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So I spent the day after Thanksgiving engaging in alternatives to the usual Black Friday shopping madness. First I went to Community Forklift, which was having its Green Friday event. Then I went to Riverdale Park and checked out a couple of local stores there. The last thing I did on Black Friday was head on to Hyattsville, where a few of the locally owned businesses were having their own alternatives to Black Friday. All of the businesses were located within walking distance of each other so all I had to do was just park my car then spend the rest of the time walking everywhere.

I initially went to Studio SoHy, which had this really cool table made from a log in the restroom.

Studio SoHy had this skateboarding-themed exhibition featuring photographs of skateboarders and skateboards that were painted with some really cool designs.

Next I went on to the Pyramid Atlantic Art Center. I encountered these items with labels that reminded me of Alice in Wonderland.

They basically offered pecan pie and apple pie.

They had a 10 x 10 show where people can purchase 10 inch x 10 inch prints that were made there.

Then I went on to Tanglewood Works, where I took these pictures.

I ended my Black Friday wanderings by stopping briefly inside the Three Little Birds Sewing Co.



Instead of spending Black Friday in some mall or big box retailer where I wake up at 3 a.m. and fight hordes of people for some cheap electronic item that will break three months from now, I decided to check out some of the local festivities from locally owned businesses, starting with Community Forklift, which I wrote about in my last post.

After I left Community Forklift I headed over to Riverdale Park. I stopped by Robert Harper Books, which is a bookstore specializing in used books. Unfortunately that store will be closing by the end of the month because the owner has had a hard time of keeping a brick and mortar shop open. (He mentioned on his Facebook page that he has done better online than through his shop.) It’s a shame in a way. Here are a few photos I took inside of that store.

Located near Robert Harper Books is Town Center Market, which sells all kinds of beer and wine along with snacks.

Finally I checked out the windows in the Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Foundation building.

After my visit to Riverdale Park, I ended my Black Friday with going to Hyattsville, which I’ll write about in my next post.


Instead of crowding into some suburban shopping mall on Black Friday, I decided to check out some local alternative festivities that were going on with some locally owned businesses. I took so many photos that day that I decided to divide them into separate entries with each entry representing a different town or business that I went to.

I began Black Friday with a trip to Community Forklift, a warehouse store that specializes in used/upcycled/recycled items like appliances and hardware, which was having an alternative Green Friday celebration.

When I first arrived I noticed a few signs indicating that they welcome everyone no matter who they are. More and more locally owned businesses have been putting up such signs in their shops since Donald Trump moved into the White House.

Santa Claus was there that day.

One of the Community Forklift employees offered to take my picture with Santa so I allowed it.

There were all kinds of Santas that were available for sale at Community Forklift that day.

I really liked this cast-iron vintage oven and stovetop that was on sale. If I lived in a bigger house, I might consider buying it. But I have a small kitchen so I really don’t have the space. This oven would be an asset to anyone who is looking for vintage items.

There was a craft show at Community Forklift as well where local artisans were selling ornaments, jewelry, locally made honey, and other items.

Local musicians provided live music.

They had face painting for kids.

They had a couple of free make and take demonstrations. One was on making wreaths using natural materials.

The other was making coasters from recycled tiles. I’ve made such coasters in the past but this one had a technique I’ve never used before where you decoupaged backing paper on the tile first.

Then you selected a photo that you decoupaged on top of both the backing paper and the tile.

Afterwards you place a piece of cork on the table and add Modge Podge on the top.

Then you placed the tile on top of the cork and let everything dry for a few minutes.

I now have a new coaster with a blue-patterned background and a photo of the U.S.S. Constellation (which is docked at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore) on top.

After I went to Community Forklift, I headed to similar celebrations that were going on in Riverdale Park and Hyattsville but I’m going to write about them in separate posts.

I went back to Baltimore earlier this month so I could check out the latest session of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School at The Windup Space. Once I arrived at the Station North Arts District, I still had some time to kill so I decided to play around with my Canon camera (which I purchased used off of eBay for only half the price of the same brand-new camera in a store). These days the days are shorter while the nights are longer, which means that the sun starts to set around 5 p.m. or so. I decided to put my camera on the low-light setting and I took a few night photos of the area near The Windup Space.

I eventually went inside The Windup Space where I continued to take pictures inside the place using the same low light settings on my camera. This is also the section of my post where some of the images are definitely NSFW. The next photo shows the stage where the model poses while we all draw.

