Monday, December 1, 2008

When it comes to Rudeness, Its not a competition

The other day I had the opportunity to catch a sermon from the mothership, or as you may know it, Oprah Winfrey Show. Even though I am Oprah's target demographic as evidenced by my collection of velour robes, my erratic hormone levels, and the root fusing my buttocks directly to my couch, I usually don't tune into the leader of the free world because although I like her, she's no Arthur, and animated aardvark trumps the Angel Network most days.

Other Reasons not to watch Oprah

Suze Ormon: She can whip your finances into shape, but apparently she can't spell Suzie. This woman is angry and scary and should really budget her use of highlights, foundation and teeth whitening products and any financial advisor that offers a "Financial Smackdown with Suze" should really be performing at the Wisconsin State Fair in a ring of mud, not on her own show on MSNBC.

X-Rated Subject Matter: Plenty of times I've tuned in to see who's on the O with my kids in the room and mine eyes, mine ears, there is a demonstration on how two women kiss while keeping their lip liner in tact, or Valerie Bertinelli is spewing detail about her three-way with Eddie Van Halen and Steve Spielberg and I vow to never stray from Arthur again.

Too frequent guest appearances by Celine Dion: The French Canadian songstress is freakier than playing Ouija in Haunchyville with Janice Dickinson. 'nuff said.

Reasons to Watch Oprah:

Lisa Ling: Hands down, the best freelance reporter with good hair working on television today. What Lisa doesn't know that Oprah probably does, is that she should have her own show so that Oprah stops interrupting her with stories about what happened at Quincy Jones's hot tub last week at yet another Celebrate Oprah bash.

Nate Berkus: Common sense interior design that actually reflects the person living in the home. And, have you seen Nate Berkus? Another talent that needs his own show so Oprah can stop interrupting him with stories of how John Travolta and Tom Cruise stopped by to clean the leaves out of her gutters after Maria Shriver varnished her floors.

Oprah wants us all to wear a good Bra: This is a public service that we can credit the Queen for. However, the right bra is not the Dream Tish that Oprah touts on the show. I was inspired by the Queen and ordered the Dream Tish after this show which was suspiciously on sale with free shipping the day of this broadcast.

What Oprah doesn't tell you is that the Dream Tish arrives in a crate, like a piano, and it is composed of so many wires, ribs, padding and hooks that it would make Quasimodo stand up straight. While the Dream Tish does what a $70 bra should do, like cure curvature of the spine, it hurts. But after dropping seventy dabloons on Tish, I felt I should wear it until it wore out. Guess what? Dream Tish never wears out.

There is so much metal framework and foam insulation to this thing that it also serves as house floorplan C for Habitat for Humanity. Not only does Dream Tish provide support, but its fireproof and older versions might just be lined with asbestos. No shock here, but the Dream Tish is not comfortable for the average woman who is not wearing it to appear gravity defying on national TV in front of 3 billion people. The Dream Tish is more like a straight jacket for your torso. You must psych yourself up to get into it and only keep it on for two hours or so until you need to breathe. Now I know how Polly Pocket feels wrapped in that rubber dress. After about a year of guilt induced Dream Tish wear, I wanted out. I contemplated retrofitting it for a Life Jacket, but the cups are in the wrong place, so I donated mine to the local government of Pisa to see if they can shore up their tower. Don't buy this one.

Dream Tish misstep aside, we all need to be in a worthy bra. We also need to cut our Crystal Gale hair, lose the mullet, stop wearing sweats in public. We should stop buying designer puppies from that cheesy strip mall on 27th Street, drink Green T, tip better, don't marry our first cousins, or, if we married our first cousins we should adopt, stop hoarding trash from the curb to decorate our living room, don't endorse plastic surgery for children, support Tatum O'Neal's sobriety, and worship Maya Angelou. So there are good things to Oprah and that is why she's the Queen.

Oprah's show the other day had the tag line "Are You a Rude Person?," and featured a quiz about some rudeness indicators and a long winded explanation from a Rudeness Expert who was, ironically, French. While Oprah highlighted some common manners missteps like sneaking through the express supermarket lane with more than the alotted items. I'd like to take the Rudeness quiz a step further and ask "Are you This Rude Person?" and see if I can get anyone to 'fess up.

In no Particular Order, Are you This Rude Person?

1. Have you flashed an obscene gesture not once, but twice to Juj's friend Cathy while she was walking with her son?

Cathy, fun size half of "the Krug," was innocently walking with her son on a bike path in Fox Point when an elderly woman flipped her off from a car on Lake Drive. Then, the woman circled the block and flipped her off again to be sure the Krug got the message. I can vouch for the Krug that this was not an earned action, she'd own it if she brought it on. Random rudeness that she's still spewing about today. The Krug wanted it noted that she was also wearing an MS Walkathon T-shirt advertising her goodness when this happened. Fess up.

2. Did you get your drink on at Chuck E. Cheese, Where a Kid can Be a Kid, on or around October of 2006? Did you proceed to heckle the Mouse? At my son's birthday party? In the middle of a Thursday afternoon for Godsakes? If you can't find a legitimate bar sans arcade on the southside of Milwaukee between the hours of 6 a.m. and 2 a.m., you just ain't trying and you probably don't have enough brain cells to waste on alcohol.

3. Do you think the Lifeguards at the Polynesian Water Park in the Dells are synomous with free child care? Did you drop your kids off with no food, no money, no swim diapers, no manners and go to Ho-Chunk for 48 hours? Is there ever a good reason for children to wear goggles and go underwater in the hot tub? Quincy Jones would eject your butt if you tried that at his hot tub, ask Oprah.

4. Are you living on my block and pick up your newspaper every day in a robe that doesn't cover your nether regions? You don't need to fess up, just letting you know you are not invisible and gutchies come in all shapes and sizes--find the right ones for you or at least wait the grade school second bell rings before you come out.

5. Did you invent Apple Holler? Fess up and retire. No one treats Tracey that way, even if she's from Chicago.

6. Are you the girl from the Vitucci's Cocktail Lounge bathroom that I innocently warned had a long train of toilet paper wrapped around her ankle? Hey chickie, the correct reponse is "thanks for telling me," not "Same to you b***h!" That doesn't even make any sense! Fess up, I mean, sober up. Three drink maximum.

7. Are you the freak who I caught drinking straight from a full gallon of milk while driving with 5 kids bouncing around your car? Both hands on the gallon, none on the wheel, foot on the gas?? A gallon is not the approved size for a Milk Chug lady. Curses for being too shocked to get your plate number!! Citizen's arrest on the spot.

8. Are you either one of the Grandmas droppin' F-bombs in the Build-A-Bear queue? (Yes friends, you can rank the Build-A-Bear right next to the East Capitol Drive Walmart on the list of parenting necessary evils.) Lit Grandma's with blue vernacular in an Irish pub at happy hour=funny and eccentric. The same at Build A Bear=not so much. I think I sit in front of your kind every time I attempt to take my kids to the Family Section at Miller park where you must have the highest score possible on a Breathalyzer to get in. Take your George Carlin show down the hall to the Thomas Kincaid gallery where no one under 75 shops.

Thanks Oprah for inspiring me to wear a better bra and personally call out rudeness that has crossed my path.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Didn't you used to be chunky and weird?

Some Things Never Change

So after a good year of anticipation and planning, the reunion party went off without a hitch. Everyone seemed to be well buzzed and enjoying themselves and more importantly, no one got hurt until after I left. I'll hold back some of the details to protect the innocent, but here are Eleven Generic Tips (or Ten Tips and one Poke in the Eye)that I think everyone can enjoy at their own class reunion.

Tip 1: If you are going to greet people with an exuberant "Didn't you used to be chunky and weird with crazy hair?" Make sure they have a good sense of humor. By the way, this wasn't directed at me (thought I can see why you jumped to that conclusion.) But I did hear about it, she was smiling and you are forgiven.

Tip 2: When returning photos of a classmate's shall we say, frank and beans, please do not mix them in with your current photos of your lovely family around the Christmas tree. This can be shocking to friends innocently flipping through your pics, but it will show who's really paying attention. Mine eyes, mine eyes. Even your casual "Oh, that's Bob (not his real name-or is it?) I was going to give it back to him tonight. I don't need it anymore."

Tip 3: If you were not able to pull off the last fake occupation I gave you at the 15 year reunion, come up with some suggestions of things you might be able to fake. I guess this tip is just directed at Mr. Most Absent. Let's just say at the 15 we got a little creative for him 'cause he needed a bump. And maybe a bump from Most Absent to midwife was a bit of a reach. Most Absent dropped the ball and told people he learned his trade on-line. Yes Russell, its possible, you just won't have any clients. Now you come to me with "Juj, they're not buyin' it, gotta give me something better." Well your bratwurst shaped fingers eliminate concert pianist and the fact that I'm craning my neck to talk to you eliminates jockey. I'm trying to work with you here, but you seem to not fit into any of my exotic ideal fake jobs. I'm already pulling off beekeeper and there cannot be two of us at the same party or they will suspect, buzzed as they are, that we are in cahoots. Next time, email me ahead of time and I'll punch up both your resume and your class bio for a small fee.

