A Great Dad for a Great School Board Director

My husband, Michael Mathias is running for the 4th District Seat on the Milwaukee Public Schools board. I’m writing today to share the endorsement Michael received from the Shepherd Express and share why Michael is the right choice for the children, families and the residents of the 4th District.

I’m especially proud of the endorsement from the Shepherd. Throughout our many years in Milwaukee -- as we attended UWM, took our first jobs, painted that first nursery in our flat in Riverwest -- the Shepherd was always there, and it’s who we trusted to tell us what was really happening.

The endorsement in the Shepherd says: Mathias struck us as a smart advocate for the city’s public education system, and taxpayers will trust his judgment in the coming years. Mathias will be the kind of public servant that will make this district—and this city—proud. He deserves voters’ support on April 7.

I know Michael will make this district and city proud. He’s been making me proud for the last fifteen years. Ever since we found out I was pregnant with our first son, Michael has dedicated his life to our children. His aspiration to serve the 4th district is driven from a desire to see all children in MPS succeed as our own children have.

When our sons started early childhood education programs at Highland Community School, Michael felt it was his duty to run for Highland’s governance board, and spent hours each week tackling the complex problems of a school in transition. At the end of Michael’s three-year term, Highland was a stronger, more stable school.

When our middle son needed special education services, Michael researched the options available and fought to have him placed in the autism program at Dover Street School, where our son found a school, principal and teacher that changed his life. Today our son is fully integrated back into a regular education program, and his success is due in no small part to Michael’s fierce love, determination, and devotion.

Lately, Saturday mornings find Michael up at dawn to drive our oldest son, a 7th-grader at Milwaukee School of Languages, to forensics meets. And every night, even throughout this busy campaign, Michael’s at the dining room table helping our oldest boys with their homework.

Michael takes an extremely active role in our children’s education. He knows firsthand what’s working in MPS and what’s not. He knows how hard working our teachers and principals are, and he knows the challenges they face every day. He’s seen the devastating effect of over-crowded classrooms, and knows from personal experience what a difference programs like SAGE make for teachers and students. He knows exactly how the lack of art, music and gym programs impact student achievement.

Michael’s presence in MPS schools means he has the trust and respect of many teachers, principals and other MPS board members. Michael has used his campaign to reach out to existing board members, including board president Peter Blewett and director Michael Bonds. Michael’s experience and deep understanding of the issues means he will walk into that first board meeting ready to go to work. In addition, Michael will come to the board free of any agenda, completely independent and beholden only to the children, families, teachers and residents of the 4th district.

Michael will make us proud. Please join me in voting for Michael on Tuesday, April 7th. Thank you for your time and support.


Family Movie Review: March of the Penguins

If you’ve read some of our other movie reviews, you know we don’t always use the best (or any) judgment when choosing films to watch with our children.

So when we found March of the Penguins available on Netflix instant viewing, we were thrilled -- what could be more family friendly?

Everything’s cool for the first fifteen minutes. Lovely footage, soothing narration provided by Mr. Morgan Freeman, and we’re learning some cool shit about penguins. It’s not the most exciting thing ever, but since I refuse to watch most children’s movies, it’s a good compromise.

The penguins gather at their wintering-over spot, copulate, and lay their eggs. But here’s the tricky part. After an egg is laid, the mama penguin has to transfer it to the papa penguin. Why? Because Mama’s got to high-tail it to the ocean, catch and eat a bunch of fish, rush back to the flock and regurgitate the food for her newborn chick.

I wish I could do that.

At this point we're thinking that maybe we're actually capable of choosing a kid-appropriate movie. It's heartwarming, educational, and the kids think the whole regurgitation thing is very gnarly and cool.

Ah, but it’s during this egg transfer process that things start to go south. It seems that if the penguins don’t get the transfer exactly right, the egg rolls off into the snow and can’t be recovered. Why? I’m not really sure – I’m guessing it has something to do with their tiny brains and lack of opposable thumbs -- but the upshot is frozen penguin embryo omelet.

So the sad music starts and soon the screen is littered with abandoned, off-color penguin eggs. “Eggs that will never hatch.”

Our middle son, who is very sweet, very sensitive, and who loves all animals (baby animals in particular) starts to understand what’s going on here.

