Thursday, December 31, 2009

music madness: Top 10 of '09 - album edition

I am running late to my NYE parties, so I will not be explaining the albums of the year, other than that I used the same criteria as last year.

Honorable mentions (had I gotten the album sooner or at all):
  • Avett Brothers -- I and Love and You
  • Big Pink - Brief History of Love
Those aside, these are the albums that were most rocking in my world in 2009:

10. Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

9. M. Ward - Hold Time

8. The xx - The xx

7. Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest

6. Bat for Lashes - Two Suns

5. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz!

4. Wilco - Wilco (The Album)

3. Annie - Don't Stop

2. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion

1. The Decemberists - Hazards of Love

music madness: Top 9 of '09 - concert edition

I've once again been fortunate enough to see more shows in a year than many people see in their lifetime. I am so grateful for the Pabst/Riverside/Turner Hall group for continuing to bring amazing bands to Milwaukee. Each year this list gets more and more difficult for me to make.

Honorable Mention:
Best show I wish more people had been at:
Los Campesinos! @ Turner Hall Ballroom – I’d been waiting for this band to pop through here ever since I’d first heard them a few years back. Very disappointed that just a handful of folks made it out to this energetic Friday night show. Hopefully LC! will (pretty please) give Milwaukee another go-round.

Best show I would probably have skipped if not for the strong recommendation:
Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears @ Lollapalooza – Thanks Craig for insisting I get to the festival early to catch them. Freaking phenomenal. I can’t wait to hopefully see them in a non-festival setting, as I think a dark, sweaty club would be far superior.

Best show I probably wouldn’t have seen if the band weren’t a headliner:
Yeah Yeah Yeahs @ Lollapalooza – Maybe because Karen O and the gang played The Rave last time they came through Milwaukee I’d been unfairly hating. Their stage show is phenomenal and I don’t know why I’d only been a casual fan prior to seeing them live.

Best show of a band I probably won’t see again unless someone gives me tickets:
U2 @ Soldier Field – I was excited to go to my third U2 show, the North American tour opener this year, and FINALLY to a stadium show of theirs (Mom wouldn’t let me go to Autzen Stadium in 1997). At the same time, I realized that I probably don’t need to fork over wads of cash to wait until halfway through the concert to hear my favorite songs. Goodbye U2, I loved you once unconditionally.

Best show of bands whose music I would NEVER listen to:
(Tie) F*cked Up! / Ponytail @ Pitchfork – Not quite sure how I picked either of these to go to, but they were both a wild ride. The energy on stage for both shows probably would’ve solved the recent Copenhagen dilemma, if bottled. However, I can’t say I’d ever put this music on without watching the live act…it’s a little too…much.

All honorable mentions aside, here are what I consider my top 9 memorable shows of 2009:

9. Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks @ Bay View Indie-pendents Day (July): The randomness of this event (sort of like the New Year’s Eve Spoon concert I’m hitting tonight) pushes it into the top nine. Why or how Milwaukee landed this great act for a free, BBQ show, I’m not sure, but it was a super fun afternoon. The sloppy cover of “Emotional Rescue” ruled also.

8. Cyndi Lauper @ Pridefest (June...but it felt like March): It was worth huddling out in the cold rain for hours upon hours to see one of my ‘80s idols live. She played an amazing set and the peoplewatching was unbeatable. Plus any show that opens with Mini-Britney, well, you know it’s gonna be kickass.




7. Bat for Lashes @ Lollapalooza (August): It may have been the fact that I was directly front and center, or that I was mesmerized by Natasha Khan’s electric blue spandex, but this show ranks highest on my “side stages” shows from Lolla ’09. I immediately downloaded the CD when I got home and Two Suns has stayed in heavy rotation since.



6. Wilco (Night 1) @ The Pabst (April): I was lucky my friends Nora and Diana ended up with an extra ticket for this sold out show. Wish I could’ve made both nights, but glad I caught part of the tour opener. Wilco is always great live and you have to love that they used their time in Milwaukee to snap their album cover art!