Tip 4/Poke in the Eye: Someone told me she is waiting to read my reunion book bio information until she has to do "a number 2." This is not really a tip, but more of a poke in the eye, to said classmate and she knows who she is.

Tip 5: If you won the genetic lottery and entered this world as a twin, please know that if you don't show to either night of the two night event, Juj is entitled to share all of her fun memories of you with your brother and he is obligated to laugh and reminisce right back. Apparently you didn't hear about my shared DNA profile drink special? The Gordons and the Heindels showed up for it. Funny aside here, one twin read the class list name by name to his brother asking after each name if he should say hi from the planned to be absent twin (that's a good 285 names for those of you who follow me, but probably done all by twinspeak ESPn--Dooleys are not only psychic, but huge sports nuts). Fortunately, I got a "yes, say hi to her," not so much for the friend who tried to smoke in his dorm room. Didn't you know Dooley's were anti smoking before it was green and en vogue to shun the nic?

Tip 6: Lesson for the boys: ok, just to Mr. Most Attractive: This is your 20th reunion and if you danced to "Baby Got Back" back in the day, you can alter that to "Baby Got Spanx" if your graduating class has entered the child bearing decades. And when your Miss Most Obnoxious classmate, Toe, ends up on her back on the dance floor with her skirt over her head as will invariably be the case at any social occasion, pointing and exclaiming in a voice more innocent that my seven year old's "Hey, she's wearing bike shorts!!" will get you a spot on the blog. Yeah baby, we are all wearing bike shorts! Why do you think it takes us twice as long in the bathroom?

Note in defense of my good friend Toe: Lying on the dance floor with skirt over head is just the latest in a long series of moves by Toe to prove that yes, she is a girl. Her early emotional scars date back to middle school when attending free skate at the Skate University (not an Ivy League feeder). When she arrived in her standard issue brown Toughskins and Terry Bradshaw jersey some chick asked her to couple up for Moonlight Couples!! I'm a girl!! I'm a girl!! she shrieked, and she is still trying to prove that simple fact today.

Tip 7: Asking Why didn't you guys do karaoke? = offering to host the 25.

Tip 8: If you win a goody bag, plan to have an oxygen tank on hand. Lord knows the excitement of a hello Kitty notebook and a bootleg of the Karate Kid can send your heart soaring. Heart soaring, yes, hyperventilating and shrieking, a little scary.

Tip 9: If you receive an email that your hosting committee would really like a current photo to post on the class website, don't take this opportunity to send an embarrassing one with no instructions, see that it got posted, then send a "Whoa Girl, that was just for you," email. I fixed it, we're still friends, but really, your sex tape is totally safe with me. Thanks for letting me be the toilet paper on your shoe at your 20th reunion.

Note to class of '88: Meredith is a serious, smart, accomplished, cultured, mostly sober and brimming with self control classmate regardless of what thousand words that picture spoke. My bad. I wish I could have posted said photo here, but she just started taking my calls again and I don't want to risk it.

Tip 10: Some of you may be tempted to show your love for a fellow same-sex classmate by humping and groping him on the dance floor. Be sure to move slowly enough so we can get better footage for the class website. What we have now looks a little Blair Witch rather than Ron Jeremy. We'll have to use it, but please let's work together at the 25 so we can preserve these precious moments.

Tip 11: Most of your fellow classmates have aged a bit and right after common sense, hearing is the next casualty. Embarrassing misunderstandings can happen.

Note to M.M.: I thought you said you were "living in a U-Haul." All I could think about was your new 4 month old daughter and your bagpipe playin' spouse in the echo chamber of despair. (Let's flag that bagpipe thing for Mr. Most Absent for next time) So when I passed the plate for you, it was out of concern. Fortunately someone clarified "living on Newhall" which is a little different animal. Sorry. Donations were redirected to Lani's bail.

Note to grade school chum: Lani: some things never change and since grade school I've been telling people to start every sentence to you with "I bet you won't..." and you never disappoint. Fountain diving on the first night, traffic cone abduction on night two? You still rock and roll girlfriend!! Afterbar and all, last one standing. No wonder my mom never wanted me to play at your house! I feel so predictable and in control sitting next to you. You never let us down.

Note to Divina: Hosting an afterbar with Lani and her traffic cone dangling over the railing of your high rise while serving tasty, mostly clean, treats and beverages? Nothing you can't handle. Your military background has served you well. Miss Friendliest and Miss Most Memorable in a nutshell.

To the committee: Thanks for everything you put into this event. I could have done at least 3 more nights with our peeps from '88 provided we could vote someone off each night. Although after common sense and hearing, I guess the voice goes next. Took me 4 days to get back enough croak to call some of you and laugh ourselves silly all over again. Does this mean we're not 25 anymore?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Happy Election Shopping to you and yours

Disclaimer about political propaganda: Juj's blog is apolitical and slotted to give equal print space to representatives from both campaigns regardless of how unattractive they are in High Definition TV or how irritating they are to me personally. If you want to know who I'm backing in this election, you won't find it here, but rather, I'd recommend you drive by my Obama '08 jack O'lantern.

In these tough economic times, and I know they are tough 'cause my crack financial advisor and neighbor, Karen, keeps me posted on the nation's financial house of cards anchored in quicksand, we must look around for the VanGogh under the velvet Elvis.

But before I delve into treasure hunting with Juj, let's get back to Karen. Karen is a financial whiz who could stuff and fluff Oprah's Suze Ormon in her dryer. And believe it or not, Karen doesn't have her own show on MSNBC. Think of her as the hybrid of Warren Buffet and Chicken Little: The markets are crashing, the markets are crashing.

Recently she advised me to rathole a few thousand dollars in my house. Although ratholing sounds like fun, I'm reluctant to learn a new mom-craft right now 'cause I have no money. If I had a few thousand dollars, I think I would probably spend it at the Dollar Store and come home with, well, thousands of things I don't need. This is why I look to Karen for advice on financial and other matters.

Hybrid of Warren Buffett and Chicken Little with Highnotes of Bob Villa:

Subheading: Other Things Karen Knows

Karen spent a few years as a stay at home mom, like me, but unlike me, she can't pine away an afternoon reading Vanity Fair while the kiddies study the Wonderpets. I'd be outside on the porch with my Mojito reading People Magazine and before I finish the page where you have to find 6 things different about the almost same picture,(always check the jewelry and belts) Karen has mudjacked her basement. And I don't even know what that means, but its not when someone steals all your mud at gunpoint--I already asked. And before I know if Dominic Dunne thinks Phil Spector is guilty,(he does), Karen has stripped and refinished all the wood trim in her home. Before I see if Paula Abdul can sit Straight Up without fidgeting on American Idol (she can't) Karen has replaced all of her windows. By the time I get to the reveal on Trading Spaces,(they hated it), Karen has power washed her house and half of mine. So compared to Karen, I'm a sloth, but in addition to being industrious she's kind of quirky too.

Karen can do a spot on Grandma Walton impersonation from the first episode of The Waltons: The Homecoming. In fact, she channels Grandma Walton frequently at book club. Yes, we're in a book club together, but while Karen is a reader, she is too busy rat holing gold bricks to get into any fiction, so she provides the entertainment portion of the evening in character of Grandma Walton.

Yes, Karen is a gold mine of talent and skills and entertaining to boot. Smack down that! Suze Ormon. Karen can also make the rest of us feel like the Three Little Pigs, playing all the day away while Rome burns. She will make you feel like the time allotted for your annual Pap exam was frivolous and ill spent.

One Thing Karen was Way Wrong About:

She let go of my 5 month old daughter because she thought she could walk. Yeah, Karen dropped my baby, but only 'cause she thought she was freakishly advanced so I let it go.

Now, to Ebay, a veritable Bomb Shelter of Financial Security:

One of the financial advantages to Eblogging is that it keeps me off of Ebay. In fact, that is pretty much the only financial advantage of Eblogging. Sometimes, I miss Ebay, the warm welcome "Hello Shopwood70, how's it going?" The pleasant and loving reminders that my watched items are ending soon, the thoughtful suggestions of what I might be interested in. Yes, Ebay fills a void left by my childhood imaginary friend, Jumpy, who disappeared shortly after I packed up for college. Ebay is always awake and up for shopping and rummaging happy for me when I've won an auction. Ebay is sad for me when I've been outbid. And Ebay wants to know what I think about each and every transaction I've ever made on his site. I've been known to cancel social opportunities and shirk parenting duties because a watched item was about to close. But trying to exercise some spending restraint, I've let go some good ones:

The Ones that Got Away:

  • The rabbit's foot blessed by a druid for the low low starting bid of $9.99 and free ship (Where do you even find a druid, much less get him to bless your rabbit's foot for the low low price of $9.99?) In fact, Ebay has an extensive collection of this type of jewelry under heading "Druid Wiccan Pagan Wicca Jewelry."

  • The Haunted and Active Kirsten American Girl Doll (worth at least 15% more than a new boxed doll directly from the American Girl Store because she's possessed) Check back under category "Psychic, Paranormal, Toys and Dolls."

