Monthly Archives: November 2009

I seriously love this woman

People. I have issues. Serious ones. And they all revolve around her:


Holy smokes, there, Lady Gaga. Where are your clothes?

This is a still shot from a video for the song Love Game, which, in my best estimation, can really only be described as soft core porn. This song is on her album, The Fame, and I totally dig it. I dig it to the point that sometimes, in the car, my 7-year-old will say, “Hey Mom, can you turn on that disco stick song?” And I think, “Wow, that is totally inappropriate” while I am popping the cd in at the same time.

Despite my brother Tommy’s erroneous assertion that Lady Gaga’s Poker Face is one of the most annoying songs on the radio (even though he later admitted that he cannot seem to turn off  Paparazzi — he’s pretty old, you understand, he’s going senile), I cannot stop listening to this woman. I’m at the point where I am wondering when I can next take a long car ride, so I can listen to her music over and over and over all while singing into my thumb, which frankly is more embarrassing than getting caught picking a little snot out of your nose by the driver in the next car over.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, she went and did this to me:

What’s this? Awesome cover art you say?

Well, these are some of the pictures on her new album, The Fame Monster. Now, as far as albums go, it’s not much, as in, it’s only eight songs. It’s not so much a sophomore album as it is a few additional songs. But holy crap is it good. So so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so good. So good. Did I mention I like it?

The album came out on Monday, but I didn’t get a chance to go to the store. Later in the day, I mentioned to Jim, who was headed out to run a few errands, that if he happened to be somewhere where the album was on sale, go ahead and get it for me, you know, if you think of it. Jim is a smart man. He knew not to come home without that record, and he went to more than one store to find it.

The first song off the album is called Bad Romance, and the video for it is either one of two things: it is either as insanely upsetting as all get out, or it is amazingly cool.

Guess which one I think it is?

I have no idea what inspired my fascination with this woman. Listening to her newest album, it seemed that Lady Gaga is everything that Madonna would be if Madonna actually had, you know, talent. But while Madonna was all about shock and purposely acting sexual to illicit a response, Lady Gaga doesn’t seem to be acting. And damn, the woman can sing.

I admit it — I don’t necessarily “get” some of her stuff, particularly, her bizarre wardrobe that appears to be some kind of performance art. My co-worker Jerry, a 23-year-old who is already pretty afraid of me, practically shivered with fear when I marched into work last night with my new Lady Gaga cd in hand, ready to make every person at the Free Press fall in love with this woman the way I have. I do not think I was successful, but I did manage to listen to the new record twice.

But while I have no idea why this lady has a hold on me, I sure hope she sticks around, weird wardrobe and all.

I have this much to say though — I have a trip to Chicago tonight. So if you see a crazy woman in a red Civic singing at the top of her lungs on the Stevenson, that’s me.


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Who wears short shorts?

I’m fairly intrigued by the latest “controversy” regarding one Mrs. Sarah Palin and that nasty, mean, lefty media. I mean, I don’t know if this new “scandal” has been dubbed with a name followed by the word “gate,” but let’s give it a try. Covergate? Picturegate? Short-short-gate. Yes, I like that one.

The unfair, sexist, demeaning SHORT-SHORT-GATE, which started with this snapshot:

We’ve all seen this by now, right? Sarah Palin posed for this photo for a story about running in Runner’s World. Then, Newsweek took this photo and pasted it on their cover, with the phrase, “How do you solve a problem like Sarah Palin?” written next to it.

Now, before I go on, I want to explain a little something. I have a bit of respect for Sarah Palin. More so, in my opinion, than a lot of people who actually support her political cause (whatever that may actually be). Go hopping around from site to site, and you’ll find a lot of people talking about the former Alaska Governor, about what a nice person she is and how she has such great values and morals and how she stands for conservatism. Those same people will note that she is attractive and young! She was a beauty queen! Heck, just this morning, I saw a few women on MSNBC talk about how they like her because she “speaks her mind.” Ladies. I speak my mind. Do you want to buy my book?

