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Uncle Larry will play a free show!
Uncle Larry will play a free show!

Crazy-fun event benefits mental illness group

My friend Peter Hoeffel is the executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), a fantastic local organization that provides mental health education, support and advocacy. Peter sent me an e-mail today about a FREE and awesome-sounding special event that NAMI is hosting tomorrow night and I wanted to pass ‘er along.

Creativity Heals will take place at the Turner Hall Ballroom, 1034 N. 4th St., on Friday, Nov. 12. The event will feature Milwaukee band Uncle Larry, a performance by the local hula-hoop troop Hoop Vive, spoken word artists and a two-act play about suicide and bipolar disorder called "Pieces In My Own Voice." Plus, 10 local artists will sell their visual art and food and drinks will be available.

The doors open at 5 p.m. and the performances start at 6. The event is free, but donations are accepted and all proceeds go to help NAMI Greater Milwaukee.

The bat-shaped chip. Impressive, eh?
The bat-shaped chip. Impressive, eh?
The arrow-shapped chip. No extra nibbling took place to create this.
The arrow-shapped chip. No extra nibbling took place to create this.
The pig-shaped chip is not mine. I ganked it from the Internet.
The pig-shaped chip is not mine. I ganked it from the Internet.

Chips shaped like people and things

A few years ago, I remember reading an article about a woman who found a potato chip featuring the image of Jesus. Also, I heard of a pig-shaped chip for sale on eBay as well as a cornflake in the shape of Illinois that actually sold.

Lately, I have become one of these wack-a-doos tapped into the world of chip imagery. In the past couple of weeks, I discovered a blue corn chip in the shape of a bat (just days before Halloween, mind you) and last night at Conejito’s, I found a tortilla chip in the spitting image of an arrow.

I always enjoyed a good game of "look what that cloud looks like" both during my own childhood and now with my kids. I swear, I have seen clouds in the form of a kangaroo, a VW Beetle and George Carlin.

But this chip aberration is new for me. Artform or borderline mental ilness? Who cares! I have a whole bag of red hot El Rey chips at home and I can't wait to see who / what is inside.

The McRib: Naturally supersized since 1981.
The McRib: Naturally supersized since 1981.

The McRib: cultish and delicious or just plain weird?

I have eaten very little meat since August’s cheeseburger eating challenge, but I just might hork down a McRib sandwich this week. Not because the pressed meat patty that's made to look like it contains bones sounds particularly appealing, but because McDonald’s McRib is cropping up repeatedly in my daily life. It’s getting creepy.

It started with the billboards. I normally don’t consciously pay attention to McDonald’s marketing, but for some reason, the McRib campaign this time around really captures my attention. I thought I  filtered out the tragically stale word "awesome" when used in all forms of written and verbal communication, but for some reason, when positioned in a McRib tagline, the word leaps out at me and practically tackles me to the ground and force feeds me the faintly tangy pork (ish) patty.

Then, my new coworker, Bob Purvis, writes his blog biography and --lo and behold -- he lists the McRib as one of his interests. So I ask him about it, and it turns out, he has a somewhat complicated relationship with the rib-resembling McHoagie. It’s not that he really craves the sandwich, but friends keep showing up with bags of ‘em to suck down during football games. It’s irony slathered in onions. I get this.

Then, I discussed the McRib with Kramp and Adler on our Thursday morning "Heat Index" segment. Through this riveting banter, I learn that Adler dated the girl whose dad invented the machine that forms the patty into the fake rib shape. (Why oh why are the "ribs" only on one side of the patty?)

Finally, my possessed fingers start Googling the McRib and I learn there is a Cult of McRibbies out there. One fan-wich invented a McRib locater. Another guy went on a McRib tour, and drove from New York City to St. Louis, devouring a pork (ish) patty at every Mickey D’s along the way.

Through my fake rib research, I really got the skinny on this 26-fat-grammed sammy. The McRib was introduced in 1981 as a permanent menu item. In 1985, due to dicey s…

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Midlife Isis: Is divorce contagious?

About a decade ago, it seemed like everyone I knew was getting married. One summer, I attended eight weddings. Then, a few years later, it was baby showers. I went to dozens every calendar year. And now, the divorce phase seems to be crashing on shore, with lots of couples I know going under after seven, 10, even 13 years of marriage.

Is there a ripple effect when it comes to life’s phases? Are these milestones contagious?

Starting with the weddings, it seems that once a couple or two get engaged, the idea sparks in lots of peoples' heads. Some couples are a great match and truly in love, but for others, the love is more of a fondness, dependence, lust or response to a pressure that "everybody’s doing it" so it must be time to settle down.

Later, these are the couples that will do one of three things: stay together unhappily, stay together and busy themselves in kids and / or activities, or move on in seek of more.

The latter is difficult to do. It’s much easier for some friends and family members to understand -- and not judge -- divorce when someone’s, say, being abused. However, it’s more difficult for some people to wrap their minds around a separation that resulted from boredom, lack of passion, lost communication or the realization that one wasn’t really in love with their spouse / the idea of getting married but did it anyway.

And like marriage, when one couple finally admits they're done, they usually pave the way for at least one or two more couples to step forward and do the same.

It's arguable that 'these days," some people are more in touch with their emotions -- through mainstream acceptance of therapy and New Age-ish books and films that get people thinking -- and therefore they are not as willing to fake it or live inside marriage myths that perpetuate the lie that there is always a honeymoon phase that fizzles out or that married people don’t have as much sex.

There are more people out there sharing their honest thoughts and sayi…

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