Saturday 9: The Middle

Saturday 9: The Middle (2018)

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

1) This song is about compromise. When did you recently give in a little and meet someone halfway? I choose to believe that sharing my macarons with my husband instead of eating them all myself counts here.

2) She sings that the floors are wet. Are there any floors in your home that could use a good scrub today? If you answered “yes,” will those floors get cleaned this weekend? Pretty much all of them need cleaned, with the exception of my office, which got vacuumed last night. But yes, they’re all on the agenda for the weekend, as usual.

3) She also sings that the cabinets are bare. What’s currently on your shopping list? Our weekly grocery staples–yogurt, some produce, some snacks, some things I can make for lunch.

4) You may be familiar with this song from Target’s TV commercials. Do you often shop at Target? Not often, but I love it when I do.

5) The lead vocal is handled by Maren Morris, a Grammy winner for “My Church,” which is all about singing with the car radio. What’s the last song you sang along with? I was very, very quietly singing along to “American Pie” in a restaurant this evening, plus a few other songs before and after.

6) This past April, Maren married singer-songwriter Ryan Hurd and they have performed onstage together. Who is the last person you sang along with? Probably my husband in the car.

7) This song was composed by brothers Kyle and Michael Trewartha. With their bleached hair and sunglasses, they look like a pair of surfer dudes — which they are, having grown up in Huntington Beach, CA. Is there a body of water near your hometown? There are some small ones near my actual house, but the general area has plenty of rivers. I’m close to Pittsburgh, with its three–the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio–and the town where I grew up is close to the Youghiogheny.

8) January 2018, when this song debuted, we had a total lunar eclipse. When things like that happen in the sky, do you go out of your way to watch? I never used to because I lived in an apartment, and the way the building was situated, there was no good view of the sky, plus a good bit of light pollution. But now at my house, yeah, I absolutely will next time we have one. We have a much better view of the sky here, in a slightly more rural area with much less light pollution. Plus a deck and yard to watch from!

9) Random question — They say we’re all young at heart. In what way can you be childlike? My husband teases me about my favorite foods because they’re very childlike.  I eat macaroni and cheese somewhat regularly. That’s not to say I don’t branch out or that I’m a picky eater, it’s just that I have certain go-tos, and they’re very simple.

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Saturday 9: It Must Be Him

I thought I already did this. Whoops.
Saturday 9: It Must Be Him (1967)

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

1) This song is about a woman waiting impatiently for a phone call. Do you consider yourself patient? For the most part, yes, but there are a few things where I’m not so patient. Like waiting for my online orders to come in. Or my paycheck.

2) Other women (most notably Shirley Bassey and Dottie West) have recorded this song. Harry James and Doc Severinson did instrumental versions. But there’s no record of a male singing “Oh dear God! It must be her! Or I shall die!” Do you think that’s because waiting for the phone to ring is more “a chick thing,” and men simply don’t do it? I think men do it but either they want everyone to think they don’t or we’ve all just pretended like it doesn’t happen. I mean, have you ever seen screenshots of dudes when a woman takes too long to reply to his Tinder message?

3) This recording enjoyed a sudden surge of popularity after 20 years when it was included on the soundtrack of Moonstruck, the 1987 film that won Cher an Oscar. Have you seen MoonstruckI haven’t, but I’d like to.

4) This week’s featured artist, Vikki Carr, was born in El Paso, TX. El Paso can proudly proclaim itself one of America’s safest cities. What can your hometown be proud of? I’ll tell you what we are proud of–throwing such a fit over alcohol being taxed that they had to send the damn president here. The Whiskey Rebellion, ladies and gentlemen. We celebrate it every summer.

5) She was a staple on Jerry Lewis’ Labor Day Telethon, raising funds for the Muscular Dystrophy Association by performing this song. Is your TV on right now? If so, what are you watching? It is not. In fact, we still haven’t hooked it back up since we moved.

6) In 1971, Vikki fulfilled a dream of hers by establishing the Vikki Carr Scholarship Foundation. Every year the foundation awards Hispanic American students money to use toward higher education. She says it’s her way of returning “the support and encouragement she received from others” early in her career. If you could establish a charitable foundation, what cause would you like it to benefit? I’ve thought about this before, and to be honest, I sometimes feel like there are so many charitable organizations that I’d rather donate to existing ones.

7)  In 1967, when this song was popular, Dr. Christiaan Barnard performed the first heart transplant. Today, one of the most common surgeries performed in the United States is the coronary artery bypass surgery. Have you had any surgeries? Nope.

