Holly Morse-Ellington


A Desperate Man is Hard to Find



Red Sammy channels bad seeds and misdeeds, music legends, and the ghost of Flannery O’Connor.

Imagine if Steve Earle were to hit the road from Tennessee and the ghost of Lou Reed were to drive down from New York—and the two cross paths in Baltimore—then Red Sammy’s haunting alt-Americana album Creeps and Cheaters has arrived. Also haunting this album is Lynyrd Skynyrd. And Flannery O’Connor.

Over the Threshold: The Mystery of My Dad’s Missing Love

image via fitsnews.com
image via fitsnews.com

Baltimore writer Holly Morse-Ellington believes her newly divorced father has a super serious girlfriend–unfortunately, thanks to her dad’s close-lipped nature, her best information source is a tiny barking dog.

My parents’ divorce has been a long road for me. Maybe it’s not my road to travel. But that’s the thing about family. No matter how carsick their problems make you, you’re stuck in the backseat. Hands tugging at the child safety locks activated on the doors. Head hanging out the window and panting, “Are we there yet?”

An Die Musik: Palookaville and Red Sammy Show Down Saturday

Howard Markman photographed by Steve Parke
Howard Markman photographed by Steve Parke

Two bands are preparing to shake up the status quo of concert set lists on December 14th at An Die Musik. Songwriters Howard Markman, of Palookaville, and Adam Trice, of Red Sammy, will share the stage to perform each other’s music. That’s right; Palookaville will play its renditions of Red Sammy’s songs and vice versa.

Halloween Special: Ouija Seance Spells Trouble in the ‘Burbs


Writer Holly Morse-Ellington recounts a night of spooky signals, her first and last experience Ouija-boarding as a kid. Happy Halloween, everybody, from Baltimore Fishbowl!

Thanksgivings in Chicago could be a serious snooze compared to most of our family holidays. For one, sharing the backseat of a midsize car with my brother during the seven-hour drive from Kentucky to our dad’s family in Chicago made us tired and cranky. For another, by the time we’d reacquainted ourselves with our cousins, it was time to go back home. Chicago is an exciting big city compared to the rinky-dink town we lived in, but more often than not we passed the weekend restricted to my aunt and uncle’s conservative suburban home. The entertainment highlight: Uncle Sid’s colorful reactions to his VHS recordings of Bears games. Thanksgiving was more like detention among members of The Breakfast Club than holiday from school. Of the five of us cousins forced together, I was the pipsqueak of the bunch and struggled the most to fit in. But one particular Thanksgiving, when I was 11 and the other cousins were high schoolers, I was up for doing anything to prove that I was cool and mature too. That anything turned out to be a maturing experience for all of us kids.

MDSPCA Pet Adoptions: Almost as Easy as Saying “Woof” or “Meow”


Each week, we introduce an animal seeking adoption at the SPCA. Maybe a cute cat or doggie in the Baltimore Fishbowl window caught your eye and you considered adopting him, but weren’t sure what all was involved in the process. Vincent Jennings, adoption counselor for the Maryland SPCA, offers information to let would-be parents know what to expect.

Do potential pet owners have to complete forms and be approved before adopting a pet?

All adopters must complete an adoption application and sit for an interview/discussion of their expectations of owning that particular cat or dog. This policy helps the adoption staff to better evaluate the adopters’ desires with the particular needs of that pet.

How many hours or visits do potential owners usually spend before they decide a particular pet is for them?

Most adopters who are “just looking” actually end up meeting a pet and complete the adoption the very same day. Not including the time spent getting acquainted with the animal, the adopter will spend between 30 minutes to 1 hour.

What would you advise for people “just looking” who don’t complete adoption procedures the same day?

We discourage potential adopters from leaving without applying for a pet they are interested in as most of the time the pet is adopted by another individual in their absence. We will happily place a pet on hold for 24 hours to give that person time to prepare the home and to ponder their decision, as adoption is a serious endeavor.

 Are there certain characteristics that could cause the SPCA to discourage or even prevent a person from adopting an animal?

Some adopters are asked to select an animal better suited to their lifestyle if the applicant cannot demonstrate that they can provide for that animal. Some adopters are denied or turned down based on prior adoption or surrender history and we gently explain to them the reasons for that decision. On rare occasions an adoption is denied due to the fact that the applicant has too many animals and we do not want to increase their burden.

But all in all, the fit between owner and pet works out for both of them?

Our adopters are a healthy mix of seasoned pet owners and first timers. Approximately 99 percent of our adopters successfully adopt the pet they have chosen.

Maryland: A Home for Mortgage Fraud?