  • A Phone Psychic reading by "Bob" for $9.99 and free ship (Bob prefers to be verbally abused and humiliated and apparently couldn't find a job at Chuck E. Cheese) This was a one time listing, I'm sorry I didn't make a bid and I have no idea under what category Bob is stored.

I suspect that Karen's financial smarts have caused her to avoid a relationship with Ebay. But even though I know my Ebay affair is co-dependant and wrong, I couldn't help but be intrigued by this little find: Sarah Palin Cabbage Patch Doll, a collector's item. The Whistler's Motherload of an Election Year Bargain.

Yes, there is a genuine Cabbage Patch Biden, Obama, and McCain doll to go with Sarah, but Sarah's pulling in at least three times what the boys are. At the time of this posting, Sarah's raking in $9,600. Obama is a distant second with $4,800. Joe Biden was a paltry $800 and I think that was mostly because his kids pooled their allowance. In fact, I think you could say that in this capacity, Sarah is maxing out her potential in regards to stimulating the economy and we'd be crazy to think she could do any better.

Yes, $9,600 is the top bid. One lucky bidder among 88 will take Sarah home tomorrow when the auction closes. And if that person is into saving his pennies, he will enjoy FREE SHIPPING on this item.

The days when people sunk $9,600 into, say, a bank, real estate, or a stock portfolio, have passed, but its good to know that we have at least 88 creative financial minds out there willing to take a risk and sink the wad in a Political Cabbage Patch doll.

I'm guessing Karen is probably not one of the 88 bidders vying for a spoon session with Sarah P. (There is a warning that her American Flag pin may pose a choking hazard to children under 3 so I guess Sarah's not much of a snuggler anyway) No, Karen is probably onto something more secure with that ratholing idea. Though I may not have a few thousand dollars lying around to rathole, this is one class of 88 that I'm happy to know I'm not a part of. But I'll post the winning bid here soon.

Disclaimer #1: All proceeds from the political Cabbage Patch dolls will go to Toys for Tots so its not like you're throwing your portfolio down the sewer. Your foolishness will make lots of small children happy at Christmas so bid away, bid away.

Disclaimer #2: I fully expect the Ebay Police to come after me for posting this auction on my blog. Let's just say it wouldn't be the first time I've been pulled over and ticketed by the Ebay Police. I've learned my lesson about auctioning Marlboro Indy Car racing memorabilia. And that lesson is the little guy is but a fly dancing on dog poop to Big Tobacco and they'll squash your tiny Ebay auction with a tobacco farmer's sh**-kicking boots faster than you can say "Increase my Max Bid Please." Think the suits at Marlboro won't stomp all over your legal and fair auction if they think anyone is making fifty cents on their name without cutting them a quarter? My paranoid roots tell me that Big Tobacco makes the Russian Mob look like a bunch of vodka swillin' lollipop lickin' Oompa Loompas when it comes to threats and intimidation. So here's my chance to stick it to the nasty folks at Marlboro: Readers, Quit smoking. Yesterday. And don't forget to vote!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I had a farm in Haunchyville....

Now that Halloween is upon us, I will take this opportunity to enlighten both of my readers on one of the Reese's Peanut Butter Cups of Parenting: Children and the Occult.

I've spent much of my life drawn to things that are spooky and weird--like Janice Dickinson's reality show. (I think her most recent face, is probably the best one yet if by "best" you mean "frightful," and also graded like a mini golf green or the Whitefish Bay Sendiks parking lot) But how often do you stop and notice the presence of the occult in our children's every day lives? Here are Five of my favorite otherworldly children's activities, please feel free to chime in with your family occult traditions as well.

Ouija***** (that's a five star or five asterisk rating with Eblogger's limited symbol options)

We'll start with the Big Kahuna of board games, that which combines the genuine plastic reader to interpret messages from the Mystifying Oracle. Of course, the Ouija board. If you attended a sleepover at any given point during the 1970s or 1980s, you know that Ouija board is ten giant scary steps up from "Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board," when it comes to contacting the dead or finding out if you're going to marry Shawn Cassidy. Marketing genius William Fuld holds the patent on the Message Indicator and the Talking Board design. He wants you to be aware of that fact so much that he slapped that enforceable Patent notification on the face of the game board not once, but twice. Not only did Fuld combine children's natural curiosity with witchcraft and neatly packaged it into a board game, but he spent the duration of his career shutting down hawkers of imitation inferior "talking boards" until Ouija was the Ma Bell of communicating with the dead.

Genuine American Made in Taiwan Magic 8 Ball **** (four stars)

The Magic 8 ball has not lost its charms as it can be found today on the top shelf of Winkie's. Kids never tire from being told Reply Hazy, Try Again as we all know there is a teeny tiny smidge of a shaman inside the black water Magic 8.

Upon receiving his first Magic 8 Ball, my son tore open the package, vigorously shook it while pleading: Is God For Real??? (Answer was Better Not Tell You Now, another lost sheep looking for someone with a clue.)I guess our family occult night combined with the strict observance of the public schools not to acknowledge any religious holidays except for a heavy dose of Halloween tempered with the same public school exposure to all the major religions in a non denominational way has confused the boy a tad. Basically any mention of Church or God is usually followed by a panicky reply of "Do I have to wear a shirt with buttons?" In spite of that, he insists that "he likes Jesus, he just doesn't like to wear nice pants," and we accept his spiritual limitations because all the photographs I've seen of Jesus, he didn't wear nice pants or a button shirt either. Church rules don't always get you closer to God, just ask Jerry Falwell if he's feeling a little warm about now.

Edible Occult***(three stars)

Fortune Cookies: How freaky is it that so many of us are living a long and happy life and that we absolutely should "learn Chinese," in a nation becoming increasingly dependant on the Chinese takeout? Nothing gets my kids throwing down as the award of one of the two fortune cookies that come with our East Garden take out.

No Photo available 'cause offspring ate them all while I was looking for the camera.

Note to East Garden: We have three children and since China Palace closed, you receive 100% of our Chinese takeout business. Maybe you can kick an extra cookie in the bag so we can put a stop to the Tuesday night bloodshed in our home. Also, stop skimping on the rice, but that's another blog.

Speaking of Chinese, Note re: blatant copyright infringement as it relates to Ouija boards and Magic 8 Balls: The Chinese versions of these games are similar in size and design, but have small clues that they are ripoffs of the real thing. For instance, the juice in the Chinese made Magic 8 is actually toxic mercury and the first reading the ball will give you is: "This ball is bound to leak Toxic Mercury all over you." The second reading is "Seriously kid, you'll need a skin graft." Don't believe me? Let's ask the Ball:

Q:Will The Chinese Rip Off Magic 8 give me third degree burns?:
A: Without a Doubt

The Chinese version of "'s only a game--isn't it?," boasts a board and genuine plastic message indicator, but it has not been endorsed by the Mystifying Oracle like the genuine Parker Brother's (not really brothers) brand. William Fuld's iron fist didn't reach to the Far East. Therefore your board will not be able to answer sample questions like: Will I ever be tall enough to slam dunk? and Does Tommy know I like him? Who told him? Will my parents let me go to the concert? What should I wear? Instead, your Chinese-made set will just have the plastic message indicator spinning into infinity. BTW, the Chinese also invented Infinity, but only to distract the rest of us from severe copyright infringement that is their stock and trade. Always look for the genuine American Made in Taiwan seal that shows your occult games are for real.

Occult in the cards** (two stars)

Indian: If you have small children and you haven't played Indian, you are missing out on one of life's greatest adventures. For those of you who are too politically correct to play a game so uncomfortably named, each player is dealt one card face down. Each player then holds the card to his forehead so that his opponents can see the face, but he can't. It is helpful to use duct tape if your opponents are really young or if they have greasy foreheads from eating a lot of Chinese food. Then, based on what you observe from your opponents, you are supposed to bet if you think your card is higher than theirs.

Seems straightforward, but here is where the occult comes in. You have to read the mind of your opponents in order to know if you have a high or low card. Comments like "Oh, I know I beat Daddy 'cause he's got a two," may lead you to an educated guess, but really, Patricia Arquette has the edge in this game. Don't rely solely on questions from your kids like "Mommy is your Queen higher than Sophie's ten?" They won't always be this naive. If you expect to win at Indian, you must clear your head, focus and try to read the minds of your opponents. Or, you can sit across from a window or a mirror and steal a peak at your card, but be discreet, that only works for a couple of years before they get wise.

Sentimental Occult Shout out to My West Allis Peeps--All Star Occult:

Haunchyville: Ahhh, these blogs will often ramble back to my youth in the bustling village called West Allis. It is common knowledge that kids from Muskego enticed us West Allis-ites out to their cornfields to visit what was known as "Haunchyville," a haunted cornfield populated with possessed gnomes or gremlins if you will, out for West Allis blood. Now, you might think that if we were old enough to drive, we were old enough to know better, but no, we went, hoping to catch a glimpse of a haunted little cornfed sprite running through the crops with a sickle. A few times we did get the B'Jesus scared out of us and a few classmates were known to have spotted one (little person, not a B'Jesus). More than one classmate spotted rows of shorty mailboxes as you can be possessed but well informed if you subscribe to the right literature.

