Paul and I did kind of a tri-county tour of school theater productions his siblings were in for the weekend. Working Saturday made it a bit annoying for me, just because it meant little downtime at home. I don’t like doing things after work. I like going home after work and that’s it.

We went out to Greensburg first to see Emily in “The Tempest,” only significantly shortened and set in space, so basically, it was “Forbidden Planet” onstage. It was fun. Emily played Miranda, and at this point we’ve gone to a few of their shows and have seen a few of her friends at literary events over in Pittsburgh, so they’re familiar faces and they remember who we are, too. Their dad said it was a bit over-the-top, and Paul and I were like…of course it was over-the-top! I’m pretty sure that’s the whole point.

We went out to dinner with the cast and crew after, which was fun but also a reminder of how we’re kind of at a really different place in our lives, mostly in terms of schedules. We’re used to early nights and early mornings, while they’re college kids who stay up late, so being out until around 11 and not getting home until midnight was rough. I fell asleep while Paul was driving us home.

So praise Sunday matinees! The thing about marrying someone who went to your high school and has fiver younger siblings is you’re never really away from that school’s orbit, at least not for several years–we’ve been together for like 7 1/2 years at this point, and his youngest brother’s still got a few to go before he graduates. But I didn’t hate my high-school years, and for the most part, I kind of like going back. I think it’s one of those things where you enjoy it for the first year or so after you graduate, when you still have friends there, and then when they’re gone, it’s more of, “When will I ever be free?” and now it’s, “Oh, this is nice.” I like seeing the teachers that were good, and the musical this time was good, too. They did Footloose, and I was honestly impressed with the lead. Jonathan only had a small part, but I was impressed he even tried out for it.

We hung out at my parents’ house while Jonathan was at his cast party a few minutes away, then picked him up, took him home, and hung out with the in-laws for a bit before heading home.

I spent my Monday off sleeping in and lounging around, then headed out to have Friend Emily, not Sister Emily, dye my hair. It’s been in need of it for a good few months, but we’ve been busy and on top of that, she tends to book about a month in advance, so I had a good while before I made it back. But it was almost worth it–I really liked having subtle pink-ish hair, but I was itching to take it farther, so now we’ve gone full bright pink and I love it.

Saturday 9: Sweet Disaster

Sweet Disaster (2016)

Unfamiliar with this week’s song. Hear it here.

1) This video begins outside a convenience store with a sign advertising beer, produce, lotto and an ATM. Will you buy beer, produce or a lotto ticket this weekend? Will you visit an ATM? I will most likely buy produce because we do typically get a little every week. I should probably visit an ATM because we’re singing my husband’s youngest brother in his high-school musical and I don’t know if that Catholic school is up with the times and can take cards.

2) As the video progresses, fountain drinks and donuts are consumed. When you stop for a snack during a road trip, what do you usually grab? It depends where we’re stopping, because if it’s a Sheetz, I’m ordering something legit.

3) The lyrics reference “a river of champagne.” When did you last enjoy a spot of the bubbly? I’m not sure! It might’ve been two Christmases ago, because I don’t think we’ve had any even at recent weddings.

4) The end of the video features sci-fi/horror images. Is that a genre you enjoy? If not, what kind of books do you read most often? YES. I don’t know that I’d say it’s what I read the most of, though, but that said, I don’t know that there’s any genre I read that dominates all the others. I like a lot of different things. I mean, my library picks are basically the first thing I see that looks interesting.

5) The trio that makes up The Dreamers are dyed-in-the-wool New Yorkers. If you could live in any city or village in the world, would you move or stay right where you are? I don’t know. I could definitely see myself living in there, but I also do like where I am now. Some people in the Pittsburgh area try to pass the area off as horrible, but it’s really not.

6) The Dreamers describe themselves as “impractical.”  What about you? Do you consider yourself practical or impractical? Very practical, for the most part.

7) They also won’t “listen to those who doubt” them. Sometimes we find the ones who doubt us most are ourselves. What about you? Are you confident, or do you suffer from self doubt? It depends on the day. I’d say I’m mostly confident, though. We all have our moments, and it’s not like I think I’m perfect, but I don’t worry a lot about other people’s opinions or whether or not something is good enough or if I said something wrong.

8) Do you often remember your dreams? Lately, no, but when they stand out, they really stand out. I haven’t had a really weird dream in a long time. I wouldn’t mind one.

9) Random question: Would you rather get $100 today, or $250 on this date a year from now? 250 in a year. We don’t need the money that bad right now, so might as well wait and get more.

