Saturday 9: You’re a Grand, Old Flag

Unfamiliar with James Cagney’s 1942 version of this song? Hear it here.

1) The flag we currently fly, with 50 stars and 13 stripes, was designed by a high school student. When Alaska and Hawaii were added, President Eisenhower invited Americans to submit designs for how best to incorporate the two new states. Ike chose 17-year-old Robert G. Heft’s submission from more than 1500 entries. Tell us about a contest you entered and won. (Or really hoped to win.)  Man, I don’t know. I don’t think I’ve entered very many, and I’m not very lucky, so I haven’t won many, either.

2) The government also has another of Mr. Heft’s designs waiting: one that incorporates a 51st star if another state is added. When you were in school, did you memorize the states and their capitals? Yep!

3) Six American flags have been planted on the surface of the moon. Those are undoubtedly the flags farthest from you this morning. Where is an American flag flying near you today? My neighbors across the street have one in their front yard.

4) This version of the song was performed by James Cagney in the 1942 classic Yankee Doodle Dandy. Have you ever seen it? I have not.

5) In that film, Cagney portrayed George M. Cohan, the composer of this week’s song. In 1940, Cohan was honored by with a Congressional Gold Medal. In presenting him with the award, President Roosevelt specifically thanked Cohan for “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” and “Over There.” What’s your favorite patriotic song? I don’t know. I tend to dislike them, honestly, just because they’re often cheesy.

6) Though a performer his entire life, Cohan disliked listening to recordings of his own voice. How about you? Do you like your singing and/or speaking voice? Oh, I hate hearing my voice played back to me. I think I sound dramatically different and, like…weird, I guess?

7) James Cagney won the Oscar for Best Actor his performance as George M. Cohan. Also nominated that year was Gary Cooper, who portrayed Lou Gehrig in Pride of the Yankees. Tell us about another movie about a great American. I don’t know about this one, either!

8) As a teen, Cagney juggled high school with a variety of jobs, including bell hop and delivery boy, and gave all his earnings to his family. Looking back, Cagney was grateful that he had to begin work early, saying, “I feel sorry for the kid who has too cushy a time of it. Suddenly he has to come face-to-face with the realities of life without his mama and papa to do his thinking for him.” Do you agree? I think there’s an element of truth to it, but I also think it verges on being judgmental and hints at criticisms I’m tired of hearing as a millennial, even though he’s not talking about that group in particular at all. I think it is important to teach the value of hard work, but I think that can be done without sending a kid into the workforce or without bordering on insulting kids (or adults) who weren’t. Calling that approach “cushy” isn’t really fair.

9) Cagney had a rebellious streak. His boss, studio head Jack Warner, nicknamed Cagney, “The Professional Againster.” Cagney joked that he enjoyed earning the title. What about you? Are you rebellious? I don’t know. I’m 31 and a new mom, how rebellious can I really be?

Friday 5: She’s Going the Distance, She’s Going for Speed

  1. What’s your favorite cake? I’m a huge fan of angel food cake.
  2. When did you last have pancakes? A few days ago. I had a baby a week ago! And I was in the hospital for about 2 1/2 days total, and breakfast one morning was pancakes.
  3. When did you last bake a cake or a cake-like thing? It’s been a little while. But my husband made me a cake about two weeks ago for my birthday.
  4. What part of your job is a piece of cake? It has elements of copyediting, so that.
  5. Where have you had a really good cupcake? There’s a little bakery in Gettysburg–or there was–that had great unique cupcakes that my whole family was really into the last time we were there. Given my dad’s cancer diagnosis and death last year, though, we haven’t been there in a few years.
  6. Bonus question: What are your thoughts on icing? I don’t like the icing that comes on most storebought cakes, but I love something with cream cheese. My husband made a pretty simple one with lemon and once made a great peanut-butter icing. There are so many super easy ways to make a delicious icing that doesn’t taste like straight sugar, and it’s a shame that storebought cakes are generally so disappointing on that front.

