Saturday, May 30, 2009

Swine Flu Update and some YouTube videos

The swine flu scare at LuLu and YaYa's school ended almost as soon as it began. On Friday classes resumed as normal, and the kids enjoyed an extra day off. At the start of May twenty-odd schools were closed in the area because of Swine Flu, something I touch upon in some (already-written) posts I'll publish in the coming week. With that experience behind us, the flu itself didn't bother me much.

Instead, I was annoyed at the half-ass way the school went about the process. We were told the school was to be closed Thursday but possibly re-open Friday; "Watch the news" the school said. No other information was passed on. What classes were effected by the flu? Were my kids in direct contact with the students or did they just pass them in the halls? How many were sick?

I still don't know the answers to those questions, although I'm told a K5 student (not in LuLu's class) was the only confirmed case.

I don't expect the school to have the 'oomph' of MPS, who send out an automated call for every event, closing and newsflash. But someone could have called the parents, or started a chain reaction of calls, to pass on knowledge of the closing. Watching the news was idiotic, as there was never a mention of the closing anywhere in the first place.

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Here's a clip from Britain's Got Talent, Simon Cowell's UK gig. You probably know it best for playing host to media sensation Susan Boyle, but this clip is of another contestant. You know me, I'm not one to mollycoddle and say "this child is too young for the stage!" - my notion being, take opportunity by the throat, as it may not appear again - but obviously it was too rough for her, poor thing.

But as for giving her another shot, well, bleep that. If an adult in the same competition screws up, that's it. If she wants to play the game, play it by the same rules or go home. No goofy Sotomayor philosophy here kid.



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If you want to know a relative unknown who has the potential to go somewhere in R&B, take a look at Genevieve Goings from Disney's Choo-Choo Soul. Of course it doesn't hurt that she's super hot.








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Here's a video of a friend and reader from Alaska. Dude, go to Supercuts.



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Finally, here's a very tacky, very vulgar commercial (also involving hair) for a woman's razor. As each of the women in the ad walk past a bush it's magically trimmed, sometimes into a tidy triangle. Over the top and juvenile. How the hell did this get on the air?

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Handprints - Two Years on

On May 11th, 2007, as documented here on Slapinions, we put our family's handprints in the wet concrete of our newly poured walkway.





This year, on the second anniversary, I pulled the kids outside for a Reunion show. The biggest difference is Ginger, obviously; Lisa was six months pregnant with Ginger when the handprints were done.


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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Jon and Kate (plus - this years final American Idol note!)

I just posted what, for me, was an angry comment on a blog I frequent. By the standards of most blogs it was mild - heck, I've gotten worse here over the years - but I just had my fill of bullsh** lobbed at Jon and Kate.

You may not watch the show. You may not like them. You may not like Kate in particular (I hear ya brother). But to say that they don't love their kids, or are intentionally subjecting their kids to harm, is complete and utter CRAP.

The show is about a family. You see them for all of three days out of every seven they live, and each show does nothing more than document the everyday goings on of the household. You know why I like it? BECAUSE 90% OF THE TIME IT MIRRORS MY OWN LIFE.

Artistic oldest daughter with a flair for selfish tantrums? Check. A cuddly mama's boy quick to cause destruction and mayhem? Yup. Fashion diva daughter with a big heart? I see it every day. Tired, worn out parents? Join the club.

This is nothing more than the fallout from a (sadly) bormal marital woe, [alleged] infidelity. Shitty of Jon if true, and shitty for the family, but hardly unique, and definitely not evidence of Evil Incarnate.

What I find more troublesome is our country's fascination with destroying those we admire. We're a country that values underdogs, sure, but when did that become synonymous with debasing anyone on the top of the heap? We love them in April, we despise them in May. And why? Because Jon may or may not have wet his whistle? It'd be crazy if you answered "Reason enough!" but Americans don't stop there. No, we see the guy cheat, and so we spend weeks demonizing his wife. F*ing insane. Really.

Grow up America.

From Monday's show it seems apparent Jon wants out. He has his reasons, and I'm sure they're valid. If they don't work things out, so be it; I'll keep watching.

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I'd be remiss if I failed to close the American Idol season without some commentary. I didn't care who won the finale so I didn't watch the competiition show, but I tuned into the results show just to catch the acts. Wow. Easily the best finale ever. Hell, it was better than the Grammy's.