Those types of comments are about as far as they ever go. No one ever takes note of her actual accomplishments. And while I don’t think her political accomplishments come anywhere near close to giving her international credibility that she seems to hold (or at least crave), I do know that being the mayor for a town of 6,000 people is a really hard job. I sit in city council meetings every other week for the city of Braidwood, Illinois, and you know what? That mayor and those commissioners don’t have it easy.

After running Wasilla, Sarah Palin managed to become the first female governor of Alaska by beating the incumbent governor in the primary. People, that’s nothing to shake a stick at. That’s good stuff. And yes, she did accomplish a few things in office, for the little time she spent there. And in case you forgot, she was the first female VP nominee for the GOP. And while she couldn’t seem to answer simple questions from Katie Couric, she did hold her own with Joe Biden. So good for her.

Of course, she’s also a big whiny quitter. But let’s go back to the photo.

Of the thousands of photos of Sarah Palin to choose from, Newsweek chose one of her in shorts that probably accent her cheeks when she turns the other way. Mrs. Palin has responded by crying foul, or, more accurately, crying sexism! And I gotta admit, I think she has a point.

Joan Walsh at Salon noted that hell has frozen over  regarding this one — she agrees with Palin. Walsh argues that Sarah Palin is, in fact, very professional, and what she would wear to a Newsweek shoot and a Runner’s World shoot are quite the opposite. I agree. Walsh also notes that while Palin is obviously attractive, that is something her supporters and critics play up, not something she ever introduced. She certainly never campaigned in short-shorts. Walsh also notes the headline, “How do you solve a problem like Sarah Palin.” It is a take from the song “How do you solve a problem like Maria” from The Sound of Music, where Maria is just too flighty to control. I think it is actually pretty fair to say that if Newsweek were portraying a male GOP representative who is causing the party problems, like say, GleN Beck, they certainly wouldn’t find a saucy photo of him (though Time did find an extremely unflattering one).

But, all that said, there is ONE thing about this photo that makes me ok with its use on the cover of Newsweek. I do think it is sexist. I really do. But you know what the problem is? Here, look again:

Take a look at Sarah’s left arm there. It’s perched on an American Flag, draped over a chair in what appears to be Sarah Palin’s home office.

If Sarah Palin took this photo for Runner’s World, and meant it for and only for the issue of promoting running and health and fitness… then why the hell is she using the American Flag as a prop? Am I to believe that THIS is where she keeps her flag regularly, and she just happened to say, hey, let’s take the photo here, in my natural environment. While I don’t think that the picture was necessarily appropriate for Newsweek, I don’t think it was necessarily appropriate for Runner’s World either.

Sarah Palin wraps herself in her patriotism to the point that she literally uses it as a political crutch. Look at her. She’s not standing there, saying, LOOK AT ME, I’M A RUNNER. She’s standing there saying, LOOK AT ME, I’M A PATRIOT WHO RUNS TOO! When Sarah Palin took this photo, she exploited the American Flag to sell her position. Promoting a healthy lifestyle isn’t just non-partisan, it’s not a patriotic issue either. With this photo, Sarah Palin proved that she’ll use the flag to promote herself and any cause she believes in, even a cause not specific to the left or the right or the United States entirely. But when someone else uses the photo, which shows that she’ll use the flag to promote herself, she claims it’s unfair. And THAT is the point of the story. Sarah Palin, with her mixed messages and her contradictory behavior, is a problem for the GOP.

Sarah Palin is smart. She knows that sooner or later, someone would cry foul for HER posing for a picture in Runner’s World using the flag as a prop. So she struck first, crying SEXISM. Now everyone is so wrapped up in the controversy about her in her Daisy Dukes, people managed to turn a blind eye to her pimping out the American Flag.

