Saturday 9: I Learned from You

Saturday 9: I Learned from You (2007)
… Because it’s Father’s Day weekend.
Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.

1) This song is a duet by the father/daughter team, Miley and Billy Ray Cyrus. Is your family musically inclined? Only a little–my mom can play the piano. I need to get back into playing guitar!

2) This song is about life lessons. Who has been a major influence on your life? The obvious ones–parents, grandparents, siblings, friends.

3) Miley’s given name is “Destiny.” Her nickname as a baby was “Smiley,” which is where Miley came from. What’s something that can always be depended upon to make you smile? Great people and great music.

4) Miley’s father, country singer Billy Ray Cyrus, has 5 children in addition to Miley (6 in all). Are you the oldest, the middle or the youngest sibling? Or are you an only child? I’m the oldest, but my husband always makes it a point to tell me I’m older, not oldest, because I’m the oldest of two and my husband’s the oldest of six so he doesn’t think being the oldest of two actually counts as being the oldest of anything.

5) Sam’s own father often traveled for business, and always remembered to bring her the little complimentary soaps, shampoos or body lotion he got from the hotel. Tell us about an inexpensive but treasured souvenir from a trip you’ve taken. Ooh, I don’t know. I don’t think I have one that stands out as being more treasured than any others.

6) Back when Sam was in high school, it was her father who gave her driving lessons. Are you patient when teaching someone something new? I think I am–I think I’m very patient in general–but you’d have to ask anyone on the other end. I could definitely see myself getting frustrated if someone’s not getting it after a while, though.

7) Sam’s father is easy to buy for: every year he wants a new pair of loafers, so every year for Father’s Day she gives him a DSW gift card. Is there anyone on your gift list that you find it easy to buy for? My mom has been the easiest historically, but I’ve been running out of ideas lately.

8) For family barbecues, Sam’s dad dons his “Kiss the Chef” apron and mans the Weber. What’s the last thing you cooked on the grill? We’ve actually never used our grill! We’re having a party next weekend, though, and my husband’s work friend is more skilled with a grill than either of us, so I might ask him if he wants to try it. It’s a little grill that’s just kind of part of the property. My brother-in-law calls it a “park grill.”

9) Sam’s father satisfies his afternoon sugar craving with an almost endless stream of Butter Rum Lifesavers. When you crave a snack, do you usually reach for something sweet or salty? Sweet, almost always.


Friday 5: Who Are You?

  1. Are you more of a Ross, Chandler, Joey, Monica, Phoebe, or Rachel? So I don’t really see much of myself in any of them, really, at least not so much that I could choose one. If I had to pick, I’d say Phoebe. But I decided to turn to trusty Buzzfeed quizzes for their expertise, and they declared me to be a Monica. I disagree with much of the description of her in terms of our similarities, but they do describe her as a Type A, and…that’s basically my husband’s nickname for me.
  2. Which Muppet would you most like to date? Kermit. He seems like a true gentleman.
  3. Which Wizard of Oz character do you most identify with? Ooh. Okay, so first of all, this is my favorite movie of all time–I fell in love with it when I was 2, and it’s like a comfort blanket at this point. Second, my favorite is Scarecrow. As for which one I most identify with? I’m not sure. Maybe it’s because I’ve loved the movie my entire life, but I think I’ve seen myself in all of them at different points in my life. I think right now, I’d say the Tin Man, in the sense that he’s sensitive and compassionate and that’s what I’m feeling the most these days.
  4. You’re in one of those heist movies with a whole mess o’ expert specialists. Which are you? I’m doing recon and information-gathering. I’m a nosy bitch, so I’m getting the lay of the land and keeping tabs on anyone who might be a problem.
  5. Which member of the Brady Bunch would you most likely be good friends with? Probably Greg, because he was the one the most into music. Tell ya what, though, I’d feel bad for Jan.

As always, from Friday 5.

Of course, we’re not ones to miss the local Greek food festival, so Paul mentioned it to a friend at work and he and his wife joined us for a nice evening of delicious Greek food. All were happy.