From Friday 5.

Saturday 9: Beautiful People

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

1) This song is about the fantasy of being one of the “beautiful people” but how hollow the reality can be. Do you often find yourself envying others for what they have? Nah. I mean, look, I have my moments where I wish I was on a nice vacation or that my house was as big as so-and-so’s, but overall, I have a good, happy life and that’s the most important thing.

2) Ed Sheeran sings that he and his girl don’t fit in well because they’re “just ourselves.” Who among your close friends do you find it easiest to be “just yourself?” My best friend, Terra, and old friends from high school.

3) The lyrics refer to Hummers and Lamborghinis. What’s your dream ride? I don’t really have one. I’m not big into cars.

4) Ed believes in giving back. One cause he supports is No Cold Homes, which helps ensure that everyone in the English city of Bristol has the fuel needed to keep their homes safe and comfortable. Here in the United States, he’s raised funds for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Is there a cause that’s near and dear to your heart? Nothing in particular, no–like so many things with me, there are a lot of causes I think are important and support but nothing that stands above the rest.

5) Ed’s arms are covered in tattoos, so clearly he doesn’t suffer from trypanophobia, or a fear of needles. How about you? Do you look away when the doctor gives you a shot? Yeah. I could probably handle it, honestly, but it bugs me a little. I had blood drawn a few times while I was pregnant and had to look straight ahead of me while they did it.

6) One of Ed’s tattoos is a bottle of Heinz Ketchup. What condiments would we find if we peeked into your refrigerator this morning? Ketchup, some mustard, Yum Yum Sauce, a few other things but those are my favorites.

7) Ed is a natural redhead, a trait he shares with only 2% of the population. Does red hair run in your family? Apparently, in some branches of the distant family, it does–and I only just learned that because my newborn son’s hair is a very light red, almost strawberry blond.

8)  In 2019, when this song was released, the FDA recommended the approval of a drug for treating peanut allergies in children. Do you suffer from any food allergies, or sensitivities? Nope!

9) Random question: What of these do you think is the biggest contributing factor to success — hard work, luck or talent? All of the above.

Friday 5: Tubular

  1. What’s your least favorite episode of your favorite television program? So one of the fun things about being a devout X-Files fan is recognizing that there are more than a few serious duds over the course of the show. Like “Space.”
  2. Across its series run, in what way did a favorite television program get worse? I have to examples of kind of the same thing–Glee and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, both musical shows but very different in their subject matter. But also very similar in where the quality suffered, and in the case of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, only a little. The music in both shows, for the most part, was not as good after the first season. In Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, this is a minor criticism. The music was great throughout, it’s just that the songs in the first season were often clever and unique and after that, they started doing more clear parody. They did it really well, mind you, but one of the things I missed in the later seasons was stuff like “The Sexy Getting Ready Song” where it very much stood on its own but was funny, clever, and geared towards women, which was one of my favorite things about that show in general, but I digress. In Glee’s case, I think the missteps were more egregious. I’ll always maintain that the show’s popularity hurt it because it lost some of the first season’s edge, and it turned into a showcase of what covers they could do, what guest stars they could get, and what plots they could shoehorn in.
  3. Among television programs you like very much, which ended far too soon? I know Firefly is a cliched answer at this point, but… Also, Agent Carter! It only got a couple of seasons, but it was fantastic. I dare say it was the best Marvel show on at the time, and it deserved more praise and a pickup on streaming or something.
  4. Among television programs you like very much, which dragged on for too long? The X-Files. The Mulder-less episodes, with the exception of some amazing performances from Gillian Anderson while he’s missing. just aren’t as good. Generally, anytime you can watch a show and say, “This season finale was written as the series finale just in case,” things should’ve been wrapped up then, if not sooner.
  5. What are some lines of dialogue you love from a favorite television program? I’ll be honest, I’m just looking for an excuse to cram Lost episode “The Constant” into this because it’s probably the single best episode of the series, dare I say one of the best episodes of television ever.