Here’s a ‘lil snippet of the resulting conversation:

  • Miles: “What’s wrong with that egg? Why isn’t it with a daddy penguin?”
  • Me: “Uh, well, there was a problem, and the daddy can’t get the egg back on his feet.”
  • Miles: “So another penguin is going to get the egg?”
  • Me: (Looking toward Michael, who’s avoiding eye contact) “Well, no, that egg isn’t going to hatch now.”
  • Miles: (Incredulously) “You mean the baby in the egg is DEAD!?”
  • Me: “Yes, it’s very sad, but not all the eggs hatch.”
  • Miles: (Recovering quickly) “But that’s ok, because that penguin will just lay another egg.”
  • Me: “Yes, she can, next year.”
  • Miles: “That’s not fair! Why can’t she just have another egg this year? Does she know her baby died? Does she know that she can’t have another egg until next year? Why can’t she just have another one? It’s not fair!”

I pleadingly look at Michael, who shrugs and stuffs a handful of popcorn in his mouth. Bastard.

  • Me: (Grasping) “Animals don’t experience things like death the same way people do. She probably knows something is wrong, but can’t really understand what it means. It’s not the same as a human mom.”
  • Miles: (Starting to cry.)“How do you know? You don’t know that. What if she does know? What if it is the same?”
  • Me: (Glaring at Michael, whose only contribution is to lamely mutter something about the ‘great circle of life’) “Miles, honey, we’re just gonna have to see what happens. I’m sure most of the eggs hatch just fine.”

And then Morgan Freeman said, “But the worst is still to come.”


The next hour was pretty much a non-stop festival of penguin death. On…and on…and on it went. Storms separate baby penguins from the flock and they freeze to death. Babies starve to death before mothers can make it back with food. Mother penguins die from exhaustion or starvation and then their babies die from starvation. Evil seagulls attack and kill baby penguins (in slow-mo, no less). Christ, it was a fucking blood-bath.

At this point, Miles was curled up in my lap, his tears silently dropping onto my chest. Once in a while he would sniff and ask for another Kleenex.

I did ask him if he wanted to turn the movie off, but he thought it would be better if he “found out what happened to all of the baby penguins and the moms.” Ugh. This was not encouraging. At this point, things were looking seriously fucked for those baby penguins, and not much better for the fully grown birds.

And then there was the seal. The mother-fucking seal.

Seals are the playful clowns of the sea, right? Oh no. In March of the Penguins, seals are vicious, bloodthirsty and have a rack of teeth as terrifying as any Great White shark.

Of course, the seal takes a mama penguin down. And if we all weren’t feeling bad enough, Mr. Freeman chimes in to remind us that the seal is responsible for two deaths, since her baby will now starve. Thanks for pointing that out, Morgan.

Our youngest son had pretty much lost interest at this point, and we assumed he was just a little too young to really grasp the totality of the carnage. That's until he started wandering into the room from time to time to ask helpful questions like, “Did all the baby penguins die yet?” or “Is that one dead too?”

After the seal incident, Miles decided he’d had enough, so I can’t really tell you how the movie ended. I assume at least one penguin made it through the winter and back to the ocean, perhaps to become a tasty snack for chompy the seal.

So, in summary, if you want an evening filled with death, weeping and the fucking circle of life, check out March of the Penguins with your kids!


Foodstuff Review: The Trader Redeems Itself

It's true I don’t like everything at Trader Joe’s. It’s true that not everyone agrees with my reviews. Case in point, these two gentlemen took offense at my assessment of Trader’s Korean-style short ribs.

Joe T said...

"Short Ribs are suppose to be thin. Stupid. And you cooked them to be burnt. Idiot. The fat is around the bone which there is not a lot of. Either A) you hate meat or B) God made you with a bad sense of judgment."

jason said...

"i agree with the comment above. these are great short ribs. cook on the highest part of your grill (open lid) for 2 mins each side and they are perfect. fat and all!
to quote the guy above....learn to cook before you post these comment....stupid!"

Uh, let's settle down ee cummings, it’s just a piece of meat. I don’t care for the ribs, so you best learn to live with it. I don't have to like the ribs, I can write about how I don't like the ribs, and you're free to shove burnt fat and marrow in your gob until the cows come home. God Bless America.

I will point out that most readers agreed with my assessment of the Trader's four-cheese pizza. There just isn't a lot of wiggle room. This pizza is so terrible, even kids reject it. That’s pretty fucking bad.

And let's not even talk about the light Mayonnaise, except to say that any product that can render bacon inedible must be the work of Satan himself.