As I mature, I often wonder if Muskegoans were mostly messin' with us in a desperate attempt to feel superior to our Ivy League feeder status but I can't discount the strong otherworldly vibe we all felt in the corn. I started to get suspicious when on one of our jaunts out to Haunchyville, we stopped at a service station and asked for directions. To Haunchyville. With a straight face. The counter dude smiled and said "are you kids from West Allis?" but happily pointed us in the right direction.

Haunchy Watching with My Kids:

Class of '88 quotes on Haunchyville:

Divina (Friendliest and Most memorable): "There was always talk (about Haunchyville) but I tended to back away from those conversations because I'm close to being a haunchytype: short and freaky in stature/nature. That is me."

Jill (Best Driver): "I sooooo remember driving out there several times with a carload of us, but can't for the life of me figure out where it is. I do remember trying to "back in" in case we needed a fast get away, but the cornstalks on both sides of the car made it too hard to see."

Curses being en vogue city folk unfamiliar with the height of September corn!! But check out that driving acumen. That was a well earned honor.

Toe (I'm a Girl and Most Obnoxious): "I remember a Children of the Corn feeling when we drove there. I think the vertically challenged people could have made it through the bondo on my Maverick."

Note to readers who didn't grow up to the sounds of Toe's mufflerless Maverick cruisin' the strip: Toe's Mav had no floor ala the Flintstones but if you wanted to add the thrill of motion sickness to your donuts in the school parking lot, no better ride to be had.

Jimmy B. (1/5 of German Five Five aka Deutsche Funf Funf): No official English comment from Jimmy, but during business hours, Jimmy located Haunchyville on a map and gave me the cross streets of Mystic Drive (oooohhhh, creepy) and Janesville Road. I'm going to speak in code to Jimmy B now: Guten Tag, Herr Breitenfeld. Danke und Guten Arbeit mein Freund. Wie geht's Fortunatus, die Haunchy auf Deutschland, auf Schwarzwald? Auf Wiedersehen und Gesundheit.

Heather (Best Musician): I think I had viola practice when you guys were at Haunchyville. (Say it with me: Poor Heather!!)

Meredith (inappropriate pic on reunion website): "What do you mean you can't say midgets anymore?" and: "I definitely remember the "Children of the Corn" feeling, but never actually observed threatening little people to my recollection, but there were some squat mailboxes in the shadows of the corn. Even the petite need their Vanity Fair."

Micki (FL Wright's answer to Coco Chanel and 1/5 of German Five Five): "I remember a bunch of us psyching ourselves out thinking we wouldn't live to see another day if a Haunchy saw us in the corn. I remember small mailboxes too. To this day, I have not seen a Haunchy but would love to meet one for a latte."

Oh Mick, how high falutin' of you to offer a growth stunting beverage to a Haunchy.

One stray quote from the Class of '85, but its my sister Anja and you guys all love her stuff: "I never heard of Haunchyville. But one time a bunch of us went to the airport to see Gilligan come into town. That was before airport security was so strict so we went right to Gilligan's gate."

Note to class of '85: You guys were kind of a snooze, wholesome and sweet to be sure, but zzzzz...

see Journal Sentinel Travel Reporter Dennis McCann report on the true story of Haunchyville at

Monday, October 13, 2008

Johnny Appleseed plants a Patent Search

The list of parenting necessary evils runs long and deep. It starts when they hand you your little seven pound bundle of love at the hospital garnish him off with a booger suction bulb. Shortly after, that angel from heaven will vomit and poop with enough frequency and force to inspire you to wear a SeaWorld poncho around the house. And that is just when they're healthy. Then, they get infections and pox viruses and plantar warts and stuff that would send you running were it not for the miracle that is the parent child bond.

That parent child bond will take you places the childless never have to go: Waterparks, the Capitol Drive Walmart, Disneyland, the Chase Avenue Chuck E Cheese's, the elementary school's Caf-a-Gym-a-Torium. Another such destination is the Preschool Apple Orchard Field trip. This one was really a head scratcher for me. But ever since I helped with the school's lice check, everything is a head scratcher for me. I swear I think you can contract lice just by thinking about it. After the Apple Orchard field trip with my 3 years old's preschool class, I had to wonder, for a three year old, what is the educational value of projecting the Johnny Appleseed movie onto the lifeless face of a mannequin in a dark barn?

"Johnny" is a half mannequin, half scarecrow. No face, just a blank white head topped off with a tin pot. Turn on the projector and Johnny comes alive "Hey there little lady, little man, wanna learn somethin' about the importance of apple to the first Colonists?" The actor portraying Johnny is an extra from Deliverance who was fortunate to stumble on this royalty goldmine, the educational film.

Now, I'm no child development expert and I'm sure there are some redeeming qualities of delivering educational information from a disembodied source. To be fair, "Johnny" spoke of many things that the general public might not know about apples and their uses: in fact, as he babbled on and on about the status of the Apple in Colonial Times: apple cobbler, apple pie, hot cider, cold cider, apple bread, apple muffin, I was struck not only by the similarities to the Bubba character from Forest Gump (shrimp soup, shrimp cocktail, shrimp kebobs), but how well, possessed Johnny seemed projected in this manner.

The median age of the audience is 3. They react to this seance in many different ways including Threat level Yellow:"Look mommy, the scarecrow man is talking,"
to threat level Orange: "mommy, that dead man isn't dead,"
to threat level Red: Lots of shrieking, crying, pants-wetting, maybe should have brought the poncho.

My own kid, third of three, has been toughened considerably by having two older sibs and even she was cautious "Mommy I don't like that scary dude." But she couldn't take her eyes off of him, which brings me to my next great invention: Mannequin Mommy or the "MommyQuin".

A Patent Search is Born

MommyQuin is basically a movie of me droning on incessantly and projecting it onto the head of a faceless mannequin wearing my clothes. Think of how much I'll save on babysitters! My kids won't be sure whether its me or a movie. They'll be too terrified to move for several hours, but the audio message is calming and soothing and possibly educational which covers my butt with Social Services.

You can project videos of yourself explaining fifth grade fuzzy math which might send the kids to dreamland, but frightens a lot of parents that I know. I think I just found the upgrade to the teddy bear wazoo camera. To keep the kiddies guessing, you sell a mannequin complete with several of your mommy looks: there is of course, the Sea World Poncho, the regular genuine fake velour Bathrobe, the cropped sweats and T shirt, whatever the kids are used to seeing you around the house in. If you're a mommy whose dripping in diamonds and drowning in Prada, we can customize a look for you, but it will cost ya extra.

Kids are so used to high tech audio visual equipment, I'm certain they will be stumped by the old fashioned projector style. Even the smart ones will be wondering what the heck is up.

I asked my 11 year old if she remembered the Apple Orchard trip from her K4 days. Seven years ago, I had a new baby at home and couldn't attend the trip with her, but the chaperones assured me that yes, she cried uncontrollably the whole time. At the time I was flummoxed by her reaction to just picking apples in an orchard, now that I've met Johnny Appleseed, I finally understand what sent my first born into a tizzy. A dark cloud crossed her sweet face and she said:

"Oh yeah, I didn't like that trip 'cause there was a scary dead guy in the barn."

MommyQuin: Patent Pending.

Monday, October 6, 2008

I'm so Green I'm Yellow

Not All Green is Good Green

Most of you, like me, have made some adjustments to your spoiled, self-indulgent lifestyles as you realize our economy is increasingly dependent on foreign bikes. Some of my articles may be on the frivolous side and a gi-normous waste of your free time, but others, like this one, will create a forum for educating/co-miserating on how foreign oil has caused us to cut back on things like toilet papering and flattering lighting and such.

Today, I'm going to focus on one sacrifice I almost made.

Last week while comparison vodka shopping, I found myself at the Whitefish Bay Sendiks. Now, although this article is a bit of a palette cleanser on the drama of my class reunion, I was purchasing vodka in preparation for the big weekend with these delinquents. I haven't bought vodka for myself since at least 2 kids ago and some things have changed in the vodka industry that has historically been dependent on foreign potato growth.

For those of you who have not had the opportunity to visit the Whitefish Bay Sendiks, let me fill you in on what you may have missed. The Whitefish Bay Sendiks is the epitome of high falutin' and en vogue consumable products that are not only ridiculously overpriced, but observant of our greenability and these products usually taste pretty damn good.

That being said, drawbacks to the Whitefish Bay Sendiks include, but are not limited to, the fact that their parking lot is only slightly more dangerous than Kuwait with 1/3 of drivers being tiny, elfin-like elderly people in large Cadillacs abruptly pulling in and out of spaces with no warning and no feet near a braking mechanism. A second 1/3 of drivers being tiny, elfin like au pairs to wealthy families who didn't request a "driver" 'cause they live in a "walkable community" and thus received a nanny who got her license in Peru where everyone completes a mandatory 13 hours of steering a mountain goat before being rewarded a driver's license. Then, as the epitome of the American dream, she comes to this country and finds herself behind the wheel of a Hummer in the WF Bay parking lot. The remaining 1/3 of drivers are moms in minivans who are undercaffeinated. Also, the parking lot has been graded much like a mini golf green with lots of hilly landscape and if you let go of your cart to say, put your baby in your car, your groceries go careening into traffic faster than you can say "crunchy granola."

