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Of Montreal's Kevin Barnes emerges from personal 'fog'

On Tuesday, of Montreal, the eclectic rock act led by singer/songwriter Kevin Barnes, released its 13th album, “Aureate Gloom.”

Narratives surrounding of Montreal records typically focus on Barnes' ever-shifting influences — from lo-fi vaudeville to psychedelic pop to Afrobeat, and plenty in between — and the 40-year-old frontman's ability to meld it all together.

But as Barnes explained last week on the phone from his home in Athens, Ga., “Aureate Gloom” is an album unlike previous efforts because it was written after the December 2013 dissolution of his 11-year marriage. Songwriting had always been Barnes' most effective form of expression, but now he was using it to come to terms with the failure of a significant relationship.

“It's a way for me to bring things to the surface so I can analyze it with a fresh perspective,” Barnes said of songwriting. “So in that way, this record is very much like an open journal.”

Explicitly confronting his issues on this album had a cathartic effect...

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Baltimore living column: First 'adult' vacation can breed anxiety

"Vacation" is one of the most happiness-inducing words in the English language. It's also one whose definition changes with age.

When you're younger it often means a trip with your family, most likely tucked somewhere into the months-long break that's automatically worked into your schedule each year. (I'm not bitter or anything.) Your parents do the planning, and you're just along for the ride.

When you first enter the working world, vacation means the few precious days that let you cling to the illusion that adult responsibilities still don't exist. You ration out your 10 or so allotted vacation days with stingy finesse — a true 20-something art form.

The great news: If you're lucky, your employer actually pays you while you're not there working! Isn't that crazy? The bad news: Your parents aren't paying for those beach trips anymore and — spoiler — they are expensive. Plus, all of the annoying logistics now lie in your hands.

These facts recently became abundantly evident when I...

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'Guardians of the Galaxy' tops MTV Movie Awards nominations

And you thought Hollywood's award season was over.

A teenage tearjerker, a foul-mouthed coed comedy and a raucous space adventure featuring a talking tree lead the nominees for the 2015 MTV Movie Awards.

MTV announced Wednesday that "The Fault in Our Stars," ''Neighbors" and "Guardians of the Galaxy" all have seven shots at winning a golden popcorn trophy at the annual awards ceremony airing live on April 12.

"22 Jump Street" and "Whiplash" followed with five nods each in a slate that includes movies as diverse as "American Sniper," ''Gone Girl" and "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1."

Comedian Amy Schumer will host the irreverent show, which hands out prizes that include best villain, best WTF moment, best kiss and best shirtless performance. Fans vote online.

Associated Press

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UMBC alum Robin Masella talks about her role in 'Chicago' at the Hippodrome

The run of "Chicago" at the Hippodrome (now through Sunday) represents a homecoming of sorts for cast member Robin Masella, who plays Liz, the condemned prisoner who shot her husband after he popped his gum one-time-too-many.

Though raised in Queens, N.Y., Masella, 29, is a proud Retriever, an alum of the University of Maryland Baltimore County, where she majored in dance and received a teaching certificate in early childhood education. Since leaving UMBC and returning to New York City, she's performed throughout the country in such shows as "Evita," "The Little Mermaid," "Guys and Dolls" and "Spamalot."

Since joining the road show production of "Chicago" in September, Masella's performed in more than 15 cities, most recently in Naples, Fla. (after Baltimore, it's off to Ontario and Richmond, Va.). During a rare moment of downtime, Masella talked about performing in such a popular show, making a career out of musical theater and more.

HOW DID YOU GET CONNECTED UP WITH "CHICAGO?"

I...

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Who gets you in the best shape, Baltimore?

Working out is, well, tough work.

So we've decided to highlight Baltimore's favorite personal trainers, instructors, motivators and all-around gym heroes and heroines.

You tell us: Who's that trainer who pushes you to go that extra mile (or sit-up), the yoga instructor who has you bending in ways you never thought possible or that class instructor who makes stationary biking seem thrilling?

All you have to do is email b editor Jordan Bartel, jordan.bartel@baltsun.com, with your nominee's name, where he/she works and why you think they deserve to be included in a story about Baltimore's favorite gym giants.

Please also include your contact info, so we can possibly talk to you further about your pick.

Again, your favorites can be any of the following in Baltimore or counties around the city: gym owners, personal trainers, class instructors, boutique gym employees, yoga or p90x folks — anybody related to a gym, fitness or working out.

A collection of gym standouts will be featured in an...

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'Gotham' recap, 'Everyone has a Cobblepot'

Everyone in Gotham has an albatross around their neck.

Jim has Penguin, Commissioner Loeb literally has a string of starlings to wear around his neck and half of the GCPD has their own Cobblepot, as Harvey and the episode’s title plainly say. (I’ll admit it: I love it when that happens!)

This was one of those rare episodes where every plotline traces back to an earlier episode, rather than the typical introduce-then-forget-new-characters formula the writers are so fond of. “Gotham” should try this method more often.

“Everyone Has a Cobblepot” shows that having the albatross or Cobblepot isn’t the problem; it’s others knowing it, too. The darker and dirtier the secret is, the easier it is for others to exploit you.

This is how Gotham works, Jim discovers, as he storms into Loeb’s office. Jim’s upset this time because the narc cop-turned-drug-kingpin Flass was exonerated of his murder charges.

On top of that, Flass has Loeb’s full endorsement for president of the policeman’s union....

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