- Stella and I, in our quest to have a cheap and easy birthday party for her that's not at our house (because that would eliminate "easy"), went and checked out the Rollerao Roller Rink in Cudahy and were so enchanted we walked out of there with a signed contract for her party. They're cheap ( $5 a kid includes admission and skates, I'll buy a coupla of pizzas separately) and wholesome and ready to go. (They enforce a dress code that disallows bare midriffs, spaghetti straps, etc -- basically you can't go in there looking like a Bratz doll.) We fell in love the large, polished wood floor instantly, with its carpeted walls to slam into, the DJ booth overseeing the whole matter, and the rows upon rows of rental skates. "I want to use my in-line skates," Stella said, eyeing the traditional skates with some trepidation. But I motioned to those oldschool skates and pointed out, "Yeah, but those are the kind of skates the Milwaukee Roller girls use at the roller derby." Oh, that's different. "I'll try those!"
And on the way home Thursday night, she spotted a radio station billboard for the former QFM (yeah, I know 93 has been "Smooth Jazz" for the past five years, but I so hate watered down, "smooth" jazz that I just pretended it didn't exist) which is now "B-93 -- Soft Rock," complete with buzzy bee logo. Stella asked "Is 'soft rock' lame?"
"You be the judge," I said, dialing in 93.3 on the FM dial in the car.
My friends, it wasn't five seconds before she said, "This is LAME! Hurry, get us Jules back! Turn on WMSE!"
It's times like these I know I will never have to worry about her idolizing the likes of Britney Timberlake Simpson Aguilera.
- I took my bass player Miles out to the Ian Hunter show, which was lovely. Hunter played some new stuff from his latest album, and being the old pro he is, deftly mixed in his hits. "I remember when I was young, thinking he was old, like 50 or something," a friend noted. And although he's pushing 70, he still looks and rocks like he's 50. He's always been 50, I suspect. He was 50 when I was 10, he was fifty when I was 20, he's 50 now and he'll be 50 when I'm pushing 70. Maybe its those sunglasses he's worn throughout his 50 years. The newer stuff was OK -- very WXRT or Radio Milwaukee fare -- good adult alternative stuff. But it was also nice to see him rock out on his hits. And these were only $10 tickets. Of course he did "All The Young Dudes," prefacing it with, "Well, I did a lot of the newer songs, but I know you're here to hear me play… well, what I'm gonna do."
- Afterwards, as promised, we hit Marlavours Marla's Karaoke (without Marla -- she had a prior engagement so Dave held down the fort) and it was sort of a "Loblolly Takes over the Karaoke Machine" as myself, Miles, and Andy Pagel did our best to monopolize the place. Pagel arrived shellshocked because he and his friend Colleen encountered wolves in the parking lot. "Swear to God, those were wolves out there," he said. I'm freaking out. I normally want to get walked to my car because I'm afraid of getting jumped by thugs, not wolves. Anyway, after his heart rate returned to normal, he delivered a "China Girl" that degenerated into "Andy Kaufman Sings Bowie." I finally got the noive to duet "The Lady Loves Me" with Dave (with Dave as Elvis and myself as Kitten-With-A-Whip-voiced Ann Margrock), but Miles the birthday boy pretty much took over on a flawless "Only The Lonely" (note to Mark Shurilla -- let Miles sing this with the Greatest Hits -- you and your audience will be glad you did) and then brought "Delilah" that would have brought Simon Cowell to his knees. There was one woman who did lots of Little Miss Firecracker Brenda Lee types songs, and somehow she got stuck with Midnight Train to Georgia before admitting she really didn't know the song. At the insistence of our crowd, I bailed her out halfway through the song, realizing that I'm no Gladys Knight, but I'd have made one hellava Pip.
- Before Brian ventured over to the House of Hamburg Saturday in his role as second guitar for the house band, Dr Chow's Love Medicine, we took the kids and their cousins for a walk at Milwaukee Recreation's "Halloween Glen." This is a very sweet alternative to haunted houses that MPS puts on: in the night the trails are lit by luminaria and there's a series of stations with folks dressed up as various forest critters and natural phenomenon, and they do little skits complete with groan-inducing puns, fun facts, and in some cases, a little interactive learning for the kids. Afterwards, the kids can snack on typical snack bar fare, hit the craft table and make decorations with gourds, or just drink some hot cocoa while watching ancient Casper The Friendly Ghost episodes. It's laid back and wonderful, and part of the fun is that you don't even park at Hawthorne Glen. You park in some lot behind the MPS Admim building on Vliet, and then load up the bus and they take you there, so its almost like a field trip. Sammy's still a little young to get what the whole nature thing is about -- his current obsession with Jurassic-era creatures manifested itself in his question answering: "What kinds of animals do you think like to eat these leaves?" "Dinosaurs!" Soon Stella will be too old for this, but I think she enjoys it because its become a family tradition: and every year, she loves saying "Hi" to the "Penguin Lady." This same bus chaperone has been working this event for years, and the first year we went Stella and her connected and hit it off. There's a lot to be said for doing the same thing every year even if you've outgrown it, because you never outgrow your need for consistency.