5. English Beat @ Turner Hall Ballroom (April): This show completely unexpectedly rocked my socks off. I reluctantly dragged myself out on a “school night” to go with a friend who had an extra ticket. Little did I know I’d find myself smiling and grooving for a several hour set. I won’t miss the Beat again!



4. TV on the Radio @ Lollapalooza (August): Finally got to see one of my favorite bands and they did not disappoint. Hope they come through Milwaukee someday.

3. Kings Go Forth @ Mad Planet (April): Enough people had heard of KGF at this point to pack Planet to capacity, but it was still “in the know” enough to feel you were experiencing something very cool indeed. I danced my butt off at this show, and can’t wait until the smoking ban so I can once again 100% enjoy shows at my favorite club venue in Milwaukee.

2. The Decemberists @ The Riverside (May): Even though I was dealing with an insufferable “asparagus rash” outbreak, this concert was a highlight of the year. Any chance to see the incredible Shara Worden live is worth it, but alongside the Decemberists and Becky Sharp, it was a no-miss-show. Opener Blind Pilot was worth popping on my radar too.

1. Bon Iver @ The Riverside (October): No surprise here, but this "homecoming" concert was absolute pure magic. Thanks to RadioMilwaukee, you can still experience that show with a live podcast. (Warning: not the same as being there, in the third row).

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

30 by 30: ACHIEVED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Please excuse the million exclamation points. I have extremely exciting news to share this evening...I have officially lost 30 pounds since I began undertaking my 30 by 30 challenge just over a year ago.

In my mind I've been using the weight that popped up from a doctor's visit in early February. I know I lost weight between December and then (dude, 10 days in India has to count for something), but I never had an official number -- so I'm guessing I may actually be at 40 by 30. I lost 10 between February and March, but then kept yo-yo-ing until I began Weight Watchers in mid-October.

I seriously can't say enough about what doing WW through my work has done for me. Not only am I tracking my food, but I am staying motivated as heck to keep going to the gym almost every single day.

I have been mixing up my workouts too, so as to address all problem areas my body acquired over three years of neglect. In a current week I usually incorporate the following:
  • Two spin classes (both at 6 AM)
  • Three Couch to 5k workouts -- so much easier after purchasing the iPhone app. I just completed week 4 tonight.
  • One CORE (abs) class
  • One Bodyworks (conditioning) class
  • One Yoga class -- try to make it to Invivo's free yoga Sundays
As with much in my life over the past year, I have to thank good old social media for helping me step it up a notch. I can't speak enough for:
  • Facebook messages and chats from friends and family who have successfully done Weight Watchers themselves
  • Twitter encouragement from other Milwaukeeans, especially those in the #fitmke movement
  • Blogs written by Milwaukee folks highlighting individuals and groups tackling fitness in fun and non-threatening ways -- and connecting Milwaukeeans with one another (The Beer Runner, Fit Milwaukee, Pain in the Park)
Though this weight achieved today is totally reason for celebration, I am going to keep trucking. I still have 39 pounds left to shed before I match my driver's license weight from August 2005. There are fabulous dresses still hanging out in the back of my closet, just waiting for me to fit comfortably back into them next summer.

All I can say is watch out Milwaukee and watch out Europe! And THANK YOU to all of you who have been so supportive over the past two months!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

milwaukee props: santa cycle rampage 2009



There are some events in my life that I've been afraid to recreate, worried that the magic will have worn off the second time. I am terrified of going back to Rome, weary of partying until dawn in Chicago, and until yesterday, a little nervous about riding in Milwaukee's own Santa Cycle Rampage again.

