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Oktoberfest [p. 8]

It’s not too late to save your ash [P. 5]


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Second Supper | The Free Press

Second Supper | The Free Press

September 1, 2013 // 3



The Top Things that are only great during Oktoberfest 1. Fat guys in leather 2. Drinking with your grandma 3. Large pretzels 4. ‘80s cover bands 5. Riot police 6. Carnival games 7. Second Street Things that aren’t the end of the world 1. Miley Cyrus 2. A four-day Oktoberfest 3. Batman Affleck 4. Biogenesis 5. The end of Breaking Bad 6. Urban Meyer 7. Paid parking

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September 1, 2013 // 5


Time is running out to save your ash By Debbie Boen

Special to Second Supper Sure I love trees; from the one I used to sit in and sing to when I was a kid, to the gigantic tree down the street from me now on 17th and Madison (I just want to hug it so hard). Tree sculptures decorate my house, for crying out loud. Despite my love for the quiet, happy rooted ones, I did not understand the crisis here in La Crosse—the crisis of losing ash trees throughout the city, that is. After the ash borer was found locally (three blocks from our house), the city decided it should take down the ash trees in the park and boulevard, which is the space between the sidewalk and the road, before they are destroyed by the borer. Why didn’t I freak out about this loss? First, I didn’t know which trees are ashes. Second, I didn’t realize how many there are. And third, I got the idea from someone that ashes are kind of useless, messy trees. Besides curb appeal, besides giving us shade that cools our houses and environments, besides the beauty of all trees, besides the value to our property that trees provide, and besides the fact that trees make our air more pure, why should we want to save these ashes?

Photo Courtesy of Debbie Boen

Kristie Neve hugs an ash tree on a boulevard at Weigent Park. “Ash (trees) were relied on heavily in urban forestry after we lost the Ameri-

can Elms to Dutch Elm Disease," says Dan Jackson, president of the local Audubon

chapter. "It has taken decades to get these trees to a size comparable to the elms that they replaced. If they are lost to the (ash) borer, it will reduce trees used by migrating birds for foraging.” As well as being designated a Tree City, La Crosse is also a Bird City. “So many of our migratory birds make use of the Mississippi Flyway. We have a good chance of seeing most of the Eastern Warblers that get this far north or farther,” says Bobbie Wilson, La Crosse bird watcher for 30-plus years. My bird book lists 38 kinds of warblers. Almost all have been seen here. Migratory birds depend on us for pit stops, finding safe shelter and quick meals before continuing their arduous journey. Loss of pit stops would be a devastating blow to birds that have traveled hundreds or thousands of miles. But, to tell you the truth, this crisis still didn’t really sink in for me. Ashes were still “messy” trees and I didn’t know how many there were. I was letting the issue go. Then Kristie Neve confronted me with her concerns. I first met Kristie because of the dog bowl she sets out by her sidewalk with a sign: "4 my 4 legged pals." (Acts of kindness like this are another reason I think La Crosse is great.)


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Second Supper | The Free Press the water and kill invertebrates and fish to save the trees. She lamented for weeks over the coming loss. Then she met an arborist who suggested a different treatment. Bob Fisher, from Nature’s Way Arborist Services LLC, said all treatments are toxic, but he treats the trees using a system, called Tree-äge, that doesn’t allow any of the formula to get into the ground. The treatment involves injecting the trees with needles just under the tree bark. That’s where the tree brings up water from the ground. I watched his partner, John Fisher (no relation), put needles into a tree at the trunk, and the tree sucked up the treatment all on its own. The tree sends the treatment upward. Nothing goes into the ground. The treatment lasts for two years. A treated tree will not be affected by a diseased tree nearby.

Kristie spoke to me about the ash tree matter as a real crisis, a crisis she couldn’t live with. She knew what the ash tree looked like and she counted them -- when she walked down streets, when she drove somewhere. She showed me their crisscross bark, and I started counting. Oh my god, at least half of the trees on the block were ash! The city of La Crosse reports there are 4,500 ash trees on the boulevards, (were) 1,400 in city parks and estimates around 6,160 total in the area, including Hixon Forest. Tree City will be reduced without its ashes. Knowing for five years that the ash borer was coming, Kristie waited for our city to How many ash trees? respond. “Nothing had Unofficial estimated boulevard tree count: been done until an or22nd Street, from State to Market: 52 ash, 87 other, 60% ash ange ribbon would show Cass, from West to Losey: 70 ash, 144 other, 48.6% ash up and the tree would King, from West to Losey: 48 ash, 160 other, 29.9% ash come down,” she says. 23rd. from La Crosse to Jackson: 77 ash, 183 total, 23.7% ash That prompted 19th, from Main to Jackson: 58 ash, 122 other, 47.5% ash Kristie to start investigat16th, from State to Mormon Coulee: 75 ash, 262 other, 29% ing. There were barely Mississippi, from West to Losey: 21 ash, 160 other, 13.2% two articles in the daily Boulevard trees around Weigent Park: 12 ash, 27 other, 44% ash paper about the issue beWeston, from 13th St to Losey: 31 ash, 97 other, 31.9% ash fore park trees were cut Green Bay, from West to Losey: 29 ash, 62 other, 47% ash down last winter, before 33rd and Park Lane (baseball park): 13 ash, 6 other, 68% ash we had a chance to lean Kane, from St. Paul to Cunningham: 68 ash, 189 other, 36% ash in to hear their silent screaming. Gary Robbins, of King Street, remembers when this city was Oh boy, I’m thinking this is going to made bare before. Tree City had tall, ma- cost more. Yes, but the chance it will work on jestic elm limbs reaching over the streets to an already healthy tree is above 95 percent, touch each other. Then, they were gone. according to John Fisher. Eureka! “The city changed overnight," he says. I talked to Jeff Bredlau at Trees Today "Having so many trees gone made me want about the soil drench product Optrol. Opto sit down and cry.” trol works, he said, because it is a very strong commercial grade product that he’s allowed Soil drench vs. injection to sell to homeowners. Bredlau said that the In Kristie’s search for solutions, she “box” stores (Menards, Home Depot, etc.) went to a local nursery and asked employ- sell less potent products that don’t work. ees if they had a remedy. They said yes and This was confirmed for us by a caller to the showed her their product (Optrol). This Larry Meiller show on NPR who used such a product is cheap, $40, and is poured into product and lost her tree. the ground (soil drench) around the tree by I couldn’t find a percentage rate of sucthe homeowner. The tree then drinks it in cess on Optrol but Jeff told me that it works through its roots. It takes four to six weeks “perfect.” for the tree to take the treatment from I asked Jeff if he thinks it is dangerous ground up through its limbs. Hooray, there to use Optrol on the boulevards. He doesn’t was an answer! think the soil drench product will leach out Being a retired librarian who revels in into the gutter if you apply it correctly, even research and worries about environmental on the boulevards. issues, Kristie wrote down the name of the “The biggest stress is do you want to ingredients. save trees or cut them down? That’s the only She went online and found out through choice," he says. "There is no other way but the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to use chemicals. People want to get too (MDA) website that the ingredients in this complicated.” product are extremely toxic to aquatic inver- Bent on being complicated, Kristie tebrates if they run off into the river. Since asked John Fisher, of Nature’s Way, why he most ash trees are in the boulevards, direct uses the injection treatment. He said he and run-off is highly likely, but rain and lawn wa- Bob were doing soil drenches in 2008, but tering can flush the product into the gutter when Tree-äge injection became available in and to the river. The MDA suggests avoiding 2009, they researched it and switched. using soil drenches within 25 feet of a curb. John Fisher says this of the Tree-äge The process also does not work on trees treatment: “If you need an effective medimore than 48 inches in circumference. cine, do you throw it up in the air and hope Kristie was devastated. The trees would have to go. No way was she going to poison CONTINUED ON PAGE 7