Friday 5: The Shine of a Thousand Spotlights

  1. What physical trait are you (or have you been) self-conscious about? Where I carry my weight. Not necessarily my actual weight, but specifically where it goes–my stomach and my neck. Parts of me are actually pretty small, parts of me aren’t. My wrists are tiny and I can feel my ribs directly below my boobs, but by middle…
  2. When did you last do something risking injury? I don’t think I’ve done anything recently, but I’m known to climb on things as needed without thinking about it, so…
  3. Why do critics and the general movie-going public never seem to agree? I have kind of an interesting perspective on this. I work for a closed-captioning company, and I’ve started to say that we’re about on par with critics in terms of taste. We both watch a lot of movies and TV, and so things start to stand out, good and bad. You notice how formulaic things are and how unoriginal they are, too. I once asked a co-worker what he was working on, and it was some new medical show I’d never seen. I asked how it was, and he said, “Ah, you know, typical medical show,” and that told me everything about it. A show that involves solving something, either medical or legal, will have an aha moment where the main character’s personal life and the case collide and they gain some bit of wisdom from someone uninvolved that helps them figure out what the problem is. If they catch the criminal in the first 15 minutes of a police procedural, either he didn’t do it or the legal proceedings are going to be full of twists. A number of sitcoms are what I like to call “bumbling-dad sitcoms,” where you’ve got a dude who consistently is a jackass but it’s all worked out a half-hour later. It’s harder to impress us, to get us excited about something. That said, when we do get excited about something, we really want other people to love it and for it to do well. I’ve seen early episodes of shows and thought, “My God, I hope this is a hit,” and sure enough, it is. I think the public is less picky and more forgiving. I also think studios and executives can be and often are really, really wrong about what people actually want to see, but that’s a digression for another day.
  4. How do you feel about Hugh Jackman as an actor? I’ve always liked him. He’s good, and I had more than a small crush on Wolverine.
  5. Who is the best singer you’ve seen in live performance? Not counting performers in theater, because it’s a different beast and because it would just be a list of every professional tour I’ve seen, Puddles Pity Party, who I just saw last weekend. I’ve seen some great singers live and I’ve never really been disappointed, but his voice is so powerful. I’m posting “Palms” again because I love it, but I don’t think it does his voice justice, so I’m throwing in his America’s Got Talent audition, too. I think that’s where he really shows what he’s capable of.


I can’t remember exactly how it happened–I think it was how easily Paul ends up in YouTube black holes–but we found out about Puddles Pity Party, a super tall dude who dresses like a clown and his this amazing deep singing voice and does tons of great covers. And we were both pretty into it. Like, his voice is so great, and it’s the kind of performance-art type thing I can really get into. He honestly reminds me a little bit of Bowie’s “Ashes to Ashes” clown, just strangely not as weird.

It worked out pretty well that right around the time we were listening to a lot of Puddles, one of the local concert venues announced a show from him, and I remember the timing being so good that I thought, “If I’d seen this a few days ago, I would’ve been very confused.” And naturally, we got tickets, and me being me, when I saw that we could get like third row, I was like, “Fuck it, why not?”

The show was last night, and I’ve already written about it in the new AXS listicle style they want for articles, but I have to admit I like that–it’s a style that works kind of well for live reviews, I think, because it hones in on the highlights without being wordy. Sometimes when I do live reviews, I struggle to find the words for them, particularly if I loved it, because I can’t just write, “It was fucking amazing,” a few hundred times and call it a day. As much as I’d love to see him really just go for it and put in a serious, moving performance, he throws humor in and it works pretty well, and there is a benefit to not having a concert full of sad songs. He pulls people up onstage and I realized really quickly our third-row seats put us in the danger zone, but fortunately, he honed in on other people and never came for me. His sets, like his releases online, cover a wide variety of music over the years and he nails them all, and like I said, his voice is amazing.

Afterwards, he meets with fans in the lobby, so we were like, “It would be a great picture and he’s awesome, let’s do it,” and I find the result hilarious. Puddles and Paul in reality are very close in height–Paul’s about 6’5″, 6’6″, and I think he said Puddles only beat him by a tiny bit–but he stood on his tiptoes for the picture and gave himself a boost. And then there’s me on the end, and they both tower over me. And they’re both going for the sad-face schtick, and I’ve got this shit-eating grin. I mean, really.

I love it.

It was nice to meet him, but part of his thing is he never speaks, which is kind of cool because it makes the whole thing very in-character and performance-oriented. But he seemed very grateful when we gushed a little.

So yeah, we had a good time. We had dinner at the Waterfront beforehand, walked around a little bit, and since Mondays are my days off all month, I got to not necessarily sleep in since the alarm wakes me up when Paul gets up, but I did get to nap and play with new hair stuff meant to keep my pink dye job bright. If you look in the picture, it’s a tiny bit pink, but today, it’s a lot more vibrant, so I’m pleased. And then it gets redone in a week anyway, so I’ll be back to officially having Cool Hair again.