From Friday 5.

Saturday 9: Daddy Don’t You Walk So Fast

… Because it’s Father’s Day weekend.
Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.

1) This song is about a little girl who runs after her daddy. When is the last time you ran? Were you trying to get somewhere in a hurry, or playing a sport? Oof. I’m nine months pregnant, so first of all, I definitely haven’t run in that span of time. Second, I hate running and am unlikely to do it even in a hurry, so who knows?

2) This song was a top ten hit for Wayne Newton. Mr. Newton is better known for his TV work, having made more than 150 appearances since 1963. Have you ever been on TV? Or in a YouTube video? Yeah, I was on the local news the Christmas Tickle Me Elmo was a thing, so I was probably about seven years old. My dad and I were going to see a local production of A Christmas Carol, and I was all dressed up, probably thanks to my mom. The local news was there holding a giveaway for a Tickle Me Elmo, and they had people, like, standing behind a table looking pretty as part of the broadcast. We walked in the lobby and a cameraman or somebody pointed to me and said he wanted me in it. I’m also technically in one or two live music videos shot at concerts I’ve been to, but I’m hard to spot. You can see my brother right next to me, though.

3) The road leading to Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport is named Wayne Newton Blvd. in his honor. When is the last time you were at an airport? Were you flying somewhere, picking someone up, or dropping them off? That’s been a while, too. I was definitely either picking up or dropping off–I think picking up my brother-in-law when he was coming home from something with the Marines a few years ago.

4) Wayne says Elvis Presley haunts Las Vegas, and believes that The King of Rock and Roll has given him performing and parenting tips from beyond the grave. When did you last see Elvis? On TV, on a t-shirt, poster or magazine cover, or as a ghostly apparition? Probably on TV or online.

5) When Sam walks with her own dad, the problem isn’t that he walks fast. It’s that he’s always stopping to pick up litter he finds on the grass. Litterbugs are his pet peeve. What’s your pet peeve? That’s a good pet peeve to have, and I share it. My current one is people questioning the seriousness of coronavirus.

6) Sam’s own father often traveled for business, and always gave her the complimentary soaps, shampoos or body lotion he got from the hotel. When she went away to college, she used her collection of little bottles and was grateful for all the money they saved her. What’s something you’ve done recently to economize? I do that, too. One of the things I’ve done throughout my pregnancy is any ads or offers for coupons or samples, as long as I don’t have to pay anything other than shipping, I’ve signed up for. I have a nice stash of different brands of diapers, formula if I need it, and bath products.

7) It was her father who taught Sam to drive. Are you a better student or teacher? Probably student, but anytime I’ve had to teach someone something, I have had success.

8) Sam’s father also always asks if her car in “tip top” condition. Most recently he reminded her to test her headlights, tail lights and turn signals while the car is parked to make sure they’re all working. Do you have a car maintenance tip to share? Nope, I’m terrible at it.

9) Sam’s father satisfies his afternoon sugar craving with an almost endless stream of Butter Rum Lifesavers. Do you usually enjoy a between meal snack? Usually, yes, but strangely, pregnancy–especially this late in the game–has kind of killed my appetite. I’m either not eating an actual meal and snacking a little bit here and there or eating a meal or two and maybe having a snack before bed and that’s it.