Additional drawbacks to the Whitefish Bay Sendiks include wide shopping carts and cramped check out lanes. At first, I would struggle to wiggle on through feeling fat and bloated when I realized, "it's not my hips its the damn cart that doesn't fit." Also, the Whitefish Bay Sendiks, while located in the heart of greenation, offers a plastic bag that is thicker and nicer than most people's luggage. I feel guilty about choosing the plastic because it is "too nice for dog poop," and usually ends up stowed away in my basement, waiting until I have a spare moment to hot glue gun a zipper closure on them, so that our next overseas holiday will be complete with a set of coordinated luggage. I know, I should keep them in the car and reuse the bags for repeat shopping at the Mecca that is the Bay Sendiks, but anything stored in my car quickly becomes contaminated with dog hair and Goldfish crumbs and the idea of putting perfectly clean groceries in them is just groady so I don't.

So stepping back to the liquor department at the WFB Sendik's, I'm perusing the vodka section knowing neither what brand is en vogue or when vodka bottles became so pretty when I notice a brand, sold in a giant cardboard box that boasts "The World's First Eco-Friendly Gift Set." And I couldn't help but be intrigued: What qualities make vodka eco-friendly and damn, my Christmas shopping stops here?

What made this 360 brand a better choice for the Greenable was apparently the giant cardboard box that it was packaged in and the fact that it contained a fluorescent type light bulb and a giant book of tips on making sure your grass remains greener than your neighbor's. All in one handy "gift set" that will be flying off the shelves like this year's answer to Tickle me Elmo and PlayStation 3 of yesteryears.

Now, I don't know about your people, but mine are of Mediterranean descent and have been known to enjoy their vodka in copious amounts, under incandescent lighting. My vodka roots go back to my childhood when my Uncle George schooled me on the proper proportions of vodka to water (two fingers tall of vodka to one of water, but wait, you're a child, better use four of your fingers of vodka to one water) Now, it must be noted here that if you are a group of "adults" at a poker game in the mid to late 60's and you delegate the cocktail mixing to your children, don't be surprised when you see that the toilet bowl is empty because your bartender is too short to reach the faucet--yeah, leave the vodka in her reach, but hide the water. Kudos to cousin Holly: you've got your own hall of fame in the annals of family lore. Also, it might be helpful to tip the bartender or at least spring for a step stool. But now it is 2008 and as we know better, we do better so back to eco-friendly rail drinks.

All the vodka exposure of my youth and almost none of it occurred under a fluorescent bulb. As I said, we are a Mediterranean folk with lovely olive skin. Put us under a fluorescent bulb with an open bottle of vodka and you might as well slap some yellow turtlenecks on us and start passing around the malaria vaccine.

What has this world come to when you can't even drink pretty bottle vodka under good lighting without a twinge of guilt?

I must say I debated with myself.

Note to self: Start wearing cell phone ear thingy in public so people stop looking at you funky during your self debates. On that note, the next time you think someone next to you in a public toilet is saying hello, she is probably talking on the phone. On the potty. How low falutin'.

I was frozen to that particular aisle for a long time pondering if my friends would judge me for the less environmentally but prettier vodka purchase. Decided no, the bulk of these folks live in Brookfield where they haven't heard of global warming and the effects on vodka yet. So I purchased a prettier, but smaller bottle of regular kind of vodka and hoped that people might drink it by candlelight to spare all of the world a bit of green where we don't need it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Every Party Has its Big Jobs

Subtitled: Should you invite Yassar Arafat since he's not really dead?

So, when we last left our hero, Juj was up to her eyeballs in high school memorabilia, none of which was ringing a bell for her when she was stumped by an ethical conundrum that goes something like this:

While recruiting people for your 20th high school reunion, are you legally obligated to invite the girl who threatened to kick your a** in seventh grade?

Now, I know some of you are thinking, who didn't threaten to kick Juj's a** at some point in the duration of knowing her? I may have made a snarky comment or two back in the day, may have been the jerk who threw off the Bell Curve leaving everyone else holding their solid "C." I may have overindulged in TP at your house because the TP at my house was rationed. I may have temporarily relocated the canoe from the top of the genuine fake wood paneled station wagon you drove to school. I may have sent the contents of my beer bong flying onto your shoes I may have guffawed as you spewed yours. I may have tipped your parents off about your house party when they were out of town 'cause I ate all the stale gum drops that have been sitting on your TV since the Nixon era. (Sue me, I like the crunchy ones!)Yes, I may have given some folks cause to threaten to open the proverbial can of whoop a** on me at some point in my high school career aka the Trail of Tears.

Cry me a river people, we all did that kind of stuff to each other in high school--that stuff was funny!! But when I was in seventh grade, I was an angel. Sweet, scared, preppy, smart, and sheltered, a deadly combination at Frank Lloyd Wright Middle, feeder school to Nathan Jail, feeder school to the Ivy League. Coming to a very urban school from my warm suburban cocoon on my first day, I saw a girl wearing a leather bustier with an inch of black eyeliner encircling eye snappin' gum and smoking a cigarette and talking about "her ole man." I thought, wow, rough teacher, before I noticed that she was in one of the kid desks, the kind that is either a lefty or a righty and there was an imbalance between left handed people and the gross quantity of left handed desks at FLW and if you were a dork, you were relegated to learn how to be ambidextrous, which comes in handy, but doesn't help dilute your dork status. You guessed it, I learned to write lefty at FLW.

The halls at FLW were riddled with girl students like this girl. Boy students had full beard, tats, and records, and the scared, sweet, suburban kids were outnumbered, outmatched, outhoused (fortunately not outwitted) at FLW Middle which after dropping me off on Band Day, my mother always said "Frank Lloyd Wright would spin in his grave if he knew they named that pit after him."

So that first day, I pulled up to my left handed desk and just tried to blend in. This was challenging as I didn't own any leather or chains and certainly, at that point anyway, didn't know what accessories went with hoochy mama boots.

But as I slunk through the halls in metal locker camouflage with my fellow nerd and best bud Meredith, I knew that she was a more obvious target because she was not only as geeky as I, but she came equipped with braces and and extra 18 inches of height which would serve her well later in life, but those additional dork qualities made you nothing short of a bullseye at Frank Lloyd Wright Middle. Yes, our combined dorkanality was the glue that held us together.

As a side note here on the braces, kudos to Meredith's peeps for ponying up for the hardware. My family, being of frugal Eastern European descent, didn't believe in braces. Here is a sampling of other things we don't believe in:

1. That anyone has walked on the moon

2. That anyone should trick or treat or acknowledge Halloween in any way, shape or form, but our Ouija boards and Tarot cards are wholesome family fun on game night

3. That Yassar Arafat is really dead because he tried that already once in the 70s--Ara fat Liar is more like it

4. Sleeping over at a friend's house when you have a perfectly good bed of your own

Ok, so I got my buddy Meredith as a target, got my collar flipped up and an alligator is over my pocket just like everyone else, when some chickie catches my eye, looks me up and down and her evil gaze stops on my shoes and says:

"Hmmmm nice shoes."

Ok, just reading the comment wouldn't necessarily portray the menace in her voice and the fear in my stomach. You may ask yourself if I was wearing something gauche, but I was sporting maroon Rockports from their Back to School Fall of '82 collection. I took this moment to do some cursory research and see what was "en vogue" so my eyes quickly draw to Micki, Frank Lloyd Wright Middle's answer to Coco Chanel, to see what that would be. It is penny loafers but if you're Mick, you stick a dime in the slot, not a penny. Curses being low falutin' and out of vogue by birth! Even if I knew that penny loafers were en vogue before I went to Warehouse Shoes with my mom and five siblings, my parents never would have cottoned to the extravagance of wasting an extra two pennies (yeah, one for each foot see how I screwed with that Bell Curve?) much less two dimes (that's like two wieners a week during the Great Depression) to just stick in the slots for decoration!!! Mick gives me a sympathetic look that says, "I like you but your shoes are dorky and I soooo don't have your back on this."A shoulder shrug, Micki catwalks off and the chickie continues.

"I oughtta kick your a**."

Ok, fortunately the bell rings and Meredith is so shocked her eyes are saucers and her rubber bands are torpedoing out of her mouth and we scurry off to class while my nemesis proceeds to the girls' bathroom for a cup of joe and a smoke 'cause she's having a nic fit. Obviously. Who knows how badly this could have ended if the bells of any given Middle School particularly Frank Lloyd Wright (not in his vision, just in his honor) were not set to ring roughly every 17 minutes?

So I'm forced to walk the FLW halls the rest of the day in my once beloved, now the Achillies Heel of Footwear, maroon Rockports.

Which I never wore again.

Which made my mom threaten to kick my a** for wasting perfectly good shoes that she spent $18 on!! Curses!! Had she budgeted an extra .20 for the Rockport penny loafers I could have been in spitting range of high falutin' and en vogue.

