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Ramadan

One day in early May I happened to be off from my day job. (The biggest downside of my current day job is that not only am I still stuck with part-time hours after working for over two months but there are times when I have off because the boss has to be off somewhere else.) A friend of mine invited me to head to his workplace in Takoma Park, Maryland where I helped him with a side project.

On my way to visit my friend’s workplace, I happened to walk by a set of steps that are located near the Takoma Park Community Center. Not only have they been freshly painted in a multitude of colors but they are also written in a variety of different languages, reflecting on the fact that there are a large number of immigrants from all over the world who live and/or work in Takoma Park.

These steps were being painted when I was there that day. I took a quick shot of the artist who literally had to lie down in order to paint these steps.

I also took this nearby photo of a tree with new spring leaves and azalea bushes in full bloom.

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Ramadan

I had a pretty busy day. In the morning I went to one of the trainings and town hall meeting for the Poor People’s Campaign in the morning. In the afternoon I decided to go to Third Eye Comics in Annapolis, since that day was also Free Comic Book Day nationwide. (If all that weren’t enough, it was also Cinco de Mayo. I ended up eating tacos at home that I made myself using ingredients that I purchased from Aldi. I learned a long time ago that it’s total folly to attempt to eat in any kind of Mexican/Hispanic/Latino restaurant on Cinco de Mayo.)

So after checking out the Poor People’s Campaign, I drove to Annapolis. I arrived at Third Eye Comics only to find that parking was harder to find than usual. I ended up parking a few blocks away in an office park, which had some nice wall murals.

The next photo shows how crowded that store was. The next photo shows the line to the checkout counter.

I saw these vintage Atari video game cartridges on sale. I remember when Atari originally came out but I never owned one mainly because I was in college at the time and money was a bit tight at the time. It never bothered me that I never owed an Atari because my college (the University of Maryland) had plenty of arcade games on campus and some of the local off-campus fast food places also had arcade games.

I saw a few other interesting things on sale at Third Eye Comics.

I came across a whole aisle full of the ever-popular Funko Pop! statues. I found one new trend: Funko Pops based on real dead rock stars like Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead and Joey Ramone of The Ramones.

There were plenty of Funko Pops based on comic book and video game characters such as Rocket Raccoon, Mega Man, Superman’s alter ego Clark Kent, Wonder Woman, Batman, Batwoman, and Batgirl.

I also found an actual WTF t-shirt and a special edition of the Monopoly game board based on the latest Jurassic Park movie called Jurassic World.

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Ramadan

For the third year in a row I went to Light City in Baltimore (which is also the festival’s third year). (You can read about my previous visits in 2016 and 2017.) The first year I went I basically just took the Charm City Circulator bus as far as the Shake Shack (which is located across from Harborplace) and I underestimated how big this festival was. The second year I had an animation that was showing at Light City so I took the Charm City Circulator until I got to a stop that was as close to the On Demand area (where my animation was being shown along with other film shorts) and I still have memories of sitting outside for two hours waiting for my animation to show up on screen as the temperature kept on getting colder and colder as time went on.

This year I decided not to submit anything to Light City so I could begin my tour anywhere. I also ended up going on the last night of Light City. I couldn’t get there earlier in the month due to scheduling conflicts so the final night was my first and last time that I visited Light City 2018.

I drove my car to Linthicum and stopped at a Royal Farms store so I could pick up a chicken dinner and a diet soda for only $7. (I know from previous years that many of the restaurants, fast food outlets, and food tents tend to draw very long lines during Light City. It was easier to just bring my own food to Light City.) I parked my car at the North Linthicum light rail station and took the train to the Camden Yards station.

I had the idea of taking the Charm City Circulator bus all the way over to the other side of the Inner Harbor near where Little Italy is located. When I arrived I found that this area has been heavily built up. There’s a new complex called Harbor East and I took some photos there along with some photos of Little Italy. I took so many photos that day that I decided to break up this year’s Light City entry into two. Yesterday I wrote about Little Italy and Harbor East. Today’s blog post is about Light City itself.

This year I shot video footage of some of the Light City exhibits. Here is the resulting video showing the highlights of that festival.

