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I wanna be a Brew City Bruiser

Since the very first time I heard about the Brew City Bruisers, Milwaukee's first all-girl roller derby league, I wanted to join. I must admit, my desire to be on the team has nothing to do with skating. Nor am I interested in the rules of the game or even the camaraderie among women.

Instead, my interest festers in the opportunity to rename myself something bad ass.

Roller derby players, as you may know, take on an alter ego personality, and pick new names for themselves like Killary Clinton, Smashalina Jolie, Dolly Post-Parton, Althea Inhell, Pound Anya and so on.

I love to name stuff -- most girls do -- and I spent weeks figuring out what my roller derby name would be if I joined the team. After trying on a few, I think I nailed it. Molly Ringworm. I even wrote a little tagline for myself. Molly Ringworm: She'll infest your ass.

Once I got myself a name, I started envisioning myself playing the game, and realized I needed opponents for my imaginary team. So I asked my friends if they wanted to join the all-in-my-mind roller derby team.

The response has been fantastic. A bunch of girls admitted to secretly wanting to join the derby, but didn't have enough time or guts to actually do it. Hence, they were thrilled to be a part of my figmental group.

So far I have recruited Anita Beat-you, Renee Killweger, Crystal Meth ("I'm gonna "f--k" with yer head!"), Maggie Maggots and Heather Lockfear. Now we just have to dream up our team uniform, fabricate a bunch of fictitious practices, visualize a few rink-related injuries and we're ready to roll.

Annoyed by IKEA

I went to IKEA today for the sixth or seventh time in my life. We usually go to the one in Schaumburg, Ill., but I have also hit the San Francisco and Atlanta IKEA while visiting friends and family. Before today, I was just as gung-ho as the next guy, loving the Euro emporium down to the very last umlaut.

But today was different. I think it was because we wanted to buy large pieces of furniture, instead of spontaneously tossing funsy-shaped gadgets and bags of cheap tea lights into our cart. Prior to this trip, I hadn't gone on a shopper's mission; rather, I went simply to enjoy the IKEA experience, with a few things in mind that I may or may not buy. (Although I did go just to buy a bunch of those colorful circle rugs once.)

Trying to buy furniture is a full-blown pain in the booty. After mulling over a myriad of bunkbeds and mattresses, we picked our favorites, and then diligently wrote down the item numbers so we would be able to find them in the self-serve furniture section downstairs. (Might I add the bunkbeds are for my boys, not for me and my husband. Phew.)

Then we went to the main floor to find our items, but after wandering around with a cart and a dolly for a while, realized they were sold out of the bunks, and the mattresses were not in the aisle that the computer said that they were.

The staff -- although bubbly in a way only someone who has never paid a heating bill can be -- was not particularly helpful.

We had already been disappointed by the fact they were sold out of pee-proof mattress pads and most of the flat twin sheets (always plenty of fitted -- what is that?), so by the time we got to the main floor to find our large items, we were IKEAed out.

Perhaps it was the glut of back-to-school shoppers that made things run less smoothly this time. Who knows. I did still manage to walk out with a cart full of incidentals, including the infamous bag of tea lights.

I heart Bay Beach

It's official: Bay Beach Amusement Park is my new "happy place." I just took the kids there yesterday, and was immediately smitten with the old-school amusement park on the bank of Green Bay.

With the car DVD spinning classic Spiderman cartoons, the hour-and-a-half ride was a breeze. Sure, the gas to get up there was expensive (especially in my mammoth, mommy-esque Jeep Cherokee), but it wasn't a big deal because we spent seven hours in the park riding ourselves silly on rides and snacking it up for a whopping $14.

And after spending $4 for my kid to ride on a big metal bug at the State Fair, I couldn't believe Bay Beach's rides were a quarter for the baby rides and 50 cents for the big-kid rides. My wee ones loved the train, boat ride, pony ride and the five or six little car-and-bug rides. Older kids and adults will dig the tilt-o-whirl, scrambler, massive slide (almost the size of State Fair's), bumper cars and a couple of other lunch hurlers.

There's also a beautiful picnic area overlooking the bay, a nice playground and a wading pool that was warm and clean.

Our $14 even included snacks. Setting a terrible dental example, I got a bag of cotton candy -- gawd, I love that crap -- and the boys got sugar buzzed on orange sodas and Spiderman ice cream bars. I hadn't seen those in years.

We went to Bay Beach with my friend, Anita, who grew up near Green Bay and went to the park as a kid. She says everything is exactly the same, except they moved the bumper cars to the other side of the grounds. Because the rides are so simple, it's not mechanically scary that they're so old. Instead, they're pleasantly nostalgic and vintage-looking, providing a financial and aesthetic experience that's straight outta the '70s.

Sometimes it's refreshing to visit a place where time has stopped. Or at least that's what my "spidey sense" says.

Obscure Milwaukee T-shirts that must get made (or not)

Sure, there have been some great Milwaukee T-shirts, but last night while sitting around our firepit with friends, we came up with a few Milwaukee T-shirt ideas -- some more obscure than others. All of the businesses listed below are real, and -- in our opinion -- have been tragically under-represented in the recent T-shirt craze. Some of the other slogans are definitely intended for the hardcore, life-long-livin' Milwaukeean.

Ideas for Milwaukee T-shirts:

1. Milwaukee Pickles
2. Ma Baensch's Herring (They actually sell T-shirts but need to distribute them more widely.)
3. Badger Bumper Exchange
4. Quick Pick: No ID? No problem
5. I touched the snakebutton
6. I jammed with Slava -- or -- Slava: Get your own gig! (Surely you have noticed Slava, the curly-haired guy with the Russian accent who shows up to see bands and then asks the performer to borrow his guitar for a while or just crouches next to the stage and actually plays along with the band with his own bongos -- usually off-beat. )
7. Where's the Witch's House?
8. I partied in "The Boathouse"
9. Friday Night Freakshow (R.I.P.)
10. Midget Food (No, not "Midget FoodS" rather this Riverwest bodega is listed as "Midget Food." My friend Peter thinks it's a translation issue, and that the owners were going for the "Mini-Mart" thing and thought they were choosing synonymous words, but missed the mark.)
11. S & M Meats
12. Yick Inn