Second Supper | The Free Press


Time running out

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 6 that whatever falls on your skin will soak in, or do you put it directly into your veins?” He found online accounts of Tree-äge working better than 98 percent of the time. Fisher cautions, however, that some trees may be damaged already. “Any limbs that are dying because of the borer will not be able to be saved, but the tree still has a chance," he says. "Better to protect it before the ash borer arrives though.” Here’s how you can calculate how much it will cost to use Tree-äge. Hold a string at your chest level and wrap it around the trunk of the tree to measure its circumference. Mark where the string meets. Lay the string down against a tape measure to determine inches. Divide that measure by three to get an approximate diameter. (If the tree is 27 inches in circumference, for example, divide by three -- the diameter is about 9 inches.) Estimate $10 per diameter inch. A 9-inch diameter tree will cost around $90 for a twoyear treatment. Also, we wondered, should we be concerned about the soil drench treatment chemicals seeping 10 to 40 feet into our drinking water table? “Hell, yes,” says John Fisher, who has a master’s degree in Environmental Science with concentrations in water resource management and environmental chemistry.

September 1, 2013 // 7

COMMUNITY The sound of city chain saws on the boulevards will begin as soon as December! If you want to save your tree or help someone else save theirs, or save a park boulevard tree, the time is now. For any tree to be treated it has to be actively feeding. Once the leaves fall, the tree is dormant. If you need help identifying an ash tree, there are visual aids outside the Parks, Recreation and Forestry (PRD) department in City Hall, 400 La Crosse St. Most adult ash have crisscross bark, but the blue ash doesn’t. Right now ashes are flowering (male trees) or have pods (female trees). Help also is available through Cindy Johnson at the PRF department. How will we be notified when our boulevard ash trees will be taken down? Through press releases, says Johnson. If that sparks you to save your tree, Johnson says the city will be flexible to a “reasonable” point of time. If you have an ash tree, in addition to the treatments already mentioned, you also have the option to do nothing, and let the tree be taken. But be aware, as stated in the official city bulletin, your tree will not be automatically replaced by the city until there is enough funding. You could buy and plant a replacement tree, but some trees are not appropriate for the boulevard — a willow or maple, for example. If in doubt, check with Johnson. Johnson says most park trees have been cut or treated, but there are still trees on the boulevards around parks that are targeted for the ax. Weigent Park, for example, has 12. Sponsors have stepped up to adopt

some of the city trees, as well as to assist residents with properties where there are sometimes three to five ashes planted in a row. Boulevard trees are on city property. In “adopting” your boulevard trees, you are only taking part in paying for treatment. If your treatment doesn’t work or you stop paying for treatment, the city will take down your tree. Johnson said ash rescuers should check with her before treating any park trees. Also, before you buy any do-it-yourself formula at a hardware store, contact Johnson, because your treatment method must comply with DNR, UW-Extension, and Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection guidelines. When we save an ash, we need to get the tree listed on a database with the PRF. The database saves our trees from going on the cut-down list. I’d say contract with an arborist service immediately to see if they can get your tree on the database. Again, trees can’t be treated with anything when they are dormant. If you opt for injection treatment, Nature’s Way will contact Johnson and get your tree on the database for you. If you miss the growing season to do the treatment, see if you can contract with an arborist service for treatment later and still get on the database. You bet your ash I care. Cindy Johnson can be contacted at the Parks, Recreation and Forestry department, City Hall, 400 La Crosse St., at and at 608-789-7309.

Photo Courtesy of Debbie Boen

Blue ash with flowers (near top of branch) Notice leaves are directly opposite each other on the stems.

Photo Courtesy of Debbie Boen

Female ash with pods.

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Oktoberfest: Best week all year! By Second Supper Staff

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Unpack those lederhosen. Fluff your dirndls. Find your favorite stein and practice your best En Prost! The best week of the year is right around the corner, dear readers. It’s already September and that means only one thing: time to get ready for Oktoberfest! Contrary to a popular belief spread by rumormongers and the liberal media, this year’s fest is still a weeklong affair starting on Friday, Sept. 27, and ending on Saturday, Oct. 5. That’s nine fine days of partying like a German. Yes, this year’s fest will be the end of a recent era, the final year of a two-weekend soirée. Oktoberfest 2014 will get rolling on Thursday night with the Torchlight parade and conclude on the following Sunday, but in the great Oktoberfest spirit, let’s worry about that next year. As always this year's party kicks off at 11 a.m. on the 27th with the tapping of the Golden Keg. This is always a jovial affair that nearly renders the businesses and offices along Front Street unworkable for the day. How can you focus on those spreadsheets and TPS reports when half your friends are out celebrating in the street? Easy, you say? Perhaps day drinking and noontime debauchery isn’t your bag? Well, that is probably a good thing, because there are plenty of other events that don’t center around a golden barrel filled with golden beer. One of our favorite events is the Festmaster’s Ball. Outside of Germany, this is one of the biggest groups of lederhosen-wearing, brat-gobbling, button-giving groups around. Be sure to ask nicely for a photo! And right up there with the Festmaster’s Ball is Heritage Night. The La Crosse Oktoberfest may have started as a celebration of G. Heileman’s beer and brewery, but it has become so much more than that. It’s about celebrating La Crosse’s German ancestry, getting together with family and friends, having a brat and a pretzel, and getting down to some nasty polka. Worried about losing that figure you spent all summer working on? Don’t worry! Oktoberfest offers not one, not two, not even three, but five races this year! On Saturday