Here are the still photos I shot at Light City. When I arrived at the Inner Harbor the first thing I did was to eat the Royal Farms chicken while viewing the Harbor East marina at the beginning of a sunset.

Harbor East, April 28, 2018

I walked along the Inner Harbor where I saw the beginnings of Light City.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

There were Fireflies Pedicabs that provided a service to give people a ride along the eastern end of the Inner Harbor. They were very colorful to look at.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

I arrived at the first Light City structure called Pulse Portal by Davis McCarty. Even though it was still light outside when I was there, I managed to have fun shooting the Inner Harbor at sunset through the colored glass of the structure.

Light City, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

When I was there a couple were preparing to get married by that structure.

2018 Light City, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

2018 Light City, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

2018 Light City, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

2018 Light City, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

Mr. Trash Wheel was docked along the Inner Harbor.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

The Herd by Kelley Bell consists of a flock of inflatable blue creatures floating in the Inner Harbor.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Octopus by Tim Scofield, Kyle Miller, and Steve Dalnekoff is a giant animatronic octopus whose tentacles were slowly moving while it was changing colors and playing very calming electronic music. I found it pretty mesmerizing to watch in person.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

This Coffee Bar tent was one of many tents that served refreshments to the general public at Light City.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

I came upon the On Demand area, which brought back memories for me. Last year I had my animation, The March of Liberty, shown in that area. I still have memories of sitting outside freezing in one of those adirondack chairs for over two hours waiting for my animation to be shown. I was so thrilled when it was finally shown that I shot this quick reaction video.

This year I didn’t submit anything to this festival. It was partially due to laziness and partially because I still have less-than-thrilling memories of sitting outside in the cold for a very long time. Even though I was ultimately happy when my animation was shown, it didn’t really lead to any further opportunities for me. (I had hoped that the showing of my animation at Light City would lead to some kind of a job or career breakthrough for me but it didn’t work out that way.) In contrast to last year, I didn’t spend much time in the On Demand area. I hung around just long enough to shoot these two pictures.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

There were a few giant screens that were placed throughout the Inner Harbor that showed random video clips.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Something in the Water by Post Typography + PI.KL + Figure 53 featured some underwater lights that flashed just below the surface of the harbor.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

I came upon the Institute of Marine & Environmental Technology (IMET) where a few of the Labs @ Light City were held. I arrived on the last night of Light City so the building was closed when I was there, which is why I was only able to get a few external shots.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Here’s the installation As of a Now by Elissa Blount.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

There was another underwater installation called What Lies Beneath by Formstone Castle.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

A drummer and a dance troupe performed outside of the Power Plant.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Many people walked through the bridge-like Synesthesia by Surcreative.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

There was this line standing outside of the igloo-like The Eighth Art that was so long that I decided to skip it.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

There were a few street performers playing for the Light City crowd.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Sun Stomp by the Sun Stomp Collective was this animation that required people to stomp on these nearby metal bleachers. The effect was pretty neat but it provided noise that was so loud that I had to leave quickly before I developed a headache.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

This year Light City had something called Mini Light City, which was geared towards families. This elephant balloon graced the entrance to Mini Light City.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

There was a tent sponsored by Future Makers where parents and children could make simple projects that involved light. That area was very crowded.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

The Mini Light City area had another tent that was easier to get inside. It was sponsored by The PURGG Project and it included hands-on demonstrations using robots and drones.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

A WJZ-TV (Channel 13) van parks at Light City.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City in Baltimore drew such huge crowds that Harborplace was packed with people. This photo shows why I decided not to buy anything from It’s Sugar that night.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

There were some psychedelic-like effects at the installation Colour Moves by Rombout Frieling Lab.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

There was a small carnival consisting of a ferris wheel ride (known as The Big Wheel) surrounded by concessions stands.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Many people have fun with rotating the giant prisms that made up the installation Prismatica by Raw Design, Atomic3, Jean-François Piché, and Dix au carré/Production: Quartier des Spectacles, Montreal.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Here’s the bird-like installation On the Wings of Freedom by Aether and Hemera.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