I leave you with one of the only–maybe the only–original songs Puddles Pity Party has worked on. It’s called “Palms” and it’s a collaboration with Sxip Shirey, and I fell in love with it.

Friday 5: Danny Boy

Saturday 9: Danny Boy (1956)

“Danny Boy” was selected in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Unfamiliar with this week’s song? Hear it here.

1) This is a sad song of farewell. Who is the last person you said “goodbye” or “so long” to? My husband when he left for work.

2) According to the 2000 Census, Massachusetts is the state with the largest percentage of residents of Irish descent. Have you ever been to The Bay State? I may have driven through it, but I’ve never stopped and been a proper tourist. But I’d like to.

3) “The wearing o’ the green” is one way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Will you wear something green in honor of the day? I didn’t and never do, in part because I don’t like green very much and so I own very few pieces of green clothing, but also because I don’t celebrate it. I know I’m probably a minority here, but I have no Irish heritage and I find it weird–and always have–that some people who also have no Irish heritage have turned it into an alcohol binge. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good drunken holiday, but sort of co-opting another culture’s holiday the way some have is strange and honestly kind of disrespectful to me.

4) What color makes you look best? I don’t know about best, but I do know I don’t do really bright colors well. I’m too pale.

5) Will you drink something green in honor of the day (like a Shamrock shake or a green beer)? No, because again, not a holiday a celebrate. I do love a good minty shake, though.

6) A four-leaf clover is considered good luck. Do you have a lucky charm? Not really. My brother always had the better luck.

7) Though she’s singing an Irish ballad, this week’s featured artist, Joni James, is of Italian heritage. Can you think of a song as identified with Italy as “Danny Boy” is with Ireland? Just the really cheesy songs that are sometimes played in Italian restaurants, which is kind of unfortunate.

8) Soda bread and potato bread are popular in Ireland. Are there any rolls or bread in your kitchen right now? A loaf of bread, but in the freezer because we don’t eat it fast enough before it goes bad.
9) Ireland is known for its whiskey. Do you enjoy Irish coffee (black coffee, whiskey and whipped cream)? Generally, no, because I like neither coffee nor whiskey, but there is a bar near my apartment that does them really well. Not well enough that I’d order one, but well enough that I have a couple sips when my husband gets one.

Friday 5: Mist It by That Much

  1. What did you most recently spray out of a can? Dry shampoo, I’m pretty sure.
  2. What’s your favorite food (or food product) that’s sprayed from a can? Whipped cream.
  3. When did you last spray-paint something? It’s been a really long time. High school, maybe? Like for a musical or our homecoming parade or something. I can’t think of a reason I would’ve used it since.
  4. What’s something that’s not sprayed from a can but would be pretty cool if it were? I don’t know, because I tend to think we’ve either already put everything into a can we need and that we’ve gone a little overboard with putting things into cans.
  5. What’s conceptually the oddest thing sprayed from a can? I kind of want to see cheese, even though I’ve eaten it and would gladly do it again. Snow, too. There are some indoor Christmas displays where I can see the point, but I live in Pennsylvania. We get enough of the real thing. And while I’ve always kind of wondered what a Christmas scene is for people who live in areas that don’t get snow, it’s weird to me that snow is seen as the quintessential Christmas scene when obviously, that’s not what Christmas even looks like in plenty of places. I don’t get why you’d want to put snow where there isn’t snow, like it’s that crucial to the holiday.

Things are going well on the home-buying front, so I figured might as well take advantage of the last weekend of Pittsburgh’s annual home show. And it was a successful trip–there are some things I’d like to do with the place, so we got some leads on that. Now it’s a matter of hearing back from everyone who took our info.

I wanted to eat while we were in town, and one of the places I’ve really been wanting to try in the city is Kaya, which serves cuisine from the Caribbean and South America. I was quite happy–I accidentally ordered an omelette when I meant to order a burrito because my brain, like, stopped working for a hot minute, but it was still delicious and served with a side of pineapple, so I was pretty happy. Paul had a salad also filled with tropical fruits, plus conch fritters as an appetizer, then we had coconut creme brûlée for dessert, so yep, basically great. I’d like to go back and experience their full menu, rather than just their Sunday brunch.

Monday, I meant to run some errands and ended up falling asleep on the couch for the entire morning, so I got a bit of a late start, but I made my Sephora trip happen.

And now we’re into another week.

Saturday 9: On and On

On and On (1977)
Unfamiliar with this week’s song. Hear it here.