before the parade starts, you can take part in a half marathon, a five-mile run, a 5k run/ walk and even a one-mile fun run. If none of those sounds exciting enough for you, there is also the Big Muddy run on Saturday, Oct. 5. These races are sure to erase all those guilty feelings for all the brats and cheese curds you’re definitely going to eat. We couldn’t talk about Oktoberfest without talking about the parades. La Crosse has three of ‘em. Take that, Munich! The first is the grand opening of the fest, as the Golden Keg is paraded from the brewery down to the Southside fest grounds. If you can swing it, it’s a unique look back in time at what it might have been like to be in Bavaria 100 years ago as the fall harvest was just getting under way. That is if you can block out the downtown La Crosse landscape. The granddaddy of all Wisconsin parades is, of course, the Maple Leaf parade. It’s a blast to watch and exhausting to march. The route is nearly 5 kilometers and takes roughly three hours to march (more excuses to indulge in brats and curds, right?), so cheer on those hard-working tuba players. Another unique aspect to La Crosse’s Oktoberfest is the Torchlight Parade. There aren’t very many sanctioned night parades around. Marchers and revelers alike cover themselves in glow sticks and battery operated Christmas lights and step out to celebrate on darkened Northside streets. Oktoberfest is not just for adults who like brats and lagers, there are events for the kiddos, too. Here at the Supper we’ve lost count the number of times we’ve gone on the Zipper and nearly thrown up on the Graviton. But the big kids don’t get all the fun, and there are plenty of family and child friendly activities, such as face painting, singalong’s and a whole day devoted to just kids. (But you can still ride the Ferris wheel, too.) There are loads more events that happen throughout the week. But if you still have some items on your Oktoberfest bucket list, you better get out and do them soon. Once Oktoberfest shrinks to four days, you may not have all these ample opportunities to fest. So lug your lederhosen out of the closet, and party like it’s the end of an era.

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Or is it? By Kevin Sommerfeld Special to Second Supper

La Crosse’s yearly Oktoberfest is one of those events that makes me question the extent to which I am a sociable person. It’s one of the most, if not the most highly anticipated event in this city, and it attracts people from all over the area and nation (supposedly). But for the last two years, I’ve felt an extreme lack of desire as far as participating in the festivities at all. In fact, I don’t really want to be anywhere near the city while it’s going on. Please don’t get me wrong, I don’t feel I’m above or beyond it. It’s just that Oktoberfest, at least the Oktoberfest I’m aware of, seems to be the event everybody enjoys. Why is it then that I feel the need to flee? A quick answer to that question is simply that I don’t like Oktoberfest. I’ve tried to, albeit only once. And that was a while ago. Three years ago marked my first year of living in La Crosse, and upon arrival (early September) I was made keenly aware of the city’s main “cultural” event. When the time (first Saturday of Oktoberfest, around noon) came, I went. With a group of friends, slightly buzzed, I made the pilgrimage to the bustling hot center of the fest. Now, if you take a look at Oktoberfest’s

September 1, 2013 // 9

OKTOBERFEST official website,, you’ll see family friendly images of parades, dances, games, etc. and a whole list of events that don’t revolve around drinking alcohol. This is not what I saw. At all. I’ll admit, I wasn’t going to Oktoberfest for any of that stuff at the time. I’ll also admit that I had nothing but a vague idea of what my friends and I were going there for. Maybe all we wanted was to hang out in a massive crowd of drunken people and fantasize about like, zombies, or total chaos, man. Anyhow, I soon realized I wasn’t experiencing the effect of fun as was promised. Maybe it’s that I’ve never been crazy about crowds and just happened to learn that drunken ones are a teeny bit worse. It’s been three years and I really don’t have any specific memories other than that of a constant bellow lingering in the air coming from hundreds of shuffling, wasted adults, mixed with the faded slur of distant live music. I’m well aware that I’m a little socially anxious, but I don’t think any of the other forgotten experiences were traumatic enough to be repressed or anything. All I have now are itchy feelings and mundane impressions that have kept me away each year since, without the slightest consideration for going again. I guess one of the things I’ve been wanting to get at is, at least in my humble-pie opinion, how “our diverse heritage regionally, and internationally” (words from the website) is somehow not the center of Oktoberfest. I’d like to think positively and firmly say, "Yes it is," but something else seems to be the true attraction, something that is either

almost impossible to put a finger on, or so much in our faces that we don’t really notice. Either way, it is something that detracts from what the event could or should be. So what is this thing? I think it has to do with the expectation of something magical, extreme and profound happening with so many people around. Inhibitions are low, hopes are high, but ultimately nothing spectacular seems to happen, that is unless you, or somebody else, make it happen. And, of course, these spectacles happen. Think of the yearly car-flippings and the college squirrel volley. Though they’re not at all fair representations of the behavior of people at Oktoberfest, these events and their infamy seemed to have developed into an Oktoberfest tradition all their own. Why is it that these instances are linked with Oktoberfest itself? Perhaps because most everybody knows about the Maple Leaf Parade, the tapping of the Golden Keg, the polka bands, the lederhosen. It’s all too predictable. Something outside of the expected needs to happen. The spontaneous, unknown event, whether it is witnessed, participated in or heard about, is an attraction at any large gathering like Oktoberfest. Get a lot of people together and things will happen. The thing is, these don’t have to be negative. What should Oktoberfest be? I can’t say. But I do know there is a lot of energy and a lot of people with low inhibitions, which makes for a lot of potential, and it just doesn’t seem this potential is being lived up to as of yet.

I know a few people who’ve been to Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, and they tell of a fest that is also full of drunken people, but is more friendly and welcoming. That is their Oktoberfest tradition. Who knows, maybe I’d want to flee from there, too. But maybe, just maybe, I’d like to go.