The big HMO giant Kaiser Permanente sponsored something called a Thrive Garden, which, as far as I could tell, was a place where people sat down on benches.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Here is Elantica by Tom Dekyvere.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Some vector animations were shown on the outside of the Maryland Science Center.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Club Light City was an outdoor bar and dance area that was very crowded.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

And last, but not least, here is the installation Drone Prix.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

This year, for the first time ever, I managed to visit the entire Light City area in the Inner Harbor. The key to my success was that I took the light rail to Camden Yards then I walked to the nearest Charm Circulator bus stop where I took the Orange bus to the Little Italy stop then walked through Harbor East in order to get to the very far eastern end of the Inner Harbor then walked west back towards the Maryland Science Center. While I managed to see most of the Inner Harbor attractions, I didn’t see all of Light City. This year the festival expanded to a few outlying neighborhoods such as Fells Point and Federal Hill. I wasn’t able to attend any of these other Light City events due to tight finances and scheduling conflicts. Maybe next year I’ll make an effort to visit at least one of these neighborhoods hosting their own portion of Light City.

As I left the Inner Harbor to go back to the Camden Yards light rail stop I saw this sign announcing a special Lyft pick-up spot for those who went to Light City and decided to use Lyft’s services.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

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Ramadan

Last month I went to Baltimore so I could check out Light City for the third year in a row. (You can read about my previous visits in 2016 and 2017.) The first year I went I basically just took the Charm City Circulator bus as far as the Shake Shack (which is located across from Harborplace) and I underestimated how big this festival was. The second year I had an animation that was showing at Light City so I took the Charm City Circulator until I got to a stop that was as close to the On Demand area (where my animation was being shown along with other film shorts) and I still have memories of sitting outside for two hours waiting for my animation to show up on screen as the temperature kept on getting colder and colder as time went on.

This year I decided not to submit anything to Light City so I could begin my tour anywhere. I also ended up going on the last night of Light City. I couldn’t get there earlier in the month due to scheduling conflicts so the final night was my first and last time that I visited Light City 2018.

I had the idea of taking the Charm City Circulator all the way over to the other side of the Inner Harbor near where Little Italy is located. When I arrived I found that this area has been heavily built up. There’s a new complex called Harbor East and I took some photos there along with some photos of Little Italy. I took so many photos that day that I decided to break up this year’s Baltimore/Light City entry into two separate posts. First I’m going to show the photos I took when I first arrived in Baltimore before I showed up at Light City.

I drove my car to Linthicum and stopped at a Royal Farms store so I could pick up a chicken dinner and a diet soda for only $7. (I know from previous years that many of the restaurants, fast food outlets, and food tents tend to draw very long lines during Light City. It was easier to bring my own food to Light City.) I parked my car at the North Linthicum light rail station and took the train to the Camden Yards station. When I arrived at the front gates of Camden Yards on my way to the nearest Charm City Circulator bus stop I saw that a Baltimore Orioles baseball game was already underway.

Camden Yards

Camden Yards

Camden Yards

I took the Charm City Circulator’s Orange Line bus to the Little Italy stop. I didn’t do much exploring in Little Italy other than the peripheral area, where I shot these photos.

Little Italy

Little Italy

Little Italy

When I was younger and I still lived with my parents, my family used to periodically eat at a restaurant in Little Italy. (We used to alternate between Sabatino’s and Chipparelli’s—both of which are still in business.) I have never dined inside of La Tavola restaurant but I found their exterior wall murals to be charming.

Little Italy

This restaurant features some cool trompe l’oeil in its fake “windows.”

Little Italy

Little Italy

La Tavola isn’t the only place with colorful wall murals. Mo’s Fisherman’s Wharf also has some cool exterior touches.

Mo's Fisherman's Wharf, Baltimore, Maryland

Mo's Fisherman's Wharf, Baltimore, Maryland

I came across Columbus Piazza where this statue of Christopher Columbus stands. I know that in recent years Columbus has become such an increasingly polarizing figure that some places in the U.S. have renamed “Columbus Day” as “Indigenous People’s Day.”