Governor Palin, if you don’t want people to “misuse” photos of you, then stop posing for pictures expressing your patriotism when they are supposed to be pictures expressing your good health. I mean, I would kill for those legs — but you brought this on yourself.


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26 years later, justice for Jeanine

I feel the need to point out first that this post is a 180 degree turn from several of my recent, more light-hearted posts. But something that I have never, ever forgotten about was finally “settled” this week, as best as it could be. Of the people who generally respond to my blog, I imagine my parents, my siblings, and my friend Jacki probably have had similar feelings about this.

On Wednesday, November 11, a man named Brian Dugan was sentenced to death in DuPage County, Illinois, for the 1983 murder of Jeanine Nicarico.

This is Jeanine:


At any time in the past 26 years, no matter where I was in life, you could have flashed this picture in front of me, and I would know exactly who it was.

I always felt a little bit tied to Jeanine. In 1983, she was a 10-year-old girl from Naperville. I was a 9-year-old from the neighboring town of Wheaton. If I were to pull out my school picture from that year, you would see the same thing — a cute little girl, toothy smile, 80’s appropriate attire (I am pretty sure I had one of those ruffle collared shirts, too!). Hair parted in the middle, bangs askew. Wide eyed and happy. Jeanine’s parents even had the same names as my parents, Pat and Tom. By all accounts, Jeanine and I, as well as Jeanine and all my girlfriends, could have been one in the same.

On February 26, 1983, Jeanine was home sick from school with the flu. At lunchtime, her Mom came home from her job and made Jeanine a grilled cheese sandwich. I remember as a child hearing that she had also given the girl some ice cream as a treat before heading back to work, but I don’t know why that detail stuck in my head. When her family returned home later in the day, the door had been kicked in and Jeanine was gone. Two days later, two men who were walking along the Illinois Prairie Path found Jeanine’s body. She had been raped, sodomized and beaten to death with a baseball bat or tire iron. Apparently, Brian Dugan cannot remember what he hit her with.

Dugan said he had been cruising the Naperville neighborhood for a home to burglarize, but instead decided to take Jeanine when he found her home alone. If my memory of how the crime happened serves me correctly, Jeanine ran through the house to get away from Dugan. She left scratches on the wall trying to claw her way away from him. He punched her in the face and broke her nose. Dugan took Jeanine out to the Prairie Path and assaulted her on an old sleeping bag. When he was finished, he told her he would clean her up and take her home. Instead, he beat her to death. When she was found, she was face down, wearing only a t-shirt in the cold Illinois winter.

I am someone who has always been against the death penalty. A lot of people might assume that being anti-death penalty is just part of being a democrat, which clearly I am. But the fact is, the Jeanine Nicarico murder case is the reason I am against the death penalty. Because despite the fact that Brian Dugan confessed to this crime in 1985, getting him sentenced was a two-decade long ordeal. In that time, three other men were wrongly accused of Jeanine’s murder, and two of them were convicted of the crime. When the convictions were thrown out, two of them were tired and convicted AGAIN, and sent to death row for a second time. DNA and recanted testimony eventually cleared the men, but not until after they lost years of their life to prison.

The Jeanine Nicarico case is one of the main contributors to the current moratorium on enforcing the death penalty in Illinois, a moratorium imposed by Republican Governor George Ryan (before he was convicted of corruption), upheld by Democrat Governor Rod Blagojevich (before he was ousted for alleged corruption) and still upheld by the current governor, Democrat Pat Quinn. Despite party affiliation or any other scandal that may or may not surround the governors of Illinois, the mess caused by this case is so substantial that no one is ready to start executing prisoners again. That, even though the DuPage County prosecutors who ignored Dugan’s confession and pursued prosecutions against Rolando Cruz and Alejandro Hernandez for Jeanine’s murder were ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing.