8)  Also in 1967, the RMS Queen Mary was retired after 31 years of service. Have you ever traveled by cruise ship? Nope. I know I would love all of the perks of a cruise and I know that in the grand scheme of things, the highly publicized stories about cruise mishaps actually happen rarely, but they’re just off-putting enough.

9) Random question: Who is your oldest living relative? I’m not sure! I would think probably some great aunts and uncles, some of whom might either be in their 80s or are very close to it.

Saturday 9: Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Saturday 9: “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” Theme

This week’s song was chosen because this is the last Saturday 9 before Halloween. Are you unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.

1) The Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, was born in England. Name another pop culture contribution England has made. The British Invasion! So many bands are from England, and to this day I still find them putting out great stuff.

2) This week’s song is recognized as the theme to Hitchcock’s long-running TV show, but “Funeral March for a Marionnette” is a classic piece written for piano in the late 1870s by Charles Gounod. Do you often listen to classical music? Not as often as I used to because I’m working from home now and not commuting, but one of the radio stations I have programmed in my car is the local classical station.

3) Janet Leigh’s shower scene in Hitchcock’s Psycho is considered one of the scariest sequences ever filmed. What’s the most frightening movie you’ve ever seen? It changes. One of the ones that stands out the first time I saw it was Signs. I was like 13, and it was terrifying then. But I’m a horror lover who doesn’t scare easily, so a lot of the movies dubbed “the scariest ever” just…aren’t.
4) Hitchcock admitted that he “never trusted birds,” and he took that fear and turned it into the movie, The Birds. Is there a member of the animal kingdom that just gives you “the creeps?” Bugs. I realize people, like my husband, for example, would be like, “That’s not an animal!” So reptiles.

5) Halloween will soon be upon us. Will you carve a jack o’lantern this year? No, that was never a tradition my family got into. I’m not good at that kind of artsy stuff, so I don’t think I’d ever enjoy it.

6) What candy will trick or treaters get at your house? We bought a small bag of variety candy because we’re not sure if we get trick-or-treaters! This is our first Halloween in this house and our part of the neighborhood is mostly older people–the youngest other than us, as far as we know, are the same age as our parents. It’s also a little more of a rural neighborhood and not super walkable, so unless people are coming from very, very close by, I don’t expect much. But we want to be prepared anyway, and I would love to get some!
7)  When you went trick or treating, did you prefer fantasy costumes (like a storybook character) or scary ones (like a monster)? I definitely skewed fantasy. I don’t think I ever did scary.
8)  Which candy was your favorite? Which one were you disappointed to find in your trick or treat bag? I was always a chocolate lover. Mostly anything else, except for a few beloved others, was a disappointment.
9) Which do you find scarier — cemeteries or haunted houses? Haunted houses. They just have far more opportunities to be scary, with things lurking behind doors or strange sounds or seeing something going down a hallway.

Saturday 9: Sweet City Woman

Saturday 9: Sweet City Woman (1971)

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

1) The lyrics tell us the singer is on his way to catch a train and he really wants to be on time. When is the last time you were late for something? Knowing me, definitely recently, but I’ve actually been doing pretty good lately and can’t think of one!

2) He sings he’s on his way to meet a woman known for her macaroons. What’s your favorite cookie? Chocolate chip or my grandma’s apricot cookies.

3) His girlfriend’s face is so pretty she lights up the city night. How many lights are in the room you’re in? How many are switched on? There’s just one light fixture in the middle of the ceiling, and it’s currently on.

4) This is the rare top 40 tune that prominently features a banjo. Sam has always been crazy about the sound of a banjo. What sound makes you smile? (It doesn’t have to be a musical instrument. Think bacon sizzling, church bells, etc.) My cat’s meow because it’s the tiniest little squeak, except for when she’s hungry, and it’s somehow adorable and hilarious no matter what.

5) 47 years after their record was a hit, The Stampeders still tour every summer, playing festivals across the US and their native Canada. Do you enjoy live music under the stars? Or would you prefer to be seated in a theater? Outdoor concerts are probably the best, but being seated is nice.

6) In 1971, when this song was popular on the radio, detective shows were popular on TV. Mannix, Ironside and Cannon were all in the Top 20. Who is your favorite TV detective? Olivia fuckin’ Benson.

7) Also in 1971, the Post Office Department was disbanded as a Cabinet department and became The United States Postal Service. When did you last go to the post office? Were you mailing something? Buying stamps? Picking up a package? Renewing your passport? I was mailing a package and did get some stamps, too. It was probably a week or so ago.

8) Race car legend Jeff Gordon was born in 1971. Do you watch NASCAR? Nope.