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10 // September 1, 2013

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The Month in Theatre By Jonathan Majak

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If the beginning of the summer was all about the evils of plants (“Reefer Madness” and “Little Shop of Horror”), the end of the summer was marked by shows all about the highs and lows of various types of relationships. Think of it is as having a front row seat to a more artistic “Iyanla: Fix My Life.” Three Changes The Happy Rain Theatre Company put on its third summer production with Nicky Silver’s “Three Changes” at UW-La Crosse, having done productions of “Impassioned Embraces” and “Dog Sees God” previously. In a lot of ways, “Three Changes” is Happy Rain’s most ambitious yet simultaneously least successful creative venture, as great performances by the cast (Erica Bush, Kaylyn Forkey, Quinn Masterson, Connor O’Hara and Seth Von Steidl) are hampered by a muddled script detailing what happens to a couple when the estranged brother of the husband shows up and promptly moves in. The show shakily walks the dramedy tightrope in the first act before losing its footing in the second act. It’s a shame because there are moments of dark comedic brilliance, particularly when all the characters get to interact with each other and feel less like character sketches and more like fully realized people. There will be a remount of the show 7:30 p.m. Sept. 14 with a matinee performance 2 p.m. Sept. 15 at the Frederick Theatre in Morris Hall at UWL. The Last Five Years For the debut production of the new theatre company Center Stage Theatre Project, “The Last Five Years” was a gorgeous show at the Muse Theatre following the five-

year relationship of a couple, told from beginning to end from the man’s perspective, and end to beginning from the woman’s perspective. Playing the couple, Cory Meier and Camie Schneider overcome the play’s occasional eye-roll-inducing “#firstworldproblems” plot points to paint a realistic and complex portrait of a couple coming together/falling apart. Special note should be given to the pit orchestra of Alex Cyert, Matthew Byrnes, Allison Wildenborg, Rachael Ryan, Jordyn Marcou and Hunter Jeske for giving a beautiful, almost cinematic quality to the music. Jeffrey Over at the Pump House, gay pride had a civil union with 1990s nostalgia in Behling and Company’s delightful production of “Jeffrey,” a play about a guy who, in the midst of the AIDS epidemic, decides to give up sex and promptly meets the man of his dreams. This man just happens to be HIV positive. What sounds depressing is actually a gleeful celebration of life. As the title character and his love interest, respectively, Matthew Lucas and Justin Michael Cooke did a great job giving the show a realistic, albeit neurotic, center for all the other more showy roles to gravitate around. It’s the kind of show where a character, hilariously played by Alex Attardo, makes his entrance dressed in an outfit from “Cats” while greeting his interior designer boyfriend, played expertly by Ken E. Brown; a would-be Greek chorus, consisting of actresses Michelle Walker and Emily Ware, belts out tunes from “Uptown Girl” to “Single Ladies” and, most beautifully, “Unforgettable”; and a priest, played by Steven Walker, can campaign to have Broadway legend Tommy Tune as the new pope. Was the show high art? Nope. Was it damn good time? Absolutely.

The Rumba Beat Ongoing and upcoming arts events in and around the Coulee Region Greetings art lovers. Summer shows are winding down and the fall lineup is just starting to take shape. Let’s take a look. Lanesboro Arts Center, 103 Parkway Ave. N., Lanesboro, Minn.: “Lanesboro Up Close” – paintings by Fred Ginocchio, Aug. 31-Sept. 29; Art demonstration, 1-4 pm Saturday, Sept. 7; An Evening with Nancy Huisenga, "Behind the Door Marked 'Private,' Confessions of a Small Town Bed & Breakfast Owner," reception and author reading, 6-8 pm Sept. 14 ( Red Horse Gallery, 116 S. Main St., Fountain City, ( Viva Gallery, 217 S. Main St., Viroqua: Gordon Glass – Poetry and Painting, and David Myers – Metal Sculpture, opening reception 5-7 pm Sept. 5 (

UW-L Center for the Arts, University Art Gallery, 333 N. 16th St., La Crosse: Jennifer Williams Terpstra, “Transcendence/Immanence," closing reception, 4-6 pm Sept. 13 ( State Street Gallery, 1804 State St., La Crosse: Painting, sculpture, jewelry and ceramics by local, regional and national artists. (608-782-0101) The Wine Guyz, 122 King St., La Crosse: Lisa Middleton – Map Artists, Sept. 9-Oct. 4, artists’ reception, 5-7 pm Oct. 4 And don’t forget to check out the Root Note and Grounded Coffee in downtown La Crosse for more local art talent and great music. Enjoy the art. Support the artists and RUMBA ON!

HELP WANTED: ADVERTISING SALES & WRITERS Second Supper needs an advertising sales rep and writers to cover music, food, features. Email

Second Supper | The Free Press

Brett vs. Brett By Brett Emerson

Brett Emerson claims to be a comedic genius, brilliant writer and master storyteller. Personally, I don’t buy it. In all the years I’ve known this Frankensteinian scoundrel, I’ve been subjected to all manner of slothful and slovenly behavior, lewd anecdotes, sacrilegious tomfoolery, vulgar musicianship and indecent exposure. Oh, but now he says he’s a stand-up comedian and he’s slithering back to La Crosse to do a big hometown hoopla for all his degenerate friends. How nice. I’m sure his act is appropriate for our fair community. People, this man is a menace to the frail fabric of society, and he doesn’t deserve to be within a hundred feet of a public forum. Unfortunately, as I am the Second Supper’s go-to guy for interviewing the suburban rich and famous, I was tapped to hold a discourse with this loathsome specimen. What follows is, without question, the lowest point of my esteemed journalistic career. Brett Emerson: You’re looking well. Brett Emerson: Well, you’re looking amazing! What are you doing after this interview? Emerson: Cut the crap. Just tell me about your stupid stand-up. Emerson: Ask me nicely. Emerson: Are you serious? Emerson: (Makes kissing faces) Lick me. Emerson: Fine, you idiot. Please tell me about your magical adventures in comedy. Emerson: Wellll, since moving out of La Crosse in 2010, I’ve lived in beautiful Bellingham, Wash., located between Seattle and Vancouver and about as far northwest as one can get in the continental United States. It’s only slightly larger than La Crosse, but there’s a massive arts and music scene out here that is really inspiring. I’ve always been a huge comedy dork, even since I was a little kid. I grew up listening to Bill Cosby and George Carlin, and I’ve watched Comedy Central since its very beginning. I’ve always had this goal of being a comedian, whether it was in the format of stand-up, sketch comedy or film. I have notebooks full of ideas that have never made the jump from theory to reality. The problem was that I’ve never been in a place in which I could regularly get all the ideas out of my head and into those of other people. Emerson: Well, that, and you’re astronomically lazy. Emerson: Well, yeah. Emerson: So how was Bellingham any different? Emerson: A lot of what’s happened in Bellingham seems like a series of deliberate accidents. During the four-day drive from La Crosse to Bellingham, I listened to nothing but stand-up, pumping myself up to get here and start looking around for stand-up open mics. When I arrived here, Bellingham didn’t seem to have much in the way

