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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, Nov. 28, 2014

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Does it make you want to howl? Even just a little bit?
Does it make you want to howl? Even just a little bit?

Does the full moon really affect people?

There's a full moon tonight, and just now, while I was at the grocery store, I heard the usual small-talk conversation between strangers in line about how the full moon explains the nuttiness of the day. But do these people really mean it, or was that conversation no more than the "hot enough for ya?" banter I'll hear in the very same line next summer?

I heard that emergency rooms and police stations fill up during full moons, but no one has ever confirmed that as fact.

For me, however, if I pay attention, I believe the full moon does affect my behavior. I do feel a little more anxiety when the night orb is fat, and I almost always feel like having a strong drink or two this time of the month.

The only way I can make sense of it is if I accept that the moon affects the tides, and humans are mostly made up of water, then wouldn't the moon affect us, too?

Yep, smells like death.
Yep, smells like death.

Mortician confirms corpse flower smells like death

When people flocked to the Milwaukee Public Museum this week to get a whiff of the "corpse flower," they unanimously agreed that the flower emitted a putrid smell. However, few museum visitors could be certain the odor was actually like the smell of rotting flesh.

But Elaine Litzau knows for sure.

Litzau, a local funeral director, smells corpses on a regular basis. During a phone conversation, Litzau said it was "weird" how much the plant's odor actually smelled like that of a human corpse.

"I have experienced the smell of a deceased human body past its prime, and the ‘corpse flower’ does live up to its name," says Litzau.

When the museum’s corpse flower keeled over this weekend, most of the staff thought it was a goner. However, the flower recovered early this week and emitted the gag-inducing odor that, interestingly, many Milwaukeeans were waiting for.

Corpse flowers bloom as infrequently as once every 15 years, and then only for a matter of days, even hours. The plant's giant tuber usually produces a leaf up to 20 feet tall and sends up a large flower that can reach heights of eight feet or more.

The museum got this corpse flower in August 2002,  from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Brush up on your lists of hard words and buzz over to The Blotto Bee.
Brush up on your lists of hard words and buzz over to The Blotto Bee.

Who loves a drunk spelling bee?

A few years ago, I had the honor of hosting’s adult spelling bees at the now-defunct Room 434 and The Social, and if I learned one thing during this experience it’s that getting buzzed at a bee is a blast.

Hence, I am happy to blog that The Wicked Hop’s Jackalope Lounj, 345 N. Broadway, will launch the first Blotto Bee on Thursday, Nov. 13.

The Blotto Bee happens two Thursday nights a month: Nov. 13 and 20; Dec. 11 and 18; Jan. 8 and 15. (Two weeks on, two weeks off.) Registration begins at 7 p.m., and the Bee kicks off at 8.

Contestants each do one shot before spelling words that, primarily, come from popular culture. The event is hosted by Schoolmistress Susan and her accomplice, Tot Mama, apparently a hot lunch lady who distributes tater tots during intermission.

Registration for the Blotto Bee is $6 and covers one shot for every round you remain in, and a tip for the barkeep. (Admission is free for spectators.) First prize includes a $25 gift certificate to the Wicked Hop, a "Certificate of Achievement" and any confiscated items found in the bad kids’ lockers that week. Woo-hoo. 

Now that's a nice set of chompers.
Now that's a nice set of chompers.

Tantrums over teeth

Yesterday, I posted an article about tantrums, and later that day, I took my kids to the dentist where, lo and behold, I dealt with a nasty tantrum in the dentists' office.

Let me start by saying, my kids love going to the dentist. They love it as much as going to the Betty Brinn Children's Museum or Discovery World. Mostly, because they have never had a cavity, thanks to genetically strong enamel on their teeth.

However, when we arrived at the dentist yesterday, the receptionist informed me that my insurance company wouldn't cover my youngest son's appointment because he had a teeth cleaning less than six months ago.

Upon hearing this news, my kid burst into tears. Then he started wailing in the otherwise-quiet office, even threw a Highlights magazine on the ground and stomped on it. Between sobs he cried, "I want my dentist! I want my new toothbrush! I want to ride up and down on the chaaaaiiirr!"

The waiting room was filled with adults, none of whom looked the least bit excited about their future new toothbrush or chair ride. A couple of the patients and I caught eyes and smiled, just a little bit, because of the hilarity of someone being so damn upset over a canceled dentist appointment.

"I'm here for a root canal," said one guy. "I'd be happy to give up my appointment."

I didn't realize it at the time, but while my kid was melting down, the receptionist called my insurance company and got clearance for my son's dentist appointment since we were just a couple days shy of the six-month waiting period. When she told me the news, my son switched off his tantrum like a nightlight, and sat quietly in his chair.

"Yay," he said, smiling.

I was mixed with emotion. It was certainly nice and above-and-beyond  customer-friendly that the receptionist went to the trouble to have my son's dentist appointment approved, but at the same time, it reinforced to my son that a big, fat tantrum gets ya what ya want. Sigh.