But I’m a forgiving person (or maybe just stupid – just ask Joe T or Jason, above), so I’ll give most things a second chance.

That's why, when my lovely sister-in-law presented me with Trader Joe’s Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s cookies, I proceeded with an open mind and stomach.

God Damn! These cookies rock the fucking house.

Envision a perfect, fresh, double-stuffed Oreo. BUT, between the chocolate wafers, blended into the creamy filling, is a generous measure of crisp, cool, crumbly shards of peppermint candy cane. Enough said.

Sit back, pour yourself a glass of 1%, and you've reached cookie nirvana.

And it gets even better. Unbelievably, the greedy little brats (Uh, I mean, the blessed fruit of our loin. Wait? Is it loin, or loins? Do you have one or two loins?) DIDN'T LIKE the peppermint Joe-Joe’s.

Let me break it down:

Delicious cookie + children who don’t appreciate said delicious cookie = Christmas fucking miracle!

I’d say you’re forgiven, Trader Joe's.

Product (Apparel) Review: Land's End Men's Barn Jacket

(This is an old post, but I think it bears repeating and I really have to write some new stuff. Enjoy.)

A long time ago (pre-nuptials, I believe) I borrowed and lost a beloved jacket of Michael’s. It involved a lakefront festival and much too much fermented beverage.

I felt bad.

In time, I replaced it with a Land’s End Barn Jacket. To say Michael liked this coat is a gross understatement. He wore it in any weather. Wind chills could be hovering near 30 below and he’d claim the barn jacket was sufficient to keep him toasty warm. He wore it everywhere -- weddings, fancy dinners, job interviews.

I once had to prevent him from wearing it to a funeral over a perfectly nice dark suit.

Of course, even the most well-made garment must at some point succumb to this amount of wear. One day, Michael caught a side pocket in a doorknob and ripped a large hole around the pocket seam.

I offered to repair or replace the jacket, but Michael resisted. He continued to wear the coat, claiming “no one can even see that little rip.” After repeated pleas that he stop wearing the coat, he maintained the position that the tear was minor and practically unnoticeable. I tried begging, bribing and hiding the coat. Yet each morning, there it was, the ”practically unnoticeable” rip staring me in the face.

One day, as Michael was walking home from work, he attracted the attention of a group of young men, possibly students from the Milwaukee High School of the Arts. In a fit a high spirits, these men attempted to get Michael’s attention:

“Yo, bitch!”


“Hey, BITCH!”

When Michael smartly attempted to ignore these gentlemen, they decided to up their game a bit.

(At this point, please remember the boys were across the street from Michael.)


Yep, that tear was “barely noticeable,” isn’t that right, ‘ol rip-ass coat bitch?

I have to admit, when Michael relayed the story to me, I was not a good spouse. Instead of consoling him about the harassment, I fell to the floor and laughed uncontrollably for twenty minutes. I stood up, attempted to pull myself together and offer support, but then noticed Michael was still wearing the coat. I once again fell in a fit of hysterical laughter. This happened on and off for the next week or so. I'm giggling right now just writing about it.

But the next day, I went out and bought 'ol rip-ass coat bitch a new barn jacket.

So, if you want to avoid harassment from teens and ridicule from your spouse, a new, unblemished Land's End Men's Barn Jacket is a great item to include in your outerwear wardrobe.




Walnuts Made It! Blogging the First Presidential Debate

We're watching tonight's debate on our new digital TV thingy, and it's totally going to kick-ass. Those navy blue suits and muted, understated ties are going to POP in digital!

Wow, look at that giant angry eagle. He’s going to peck out the eyes of anyone who doesn’t love America.

Why is Jim Lehrer yelling at us? Someone fix his mic, please.

Ah, that was tricky – “The global financial crisis.” Nicely done.

Wow, Jim’s kinda being an asshole – why even have an audience if they can’t make any noise?

Obama is thinking, “Glad to see you actually showed up, prune-face!”

They even turned off the lights on the audience. That’s cold.

Jim’s not really on his A game tonight, is he?

What kinds of pin does ‘Bama have on? It better be a fucking flag or the eagle is going to come for him.

Wow, right into the issues and policy, 'Bama, nice going.

Yeah baby, McCain LOVES Bush – keep it coming -- pin it ALL on Bush/McCain.

Oh Christ. First of all, Walnuts, Kennedy’s office released a statement saying he’s probably home by now, watching the debate.