Columbus Piazza, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

I also walked past the President Street Station, which is the oldest surviving big-city railroad terminal but it now houses the Baltimore Civil War Museum.

Baltimore Civil War Museum

Baltimore Civil War Museum

I would’ve loved to have gone inside but it had already closed for the day when I arrived.

Baltimore Civil War Museum

Baltimore Civil War Museum

Here’s a jarring juxtaposition between the older President Street Station (foreground) and the newer Harbor East complex (background).

Baltimore Civil War Museum

I remember when that area near Little Italy had a lot of construction going on over the past few years. It was the first time I came upon the result of all of that construction: Harbor East. This place is a mix of upscale restaurants and shops and upscale apartments and condos.

Harbor East, April 28, 2018

Harbor East, April 28, 2018

Harbor East, April 28, 2018

Harbor East, April 28, 2018

This place has security, which uses vehicles that looks like a cross between a scooter and a Segway.

Harbor East, April 28, 2018

Harbor East, April 28, 2018

Harbor East, April 28, 2018

Some of the buildings in Harbor East is waterfront property, complete with its own marina. There are also some available activities for the people ranging from sitting at an outdoor bar and/or restaurant to playing with a giant chess set.

Harbor East, April 28, 2018

Harbor East, April 28, 2018

A major high point of my visit to Harbor East was finding out that Charm City Cakes has opened a second bakery there.

Charm City Cakes at Harbor East, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Charm City Cakes’ original location on Remington Avenue was the setting for the Food Network’s reality series Ace of Cakes. That was one of the few reality shows I watched on a regular basis because the focus was more on the cake making process with very little of the hysteric drama that frequently plague most reality TV shows. I remember being sad when that show was cancelled because I really enjoyed seeing the employees create those unique one-of-a-kind cakes that were gorgeous to look at.

Charm City Cakes at Harbor East, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Charm City Cakes at Harbor East, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

The baked goods that were on sale that day looked delicious.

Charm City Cakes at Harbor East, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

I was a bit on the broke side so I could only afford to purchase a small bag of chocolate chocolate chip cookies for $2. I found them to be very tasty.

Charm City Cakes at Harbor East, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Charm City Cakes at Harbor East, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Located in the center of Harbor East is the National Katyń Memorial, which is dedicated to the Poles who were brutally mass-slaughtered by the Soviet Secret Police (NKVD) during World War II.

The National Katyń Memorial, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

The National Katyń Memorial, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

The National Katyń Memorial, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

The National Katyń Memorial, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

The National Katyń Memorial, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

I would’ve loved to have explored more in both Little Italy and Harbor East but I had come late in the day because I wanted to check out Light City. I will have to make a return trip to that area at a later date because I have a feeling that there is more to check out in that area.

I moved on to Light City, which I’m going to write about in a future post.

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Ramadan

On this particular Friday the 13th I wasn’t needed at work. (The boss had to be elsewhere that day.) So I decided to check out the cherry blossoms in Washington, DC on Friday the 13th at the National Arboretum.

The one big secret is that the National Arboretum has its share of cherry blossoms but this place gets far less tourists than the Tidal Basin. So it’s a good way to savor the cherry blossom trees in full bloom without dealing with the crowds.

This couple were formally dressed because a professional photographer was about to take some photos of them underneath the cherry blossoms.

The Visitors Center had this cherry blossom bouquet that came from the Embassy of Japan.

There were plenty of other things to photograph at the arboretum besides the cherry blossom trees.

Before I left for the arboretum I had packed my car because I was scheduled to participate at the Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, which was taking place the next day. Among the things I had packed were two American Girl dolls and a stuffed animal I got last year from Build-A-Bear Workshop. I took a photo of the three of them near the columns.

After I took the above photo, I ended up using just the lion fairy for the other photos because trying to pose three large dolls/stuffed animals was a bit arduous and I found it easier to just use only one of them. The lion was wearing a rainbow fairy outfit that matched the cherry blossoms.

