Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Stinktown is sexy?

I heard this being discussed on the radio last week, and I was a bit speechless.

Stinktown is sexy.

That's right, Milwaukee has been described as sexy. The whole damn city: sexy.

I'm not making it up. The wise folks at Marie Claire magazine decided there's nothing than their 20- and 30-something readership wants more than a list of 101 sexy things. And they needed a sexy city to put on the list, so naturally they turned to Stinktown.

Because Stinktown has a massive summer music festival, a bunch of ethnic festivals, a NASCAR race and an occasional Harley Davidson anniversary rally, somehow Stinktown is now sexy.

I'm not sure if any major city can really be defined as sexy. Every major city has blight, poverty and homelessness. Those things are all appealing, but sexy? I don't think so!

Chip and his buddy have often talked about creating a website, packerparkas.com. The website would be dedicated to all the women who aren't sexy, but think bundling up in an over-sized green and gold Green Bay Packers jacket makes them sexy. Cheering for Aaron Rodgers doesn't make you sexy. Sorry ladies, it's true. Just like those stupid ankle tattoos don't make you sexy. It takes more than that. Trust me.

Considering the Sexy 101 list includes a sexiest sport (tennis), a sexiest polish (CND Nail Gloss, $6) and a sexiest office supply (Muji stapler, $4), it's no surprise the sexiest city is Stinktown. The list is highly ridiculous, so why shouldn't its choice for the sexiest city be equally ridiculous?

I've been to Stinktown, many times. I'm not sure what deserves to be the sexiest city, but it ain't Stinktown, I guarantee it.

But let's pretend, just for a minute, that it is.

If that's the case, the end is near. It was a nice run for planet Earth.

Monday, August 18, 2008

They bled me to death (unedited)

I'm a fraud and chronic liar, but I really think I have donated blood and/or blood products for the last time.

I hate needles. I couldn't adminster a shot or draw blood to save my soul, and the thought of taking a needle in the arm, leg or butt has no appeal to me. (I've experienced them all!) While I hate needles, I'm also a sado-masochist, evidently. Since my senior year in high school I have found my way to blood drives, donating a pint of Fonzie's best A positive.

Ironically I have passed out twice, both while giving much smaller blood samples for pre-employment physicals for jobs working in hospital kitchens.

I'm a good candidate for donating blood because I haven't pumped my body full of heroin, had tattoos or piercings or had sex with another man, even once, since 1977.

Some years I have donated blood six times. A few years ago I took an extended hiatus from donating. I figured a guy having heart surgery might be better off not donating pints on top of all the viles he's giving up every so often.

A year or more ago I returned to Memorial Blood Centers, a local agency that conducts blood drives and collects all sorts of funky blood products at fixed-site locations, including a few in the Twin Cities. Instead of going to a blood drive at a church or house of ill repute, you go to a strip mall and bleed for them. It's like selling plasma, but without the paycheck. And by the way, call it what you want, but when you get cash for two hours at a plasma center, you aren't donating jack shit.

A few months ago they invited me to donate blood platelets rather than whole blood. You can donate platelets more often, the end result doesn't take as much out of you, physically, and the need is greater than the need for whole blood. Platelets don't have the same shelf life, evidently.

The drawback: You have to sign on for a couple of hours.

I've been through the process three times this summer. And now it's time to retire!

It's not the time commitment that bothers me. And lord knows I've been far less careless with my health and welfare than the average skank, but I've reached the breaking point.

Each time you visit, you have to go through the tedious health screening. I get it, they can't blow the process off. But I'm tired of having to answer the same questions each time I visit. I still haven't spent five years in Europe, I've still never had any of those weird diseases I've never heard of, and I still haven't had sex with another man, even once, since 1977.

I realize the answers to some of the questions may have changed since my last visit four weeks ago, but I'm tired of the hoops. I ain't jumpin' through them for a while, if ever again. I'm tempted to get a tattoo just so I can be blacklisted.

I have no personal story about how blood donations have made a difference in my life. I became a blood donor simply to face a fear I've had, and I continued to challenge myself to face that fear for 20 years. I passed my test, it's time to move on.

There are a few petty reasons that support my decision, but those aren't worth explaning. I'm a petty human being, and after more than 3 gallons of A positive and a few platelets, it's time to stop doing so much for everyone else and start doing more for me.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Oops, I did it again!

It's not nearly as cool as a trip to Puerto Vallarta, but on Tuesday I received a call from my local Cub Foods grocery store, telling me I'm the winner in a prize drawing I entered. Somehow I can't resist signing up for prize drawings at the grocery store, even though the prizes are never spectacular.

My prize: a portable grill from a no-name steak manufacturer. I haven't seen it yet but I think it's intended to be for tailgaiting, as the grill is adorned with the Minnesota Twins logo. It's not the big, fancy gas grill Fuddrucker's was giving away this summer, but I'll take what I can get.

I've won five prizes this summer from contests, the grill is the second best prize I've won.

One day I'm going to win the lottery, I know it. You heard it here first! (Oddly I rarely buy lottery tickets, so when I do win it, the world will be that much more pissed at me.)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

7 years running

Doug and I made our annual pilgrimage to the Minnesota/Wisconsin border for Camp Swamp this past weekend.

Swamp is a college friend who grew up in Small Town, Wis. After college Swamp wound up back in the same western Wisconsin area. I suppose it's nice to go home again, although I have no interest in living in Indiana again, or Coon Rapids, Minn., for that matter.

Swamp grew up camping on sandbars and along the banks of the Chippewa River, and he invited Doug and me to join him for an overnight on the river several years ago. That first trip was in August 2002. This year's trip marked our seventh annual pilgrimage.

Loading everything into a boat and navigating a sometimes shallow river to find a sandbar suitable for camping is a weird experience. Once you get there, you don't go very far. Even if it's a one-night trip, it can be a challenging experience. There's something about camping on sand that's different than camping in the woods. There's no shade to block the sun on a sandbar, there's little firewood to be found and while walking on sand sounds pleasurable, the sand gets hot when it's sunny, and the lack of solid footing can become rather annoying. Never mind the fact you can't avoid getting sand in anything and everything you bring for the trip. I swear there was a grain of sand on every Italian sausage I ate this past weekend.

Swamp was an unlikely friend when I went to college. Despite that, Doug and I have remained friends with him since we all graduated. Our one night of camping is the one time of the year I see him, typically, and I'd hate to give it up.

Why is it that I go out of my way to visit a friend who would have stopped calling me years ago had I not made an effort to stay in touch? I don't know, but it's who I am. For better or worse, I'll keep going back to Camp Swamp as long as I physically can, sand be damned.