Category Archives: Maryland

Baltimore Comic-Con: Where Real Nerds Keep Artists in the Spotlight

Baltimore Comic Con

Sure,  you know who Stan Lee is. You watch the Big Bang Theory (almost as religiously as I do) and can spot Stan’s cameo in every incarnation of a Marvel hero movie to hit the silver screen. Maybe you even know who Matt Murdock is.

If you also happen to know who Bill Everett was, then you’d have felt right at home at Baltimore Comic-Con.

Baltimore Comic-Con honors the heart of the comic book culture in a way that seems to be fading under the glare of the lights and mainstream media coverage at the larger “cons.” Which made it the perfect first con for our kids. 

Watching my nine year old in the ballroom of the Baltimore Convention Center as he sat mesmerized, listening to Joel Hodgson recount the materials he used to build Tom Servo (a Leggs egg and a gumball machine, by the way) was priceless. The kid loves MST3K. Um, who doesn’t?

 Upon walking into the lobby and seeing a group of cosplayers dressed in awesome Attack on Titan garb, my fifteen year old daughter squealed, “Yes! My people!Dr. Who Comic illustrator Kelly Yates Baltimore Comic ConTotal win.

For this parent of daughters, the prodigious amount of Girl Power on display at this convention was reason enough to go back next year. From a fierce female Thor and her pal Miss America, to Marguerite Bennett, author of several story-lines in the DC Universe including: Batgirl, Lobo and Lois Lane, to the budding talent of Kate Allen who creates, writes and illustrates her own comics and graphic novels, the level of estrogen-laden awesome was immense and powerful.

Of course there were the typical conference staples: baubles, gadgets, gear, merch, on-site appraisals, and a phenomenal cosplay costume contest. Truly something for everyone – even things you never knew you wanted, but suddenly had to have!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for an event where I can cozy up to Patrick Stewart (make it so – yes, please) or Benedict CumberDragon, but the community that begot huge conventions of Nerdom – like International Comic-Con San Diego (which was still relatively easy to get tickets to when I went back in back in ’94) – began at the roots.  With the art, the artists, the storytellers.

The expo hall was packed with artists from nearly every fandom you can name. Daughters one and two are major Whovians. You think you know Dr. Who…?  Not like they do! Getting to meet and enjoy a photo op with Kelley Yates was an epic moment.  Taking home one of his Dr. Who illustrations –signed– was their own personal nirvana. Maryland’s own Frank Cho (Mighty Avengers, Hulk – Marvel Comics) did an unbelievable demo in which he created a veritable masterpiece for the live audience.  Seeing the passion in the artists and getting a glimpse of how they bring a world to life illuminated my children with the reality of possibility…and that was the meat of the experience.  The rest was great, but garnish.

Meeting illustrators and creators of original graphic novels, artists who’ve expanded universes that began decades ago…to me, THIS is the living, breathing heart of any Comic-Con. Keep the marquee names on the red carpet, let Bruckheimer promote his next movie on the talk-show circuit. Keep the “cons” about the artists, the creative cosplay of die hard fans, the amazing and world-changing creativity of the true nerds. 

My advice?  Plan your trip.  Start designing your costume.  Save your pennies for must have merch, sure…but know who created the fantasy world you like to visit.  Follow the artists, and make a point to see them in action, in the flesh.  Next year – go to Baltimore Comic-Con!

Baltimore Comic Con Chicken Nuggets of Wisdom 

Authors: Lara DiPaola and Jamie Ratner

 

 

Visiting Annapolis, Maryland with Kids

Annapolis Maryland

From the hallowed halls of the United States Naval Academy, to the quaint City Dock, and dozens of points in between, Maryland’s charming and historic capital makes for a perfect day-trip (or longer) with the family. 

U.S. Naval Academy Museum

 Moon Rock housed at U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland

 This hidden gem of a museum welcomes over 100,000 visitors from around the globe every year. Located in Preble Hall on the gorgeous grounds of the U.S. Naval Academy, the museum offers two floors of exhibits about the history of seapower, the development of the U.S. Navy, and the the history of U.S. Naval Academy. Exhibits include artifacts from historical figures, battles and events. Touch a piece of the actual U.S.S. Monitor, read letters penned by Admirals and presidents, see sand from the island of Iwo Jima as you take a walk through the history of our Navy – and country. There is even an actual moon rock donated to the museum by Apollo 14 astronauts. 

The best part? Admission to the museum is FREE!