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I had decided to attend a meeting of my support group for people who are separated or divorced while checking out the cherry blossom trees that were blooming on Crofton Parkway. I remember a few years back I saw something online that had a list of less crowded alternatives to the cherry blossoms in the Tidal Basin and these trees on Crofton Parkway were on the list.

But first I decided to go to Wegman’s where I ate dinner. When I pulled into the parking lot I saw this bumper sticker that said “Pro-America Anti-Trump.”

While I was in Wegman’s, I saw that not only did that store have the Fingerlings on sale but it also had larger plush versions of the Fingerlings monkeys. When you pressed their chests they made the same noises that the robot Fingerlings monkeys make.

After eating dinner at Wegman’s but before I went to my meeting I took a few brief pictures of the cherry blossom trees on Crofton Parkway while sunset was beginning.

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Last month I attended my first Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School session of 2018. There have been other Dr. Sketchy’s events in Baltimore and Washington since the New Year but, for a variety of reasons, I wasn’t able to make one until last month.

Even though it was April and the cherry blossom trees in the entire metropolitan area were starting to bloom, winter was still holding on. I remember it was around 40 degrees Fahrenheit so I wore my winter coat while going to downtown DC. When I arrived at the Greenbelt Metro station I saw a group of cosplayers in winter coats who were obviously going to the Tidal Basin (where many of the cherry blossom trees are located and it gets a huge share of the tourists this time of the year).

One of them had this clear backpack that had all kinds of Donald Duck charms, buttons, and pins.

I arrived at Dupont Circle where I noticed that the fountain had been turned on with the water coming in at at a trickle.

A pair of ducks were swimming in the fountain despite the winter-like cold weather.

I saw a group of people near the fountain who took off their coats and started swing dancing in public. I have no idea if they were a flash mob or if they were heavy swing dance enthusiasts. I shot a short video of these people in action.

I shot a few more photos of Dupont Circle.

Like I wrote earlier, many of the cherry blossom trees are further downtown at the Tidal Basin. However, I saw a couple of blooming cherry blossoms planted outside of a building at the intersection of Dupont Circle and New Hampshire Ave., NW so I was able to take a few cherry blossom pictures.

I went to Kramerbooks & Afterwords where I browsed through a few books while noticing all of the Donald Trump-related books that are now available for sale, many of which are less-than-flattering towards The Donald.

As I was walking down P Street, NW, I noticed something I hadn’t noticed before on previous trips. There is a restaurant called Tiki Taco, which serves a fusion of Mexican and Polynesian food. (Seriously!) If I wasn’t financially struggling I might have tried eating there. (I had just started a new day job and, at that point, I was only working around 15 hours per week.)

I made a brief stop at Fantom Comics where I took pictures of the various posters and wall murals.

I noticed this Batgirl costume on display, which reminded me of the costume that Batgirl wore in this graphic novel that I checked out of the library last year called Batgirl of Burnside (which I enjoyed, by the way). One of the employees told me that the Batgirl costume was on display because one of the writers of Batgirl of Burnside had stopped by the store the day before signing autographs. There were plenty of signed graphic novels that the person had written that were still available for sale that not only included Batgirl of Burnside but also other books he wrote, such as Black Canary and Gotham Academy. (I also checked out one of the Gotham Academy books out of the public library recently. I hadn’t read Black Canary mainly because it has yet to arrive at the library.) They were all laid out on the table. I felt tempted but if I had purchased one of those signed books, I would not have been able to afford to go to Dr. Sketchy’s, which was the main reason why I even commuted to Dupont Circle on a cold April Sunday afternoon. So I had to just content myself with taking a picture of the Batgirl costume.

I finally arrived at The Bier Baron, where I took a couple of colorful beer signs on display.

Here’s a shot of the stage where the model posed.

The model for this event was Sally Cinch, who is a sideshow performer and dancer. Since she’s not a burlesque performer, all of the drawings in this post are definitely safe to view unless you are someone who gets offended at seeing a bare midriff.

Sally Cinch’s big talent is the ability to squeeze herself into tight spaces. She did a brief performance where she squeezed herself into a couple of hangers, which inspired this contest: Incorporate Joan Crawford into that drawing. I remember when I read that notorious book Mommie Dearest as a teenager and I even saw the movie featuring Fay Dunaway as Joan Crawford.