Here’s a photo of my drink, which I only shot because I liked that line drawing of the ram that was on my drinking glass.

Here is a photo of some of the really cool looking beer taps at the bar. (And, yes, they are really functioning beer taps.)

I took a few photos of the current exhibit that’s on display at The Windup Space (as of this writing). Many of the photos on display are definitely NSFW.

This box is another indication that Christmas is coming next month. (No, I didn’t take up the offer of snagging myself a free Xmas hat. I already have an old Santa Claus hat with Mickey Mouse ears that I purchased at a Disney Store years ago and that’s good enough for me.)

Here is some graffiti I found inside of one of the stalls in the women’s restroom.

The last two photos are two different promotional flyers advertising the latest Dr. Sketchy’s event.

The rest of this post features only my drawings because there’s generally a ban on photographing the model. The model for this Dr. Sketchy’s session was a burlesque performer named Ruby Spruce and some of these drawings are definitely NSFW.

At one point Ruby Spruce did this performance that totally flipped me out for reasons that had nothing to do with Ruby or Dr. Sketchy’s or even Baltimore. Two weeks earlier I ran into a friend at my church’s annual Halloween/Samhain service (which also included a Trunk or Treat event and a party) who was dressed in this costume as Carol Burnett doing her Gone With the Wind parody. I recognized the reference because my family used to watch Carol Burnett’s TV show when I was growing up. (If you want to see Carol Burnett in that costume, you can watch a poor quality video of a short excerpt from that comedy sketch right here and/or you can watch a better quality video of Carol Burnett reflecting on that comedy sketch.) Very few people in my congregation recognized that reference. I think it’s because my congregation is a mix of older people who rarely watched television—even when they were younger in the 1970s (which was The Carol Burnett Show‘s heyday) they didn’t watch TV very much—and people who were either too young to remember that show or weren’t even born then.

So here I was at Dr. Sketchy’s and Ruby Spruce decided to do her burlesque performance midway through that evening and she appeared in that same curtain rod dress that my friend wore two weeks earlier while the theme song from The Carol Burnett Show was playing while she gradually stripped down to pasties and g-string. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to photograph the model so I couldn’t show my friend any pictures of Ruby wearing that same costume she wore at church.

Instead, I’ll just post the photo of my friend wearing that curtain rod costume at church two weeks before Dr. Sketchy’s chatting with another church member.

Halloween/Samhain Service, October 29, 2017

After Ruby’s performance, I drew her with that hoop structure she wore underneath her curtain rod costume.

The one contest I took part in that evening was about the then-upcoming Black Friday. The owner of The Windup Space, Russell, was working behind the bar that night so the emcees had this idea of somehow incorporating Russell and Ruby Spruce with a Black Friday sale. I came up with the idea of Russell grabbing Ruby and taking her away from the store before Donald Trump could. I had an orange-skinned Donald Trump shake his tiny hands and yelling “You Son of a Bitch! I had first dibs on her! I’m the President! COME BACK!” Then I had Russell say “President Trump still has Melania and Ivanka. He doesn’t need Ruby as well.” I’ll admit that this drawing was the culmination of my pent-up frustration with Trump and his crazy antics both in the White House and on Twitter. (Of course I also derived inspiration from The Daily Show‘s classic two-part series Don’t Forget: Donald Trump Wants to Bang His Daughter and Again, Don’t Forget: Donald Trump Wants to Bang His Daughter.)

My drawing made it among the finalists but I didn’t win. After that contest, I did one more drawing of Ruby Spruce before the event ended for the evening.

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2016 has turned into a totally sucky year with so many beloved celebrities dying like David Bowie and Prince. You can now add Florence Henderson to the list. Her death was just announced this morning on Black Friday. Here’s a video showing her in her best-known role as the matriarch of The Brady Bunch.

But there was more to Florence Henderson than her alter ego Carol Brady. She appeared on Dancing With the Stars and she proved herself as a pretty decent dancer. Here she is doing one of her dance routines with her partner Corky Ballas.

She has also done a number of ads on TV as well starting in the late 1950’s.