This incident came to be known as the Maroon Shoe Massacre of '82. A callous and unprovoked attack from someone who should have been making fun of Meredith. I never quite recovered from the shock and embarrassment of the brutality.

So, flash forward to planning my 20 year reunion and being the Almighty Recruiter and wondering if it is ethical if this particular bully's invite gets, shall we say "lost," in the can that is supposed to be recycling but sometimes the kids throw half full yogurt containers and banana peels in there contaminating the whole idea. See?? Not easy being green when you have kids.

I thought in order to sleep at night I could make a small effort to contact this hussy. So I looked out my son's bedroom window to see if she was smoking in my backyard with her Lee Press on Nails reaching towards me for her invite.

She wasn't.

But I'm confessing it here today--I didn't try that hard. For this one person. But every other of the 284 names on that list got a postcard, a phonecall, an email. If I missed a name, there were my co-committee members, all of whom were more thorough and mature than I'll ever be. If you ever had a street address, you got something. Which will bring a fair percentage of you to say something asinine like this:

"I've been living in the same house on the same street for my whole life and my younger brother still goes to Hale and I didn't get invited to the last reunion."

Let me fill you in on a little secret. If you are at the same house for 38 years you are most likely living with your parents--squatting in their three-season room or crashing with the wife and four children in their genuine fake oak paneled rec room. Throwing out your mail or marking it "Return to Sender" is their passive aggressive way to light a fire under your butt and get you to move out so they can afford a tutor for your 35 year old brother who can't seem to work up enough class credit to graduate Nathan Jail.

I have used this same excuse for not going to a reunion, so I know first-hand it is bullsh**.

Note to planning committees for Class of '88, 5 & 15 year reunion: Sorry for lying.

I have even received my sister's invites for her reunions at my house and with all good intentions, meant to give them to her but before you know it, they are covered in yogurt, banana peels and pudding in the recycle bin. Yeah, sometimes pudding gets in there too but it is important that we are trying to be better and they don't kill horses to make pudding. Hello Jello?

Note to Nathan Jail Class of '85 reunion committee for the 10, 15 and 20: FYI, Anja doesn't live with me which you would know if you looked in my recycle bin. She is better than a Druid at being green so there!

There is one exception to the "I didn't get invited" excuse--I didn't get invited to my 10 year. My committee friend and former School council member, Jill, was a little shall we say terse? for my "dissin' them on the 10." I told her I didn't know about it and she said yes you did--I have your address I get your stupid Christmas card every year! Something to that effect. When Jill and I put this unresolved tension behind us to work together for the 20th, I showed up with a pen that didn't work and she showed up with her maps, traps, yearbooks, protractor, compass, original autographed yearbook pages, letters of recommendation from her high school teachers, letter jacket, class list, Goody comb in her back pocket, "I want my MTv button," her Frankie say RELAX t-shirt, her Madonna-esque cone shaped bra, her economy size can of Aqua net, her and her Pop Rocks and what fell out of her files? Yup, my addressed and stamped invite to the 10th!! Jill, while always the Best Driver and faithful alum to our class, was a damn liar that she invited me to the 10, but unlike Yassar Arafat, her crime was forgivable so we moved on.

Other people who don't get an invite to the class reunion are either in jail or the witness protection program and you just don't want to be found, but we've done our best with what we had to work with. We'd looked at your arrest records, your trial transcripts, your appeal paperwork, your psychiatrist's reports (yea, its a fun class) and we just couldn't find you. Not 'cause we didn't want you. My parameters for being invited to the 20 year reunion for the class of '88 were if you have $50 and a smile, you're in. Provided you keep your comments about the Class Clown shoes to your damn self.

Disclaimer: Don't forget my Balkan people have a tendency towards exaggeration: No one was left out in the invitation portion of the reunion planning. The planning of my 20th high school reunion was a joyous and rewarding experience that enriched my life more than I ever thought possible. More than even childbirth and recycling. Each and every one of the 285 names that rang a bell to me (roughly 48 when all was said and done) was met with lots of love and happiness and nothing but thoughts of goodwill and peace for there was no greater group to walk the Trail of Tears with than the class of '88. Hope you all have had a "rad" summer like so many of you wished me in my autographed pages of my yearbook. Love you guys. Kiss Kiss. Also, if any of you can identify or remember a girl named Carie Jo Ferkovich, none of us could-- but even she got an invitation though we are starting to think she is in the CIA now. Feeder school to the CIA as well as Ivy League!! Hot damn, the think tank of southeastern Wisconsin.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Can I bring someone to your dinner party?

PETA Threatens Ice Cream Production in the state of Vermont

So in case you missed it in my profile, I'm confessing it now. I am an Aries.

Now, I don't dabble much in the occult anymore since having kids, so my Aries-ocity basically means scanning my Thursday thru Sunday horoscope (saving on newspapers due to my continuing efforts to do my share, I'll pony up for a half subscription) and receiving a message along the lines of these recent samplings:

March 21-April 19
You need to refrain from expressing any opinions today.

March 21-April 19
You need to stop yourself from adding fuel to the fires around you.

March 21-April 19
You need to stop offending everyone around you with your snarky observations.

March 21-April 19
Have you tried counting to 10 before you speak?

March 21-April 19
You need to just apply duct tape over your mouth today and play it safe.

So as a life long Aries by birth, I've learned that sometimes opening my mouth in public will cause some embarrassment along the way so I've learned to seek out other people who may open their mouths and say something stupid and/or offensive and try to sit next to them at parties to minimize my own astrological shortcomings.

So I have but one small request for the hosts of the next dinner party I'm coming to and I guess that would be my good friends The Krug: Please invite the spokesperson for PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to my Brookfield following) 'cause I want to sit next to her.

Now you might be asking yourselves, who wouldn't want to sit next to the PETA chick 'cause that probably means more meat and dairy for me? No, the latest press release from this person has landed her into the offensive comment Hall of Fame with this little tidbit as seen in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Friday September 26:

"Moove over, Holsteins, PETA wants world-famous Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream to tap nursing moms, rather than cows, for the milk used in its ice cream."

Once I stopped laughing, I could read that the article went on to say:

"If Ben & Jerry's replaced the cow's milk in its ice cream with breast milk, your customers--and cows--would reap the benefits," wrote Tracy Reiman, executive vice president of the animal-rights advocacy group.

Ok Tracy, maybe you possess a potentially gender neutral name so you don't exclude either sex, but I'm going to assume you are a woman and that you never have lactated because most of what people read on the Internet is based on assumptions.

Based on your proposal, it is cruel and unusual to milk a cow for the purposes of producing ice cream, but nursing mommies are fair game for the pump--through which they'd have to produce 1.5 gallons of milk to make a gallon of ice cream (not sure the physics involved in liquid to solid transformations, but I double checked this in the article and that's what it said). Now, Ben and Jerry won't say how much they'd need to tap to stay competitive in the ice cream market that has taken a hit as our country becomes increasingly dependent of foreign cows, but 1.5 gallons of milk is, well, a gi-normous sum to take out of one or even two, breasts and that would yield only one gallon of Chunky Monkey!!

For my friends who bottle fed, let me share a memory from the moment my own homemade milk came in after the birth of my son. I was producing what seemed like an extraordinary amount of the liquid gold from both sides, crying profusely while I did it and even my tears were made of milk, pumping both breasts and crying the proverbial river, I expressed the amazing sum of 8 fluid ounces of milk. A gallon and a half would be a heck of a lot more. Even for the over achievers in the nursing hall of fame like my sister Anja, who nursed multiple children simultaneously and even in public long before it was en vogue to do so.

The article goes on to say "Ashley Byrne, a campaign co-coordinator for PETA (alert: bullsh** title if I ever saw one--what does PETA ever run for?) acknowledged the implausibility of substituting breast milk for cow's milk, but said it was no stranger than humans consuming the milk of another species."

Really Ashley-Never-Lactated-Either-Byrne? No stranger than packing a Milk Chug in Junior's lunch? Hooking up weeping post-partum mommies to pumps for hours so that tourists in Vermont could partake in Cherry Garcia with less guilt? Not strange, cruel or unusual at all, but here is a sampling of "man on the street" responses, my favorite part of any news story:

"It's kind of creepy," said Jeff Waugh, 42 of Dayton, Ohio.

"I think its a little nutty," said Rev. Roger Wooton, 83 of Malden Massachusettes.

"How would they get all that milk?" said his wife, Jane Wooton, 77.

"Breast pumps just weren't that much fun. You really do feel like a cow," said Jen Wahlbrink, 34, of Phoenix Arizona.

Fortunately, the crack PR team at Ben & Jerry's took the high road when declining this marketing ploy:

"We applaud PETA's novel approach to bringing attention to an issue, but we believe a mother's milk is best used for her child," spokesman Sean Greenwood said.

While Greenwood's response certainly won't get him an invite to the Krug dinner party, we applaud his common sense approach. Even the spokeswoman for La Leche League International, Jane Crouse, couldn't back this with a straight face (Though I personally feel she held back a bit): "Cow's milk and mother's milk aren't interchangeable." She went on to say that breast milk is different with each woman and might have difficulty being processed into ice cream.