Every republican watching this immediately and instinctively went into a rant about Chappaquiddick as soon as they heard him say the words “Senator Kennedy.” They just can’t help themselves.

My friends, I haven’t been feeling too great about the economy, but hey, I have like 29 houses and 309 cars, so I’ll probably be ok! Don’t you worry about me, friend. Cindy and I will somehow make it through.

What the hell did McCain just do? He just winked at us like a pirate and pointed out the fact that he’s like 300 years old. Poor.

Walnuts doesn’t have a flag pin…for shame! That eagle is gonna swoop down and punish him.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! We’re all going to be poor and then we’re going to die! It seems like he’s telling us to panic…and make a run on the banks for our money. Another bank is going to fail tonight thanks to his alarmist statements.

Funny, I thought the economy was “fundamentally sound?”

Talk to each other? Right, go ahead guys. “Hey, John, how’s it going? Uh, WTF were you thinking about Palin, man?”

Obama is that brilliant but scary professor who drills holes in your skull with his eyes when you’re explaining why you didn’t turn in your paper, and McCain is that boring and crabby uncle you’re trying to avoid sitting next to at Thanksgiving dinner.

How does the landing at Normandy relate to the credit crisis? What IS McCain babbling about?

Every time you hear “Main Street and Wall Street,” take a drink.

Awkward. The last thing these guys want to do is talk to each other. McCain won’t even LOOK at Obama. Let’s drop this whole “talk to each other” thing, ok, Jim?

Have we ever talked about McCain's GIANT head? With the jowls, it’s like one-third the total length of his body.

So, are the best days are ahead of us, or all we all supposed to panic, or are we all just irresponsible twits that aren’t qualified to wipe the asses of the greatest generation?

Oh, god, this election’s compulsory example of stupid government spending. This time it’s bear DNA. What was it last election? Something about sheep?

Wow, John McCain has a pen. A PEN. He also has 246 cars.

I thought this was supposed to be about foreign policy? Not so much, I guess.

I wish I collected a paycheck every day. That would be sweet. I think he meant folks who WORK every day. Which sucks.

‘Bama looks like he’s going to beat down Walnuts. Maybe he’ll gang up with the angry eagle.

Ok, we’re 15 minutes in and McCain hasn’t mentioned that he was a POW or his “service to this county.” That’s gotta be a record.

Oooohh, Obama’s getting fired up now. Let’s go! Because otherwise, I’m falling asleep.

Ok, we’re 19 minutes in, they’ve FINALLY mentioned a foreign power, and it’s IRELAND. Wow, this is some fascinating policy discussion.

MY FRIENDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He said it – take a drink.

‘Bama is really doing a huge laundry list here with no detail. I don’t think this is a good idea – all of these things sound really expensive. Keeping up with those wily Chinese space walkers – that can’t be cheap.

Yeah, I’d be laughing at Walnuts and his giant head, too. I am so tired of Republicans using the word liberal like a profanity.

The “little combat ship?” Yeah, that sounds like a GREAT program. What the fuck is the little combat ship?

Uh…what about ENDING THE FUCKING WAR to save some money?!

Spending freeze? Did he just make that up? His campaign staff is backstage spitting out their diet Dokes. “Holy shit! What did he just say – spending freeze?! Johnson, did he tell you about this?”

And by “make decisions on their own” for healthcare, what I really mean is that families should “pay for it on their own.”

UH…aren’t YOU a veteran, John? So, by “taking care of our veterans,” I think we all know who you’re thinking about …taking care of NUMBER ONE! Busted.

Why is everyone so down on how much we owe China? “China still cool…you pay later! Later!”

This is the second time McCain’s reminded us that he wasn’t elected Miss Congeniality. I think he’s still bitter. Poor guy.

Did we miss the Senate beauty pageant this year? I love the swimsuit competition.

This is the most boring debate I think I’ve even seen in my entire life.

McCain just took responsibility for the rise of the Taliban. Way to go, buddy!

Sometimes you just have to do stuff, and you just have to do it, even if it’s unpopular. Now, where have we heard this before? Yikes, that’s scary. “…and if I have to nuke the entire southern hemisphere, I’ll do it. AND I’ll use the little combat ship.”

Middle America isn’t going to like ‘Bama’s pronunciation of Pakistan with the long a’s. Too snooty.

I’m SO glad he mentioned McCain’s fucking “Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb bomb Iran” song. Not only was it in poor taste, it was so cringe-worthy.