As it turned out, I was one of only two people who actually took part in the contest. I think it was because the majority of the people who were there were either not born or were too young to remember Mommy Dearest. The two of us were declared the winners and our prize was a drink of our choice from the bar. (I chose a hard cider that I really liked. I’m sorry I didn’t write down the name of what I drank.)

I did another sketch of Sally showing why her last name is Cinch using a belt that was pulled very tight around her waist.

I drew one last sketch of Sally before the event ended.

The event was cut relatively short compared to previous Dr. Sketchy’s events because of some kind of a scheduling snafu with a comedy show that was following Dr. Sketchy’s. I managed to talk briefly with Sally Cinch and the emcee, Reverend Valentine. I found out that Sally Cinch has performed in my neck of the woods. Not only did she once performed at The New Deal Cafe in Greenbelt, Maryland but she’s also friends with two friends of mine, which was ironic and it goes to show that it’s a small world after all.

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Two days ago I wrote about how I visited Historic London Town and Gardens in Edgewater, Maryland. Once I finished touring the site, I decided to check out the Toys R Us store in Annapolis because I was in the area and the store was located just a few miles away. Toys R Us was—and still is—in the throes of going through its going out of business sale and I wanted to see how the store was doing.

While I was there I noticed a car that was parked there that had Batman markings. That’s right, folks, it’s the Batmobile!

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May Day

In my last post I mentioned that I went to the Historic London Town and Gardens in Edgewater on April 6, 2018 mainly because that place was among the Annapolis-area museums that were offering $1 admission as part of a Maryland Holiday Weekend special. After I left the museum around closing time, I realized that I was close to Annapolis. I decided to check out the Annapolis Toys R Us store, which was (and still is as of this writing) having its going out of business sale.

I originally visited the Annapolis store back in late January after Toys R Us originally announced that it was only going to close around 200-300 of its stores. I picked the Annapolis location because I heard rumors that those store closures were only the first steps in eventually winding out Toys R Us by the end of the year and I wanted to take photos of a store that was NOT on the list of closing stores. I wanted to photograph what a typical Toys R Us store was like for posterity. A few weeks after that visit, Toys R Us decided to close all of its stores so I headed back to the Annapolis store to take pictures of the store that was in the early phases of its going out business sale.

On April 6 I was close to the Annapolis Toys R Us store so I decided to stop by briefly to see how things were going there. There were definitely changes in that store, starting with the outside. By that point a giant “Going Out Of Business” banner had been unfurled and the smaller window signs that previously had cheerful Easter-themed signs were replaced by smaller-sized “Going Out of Business” signs.

When I went inside I saw more “Going Out of Business” signs along with more empty shelves than I saw on my previous visit. Even though the signs said that everything was “up to 30% off,” I found that the vast majority of items were still 10% off. I’ve been to enough of these going out of business sales over the years (such as the closing of the local Kmart store in my area three years ago) to know that the store will keep on offering no more than 10% off for as long as it possibly can. You probably won’t see the deep discounts until the store gets closer to the day that it closes its doors forever.

I still saw some Toys R Us exclusives that I didn’t see on my previous visits. The majority of them were the Disney Princess line of dolls and related toys.

There were other types of toys that weren’t Toys R Us exclusives that were still available for sale on the shelves.

This one little boy really seemed to enjoy going for the superhero action figures. The only sad thing about the last major toy store in the U.S. closing is that children his age will no longer experience the thrill of going into a toy store and looking around wide-eyed at the myriad of toys for kids his age. Too bad, so sad.

Compared with the last time I was at Toys R Us, I saw that they had more cashiers at the registers so the lines were smaller. I also noticed that there were a lot of small 12-inch stuffed versions of the store’s Geoffrey Giraffe mascot on display at the cash register.

I made one purchase on this trip to Toys R Us. I was given this bag at the checkout that looks like Toys R Us decided to go cheap and hire some yahoo with very little formal training in graphic design or even art in general.

