Monday, March 31, 2008

Weird day, from a bunny-lovin' standpoint.

Last week I wrote about the week we spent caring for my daughter's class bunny. (If you haven't read it, check it out here.) I didn't get a lot of mail about it. In fact, I think I only got two or three e-mails, all of which arrived the day that particular Fringe was published.

So it was more than a little weird when I got three e-mails today from three different people, all criticizing my care of the bunny. Two of them also criticized the teacher's care of the bunny, which I thought was odd, since I barely mentioned my daughter's teacher in the column.

My guess is that some bunny lovers all got together and decided to bury me under an avalanche of good intentions and bunny-raisin' tips. Which, naturally, is all about a week and a half too late, as I took the bunny back to school and don't expect to have any more bunnies in my house any time soon.

Here's a sampling of what they said:

I was quite disturbed by your article "I don't like the way that bunny is looking at me." You should learn more about what you write about. Pepe was obviously not spayed or neutered or properly handled, otherwise the poor thing would not "stink" or be so intimidated. I really discourage teachers from having bunnies, or any animal for that matter, in the classroom unless it is the teacher's own pet.


Clearly, the manner in which your daughter’s classroom bunny is being kept at school is completely wrong. That poor bunny is not experiencing an appropriate quality of life. Stop picking on defenseless animals and pick on someone your own size.


As a bunny owner, I'm concerned about a number of statements in your column. To be fair to you, it does not seem that the teacher prepared your family very well for taking care of Pepe. It seems that the only thing the teacher told you was to make sure Pepe had some exercise every day. Given that he was in what sounds like a small cage, I'm glad you were responsible and let him run around.

You get the idea. I'm glad there are people in this world who care about bunnies. I'm not one of them. Sorry.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The glamorous life.

I tell you what, by the time I got the kids to bed at 9:00 tonight, all I wanted to do was curl up in bed and watch the NCAA Tournament. I told myself I could take the night off from working on my second novel, simply because I'd already worked enough today.

But then I remembered that I hadn't worked on the novel last night, either. And if I didn't force myself to write on a consistent basis, the second novel would never get done.

So, I wrote for 45 minutes tonight and plowed through another page. It's almost 10:00 now and I'm finally going to relax for the first time today.

Just something to consider the next time you think you might wanna write a novel. And I don't even have a guarantee that this work will ever see the inside of a book store.

Enough whining. I'm going to watch Louisville and Tennesse now, even though I know nothing about either team and have barely watched the Tournament at all this year...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A good cause.

I don't often take time out to promote charity stuff, because, well, I'm selfish and lazy. But today I'll attempt to make up for 0.00001% of my selfish laziness by mentioning an event coming up this weekend that will benefit the families of those who were lost during the February Kirkwood shooting. (Those of you reading this in St. Louis know what I'm talking about. Everyone else can read about it here.)

The benefit is happening at the Corner Pub & Grill, one of the few interesting/cool restaurants in Manchester. The owner/operator of the place, Brant Baldanza, sent me a note about the benefit last week, and since this tragedy struck so close to home, I want to try to do my part, however small it may be. Here's the info about the event:

On Sunday, March 30, from open to close, The Corner Pub and Grill will donate 10% of its total sales to Backstoppers. All proceeds will benefit Backstoppers for those police officers' families affected by the Feb 7 Kirkwood City Council tragedy.

Around 8:00 p.m., Blues alumni and Kirkwood officials will visit The Corner Pub and Grill to accept any personal or corporate donation to Backstoppers.

Please stop by on March 30 for a bite to eat, an ice cold Budweiser, and to make a personal or corporate donation. Your charitable patronage is greatly appreciated.

Just so you know, the Corner Pub is located at the corner of Big Bend and Doughterty Ferry, and the number is (636) 225-1300. They tell me they've already raised $10,000 and would like to double that on Sunday. So if you can, head out and support a good cause. And order the wings. They rock.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Tonight, it's Bobby's turn.

For those of you who have been reading my column, you know that last week I wrote about how there are no good restaurants in my neighborhood. Because of it, I ended up getting a ton of e-mails. Like, nearly 200. For me, that is an astronomical number. Most weeks I get maybe five. And that's even if the column is highly read and ends up on the most-forwarded list.

Mixed in with the many recommendations for west county restaurants, I got several really tasty bits of hate mail. I responded to the hate mail in this week's column, simply because I couldn't resist. (As an aside: that's probably the last time I'll write an entire column in response to reader mail. Not only did it really end up being a lot of work, because I struggled to really make my points well, but I just feel like it's a little too self-indulgent. Given that my entire column is self-indulgent, for me to say that is kind of a big deal.)

In this week's column, I quoted a reader named Bobby, who had a lot to say to me. I used maybe 0.0001% of what he wrote. Since the guy went to so much trouble to write these diatribes, I figured it was only fair to reprint them here. So, here you go. Let's see if you stick with them longer than I did.

Dear Sir,
In you column entitled, "West County's great, as long as you don't like food", you reveal quite a bit about yourself, and you sir are what is wrong with our society, St. Louis and America. You have chosen to flee to the deep suburbs to live in a land of cookie cutter Mc Mansions.