9) Random question — Do you have a vaccination scar? If so, where is it? Nope.

Saturday 9: Unbreak My Heart

Saturday 9: Unbreak My Heart (1996)

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

1) Songs like this are enduringly popular in part because each of us has had our heart broken. Give us the name of a heartbreaker from your own life. I think I gave a similar answer last week, but I’ve been put through worse, more difficult things emotionally than romantic heartbreak.

2) Toni Braxton sings that “nights are so unkind.” What did you do last night? Went to the gym after I wrote an article and hung out a bit, got stuck in construction traffic for a half-hour on my way back, showered, went to bed after watching some John Oliver segments.

3) While this song has Toni singing the blues, in real life her love life is happier. Now aged 50, she’s engaged and has been sporting a diamond on her left hand. Do you believe that a bride is ever too old to have a big wedding? No! A wedding is a celebration, and that shouldn’t have an age limit. I understand why some people who are remarrying decide not to do a big wedding, but I still think if they want to do it up big, go for it.

4) Growing up, Toni Braxton’s parents severely restricted how much TV their children could watch each day. Ironically, today Toni and her sisters participate in a reality TV show on the WE-TV network, so TV cameras are a big part of their daily adult lives. What TV show do you try not to miss? I don’t watch anything regularly because I don’t have cable. We stick to one or two shows we stream, then move on to the next.

5) She is prone to dry skin and applies Kiehl’s Hand Salve to her hands and arms throughout the day. Tell us about a product you’re brand loyal to. Man, I’m the queen of brand loyalty. If I find something that I like and that works, I stick to it. We’ll stick with the skincare theme–I, too, have dry skin, and I use Simple Sugars scrubs. Plus they’re local!

6) Toni admits to being “a bit of a germaphobe,” and always maintains a supply of hand sanitizer and wipes. What is always on your shopping list? Food staples and things we eat a lot–milk and yogurt I’d say are the two biggest ones.

7) While she is not shy about her body and has worn revealing outfits on the red carpet, Toni Braxton refused a 2011 offer from Hugh Hefner and Playboy to pose nude. What’s the last thing you said “no” to? A small task at work. I was right up against a deadline and couldn’t spare the time.

8) In 1996, the year this song was popular, Mattel introduced a Star Trek Barbie and Ken set. Have you ever fantasized about space travel? For a brief period, I wanted to be an astronaut as a kid. I wanted to be just about everything at one point or another, really.

9) Random question — Would you (or did you) invite an ex to your wedding? I didn’t because neither of us had seriously dated anyone else. I would depending on how things ended and what the current relationship was. It’s one of those things I see both sides of, though–I think it’s kind of weird to invite exes at all unless you’re good friends with them, to be honest, but I also think people can be a little too jealous and that sometimes, too much is made of an ex at a wedding.

Saturday 9: Treat You Better

Saturday 9: Treat You Better (2016)

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

This song was chosen because October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Please share this information about The National Domestic Violence Hotline. Let’s spread the word that there’s help out there.

1) In this song, a young man advises his neighbor to stop wasting her time with a guy who makes her cry. What is something you regret wasting time on? (It doesn’t have to be a romance.) Not advocating for myself. I wasted a lot of time letting a lot of people get away with a lot of shit because I was too scared to speak up, and I suffered for it.

2) Much of this video takes place in a very sparely decorated apartment. Because Shawn Mendes and the girl he’s singing to both appear young, it’s easy to assume they are both in their first apartments. Tell us about the first place you ever rented. Although I was in an apartment for a few years up until this summer, I was in a rented house in Pittsburgh up on Mt. Washington for six months before that with some friends. I really liked it up there–it was an old house with four bedrooms, so we had plenty of space. I really liked Mt. Washington, too. It wasn’t a super busy part of the city, but it was the kind of place that I loved as more of a city girl. Close enough to go do stuff, removed enough that it wasn’t noisy or packed with traffic. The house was older but kept up pretty well.

3) It’s clear he can hear his neighbors’ conversations and arguments through the walls. Are your neighbors quiet? Do you consider yourself a quiet neighbor? Our neighborhood now that we’re in a house is really, really quiet–that’s one of the things we commented on the most our first few weeks here. We’re the babies of the neighborhood, by far. Most of our neighbors are retired, and the ones who are too young for retirement are the same age as our parents. As for us, we’re pretty quiet–no loud noise from us. We’re gonna start entertaining soon, though.