Friday 5: Under Lock & Key

  1. What’s your mask situation like? So being pregnant, I was advised to stay put as much as possible and not go anywhere for anything, and since I work from home and have a husband to take care of things, that was pretty easy. I didn’t have a mask for weeks, and my husband was using a homemade one from a t-shirt. At some point, I did see my mom, and she had bought some of the paper ones last year before my dad died from cancer and gave me a couple on a few different occasions, which generally got me through doctors appointments. I had ordered a couple online, and they only just came in in the last week or so. They’re plain grey but good quality. I like it, as much as one can like a mask they dislike wearing.
  2. In what way is your life better today than a few months ago? I guess that because Pennsylvania has done a good job of keeping things under control, we’re in a phase of gradual reopening. I’m still really skeptical of it–I think we’re all still moving too fast–and so I’m still avoiding going out and wearing a mask when I do.
  3. What do you miss from normal living? Just being able to go out and do something. Like, we went to Target last weekend to fill the gaps in the baby needs and use a 15% in-store coupon, and we made sure we had our masks and sanitized our hands and mostly went in with a plan and stuck to it. Under normal circumstances, I probably would’ve gone shopping with my mom more than once by now, and after that Target run, we probably would’ve gone out to eat somewhere. I miss browsing stores. I miss not having to feel like I’m relying on the rest of the population to do the bare minimum, especially as a pregnant woman who’s considered at higher risk. And concerts! But at this point in my pregnancy, I wasn’t gonna be going anyway. I choose to believe the universe is doing me a solid on that front, canceling everything I would’ve missed out on.
  4. When this is over, what will be your major takeaway? That this country has a lot of problems we need to solve, from smaller-scale cultural issues like a bizarre distrust in science and the media to bigger issues of how to handle something like this properly from both public health and economic standpoints. That only some of us are listening.
  5. What are your feelings about getting back out there sooner, rather than later? I think based on my previous answers it’s pretty clear I think it’s a bad idea. I think we were presented with two options–reopen or stay shut down and let the economy crash–when in reality, plenty of people had other smart, viable ideas that would’ve allowed us to stay safe without us all going broke, too. I think we’re gonna see a spike in cases in areas where we haven’t already. I think it’s irresponsible and selfish, in some cases. Naive, even, especially since there’s a lot we don’t know about it. Why would we take our chances with that?

I do want to add one thing–because I’m pregnant and being induced in less than a week, I had to get tested for the virus as a precaution, and that was one of the most uncomfortable things I’ve ever experienced. Some people’s accounts of actually having it are worse, of course, but just the test was extremely unpleasant and nothing most of us would want to experience. If nothing else, take the recommended precautions to save yourself that discomfort.

From Friday 5.


Saturday 9: The Rain, The Park, and Other Things (1967)

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

1) The Cowsills were a family band who had three hit singles. Can you name another group of popular singing siblings? Hanson!

2) This was their first hit, and it reached #2 on the Billboard charts. It was kept out of the #1 slot by the Monkees and “Daydream Believer.” What’s your favorite Monkees song? Oh, definitely “Daydream Believer.” I’m not a huge Monkees fan, but I adore that song. It’s so damn catchy.

3) After seeing the Cowsill brothers perform with their mother and sister, TV producers were inspired to create the sitcom, The Partridge Family. Did you ever watch it? No.

4) In the song, the narrator takes a flower from a girl in the park. Are there flowers in your home right now? Just fake ones.

5) He isn’t sure if the girl was real, or if he dreamed her. Tell us about a recent dream you had. I haven’t remembered any lately, although I’m pretty sure I had a dream about turning my alarm off and getting up, as one does.

6) At the height of the Cowsills’ popularity, they were hired by the American Dairy Association to promote drinking milk. If we were to peek into your refrigerator right now, would we find any milk? Yep. My family drank a lot of it growing up, and I still do.

7) After the band stopped performing together, John Cowsill went on to become a back up musician for the Beach Boys. His job has kept him on the road much of the time. When you travel, do you enjoy staying in hotels, or would you rather stay with friends/family? It depends–sometimes a hotel is nice because I feel a little more at home there, but staying with other people is more fun.

8)  In 1967, the year this song was popular, Elvis married Priscilla in Las Vegas. Have you attended any weddings yet this year? Are there any weddings in your future? Not yet this year, but we’re invited to two in the fall. Frankly, though, I’m concerned it won’t be safe to go.