Queen. Kiss. Cyndi Lauper. A drunk or stoned Rod Stewart. Steve Martin (?). Fergie and the Black Eyed Peas.

Again, wow.

Adam's camp has launched a minor conspiracy about the results, but it's nothing of note. I've read that the result was, if not a landslide, then so onesided it wasn't even a contest. As to Kris' coronation, I'll paraphrase the comments I've left on several blogs. Kris won for two reasons:

a) AI completely oversold Adam. We'd long since reached the saturation point with him. America likes underdogs.

b) Once Danny was gone, where were the fans of your average, church going family man going to go? To Danny Lite (Kris), or the Goth guy with the tongue fetish?

Swine Flu

My girls are (unexpectedly) home from school today. At pick-up Wednesday Lisa was greeted with chants of "no school no school". She stopped and asked some teachers what was going on and was told that there was one confirmed and two probable cases of swine flu among the student body. The school was therefore ordered (?) shut down today, and possibly Friday. I was at work at the time but ran into two other school parents, by which time the story had grown to include four confirmed and two probable cases.

The thing is, I can't find a single column inch about this on the Journal's website, or on the TV. Has anyone else in town heard about this? If so, please let me know.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Quote of the Day

One of the smartest ideas I've ever come up with is the concept of the Back Scratch Grid (TM pending).

After years of asking someone to scratch my back, then suffering through the inevitable "higher . . .lower . . . to the left, no the left . . " I hit upon a brainstorm: Sixteen different grid areas, easily identified by co-ordinates. A (below the shoulder) to D (lower back), 1 (left) to 4 (right).

Have an itch midway up your back on the right side? Ask for assistance at location C-4. Easy-peezy. It's bloody genius, and yet for years Lisa's called me insane whenever I implement it. I guess those without the gift are prone to mocking it. Sad really.

Last night I called for help in D-3 and D-4, and met with half-haphazard results.

"What the hell?" I said. "How easy can this be? They're co-ordinates and you still managed to miss it completely. C'mon!"

She nodded agreement. "Well to be fair Dan, maybe you should divide up the grid more" she said, "since it's grown quite a bit wider since you invented it."

Ouch!

Pineapple Express



I've got nothing against pot movies, although the genre's just about run it's course (again). And I'm pretty cool with Seth Rogen, even if I recognize he's a one trick pony.

But this movie SUCKED.

Painful improv by Rogen (pleeeease let it have been improv and not the work of a professional writer), lame pot jokes, a slapped together plot, and an ending where everyone starts picking up weapons and killing one another like Rambo.

What's not to love?

That ending . . .wow. Let's forget the fact that it was an excuse for these boys to twiddle themselves and live out GI Joe fantasies. Yours truly, as a sober man not currently in the same room with killers bent on shooting me, could figure out how to handle and fire an automatic weapon. It would take a minute while I fiddled with the safety, thus costing me my life in such a situation. But yeah, I'd figure it out.

Rogen, while high, takes the same situation and - without pause or error - turns into a ninja and proceeds to butcher half a dozen people without pause or angst.

Crap like this is what made the government believe pot rots your brain.

Avoid this movie.

1.5 out of 4

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day


I hope you all have had a safe and happy Memorial Day. As always a Thank You to those who have fallen on behalf of this country, its freedom, and its interests.

If you've read this blog over the years you know the above statement is heartfelt, and so I hope you take the next one in context: Sadly, there are some real winners that use this holiday as a springboard for their craziness.

Anecdote #1
: a guy at a store on Friday who asked the clerk if they would be open today. The clerk replied in the affirmative. "Anyone who's open for business on Memorial Day should be shot!" the man replied.

Anecdote #2:
the lefty-exchange student some years back who compared our National holidays (4th of July, Memorial Day) with the displays of Nazi Germany.

Anecdote #3: the mandatory rants using the holdiay as an attack on Bush or Obama, depending on their point of view.

Anecdote #4: the guy who said that no one, outside of vets and active personnel, should comment on or have any say in the running of the military or the activities they take part in, including Memorial Day.

Anecdote #5: the newspaper columnist who points to our picnics and weekend travel as a measure of our lack of respect for the sacrifices made on our behalf.