September 1, 2013 // 11


of open-mics, but when I looked around for venues I discovered the Upfront Theatre, which is a fantastic little improv theater full of brilliant people who make up comedy off the tops of their heads. Just genius, creative chaos. My first impression was that I had found my tribe. I’ve spent three years studying and performing improv with these people, using stories and characters to figure out myself. They’ve also always held a monthly stand-up show at the Upfront, but I never got on stage enough to draw together any sort of confidence or material. Other forums popped up around town, but they were always on nights I worked, so I couldn’t go. Yet blind, stupid luck would lead me to a particular bar on a particular night four months ago, when I randomly met a guy who was starting up a new, weekly stand-up night that I could make it to. And so a terrible beauty was born. I had the good fortune of stumbling into the ground floor of Bellingham’s exploding stand-up scene, and things are getting bigger and better. I put it this way: for the first three years I lived here, I averaged five minutes of stand-up every six months. For the past four months, I’ve been doing up to 30 minutes per week. And I’m far from the only person reaping the benefits. Emerson: I was at that awkward, shambling mess you refer to as your first stand-up show at the Casino. Emerson: So was I, so that figures. When you have a leprechaun in the crowd heckling you, it makes you question your whole existence. Really, I just wanted to vomit every malformed joke I ever thought of out onto the audience that night, because I honestly didn’t think I’d ever get the chance again. That was 40 minutes of sheer stuttering embarrassment, but I’d have also severely regretted not doing it. One of the best things that improv has taught me is how to fail. How to enjoy failure and keep moving forward. How to adjust to things not working out the way you envisioned them and still turning the situation into something amazing. I’ve failed, a lot, and active failure feels a lot better than passive failure. I’ve done horrible improv shows and horrible stand-up sets, sometimes so badly that I’ve wanted to run away and never put myself out in front of people ever again. And then I come back the next time, and nobody remembers that I sucked but me. People seem much quicker to remember the times when you were awesome. Except you, of course. Emerson: Of course. For you, what are the differences between doing improv and stand-up? Emerson: It’s the difference between forgetting and remembering, winging it and being very prepared. When an improv show is over, it’s over forever. Never replicated. I’ll maybe think about the show for the rest of the night, but the next day, it’s a past life. In contrast, I record everything I do in standup, and I listen to my show over, and over, and over, and over. I’ve largely stopped lis-

tening to other comedians since I became one. Not out of narcissism or arrogance, but because I became so obsessed with developing every nuance of my material that I never stop thinking about it. I’ve never been so absorbed in anything, ever. Emerson: How do you go about developing your material? Emerson: I’m learning the benefits of being prepared so well that you can throw the notes away. At first I had a basic idea for things I’d want to do in a set; then I’d get out there and bullshit my way through and listen to the recordings and hear what worked and what needed work. Very oral tradition. The aftermath remains the same, but when I’m working out new stuff now I’m much more apt to plot things out beforehand and bullet point each turn of phrase. I’m getting way better at memorizing my sets, which oddly frees me from the program. I was always a great test taker in school.

my insane adventures and insane feelings and philosophies. I’m a filthy nerd, but I’m still a nerd, and I’m not so afraid of showing that off anymore. Emerson: You sound happy. Emerson: I am happy. Probably best ever happy. This level of satisfaction and ambition is completely alien territory. Emerson: Sounds wonderful. Soooo, you wanna get out of here? Emerson: Hell yeah, stud. Oh God, what have I done? Brett Emerson will play the Cavalier Theater & Lounge on Thursday, Sept. 19, at 10 pm. I, unfortunately, will be there.

Crossword Answers

Emerson: Are you still a creepy little pottymouth? Emerson: Oh, of course, but that’s not all there is. I’ve learned how to sneak in the shock rather than beat people over the head with it. Oddly, I used to be really afraid of telling jokes that were cleverly profane while wholly unafraid of verbally shitting everywhere, and yet the one joke that earned me the worst reaction, a full gasp, was a really mundane one about country music fans. To be fair, I told it like crap that night. I’m really into terrible puns. I love silly one-liners. I love conceptual comedy about ideas and inventions. I love talking about all

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12 // September 1, 2013

Second Supper | The Free Press



music | entertainment | dog days

The Month in Preview Aug. 31 - Oct 31

Thurs., Sept. 5



@ Norskedalen Heritage Site, E4465 US Hwy 14, Coon Valley 54623

fine arts | oktoberfest | wine | theater gemütlichkeit






@ The Pump House

Nowadays, no one needs silly things like

It’s been a pretty tumultuous year here in La

“maps” or “navigational skills” cluttering

Crosse. But, as Louis C.K. says, “Everything

their gloveboxes and brains. All we need

that’s difficult, you should be able to laugh

to get where we’re going is an app and an

about”—and luckily, the Heart of La Crosse

address. But even though our smartphones

Comedy Troupe will be doing just that

can do basically every mundane task short

this month at the Pump House. The show,

of flossing our teeth or wallpapering our

which appears to have a special section

bathrooms (it’s getting there, we’re sure of

dedicated to our new mayor Tim Kabat, will

it) sometimes we like to go sans technology,

feature new sketches inspired by a year of

for nostalgia’s sake. The Corn Maze at

local news, as well as improve and song

the Norskedalen Heritage Site is one such

parodies. Tickets for opening night are $15

opportunity to do the things our ancestors

in advance, $18 the night of the show,

had to do for survival. You know, for fun.

which begins at 7:30 pm.

So leave the iPhones charging at home, fire up that compass, and get in touch with your

Sept. 5 - Oct. 19

Pump House’s exciting new exhibit this

Steve Martin, chances are you’ll still love

inner mountain woman or man. The maze is

month. 25 local poets were matched with

this wacky ode to B-movies, sci-fi, musical

open every Saturday and Sunday this month


25 artists, both selected through a blind

theatre, and cult classics. The curtain goes

@ The Pump House

submission process. Upon receiving their

up at 7:30 pm on Saturday, and 2:00 pm

assigned poems, the artists had 3 months

on Sunday. Tickets go on sale September

to create a visual work in response. The

3, and are $25 for adults, $20 for seniors

results will be on display at The Pump House

and non-UW-L students, and $10 for UW-L

for a little over a month, after which it will

students. Call the Toland Theatre box office

head to the La Crosse Public Library for

at 608-785-8522 to reserve tickets.

from 10 am to 5 pm, and admission is $5.