The bag is bright orange with the logo done in a slightly darker orange color. The only problem is that there isn’t much contrast between the logo and the background so the logo can be very hard to see because it looks like it is blending in with the background.

Here’s my purchase. Yes, I bought one of the Geoffrey Giraffes that were on display at the cash register. It was an impulse buy. This little guy brings back memories of when Toys R Us used to sell Geoffrey Giraffe wearing a shirt that had the Toys R Us logo, such as this one.

This closeup of his neck shows how Geoffrey has stars on his body instead of the usual spots that a giraffe has.

Here’s a closeup of Geoffrey’s head along with a hang tag showing the illustrated version that Toys R Us had used in recent years. Like I wrote in this blog post back in January, I prefer the earlier versions from the 1970s and 1980s because Geoffrey had a more expressive face. In some ways, the real-life plush giraffe looks less bland and lame than the illustrated version.

One nice touch I found was that one of Geoffrey’s hooves had been embroidered with the backwards letter R that was usually displayed as part of the Toys R Us logo.

photo28

Here’s a small white tag on Geoffrey’s tush that has a black and white illustrated line drawing along with Geoffrey’s name.

Here’s the Toys R Us sales receipt. Compared with the other receipt I received from my earlier trip to Toys R Us when I checked out the going out of business sale for the first time, this one is relatively short. They got rid of the announcement asking the customer to leave feedback on how Toys R Us is doing in exchange for the chance to win a Toys R Us gift card, which makes sense since Toys R Us announced that it would no longer honor gift cards after April 21. Plus it really no longer matters if customers leave feedback—both good and bad—since Toys R Us plans on closing down for good.

Here’s a close-up of the top of the receipt showing the Toys R Us logo and the reminder that all sales are final.

Here’s the bottom of the receipt. Geoffrey Giraffe’s original price was $9.99 but, as this receipt shows, this was one of the products that Toys R Us had offered for 30% off, which meant that the giraffe only cost $6.99 (without the Maryland state sales tax).

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Last Saturday I had a pretty busy day. In the morning and early afternoon I helped out my support group for people who are separated or divorced with its spring yard sale in Crofton. (I took a bunch of pictures there but I’ll upload them at a later date.) I made sure that I left no later than 2 p.m. so I would have ample time to travel north to Baltimore so I could arrive at an entirely different event on time.

I attended the Poor People’s Campaign’s Art Build + Theomusicology Training that was held at Oak Hill Center. I parked my car on a side street and walked about a half a block. I found that Oak Hill is located in what looked like a one-time industrial area that has fallen on hard times over the past few decades.

Poor People's Campaign Art Build + Theomusicology Training, Baltimore, April 28, 2018

Poor People's Campaign Art Build + Theomusicology Training, Baltimore, April 28, 2018

Poor People's Campaign Art Build + Theomusicology Training, Baltimore, April 28, 2018

Poor People's Campaign Art Build + Theomusicology Training, Baltimore, April 28, 2018

Despite the seediness of the neighborhood, I found a few bright spots, such as Midway Park and a neighborhood that looks fully inhabited.

Poor People's Campaign Art Build + Theomusicology Training, Baltimore, April 28, 2018

Poor People's Campaign Art Build + Theomusicology Training, Baltimore, April 28, 2018

Poor People's Campaign Art Build + Theomusicology Training, Baltimore, April 28, 2018

Oak Hill Center is located in a building that looks like a typical white industrial building on the outside. In fact, if it weren’t for the banner on this door, I would have walked past it.

Poor People's Campaign Art Build + Theomusicology Training, Baltimore, April 28, 2018

Oak Hill looks way more impressive on the inside. It’s a combination of a library, art studio, and makerspace. It’s nice, big, and airy.

Poor People's Campaign Art Build + Theomusicology Training, Baltimore, April 28, 2018

Poor People's Campaign Art Build + Theomusicology Training, Baltimore, April 28, 2018

Poor People's Campaign Art Build + Theomusicology Training, Baltimore, April 28, 2018

Poor People's Campaign Art Build + Theomusicology Training, Baltimore, April 28, 2018

Poor People's Campaign Art Build + Theomusicology Training, Baltimore, April 28, 2018

The room where the workshop was held was decorated with prints related to the Poor People’s Campaign.