For dessert, we headed into town. For starters, the city’s monthly First Friday was underway, and although I wanted to check out the vendors, I didn’t make it in time. But we did get to enjoy ice cream at a little deli right in town that smartly stays open whenever something like that is going on in town. Downtown was also featuring a car show through Saturday afternoon with most of the same vendors as First Friday, so I figured I’d hit it then, but I ended up getting there just a bit too late for that, too.

So in need of a haircut because I can’t get to Emily for a little while, I went and got that taken care of. I’m glad to have it tamed a little and my undercut freshly buzzed for the summer months. Paul ran some errands while I was in there, and then from there, we headed to a graduation party for one of his cousin’s, where I mostly spent my evening hanging out with his sister and drinking much wine.

It’s been a good few weeks, maybe even a month at this point, since we made it to one of Dom and Tina’s brunches, but they did one on Sunday so we ventured up into Pittsburgh for very delicious breakfast sandwiches and a great selection of season iced teas. And to drop off recycling, of course.

In between all that, there was cutting grass and planting a few new veggies in the garden. This weekend, it’s back to Pittsburgh for the arts festival…and maybe brunch again. Who knows?

Saturday 9: I’m Moving On

Saturday 9: I’m Moving On (1965)
Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.

1) In this song, Chyvonne Scott sings that she’s sick of her lover’s “conniving.” Tell us about a time you felt deceived. (It doesn’t have to involve romance.) I’m trying to think of a recent one, but I can’t, so that’s good, at least. “Deceived” isn’t the most accurate word for what I have in mind, I don’t think, but I guess I know a few people who I think are good bullshitters and I’m waiting for the facade to crack.

2) She realizes it’s time to move on to another love. What’s your favorite love song? Is it about a relationship that’s running smoothly? Or is it like “I’m Moving On,” about an unhappy love affair? As is always the case with me, I don’t have just one favorite. But I do tend to prefer faster songs, which do tend to be happy.

3) Though Chyvonne Scott enjoyed only limited success as a recording artist, she was very popular in New York clubs. When did you most recently listen to music performed live? The last concert I went to was Cher, which was amazing.

4) In 2017, this song appeared on a Samsung commercial that poked fun at rival iPhone. Is your cell phone an Apple or Android? How did you choose your phone? iPhone. I was late to smartphones, and mostly, my friends all had iPhones, so I saw those in action and that’s what I wanted. I also have a Mac laptop, so I do like having all the compatibility that goes along with that.

5) Chyvonne is an unusual name. In 1965, when this song was first released, the most popular baby names in the US were Michael and Lisa. Do you have any Michaels or Lisas in your life? My mom’s best friend’s name is Lisa, who would’ve been born close to 1965, and my husband’s sister just married a Michael.

6) Also in 1965, Winston Churchill died. In researching this week’s Sat. 9, Sam discovered a Churchill quote that’s new to her: “I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught.” Share something interesting that you recently learned. Just a few minutes ago, I was reading an interview dealing with women’s health, mostly as it relates to Alzheimer’s, but a few other things came up, as well. And while I already knew that there are issues with gender bias in medicine and that there are certain illnesses that present differently in women than they do men and that as a result, women don’t always get diagnosed and treated as early as they could and should, the interview discussed some studies and information I never knew about. It was equal parts fascinating and disheartening.

7) In 1965, one of the most successful movies ever made, The Sound of Music, was released. Have you ever seen it? It’s one of those movies that I’ve never, like, sat and watched the entire thing in one sitting but rather have watched in chunks over the course of my life. So yeah, I’ve seen it, and I have a well-known crush on Captain Von Trapp.

8) Lava lamps were already popular in England and Brussels, but in 1965 they were introduced in the US. Do you think lava lamps are cool? I did when I was a kid.

9) Random question — You have to buy something very personal that you find embarrassing. Would you rather pay cash for it, so your identity would be unknown but you’d have to face the cashier? Or order it online, where you could avoid looking anyone in the eye, but you have to share your name and address? Honestly, I wouldn’t care either way because no one else probably cares, either.