Visual art meets literary prowess in The

another. This free event will allow patrons art, as well as visceral renderings of the

Sat., Sept. 14th

human experience. For more information,



@ the FSPA Villa, St. Joseph’s Ridge

to experience the connecting power of all

Sept. 7 & 8 PLEASE FEED THE THEATRE MAJORS (but not the plant!) @ UWL Toland Theatre

Mississippi Valley Conservancy is hosting a sunset hike, followed by a stargazing session as part of their “Linked to the Land” community event series. Meet at the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration’s villa in St. Joseph’s Ridge for a garden

In case you missed it this summer (or just

tour/information session at 5 pm. The

want to catch it again), UW-L is remounting

hike will begin at 6:45, and the La Crosse

its SummerStage production of “Little Shop

Astronomical Society will set up their

of Horrors,” this time as a scholarship benefit

telescopes for stargazing at 8 pm. This is

for students in the Theatre program. Even

a free event.

if you’re unfamiliar with the movie version from the ‘80s starring Rick Moranis and

Second Supper | The Free Press


September 1, 2013 // 13

Live Music Directory FEATURED SHOWS


Saturday, August 31 Huck Finn's – Emma Lea Blank • 7 p.m. Downtown Sound Music Festival – Click Track • 2 p.m., Pearl Street stage; Black River Revue • 3:30 p.m., Pearl Street stage, 10 p.m. The Root Note, 115 S. Fourth St.; Fayme Rochelle and the Waxwings • 5 p.m., Pearl Street stage, and 9 p.m., Bodega Brew Pub, 112 S. Fourth St.; Natty Nation • 6:30 p.m., Pearl Street stage; Gary Louris Trio • 8 p.m., Cavalier Theater, 118 Fifth Ave. N.; Roster McCabe • 8:30 p.m., Pearl Street stage, and 10 p.m., Popcorn Tavern, 308 S. Fourth St.

Friday, September 13 Warehouse – Parasites, Flamingo, Nosebleed, The Disabled, Gas, These Sinking Ships Moose Lodge – GTO Stardust • 6 p.m. Sawtooth Sam’s – A tribute to the Grateful Dead: “American Beauty” • 6:45 p.m. Temple Theatre Viroqua – Bob Hirsch • 7:30 p.m. Features Fest VII, West Salem – Love and Theft, Craig Campbell, Canaan Smith • 7 p.m.

Sunday, September 1 Huck Finn's – String Ties • 7 p.m. Downtown Sound Music Festival – Kalispell • 2 p.m., Pearl Street stage; Mike Munson • 3:30 p.m., Pearl Street stage; General B and the Wiz • 5 p.m., Pearl Street stage, and 10 p.m., The Root Note, 115 S. Fourth St.; Bigtree Bonsai • 6:30 p.m., Pearl Street stage, and 10 p.m., Popcorn Tavern, 308 S. Fourth St.; Mike Munson • 8 p.m., Bodega Brew Pub, 112 S. Fourth St.; T.U.G.G. • 8:30 p.m., Pearl Street stage. Thursday, September 5 Trempealeau Hotel – Colin Marshall • 7 p.m. Friday, September 6 Pearl Street Brewery – Nancy Dawn Olson • 5 p.m. Sloopy’s – Stripped Down • 6 p.m. JavaVino – Mark and Janette Hanson • 6 p.m. UW-L – Album Encounter (Alt-J “An Alternate Wave” • 8 p.m. Cavalier Theatre – FurLow Riders • 9 p.m. Saturday, September 7 Huck Finn's – Emma Lea Blank • 7 p.m. Warehouse – Kingmaker, Narrow Hearts Trempealeau Hotel – Sam Kuusisto Band • 7 p.m. Temple Theatre Viroqua – The Executives • 7:30 p.m. Robin's Nest – The Fabulous Baloney Skins • 8 p.m. Pork's Hilltop, De Soto – The Stoney Ridge Band • 8 p.m. Sunday, September 8 Mr. Stix – Cheap Charlie Band • 12 p.m. Warehouse – Late Nite Reading, This is All Now, The Picture Perfect, 7 Minutes in Heaven Tuesday, September 10 Warehouse – Teddy Geiger, Olivia, Millerschin, Windsor Drive • 6:15 p.m. Thursday, September 12 Warehouse – Mad Dukez & Fresh Kils (ten-

Saturday, September 14 Huck Finn's – Emma Lea Blank • 7 p.m. Sawtooth Sam’s – A tribute to Santana: “Abraxas” • 6:45 p.m. Cavalier Theatre – Fayme Rochelle, Nick Shattuck, Andrew Hughes, Joe Gantzer • 7:30 p.m. Trempealeau Hotel – Jay Bee & the Honey • 8 p.m.

Monday Popcorn – Acoustic open Jam • 10 p.m. Del’s – Open Jam • 10 p.m.

Popcorn – Dave Orr’s Blues Jam • 10 p.m. Huck Finn’s – Joe Cody, Jan-Arden Petersen • 6 p.m.

Tuesday Popcorn – Paulie • 10 p.m. Root Note – 3rd Relation Jazz • 8 p.m. Jade Café – Open Mic Night • 7 p.m.

Friday La Crosse Queen – The Journeymen • 6 p.m.

Wednesday Popcorn – Paulie • 10 p.m. Thursday Starlight – Kies & Kompanie (jazz) • 5 p.m. Root Note – Open Mic • 8 p.m.

Saturday La Crosse Queen – The Journeymen • 6 p.m.

Send your October music listings to editor@ no later than Sept. 23 for inclusion in our October Live Music Directory. Support live music in the Coulee Region!

Sunday, September 15 Halfway Creek Park, Holmen – FurLow Riders • 5 p.m. Thursday, September 19 Warehouse – City in the Sea Trempealeau Hotel – Tremptoberfest Warmup • 5 p.m. Friday, September 20 Huck Finn's – Midwest Banjo Jamboree Kickoff • 6 p.m. Warehouse – Psyclon Nine, Dawn of Ashes, Microwaved Trempealeau Hotel – Tremptoberfest (feat: Polka, John Prine Tribute, Stephanie Niles, Simple Rogues) • 6 p.m. Pearl Street Brewery – The Occasions • 6 p.m. Leo & Leona’s – River City Hot Club • 7:30 p.m. Saturday, September 21 Huck Finn's – Emma Lea Blank • 7 p.m. Trempealeau Hotel – Tremptoberfest (featuring a lot of music) • 2 p.m. Red Pines Bar & Grill – Operation: Howling Blues Necks • 8 p.m. Thursday, September 26 Trempealeau Hotel – Brian Ernst • 7 p.m. Friday, September 27 Pearl Street Brewery – Colin Marshall • 6 p.m. Saturday, September 28 Huck Finn's – Emma Lea Blank • 7 p.m. JavaVino – Mark & Janette Hanson • 6 p.m. Sunday, September 29 Trempealeau Hotel – Twin, feat. David Fort • 2 p.m.


Sunday La Crosse Queen – The Journeymen • 6 p.m. Popcorn – Innocuous Voodoo (funk) • 10 p.m.

