Zumba-Palooza and the Sister Wives

For my birthday adventure this year, I decided to plug my (non-Mormon) Sister Wives into a private Zumba lesson. I should be up for some sort of Logistics Industry Award for herding these cats and getting this scheduled between 5 busy women, 1 busy instructor, and three separate re-bookings. So yesterday my kooky collection of kindred spirits joined me in a session that I’m eternally grateful got nowhere near Instagram, YouTube, or Facebook…a mere 58 days after my birthday.

You can count on my friends for shenanigans. Yesterday was no different. My favorite Southie Sister Wife pulled down her runner’s pants and hovered her sweaty ass above the floor fan as the instructor’s back was turned, doubling me over in laughs. Next up, my favorite half-Sicilian, half-Irish Sister Wife grabbed my hands and turned a solo meringue routine into ballroom dancing. (I’m unsure which of us was the dude in this scenario.) And then there was Ophelia. As we stood there post-Zumba, all glistening and tomato-faced, she discovered they offered pole fitness classes there. And now we all share in the knowledge that Ophelia is impressed by strippers who can hang from a pole by just the sheer strength of their bare legs. Her parting shot: “Why I’m even at a strip club is another story…” One of the Sister Wives reminded everyone that our local strip club offers “Pole Dancer Amateur Night,” but the final consensus was that we were far too amateur for even that. Baby steps.

This morning I shared this meme below with my Sister Wives. Ophelia fired off a comment right away: No, we definitely looked more like the first picture.” I remember it a little differently. Let’s just say my dyslexia with numbers also extends to my Zumba moves.

The perfect meme for anyone in Zumba.

The perfect meme for anyone in Zumba.

 

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The OCD Mosquito: Marovich Strikes AGAIN.

I can honestly say, I’ve never seen anyone suffer with seasonal allergies like Marovich, which has only been the past couple of years for her. For Marovich, it manifests in her eyes, where she’s managed to literally rub the orbital skin raw. I get itchy, burning empathy pains around my eyes from seeing her like this. (This may, however, provide me with some physical advantage in our next racquetball match on Wednesday night.) I was at Marovich’s yesterday for a barbecue and right away, she presented me with her latest dilemma. The OCD mosquito that attacked her arms:

The OCD Mosquito Incident

The OCD Mosquito Incident

I was completely stunned and aghast as I gazed upon the perfectly vertical, symmetrical bite pattern for about five seconds, processing, processing…and then I recalled she was getting allergy testing on Friday. Dammit! She got me. AGAIN.

So my friend “Mushroom Lynn” and I are going to this local Himalayan salt cave for its therapeutic benefits on June 1.

Inside of the Salt Cave

Inside of the Salt Cave

(I nicknamed her that because she once regrettably shared with me her experiences ‘shrooming in college, and even though I’ve never done drugs, the way Lynn described how hard it made her laugh–my favorite thing in the world to do–it was the one drug that nearly tempted me. Then I heard it often makes you vomit, which I abhor, so that was the end of my dalliance with said temptation.)

I’m told the Europeans do this salt cave vigil regularly for the health benefits of the iodine in the air, and I’m all for that – I even take iodine supplements because we in the Midwest are woefully under-dosed. I also salt my food with the pink Himalayan salt, which Dave has derisively deemed my “Crazy Lady Salt,” so that’s how it’s now referenced at the dinner table, as in:

“Pass the salt.”

“Regular, or Crazy Lady Salt?”

But I digress. As for the salt cave, it’s purported to help with allergies, asthma, inflammation, excema, an increase in energy, and other health issues. I have the occasional allergy, but really don’t suffer from any of these issues, but I am always up for a new, fun adventure. Here’s hoping it requires a new outfit!

And if that salt cave can help allergies, it might even help Marovich…you know, with avoiding those OCD mosquitoes.

Keeping Promises: The Cosplay Survey and More

I’ve promised a couple of people I would post items on my blog today, so here they are.

The first item is a request from pop culture/futurist journalist and author of “Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture,” Rob Salkowitz for me to post a link to this survey below on The State of Cosplay Shopping at Cons:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ZBRDF7T

Dave Dorman is at Denver Comic-Con this weekend with Rob Salkowitz, so check them out if you’re in the area. Here’s more information: http://davedorman.wordpress.com

Secondly, a fan created a meme about Dave, and the verb conjugation was wrong, so I asked him to correct it before I would post it, and he came back at me with this. Let’s face it, I (the person who unwittingly once edited a love letter poem emailed to me–in my defense, I didn’t realize that was the intent, as this person wasn’t typically a love poetry type of guy) own the fact that I deserve this meme:

Created by one of Dave's fans in response to my "edits" to a Dave Dorman meme.