Now McCain has adopted Obama’s Pakistan pronunciation.

The ubiquitous Reagan reference. When can we stop hearing about THAT guy?

Was John McCain in the military? I did not know that.

The one thing Obama has done tonight is eliminated the experience question…there’s no way anyone could watch this and think Obama isn’t ready or doesn’t have the experience to lead. He’s hanging right in there.

Christ, there’s another HOUR of this? Oh, just half an hour. Thank god.

Iran is an “existential” threat to Israel? Is Jean-Paul Sartre running for president now? What the fuck does that mean? Iran is going to catapult used philosophy textbooks into Tel Aviv?

Wow, this whole Iran nuclear threat thing sounds SO familiar…hum, I wonder where we’ve heard this before… “It’s a real threat, there’s no question that they’re developing these weapons, etc., etc.”

Ok, I’m done blogging now. Want to take over, ol rip-ass coat bitch?

No. I’m falling asleep.

Wouldn’t it be cool if the angry eagle was automated and helped Jim moderate?

“Let’s stay on topic now, Senator McCain. Caw! Caw!”

“Time is up, Senator Obama -- yield to Mr. McCain. Screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! We must move on, now, really. Screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Have you really looked at this beak, Senator? Your time is up.”

BOOM baby – 'Bama smacks down McCain down on Kissinger. That guy always comes back to haunt you.

This thing where McCain starts each response by pointing out Obama’s “naiveté” just isn’t ringing true. Obama is more than holding his own here.

Yay! Let’s talk about Russia.

“I went to Russia once. And Sarah Palin saw me there--from her house. And I saw her too. And she waved at me and I waved back and I said “Hi Sarah”, and she said “Hi!” I saw Levi, too. He was hanging in the rec room playing on the Wii. He’s a fine young man who is taking responsibility for his demon seed. God bless that fine family. Anyway, Senator Obama is revealing his naiveté when he talks about Russia.”

McCain saw “K-G-B” in Putin’s eyes? That must have been freaky.

Nunn-Lugar – most Americans think that’s a light pilsner from the Netherlands.

“American blood and treasure”? What treasure? Can I have some treasure?

Obama needs to turn to McCain and tell him to stop telling lies. Stop pretending that Obama said he wants to be defeated in Iraq. What Obama said is that we’ve neglected legitimate threats because of the single-minded focus and spending on Iraq, and people know this – again, McCain isn’t ringing true.

I can’t WAIT for the veep debate. I has to be more exciting than this snooze fest. At the very least it’s at least going to be entertaining watching Palin squirm and find novel ways to stall for time.

Ugh. Cindy McCain. That woman is scary beyond belief. Doesn’t matter how many Nancy Regan suits and ropes of pearls you put on that woman, she’s still going to scare people.

Wouldn't it be sweet if Walnuts and Cindy did a terrorist fist-bump right now?

So, who won? I say tie, but I’ll give Obama the edge because he did what he needed to do. He totally held his own against McCain, proved that he’s experienced, informed and “presidential.” McCain didn’t do anything wrong, but he also didn’t really gain any ground.

I say tie, too, I guess. Obama needs to warm things up a bit, and get a little more personal, but he did well -- definitely held his own, and then some. McCain did ok, too, for a total fucking wanker – better than he usually does. Although I think he seemed overly cold and unpleasant toward Obama, and folks might not like that.

I hate to say it, but Jim Lehrer was terrible tonight. I can’t wait to see Gwen Ifill go after Sarah Palin. I don’t know when I’ve ever been so excited about a debate. Sarah Palin is my Dan Quayle.

I say the real winner tonight was ANGRY EAGLE.



Ol’ Rip-Ass Coat Bitch (ORACB) and his wife share some Golden Olympic Moments

Anne: First of all, I want to point out that these Golden Olympic Moments are not brought to you by Chevy.

ORACB: Unless…Chevy, any time you want a piece of this action, just give us a call.

ORACB: “For this American team, it must be a little like waiting for Godot.” Ok, that’s my favorite comment so far. For sure.

Anne: Uh, what the fuck does that mean?

ORACB: Wow, who designed the women’s gymnastics uniforms?

Anne: I know. It’s like someone said, “Make me the ugliest leotards possible – I want shiny, bunchy unflattering material. Make it look like cheap Christmas wrap. Next, add random squiggles, sequins and rick-rack. Bottom line, I want something that can make even an 87 pound gymnast look chunky. Do it NOW!”

