B. Boyd

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Laurel Man Rocks Ray-Lewis Moves on “The Price Is Right”

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Is there something in the water in Laurel? Some kind of magic fluoride that makes people a little more competitive, a bit braver in front of an audience, and that much more camera-friendly? It would seem possibly so based on the sudden double television-game-show showing made by Laurelites in April.

On the Baseball Field, Baltimore’s Public and Private Schools Compete, Collide, Unite

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President’s Cup from Julie Simon Productions on Vimeo.

BaseballJulie Simon, associate professor in the University of Baltimore’s School of Communications Design and a former network television producer, set out to make a documentary about high school baseball, but not for any of the wind-in-your-hair reasons you might expect. (Be sure to check out the moving trailer above, featuring narration by former O’s broadcaster Jon Miller.)

“I really don’t have [an] interest in baseball,” Simon says. “I’m a fair weather Oriole fan. What interested me about this piece was the story, not the sport…”

The fantastic 2012 tournament story that drew Simon’s camera focus links back more than 20 years to a time when public and private high school students in Baltimore City competed regularly on the baseball diamond in one league. Black and white students engaged; a diverse klatch of parents filled the stands to root for kids who would never have been brought together otherwise.

George Saunders Is Coming to Town…and Other CityLit Fest Highlights

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Book lovers rejoice: your own local Lollapalooza is upon us — minus drugs and dancing. The 10th annual CityLit Festival happens tomorrow at the Enoch Pratt Central branch on Cathedral St. from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Each year Gregg Wilhelm — dogged CityLit Project founder — and crew present an ultra-impressive array of authors from Baltimore and well beyond, including panel discussions, readings, and writer Q&As. If you’ve never attended before, don’t miss the mind-blowing + free literary blowout that books an important author or two for everyone’s diverse interests.

Because the long day’s list can prove overwhelming, we’ll highlight a handful of our favorites, but the whole scene sounds really engaging – and you can grab the full list of events and room assignments here, courtesy of CityLit.

W.E.B. Du Bois H.S. Wins Mayor’s Attendance Award

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Every once in a while a local news story makes you stop and say, “Aw, way to go,” instead of, “Everything’s going to hell!” Yesterday the sweet scoop that Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake had just named the winner of the spring Mayor’s Attendance Campaign competition caught my eye, and tugged a little at my emotions. (Rawlings-Blake made her announcement with ceremonious support from Baltimore City Public Schools CEO Andrés Alonso, President & CEO of Family League Jonathon Rondeau, and other dignitaries.) Who won and why? And why does it matter?

Last Chance to Help Maryland Pits: TAKES ONE MINUTE TODAY

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pitbull02The Humane Society makes it easy as pie to help reverse a Court of Appeals ruling that pit bull-type dogs are “inherently dangerous.” Act fast NOW, if you care. Why the urgency?

The Maryland Legislative session ends TODAY. Here’s how to help, according to the HSUS… (I can vouch for the ultra speediness of the process.)

We are so close to the finish line!

A special committee has agreed to a compromise on the details of dog bite legislation (SB 160). The House and Senate must accept this compromise before the legislature adjourns today. We are up against the clock.

Please call your state senator:

And your state delegate(s):

After making your calls, please send a follow-up message.

The Play’s the Thing at MICA: Art Students “Dancing at Lughnasa”

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Each spring a small army of impossibly youthful and talented MICA students tackles a high-concept  stage drama under the guidance of producer/director and award-winning lit professor Christopher Shipley. I’ve seen Rivals of the West — MICA’s theater company, which requires most participants to enroll in Shipley’s popular course “The Play’s the Thing” — pull off the following shows with astounding chops for art-school kids (not perfect but not hard to lose yourself inside): The musical Hair, Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Neil Labute’s Fat Pig, and perhaps most impressive of all, A Streetcar Named Desire, by Tennessee Williams, the most existentially advanced and the one I expected to resist hardest. That’s why I have sky-high hopes for Dancing at Lughansa, the 1990 play by Brian Friel set in 1936 Ireland in the fictional town of Ballybeg on the coast of Donegal, “a memory play” that features a cast of complex adults facing midlife disappointments and financial crises. What’s the jumbo challenge here? Age progression, to be sure. But these Irish “adults” also speak in an Irish brogue; and when they’re not feeling too somber, they dance with real Celtic flourish.