Created by one of Dave’s fans in response to my “edits” to a Dave Dorman meme.

Are You One of the 11% Who Can Lucid Dream?

Ever wonder how writers get ideas? It’s often that random news blurb trigger that cascades into an entire story-building construction project in your mind. Like the other day, I was stopped in traffic behind a car badly in need of a wash. Written in the pollen on the back bumper were the words “Helen isn’t missing.” In a nano-second, my ADD brain sent me off on a storytelling journey from this cryptic, dusty message. Helen was abducted as a child and somehow tracked and found her missing relatives and wrote this note on their vehicle to let them know she was still alive. Or maybe one of her sympathetic captors did? And then I wondered to myself, “Does everyone do this?” At my writer’s group lunch the other day, I shared this story, and they collectively affirmed, “No…only writers think like that. Or people who should be writers.”

So with that, my NY Times bestselling author client Jay Bonansinga took this data point and folded it into his new Young Adult #horror series:

Only 11% of the population have lucid dreams. 

What does that mean, exactly? It means that 11% of us are self aware enough that while dreaming we can control what’s happening in the dream, in real time. How I would love to be in that 11%! And that is how Jay ended up writing LUCID, which launches today through Permuted Press. Here’s a link to Jay explaining more about lucid dreaming and his new book on the WGN Mid-Day Show today in Chicago:

http://wgntv.com/2015/05/20/midday-fix-author-jay-bonasinga-talks-about-his-book-lucid/

This is my favorite picture of Jay, taken by his photographer wife Jill Brazel, in his smartly bespoke garb, in this London backdrop:

Jay Bonansinga, Photography (c) Jill Brazel

Jay Bonansinga, Photography (c) Jill Brazel

Tonight Jay and I will be at the Bucket of Blood Books & Records  at 2307 N. Milwaukee Avenue at 7 p.m. for the launch of LUCID, so come on out, get your very own copy of LUCID and your WALKING DEAD books signed by Jay and have a cocktail (in college, I used to make a drink called “Bloody Brains,” and I might still be able to whip one up for you if you bring me red Kool-Aid, vodka and Bailey’s Irish creme). On your way there, be sure to stop at as-seen-on-Food Network’SuperDawg’s and commemorate the founder Maurie Berman, who just passed, but should be honored for creating Ground Zero in Great Chicago Hot Dog Institutions (right up there with Gene & Jude’s hotdogs in River Grove and The Wiener’s Circle in Chicago).

Of course, if the Bloody Brains drink doesn’t agree with you, I’m sure you’ll have the good taste to let it (and your half-digested hot dog) reappear in the alley, rather than anywhere near me…

The John Hughes Home Tour: “I Can’t Believe I Gave My Panties to a Geek…”

That headline is a quote from Sixteen Candles, lest you think I would willingly sacrifice my Wonder Woman panties. I normally don’t blog twice in one day, but I have to get this one in while everything is still fresh in my mind.

My friend Amber and I decided to squeeze in the director John Hughes‘ former home tour today before the event closed this weekend. John Hughes was behind some of my favorite movies from childhood, from Animal HouseSixteen Candles, and Breakfast Club on up. The home tour was a fund-raiser for the Infant Welfare Society of Chicago, but the rooms were each redecorated by different designers, so the interior actually looked nothing like it did when the famed director lived there. To see what it looked like when he lived there, click here.

The Lake Forest home of director John Hughes

The lovely Lake Forest home of director John Hughes

Before meeting Amber, I had my usual 2-hour weekly breakfast with the Sister Wives, which involves a lot of laughing and even more coffee drinking. The 45-minute drive to Lake Forest was sheer torture. All of that coffee had to go somewhere, and preferably not soaked into the passenger’s seat of Amber’s cute new convertible. That crazy astronaut woman with the diaper was actually making sense to me for a brief moment.

Once we arrived at Mr. Hughes’ palatial manse, I asked to use the facilities. As the ersatz representative of the unwashed masses, I was directed outside to some porta-potties through a ridiculous, circuitous route that involved me walking on the cobblestone street in front of the home to get to the second driveway. (I later discovered the short-cut, through a sidewalk on the side of the house. The bastards.) The absurd juxtaposition of these two porta-potties against the looming luxury of this 11,000 square foot, 21-room mansion was not lost on me.