Friday 5: The New York Times Best Sellers

  1. What is your experience with crayfish (or crawfish or crawdads, depending on where you’re from)? Mostly just as a kid when boys, usually cousins, would pick them up.
  2. When have you been stung by a stinging critter? I was stung by a bee as a kid. That’s about it.
  3. What was the last previously-owned item you purchased for yourself? I’m really not sure. Probably a record. I think it’s been a while since I did.
  4. Where are you on the whole Game of Thrones thing? So I’ve never actually watched the show, so take everything I’m about to say with a grain of salt. It seems that the people who are unhappy with it are a very vocal minority, largely complaining that certain events and character choices seemed to come out of nowhere, with little to no development, but I’ve seen people defending it arguing that that’s not the case at all and essentially implying but rarely outright saying that the other group was never really paying attention and is forgetting things from past seasons that make whatever happened not so out of nowhere. I’ve also heard a lot of complaints about bad writing, and while I obviously can’t speak to whether or not I think that’s accurate, I do feel like I’d agree with the people who liked it, and having said that, from the outside, it looks as though it’s not that the writing was bad or lazy or rushed but that things didn’t go the way some people wanted or expected and they’re equating that with bad writing. There’s a difference between bad writing and just not liking an outcome. Most of all, though, I agree with Sophie Turner’s comments that the criticism has gotten disrespectful, especially when it comes to people starting petitions to have the season remade…which is the strangest, pettiest piece of this for me. I love digging into art of any kind and dissecting it, and even though I feel like I’d disagree with the criticism here, I don’t fault anyone for doing it, but I do think petitioning to have it redone is ridiculous, and not only because of Turner’s point. I mostly don’t see the point. HBO already made tons of money on it, and it’s over. There’s no way they’re gonna spend the money to redo it, and I’m not sure if the people creating and signing these petitions really think they will or are just using it to complain. But even if it’s just to vent, it strikes me as a waste of time and just comes off a certain negative way.
  5. How did you celebrate your 18th birthday? My 18th is among my favorites. Some brief backstory: when I was 16, my dad deployed to Iraq and essentially due to the upheaval that causes in a home, it was a factor in me not getting my driver’s license until a few months after my 18th birthday. So no license, and therefore, no photo ID. I’m not sure whose idea it was, but it was decided to spend my 18th birthday gambling with my mom and grandma. At the time, Pennsylvania didn’t have any casinos, although they were in the works, and the closest one was not far away down in Wheeling, West Virginia. At the time, you only had to be 18 to go–the age was raised a few months later to 21, and all the PA casinos are 21, too, because they serve alcohol, and the story was that West Virginia was making some changes to avoid losing tons of business to Pennsylvania. I think we were originally gonna try to go without any kind of photo ID for me and didn’t. Maybe my mom checked their policies, I don’t know. But we drove out to one of the licensing centers pretty much when they opened, got me a photo ID, then drove down to Wheeling and spent the day gambling. My grandparents were always fans of the slots and used to go to Atlantic City with my parents when my brother and I were kids, so it was almost a rite of passage, and it was fun to get to spend the day playing the way they had plenty of times. And looking back, I feel a little lucky (har har) to have had that day, because not long after, they changed the age to 21 and I never did go back to Wheeling, but on top of that, my grandma died a little over a year later, and that birthday was the only trip I got like that with her. So it ended up being almost like this perfect timing, and I’m glad it worked out the way it did.

As always, from Friday 5.

With most of the big, busy stuff over, we have much of our weekends to ourselves. So I talked Paul into a trip to Ikea for recycling bins I saw online and sweetened the deal with dinner and a trip to see the new Godzilla movie.

We both liked the movie, I think, as far as summer action movies go, but Paul is something of a Godzilla connoisseur and has a list of complaints. Doesn’t matter to me. I was entertained for two hours while monsters destroyed cities fighting each other.

Meanwhile, we hadn’t really seen baby Eliana since the weekend she was born–we don’t live far from Brandon and Kelly, but it’s enough that between work and things that need done around the house during the week, heading out their way would take a lot of time and would be better left for the weekends. And of course, we were in Erie last weekend. So I was planning on asking my brother anyway if there was a good time to stop over when he beat me to it and said that Eliana was asking when Auntie Nellie and Uncle Paul were gonna come see her, so we made plans to go over. That eventually changed to us all going to my parents’ house instead since they have more room, and my mom made one of my grandma’s soup recipes and we all spent our afternoon passing around the baby.