Address:  118 Maryland Avenue, Annapolis, MD 21402. Phone: (410) 293-2108. Website: www.USNA.edu/museum  Hours: Monday – Friday from 7:00am to 3:30pm

Annapolis City Dock

Visting "Ego Alley" at City Dock in Annapolis Maryland

Rest here for a spell and have Alex Haley “read” your kids a story. The author of “Roots,” is immortalized in a sculpture that invites you to listen at his feet. I took along some books to read to my kids and soon found I’d started an impromptu story time for a few others.  Directly behind Mr. Haley is the City Dock Market House. Inside you’ll find food stalls serving up seaside favorites, and day-trip delicacies like famed Maryland Crab cakes and decadent gelato, perfect on a warm, sunny day. Walk off some of those calories with a stroll down “Ego Alley” where beautiful pleasure boats are docked. 

Don’t forget to bring along a little something to feed the ducks!

Parking: There is metered parking near City Dock, you’ve got great luck if you can snag one of those. If not, the Noah Hillman parking garage is just off Main Street in the Historic District at 150 Gorman Street.

Chick & Ruth’s Delly

Famous "Ben Cardin" Double Ruben at Chick & Ruth's Delly Anapolis Maryland

Speaking of eating! I say -with some authority as both a traveler and a foodie – that everyone MUST make the pilgrimage to the Delly at least one time (if not dozens.) Don’t let the cramped quarters, layer of grease or the fact that they call it a “Delly,” deter you. Chick & Ruth’s is a Maryland institution for good reason.

  • Crab Cakes as big as your head (okay, maybe a little smaller)
  • Matzo Ball Soup any Bubbe would envy
  • House-made dill pickles, a complementary treat you’ll pucker up to
  • A huge of menu items to choose from – many named after the local politicians who come down the street from the Capital Building daily
  • And the famed Colossal Challenges like the SIX POUND SHAKE (no really, it’s six pounds of milkshake) infamously conquered by Adam Richman of “Man vs Food” fame

Address: 165 Main St, Annapolis, MD 21401. Phone: (410) 269-6737. Website: www.chickandruths.com 

Pirate Adventures of the Chesapeake

Ahoy all ye adventurous scallywags! Really, what trip to an historical port city like Annapolis would be complete without a pirate adventure? Mysterious messages in bottles, hidden treasure, and an epic adventure await those who embark upon a voyage aboard  The Sea Gypsy. This fun, family-friendly ship sails from Annapolis Harbor seven days a week during the summer months and on weekends through October 26th. Your ticket to ride will cost you $20 for those over three and $12 for those under. 

Be sure to arrive early to get gussied up in pirate finery!

Address: 311 Third St, Annapolis, MD 21403. Phone: (410) 263-0002. Website: www.chesapeakpirates.com 

Annapolis Maritime Museum

If you’re making Annapolis a stopover during a trip to DC you might think you’ve been museum-ed out, but trust me you’ll want to make room for one more – THIS ONE! Why? Because of the hands-on history lesson your family will get. This small museum is set on the picturesque mouth of Back Creek, with a unique view overlooking the Chesapeake Bay. The museum takes advantage of the fact that it is housed in the last oyster-packing plant in Annapolis, engaging visitors in a fully interactive experience that takes them on a journey through the role that the water and they oyster industry played in the shaping of the area. You’ll also learn about the ecology of the area through a 850 gallon aquarium and exhibits that highlight the importance of conservation efforts.

An afternoon at the Annapolis Maritime Museum is FREE family fun!

Address: 723 2nd St, Annapolis, MD 21403. Phone: (410) 295-0104. Website: www.amaritime.org

Galleries, Eateries and Shopping… Oh, My!

Down Town Annapolis Maryland

My kids happen to be gifted browsers. They love to shop. It may be genetic. Annapolis is wonderland for those who love to stroll in and out of shops and galleries, searching for treasures and inspiration. Though there are some chain stores to be found on main street, they are out numbered by smaller, more unique and locally owned boutique stores. Annapolis boasts a thriving art community and you’ll find a number of places that feature locally produced items. One of our favorite shops is Annapolis Pottery. Though not all of their items are produced locally, 95% of their products are produced in the U.S. and many of them are sourced directly from the artists who produce them. 

Hungry? Annapolis is the place to be! I polled the kids for recommendations. Here is what THEY recommend;

  • Potato Valley Cafe – A tasty elevation of the humble spud 
  • Castlebay Irish Pub – This one gets on the list for the rose shaped salmon and the fish and chips. Our picky eater loves salmon – go figure!
  • Miss Shirley’s Cafe – A Baltimore staple now found in Annapolis, my kids would hurt you to get at a stack of their lemon-blueberry pancakes
  • Chick & Ruth’s Delly – They’re begging for that 6 pound shake, but happily settle for pizza bagels make on fresh, full-sized bagel halves and burgers from the kid’s menu that are big enough for a grown up. You’ll never leave this place hungry! Plus their kid’s menu prices hover around $5!