1) This song describes the plight of “poor ol’ Jimmy,” who caught his girlfriend kissing someone else. Have you ever spied on a romantic partner? Eh, I’ve scrolled through messages on occasion, but that’s it. And I will 100% own that it has far more to do with insecurity than actual suspicion and that not trusting your partner is a dick move.

2) In this song, Stephen Bishop sings that he “smiles when he feels like dying.” When did you recently put on a happy face, even though you really weren’t all that happy? I don’t know. I haven’t really had a recent time where I felt like I had to power through it, so that’s good, and the rough times that do come to mind weren’t so much me putting on a facade as they were me enjoying what was happening in the moment in the midst of bigger things going on.

3) Stephen Bishop always wanted to be a musician, and as a child he began playing the clarinet. Did you take lessons — dance, art, music — as a child? If yes, did you take them because you enjoyed them, or because your parents made you take them? I took ballet starting about when I was six, and I had been begging for those ballet lessons for a while. My parents were never the type to make us do things, which I’m grateful for, especially knowing people who parents did and how they hated it and are a little resentful for it.

4) When he was 12, inspired by The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show, he switched to the guitar and began writing songs. Tell us about someone or something that influenced your career path. I’d always been interested in writing as a kid, but I never considered it as a college major/career path for all the reasons everyone already cites. But around the end of my first semester in college, I saw a movie where the main character was a writer, and I felt like I was watching someone do what I always wanted. So I changed my major.

5) Stephen Bishop attended Will C. Crawford High School in San Diego. This school requires students complete 20 hours of community service every year. Tell us about an organization, cause or campaign you volunteered for, either as a student or an adult. In high school, we were required to do service hours each semester, and for the bulk of it, I did stage crew for my former ballet teacher, but I also did a little time at the local animal shelter and a thrift store.

6) In 1977, when this song was popular, Seattle Slew won racing’s Triple Crown. Sam’s mother has always been afraid of horses. Is there an animal you’re uncomfortable with? Most reptiles. Turtles are pretty great, though. And sharks.

7) Also in 1977, moviegoers waited in line for hours to see Star Wars. What’s the longest line you waited in recently? Not very long, I know that. Maybe waiting to get into a concert?

8) The mini-series Roots first aired in 1977. Today Americans are spending more time and money than ever to research ancestry. How far back can you trace your family tree? Without much effort, back to my great-grandparents, maybe one generation farther. But on my maternal grandmother’s side, one of the relatives has a Facebook group for all the family members and I know he keeps records on everyone, like birthdays, anniversaries, and deaths, so I’m sure I could go back pretty far on that side if I’d ask him. Someone ought to do my dad’s side because no one knows much.

9) Random question: It’s often said that nobody’s perfect. How about you? What quality keeps you from being perfect? I’m stubborn, nosey, and opinionated.

Friday 5: Aroma

  1. What’s something you enjoy that contains garlic? I don’t know. I guess all the typical dishes garlic gets tossed into.
  2. What’s something you enjoy that contains ginger? So pretty much only gingerbread cookies. Turns out I don’t really like ginger otherwise.
  3. What’s something you enjoy that contains cloves? I don’t know. I cant’ think of anything I eat with cloves, although there’s a solid chance it’s in stuff and I just don’t pay attention.
  4. What’s something you enjoy that contains cinnamon? Man, like everything cinnamon is in? Especially anything with apples.
  5. What’s something you enjoy that contains celery? It’s part of my grandma’s recipes for potato salad and macaroni salad and I really like it in both, but my mom doesn’t. And since she’s typically the one making it, she leaves it out. I like celery, though. There’s no flavor, but it adds a nice crunch to things.

As always, from Friday 5.

I’m on weekend rotation at work again, which means Mondays off, which means the week it starts, I get a three-day weekend. It was nice to have three days off.

My mom’s birthday was Friday, so Saturday, she wanted to do dinner and a movie, so us kids and our spouses met my parents at the movies for Game Night, which entertained us all. Then we had dinner at Solomon’s, which is one of those places I’ve wanted to try for a long time and just never got around to. I quite liked it and it’s right across from our apartment, so it’s definitely one to keep in mind until the lease is up. And, I mean, after that, it’s just that the house will be out of town.

On the house front, it’s been taking up chunks of our time here and there. First, it was all the paperwork to make the offer, then it was the inspection and loan. Saturday morning was the inspection, and Sunday was a make/wait for phone calls type of day. The advantage was it was also a lazy day at home, and aside from having to take Paul to work due to a flat tire on his car, Monday was much of the same. But it was nice, and it’s one of the strangely nice things about working Saturdays–because no one else has Mondays off, I’m not making any plans, so I get a day to myself at home. A lot of times, it’s a day for phone calls and things that can be tough to do with normal working hours, but it’s also a good opportunity for books and Netflix.