9) Random question: Are the bottoms of your feet ticklish? Yep.

Friday 5: Aa Bb Cc Dd Ed Ff Gg Hh

  1. When did you last do something resembling a book report? A proper one, probably college.
  2. What was your most recent art project? I’m not an artsy person. I’m really bad at drawing and things, so I don’t enjoy it, so I avoid it. Closest I came was a sign for the gift drop-off for my drive-by baby shower. My mom got pretty creative with it. The printable invitations we found had little safari animals with masks on, and she took that design and put it on a sign and arranged plastic fern-like leaves to the corners. One of my tasks the day of the shower was to affix the leaves to the sign, which I did with a hot glue gun.
  3. When were you last called upon to do show & tell? That’s kind of what opening gifts was like. If we didn’t have a few cars lined up, I went ahead and opened the visitor’s gift right then and there, but for the most part, we put them in the garage and filmed me opening them later so we can send them to the gift givers. So it’s a lot of me opening things, showing them off to the small group who was there, announcing who it was from, and thanking them.
  4. When did you last feel like someone playing hide and seek? I’m playing hide and seek from the ‘rona.
  5. When did you last have some milk and/or cookies? Just now! My husband is on Day 1 of unemployment and made cookies over the weekend, and he just came back with a small plate of them to share.

From Friday 5.

Saturday 9: When Love Goes Wrong (Nothing Goes Right) 1953

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

1) This is from the movie Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Have you seen it? I have not.

2) The lyrics tell us that, when love goes wrong, “a match won’t light.” When did you most recently light a match? I don’t know. Maybe the last time we had people over? I keep a small candle lit on the bathroom sink. But I can’t think of when that would’ve been because we really haven’t had anyone over since I got pregnant.

3) The duet is performed at a French sidewalk cafe, where Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe are (literally) sharing a cup of coffee. With whom did you most recently have coffee? So I’ve never been a big coffee drinker, and being pregnant, I do have to limit my caffeine intake. To be cautious, aside from the occasional tea, I’ve totally cut out my lattes and things I used to love, and I’m dying for one. To give me a little taste of that, whenever my husband makes a cup of coffee, I take a sip. This is probably gonna turn me into a proper coffee drinker, not just, like, Starbucks drinks loaded with sugar. But rest assured, the second I’m allowed, I’m getting the biggest caramel macchiato I can find.

4) The tune was written by prolific composer Hoagy Carmichael. He was influenced by his mother, who earned extra money for the family playing piano during silent movies. Who in your life influenced your career choices? My parents, for different reasons. My dad pursued something he liked, at least, but my mom was very vocal about being miserable at work. So from a pretty young age, I didn’t see a point in chasing a good paycheck if it made me dread getting out of bed every morning.

5) Jane and Marilyn shared something beyond movie stardom. They were both married to Hall of Famers. Marilyn Monroe was married to Joe DiMaggio, who was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in 1955. Jane was married to quarterback Bob Waterfield, inducted into the football Hall of Fame in 1965. Which sport would you rather watch: baseball or football? Baseball. It’s less boring to me.

6) Jane and Bob Waterfield were high school sweethearts at Van Nuys High. The Southern California school was used as a set for the 1982 movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Tell us something about your high school. I went to a Catholic school in a small town, and a few years ago, it was among the top 50 in the country, I believe.

7) Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio met on a blind date at a Hollywood restaurant called Villa Nova. Have you ever arranged a blind date? If so, did the couple hit it off and end up dating? I haven’t, but I think it would be fun.

8) In 1953, when Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was released, a tornado did severe damage to Waco, TX. Tell us about a major weather event that you endured (tornado, hurricane, flood, blizzard, heat wave, etc.). The occasional tornado has come through the area, but never close to me. We’re more likely to have blizzards, although if you ask just about anyone, they swear they used to be more frequent and more intense. We had Snowmageddon a few years ago, which was probably the worst of the ones in recent memory, but we have had a few nasty storms in the years since. But that was one where everyone just had to kind of hunker down and wait it out for a weekend, and we lost power. When we dug out, it was a mess.