My conspiracy theory roots tell me this was just a jealous plot move by PETA. Now that the economic Armegeddon is getting some attention, no one seems to care that Pam Anderson's silicone breasts are PETA's poster girl anymore. Economic Bailout: front page, PETA Breast Milk to Ice Cream: Page 2. This is a desperate attempt to get breasts back on the front page and continue to distract society from the fact that the sky, is indeed, falling all around. Had our nation not been so all consumed by supercilious celebrity (show of hands, how many of you knew who PETA's poster girl is? ), someone might have noticed the Bush regime tanking the economy in a desperate move to get media coverage and societal pressure directed his way. Kudos to the Bush regime for waiting until Brett Favre, was quietly and sheepishly wearing a Jet's jersey to unveil the disaster that is your legacy. No one in Wisconsin would have noticed that they had been hit by a meteorite back in July much less that the emperor had no clothes. Sometimes it pays to wait it out until you can have the spotlight.

To the Krug, I'm bringing W to your next one--I'm planning to come off like a diplomatic genius.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Birds and Bees of Planning Your High School Reunion

How an Awkward Question Becomes a Committee

The Committee:

Many of you probably wake up every day with the thought "I wonder what moronic, thankless, and time consuming project Juj has gotten herself entangled with today?" I know you do that because someone on my Facebook page, and I haven't figured out who, keeps asking me that question relentlessly: What are you doing right now, what are you doing right now? I think it might be my clever nephew who thinks I'm boring, but I'm not really sure. I answer him as often as I can, but he never is satisfied. What are you doing right now? I think I have to get one of those teddy bears that has been violated with a tiny camera to follow me around all day and shut him up.

The answer to that question would be the 20th High School Reunion Planning Committee for my alma matter, and Ivy League feeder school, West Allis Nathan Hale aka to the locals, Nathan Jail. I only regret that I have but one solid year of my offsprings' childhoods to give to my high school that never even bothered to tell me about taking AP courses for college credit your senior year instead of Senior Gym Badmitton and 4 study halls that became a kick ass nap/Cribbage enrichment time. Nor did they tell me you can schedule your study halls in consecutive blocks so you have a chance of getting to the good stuff in your dog-eared copy of The Thorn Birds rather than the abrupt stopping and starting according to bells spaced 20 minutes apart much like pill time in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

Previous answers to that question would be: Furminating my dog, scrapbooking, self-taught quilting, making all the family Christmas stockings by hand when I can't sew and only have lefty scissors in my house, childbirth, Pumpkin carving with a dull serrated knife, supervising groups of au pairs (yeah, I'm supposed to comparison shop for snow globes at Winkies later and ship the best one to Croatia after I convert drachmas to dollars and use a 20% off coupon and let the head of the Russian mob "dip his beak" in the transaction; what are you doing this afternoon? just picking up groceries and attending a soccer game?) selling AmWay [they call it something else now, but don't be fooled, no one can use or divide amongst your friends one solid metric ton of generic brand Cheerios and 90 cartons of worse-than-the-store-brand generic diapers which I now use as drink coasters (that leak) 'cause my peeps don't throw stuff out see first blog, "Grandma Gukich." As for the generic AmWay Cheerios, even the local food pantry said "no thanks, we just can't move these" so I am working on hot glue gunning them to my basement walls to save on drywall--I am quite sure they are non-porous], coupon clipping, making loads of cards riddled with little rubber stamps, you get the picture. I have some spare time, but I'm tied to the house by the human ankle bracelet monitoring system we affectionately dub "kids."

Now, some of you have had a confused look on your face when you heard I committee'd up, but kept your questions to yourselves. But my rude friends, and you know who you are Tony, have said "how were you stupid enough to run for Student Council and get that life sentence?" By "Stupid" enough, I know you also meant "Popular" enough and if you have downloaded the standard application for the high school student council race it looks like this:


  • Are you Stupid Enough?

  • Are you Popular Enough?

To get on the ballot of the Student Council race, you must have a name, and answer "yes" to both questions and get at least 25 signatures of people that can swear in front of a judge that yes, they know your name and you are stupid and popular enough to organize chips and dips for 285 people you had four years to say hi to and you never did, for the rest of your natural born life.

In high school, I didn't even know 25 people so I can assure you, this was not my mistake. My mistake was innocently attending a holiday get-together at the home of a grade school pal when someone asked if we should start talking about putting together the reunion. I said the same thing I said to the Croatian snow globe fanatic when I really mean "no" which is "sure."

Disclaimer here: The 20 year Reunion Committee includes only one original member of the Student Council which I must acknowledge here is my good friend from grade school, Jill, who is the genetic mutation in the bunch for many reasons including the facts that she is most definitely not stupid but she is popular and was also voted "Best Driver" which is a life-long good skill to have as we become a society increasingly dependent on our bikes (see first blog about not speeding thru a school zone).

So a group of old school gal pals who have picked up a fondness for self torture since their high school days because they do things now that they never would have then like brow waxing, giving birth, wearing Spanx, dragged out the yearbooks, the class lists, the overflowing coffers of the generous donations to the class of '88 which totaled the amazing sum of thirty seven cents but a lot of charities were hit after 9/11, and pledged to put together the Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve of High School Reunions.

First things First--Getting Buzzed:

First, we need to get a good "buzz" going about our wonder years and get people interested. I don't know where you went to school, but at my school, it seemed like a lot of people enjoyed being buzzed all the time so it seemed like a good place to start, the buzz.

At this point, let me introduce one of my co-committee members, Kim. Kim started cold calling people randomly depending on what page the yearbook was open to. On speaker phone. With no script. This friend has many fine points, talents, brain synapses I'm sure because she was one of only 5 kids in my German 5 class at Nathan Hale, but she is not much of a public or even private speaker in her native tongue. The first person she called we quickly realized, was high on something (judging by how she was dressed in her senior pic) and we interrupted her Cheetos and Wonder bread sandwich. Didn't remember Kim, didn't care, no nuthin' to work with here. I couldn't stop myself from heckling and guffawing and Kim, the speaker, couldn't hold herself together and she hung up.

Note to future reunion planners classes circa 1976-1998: Prank calling, while a wholesome and joyous activity in high school back in our day, has gone the way of the Beta Max and Sheena Easton in the days of caller ID. Also, it is not considered a good way to spread buzz. You can also scratch your plan of spreading buzz by toilet papering the homes of classmates who remained in the vicinity. Not only can that be taken the wrong way, but is wasteful and not very green, and insensitive to all the people who are only allotted 4 squares of TP for even their Big Jobs (see first blog for detail). Finally, we advise you not to bring your old beer bongs to the party either because although that is the fastest and classiest way to spread buzz, its one thing to fill them with Milwaukee's Best or Pabst, but at 20 years, we've upgraded to imports: Belgian Whites or Beck's dark and didn't want to direct all of our thirty seven cents for the good stuff and see it get spilled or upchucked onto the floor later. Budgeting limitations sadly forced us to cut this popular stock party activity, as essential as the pinata in West Allis, much the same way innocent school districts are forced to halt the use of beer bongs and toilet papering in these tough economic times.

After the prank call debacle, we decided to call people based on if they dressed up, or at least showered, for their senior picture. Also we took Kim off speaker. Handed the phone to Divina, who was voted Friendliest and Most Unforgettable. Had it been a category, she would have also won Most Likely to Out-Filibuster Strom Thurmond. A veritable Goldmine of talent, the Perfect Storm of Skills was our planning committee this was going to be one Titanic of a reunion.

Note to class of '88 for next time: Don't pick up the phone from Divina if you are in a hurry or if you have to go potty. That's why God invented caller ID.

Note to all: I was voted {brace yourselves} Class Clown which has been a completely irrelevant and useless label I have spent much of my adult life trying to shed. Kids can be cruel. Then be voted Class Clown. It is not a line on your resume, it won't get you a job unless you are applying at the circus then they expect you to wear the shoes and red foam nose. It sucks people!

Committee also includes our meeting hostess, Anna, said grade school friend who tricked me into being there for a question you can only answer "sure" to. On thing I love about Anna is invariably, her conversation will allude to the fact that although she is Sicilian, her family is Lutheran, not Catholic, because her people don't wanna confess. Also, although we are obviously the same age, her talk is peppered with phrases that were in the common vernacular during a brief period before the Second World War like: Hey Tiger, what's up? or instead of offering a drink, she'll say What's your poison, Cowboy? or even better: I feel like havin' a highball, Champ. But she is an excellent idea person chock full of common sense and frugality as ethnic people usually are: See previous blog about sharing toilet paper squares.

Also, a common thread for me, Anna, and yet another committee member, Candace, is that when we were in high school, no one told any one of us about eye brow waxing. Some of us ethnic folk have chosen to explain away our youthful unibrow as a byproduct of a frugal ethnic, low-falutin' folk who would have said "Why have two eyebrows when you only need one, that is wasteful." And they were right. But they also chose to give future generations the advantages that they didn't have for themselves by emigrating to America means that some of your beliefs and customs will be lost. We have uniformly agreed that choosing to wax, while distances us from our ethnic roots, is a spoiled and self-indulgent American custom that we will not ever sacrifice. Hey, none of us are wearing wicker shoes that curl at the toe any more either.

