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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, April 18, 2014

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Costco is on the corner of I-43 and Highway 60 in Grafton.
Costco is on the corner of I-43 and Highway 60 in Grafton.

My first trip to Costco

On Thursday night, I went to Costco -- the one in Grafton -- for the first time. A few people raved about it in the past, so when my mother-in-law invited me to tag along, I eagerly accepted.

From my limited perspective, is wasn't very different from Sam's Club, except it sells gas -- which was an unimpressive $4.15 a gallon -- and might offer a few more organic items. (I haven't been to Sam's in a while, so perhaps they've started stocking more organic items in the past year or so.)

Basically, I have the same problem with both Sam's and Costco: I don't want to spend $41 on Brita filters, even if I get 10 of them and it's a good deal. I simply can't get excited about  dropping that size portion of my weekly budget on water filters.

On the up side, I enjoyed seeing the Roomba ($279.99) after reading about the robotic vacuum in this week's Recommends. Plus, the organic milk was not necessarily a stellar deal, but the expiration dates weren't until Aug. 17.

I admit I had fun looking at all of the massive bags of pita chips and bottles of syrup, along with leather couches and endless rolls of toilet paper, but I really don't think I would pop for a Costco membership because there just wasn't enough there to excite me.

Did I miss something?

Wooden split extender earrings by Coconut Jewelry.
Wooden split extender earrings by Coconut Jewelry.
I bought a pair at Summerfest ...
I bought a pair at Summerfest ...
... even though I wanted the nose ring / earring combo like one-hit-wonder popstar Jane Child wears.
... even though I wanted the nose ring / earring combo like one-hit-wonder popstar Jane Child wears.

This Summerfest souvenir gives me an earful

Last week, the editorial staff went down to Summerfest with a crisp, company-issued $20 bill, and tried to find something ridiculous and fun to buy. After we returned with our baubles, we each wrote about our purchase for an article.

I had my caricature done -- something I would never do if I were footing the bill -- but originally I wanted to spend my Jackson on a piece of jewelry that I had seen for sale at previous Summerfests.

I really wanted to find the nose ring that connects via thin silver chain to your earring. I always thought it was completely ridiculous, but for the sake of the assignment, I thought it would fit perfectly into the theme. Sadly, I could not find this.

Every few years, there’s a new ear gimmick -- remember the ear cuff a few years ago? -- and yesterday, while I was at Summerfest with my kids, I found new earring gadgets that I truly like.

This year (and maybe last?), the big thing in festival ear wear is wooden earrings that appear like you have large holes -- called "gauges" -- in your ears. These earrings, called "wooden split expanders," are made by Coco Loco Jewelry, retail for about $20-30, and come in a variety of styles. They are made from a variety of woods, and some are even made from coconuts, hence the name.

Years ago, I started the process to stretch out the holes in my ears and wore earrings called "flesh tunnels," but after having kids, I decided I didn’t want anything on my body stretched out and I took them out.

Now, however, I can have the appearance of gauged ears without actually going through the pain or process. Thanks, Summerfest, for continuously providing us with the latest in trendy ear adornments.


15 minutes at the Big Gig and 2 brushes with "the law"

I went to Summerfest multiple times this year with adults, and today, I took my kids. Needless to say, it was quite a different experience.

Our visit didn’t start out on the best foot. Before going through the turnstiles to have our tickets zapped, we went through security. I had my "mom" backpack, filled with sweatshirts, snacks, (empty) water bottles, sun screen, Matchbox cars and the like, so the security gal made me step to the side so she could dig through the contents of my bag and make sure I wasn’t hiding a weapon in my peanut-filled Ziploc.

My husband and other son cruised through the entrance and were already waiting for us inside the gates.

I handed our remaining two tickets to my older son so I could help security go through my belongings, and in the meantime, Kai noticed a barrel with a plastic lid on it with a slit in the top. It was entirely too tempting, I guess, and he slipped the tickets through the slit -- a perfect fit! -- and into the barrel. When he told me what he had done in a quiet little voice I didn’t think it was a big deal, until security told me the barrel was filled with confiscated weapons (mostly switchblades) and that it was locked. She had to call the head of security to open it up, and said it might take a while.

Looking through the slit into the barrel, I could see two crisp tickets on top of a pile of knives. I asked if we could be let in anyway and they could scan the tickets whenever the head security dude arrived. Another security guy said no because they weren’t certain my tickets were valid. I was annoyed, but understood "rules are rules."

Luckily, after about 10 minutes, two official looking security men came, unlocked the barrel and handed us our tickets. We joined my  husband and son -- as well as a couple of friends -- and tried to put this near fiasco behind us.

We started our day at the stage and watched the Blood Stones play a cover by the Black Cr…

Former Milwaukeean John Kruth now lives in New York City.
Former Milwaukeean John Kruth now lives in New York City.

Summerfest: 5 things I miss, 6 improvements I dig

I've been to Summerfest every year since I was born (according to my parents), and here are 11 thoughts on the Big Gig. 

Five things I wish were still at Summerfest:

1.    The Midway  -- I love the glitzy eye candy of a carnival. I miss seeing the Ferris wheel at night while sitting on the rocks next to the lake.
2.    Sprecher beer -- I always started off a Summerfest evening with a Sprecher.
3.    The old fountain -- The new splash pad just doesn’t do it for me.
4.    Cup stacking – As stated in an earlier blog, it seems cup-stacking is out.
5.    John Kruth -- Kruth and his mighty mandolin were a Summerfest staple. (Herbie Hancock at the Miller Oasis was classic, too.)

Six "new" things at Summerfest that I really like:

1.    The Marcus Amphitheater ("The Amp") – The old "main stage" on the north end of the grounds blows in comparison.
2.    The Harley Stage remodel -- Much more open and inviting; easy to navigate through.
3.    The addition of screens at smaller stages -- Great idea for those of us who don’t always feel like weaseling our way to the front.
4.    Continual growth of kids’ activities -- Keep going, Summerfest. National kids' bands would be great.
5.    Lakefront Brewery I.P.A. -- I heart this beer and am thrilled it’s available this year.
6.    Lakeshore State Park -- You can’t get to it from inside the Summerfest grounds, but if you access this 17-acre park jutting out into the lake from the entrance next to Discovery World, it creates an interesting perspective of the Big Gig.