedded footage of what I’ve shot at the New Deal Cafe lately.

So I was sitting in the New Deal Cafe waiting for my camera battery to recharge so I could shoot still photos of the Greenbelt Pumpkin Festival when this filmmaker came over on Facebook Messenger. He decided at the last minute that he urgently needed new footage for two bands—one that was scheduled to perform that very night I happened to be at the New Deal Cafe while getting his message. The other would be scheduled to perform the following night. He couldn’t be there for either band but he desperately wanted some footage of both bands. I told him that I was recharging my camera battery and I could try to record that night’s band but I couldn’t guarantee anything. (I had never tried shooting anything on a half-charged battery before.) He got me to agree to shoot both that night’s band and the other band the following night, even though I can’t stay too late most Saturday nights these days. (That’s because I not only attend church on Sunday mornings at 10 a.m. but I’m currently volunteering with the church’s program of teaching English to recent immigrants and those classes run from 1:15-3:15 p.m. On top of it, that Sunday was the Sunday before Halloween and I was among the adults who were involved with the Trunk or Treat event that was scheduled to run between the end of Sunday service and the beginning of English classes.)

By the time I got away from Facebook Messenger, I put the battery back into my camera and darted outside to see the lit pumpkins only to find that volunteers had already taken them away. Yeah, it sucked but I’ve shot photos and videos of previous Greenbelt Pumpkin Festivals so it’s not like I don’t know what such an event is like. I went back inside the New Deal Cafe and I managed to film one of the bands in question, The Mojo Priests. I didn’t film for too long because I only had a half-charged battery. But I managed to film some footage of the band in action.

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