Music Monday: Classic Rock, Suggestions Welcome

I don’t know where he heard it, but M is currently obsessed with this song:

Which, hey, there are worse old rock songs that he could be into.

Watching this video, I am struck by so many things, not least of which is how young they all are. Freddy Mercury had a hell of an overbite. Brian May just looks mad. Pissed off and cold. But that is an iconic guitar riff.

So, with this Queen gem as a starting point, what kind of Spotify playlist could I put together for my children that’s not — and this is vital — what they can hear any old time on the radio?

I feel like there is a wide range of classic rock out there, but one hears the same songs all the time on the classic rock stations. A handful of Led Zepplin songs, a couple of Who songs, another handful of Rolling Stones.

So what do YOU like that you DON’T hear on the radio? I feel like Bruce Springsteen has some seriously underrated, obscure tracks out there that would be good to introduce to the children. Same with The Who, Rolling Stones… ooh, Police.

If you were making a playlist to actually get your child or other young person into classic rock, what would you include?

Dogs I Have Known


Inky was a mutt. A medium-sized, long-haired, black-furred mutt. To this day, I couldn’t tell you what her makeup was. She had short legs and a long muzzle, and fur that was long and dark, dark everywhere. I don’t recall a spot of white on her.

She was the dog I grew up with. We got Inky after my brother was born. So at one point, my parents had me (a 2-year-old), an infant, and a puppy. And then about two years later, another infant (Dr. Sis)!

Inky was a good pup, and a good dog until she got older. She got snappy, and couldn’t handle the excitement of children running around the yard. When I was a teen, we gave Inky to my widow grandmother Olympia. She did well there — probably got a little fat. But it was a calmer situation for her.

She eventually lost most of her eyesight and mobility, and we had to put her down. I don’t remember being particularly sad about losing her.


Dudley was a short-lived experience. We got him at the mall, an adorable and utterly spastic cocker spaniel. A year later, after two biting incidents, Dudley went to the Humane Society.

Dudley was named after my favorite ice cream parlor in Erie, PA.


Dr. Sis was a bit of a roamer before she went to chiropractic college and then settled in North Carolina. I forget if she got Buddy in Myrtle Beach or in Florida. Nonetheless, she called with reports of inheriting a Boston terrier from friends who were leaving the area and couldn’t take him with them. I believe he started life as “Peanut”, but was soon renamed Buddy.

If you have ever known a Boston terrier, you know what they are like: enthusiastic, small, friendly. They think they are the biggest dogs on the block. They want to lick everything. They refuse to heel. They snort when they are awake, and snore when they sleep. They are so ugly they are cute — they look like they ran face-first into a shovel.

Buddy relaxing.
Look at that face!

Buddy was good for my sister. He was the first “grand”mammal — I think she got him before Dan and I were even dating let alone married. But Buddy was still very much part of the family when my own children were born. He was well-loved and well-walked on family vacations, that’s for sure!

Buddy and Michael
The youngest and the oldest. M at 9 months; Buddy has to be at least 16.

Buddy was the ring-bearer in my sister’s wedding, and then made one more trip to the family vacation at Seven Springs. My sister nursed him as much as she was able. He had a good life, full of love. I think he was 17 when we finally had to say goodbye.

Fortunately, my sister had gotten Buddy a Boston terrier buddy — Roxy, who was even more lick-y, enthusiastic, and friendly. So while Buddy can never be replaced, we have a good breed in our lives.

The Camping Dogs

We take trips to the woods a couple of times a year. In among all of our friends and our friends’ children, there are dogs: Grace, Ruby (RIP), and Otis. Grace is a mutt, friendly and a shameless beggar of treats. Ruby was the sweetest, most affectionate Doberman pincher I had ever met in my life, and she is missed. Otis is a Labradoodle, and he’s very much like a muppet come to life. I think Kate is in love with him.

Finn and Charlie

Finn and Charlie are our neighbor dogs. Charlie is a Jack Russell terrier mix, and the elder gentleman of the house. Finn is a big, giant golden retriever, and he is Kate’s only match in terms of outgoing personality.

These are the dogs in my life, past and present. Someday, there will be a future dog. But I’m not scooping its poop.

Not a Disney Princess

(Stole a writing prompt from here, even though I’m not NaBloPoMo’ing.)

I like vacations, and as my children get older, I am really enjoying being in vacation-y places with them.

But there’s one place — a vacation destination to end all vacation destinations — that I have no desire to experience as a parent. And that’s Disney World.

I don’t understand the attraction of Disney, although I have vague memories of being there as a child. I have not been harboring hopes of returning with my own children. It’s never been a goal.

I’m not going to make fun of people who like Disney. You do you, as they say. The appeal has just never been apparent to me. What is the magic of the Magical Kingdom? (Sincere question.)

ETA: I am also intimidated by the planning and cost that go into a Disney vacation. I don’t want to do it. I’d rather stay within a small budget, and rely on my Fodor’s guidebook.