I admittedly had a different experience this year. I talked the ride up to several of my friends, including relatively novice bikers, Ben and Becky, who I spent most of my day with. Last year, I'd lost Monica and Joe on the ride and met and partied with lots of randoms. I seem to get more trouble when I'm unleashed on my own, so maybe it was a good thing the Bs kept me in line. :)



Ben and I met up at U.S. Bank early so we could get some cash for the day. It turned out we didn't need much of it, as Santas get some sweet drink deals. This first stop was handy in realizing that somewhere on my ride up to North Ave. I'd lost my flimsy Santa hat. I think it was karma from blowing off the two guys on Farwell who asked me to take a picture with them. I'd been running late, so I said no. Santas who say "no" lose hats. A stop at CVS on Downer became necessary, so I as not to be shamed by the other Santas. I picked up the number above in part because the dangling snowballs notified me that the hat would be staying on. They also provided much amusement throughout the day...because there's never too many "dangling snowballs" jokes.

While waiting for Becky to arrive at Cafe Hollander, we filled out a raffle ticket for the Bike Federation of Wisconsin and grabbed a Fat Tire from the keg--ah, the first beer at 10 a.m.



We also scoped out some of the decorated bikes, like the one above. I think that this is a goal for 2010 for sure.


Maribeth decided not to do the ride with us, but stopped over to check out the excitement. Hopefully we can convince her to come along next year.


Becky made it in the "Saint Nick" of time before we headed out on the road. I had the bright idea to put a refill of Fat Tire in my water bottle holder, and we were off.



The magic for me this year came in the form of seeing the absolute joy on my friends' faces as we began riding through the Eastside spreading cheer.



Down Farwell to Brady and then over the Marsupial Bridge, we traveled to the next stop at Lakefront Brewery, where a contingent of Santas who had ridden in from Wauwatosa awaited us. The numbers were now 200-250 strong, and the Santa population dwarfed the civilians there for an early tour.


My friend Virginia (in elf-green) had met us at Hollander, but we got to sit for a bit (and warm up) with her at Lakefront. Massive props again to Lakefront for providing one free beer for each of the Santas. I was hoping they'd have their new brew, Local Acre, on tap, but in a pinch, I went with the delicious Pumpkin Lager.

We headed out around noon for the downtown part of the ride. 250 Santas strong, we went up Water Street, passed the Red Arrow Ice Rink (we stopped the skaters), up Wisconsin Avenue (some folks threw candy canes at pedestrians), and over the 6th Street Viaduct. This truly is the best part of the ride, as people just love seeing that many Santas .... on bikes!


Things definitely started getting a wee bit fuzzy after the next stop at Great Lakes Distillery. Again, a super awesome local business supporting this fun event. Wisconsin recently passed a law allowing them to have samples, and they are rocking that like nobody's business. They had free Santa punch or Candy Cane Vodka Coffee, as well as sample tastings of their liquor. I tried the punch, which I believe had their artisan grappa in it as well as a whole lotta deliciousness. Ben and I also sampled their two types of Absinthe - vert and rouge. I have to say the green fairy did it for me more. I also got to try their Pumpkin Seasonal at long last.


I ended up with a rogue group of Santas heading from the distillery over to the next stop at Kochanski's Concertina Beer Hall. While we had a fun little side street detour, we did miss the highlight of many Santas' day...

... a police ESCORT! Definitely in contrast to last year's traffic stop, these cops were awesome and treated the Santas with respect. My friend Tim has more about this over at his Beer Runner blog.


The house polka band greeted us as we packed into this tiny Southside tavern. I grabbed a $2 pint of Point and stood in the food line, forgetting that there was nothing I could eat.


I made due with my four saltines, and made a note to pack a lunch for next year. Those saltines didn't really prepare me for the next great idea.


Do the people in the photo above LOOK like they need to take a shot of Rumpleminze off of a ski? Well, this is Wisconsin, my friends. And since when I blogged about it last year, I neglected to provide photo evidence, I enlisted Virginia to capture the beauty of the SHOTSKI on camera.