I headed back over yesterday to watch Seger for the evening. My parents were off to Philadelphia for the day for my dad’s chemo and Seger wasn’t feeling well and couldn’t go to doggie daycare, so Brandon stopped over for a few hours in the morning and I went over after work, hung out until they got back, then headed home.

This weekend, we had a graduation party and hopefully more Eliana time.

Saturday 9: It’s Late

It’s Late (1959)

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

1) Ricky Nelson laments that he should have been home hours ago. When is the last time you stayed up later than you should have? What were you doing? Probably Thursday night, probably screwing around on my phone.

2) Compounding Ricky’s problem is that he’s nearly out of gas. How is your gas tank right now? When did you most recently fill ‘er up? My gas light is on. I filled up at some point last weekend while we were in Erie, I think Saturday night. So I didn’t have quite a full tank for our drive home, but the fact that I’ll only just be having to get gas next time I leave the house isn’t bad.

3) It gets worse! He can’t call home because he doesn’t have a dime for the pay phone. Have you recently been in a situation where you’ve been glad you had your cell phone handy? Probably, but I have better stories about having to borrow a phone with a dead battery. I’m looking at you, The Great Debacle After The Struts Concert.

4) The video for this song is from an episode of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. Ozzie Nelson, Ricky’s father, was in charge of the show and made the rules. One was that no one was allowed to smoke on the set … except his wife, Harriet. Do you smoke? Have you ever lived with a smoker? I had a brief stint as a smoker in college, but that’s it. Never lived with a smoker.

5) Life magazine coined the phrase “teen idol” to describe Ricky’s popularity. According to Tiger Beat, today’s teen idols include Johnny Orlando and Ruby Jay. Johnny was born in 2003, Ruby in 2004. Sam admits that before today, she had no idea who these young people are. How about you? Not a clue.

6) While Paul McCartney and Bob Dylan have posthumously praised Ricky Nelson’s music, 1950s music critics dismissed him as a lightweight. What’s the last review you read? Was it written by a professional critic, or was it contributed by a consumer to a site like Amazon or Yelp? It was a review for Rocketman by a critic. It was largely positive, and while I do have mixed feelings on critics–except our Lord and Savior Peter Travers–they are generally good at pinpointing where strengths and flaws are, whether it’s movies, music, TV, whatever.

7) At the height of his popularity, Ricky tried his hand at movies, appearing in the western Rio Bravo with John Wayne. He turned 18 during the filming, and Wayne celebrated by playfully throwing Ricky into a sack of horse manure. Do you think pranks and practical jokes are funny? The definitely can be, especially when well-executed and mostly harmless, but I do think there’s a fine line between pranks and just being an asshole and that too many people cross that line, sometimes intentionally, and try to use the guise of pranks or jokes as a way to be mean.

8) In 1959, when this song was popular, the St. Lawrence Seaway was completed. It connects Canada to our Great Lakes. Without looking it up, can you name all 5 Great Lakes? Erie, Michigan, Superior, Huron…and I forgot Ontario and had to look it up. I was just at lake Erie!

9) Random question – You drive past a local motel and see the car of a very married friend right there in the lot. Would you ask her about it? Probably, but not in an accusatory or judgmental way.

Friday 5: Genre

  1. What gets an unfairly bad rap? I feel like every few days, I’m tweeting about something I think people are judging unfairly, but I think today, I’m gonna go with science fiction. I watched the finale of the new Twilight Zone last night and loved it, as did most people, it seems, and it went very meta and had brief conversation about the nature of sci-fi. Even though there’s not a lot these days that’s considered, like, a “nerd” thing–and I think that’s a good thing–I do think sci-fi is still one of the things that people have weird expectations of. On one hand, some people dismiss it and are missing out on some awesome, complex writing, and on the other hand, others, especially with this reboot, complain about political and social themes, except they forget the genre’s been playing with those since it began.
  2. What’s something you’ve done to jazz up your routine? I did it out of necessity and I’ve talked about it recently, I think, but I changed my morning routine to get up earlier to eat a proper breakfast because eating at my desk while I work and the cat literally sticks her nose into everything I have just isn’t working anymore.
  3. When did you last have your mettle tested? Probably whenever the cat last literally stuck her nose into my breakfast. So, like, yesterday, when I slept in and ate at my desk.
  4. What’s something you were once — but are no longer — hardcore into? I feel like you could pinpoint any number of things, especially from my teen years–games, music, celebrities, whatever. I had a Hello Kitty phase as a kid and probably still have some stuff in my parents’ basement to get rid of.
  5. What are some porch swings, tire swings, or rope swings you’ve known? My cousins always had a nice swing on their back porch, and I was on it a couple of weeks ago at a christening. It’s still a great swing. My grandparents also had more of a little glider on their front porch, and although it’s not a swing, it’s definitely the one with some of the sweetest, simplest memories, especially from this time of year.