Formerly, Shipley’s gifted playwright son, Peter Shipley, served as director, while Shipley produced (and offered directorial/dramaturge-style feedback). For now — since Peter’s relocation to Seattle — the elder Shipley’s tripling as producer-director-instructor. His youngest child, Trevor Shipley, provides fantastic background music and has done so since the theater company’s launch in 2009.

I talked to Professor Shipley about his attraction to this particular play and how he and his hyper-creative team pulled it off (in another encore feat).

Debut Author Elisabeth Dahl Dramatizes Baltimore Private School Life

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RPCS Alum Elisabeth Dahl’s first novel, Genie Wishes (ABRAMS/Amulet), which was released Tuesday, tells the story of fifth grader Genie Haddock Kunkle, whose name, she herself acknowledges, sounds like “some weird instrument you’d only see in music class.” Targeting readers ages 8-12, the readable book tracks a year of both difficult and charming change for class blogger Genie and her private school peers. I read the graceful novel in two absorbed sittings, laughed, fought a lump in my throat, and forgot my grownup status for several welcome stretches.

Atomic Books Expands, Adds Alcohol!

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Who doesn’t love browsing in Hampden, grabbing a beer, and buying a good book? Soon you can do all three in the same cozy establishment — wonderful Atomic Books — though not necessarily in that order.

“Purchases must be made before merchandise is brought into the bar area,” says co-owner Benn Ray. “This isn’t going to be like a library with beer.”

The idea is similar to a bookstore cafe, the bar scheduled to stay open during store hours only.

“But instead of chai and soy lattes, we’ll have beer and wine,” Ray says.

Ray and co-owner/fiancée Rachel Whang will set up bar alongside their well-stocked shop, occupying by early summer 3616 Falls Road, where you may have visited extra-adorable Doubledutch Boutique, which is relocating nearby.

What kind of beer and wine’s on the menu? Those key decisions are in the works. Ray will say that he and Whang love their local beer. In bottles. They’ll serve nice wine, but they are not wine snobs even remotely. They’ll leave the wine expertise to noses around the corner at 13.5%.

Ray Tweeted on Monday that they’d tag the bar Dead Poets Society, which had some locals smirking — his announcement came on April first after all, and the name sounded a few notes too cute for the savvy culture-head. Ray told The Baltimore Sun yesterday that the name was a prank, but the bar will surely happen. Cheers to that!

 

 

 

Great “Mysterian” Marc Steiner Celebrates 20 Years on Baltimore Air

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Marc at age 12 with book about his hero Teddy Roosevelt.
Marc at age 12 with a book about his hero Teddy Roosevelt.

Back in ’93, the general manager of college radio station WJHU, Dennis Kita, turned to theatrically minded and politically outspoken Baltimorean Marc Steiner for advice on how to start a public interest radio show. Steiner’s recommendation: “Let me give it a shot.” If you live in Baltimore, you know he got that chance and made a career from it. The rest is history, though that sounds too simple — Steiner’s local fame is certainly not controversy-free.

Still on the airwaves, Steiner’s eponymous “The Marc Steiner Show” made him a local celeb nearly overnight; he helped found WYPR (88.1) and served as exec vice president of the station from 2002 to 2006, and meanwhile founded his own non-profit company, the Center for Emerging Media (CEM).

Then in February of 2008, Steiner was fired unexpectedly. In a similar flash, supporters launched a petition and several websites, collecting over 1,000 signatures demanding he be reinstated. Listeners picketed the station’s advisory board meeting. They vowed not to renew their WYPR memberships. Through it all, General Manager Tony Brandon stuck to his firing guns.

Retro Roland Water Tower Receives $337,000 — Residents Cheer

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Supporters of the Roland Water Tower – a loveable, lighthouse-like landmark, built circa 1904 – got some lucrative news this week. The city spending board gave thumbs up to the idea of shifting $337,000 from one agency to another to help rehab the elegantly creaky tower, which is an official historic property, thanks in large part to handiwork of Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke. Estimated total cost to revamp the RWT: $1.2 million. (One troubling issue among many: a ton of burdensome bird poop from decades past pasted to the upper level. You’d have to pay me a lot to clean that up.)

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