Poor People's Campaign Art Build + Theomusicology Training, Baltimore, April 28, 2018

Poor People's Campaign Art Build + Theomusicology Training, Baltimore, April 28, 2018

Poor People's Campaign Art Build + Theomusicology Training, Baltimore, April 28, 2018

The next shot shows the room where the bulk of the workshop was held.

Poor People's Campaign Art Build + Theomusicology Training, Baltimore, April 28, 2018

The workshop started off with learning how to sing a few of the songs that are affiliated with the Poor People’s Campaign while watching a few online videos that one can access anytime thanks to YouTube. We learned how to sing “Everybody’s Got a Right to Live” and “Somebody’s Hurting My Brother.”

Afterwards we split into two groups with people who preferred to sing walking over to the library end of the building where they continued to practice the songs while those of us who were more into creating art stayed in the same room where we engaged in some large-scale screen printing. The objective was to screen print large banners that would be flown in Annapolis by protesters on the Monday after Mother’s Day.

Poor People's Campaign Art Build + Theomusicology Training, Baltimore, April 28, 2018

Poor People's Campaign Art Build + Theomusicology Training, Baltimore, April 28, 2018

Poor People's Campaign Art Build + Theomusicology Training, Baltimore, April 28, 2018

Poor People's Campaign Art Build + Theomusicology Training, Baltimore, April 28, 2018

Poor People's Campaign Art Build + Theomusicology Training, Baltimore, April 28, 2018

Poor People's Campaign Art Build + Theomusicology Training, Baltimore, April 28, 2018

We did the screen printing assembly-line style and there were times when we switched jobs or took a break and let someone else take over the job. The whole process was pretty lively and jovial at times.

Poor People's Campaign Art Build + Theomusicology Training, Baltimore, April 28, 2018

Poor People's Campaign Art Build + Theomusicology Training, Baltimore, April 28, 2018

Poor People's Campaign Art Build + Theomusicology Training, Baltimore, April 28, 2018

Poor People's Campaign Art Build + Theomusicology Training, Baltimore, April 28, 2018

Even though I stuck with the screen printing the majority of my time, there was a time when I felt thirsty so I went into the other room to get a drink, which was where the singers were rehearsing the two songs. One of the singers saw me getting a drink and recruited me to yell insults at the singers as loud as possible. So I was yelling things like “COMMUNISTS!”, “DEGENERATES!”, “GET A JOB!”, and “GO HOME!” I was relatively restrained in my yelling because I really didn’t want to delve into yelling anything racist (especially since there were a few African Americans present) or something that’s really offensive to someone (such as using a religious slur). After a few minutes of yelling insults, the singers thanked me for doing this. Apparently they were preparing themselves for the possibility that counter protesters would yell nasty insults while they were singing so they wanted to learn how to sing despite distractions.

After my brief role as an obnoxious counter protester, I went back in the other room and continued with helping people with screen printing while I took photos. There were two young sisters who accompanied their father to this workshop. At first they were focused on doing their own drawings.

Poor People's Campaign Art Build + Theomusicology Training, Baltimore, April 28, 2018

But then, once the screen printing was underway, they became fascinated by the process and they were eager to help. So we allowed them to carry the newly-printed banners over to the person who was hanging them on the clotheslines.

Poor People's Campaign Art Build + Theomusicology Training, Baltimore, April 28, 2018

Here are a few shots of the newly printed banners drying on clotheslines.

Poor People's Campaign Art Build + Theomusicology Training, Baltimore, April 28, 2018

Poor People's Campaign Art Build + Theomusicology Training, Baltimore, April 28, 2018

The last photo shows a chart indicating how many copies of which banners needed to be printed. By the end of the workshop we made great headway. The workshop is going to be repeated at the same place tomorrow night but I won’t be able to make it. If the next workshop is as productive as the one I attended was, I’m sure that the organizers will meet their entire production goal by tomorrow night.

Poor People's Campaign Art Build + Theomusicology Training, Baltimore, April 28, 2018

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