One of my favorite family vacations was our trip to Cape Cod. Kate was still in diapers, which means M wasn’t even around yet. We had a great week, the four of us, in a little cabin up there, wandering around the little town. I mean, we found a trampoline park!

(OMG, I just took a few minutes to check out my blog posts from that 2009 vacation and LOOK HOW LITTLE MY GIRLS ARE. WTH? HOW IS FLORA TURNING 10 ON TUESDAY? *sob*)

We love weekends in the woods. Those might be my current favorites, too.

We take an annual trip to Seven Springs each summer for the extended Patton family clan vacation. That’s always a great time. Two words: pool time.

This summer, I am hoping we have the disposable income to travel to Chicago in June with the children for the Blues Festival. It’s just a city I’ve always loved, and I’d like to go there with them (and Dan, of course).

And I suppose that’s the thing: I like vacationing in cities, not theme parks. I like hotel suites with kitchens so we’re not going out to dinner all the time. I like zoos and museums and the possibility of an amusement park. I like buying tour guides and looking up family-friendly activities.

Again, I don’t have anything bad to say about Disney. I went as a child, and I know we went to Epcot, which was still new. It’s just not imprinted on me. Disney with the family isn’t a goal. Chicago, 2015, though. Definitely.

Oh, and IRELAND 2016.

More this:

Less this:

What’s a vacation destination other people seem to love that holds no interest for you? Where do you love to vacation with your family?

Cats I Have Known

One summer, a cat showed up in our bushes at home. I was probably 14 or 15. Our babysitter said, “Don’t feed it, and it will go away.” (They were called babysitters back then, not nannies.)

When Mom came home, we told her that a cat had showed up in our bushes. She said, “Don’t feed it, and it will go away.”

The next day, my brother fed it.

Thus, we got a cat. It was a skinny little thing, all black with green eyes. Honestly, she didn’t have a white spot on her. My brother, being the creative force that he is, named her Midnight.

My parents did have her spayed, but she was not ever 100% an indoor cat. Her food bowls lived outside on our upper porch. She spent great swathes of her time outside, hunting. She brought us many disemboweled creatures as a token of her affection. On one memorable occasion, she neglected to kill the chipmunk before she got into the house.

She was never overly affectionate, but she did seem to like my brother.

Caesar Boy and Lemonhead
Caesar Boy and Lemonhead were the house cats of the House of Babes. Technically, I think they belonged to Jen. I had to make sure they didn’t get in my room because I had developed an allergy to cats. I couldn’t pet them because if I did and then accidentally rubbed my eyes or touched my face, I spent the next hours itchy and sneezy.

Caesar Boy was a pretty, grey kitty, and Lemonhead was a calico. I was not involved with the naming, so I couldn’t explain why they were called those names. Maybe if Jen stops by the blog, she can explain if there are stories there.

Neither cat was ever fixed. We never let them outside. They were generally affectionate, and REALLY affectionate, depending on the time of the month — just like some residents of the House of Babes, oddly enough.

It is hard being allergic to cats and living with affectionate ones.

This was another cat adopted by my brother. At the time he shared an apartment with our cousin Jennifer in Wilkinsburg.

Robbie was a huge cat, one of the biggest I’d ever seen. He was the size of a small dog, like a shih tzu. He was mostly beige, with a tail ringed with gray stripes. My brother had him neutered and declawed. He always seemed to regret declawing him — he said Robbie seemed to have been in a lot of pain. But he also wanted Robbie to be an indoor cat and not shred the furniture.

Robbie was VERY affectionate. He was the first cat — possibly the only cat — I ever saw actually RUN TO THE DOOR when someone came in. If the someone was my brother, he stuck around, seeking affection… and food, probably.

When my brother started dating my to-be SIL, he discovered that she was extremely allergic to cats. Extremely. Couldn’t be in the same room with them. Couldn’t share space at all with them, really. She just blew up and started wheezing.

I knew it was serious when my brother told me he went out and found Robbie another home.


If Flora and I were not allergic to cats, I would get one as a pet for the children. It seems like a cat would be a good starter pet: feed it, water it, make sure the litter box gets cleaned. But looks like we’ll have to wait just a bit longer to get a dog instead. I am a dog person, not a cat person — but I am done cleaning up poop. The children gotta be ready to take that on.


(h/t to Kim/@observacious for the subject matter)

Black Cat, Green Eyes
This is not an image of Midnight, but it is what she looked like.

Are you a dog person or cat person? What kind of cats have you known?

image source

What Twin Peaks Means to Me

Nothing. Not a damn thing.

I think there’s some kind of reference to cherry pie and coffee out there in the culturescape. I’m not even sure what it is. “Damn fine cup of coffee.” Am I close?

Which is not to say that Twin Peaks shouldn’t be a thing, and people shouldn’t be excited that it’s returning… to TV? Or they are making a movie? Or both?

No, I am for weird TV, and David Lynch, and Kyle… McLaughlin.