A 70-something-year-old woman was ahead of us in line. There were two porta-potties, side by side. She informed us with a dramatic grimace that the one to the right was “not usable,” as she stepped into the remaining porta-pottie and locked the door. I waited and waited. And I waited some more. I finally got desperate enough to bravely peer into the other porta-pottie. I jumped back, as if stung. It was unusable. It rather reminded me of the river in Willy Wonka’s factory. These elite North Shore women are animals! Perhaps it was a symbolic statement or art installation–a harsh reminder of the bleak existence of the Infant Welfare Society recipients? Or maybe I just read too much into things…

Poor Amber had to listen to my bitchy observations as 10 minutes passed:

“If she spends one more minute in there, I’m not going in without a hazmat suit…”

“What the hell is taking her so long? At her age, she can’t possibly be changing a tampon…!”

As we stood there, we noticed that in the four-car garage, a rummage sale of sorts was going on. Or as they called it, a “boutique sale.”

“Oh my God!” I squealed. “Do you think this is John Hughes’ garage sale?!? Maybe we can buy a John Hughes’ ashtray for $5! Or maybe Molly Ringwald’s prop lipstick from Breakfast Club!” Could I be so lucky?!?

Finally, the silver fox emerged from the porta-pottie. I went in, got business done, and went to wash my hands. The damned faucet wouldn’t work. There I was, trying to remove the sticky liquid soap with as many paper towels as I could find. Meh. Amber finally needed to use “the facilities” as well. It was then that I thought to myself, “I know exactly the picture I am taking to memorialize today’s adventure.” And it was this one:

May God bless my friend Amber, who not only puts up with my shenanigans, she lets me post them on my blog

May God bless my friend Amber, who not only puts up with my shenanigans, she actually lets me post them on my blog. That is her “Are you fucking KIDDING me right now?” face.

Amber and I decided to check out the rummage sale, er, boutique sale, in the garage before heading back to do the tour. I was thrilled to see sleeping masks for sale. The elastic is too tight on mine and these were a nicer material. It was then that I discovered North Shore rummage sales are not like the ones in my ‘hood. The price tag on said sleeping mask? $175. Hand to God. Even I, with my wild imagination, couldn’t make up a price point like that one.

Mind you, Amber has a high-powered job and she left directly from work to join me in our “play date.” I marveled that she did the entire tour in those 4″ heels. We entered the director’s former home and the weight of the pretention was cloying and oppressive. Never one to mince words, Amber knew my opinion on every window treatment, piece of furniture, bric-a-brac, and accoutrement, which went from fugly…to fuglier…to fugliest. This was a 1929 art deco era home–and call me a purist–but it deserved to be decorated by someone who respected that. Some designers just need to surgically remove that shitty 1970s mid-century modern aesthetic from their repertoire. It’s so derivative and unimaginative. To perpetrate that style on a 1920s home is just criminal to me. Imagine watching Downton Abbey and seeing a Harvest Gold refrigerator in Mrs. Patmore’s kitchen. It was fugly the first time around, and it’s even moreso today.

Something might have been said about us not being allowed to take photos inside of the home, but I can’t be sure. I know I didn’t sign any NDAs. All I know is, I stood guard, just in case, as Amber and two other tourists happily snapped away and got their contraband images. (In our defense, the expensive book we were given for the tour had almost zero photos of the home’s newly decorated interior–just designer renderings.) We loved these clever little cocktail tables that had been created with Monopoly, Backgammon, and Scrabble boards on their surfaces.

Cool cocktail/game tables we want to replicate. The steer horns? Not so much.

Cool cocktail/game tables we want to replicate. The steer horns? Not so much. I’ll never understand Southwestern decor in a Midwestern home. The rug was like walking on a lovely, fluffy cloud. 

One of the highlights for me was the library–always my favorite room in anyone’s home–and John Hughes’ office. Call me sentimental, but to be in the rarefied air of the room where he wrote some of my favorite movies meant a lot to me. I teared up a little.

We toured the grounds, with Amber re-aerating the soil in her 4″ spiky heels, and we were both underwhelmed by the lack of flowers. I guess they literally meant grounds, since there were many bald spots where grass wasn’t even growing. I was expecting a garden resembling a Monet painting, yet this was not much different than my own back yard. Just bigger.