4) This song received a lot of attention and airplay because it was used in a Southwest Airline commercial. When you last visited an airport, were you traveling yourself or meeting someone? I was probably meeting someone. I can’t remember when I was last in an airport, but I haven’t flown in a few years, so a pickup or drop-off is most likely.

5) This week’s artist, Shawn Mendes, was a serious skateboarder during his high school years. Sam has never even set foot on a skateboard. How about you? I tried it briefly. My brother had a short skateboarding phase and I hopped on it once and promptly fell right off.

6) Shawn is happy eating cold cereal with milk for every meal — breakfast, lunch and dinner. He prefers cereal with almonds in it. What about you? Do you have a favorite cereal? I don’t have one that I love about all the others. Most like a few I cycle through. When I run out of cereal and go to buy more, I usually pick something I haven’t had in a while.

7) He says he started eating cereal beyond breakfast because it’s convenient, and it helps him avoid “junk food” when he’s in a hurry. Do you often order your food “to go?” Not often. Usually only if we’re busy or just don’t feel like sitting down somewhere and eating.

8) In 2016, when this song was popular, a German shorthaired pointer named CJ won Best in Show at the Westminster Dog Show. Is there a dog who holds a special place in your heart? All the dogs! But in particular, all the dogs I had as pets–Mandy as a kid, then Dandy and Duke in college until Dandy died a couple years after we adopted him and Duke died a little over a year ago. Now it’s my parents’ dog, Seger, my puppy brother.

9) And this week, we’re trying a random fill in the blank: I wish someone would create an app that _____________________________________. Okay, I have this great idea for an app that sounds like it’s kind of been done, just maybe not on the scale I have in mind. But it’s essentially a concert app with a calendar, ticket links, etc., designed for people like me who go to a lot and don’t want to miss anything and can keep track of everything.

Saturday 9: So Into You

Saturday 9: So Into You (1977)

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

1) The singer says that he noticed the lady in question as soon as she walked into the room. Tell us about someone who made a powerful first impression on you. I can’t think of anyone who was, like, super memorable, but I know a few people who I had a negative first impression of, ignored it and gave them the benefit of the doubt, and go burned in the end. So my takeaway here is my negative first impressions, at least, tend to be pretty spot-on and I should trust them.

2) He sings that he’s so into her, he can’t think about other, more mundane things. Do you find you get easily distracted from your daily tasks? Or do you enjoy seeing your everyday chores through completion? I’m pretty focused–if I’m getting distracted easily, it’s because I’m burning out and need a break. My husband’s amazed at my ability to focus intently on whatever I’m doing, to the point that I once was writing while he was watching Netflix in bed right next to me and I had no problem ignoring it.

3) The band took their name from Georgia’s biggest city. Have you ever been to Atlanta? Just on a layover. But I’d like to go back and enjoy the city.

4) The Atlanta Rhythm Section once played the White House. President Carter’s son, Chip, was a big fan and invited them to play at his 28th birthday party. How did you celebrate your last birthday? Just went to hibachi. My husband’s not a big hibachi fan, so I play the birthday card to go.

5) Studio One, where the band made all their recordings, was torn down and replaced by a parking lot. Can you think of a structure that you missed, after it met with a wrecking ball? A big, old building in my hometown growing up was torn down and also replaced by a parking lot. It was a really cool building and I understand that it had sat vacant for a long, long time and repairing it probably would’ve been more difficult and expensive than demolishing, but still, it was a bummer. It still sucks to lose that kind of history and heritage, especially in that town.

6) This song hit #7 on the US pop charts. 7 is the number most often chosen as “a lucky number.” How about you? Do you have a lucky number? No.

7) Today the Atlanta Rhythm Section reunites with to play at classic rock concerts. What oldies band would you love to see again? I’ve been fortunate enough to see a lot of the classic acts a love, some of them more than once, but I’d love the chance to see the original Queen lineup and The Beatles. Prince and David Bowie, too, even though they’re not really bands.

8) In 1977, the star of NBC’s Chico and the Man, Freddie Prinze, took his own life. Is there a celebrity death you found shocking? Most of the ones from a couple years ago, when it seemed like the entire year was just death after death. David Bowie and Prince were surprising to me, and going back farther, Robin Williams.

9) Random question: What word do you always misspell? For a good while, I kept messing up “amphitheater,” but I’ve had to use it so often in writing about music that I’ve got it down now. More often than not, I just have dumb typos that I repeat, most recently typing “quarter” instead of “quartet.” You know how the iPhone has text replacements so you can type something shorthand and it’ll put out a longer word or phrase? We can do that at work, and I’ve put in a ton of my common typos. Makes things so much faster and easier.