A CNBC poll ranked Maryland the 10th most fraudulent state when it comes to securing mortgages. The ranking is based on the FBI’s mortgage fraud index of 2010 and reports from 2011 to FinCEN, a financial crimes division of the United States Department of the Treasury.

According to the report, Maryland scores a 20 out of 100 on the mortgage fraud index, with 1 representing the best and 100 the worst of offenders. And in the third quarter of 2011, financial institutions filed suspicious activity reports, SARs, against 153 people. Really?

Maybe even one case of the financial SARs hurts honest businesses and homeowners, but in a state with an estimated 5.8 million people, 60 percent of which defined themselves as homeowners on the U.S. Census, are we really behaving that badly that we need to make another “worst of” list?

What I would like to know is the nature of the suspicious activity. Sure, we know deception is costly to businesses, which is usually passed on to us taxpayers – and we are very tired of that. But in addition to the type of fraud we’d expect to be included in these findings, Cindi Dixon, CEO of Mela Capital Group, a mortgage quality control risk management firm, notes a rising trend in organized crime rings acquiring property fraudulently to use as home bases for drug and human trafficking. That not only takes a toll on our financial health, but our human spirit as well.


Immediate Action for Missing Children: “Phylicia’s Law” Passes MD House and Senate

Phylicia Barnes, 16, disappeared while visiting relatives in Baltimore.


Maryland’s House and Senate approved “Phylicia’s Law,” a bill intended to improve coordination and communication between law enforcement and community groups when a child goes missing. The bill is named after Phylicia Barnes, a 17-year-old North Carolina high school honors student who went missing while visiting her sister in Baltimore in December 2010. Her body was discovered four months later.

Before voting to approve the bill, Maryland lawmakers heard testimony from missing children advocates and examined state statistics on missing children. According to that data, “on average, 13,500 children are reported as missing each year in Maryland. About 12,000 are located, but state police say there are about 1,500 to 2,000 open cases on any day.”

Baltimore Native Creates Acting Career with Her Web Series


What have Olivia and Kari been up to on their web series, “Friday I’m in Love,” since we last left you with the teaser? The 12-episode season is more than half way through, gearing towards a special season finale. Will Olivia and Kari get a career-boosting callback or land the acting role of their dreams? Will an expiring lease force them to finally leave their apartment? No spoilers here, you’ll have to watch to see. (See the latest episode, above.)What I will reveal is how the level of creativity and work invested in these productions rises professionally above impromptu moments caught on shaky camera.

Bully Wins: Now PG-13 and Opening in Baltimore Theaters and Nationwide



Bully, a documentary directed and produced by award-winning filmmaker, Lee Hirsch, opened in select theaters with a controversial R rating on March 30. With the backing of celebrities, some of whom include Ellen DeGeneres, Johnny Depp and Drew Brees, journalists and the media, and public turnout for online petitions at The Bully Project, Bully now boasts a PG-13 rating and will open across the country on April 13.

The Motion Picture Association of America, MPAA, originally assigned the R rating because of the film’s violent content and offensive language. A combination of public outcry and compromise resulted in the film’s new PG-13 rating. Over 500,000 people signed the petition requesting the lower rating, prompting the MPAA to temporarily declare the film “Unrated” while it renegotiated with the film’s producers.

Vegan Antenna Detected Beetlejuice at Starbucks


In an effort to reduce the artificial ingredients in their products, Starbucks began using a new red coloring for their Strawberries and Crème Frappuccinos and Strawberry Smoothies in January — ground up cochineal beetles. Some are praising Starbucks’ all-natural modifications, but others want the vegan-friendly version of their soy drinks back.

Daelyn Fortney, co-founder of the vegan website, ThisDishIsVeg.com, broke the news on the website after an anonymous Starbucks barista informed her of the change. The barista wrote in, “I was hoping you guys could help get the word out there so that no veg*ns end up drinking this formerly vegan Frappuccino by mistake! Thanks. :).”

The publicity may have a negative effect on Frappuccino sales, which account for $2 billion of Starbucks’ total global business. Fortney’s post suggests solutions that might accommodate both Starbucks’ going-natural mission and vegans’ practices, such as using red beet, black carrot, purple sweet potato and paprika as replacements for artificial dyes.

Starbucks lists the insect extract as an ingredient on the strawberry sauce packaging, so maybe it was just a matter of time before other curious employees or customers googled “cochineal,” to reveal the thinly-shelled secret anyway. Other natural products that use beetles for their red coloring like yogurt, ice cream, and juice drinks, use the more covert ingredient label, “carmine.”

If you are vegan or just want to show solidarity, you may sign this petition requesting Starbucks to “stop using bugs” in their drinks.