20 Beers on Tap

14 // September 1, 2013

Second Supper | The Free Press


The Beer Review

"Athletic booster" Don't get caught By Matt Jones

Answers on Page 11

Octoberfest Lager Central Waters Brewing Company Amherst, Wisconsin By Adam Bissen I’m writing this review in the midst of a heat advisory, but the shelves of my favorite liquor department are certainly looking like fall. It’s Oktoberfest season, yo! Sure it’s hot, and it’s been a trying summer for agriculture, but the harvest is upon us, cooler weather is ahead, and 203 years ago King Ludwig I of Bavaria married Princess Therese of SaxeHildburghausen, and we now have one the world’s all-time great parties and a personal favorite beer style. Prost! For as long as I’ve been Second Supper’s chief beer critic (not quite 203 years, but sometimes it feels like it), I’ve celebrated this glorious marriage of royalty, barley and hops. Every September issue has featured a review of a different Oktoberfest-style beer —also known as a Märzen — and I’m continuing that trend with another brewery that has remained universally delicious while consistently innovating: Amherst’s very own Central Waters Brewing Company.

ACROSS 1 Steak sources 5 Band with the 2006 album "Decemberunderground" 8 Deep gorge 13 "Excuse me..." 14 Jazz singer Simone 16 Word on a name tag 17 Kid's beach toy 18 What the Dodge did as it struggled up the mountain? 20 Make a wrong move 21 Jon of "Swingers" 22 Have to pay 23 He may read up on changing diapers 25 Ocasek of The Cars 26 Digital camera dot 27 Dollar bill, in retro slang 32 Emerald is a variety of it 33 19th-century British prime minister 34 Elton John musical 35 Athletic boost "tak-

en" by the four theme answers 36 Gray matter matter 37 Tesla model 40 Singer McCann and namesakes 42 Narnia's chronicler 43 Hammerin' Hank 44 Neighbor of N.Y. 45 Actor Harry Dean ___ 48 Chemistry suffix 51 Lands, as a fish 53 Shade 54 Place with crooked walls? 56 Web locale 57 Big boy band, briefly 58 Royal form of address 59 Took off 60 She played Carrie 61 GPS lines 62 Cutlass manufacturer, once DOWN 1 Like many superheroes

2 "Gone With the Wind" surname 3 Piano control that makes strange noises? 4 T-shirt size choices, for short 5 First name in a Poe poem 6 Cartoon mouse who "Goes West" 7 "Are you ___ out?" 8 "The Canterbury Tales" author 9 Cocks and bulls 10 Gravy Train competitor 11 Killed the dragon 12 Depeche ___ 15 Fluidless, as a barometer 19 Acquires 21 Hard to outwit 24 Rant 28 Commodores hit 29 High place where all the nitpickers go? 30 Cheers for toreadors 31 Zihuatanejo aunt

32 "About the Author" pieces 33 "___ Kommissar" (1980s hit) 34 Move in a curve 35 Bugs 38 Insisted on using, like a favorite brand 39 Like forks 40 Calif. paper 41 Country on the Gulf of Oman 43 Place in a group 46 Removed from the closet? 47 "Pressing" things 48 Has rightful title to 49 "The Square Egg" writer 50 God of love 52 Piano teacher on "Family Guy" 55 Quart divs. 56 West Coast airport, for short ©2013 Jonesin' Crosswords (editor@jonesincrosswords. com)

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Being surrounded by a bevy of Wisconsin microbreweries, Central Waters can sometimes be easy to overlook, but their output has remained quality and they rarely chase fads. Indeed, this Octoberfest is the only lager they make all year, but it’s still sweet, malty and robust, the perfect flavor for autumn, and there’s hardly an odd note in the bottle. The Central Waters brewers are just taking care of business, but with a quality product and a sleek new packaging line, this Octoberfest should be popping off September shelves. Purchase: Six-pack of Central Waters Octoberfest from Woodman’s $7.39 Style: Märzen Strength: 5.5 percent ABV Packaging: As a seasonal release, this Octoberfest (even my word processer knows it should be spelled with a K!) is the latest to be decked out in Central Waters’ new packaging. The three-tone label depicts a crouching heron beside a maple leaf over a classy Art Deco font. And in my favorite packaging touch, the bottle cap is topped with an illustration of a bird track. Appearance: The Octoberfest pours a deep copper brown color with a light tan head. Aroma: This has a huge malty aroma with hints of copper, burnt caramel, and blackberries. There are distinct notes of German hops, yet they are faint, as per the style. Taste: Buckwheat and biscuits carry the flavor, but there is also an intriguing orange zest and a surprising amount of citrusy hops over brown sugar sweetness. The flavor palette is slightly more adventurous than the typical Märzen, but it’s still respectful of the style. Mouthfeel: Medium bodied. Drinkability: Even ignoring the fact it’s presently 93 degrees, this is quite a drinkable beer. Central Waters Octoberfest would be excellent at a barbecue, accompanying all types of grilled meats, or on any afternoon requiring long bouts of festing. Ratings: BeerAdvocate gives this an 80, while RateBeer scores it a 54 overall and an 84 for the style. I’d say this is a good Märzen, but I wouldn’t quibble with those grades. Because that’s the beauty of Oktoberfest: It’s all good.

Second Supper | The Free Press

September 1, 2013 // 15


I Like to Watch By Dean Robbins Special to Second Supper Brooklyn Nine-Nine Tuesday, Sept. 17, 7:30 pm (Fox) Many of us were concerned when Andy Samberg retired from Saturday Night Live last spring. Would the comic genius get trapped in more forgettable movies like Hot Rod, then disappear? We needn’t have worried. Samberg stars in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, a single-camera sitcom that perfectly showcases his talent. He plays hotshot detective Jake Peralta, who jokes his way through investigations and clashes with his by-the-book captain (Andre Braugher). You won’t be surprised to see that Samberg – known for his absurdist SNL videos – finds just the right level of deadpan weirdness. (The pilot features a memorable sight gag with Jake in tie, holster and underpants.) You might be surprised to see him slip so effortlessly into a leading-man role. Jake is not only silly but, yes, sexy. “Humility over!” Jake announces after a brief attempt at self-effacement. “I’m amazing!” I would have to agree. Mom Monday, Sept. 23, 8:30 pm (CBS) Just when you think old-fashioned, multi-camera, laugh-track sitcoms are dead, here comes Chuck Lorre (Two and a Half Men) to prove you wrong. Lorre’s latest throws one problem after another at its hapless protagonist, Christy (Anna Faris): a dead-end waitressing job, an incorrigible tramp of a mother (Allison Janney), a promiscuous daughter (Sadie Calvano) and a married boyfriend (Nate Corddry). Overwhelmed by the chaos in her life, Christy is reduced to reciting “daily affirmations.” “I open my heart and allow wonderful things to flow into my life,” she intones, right before catching her daughter’s shirtless boyfriend sneaking out a bedroom window. The daily affirmation transforms into: “My daughter is an easy lay and it’s not my fault.” Mom is blessed with deft comedians, a witty script and, best of all, a humane perspective. Open your heart and let this wonderful new series flow into your life. The Blacklist Monday, Sept. 23, 9 pm (NBC) The Blacklist is the rare dramatic series with a criminal mastermind worthy of the name. Raymond Reddington (James Spader) is a military officer who turned to the dark side for mysterious reasons. For equally mysterious reasons, this reptilian character offers to work with the FBI on tracking highlevel terrorists. His only condition is that he deal exclusively with Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone), a new agent who knows nothing about him and wonders why he knows everything about her. In the pilot, Reddington messes with Keen’s mind the way Hannibal Lecter did with Clarice Starling’s. He turns her life upside down by making her aware of trap doors – both literal and figurative – she never knew existed. Taking a cue from Reddington, The Blacklist messes with our minds. The pilot