Remember, I’m doing this without looking anything up. It’s completely against my journalistic nature, but it should up the entertainment value of these posts.

Weird, good TV is important, and I wish there were more of it. Especially now with cable and Netflix. I like more options rather than fewer options. I like cult movies and niche TV. Part of what I like about it is the passion that people bring to the subject.

Witness LOST. That show was one that I watched, pretty much religiously. And I use that word on purpose. It was a planned hour of time every week. Tuesday night at 9 p.m., the children were abed and Dan and I were camped out in front of the television. It was a combo date night/shared passion. I’ll even defend the finale when pressed. (A lot of people — a lot of FANS — hated it.)

Also, the little sitcom Community. People were nuts about that show! And, having watched a few episodes myself, I can understand why. The characters were fantastic. Josh (actor from LOST whose name is escaping me right now) showed up on a season finale. It was also quirky and over the top. And I love Donald Glover/Childish Gambino. Love him.

However, I am a terrible television fan. The only show I made it through in real-time was LOST. I didn’t stick with Mad Men, which was brilliant. My interest waned at the beginning of season… 4, I think. I went back and forth with Parenthood, but most of the episodes I watched on On Demand. I think I’m behind on that, too. And watched Community sometimes. I liked it! I just wasn’t dedicated to it.

Dan and I are watching Breaking Bad (which I think I mentioned around here somewhere) on Netflix, and while it’s compelling, and we will be watching it all the way through to the series finale (11 episodes away!), but I never once tuned into Breaking Bad on AMC. Also: it’s brutal. But more on that later.

So! Back to Twin Peaks, and the cultural relevance to its return. I don’t know if it has cultural relevance to non-fans. To fans, I’m sure it’s very exciting. And I’m excited for them. But I don’t know if I would watch Twin Peaks if it came to Netflix. (See also: Gilmore Girls.) Like many a TV show with a cult following, it has an interesting effect on language. There are code words and phrases that fans use that leave non-fans saying, “What?” (See also: “And so say we all.” from Battlestar Galactica.)

My knowledge of Twin Peaks extends not very far: cherry pie, Kyle McLaughlin and Sherri… someone. She dated Jack Nicholson. I think little people were involved. In the show, not in Jack Nicholson’s relationship. Although, maybe, I don’t know.

And it’s coming back. I hope the fans are happy.

(h/t to canis ferociter latrans, who proposed this for a topic.)

Kyle McLaughlin
I wouldn’t mind staring at this face on my television on a weekly basis.

image source

What weird TV do you/did you love? And why? Are you excited Twin Peaks is coming back?

When Pumpkin Spice Jumped the Shark

I like me some pumpkin flavoring, in a few things. For example, one of my favorite fall desserts is a nice, moist pumpkin roll. And, of course, pumpkin pie is a must at Thanksgiving.

But at some point in the past two years, the pumpkin spice craze has utterly exploded, and now it’s being used in everything from coffee (which I deem acceptable) to car fresheners. I don’t know if that latter example is literally true, but I’d bet $5 it is.

I think pumpkin for use in consumables is fine. I, personally, don’t like flavored coffee at all, so I’m not going to pick up a pumpkin spice latte, but if you are excited about that, I’m cool. I’m still somewhat skeptical about pumpkin beer, for goodness sakes, which puts me in the minority among my friends. I’ve had one or two, with the appropriately sugared serving glasses, and nothing has knocked my socks off. I lack the impulse to go out and stock up on PumKing. It’s just not my thing.

But you have at it.

I think the clearest signs that pumpkin spice everything jumped the shark was two-fold.

1. Pumpkin beers hit the shelves this year in August. That is akin to the Christmas creep in the retail space, and as such, I deem it unacceptable. Given the accelerated pace, this means Christmas beers will be in stores by the end of October. It’s just wrong, people. Knock that shit off.

2. Pumpkin spice is in everything. For all I know, it’s in the Get-Go fuel I put in my car. It started innocently enough, with coffee and beer and muffins. And scones and cookies and pumpkin bread. And I won’t turn down a nice creamy curried pumpkin soup. But thanks to my friend Kim Z. Dale, it has come to my attention that there are pumpkin spice air fresheners and e-cig… what are those, cartridges? (I don’t get e-cigarettes. And as a long-time smoker, I think that’s saying something.)

Kim wrote her own post on the pumpkin spice madness, complete with a slide show. We are of the same mind: Pumpkin spice cream cheese? Fine. Pumpkin spice facials? Just say no.

It’s gone too far. Whatever happened to nice, simple pumpkin PIE flavoring? Why’s it gotta be pumpkin SPICE?

I vote that we bring back apple as a flavoring for fall. Not apple spice or applesauce or apple cinnamon. Apple. Plain and crisp.

(h/t to @_chrislovett who proposed the idea for this post in the first place, and to Kim aka @observacious, who dubbed the pumpkin spice latte “patient zero” in all things pumpkin spice related)

Where do you draw the line on all things pumpkin?

Pumpkin Spice Latte
Patient Zero

image source