Rounding out the committee is Gabriel (that's pronounced "Gab" rhymes with lob, and don't call her Gabby), who turned out to be a satellite advisor from Madison, Wisconsin, where she could monitor our activities via Teddy Bears with Wazoo Cameras and nix activities that were not green and environmentally friendly and inclusive to all breeds of human race regardless of tree nut allergies. Yeah, Madison makes Shorewood look like a bunch of wannabees.

Ahhh, looking back on these early innocent meetings involved a lot of fond anecdotes about who used to be a prick and who was a slut yadda, yadda, yadda, a committee was born.

Note to : D. J. A. C. K. G. Your initials, plus my J, make us "GD-J-JACK!!"which only took me 11 months to figure out. I know, observations like that really made some of those meetings drag on!

Watch for my next Installment: Recruitment/ Inviting Yassar Arafat

Monday, September 22, 2008

Homoeroticism in Children's Toys and Halloween Costumes

Subtitled: The Parker Brothers weren't really Brothers (wink, wink)

Dedicated to the late Jerry Falwell and the late Tinky Winky, Linked together for eternity

Sub-heading, Not so easy being the Red One Either

When she was 3, my eldest chose to be a Teletubbie for Halloween. This happened to be the fall that the leader of the extreme religious right chose to launch an all out war on Tinky Winky of the Teletubbies for being secretly homosexual and trying to covert his impressionable viewership to same-sex orientation by serving them tainted Tubbie Tustard (That's tubbie Custard for my friends who did not reproduce between 1996 and 2005--one of the many disgusting concoctions that kids love to eat because its a gross texture and unnatural color, like yogurt in a squeeze tube and silly putty).

Roughly 2 hours after the sex scandal broke but days before we read a paper or watched a newscast, we purchased a red Teletubbie costume from Target. Fortunately our costume was Po, not Tinky Winky, flaming purple, the code color for the dark side. We can probably thank the crack retail team of Target employees (who suspiciously have adopted RED as their trademark color) who pulled the offending Tubbie from the shelves until the media could tell us to make up our own minds about whether it would be safe to dress our child like an (allegedly) but (obviously) gay puppet.

Anyway, being red, we figured we were in the clear, controversy-wise. We brought my then only child to her grandparents house for Trick or Treat where my sweet mother in law was excited that she was one of the "Tele-tubeez" and my father in law, always faithful to Larry King live, asked "She's not the gay one is she?"

Trying to avoid being put on the spot, I told him that Po was a pretend character, or a puppet, I think, like Ernie and Bert?? and therefore really neither gay nor straight thinking this would end it right here. His response was "yeah, but one of them is gay."

So I said that it wasn't Po, the red one, that was being targeted and that I can almost assure you that Po's puppet yearnings were directed to the right kind of TeleTUBBIE, not Tubey.

Then, my child was allowed to Trick and Treat as she wished.

Flash forward eight years, two more kids. Jerry Falwell, no longer with us, disgraced by his own puppet yearnings. Tinky Winky, canceled due to low viewership, not just referring to the height of his target market, but the fact that no one was watching him ala the Ellen show after its star announced her puppet yearnings to Oprah, who smartly chose to stay closeted and now controls the Universe. (film credit The Color Purple anyone???) The red Po costume still hangs in my closet, unworn, always in the shadow of his flashier friend Tinky Winky. My other two kids never wanted to even try it on. My son was only into the Power Rangers and the smart people at Power Rangers were quick to pull the plug on the Purple One after the Tinky Winky scandal, launched the Green One instead, then they created global warming. Kudos to that crack marketing team. My other daughter wants to be "dat polka dot dog again" so we just appreciate not having to purchase a costume for her three years running.

Whatever my own beliefs were on the Tubby Scandal of '00, and I can't remember what Larry King told me what those beliefs were, I credit Jerry Falwell with opening my eyes to the blatant Gay-gang symbols that have been flashing all over childhood until he blew the whistle. Also, thanks to CNN and their continuous screen crawlers that alerted the world to Falwell's discovery. Thanks to all for helping me stay true to my paranoia-infused roots and hyper vigilant for coded Gay Gang symbols.

For today, I'm going to just dissect Candy Land because Curious George is pretty self explanatory and don't even get me started on Professor Plum. For my friends who have kids, you can skip the next two paragraphs. (I know, straight breeders do get all the perks!!)

For my childless friends, Candy Land is probably the first game most kids can play. The box recommends the game for children ages 3-6, No Reading necessary to play. Don't you wish my blog had the same consideration?

The object is to make it to the Candy Castle first by advancing your plastic little dude, (family vernacular for playing piece) based on the color square of the game card you draw. It should be noted here that the playing board is bursting with purple squares, but no purple dudes so it doesn't matter what color dude you are. There are also "special cards" and "special short cuts" that allow you to take some short cuts to the Candy Castle, but wait, "special cards" can also bounce you back when you are one card from Kid Nirvana at the Candy Castle.

Note to conspiracy theory friends: Gay people often think they are "special" and can cut in front of you at a bar just because they know Queen Frostine and Princess Lolly, hands down, the two best cards in the deck.

Friends with children jump back in and back me up on this next part: What the box doesn't tell you is that if the cards are stacked against you, the duration of this game can last until your 3 year old graduates from 8th grade if you don't take serious steps to stack the deck. I strongly recommending placing Mr. Mint and Jolly the Gumdrop at the beginning of the deck, don't care who draws it.

Note to my bookmaking friends, scratch that, relatives: It is unethical to both stack the Candy Land deck and offer Vegas odds on the outcome of that game. You can either offer a point spread and take wagers or stack the deck, you may not do both.

Note to parents worried about self esteem and cheating at games:
A. you must be a first time parent with one child who probably needs his bubble wrap swaddle loosened
2. We're just trying to control the game duration here, not give ourselves a winning edge, but it is still best to refrain from offering your child the option "a friendly wager." See Note to the family bookies.

Another thing you Falwell followers want to watch out for is the best move occurs only 5 squares into the game and it is called the Rainbow Trail. Taking the this path provides that you will lop 25% off of your journey to the Castle provided you are not a dummy and forgot to stack the deck letting Mr. Mint kick your little dude back to start.

Note to conspiracy theory friends: Most gay people are not dummies and probably never forget to stack the deck because they usually don't have children who have eaten away at every last brain cell they own.

There is another "short cut" for straight people called the "Gumdrop Pass" that is not as good as it only takes about 12 squares off your jihad to the Castle. Also the square marking the entrance is ambiguous but probably purple, because most gay people think that deep down, everyone is like them anyway. Think of the "Gumdrop Pass" as the Olive Garden of Candy Land. Yes, there is a parking lot, there is food, you can get a drink, but no matter the perks, you're still stuck in Brookfield when all the fun people are in Walker's Point.

Note to Paranoid friends and family re: Rainbow Trail vs. Gumdrop Pass: It is a well known fact that the first rule of real estate is always "follow the gays" because they always get all the best locations. Go to the most fun part of any metropolitan area and you will see so many gay people that they are stacked up like cord wood while straight people are forced to cluster in the suburbs like Brookfield where maybe the schools are better but there is no ethnic food and the juke box sucks and there is no one here that knows how to shake an appletini.

Another special card is Princess Lolly. Now, some of you might think she is just "cute" and would be fun to talk to, but she is so obviously a drag queen that you know she's out there tricking unsuspecting simple folk from Brookfield left and right.

One character on the board doesn't have a corresponding card. His name is Lord Licorice and if he isn't a dead ringer for Oscar Wilde, I don't know who is. Oscar Wilde, a prominent gay writer and Bologna inventor, was known for showing up at gay bars, high on absinthe and nitrates (ingredients in Licorice and lunch meats), and without his proper ID.

Now, turn your focus to the actual playing tokens, for my purposes, little dudes. None of them are purple and they wear bow ties, not ascots, so far, so good. However, if your little dude has to "share a square" (ugly flashback to toilet paper rules here, see previous blog) the little dudes appear to be holding hands.

Now, what most kids would say is "look, they holding hands!"

Note to childless friends: Helping verbs like "are" don't figure prominently into 3 year old conversation, nor do possessive pronouns leading to a lot of "wake up, it's you turn, Mommy."

In Little Kid Land, holding hands often leads to "let's make them kiss!" Which, as a parent, puts you at the Crossroads where blues legend Robert Johnson sold his soul to Jerry Falwell, immortalized in the movie starring Ralph Macchio. Your choices are:

1. Let the little dudes kiss, for gosh sakes they can't even put their arms down what's the worst that can happen?
2. Say "no honey, little dudes never kiss or touch each other in any way unless they are lit at a sporting event when they openly partake in butt slapping and high fiving."
C. Say "why don't we just have the little dudes high five each other and slap each other's butt?"
4. Say hey look how hot Queen Frostine is?

Whatever path you choose, I'm sure the media can tell you if you were right. We usually just let the little dudes kiss and get married in the Candy Castle, but we also associated our child with a puppet show of suspicious intent and we often forget to stack the deck in our favor leading many of our Candy Land tournaments to go longer than my blog.