Once again it’s Black Friday, that time of the year where people will literally kill themselves over a sale. In fact, there’s even a website called Black Friday Death Count that tracks people whose lives were cut short in pursuit of that bargain. Yeah, I would write a periodic rant against the insanity of waking up super early in the morning, getting in a line outside of a big box retailer an hour or more before the store opens, then fighting your way through the crowds so you can get your hands on a super-cheap TV set, computer, electronic toy, linens, or even kitchen items. I wrote similar anti-Black Friday rants in 2010, 2012 (not once but twice), and 2013. Sometimes I would even embed videos of riots that broke out in the stores from crazed consumers. (I’m currently reading Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy—which I bought for a total of $5 at a used book sale—and I wouldn’t be surprised if Collins had gotten one of the inspirations for her books from the annual Black Friday ritual of trampling each other to death over a cheap DVD player.)

But this year I’m going to write about my own experience with getting that bargain electronic item on Black Friday. In 2014 I decided to get a convection oven for myself since my big oven stopped working and I couldn’t afford to get it repaired. Additionally I’m only cooking for myself these days so I really don’t need to use a large oven as often as I used to. A friend of mine said that Target was having a Black Friday sale on convection ovens. I decided to wait until two days later (Sunday) before I went to Target. I found an Oster convection oven on sale for $30. I bought it and even blogged about it (while including photos of various Christmas items I found on sale at that same store). I felt smug that I still got a Black Friday bargain without waking up early in the morning and fighting hordes of shoppers.

I used my convection oven on a regular basis for the next 11 months until October, 2015, when my oven stopped working altogether. I was miffed that the oven didn’t even make it to the first anniversary of the day that I bought it for $30. It was then that I discovered this fact: that many big name manufacturers like Oster will make derivative products especially for Black Friday where they cut corners while making the item just so these products can be sold under the same brand for a cheaper price. So I got suckered into buying that convection oven based on the Oster name and the cheap $30 price only to find out that it wasn’t such a bargain in the long run since that oven stopped working.

That incident prompted me to write last year’s rant on Why Black Friday Sucks.

Just a few days before Halloween, 2015, I purchased a Black and Decker convection oven from Best Buy for $80. It was the regular price and there were no sales the day I purchased it. It was priced more than the previous oven but I’m happy to report that I have had that oven for a little over a year now and it still works. I’m very happy with it and I hope that it’ll continue to work for me for a long time.

I’ve learned my lesson on buying anything electronic on Black Friday. I will never again buy anything electronic on Black Friday or soon afterwards. If I need to purchase anything electronic in the future, I will purchase it either before Thanksgiving or I will wait until late January before I make such a purchase. That way I can ensure that I’m buying something that’s high quality and will last me a long time.

So before you consider going out to a store that opened yesterday on Thanksgiving Day at 5 p.m. (which is what Best Buy, Macy’s, Toys R Us, and Bon Ton did) in pursuit of a bargain, please re-read what I’ve just wrote and ponder the strong chance that whatever you buy cheaply today will probably stop working or literally fall apart in less than a year. Ask yourself if you would be willing to go through the hassle of buying this item only to have to replace it in less than a year. Then stay home and wait until late January at the earliest to buy that item because you’re far more likely to get something that will literally last longer than one year.

This year the outdoor store REI began a campaign encouraging people to go outdoors on Black Friday instead of spending it at the mall. REI began a social media campaign using the hashtag #OptOutside. For added measure, REI decided to not only close its stores on Thanksgiving Day but to also keep them closed on Black Friday in order to encourage their employees to spend their time off outside.

I was intrigued enough to try opting outside myself. I went to Lake Artemesia that lies on the border between the Maryland towns of College Park and Berwyn Heights. I arrived late enough in the day that I was able to take these awesome sunset photos.








Today is that annual American tradition known as Black Friday where, the day after Thanksgiving, people will line up at various stores that advertise all kinds of goods being sold at rock bottom prices and they’ll tussle and even fight each other for those low-cost goods (which are usually in short supply). People have been known to interrupt their Thanksgiving holiday in order to stand in line outside while freezing in the cold November weather in front of some store in the hopes of being able to snag some cheap deals.

There’s a video that has gone viral where a local news station in Arizona interviewed a man who has been camping outside a local Best Buy for the past week in the hopes of being the first in line so he can snag some of those rock-bottom sales. He’s been camping in style as he shows off this tent that’s outfitted with a TV set (he obviously has access to a power generator or an electrical outlet of some kind), a computer (with no Internet connection—the guy in the story claims that he was working on getting that), a microwave oven, and one of those portable inflatable beds.