In his summation of the current case, DuPage County Prosecutor Joe Birkett noted that there was never any physical evidence against Cruz and Hernandez. Cruz was ultimately pardoned in 2002. I remember watching an interview with him after he was released. He was still a teenager when he went into prison, and was in his 30’s when he was exonerated. He lost so much of his life. I know he had some trouble readjusting, but am sorry to say I have no idea what ever became of him, except that he and Hernandez did settle a civil suit with the county for $3.5 million in 2000.

Brian Dugan, meanwhile, was easy to access the whole time. He was serving life sentences for two other murders, that of 7-year-old Melissa Ackerman, and 27-year-old Donna Schnorr. Dugan ran Schnorr, a nurse who was on the way home, off the road in 1984, abducted her, raped her and murdered her. In 1985, Dugan grabbed Melissa and her friend Opal as the girls were riding their bikes. Opal manged to get out of his grip and run. As she turned, Dugan was driving away with her friend in the car. Last month, Opal told the jury charged with sentencing Dugan that the last time she saw Melissa, she was banging on the back window of Dugan’s car and screaming for help as he drove away. Opal ran to a neighbor’s house, hysterical. Melissa’s body was found later, raped and beaten to death.

After his convictions, Dugan confessed to Jeanine’s murder. But he wouldn’t make a formal confession unless he could be guaranteed that he would not receive the death penalty. Despite the fact that Dugan knew details of the crime that had not been released, despite the fact that there was no evidence against Cruz and Hernandez, despite the fact that Dugan had killed two other people, one  a little girl, in the exact same manner, prosecutors balked at his claim. For 22 years. Then, in 2005, Joe Birkett announced that DuPage County was indicting Dugan. I remember it very clearly — I turned to my husband and said, “Wow, I wonder what office Joe Birkett is running for.” Sure enough, within weeks, Birkett announced that he was running for Lt. Governor, a race he eventually lost. I’m just sayin….

Over the years, Brian Dugan has proven himself a nasty little piece of humanity, the worst of what this species can offer. He’s been manipulative, changing religions while in prison for the express reason of changing his diet to get better food. “I heard the kosher diet was better, so I switched my affiliation. Now I’m the only agnostic Jew in the jail,” Dugan wrote in a letter that was read to jurors. Dugan argued that he should be spared from the death penalty, because had he not confessed, two innocent men might have stayed on death row (how sweet of him, I guess). Dugan also filed frequent grievances against the prison where he was housed, complaining about things such as the poor quality of the paper in a copier used by inmates. He has not been remorseful for any of his crimes, even once stating that Jeanine’s murder “went as perfectly as the others, but something was wrong… I felt like I was going to get caught.” People assume that by “the others” he meant Melissa and Donna, but since he murdered them AFTER Jeanine, and he did get caught for those murders, I really don’t know what that means.

What I do know, however, is that I look at myself every day, and I find something wrong. My hair is grey, my thighs are big, my belly jiggles when I walk. I worry about money and the car breaking down. I snicker at people at the gym. I talk to my sister for hours on the telephone. I go to work. I poke my husband as he snores in his sleep. I blog. I snuggle with my sons every day. This is what Jeanine should be doing too. But she’s not. Brian Dugan took it away from her.

I remember my mother being affected deeply, worrying about me and my sister when we went out, the safety of her suburbia snatched away a bit. I went from seeing the case through the eyes of a child, to a teen, to an adult, to a mother myself. When Jeanine was murdered, I thought, “That’s kind of sad.” I went on to high school, to prom, to boyfriends. I went to college and lived with awesome friends and enjoyed nights that lasted until dawn and jobs in exciting cities. I moved around. I settled down. All the things that other women born in the early 1970’s did. Except for Jeanine. She never got the chance. When Brian Dugan was sentenced to death, I cried for Jeanine, and for the loss of the life she never got to have. For her husband. For her children. For the sweet normal boredom that she never got to enjoy.

I don’t believe in the death penalty. But in the case of Brian Dugan, I wish Illinois would lift the moratorium and bring back the electric chair. Then maybe fry him twice.