* * * *

Memo to #1 - Most places should be closed on the holiday - on most holidays, really - but that's a bit of an extreme POV. I'm pretty sure you yourself bought a paper, drank some Starbucks, pumped some gas, or, given your mouth, received some stitches today. Does your opinion hold true for yahoos who frequent those establishments, or is it only labor and management you hold accountable?

#2 meant well, but Germans are still wrapped up in guilt and conflicting emotions. I took it as a wildly off base but innocent remark.

Memo to #3 - all of you, STFU for one day, if only out of respect.

Memo to #4 - I'm a freakin' Hawk and I think that's nuts. America isn't the Racoon Lodge of Hackinsack New Jersey. You can't exclude someone just because they don't wear your nifty hat or share your secret handshake; a citizen is a citizen, with all the rights it implies. If he chooses to, a [bleep] Quaker can give his two cents and it means every bit as much as your opinion, mine, or anyone else.

#5
- I think you've got it wrong. Remember the dead, but live for those around you. What better way to celebrate this country and its beliefs than to gather your family and spend the day with them? You don't think every one of the fallen would do the same if they had the opportunity?

* * * * *

Anyway, I repeat what I said at the beginning of this post: I hope you all have had a safe and happy Memorial Day. And as always a Thank You to those who have fallen on behalf of this country, its freedom, and its interests.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Untraceable

Untraceable looked good in the previews. It has Diane Lane, number one, who has a standing invitation to be my Cougar whenever she feels the need, and it had a good premise.

A man is killing people on the Internet, with the speed of each demise determined by how many hits the website receives; the more people risking a peek, the faster the death. It's up to Lane and her FBI co-workers to solve the case and put him behind bars.

You'll quickly pick up on the fact that the movie makers are pure hypocrites. The movie is intended to stand as a sad condemnation on our voyeuristic and bloodthirsty society.

To accomplish this noble goal they create a movie who's sole reason for being seems to be to recreate the Saw and Hostel model. People aren't just killed, or even tortured and killed, they're killed in grotesque and unique ways.

I'm not against violence on screen, but there's enough sickos and misery in this world without having to sit around watching torture porn. This movie was a waste.

With the scenes 2.0 out of 4; with a screenwriter less inclined to masturbate over the needless suffering of innocents, 3.0 out of 4.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Easter Morn

Easter morning, if I remember correctly, we woke up later than usual. You'd think that would have given us time to dress and groom properly for the obligatory pictures. You'd be wrong.

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Anyhow, here's what the baskets looked like.

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The kids were given the baskets - a shocking turn of events on Easter, eh? - and dug in.

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Note Smiley's Wall-E t-shirt. I think I've told you all that he loves the guy, just as soon as he discovered he could say his name.

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I do remember we were all exhausted once all the morning rituals were completed, but we still had to get dressed up for the rest of the holiday.

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I hope your Easter was as pleasant as ours.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Company by KJ Parker



I'm willing to bet you haven't heard of The Company before, and I'm going to chock part of that up to a woeful mislabeling of the product. It is listed and sold as a work of science fiction/fantasy. It's true that the country where the action takes place is fictional, but the world that is recreated in its pages is a virtual clone of the Europe of centuries past. There is no magic, sorcery, elves, or God forbid, talking trees.

It is as much a work of science fiction as this blog is Pulitzer worthy.

The company follows five infamous veterans of a failed war as they return home to their small community. Out of loyalty to one another, disillusionment with their return home, and sheer boredom they agree to establish a colony on a deserted island discovered during the war. It is their chance to start over, but as with everything they touch, death and chaos follow. Barns burn. Crops fail. The colony begins to turn on itself - and then a dark secret from the war threatens to destroy not only the present and future, but their memories of the past as well.

From the first page I think you can pick up on the fact that this is not a novel that will end with rainbows and green pastures, and it certainly does not. What it does do is introduce us to a group of men forged by war yet consumed with demons born in childhood. It slowly sheds light on a consistent pattern of doom and tragedy that looms over these men, and part of our own heart aches with them.

This is not an action novel, although there are scenes of warfare and violence aplenty. It is, primarily, a cerebral journey into the heart of loyalty and betrayal, told through the eyes of men more accustomed to a sword than a confessional.

A very good novel.