Anne: There’s a WEST Des Moines?

Anne: What was that 16.9 score for?

ORACB: Uhh, those two bars? Those two barry-things?

Anne: They’re called UNEVEN bars, Michael.

ORACB/Michael: Ok, those Chinese girls DO look like they’re eight. It might not just be American whining.

ORACB/Michael: Oh my god, look at Bella Lugosi. He’s going to rip Bob Costa’s head off.

Anne: Jesus, Michael, it’s not Bella Lugosi, it’s Bella Kolrolli or something like that.

Michael (I’m tired of typing ORACB): That girl might be seven.

Anne: I don’t know. Maybe all of the glitter and blue eye shadow is a wild attempt to make them look older. Seriously, someone couldn’t help them with that a bit?

NOTE: We just got our digital converter box, so tonight’s Olympic events are the inaugural run.

Michael: Can you tell any difference in the picture? I can’t tell any difference.

Anne: I think it looks good. Mostly I’m excited about all those PBS weather channels. I can’t think of anything better to sleep to – random NOAA maps with jazz or classical. Kiss your Advil PM goodbye!

Michael: Wouldn’t that be crazy if the third guy on this swimming relay would totally fuck it up?

Anne: “He’s sunk to the bottom of the pool! It’s like he’s completely forgotten how to swim!”

Anne: This is a really boring race – it’s not even close. It’s like watching the Cornhuskers play Ball State or something back in the good old days.

Michael: You know what I want to see? Just once I want to see them focus on the people who finish dead fucking last.

Michael: Russian Federation, fresh off their domination of the Georgians, coming in second.

Michael: I guess that Mark Spitz is kinda throwing a fit about not being invited and flown to the Olympics. Uh, dude why don’t you buy your own tickets to the Olympics?

Micahel: She’s six, right?

Anne: You’re just going to have to let it go, Michael.

Anne: Jesus Christ, I’m getting sick of these fucking smug-ass commentators – especially the guy with the higher-pitched voice. So, these are “really, just silly mistakes”? What the fuck does this guy look like, anyway? I’d like to see him up on the balance beam. In fact, I’d like to see him do one of those flips and land right on his nuts.

Michael: Attacking the beam – I wish that were literal. That would be something to see. ARRHGHHHH!

Michael: OHHHHH! Well, I guess she didn’t attack the beam that time.

Anne: You just yelled “OHHHHHH!” like one of the commentators would. I think someone has Olympic fever.

Michael: So, what are the other girls saying to her? “It’s ok, you just crushed all of our dreams, but that’s ok. Let’s still be friends.”

Michael: Let’s face it, if any of us, or them, would try to jump on that thing and get on a balance beam, we would bounce in the opposite direction, fall, break a bone and lie there screaming ARGH! ARGH! ARGH!”

Michael: “The balance beam comes back to bite again.” Maybe that’s my favorite comment, if just for the alliteration.

Anne: Ok, I’m about done. Can we turn the PBS weather channel on now?


2008 Beijing Olympics Review: Does this visor make me look younger?

Hey, where’s Laura? Probably got stuck on some cultural tour. Meanwhile…

“We told President Bush to stop by -- we’d just be here sitting around in our bikinis -- but we never thought he’d actually show up!”

2008 Beijing Olympics Review: “You just don’t take steps on your pommel horse dismount.”

If your family is like ours, you watch the Olympics less for the athletic events and more to mock the commentators, cheesy athlete profiles and leave-nothing-to-the imagination uniforms.

2008 promises not to disappoint from a mockability standpoint, although the opening ceremony was a little too classy for my taste.

But really, what opening ceremony can ever compete with the powerfully regal display from the Atlanta games, especially the “Traditions of the South” portion of the show. Remember the cheerleaders-in-the-back-of-pickup-trucks routine? What a great opportunity to show the world all that which makes our country great, like, underage floozies getting knocked up by rural meatheads in gas-guzzling 4x4s.

I know I had goose bumps.

Anyway, I’ve only been watching for about an hour, but I’ve already heard all of these old Olympic standbys:

“Tonight’s gold metal spotlight – brought to you by CHEVY!”

“Not at the Olympics.”

“You just don’t DO that at the Olympics!”


“Nailed it!”

“He just needs to get through it cleanly.”

And my favorite so far: “You just don’t take steps on your pommel horse dismount.”