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Coolest job ever

I find myself lately being completely engrossed with pop culture. Now, I have no idea if the things I seem to like are actually COOL pieces of pop culture, or if they are just popular nonsense that get lots of airtime. For example, I know that there is nothing cool about, say, Paris Hilton. Or, for that matter, Perez Hilton (seriously, he not smart or witty, he’s just kind of an ass). I thought maybe I had struck cool gold when I discovered my love for Lady Gaga, but some say I have missed the mark. Of course, they are wrong, but I digress.

Jim and I can both fall victim to these bizarre pieces of pop culture. These things that come from nowhere, with no credibility, with no reason for becoming popular, in ways that simply make no sense. And we cannot take our eyes off of them.

Enter Khloe Kardashian.


Well, hey there Khloe! Good to see you and your obscenely tall frame and your non-Kardashian nose.

Until recently, Jim and I had no idea who the Kardashians were, or why anyone would want to keep up with them. They were simply fun fodder for The Soup. Then an awesome thing happened. We were watching an episode of The Soup, and when it ended, neither of us could find the remote. Rather than get up and walk across the room to change the TV, we succumbed to the next show airing on E! network. And that show was Kourtney and Khloe take Miami. Holy awesome awesomeness, it was so so so so bad. So bad it was good. So bad it hurt. It hurt so bad, and we loved it.

Here’s what I know about the Kardashians. Their father, the late Robert Kardashian, Sr.,  was one of OJ’s lawyers. They are rich. They are some type of socialites, like the currently un-cool Paris Hilton. They definately model, though I’m not sure they would be considered “models.” Their mother is named Kris, and she is married to Bruce Jenner, with whom she had two more daughters who she also gave “K” names to who are on the fast track for their own reality show, but their last name is Jenner so it has to be something cute and quippy with a “J” instead of a “K.” Like, Jihad with the Jenners, though I doubt that will fly. That’s all I know. I do not know why the Kardashians have a reality show, but I can say that about everybody with a reality show. So that’s not much.

Now, lots of people, if they were to choose a Kardashian, would choose Kim or Kourtney. I mean, Kim was famous first, for, as Joel McHale explains, having a big ass and a sex tape. And she is really pretty:


This is her Wikipedia picture, and dare I say it, she’s smouldering!

And then there is the incredibly tiny and adorable Kourtney Kardashian:


Of course, of the countless pictures of her, I chose one where she is wearing entirely too much eye makeup. But I think you get the picture. She is cute as a button. And pregnant! And not married! Oh, a reality show baby born out of wedlock and in the heart of sweeps. AWESOME!

But forget those girls. I chose the youngest daughter. The impossibly tall Khloe.


Look at that! She’ standing, like, a FOOT behind her sisters. Holy cow. I mean, I would not be surprised if she has a complex that makes her scream “GET IT YOURSELF” when someone asks her to reach up for something on a high shelf.

Now, I have not watched this show enough to know if Khloe has gotten less airtime than her sisters, or if she is the picked on one, or if she is less “celebrated” for her lack of a big ass and a sex tape or a pre-marital baby. But this weekend, they did a big show where she married Lamar Odom, an LA Laker who she had known for a month. And Jim and I could NOT TEAR OURSELVES AWAY FROM THE TV. The best part — they got married on Sept. 27… Jim’s birthday. IT. IS. A. SIGN!!!


Do you think part of the reason she married him is because he is taller than her?


Meh, who cares. They’re in LOVE, and they have the awesome ratings to prove it!

Jim feels shame. I feel none. You are my new favorite socialite Khloe. And that is the coolest job ever.


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Keeping with my juvenile theme, I am beginning to wonder two things: 1) How is it that I managed to find a husband who is such a good fit for me, and 2) When are we going to hell, because we are so going there.