9) Random question: You see a filthy puddle. Floating on top are cigarette butts, a leaf, and a $1 bill. Would you bend over and rescue the dollar? Only if I was really, really desperate.

Saturday 9: Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey (1971)

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

1) The lyrics tell us Paul believes it’s going to rain. How’s the weather where you are today? Similar. We started with a short thunderstorm this morning and although most of the rest of the day was sunny, it’s cloudy again now.

2) Paul sings that he is sorry because he hasn’t “done a bloody thing all day.” What do you hope to accomplish this weekend? Because I’m doing this late, I’ll tell you what the answer would’ve been–going to my mom’s house and getting favors together for my drive-by baby shower, and accomplish that we did.

3) He also references butter pie, which is made primarily with potatoes (with onions and, of course, butter). That dish is not popular on this side of the Atlantic. Last time you had potatoes, how were they prepared (baked, mashed, hash browned, french fried …)? They were in a soup! My mom made one of my grandma’s soup recipes while we were over, which always includes big carrots and potatoes.

4) Linda McCartney is credited as co-writer and performer on this recording. Paul and Linda were partners in real life, too; married 29 years, they raised four children together. They often said they tried never to spend more than a few hours apart. Do you enjoy a lot of togetherness, or do you value your personal time? Has your experience with Covid19 and quarantine changed how you feel about this? Both. I tend to need some time to myself but have an easy time getting it. Pre-COVID, my husband had a tai chi class a few times a week, so I had a couple hours to myself a couple times a week and that was generally good enough for me. Especially with him–one of the signs I was in love with him was I get sick of everyone around me at some point or another. I usually needed a break from even my closest friends and family to just have time for myself, and I’ve never, ever felt that with him. And quarantine hasn’t really changed that. It probably helps that his job adjusted his hours to limit the number of people in the building at one time, so we’re on different schedules. But since I work from home, I’m still around that whole time before he goes to work, and it’s not quality time together, but it also doesn’t feel like we’re barely seeing each other. Now, because I’m pregnant, I’ve barely left the house since March, and on top of that, at this point, he’s had to pick up my slack because I’m just not functioning the way I would normally. Between that and quarantine, after the baby is born, I want to find a way for him to get away for a few hours, which is gonna be easier said than done with a new baby in a pandemic that’s not actually over.

5) Paul and Linda came from very different backgrounds. His family was lower middle class, lived in Liverpool’s public housing and received government aid. She grew up in affluent Scarsdale, the daughter of a wealthy theatrical attorney. Do you think it’s more important for a couple to share a common background, or to share common interests? Common interests, but my husband and I are from slightly different backgrounds and it does come up in relationships. For us, it was mostly early on. There were clear differences in attitude about money and it probably does still affect how we approach finances as a married couple, but it’s not something we fight about.

6) Paul is known for his work ethic. At age 78, he’s still making music and performing live. What’s your favorite Paul McCartney song? I like this one a lot! I don’t have a single favorite, but one of them is “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five.”

7) In 1971, when this song was a hit, Bobby Fischer was the world’s most famous and highest-rated chess player. Do you play chess? No. I learned at one point and I’m sure I will again because my husband enjoys it, but for now, no.

8) England’s Princess Anne turned 21 in 1971. The occasion was commemorated by a formal portrait, taken by celebrated fashion photographer Norman Parkinson. Who took the most recent photo of you? I think my husband–we had a small lunch at mom’s for Mother’s Day, so we lined up me, her, and my sister-in-law with the baby for a picture. My mom’s also snapped a couple delightful pregnancy shots of me, mostly sitting in strange places, occasionally with a milkshake in hand.

9) Random question: Do you find it more satisfying to work with your hands, or your head? My head, I think, but I do enjoy hands-on work.