Friday 5: Year-End Awards

  1. Who is your 2019 most valuable player? My husband. 2019 was a crazy year for my whole family, and the craziness never really stopped. One of the biggest things was my dad being diagnosed with cancer and dying just moths later, and watching your spouse’s family been thrown into chaos that ultimately ends in grieving can’t be an easy thing. But his was supportive through the whole thing, not to mentioned other things 2019 tossed our way.
  2. Who is your 2019 newcomer of the year? I’ll tell ya later. But runner up goes to my niece, Eliana, who is adorable.
  3. Who is your 2019 most improved player? Ooh, I don’t know. I feel like my family stagnated in the wake of everything–that’s not a criticism, it’s just a reflection of the reality of what was going on and the impact it had. But maybe my brother and sister-in-law, as they became parents. It’s not like I thought they’d be bad at it by any means, but you definitely see a different side of people after they have kids that can be impressive. That said, though, if you have a sibling who is the type to hold a compliment over your head, do not tell them they’re a good parent, even if your dad just died and it’s been a long, hard day and it’s true and you think they deserve to hear it because you will never, ever hear the end of it.
  4. Who is your 2019 comeback player of the year? My friend Marissa. She moved back to the area this year, and she was part of a group I removed myself from a few years ago but was not part of the reason why I did so. When I found out she was back in the area, I was like, “Well, screw it, I might as well get in touch,” and it was probably one of the things I’m most happy I did in 2019. We’ve hung out about as much as two working adults who live 45-60 minutes apart can.
  5. Who receives your 2019 team spirit award? My niece, Eliana. She kept us distracted and was our bright spot this year. Christmas and Thanksgiving would’ve absolutely, 100% been awful if we didn’t have her to turn our attention somewhat from the absence of my dad. It was still felt, but it’s easier to push through it when there’s a six-month-old laughing and opening her first Christmas presents.

As always, from Friday 5.

Saturday 9: The Christmas Song

Saturday 9: The Christmas Song (1961)

Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.

1) The lyrics mention “chestnuts roasting on an open fire.” Do you often eat chestnuts? Never.

2) There’s a reference to Jack Frost, too. Does cold weather help you get into the holiday spirit? Kind of, but I hate it so much that I don’t mind if it stays warm.

3) Nat sings that turkey helps to make the season bright. We just had it last month for Thanksgiving. Do you enjoy turkey all year around? Or do you consider it primarily a holiday dish? I don’t eat it because I’m a vegetarian, but I did used to really like turkey sandwiches all year.

4) This song was published as “The Christmas Song,” but people often refer to it as “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” or “Merry Christmas to You.” When you think of this song, which title comes to mind? Because I’m a music nerd, “The Christmas Song.”

5) Nat King Cole had a big hit in the 1950s with “Mona Lisa.” The ballad compares an enigmatic woman to the da Vinci painting, which hangs in the Louvre. The Mona Lisa has been called the most instantly identifiable painting in the world. Can you think of another famous painting that you recognize on sight? (Extra points if you include a picture!) Van Gogh’s Starry Night–as well as a few other Van Goghs–and some of Monet’s many water lilies. I’m a sucker for those Frenchies.

6) Best remembered today as a singer, Cole was also an accomplished composer and jazz pianist. Do you like jazz? I do, but I feel like I don’t appreciate it as much as some do.

7) The only Christmas card Sam has received so far this year is from her dentist. She never sees Dr. Douglas socially. In fact, she hasn’t seen him since her annual check-up last March. Have you received many cards this year? Only a few, but I also didn’t send any, despite buying some and intending to. Next year!

8) When did/will you start holiday shopping this year: Christmas Eve, Thanksgiving/Black Friday, Halloween? Earlier than that? I start after Thanksgiving. I don’t shop on Black Friday because of crowds and because most deals aren’t the best deals of the year, plus we’ve kind of gone nuts with it in this country and retail workers don’t deserve that mess. I hit some Cyber Monday deals this year and then really started shopping the following weekend or so.

9) This time of year is big for charitable fundraising. Here’s your chance to plug a cause or organization that’s near and dear to you. I can’t think of a specific one, but in thinking about what’s happening in the world right now, I urge anyone concerned about the Australia wildfires to donate to organizations helping with relief.