You move your family into an area conceived and built on capitalistic greed, and then lament it is all strip malls and chain restaurants. Your world was designed by contractors with the promise of sanctuary from the evils of the urban environment. Be careful what you wish for. Your wish has been fulfilled.

Now you have the audacity to complain your genetically engineered utopia is devoid of character. Of course it is, you paid a steep premium to have you world scrubbed free of character, and the price I am referring to is not over inflated real-estate, but the little bit of your soul you lose every time you patronize a Chotchkie's or Shenaniganz, spend every evening in a big box store, or sit on the highway in your mini-van waiting for hours to get home.

You left a wonderful urban landscape, maybe your parents or grandparents actually did the leaving, but here I am using the collective you in a metaphorical sense. You left the culture and sophistication of the city for the safety, security, and comfort of the hinterlands, and now you want the people who have worked hard to build and nurture that ambience to transplant it to your pathetic little Shangri-La.

Restaurants, architecture, museums, farmers' markets, galleries, theaters, record stores, films, cathedrals, clubs, sports venues, parks, rare bookstores, libraries and concert halls are all part of the fabric of their neighborhoods. Those things cannot thrive outside their natural environment.

The saddest part is people like you do not even understand what you are actually missing. You think you can pick up a few restaurants and sprinkle them throughout the wasteland you have created out there and they will magically bring character and culture. You are wrong.

Restaurants and bars, more so than other cultural institutions, are shaped by their patrons and surroundings, and to succeed in West County an establishment would have to be as whitewashed and family ready as all those chains you are currently bemoaning, and once you filled them with all the happy drones in pastels and polos all charm would dissipate and the franchising would begin.

Okay, you know, on second thought, never mind. He goes on like that for several more paragraphs. And that was just the first of the three. I think you get the idea. There's no way you read all that.

Good times.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

I'm kind of a jerk.

First, I wanna say thanks to everyone who e-mailed me this week. Unfortunately, for the first time in a very long time, I received so many e-mails that I actually had to stop answering them. If I had written an answer to every single e-mail, as I usually try to do, I'd have spent the entire week doing nothing but thanking people for their restaurant suggestions.

By the way, to the 100 or so folks who recommended Senor Pique on Manchester, we tried it last night. Not bad at all. But it's not the kind of Mexican we prefer. It's more of an authentic Mexican restaurant, with mole and green peppers and stuff like that. We tend to prefer not-actually-Mexican fare, with lots of sour cream and refried beans and nacho cheese. Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad place. Just not our style. Plus, it was more expensive than Chimichanga or El Paisano. Kind of a bummer.

Anyway, so I feel bad for being kind of a jerk and not writing everyone back this week. Assuming I'm completely ignored this week like I usually am, I'll go back to responding to all the e-mails I get. (So hey, good news, Mom.)

Oh, and some of the e-mails I got were so off the deep end this week that I've written my next column about them. I'll reprint some of them here in their entirety when the column runs, just so you can see what I'm talking about.

Gotta go pay the bills now. See ya.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I seem to have struck a nerve.

Wow, do you people hate the dining scene in West County.

I should say to anyone reading this post who isn't familiar with STL: you might wanna skip this one. My column this week (click here to read it) was all about how there are almost no good restaurants in my part of town. So if you don't know STL, this week's column and this post are mostly going to bore the nose hairs off of you.

Anyway, for those still with me: it seems that you agree with this week's Fringe. In droves. I must have received 30 e-mails yesterday - and that's a lot for me - and the deluge is continuing today. Keep in mind, most weeks I get maybe 10 e-mails in response to a column. This week I'm probably over 50 already, including the 20+ in my inbox this morning.

I thought this e-mail in particular, from a reader named Frank, raised a good point:

Now that you've "told it like it is" about the West County dining scene, you're probably flooded with e-mail from local restauranteurs inviting you to give their local beanery a try. Heck, they probably even sent you coupons for their signature specialties... dishes like Ham and Cheese Melt, made with genuine Spam and white Velveeta (err... provel, I mean) and topped with bacon crumbles, or a manicotti stuffed with ricotta and bacon crumbles, or jello salad topped with toasted coconut and bacon... I mean, seriously - these people will put bacon on anything and everything if you let them! Okay, so I enjoyed the column. Maybe next time you could try to convince someone to serve a real pizza in this town.

After reading this, I realized, Frank was wrong. I've only received one e-mail thus far from the operator of a restaurant in my area, and that one was from the owner of one of the places I complimented. I'd have thought I'd receive indignant responses from "overlooked" gems in my area. Nope. Lots of recommendations from readers, but that's it.

I'm excited to see, by the way, that the column is atop the "Most Forwarded List" on this morning. Thanks much to all who forwarded it - when the column hits that list, readership goes through the roof because lots of folks look to that list to see what everyone's buzzing about.

Thanks again for another good week, guys. If I get more interesting e-mail, I'll share. See ya.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Comic chicks rule.

So apparently when I wrote in this week's column that attractive women don't read comic books - excuse me, graphic novels - I apparently offended a couple hot chicks who read comic books.