What’s more, Black Friday isn’t just for Americans anymore. That tradition has spread to other countries even though those nations don’t even have a context for Black Friday. (In the U.S. Black Friday is usually the day after Thanksgiving Day, which is a major holiday. It is traditionally the day that kicks off the Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa holiday shopping season and it marks the official end of Thanksgiving. The only other nation that I know of that celebrates Thanksgiving is Canada but that country holds its holiday on the second Monday in October.) But now one can do an Internet search and see headlines like Britain Adopts Black Friday With an All-American Frenzy.

I’ve long prided myself of never stooping to such levels as camping outside all night in the hopes of snagging a bargain when the store opens at the unusually early hour of 3, 4, or 5 in the morning. But last year I fell into Black Friday temptation myself because my oven broke (the stovetop still works though). I couldn’t afford to get it fixed (I’ve looked online and I found that, with parts and labor, repair prices start at $150) but I learned through one of my friends that Target was going to sell convection ovens at a very low price on Black Friday. I thought that a convection oven would be a good stop-gap until I can get my larger oven fixed. Besides, since I’m only cooking for myself these days, using a smaller oven would make sense most of the time and such ovens tend to use less electricity than the more traditional kitchen ovens.

I decided against camping outside in the cold weather or even waking up before dawn because I refuse to stoop to such tactics. In fact I didn’t take advantage of any Black Friday deals until Sunday. On that day I basically stayed in my warm bed, woke up at a reasonable time, and hung around in my warm home in the morning. I waited until after I finished eating lunch before I left home because, by that point, all of the Black Friday shoppers had returned to their homes two days ago with their newly purchased cheap loot. When I arrived at Target I found that it was very pleasant shopping with low stress. I didn’t have to battle anyone and, in fact, the store was no more crowded than it usually is on the weekends. I shopped in the aisles and I found an Oster convection oven that was on sale for $30. I was instantly sold because of the low price and the fact that Oster has long been a respected brand when it comes to kitchen appliances.

My Oster convection oven worked perfectly and I used it a few times a week. It was a perfect oven for cooking and baking for just one person. I used it through the rest of 2014 and through most of 2015.

But then, one week before Halloween, that oven suddenly stopped working. The oven hadn’t even lasted a year (it was just one month short of the first anniversary) and it was already dead. The only silver lining is that the oven died the night before the next electronics recycling event in my neighborhood that was scheduled for the following Saturday morning (that event is held only four times a year) so I was able to take that oven there and get rid of it in an environmentally responsible way.

A couple of days later I went to Best Buy where I purchased a Black and Decker convection toaster oven for $80. I already own other Black and Decker products (a lawn mower and a power drill) that I’m satisfied with so I had no qualms about buying that oven. It cost way more than the $30 Oster oven that I purchased on Black Friday. It wasn’t on sale (even though I bought it a couple of days before Halloween). It took a bigger bite out of my tight finances but I’d rather pay more for something that is higher quality and will last far longer than the 11 months that I used the Oster oven that I purchased cheaply on Black Friday last year. (Besides it’s still cheaper than getting my kitchen oven repaired. I will get that oven repaired eventually but I want to stabilize my precarious finances first.)

I recently came across this article titled 6 Black Friday Secrets Those Deal Sites Won’t Tell You About, which had this quote that especially stood out for me regarding my experience with purchasing the Oster oven for $30 on Black Friday last year.

Some products advertised at deep discounts on Black Friday are what’s known as “derivative products”—items made by the same manufacturer that look almost like the standard model but with a few very important differences. Consumer Reports highlighted derivative electronics in a 2009 investigation and found that these products are generally manufactured more cheaply, sometimes with less-expensive components, and that they are generally missing a few features present on the standard models. The magazine says big-name companies like Sony and Samsung have made derivative TVs in previous years; we’ve seen laptop and printer deals from brands like HP in this year’s Black Friday ads that appear to be derivatives, as well.

In other words, I got suckered by both the cheap $30 price and the well-known Oster brand name into purchasing a product that was probably a derivative product manufactured so cheaply that it was destined to not last very long.

I’ve learned my lesson. Never again will I ever make a major electronic purchase on Black Friday. Whatever money I may have initially saved when I purchased the $30 Oster convection oven just wasn’t worth it in the long run. I’m only glad that I wasn’t one of those suckers who camped outside for hours in the cold November night before the store opened in the pre-dawn hours because I would’ve been way more annoyed than I already was when the $30 oven died just a month short of one year.

And if my story isn’t enough to dissuade you from shopping on Black Friday, maybe this video will, which was shot in the wee hours of this morning in a mall in Louisville, Kentucky.

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