Friday 5: It’s Around Here Somewhere

  1. What was your most recent unexpected expense? It might’ve been some minor work that needed done on my car when it got inspected, but that was a few months ago yet.
  2. What was your most recent pleasant surprise? I’ll tell you later. But I’ll tell you that part of it is doctor’s appointments I haven’t had to pay for thanks to insurance. That said, insurance companies are still the worst and our healthcare system is still broken–I’m just fortunate enough that I have good coverage.
  3. What can’t you find? My glasses! I cannot for the life of me find them–they’re not in any logical place. I’ve been relying on an old backup pair, but I suspect they’re partially responsible for the headaches I’ve been having.
  4. What are you hiding from? Nothing, I think.
  5. Who is a mystery? Most recently, my mother-in-law.

Saturday 9: The Champion

Saturday 9: The Champion (2018)

Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.

1) This song is about doing what it takes to win. What’s the most recent competition you won? (Yes, online solitaire counts.) In that case, probably solitaire. Or a Candy Crush level.

2) The lyrics tell us to “go ahead and put your bets on me.” Do you often play games of chance — like the office football pool, or slot machines, or the lottery? Not often, but I do enjoy them.

3) The video includes footage of young people competing in The Special Olympics. What’s your favorite sport to watch? Is it the same sport you most enjoying playing?  
Hockey. I’ve never played it–outside of air hockey, which I always loved–but I do think I’d enjoy it if I did.

4) This week’s featured artist, Carrie Underwood, first came to America’s attention when she won on American Idol. Prior to competing on that show, she’d never been on an airplane. How old were you when you took your first flight? 17.

5) Carrie loves horror and her favorite author is Stephen King. What book are you currently reading? I believe there are four in my current stack–Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice, The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larson, Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, and A Brightness Long Ago by Guy Gavriel Kay. There’s a slight fantasy/supernatural bent at the moment, which is pure coincidence.

6) Carrie’s duet partner on “The Champion” is rapper Ludacris. In addition to making music, he acts and has appeared in one Sam’s favorite shows, Law & Order: SVU. What’s your favorite “cop show?” That’s definitely one of them. It’s tough because I do generally enjoy them, but they’re also all mostly the same.

7) Ludacris is a distant cousin of comedian Richard Pryor. Have you studied your family’s genealogy? Not extensively, but I know a couple relatives know a good bit and keep track of everything, even now–marriages, births, deaths, everything.

8) Soccer was a big deal in 2018, the year this song was released. According to Google, “FIFA World Cup” was the news story that generated the most internet searches. What’s the last thing you “googled?” I believe it was hours for one of the local malls.

9) Random question: You’re battling the flu. The doctor advises you to stay in bed a full five days. As you begin feeling better (around Day 3), do you continue to follow doctor’s orders? Or do you get up and start moving before you’re supposed to? Oof. I probably make myself stay in bed until at least Day 4, because I do know myself well enough to know that I have a tendency to overdo it when I’m sick and make things worse, so I try to be aware of that and give myself more time to rest than I think I need. But if I’m really feeling a lot better, I don’t think I’m making it until Day 5. I may know that bedrest is probably for the best, but I’m impatient and still kind of an idiot when it comes to listening to my body.

Friday 5: Accidents Will Happen

  • What was the last thing you spilled? Ginger ale.
  • What was the last thing you broke? Huh, I don’t know. Which hopefully means it’s been a while since I broke anything.
  • What was the last thing you dented? I’m not sure about this one, either, because even in the case of the obvious answer of a car, none of the dents that have ended up in my car have been my fault. And the last one was years ago anyway.
  • What was the last thing you tore? It wasn’t my fault, but tights. I’d spent the night at my mom’s to dog sit and my husband was coming out the next day for a family Christmas party, and I asked him to grab a pair of tights for me to wear but he grabbed the wrong ones. The ones he grabbed were a little too snug but would do, and they already had a hole in them. The hole only got larger over the course of the afternoon, ultimately ripping along the seam probably halfway down my thigh. It’s a good thing my dress was about to my knees!
  • What was the last thing you stumbled over? A shoe, I think.

As always, from Friday 5.

Saturday 9: Baby’s in Black

Saturday 9: Baby’s in Black (1964)

Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.

 From our archives.

1) Black is this week’s signature color because Friday was “Black Friday,” the day when retailers cut their prices and consumers flock to the stores. Did you score any “Black Friday” bargains? No, but I did hit Cyber Monday deals.

2) Feasting and football are also popular Thanksgiving weekend pastimes. Do your Thursday-Sunday plans include pigging out or watching a game? Nope.

3) At Thanksgiving dinners, Crazy Sam’s homemade gravy is always a hit. (Probably because she’s so generous with the cognac, which gives the gravy a nutty taste.) What was particularly delicious at your Thanksgiving table? My mom made my grandma’s potato salad, and then at some point, my dad had made and frozen a few pans  of lasagna before he died, so we had one of those. It was nice and weird all at once.