3.25 out of 4

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Easter Egg Dyeing on Good Friday

After we polished off making the Rice Krispie Eggs, we hit the traditional six or eight dozen eggs we dye for family and friends. Some of the pics below were taken by the kids, so pardon the fuzzy quality.

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It's getting easier, generally speaking, as the kids get older. It was a real bear when the only 'helpers' were a four year old Jonah and a two year old Caitlin. But we still have one demon in the group: Ginger.

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Anyhow, it proceeded as normal and I will note that the kids broke only a few eggs this year, a dramatic fall-off from years past. Sadly, that left fewer for me to eat, er, dispose of.

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Here's the final results. Everyone digged this 'globe' egg

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Not everyone kept clean

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And not everyone stayed classy

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But we all had a good time!

Update on Milwaukee Serial Killer: 7th Victim Identified

Milwaukee police have confirmed that DNA tests have tied a seventh victim to the serial killer they're hunting. Remember, two dozen additional samples are being tested and more victims may be identified in the coming days.

Florence McCormick, a slain prostitute who was found dead April 24, 1995 on
Milwaukee's north side.
McCormick's body was found inside a vacant home on
the city's north side in the 600 block of W. Locust Ave., police said at the
time the body was discovered

The Rambles pt 2

Here's the last half of that post, fleshed out for good measure.

* * * *

For Mother's Day I bought Lisa another copy of the New Kids' CD, replacing one my sister had "borrowed" and never returned. This brings to mind an experience she had at the concert in April. She was seated between the main stage and stage 'B', the rotating platform where they perform three songs. As the guys moved from one to another she grabbed hold of Jon Knight's hand. Always and forever her favorite, he had to pry her hand off in order to continue on his way. She said his hand was much bigger and softer than she expected.

* * * *

The media coverage of Jon and Kate's marital problems leaves me shaking my head . Yes, yes, smirk and say "what's good for the goose is good for the gander. They were certainly keen on the attention when things were well, weren't they?"

Well, sure. Anyone who says - let me elaborate: says and truly believes- that they would turn down the same offer is a fool. The couple has eight children. A television station offered them a chance to document their family for posterity, while paying the Gosslin's more money per episode than they would earn in a year at a 'real' job.

You're right, it sounds like a horrible, selfish idea. [Attention Hollywood: if you want to come over to the Slapinons household and film the convoluted mess that is our lives, my number is 414 555-5555.]

As far as the alleged infidelity: if he's cheating, and I say 'if', then he's an idiot for doing it in public when he knows cameras are following him. That said, no one knows what goes on inside a marriage except the two people who exchanged vows. There are rumours of sexual discord, of Kate herself having a 'friend', and even of 'allowed' dalliances - none of which is any of my business, nor changes my respect for what they've accomplished as parents.

Update: since this was began I've read Kate's interview in People. Sometimes I wonder where this woman's PR people learned their trade. She tries to sell herself as a saint, and paints Jon as a lazy, shiftless wreck of a man. I don't care what's going on behind the scenes, if you want to try and work on your marriage that's a lousy, lousy, way to start the process. Score one for Jon on the sympathy meter.

* * * *

We watched a second week of The Fashion Show, and it's growing on us. I like the emphasis on sale-and-wearability over the 'arty' fashion of Project Runway.

We've also scoped out a week of Any Dream Will Do, Andrew Lloyd Webber's casting call for an English lead for Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat. Joseph is my favorite musical, but the reality show falls flat. It's much too posh and slow paced for my cheap American tastes.

* * * * *
I ran into an old customer of mine from Job Prior, a prostitute who now seems to have retired from the trade. She was with a husband/boyfriend at Wal-Mart, and while we exchanged nods we didn't speak. I don't blame her. What was she going to tell the guy? "Oh, this is Dan. He was working 3rd shift back when I was turning tricks, and sometimes he'd have to step in and deal with a john that got out of line."

I remember one time, in a lobby filled with people, she whipped out a caramel colored breast to show off a bright white crescent scar; the result, she said, of a woman biting her chest during a youthful brawl.

Ah, memories.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Milwaukee Police: Seeking info on suspected serial killer

The Milwaukee Police Department has announced that they are seeking a serial killer suspected of killing six or more women over a 21 year period. DNA found on all six victims match that of the unknown suspect. Additionally, more than two dozen more samples are being examined in cases involving other potential victims.