From Friday 5.

If any bride can handle throwing together a wedding in a few months, make chocolates and cheesecakes for it, and entertain and feed out-of-town guests the morning of the wedding before her hair and makeup get done, it’s Julie. She had a packed house the morning of the wedding on Sunday, and we stopped by for a little bit for some of the breakfast she made and to see if she needed to put us to work. And she did–we got sent to the venue with a car full of food, wine, and anything else we hadn’t taken over the day before that needed to be there. So Paul and I drove over and hauled in a few boxes of things, then sat down and enjoyed more beverages. This time, I went for a raspberry chai.

Emily and Chelle had left the house around the same time we did and had some time to kill, too, so they joined us at the coffee shop for about an hour before we all parted ways again to get ready for the wedding.

When we all saw each other next, we were all prettied up, and we tackled the last-minute prep in the final hour before the wedding–Katie and I were steaming things again, this time tablecloths, and final decorations were put up. Some of us, and by that I mean me, even took the last 15 minutes to paint our nails.

And pretty much right on time, Michael and his groomsmen lined up while my father-in-law went up to a little loft area and escorted Julie down.

Katie and I were excited to watch and kind of felt more emotional than we did at our own weddings, maybe even each other. I can’t speak for her, of course, but for me, marrying Paul was just kind of the next logical step. We’d been together for several years at that point–and in fact, this summer marks nine years together, despite only two of marriage–and it was more a matter of making it official. Even watching Jacob and Katie get married, it was exciting, but they’ve been together just a smidge longer than we have, to the point that the four of us have basically been around as couples the same amount of time and there’s no real clear point marking, like, before we were dating and after. Katie was there the night I met Paul, and I’ve pretty much been around ever since. And Paul and Jacob are the two oldest, and we met at Jacob’s high-school graduation with my brother, when Julie was still in high school. Katie and I may have shown up around the same time, but we’ve pretty much watched Julie and Michael’s relationship go from the early days of dating to moving up to Erie a few years ago to now.

And, of course, there’s a difference between seeing the boys in their tuxes and seeing Julie come down the stairs in a beautiful wedding dress with her dad on her arm. I have so many mixed feelings about the wedding industry and the whole concept of marriage, but man, you can’t beat that image.

The ceremony was short and sweet, with Jacob officiating–Julie asked him to do it earlier this year and he got ordained online. We’ve been joking for months about him wearing a slutty nun Halloween costume. But him officiating was another really sweet part of it, and it didn’t hit me until he was actually having them recite vows. We’d been asked (by Jacob on behalf of the couple) to put our cellphones away, but Katie slyly filmed the whole time and I can’t blame her.

And then they were married!

Since it was a pretty small wedding with immediate family and close friends in a small coffee shop, there wasn’t really any dancing, just food and wine, but that was fine. There was a pretty simple seating arrangement and us two already married couples were together next to Julie and Michael’s table, and Katie and I took the opportunity to chant “One of us!” at Michael. He hated it, and he said so.

We had great food and homemade wine, and I think I tried a little bit of each kind they had. Michael also had a bottle of tequila he’d brought back from a recent trip to Mexico, and fearing it would be strong, the four of us did a tiny, tiny tequila toast to Michael and found that it was actually quite smooth. And we may or may not have given a tiny bit to the family’s youngest sibling, who may or may not have hated it. That’s how you can tell the seasoned drinkers–we all went, “Ooh!” after we finished it and talked about how smooth it went down and had just a slight kick to it.