4) Among the biggest the Black Friday advertisers are Target, Kohl’s, Macy’s and Best Buy. If you could have a $100 gift card to any one of those stores, which would you choose? Probably Target.

5) This week’s song, “Baby’s in Black,” is about a girl who wears black because she’s in mourning. Do you find that the color you’re wearing reflects your mood? Almost never.

6) The woman who inspired this song, Astrid Kirchherr, has been friends with Paul McCartney since he and his bandmates (John Lennon, George Harrison, Stu Sutcliffe and Pete Best) met her in Hamburg back in 1960. Tell us what you believe are the components of a strong, lasting friendship. Respect, trust, and dependability.

7) In the early days of the Beatles, Paul McCartney and John Lennon began writing a play but abandoned it. Do you have a novel, painting, play, song or poem that you’re going to finish “someday?” Ha, story of my life.

8) When he was 16, George Harrison dreamed of moving to Canada, Australia or Malta. In just a few years, he would visit all those places with Beatles and eventually decided there was no place like home and stayed in England (though he did also maintain a home in Hawaii). Have you ever thought about moving to another country? If so, where? No, but I think I’d do okay in Canada or England.

9)  Random question: Finish this sentence — If you want me to give you “yes” for an answer, the best time to approach me is _____________________. Probably afternoon or evening, as long as I’m not hungry.

Friday 5: Five for Five

  1. In exactly five words, how was your week? It’s only just getting started.
  2. In exactly five words, what’s up this weekend? Nothing that I know of.
  3. In exactly five words, what are you feeling great about? What the future may bring.
  4. In exactly five words, what’s giving you confidence? How the past week was.
  5. In exactly five words, what’re you listening to? Joni Mitchell’s Clouds on Spotify.

As always, from Friday 5.

Saturday 9: No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)

Saturday 9: No More Tears (Enough Is Enough) 1979

Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.

1) This lyrics use weather as metaphor for romance. Here at Saturday 9, we’re more literal. How do the skies look where you are this morning? Well, it’s dark out now, and earlier, even when the sun was up, it was cloudy and grey.

2) According to Merriam-Webster, “enough is enough” is what you say when you want something to stop because you “can no longer accept or deal with it.” When did you recently say — out loud or to yourself — “enough is enough.” I have no idea. It’s not really a phrase I use, and I wouldn’t have had a recent reason to use it, either.

3) Grammy winner Luther Vandross began his career as a background singer and performed on “No More Tears.” Tell us about one of your early jobs. When I was a kid, I washed dishes at the restaurant where my dad cooked. I was on my feet all night, got paid under the table, of course, but I enjoyed feeling like I had actual responsibility and getting spending money, too, as well as a little share of whatever my dad was cooking.

4) Both Donna Summer and Barbra Streisand made slight changes to their first names. Summer was christened “LaDonna,” while Streisand’s parents spelled her name the more conventional “Barbara.” When she was in high school, meme mistress Samantha Winters went from “Sammy” to “Sam.” Did you ever make a similar change to your first name? Nah. The name Janelle isn’t easy to shorten in a way that makes sense, although my mom has always called me Nellie.

5) Hair was higher maintenance in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Streisand and Summer are both sporting styles that would require chemical treatment, like a perm or relaxer. Today’s looks are less rigidly styled and tend to be smoother or slightly messy. How often do you change your look? I change my hair color somewhat often–I’ve stuck with the same thing for a few months for a couple of reasons, one of which I’m not sharing just yet, but overall, I’ve changed it every eight weeks. I very well may go blonde when I go back in a month, too!

6) In 1979, it seems every kid was asking Santa for Star Wars toys. Some things don’t change, since the Star Wars franchise remains popular with children and toymakers after more than 40 years. What book or toy did you love as a child that remains popular today? The Wizard of Oz, sort of. It’s still considered a classic.

7) Thinking of things that endure … In 1979, the #1 show in the ratings was 60 Minutes. It’s still on, every Sunday night, and in the summer of 2019 it came in at #4 in the Nielsen ratings. What’s the most recent show you watched? Was it news, sports or entertainment? Entertainment–I think it would’ve been the original Twilight Zone. Or possibly Kitchen Nightmares, which I don’t usually watch but got interested in thanks to a mention online of that infamous episode with the couple who was so insane that Gordon Ramsay walked out. I think Gordon Ramsay is a dick, but I was on his side here.

8) In 1979, the price for a dozen eggs averaged 85¢. Today, it’s about twice that. Are you more likely to use eggs to prepare a main course (like an omelette or Eggs Benedict) or as part of a recipe (anything from a cake to a meatloaf)? Main course, especially lately. But I would like to get into trying to do more cooking and baking soon. I just haven’t felt up to it, again, for reasons I’ll get into another day.