Don’t miss the chickens. Really, we know how I am about chickens. Annapolis is flocking full of the foul in the form of 5 foot tall fun, funky and thought provoking sculptures found through out the city.  If you go, snap a photo and I’ll be happy to add it to this post with photo credit.

Parking: There is both metered parking and several public parking garages, as well as valet service at City Dock. You can find a map of the garages here.

Up next… where to STAY in Annapolis if you aren’t lucky enough to live 20 minutes away… or even if you are… hello staycation!

 

 

(photo credit – Annapolis Waterfront m01229)

Horse POWER!

So by now you know I’m a full-fledged Baltimore Chevy Girl. It’s been a blast so far. I can now give you more that 10 reasons why it’s good to be a Chevy Girl. Among them is a love story and a “space” odyssey. The epic tale of my Traverse tryst to a turn in the backfield two weeks ago when my love of horsepower crossed paths with my love of horses.

Did you know that I used to ride rodeo? Yup I actually own belt buckles upon which one could serve a four course meal. My first horse, Pepsi (don’t judge I was 9), was my first love. I’d go on to barrel race, team pen and eventually find my way to the paddock. I never raced thoroughbreds but I thoroughly loved them. In fact my study is decorated with photos I’ve taken at various race tracks.

My local Baltimore Area Chevy Dealers made a dream come true for me when they sent yours truly and fellow Chevy girl, the LOVELY Miss. Madeline Homes of Peace, Love, Lipgloss, to the 2011 running of the Preakness Stakes!

Of course there was room enough in the Traverse for THE Hat

Speaking of the hat, it was a beautiful -if as big as a boat- commissioned design handmade by Maven of Millinery Sallye May of Sallye May Creates. Sallye took my inspiration, the Maryland State flag, and whipped it into a work of art! It was the hit of the Corporate Village where it was featured on WBAL TV.

The WBAL TV Team, Madeline, Me and THE Hat

And found itself among flowers…

and EVEN IN THE WINNER’S CIRCLE!

Why is that the oldest trophy in racing just feet behind me… yes, yes it is!

So the photo might not be that great but the time I had was (The DH even won!). I can’t thank my Baltimore Area Chevy Dealers enough for a day that was a dream come true! 

Many Hats

Hey ya Nuggetiers it’s me in my many hats; exhausted mommy, adoring-patient-accommodating wife, CNIC (Chief Nugget in Charge) and as of last Friday “Your Baltimore Area Chevy Girl” let me tell you…it is good to be a Chevy Girl.

I discovered this upon becoming one myself… last Friday at WBAL TV studios, high atop TV hill in Baltimore…at my “Chevy Girl Immersion”, as it were.  Now, for many folks just being on television would have sealed the deal (and very nearly did for me, accept for the whole camera adding 20 pounds thing)…but wait!  There’s MORE!

When you’re a Chevy Girl…

**You can pretend like you don’t own a 2003 Hyundai for a month (I love me an excuse to be delusional).

**You have your very own On-Star fairy. Folks, trust me.  When you generally have trouble navigating out of your own neighborhood, having a disembodied voice on your side is a huge plus.  (And I’ve found that it freaks the kids out less if you name her…just sayin’.)

**You get to name your Traverse, too. Mine is Nevil. He’s terribly charming.

Meet Nevil. We’re currently in talks to get him a “drive on” in the new Bond movie.  He’s THAT charming…

 

 

Bond… Nevil Bond…

 


**You have insanely FUNCTIONAL cup holders!  Finally, engineers are paying attention to the IMPORTANT parts of design.  And with the Traverse, man, did they hit a homer.  (What? I tell you, sometimes it’s the little things that make the difference!)

**Speaking of little things…USB port always available.  That, Mr. Sheen, is WINNING. <—- did I just quote Charlie Sheen? Ugh that’s so two-and-a-half months ago

**Your husband finally thinks it’s cool that you’re a blogger.  Epic.

** Your Traverse is essentially a mobile Mom Cave. (more on that later)

But, the most important reason it’s “Good to be a Chevy Girl”…… (insert drum roll here)
All the other Chevy Girls! From Baltimore to Philly, Dallas to Salt Lake and all over our great nation..

CHEVY GIRLS ROCK! And I’m paired up with the rockin-est of them all the Keonte of Mom 2k and Madeline of Peace, Love, Lipgloss.. DOUBLE BONUS!

The Chevy Girls on the Go campaign is being sponsored by the Baltimore Area Chevy dealers. They are letting me test drive the Traverse for one month and providing me with gift cards for Girls on the Go missions as well as a camera to video tape my adventures. All opinions expressed are my own.