Tonight I went to the gym for a little weight lifting and high intensity intervals, though you would never guess it from the size of my rear and my extra cushiony spare tire. In my defense, this is Illinois, and it gets cold here in the winter, so I really need the extra blubber. It’s a survival mechanism.

Anyway, I usually go with Jim to the gym. Just to go off topic for a moment, I love that Jim and gym are homonyms, and I play it up often. I call his gym bag his “you bag.” I say, “I need to go to the ‘you’ and exercise” and “I need a new pair of ‘you’ shoes.” God forbid he ask me where his gym bag is, because the answer is, “All your bags are Jim bags.” Being 35 is no excuse to stop being immature.

ANYWAY, I usually go with Jim to the gym. But tonight I had to go alone. And in my solitude, I realized that I enjoy working out with him for many reasons, not the least of which is because it is far easier to make fun of people with him than it is alone.

For example, when we are there together, we notice other couples. There is the couple where the man is a lot younger and better looking than the woman who we assume is his wife. Naturally, they are “Disproportionate Couple.” There’s the trainer who himself is quite portly, AKA, “Fun Fat Trainer.” There’s the racquetball guy who wears what appears to be professional racquetball attire, or, as we call him, “Professional Pants Guy.” His partner looks at me a lot (I had Jim check him out checking me out to make sure I wasn’t just seeing things. He said for sure he was checking me out. He likes a little meat on his ladies, it appears). Unfortunately, he has kind of a skeevy vibe, hence his nickname, “Serial Killer.”

There’s the guy who looks like the character of John Locke from “Lost.” We just call him “John Locke.”

Our favorite is the couple who come in matching outfits. They are outrageously good-looking, bodies to envy, dazzling looks, great hair even while sweating. Once, when he smiled, I swear his teeth twinkled. Like us, they freely give the evil eye to pretty much everyone who walks past. Unlike us, they don’t even make an attempt to hide it. They are the best looking people there, and they know it. So naturally, we call them, “A Couple of A-Holes.”

So there I was tonight, longing for my husband’s companionship. Why? Well, tonight I was graced with the trifecta: Shaved Legs Guy in front of me, Velour Pants Guy next to him, and next to me, Steam Engine Guy. I call him that because the weights he lifts are outrageously heavy, and when he exhales, he goes “ppfffffftttt” like a steam engine. His last rep usually has an unbelievably long “pppfffffffffffffffffffftttttttttttttt,” as if he’s just pulled into the station and stopped. It’s everything I have to not start singing the theme from “Thomas the Tank Engine.”

It makes me wonder — how exactly will this come around for me? Because we know that’s where this is headed. You cannot possibly snicker about this many strangers without karma, or fate, or kismet, or whatever you call it, biting you in the rear. The rather large rear, as it is these days. I wonder what these people call me. “Stretch Pants Girl” or “Big Boobs” or “Twisted Nipples” (they are always pointed in different directions, and the gym lights really highlight it) or “Ass Sweat Girl” (wiping off the mat can be embarrassing).

Whatever it is, I totally deserve it. And it won’t stop me from coming up with nick names, especially when “Stupid Bandana Girl” and “Talks on Her Cell Phone” are on bikes RIGHT NEXT to each other. Oh yes, my uppance shall come. I can’t wait.

UPDATE – No sooner had I posted this than did Jim walk through the door. He went to workout later than I did since we couldn’t go together tonight. He looked at me and said, “Well, A Couple of A-Holes were there. So was Do-Rag Guy. And Blue Jeans and Flip Flops Guy was on the stairclimber!”

We are so going to hell.


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Acting like an adult is for poop heads

Case in point, Halloween.

What is more awesome? This pumpkin, as carved by Jim:


Or this one, as carved by ME:


Seriously, which of these two jack-o-lantern creations do you think caused children from age 7 to 17, and their parents, to squeal with laughter and delight, and which one just sat on the front porch? Hmmmmmm?

If you cannot be juvenile on Halloween, when can you do it?



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