Last year Unreal joked that the St. Louis Public Schools had unveiled a "Shirts On, Brains On" campaign to get students to school fully clothed. Imagine our surprise when we learned that Dr. Ken Haller, an associate professor of pediatrics at Saint Louis University, has made our clothing-education concept a reality!
His invention: the homework shirt.
Unreal: How does the homework shirt work?
Dr. Ken Haller: The idea is to put students in the proper mental state. By wearing the same shirt each time they do their homework, they're reminded it's time to study.
Why a shirt?
A shirt is one of the easiest things to take on and off. But if someone wants, they could just as easily have homework pants or homework socks. My thought is that whatever it is, the clothing should not be so stylish that the kid would want to wear it in public.
Does the shirt need to come in contact against the bare skin, or would an intervening undershirt be permissible?
I would say find a shirt that the child will be most comfortable wearing in the room where they do their studying. If that room is generally cold, they may want to wear a long-sleeve homework shirt over an undershirt. If the room is warm, they may wear the shirt over nothing at all. Mom and the kid need to decide how often to wash it. Generally I suggest once a week.
Should any ritual be performed when putting the shirt on or taking it off?
If they want to build up a physical ritual or Harry-Potter-like incantation, that's fine. When taking if off they might express relief and go something like: "Ahhhh, I'm done with that. Now I can go play."
What about other task-associated clothing items? Household-chore underpants, perhaps?
I don't think that's a bad idea. It might be good to have a dishwashing necktie or sweeping-the-stairs boots. Really, what this does is prepare kids with the idea that we all take on different roles and responsibilities at certain points in our lives. Right now, it's homework time.
If Billboards Could Talk
True, corner offices aren't very important to us at all. But along with the question, "Are You Ranken Material?" this billboard, viewable off to the right on northbound I-170 just before it hits I-270, raises several other queries of varying significance. Do technical colleges prefer hard hats to mortarboards? If we panned the camera back, would this man be wearing any pants? And, most intriguing: If this scowly scion weren't so preoccupied with doing his best Superman impression, what else would be on his mind?
A) "This degree from the Joey Tribbiani School of Smell-the-Fart Acting is only going to get me so far. It's high time I started exploring my other options."
B) "If I squint hard enough, that group of clouds almost looks like my friends the Biker, the Policeman and the Indian."
C) "You'd think that continued adult education would teach me not to eat so much white bread. You would be incorrect."
Sil and Sil won't tell you their real names. But if you're a man without a wife, girlfriend or unibrow, they may want to keep you.
Inspired by Jerry Hall's trolling-for-hunks VH1 reality show Kept, the two late-twentysomething St. Peters residents decided to go after some studs themselves. So they posted an ad on craigslist.com and started a Web site (www.silandsil.blogspot.com). Unlike typical personals posters, their solicitation contains a long list of requirements, including "Must not live with parents or in anyone's basement," "Must like White Castle" and "Must love The Goonies." (Interested fellers are asked to send pictures and résumés to email@example.com.)
"Originally, it was just a joke, for fun," says Sil No. 1, who's 26, works for "an eight-billion-dollar-a-year company" and is penning an autobiography entitled My Aunt Eva Called Me Fat. "But we got all these responses from doctors and lawyers. Cute guys."
"So we thought maybe we should give this a shot," says Sil No. 2, who's 28, works in "hospitality" and whose aunt would probably not call her fat. "People just sent us their pictures: 'Here's my picture. Wanna go out?'" They've rung up a hundred applications so far. One guy even got his unibrow waxed, per requirement six.
No. 1 takes great pains to distance their quest from Hall's. For one thing, neither of them has the rock-star alimony bucks to properly "keep" a man.
So, Unreal would like to know, what the que pasa are they in this for?
"Not necessarily a boyfriend, but someone we're compatible with," says No. 2. "Since the two of us spend so much time together, we both have to like him. But he could maybe turn into a boyfriend."
"A male companion available to go to things with," No. 1 puts in.
"We're absolutely not interested in a friend-with-benefits," No. 2 concludes. "We've already heard from some dirty people on craigslist. Perverts."
LOCAL BLOG O' THE WEEK
About the blogger: "Just your run-of-the-mill gay, agnostically-Jewish, grammar-obsessed, St. Louis scientist. Really, I should try to become black so I can win the minority trifecta. Is there a prize involved?"
Recent Highlight (August 8, 2005): I went over to his place and got talked into eating some lasagna. Then we left, and stopped by my apartment for a quick screw, and I had to clean off all the computer junk that's still laying around off my bed. Plus, I had some dishes in the sink I hadn't gotten to yet, so I was a little embarrassed to have company. Oh, well. He didn't seem to mind. Afterwards, we took off for the Strassenfest downtown. Since he works at SBC, we got rockstar parking, and the weather could not have been better, which was great. Let's see, how to describe Strassenfest? The weirdest thing was the, ah, genetic makeup of the people hanging out down there. It was like 75% black people, 15% plain ol' white folks like you and me, 7% hoosier white trash, and 3% punk/goth types. Sounds pretty German! Not that my Jewish ass is so Aryan. I managed to avoid all the people handing out "Jesus Saves" flyers, and we headed for the food booths. Bratwurst! Fresh lemonade! After that we rode on the Tilt-O-Puke and Ferris Wheel, which was a bad, bad idea. The rides there looked very old. No, older than that. They looked straight out of those '50s educational videos called "A Day at the Fair!", and you could hear the metal-on-metal grinding sounds. After that, we waited until our stomachs settled, and went back to the food booths to stand in a long line to get a couple potato pancakes. They were good, but no better than the ones my mom makes.