9) Random question: You’re alone in your car, driving through your neighborhood on a bright, sunny day. You get a flat tire. You have a spare and a jack in your trunk. Would you fix it yourself or call for help? I’d use my AAA membership my mom renews as a gift every Christmas. I know I don’t have it in me physically to fix on my own. If I was with someone else, though, I’d probably do it. In fact, my brother and I did once when we got a flat when he was picking me up from college for the weekend, but my mom was so worried that it would, like, fly off while we were driving that she sent my dad out to follow us home. It didn’t.

Friday 5: Thrill of Victory

  1. Which summer Olympics event would you have the best chance of winning? I don’t know how fast I could go, but swimming.
  2. Which winter Olympics event would you have the best chance of winning? Again, I don’t know how good the chances really are here, but I feel like curling is my speed.
  3. Which competitive reality TV program would you have the best chance of winning? None of them, unless we’re counting new game shows, because I could absolutely win Beat Shazam. However! Back in the day, when VH1 still aired the delight that was Tool Academy, my best friend and I concocted a brilliant plan. For the unfamiliar, Tool Academy was a Charm School-esque reality show where men came on, usually at the urging of their long-suffering significant others, to learn how to abandon their toolish ways–cheating, getting into fights, binge drinking, that kind of thing–and someone was eliminated each week. The tool/couple who made it to the end won money. So Terra and I figured we could rig it in our favor pretty easily. Since we both have brothers, our idea was to trade them and have fake relationships where we’d “date” each other’s brother, who would do their best to be the worst and change accordingly with the challenge each week and one of us would win and split the money with the other fake couple.
  4. Which traditional TV game show would you have the best chance of winning? Probably Wheel of Fortune.
  5. The Pulitzer Prize is awarded for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature, and musical composition. The Newbery Medal is awarded to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. What would a prize named after you be for? At this particular moment in my life, sleeping and procrastinating. Well, the procrastinating is always applicable.

As always, from Friday 5.

Saturday 9: Judy at Carnegie Hall

Judy at Carnegie Hall (1961)

We’re spotlighting this legendary concert because  Bev from Sunday Stealing loves Judy Garland. This week’s Saturday 9 is a “thank you,” one meme-mistress to another, in gratitude for Bev’s willingness to pick up Bud’s meme and keep it going.

Song #1: “When You’re Smiling.” What made you smile this week? I have to use up my vacation time by the end of the year or I lose it–it doesn’t carry over. So I took a bunch of random days off starting around mid-November, and I was off all week until Thursday. I slept in. A lot.

Song #2: “Almost Like Being in Love.” We’ve all had many crushes, but love is rare. How many times have you fallen in love? Just once, but I was pretty close one other time.

Song #3: “This Can’t Be Love.” This Rodgers and Hart song was introduced in the play, The Boys from Syracuse. Syracuse is the county seat of Onondaga County, NY. What county do you hail from? Originally, the lovely Fayette County, Pennsylvania. I am now in Washington County.

Song #4: “Do It Again.” What’s something you’d do again, if only you had the time or money? (A book you’d like to reread, a recipe or pattern you’d like to make again, a vacation destination you’d like to revisit, etc.) Ooh, I don’t know. I think maybe I’d rather try new things.

Song #5: “You Go to My Head.” Judy forgets the lyrics, but gamely keeps going. Tell us about a recent moment when you chose to keep going, no matter what. I’m kind of having to power through some fatigue these days.

Song #6: “Alone Together.” Is anyone there with you as you answer these questions, or are you alone? I’m home alone, aside from the kitties.

Song #7: “Who Cares?” This song was written by brothers George and Ira Gershwin. They had a lesser known brother, stockbroker Arthur. Are you more creative and artistic, like George and Ira? Or more analytical and methodical, like Arthur? More creative.

Song #8: “Puttin’ on the Ritz.” Judy sings that The Ritz is the place in New York “where fashion sits.” If we wanted to see everyone “all gussied up” in your town, where would we go? Ha, I don’t know. It’s typically not that kind of town. I guess there’s a pretty nice restaurant that would be a good option, and there’s a hotel that’s sometimes used as a wedding venue and was actually in an episode of TLC’s Four Weddings.

Song #9: “How Long Has This Been Going On?” Judy sings about discovering how glorious romance can be. Have you made any new discoveries lately? It doesn’t have to be as groundbreaking as Judy’s. A new podcast or a faster route to work counts, too. Not really!