It should be noted that the killer does not appear in any law enforcement DNA database, which means he has avoided conviction in Wisconsin since at least 1996, and avoided conviction for sexual assault in Wisconsin since 1994. In other words, he has managed to slip under the radar for decades, possibly living an ordinary day-to-day existence. Frightening, to say the least.

The information below is from JSOnline. Anyone with information related to the women below should of course contact the MPD immediately.

The victims include:

Deborah L. Harris, 31, was found on Oct. 10, 1986. in the Menominee River about 100' east of the Ember Lane Bridge, tied with a clove hitch knot.

Tanya L. Miller, 19, was found strangled on Oct. 11, 1986, between a house and garage in the 2100 block of N. 28th St.. She was fully clothed but wearing no shoes. Her socks were clean, leading police to believe her body was moved from the spot of her death. She was last seen around 10:30 p.m. on the day before, talking with friends on a street corner.

Sheila Farrior, 37, a mother of five, was found June 27, 1995 in the bedroom of a vacant home on the 1400 block of W. Chambers St. by the building's owner, who went there to inspect remodeling work.

Jessica Payne, 16, ran away from home shortly before she would have started junior year at South Milwaukee High School. She was found Aug. 30, 1995 behind a vacant house at N. 7th and W. Chambers streets. Chaunte D. Ott was convicted of her homicide and sentenced to life in prison after a man told police Ott had confessed to killing Payne during an attempted robbery. In January, Ott was released from prison after DNA linked Payne's death with that of two other women.Payne's killing does not fit the profile of the others, police said.

Joyce Mims, 41, was found by workers renovating a vacant house on the 2900 block of N. 5th St. on June 20, 1997. She had been strangled. Mims was last seen by family members walking away from her home two days before her body was found. She had a son.

Ouithreaun Stokes, 28, was found by a city inspector and two other people on April 27, 2007 at a boarded-up building that had previously served as a rooming house. She was 28.

Rambles

I'm going to try and sneak in a quick post before work.

It was a busy and productive morning. Smiley and I bought diapers, cat food and litter, went to the bank, paid our utility bill, gave my sister and Dad each a ride, dropped off a folder at the girl's school, and went to his ENT appointment.

[Smiley's ears have improved since the last appointment, but the right tube is still recessed and runs the risk of thinning the bone in his ear. So he'll have to try to fix it himself by holding his nose and blowing hard twice a day (I'm serious) or they'll have to fix it with surgery.]

Speaking of paying that utility bill; as of now my mortgage, car, insurance, utility and cell phone bills are all paid for the month. With the escrow increase in June, God willing that's not the last month I can say that. I need a better job, and ASAP.

Things have gotten so bad for a number of our circle that two of Lisa's friends have asked, independently of one another, if we'd consider allowing them to move in and help pay the costs of the house.

As Lisa is irrationally against the idea of having sister wives, I say no deal ;)

* * * *

Ok, I'm running out of time before work. So I'll scrap the last half of the post and (possibly) recycle it later. Have a good one!

YaYa in "Mary Poppins"

This spring YaYa signed up for a role in her school's performance of Mary Poppins. You might remember me mentioning the twice a week after-school practices that demanded a lot of schedule wrangling.

I'm pretty blunt about school/kid functions. If it sucks, I'll say so - not to the kids of course, and I'll view it in the context of the ages involved - but you won't find me saying a music recital is as good as a day at Carnegie Hall.

Well, in the end the practices were worth it. Mary Poppins was unexpectedly good. Many of the main characters (all female; no males played starring roles) had strong voices, there was a decent attempt at scenery and costuming (the latter due to parent contributions) and the acting was decent for their age. Well done.

YaYa had a small speaking role as a bank customer. Lisa purchased her outfit from a convent thrift shop that caters to an older clientle, and my mother-in-law sewed the alterations.

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Her line kicked off the run on the bank. "There's something wrong! The bank won't give someone their money!". She also vigorously pounded on a teller window, an act she kept hidden from us as a surprise for the show.

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Our one complaint about the show was the length. It followed the musical line by line and stretched past the two hour mark. The trip to see the Uncle and other superfluous scenes should have been trimmed. As it was, however, Smiley did an admirable job staying serene for the show. LuLu had already saw the show at a 'school kids only ' performance and had no desire to sit through another.

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Well done superstars!