2011 has so many sinister twists that you grow as paranoid as Keen, wondering what will happen next. I can’t wait to see what trap doors await us in episode two. Hostages Monday, Sept. 23, 9 pm (CBS) In this new dramatic series, a happy family is held hostage by domestic terrorists. The mother (Toni Collette) is a prominent surgeon who will be operating on the President of the United States the next day. Carlisle (Dylan McDermott) and his goons break into her house and insist that she surreptitiously kill the president during the procedure. If she refuses, he will have her husband and kids murdered. It’s a classic case of good guys versus bad guys … or is it? Turns out the happy family isn’t so happy after all, with secrets galore. Meanwhile, the villainous Carlisle shows signs of having a heart. Hostages keeps you pleasantly confused while delivering one gripping scene after another. I have no idea what will happen in episode two, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find myself rooting for the president’s death. The Michael J. Fox Show Thursday, Sept. 26, 8 pm (NBC) Michael J. Fox is one of the most lovable sitcom stars of all time (Family Ties, Spin City), and he became even more beloved during his fight with Parkinson’s Disease. He returns to sitcoms with The Michael J. Fox Show as an unconventional leading man, given the involuntary contortions of his face and body. It’s a gutsy move, both for Fox and NBC. Viewers have deep reserves of goodwill for this actor, but few would sit through a labored comedy merely for charity’s sake. Believe me: You will not laugh at The Michael J. Fox Show just to be nice. You will laugh because you can’t help yourself. The single-camera sitcom puts Fox’s physical predicament in a comic context, with no trace of sentimentality. Indeed, it’s the opposite of sentimental, as the star mercilessly pokes fun at his limitations. He plays Michael Henry, a former TV news star who left work after developing Parkinson’s. His family loves him but tires of having him around the house; meanwhile, his old boss wants him back at work for the ratings bonanza. Michael worries that he’ll perform poorly but still be given credit just for trying. “I don’t want to be the guy who gets a standing ovation every day at work,” he says. Fox surrounds himself with fast-talking comic pros and has no trouble keeping up with them. You don’t just give him credit for trying; you give him credit for turning in another brilliant performance in a career full of them. Sorry, Michael, but for that I’m going to give you a standing ovation.

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Sports Nut – Your Home for Sports!

16 // September 1, 2013

The Advice Goddess By Amy Alkon Till dead end do us part

I’ve been separated from my husband for two years. (Our divorce isn’t yet final.) A terrific man sought me out when he was breaking up with his girlfriend, but then he got back together with her and said we could only be friends. We still get together at times, and he told me, “I’m just not ready to give up my girlfriend, although I may feel different when your divorce is final.” I’ve tried moving on, but whenever I get to a good place, he calls and is interested again! I normally wouldn’t allow this behavior, but I enjoy his company so much! -- Crushing The fact that a man calls for you to come running isn’t necessarily reason to do

Second Supper | The Free Press

THE LAST WORD it, unless you’re a golden retriever and he’s got a dirty tennis ball to throw you. Assuming you live in North America and not a culture where marriage is a big tent filled with lots of wives, a man’s involvement with another woman should immediately disqualify him from consideration. Accepting continued contact with a downgrade to “only friends” works if you can shift the man into the friends-only slot, but it seems you can’t, and it seems that’s just how this man likes it. You’re now his ego’s girlfriend and his backup entertainment when his girlfriend’s getting her nails done. OK so technically you’re not yet available, but that’s just a matter of paperwork; you aren’t romantically attached to another person. What’s keeping you stuck on this man is a psychological fishhook called “intermittent reinforcement.” When rewards for our behavior (like affection or attention we’re shown) come regularly and predictably, we relax and take them for granted. But the stuff that sods the ground for an obsession is random, unpredictable reinforcement -- a guy you can’t have who occasionally surprises you by throwing you a bone of hope: telling you that he isn’t ready to give up his girlfriend but “may feel different when your divorce is final.” Sure, and

the moon may grow a mustache and start orbiting your dentist’s office. So, no, you aren’t stuck on him because it’s so darn enjoyable being with him. It’s because he’s turned you into a lab rat frantically pushing a bar for a hit of rat chow that only sometimes comes. The way to kick the habit is to recognize this, detach, and have the self-discipline to stay detached. Send him a message that it’s over and not to contact you again, and then do everything in your power to keep that from happening: Mail your phone to a stranger in China, and hole up in an out-of-the-way motel. Of course, you could just change your number and not answer your door, but going to at least a little more effort might help reinforce that you have a new policy: No matter how handsome, amusing and compelling a man seems, you will chase him only if he also happens to be sprinting away with your purse.

Everything happens for a raisin

I am 18 and took a baking course at a cooking school, where I met this dreamy 19-yearold guy. We both constantly found lame excuses to be around each other, so I was fairly positive our attraction went both ways. I get that men need to show their interest by asking you out, so I flirted and flirted and waited and waited for him to ask me out, but he never did. Now the course is

over, and I’m wondering what I did wrong and whether I missed out on the love of my life! -- Confused Perhaps he was hoping he could get a girlfriend the way a dog gets food scraps: just wait for a woman to fall on the kitchen floor and then carry her off in his teeth. He may now be hitting himself upside the head with a wire whisk for showing all the mojo of garnish. This also may have been a situational crush -- one that he couldn’t follow through on outside the test kitchen due to his having a girlfriend or even a boyfriend. Or maybe he’s just being 19. At 24, with a little more experience, he might do more than make like a kid staring into the bakery window. Sadly, all that matters now is what he didn’t do. But you did the right thing by not making up for a guy’s inability to squeak out a request for a date. Keep on flirting, and stop fretting that you may have “missed out on the love of (your) life!” Sure, you may have -- if you’ve always dreamed of a day when you’d spot a white horse galloping toward you in the distance and, as it drew closer, see that there’s no prince, only a bag of frozen vegetables ducttaped to the saddle. (c)2013, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved. Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or email (

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Oktoberfest 2013

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Oktoberfest 2013