As Amber dropped me back at my car, I shared with her my theory on playing hookey for the day: “I’m all about the five-year plan. Five years from now, you will never remember the day you had at work. But you will remember that we toured John Hughes’ beautiful home today. With nary a moment’s hesitation, she agreed.

And so I leave Amber and those of you reading this with a thought from the brilliant pen of John Hughes:

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick)

For Chicagoans, Segregation Means Sox or CUBS? Which are you?

As you may have gathered from my upper case CUBS, I’m the latter. You’ve never seen the purest and most breathtakingly vibrant green grass outside of Ireland until you’ve been inside of the “friendly confines” of Wrigley Field and cast your gaze upon that perfectly manicured, verdant ball field. I’ve actually been lucky enough to stand on Wrigley Field when THE POLICE did their reunion tour a few years back (and yes, THAT reunion tour was AMAZING).

Chicagoans have an inherent bias towards one ball team or the other. For me, CUBS fans are always the “lace curtain Irish” of the North Side whom I tend to relate to the best, and the Sox fans? Well…no need to go into stereotypes. Living in the Midwest makes us hearty stock, and frankly, we have to be optimists in order to survive the harsh winters here. Spring is always around the corner, and we just know there’s a CUBS World Series win next season.

My favorite Bleacher Bum, Aunt Karen (the one with the McDonald family farm where Jack and I fish, camp, cross country ski, and go four-wheeling) was there this week for the grand opening of the new bleachers, and CBS Channel 2 News caught her on camera:

My Aunt Karen, enjoying her Mother's Day present from her son-in-law--a CUBS Game in the bleachers.

My Aunt Karen, on CBS Channel 2 Chicago News, enjoying her Mother’s Day present from her son-in-law Sean–a CUBS Game in the bleachers.  

Video of Aunt Karen here: http://chicago.cbslocal.com/video/11484923-bleacher-bums-return-to-wrigley-field/

And then, as if the CUBS couldn’t be more perfect, Eddie Vedder sang the 7th Inning Stretch the other day at Wrigley Field. If I didn’t already love Eddie Vedder for the Pearl Jam song “EVEN FLOW,” which is right in my vocal range for karaoke and the most hauntingly understanding song about the homeless, my heart was ready to burst at the thought that he, too, along with Bill Murray (who merely needs to look at the camera funny to crack me up) were fellow CUBS fans.

So without further adieu, here’s my fellow CUBS fan & rock idol captured on CBS Channel 2 News:

http://wxrt.cbslocal.com/2015/05/13/eddie-vedder-sang-the-seventh-inning-stretch-at-the-cubs-game-last-night-watch/

Eddie Vedder Singing the 7th Inning Stretch Inside of the Friendly Confines

Eddie Vedder Singing the 7th Inning Stretch Inside of the Friendly Confines

It’s a new season for the CUBS. A time for fresh optimism. Life. Is. Good.

Nerd Alert: My Quest for My Beloved Groundskeeper Willie in Miniature LEGO Form

Okay, confession time. I just entered an online contest to win my must-have The Simpsons‘ Groundskeeper Willie LEGO. (I can hear my Sister Wives chortling all of the way from here.) My love for Springfield’s angriest Scotsman knows no bounds. I mean, just look at those abs, will you? I could scrub my lingerie on that washboard! He would look so hot on my desk, next to my two other Groundskeeper Willie action figures:

Missing: 1 Groundskeeper Willie LEGO action figure...

Missing: 1 Groundskeeper Willie LEGO action figure…

It’s Free Comic Book Day today and Batman Day, so hopefully there will be some Simpsons LEGOs still available at my local comic book retailer after all of those crowds. Admittedly, I’m a little nervous.

And after the weight lifting adventures with Marovich the other night, even my Sister Wives are challenging me now to wear my geeky super hero garb out in public – one of the Sister Wives who shall remain nameless had to verify it up close and personal…

Sister Wife Inspector: "Yep, it's definitely an authentic  Wonder Woman tee."

Sister Wife Inspector: “Yep, it’s definitely an authentic Wonder Woman tee.”

If you happen to see a Groundskeeper Willie while you’re out celebrating Free Comic Book Day, buy it and I’ll pay you back. I’d gladly pay you tomorrow for a Groundskeeper Willie today…