Everything wrapped up pretty early, so we decided to head back to Emily and Chelle’s Airbnb a few minutes away but, like our hotel, over the New York border. Paul and I waited around awhile while everyone else was with Jacob and Emily, who had to sign the marriage certificate as witnesses, and then I guess it was somehow hard to figure out where to sign and also totally different than Katie and Jacob’s marriage certificate, so after a while, I guess they gave up.

Mostly, we hung around bullshitting all night. You still can’t get us together without some degree of swapping stories and complaints, but things have been really calm and really good for a while, which we were sure to tell Chelle so as not to scare her off. Emily had also bought a cigar from a store across from the coffee shop, so she wanted to smoke with Jacob, who almost always has cigars on-hand at special events. Paul joined, and that’s how all of us significant others ended up sitting on a dark porch in an unusually cold night while the three siblings all smoked.

Katie and I were also pretty wound up and had each other, but perhaps most of all ourselves, in tears laughing. We started calling ourselves plus Michael The In-Law Club, which somehow escalated to a very formal, British-esque organization with code names, and we thought everything we came up with was hilarious. Even Paul the next day was like, “Well, you two certainly had a good time.”

As with all late nights with good company, it was hard to pull ourselves away, and we ultimately left around 1 a.m. I kind of enjoyed all the driving through the back roads of the two states, too. It’s not like I was homesick, but it felt like home all the same, and there’s something about summer nights driving through the countryside that just feels good. I’d say nostalgic, but it’s not quite that.

By Saturday, most of the in-laws had arrived–or rather, all of us kids.

And Erie, whose weather forecast before we left had indicated the temperature wouldn’t get above the 60s all weekend, decided fuck that, 80s on Saturday it is. Paul and I decided to start the day with another walk on Presque Isle in the same manner–walk for a bit down one side, then cross and walk back along the beach. We parked the car a little farther down this time to see a little bit more of the peninsula than we had on Friday, and we ended up taking a bit longer than we thought. But on the upside, we spent more time on the beach than we had the day before, and although the water was still really cold, it was hot enough outside that I decided to walk for a bit along the water so that the lake’s tiny waves could at least hit my fit without actually, you know, walking through freezing water.

We also started joking that you could tell we were the oldest siblings on the trip because at 7 a.m. we were awake and ready to go, texting everyone else about going for a morning walk on Presque Isle only to be met with either crickets or “Nah, we’ll see you for lunch.”

Julie and Michael were making lunch for everyone while finishing up some wedding prep, so we had a nice little cookout at their place and then we all trucked over to the wedding venue, a coffee shop Julie and Michael frequent, to decorate. For the most part, we were done quick, and the part that took the longest was steaming curtains Julie was hanging in the front windows. Strangely, Katie and I found that we kind of enjoyed it.

I’m sure the place made decent money off of all of us, too, because almost all of us got drinks. I sprung for a mango bubble tea, and we discovered that only four of us like bubble tea at all–Paul and I, of course, Michael, and Katie, who had it for the first time. Everyone else not only dislikes it but actually thinks it’s weird and gross. Opinions were very strong and very divided.

When we were done, we decided to temporarily go our separate ways. Paul and I joined Katie and Jacob briefly on a nearby beach, then left to go run some errands–I needed dye-friendly shampoo, and Paul managed to get a sunburn the day before, so I figured might as well find something for that, and then I decided to get disposable razors and a small thing of shaving cream to shave my legs for the wedding the next day. And then I forgot to do it. Oops.

We have a rule of no chain restaurants when we travel, but that proved to be a strangely difficult thing to pull off Saturday night at Erie’s mall. On top of that, by the time I grabbed everything I wanted in Ulta, we were both really hungry and not in the mood to either find something different or risk something not being good. And that’s how we ended up at a Primanti Bros. in Erie. Not only did we break our no-chain rule, but we sprung for the most typical Pittsburgh food ever as though we couldn’t just get it whenever the hell we want back home. The only thing that would’ve been dumber? Going to the Eat ‘N’ Park. Hell, we probably could’ve even rationalized the Mad Mex, but nope, we can’t resist those sandwiches.

We had planned to go to Katie and Jacob’s hotel for a bonfire, but by the time we were done shopping and eating and by the time we’d get there, there’d be less than an hour left of bonfire and drink specials to enjoy. And we were tired, so we decided to call it a night and go back to our hotel.

And so all that was left was Sunday, wedding day.