We’ll try to post some of our favorite 2008 Olympic highlights.

In the meantime, if you’re having a hard time discerning the US athletes, check the hair. On men, if you see spikes in the font and much hair gel, it’s likely he’s a part of team USA. On women, look for chunky blond highlights.


Aldi’s Recipe Review: Beef Ragout

Ok, it really was beef stew, but ragout sounds a lot fancier.

It appears that Aldi’s fresh meat is “treated” or “injected” with some sort of “flavor-enhancing solution” that has lots of di-meth and di-ex and other chemicals that start with the prefix “di.” I’m very unhappy about this, since it means I’m unlikely to buy any more fresh meat at Aldi – and that really sucks because it is so fucking cheap.

I didn’t notice this unhappy meat situation in the store because I was so over-stimulated by my first Aldi’s experience. I’m easily over-stimulated in retail settings – my friend Gina once took me to Linens ‘N Things. That was five years ago. She has never shopped with me again. I mean it. She won’t enter a convenience store with me.

Anyway, despite my extreme displeasure about this jacked-up meat, I’d be more displeased to let food go to waste, so we decided to go ahead and eat the meat we purchased.

Here are the ingredients we used.

  • Adli “All Hopped Up On Goofballs” beef stew meat, about one pound. (This was like $2. Seriously. So sad.)
  • 3 T butter, courtesy of our friends at Roundy's.
  • 2 T Aldi “Carlini” Extra Virgin Olive Oil – I’ve had better olive oil, but if you’re cooking with it (as opposed to using it on salad or something) who gives a shit? “Carlini” olive oil is a blend and comes by way of the Spanish, Italians, and those wacky Greeks.
  • Four large Aldi russet potatoes, sliced. It’s a fine potato. I can’t think of anything funny to say about potatoes.
  • Four whole Aldi "Freshire Farms" carrots – not those bullshit ground-down “baby” carrots, either. Four macho carrots, sliced into coins.
  • One package Aldi mushrooms, sliced (I thought these looked better than Pick N Save mushrooms).
  • Three cloves garlic, minced.
  • No onions. In case you don’t know, our 13-year marriage is grounded on a solid foundation of onion hatred. You will never see an onion-related review on Summary Judgments.
  • 1/4 to 1/3 C Aldi “Morning Gold” baking mix – a Bisquick equivalent.
  • Approximately 2/3 C of red wine – from our refrigerator. It’s been there since New Year’s Eve. Maybe Thanksgiving.
  • Two 8 oz cans Aldi "Chef's Cupboard" beef broth.
  • 1/4 t Mace, from our pantry. Mace is a seriously underutilized spice. It is named after a medieval weapon after all, but it’s actually very nice in soups, stews, and egg dishes.
  • 1/4 t Allspice, also from our pantry. Clearly, Allspice has a brand manager. “Hey, which spice should we use? Well, looky here, it’s ALL-spice! That should do the trick!”
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Chopped parsley and paprika. Parsley and paprika make anything look better, particularly if your dish is suffering from pastiness or grayness.

I doubt anyone reading this is using it as an actual recipe, but if you want to know how to make it:

  • Brown the meat, mushrooms, and garlic in the butter and oil until browned and a bit crusty. (That crusty stuff on the bottom of the pan is called fond and it’s an excellent word to use in Scrabble because another player will almost always challenge it -- and nothing is better than a kicking a smug challenger’s ass when playing Scrabble.)
  • Add the flour and stir until smooth.
  • Add the wine and broth, stir until flour is fully integrated (no lumps).
  • Toss the rest of the shit in – simmer for an hour or so.
  • “Adjust the seasoning” as they say so often in my 1965 edition of The Joy of Cooking. (This edition also tells you how to dress and cook muskrat, raccoon, and bear meat. Just let me know if you want me to scan the recipes for you.)
  • Top with parsley and paprika.

Overall, the stew, er, ragout, was delish. The meat was tender, but how could it not be, as “injected” and “flavor-enhanced” as it was? I couldn’t really determine any difference in taste compared to untreated meat, but it’s the thought that counts. Overall, this recipe was as good as the something made with ingredients from swankier stores – you know, stores with bags and non-deposit carts, and without the underpants and jogging shorts for sale.

So in summary: Hopped up meat = serious bummer; all other Aldi products = cheap and serviceable; kick some Scrabble ass with fond; and let’s all try to show Mace a little more love.