So saith a reader named Gayle:

After reading your current column I felt compelled to write. As a woman (I'm 34) who isn't completely troll-like (I never even had acne) I felt a bit disheartened that you think other women don't read graphic novels. I read both, comic books and graphic novels. In fact, at the moment I am in the middle of reading "The Long Halloween". To perpetuate this idea that females (of any age) don't enjoy such literary gems is the reason that the 300 pound guy at the comic book store won't stop staring at me when I go in to shop. I'm certain that I am not alone. My problem is that my husband has no interest in them. I will try and get him to read some great Frank Miller Batman work and he turns back to his computer. I think that it is important that people such as ourselves revel in our geekiness. I don't think nerdiness is the proper term, I'm not a social retard. I'm not politically correct, either. I am a geek. I have Star Wars tattoos. Both of my cars have Star Wars license plates. One of my prized possessions is my Spawn #1. And, I can't hardly wait for the new Batman and Hellboy movies. Ironman, not so much.

Thanks for reading my blather. I just got your book. Too bad it isn't a GRAPHIC NOVEL.

As you can see, not only is Gayle "not completely troll-like," she is clearly way awesome, because she is a proud owner of "Acoustic Kitty." W00t!

Next up in the bashing line is Erin:

Man, I love your column, but sometimes you're just plain wrong. I write that with the maximum amount of respect and awe that my fingers can muster.

You see, I am a girl. Woman, I guess, but I'm 24 so I haven't been using that term very long. I was raised on comic books. My Dad read my twin sister and I things like Stuart Little and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory right along with golden age Batman, Superman, and my personal favorite, several varieties of EC Comics. We grew up as regulars at the local comic show, where my Dad set up and sold almost ever month for about fifteen years. I own four boxes of single issues - my personal collection (not to mention the graphic novels and trade collections that I own). I have met the creator of the Green Lantern, along with many other artists and writers.

Where does the problem come in? I'm not, as it seems, a "a pimple-legged nerd-girl". Ew, I'm not even quite sure exactly what that is. Like I said, I'm 24, I'm cute, I work two jobs, I'm in graduate school to be an elementary school teacher, I have lots equally-or-more attractive friends, and my skin is totally clear.

So in conclusion, good for your wife for trying something new, but shame on you for making such a broad generalization (no pun intended)!

Ha, she said broad. But hey, any girl who knows who Green Lantern is, is all right in my book...

Bummer about the "Mamalogues."

This is kinda old news already, but I thought I'd weigh in on it. It turns out that Dana Loesch, the author of the "Mamalogues" column over on, announced on her blog two days ago that this week's column would be her final one for STLtoday. Apparently she and the folks at STLtoday had a falling out over the style and content of her column. Rather than having me interpret her sentiments, I suggest you check them out yourself here.

Far be it from me to involve myself in the dispute, so I won't. I actually have no more insight about it than you do. Even though our columns appeared in the same environment, Dana and I have never met and have maybe exchanged e-mails once or twice, when one of us was in the mood to compliment the other on a particularly interesting bit of writing. While it is a shame that her writing will no longer run on, I doubt it'll be hard to find her. Her blog is excellent and is updated far more often than this one is, and it's consistently interesting. Whenever I think to go there, I realize I should do so more often. She's part of the fabric of St. Louis and I'm sure she'll continue to be.

I also want to suggest that readers try to avoid jumping to the conclusion that the editors over at are evil, awful people. They aren't. I don't work with them full-time, so I don't know anyone there particularly well, but the vast majority of conversations I've had with them have been pleasant and professional. The fact of the matter is that they do have to play within a certain set of boundaries in terms of content. I'm sure not everyone would agree with their standards, but as Dana herself notes on her blog, they're entirely within their rights to have whatever standards they want to have. They have to balance delivering interesting content with the need to attract and retain advertising dollars. Don't be too hard on them, if you're thinking you're inclined to be.

The other comment I have, and then I'll shut up about this, is that the Fringe is not going anywhere, so fear not. As long as the good people of will have me, I'll continue writing.

Keep it real, Dana, and we'll see you wherever you land. Maybe take a little time off, though, so the rest of us have a shot at the RFT "Best Columnist" title.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Someone wants me to influence the future.

So a couple weeks ago I got a request from a teacher who's organizing a journalism conference for a bunch of local high school kids. She was asking me to speak and talk about the column and about my PR career as well, since lots of journalism students land in PR careers. (I was one of those myself - graduated from Mizzou with a journalism degree a mere 17 years ago. Man, it doesn't seem possible that college was 17 years ago.)

They were asking me to speak for 40 minutes. I was tempted, but as crazy as my schedule has been lately, I was afraid that if I committed to it, that I wouldn't be able to find the time to really devote myself to developing a 40-minute-long speech. Plus, me talking for 40 minutes sounds like a great way to put 500 high school kids into a coma. As I've often said, I'm way funnier in print than I am out loud. So, as flattered as I was by the offer, I turned it down.

What I think is really awesome is that someone thought it would rule for me to exert some sort of influence on the next generation. As if the world doesn't have enough people who read comic books, play video games, find flatulence funny, and write humor columns.

Hm. Come to think of it, the world doesn't have enough of those kinds of people.