We still had one more stop after this too! After polkaing and another point, we grabbed our bikes to head to the last stop at Cafe Centraal. Somehow I lost the Bs, who ended up halfway to Tosa following some westside Santas. Whoops. In the interim, I filled my stomach with some vegetarian chili and some WATER (brilliant), before grabbing another Fat Tire off the Santa keg.




Despite grand plans to bike with an illicit pack of middle-aged Santas down forbidden routes (for which we'd risk $250 tickets), I ended up riding good old reliable KK home. I somehow lost the Bs again, keeping up with my friend Jeff's well-lit bike, as my front guppy headlight got snatched in Bay View. Totally bummed about that. It's gotta be bad karma to steal from Santa! This put me in a salty mood, and I passed out at 6, hoping to make it to a Christmas party later that evening.

I woke up at 3:30 a.m., bummed I missed the party, but glad I spent another year Santa cycling-- even if the "magic" shone through in different ways.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

WTFisconsin: the boy who cried snow

This will be my 12th winter in Wisconsin.

I realize that it a) snows several inches at one time and b) gets ass cold.

I got a CD in Meterology.

Why does local media act like it's the end of days?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

goal preview: fitness

So since 2010 is a new decade, both chronologically and personally, I'm making a dual set of resolutions. One will be a goal for 2010, which will be a seed for a decade goal. I have several categories, and obviously there are some goals I won't share publicly (my mom read this!), but here's the first category: FITNESS.

The first is 2010, the second is before 2020.

Run a 5k --> Run a marathon
Ride a Century --> Ride 5,000 miles in one year
Do the planned Northern European Bike Tour --> Do a bike tour yearly
Get through a yoga class unmodified --> Take a yoga retreat
Reach target weight --> Never again weigh more than 20 lbs over target weight
Get to spin twice weekly (unless on vacation) --> Become a certified spin instructor

Do you have any ideas for other fitness goals I should set?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Let's Try This for December

I've found that Milwaukee, for all of its faults, has managed to keep the social season going much later than the old one of October. I cannot believe how slammed my calendar has been, and will be throughout the holidays.

Some updates from my November:

  • I have officially lost 15.2 pounds through Weight Watchers at Work. I am only 6.8 away from my first goal and I'm 25% of the way to my ultimate goal of losing 60 pounds and getting back to "YOWSA" Meghan.
  • I started Couch to 5k again. It's a lot easier this time around with a fancy app on my iPhone. I've also been spinning on Mondays and Wednesdays. I am determined to keep bicycling throughout the winter as well.
  • I have gotten extremely frustrated trying to learn math for the GRE. Any math study tips anyone has for me, please send them my way.
  • I have begun plotting my amazing trip for 2010. As many of you recall, I traveled to India in 2009 and have been saving my vacation up for a wedding in Germany next year. Well, to add an extreme twist to that, I'm planning to bike through Northern Europe while over there. Two weeks, four days of wedding, and many days of me on the open road!
What I'm Working on For December:
  • I have a month to figure out my top 10 albums of the year. I should probably throw in a decade list as well. Although three spots are already filled by Wilco, Arcade Fire and the Hold Steady.
  • I am going home to Portland again for Christmas, and hopefully will have some time to be a Tourist in My Hometown again.
  • The Santa Cycle Rampage returns on December 12. I plan to take photos and post about it again. Will I have as insane of stories as last year? Will I have to edit out details again? Only time will tell.
Thanks for your patience and encouragement as I try to become a better blogger for y'all.

Monday, November 16, 2009

monday munchies: post cold food

Now that I finally have energy again (a little too much, I need to go to bed), I have been back at it in the kitchen, trying to use up or preserve my waning supply of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Tonight I made a boatload of applesauce and I still have some heartier apples left to transform.

I also made a most delicious carrot-ginger soup -- complete with my homemade chicken stock (so much better for you, not all that disgusting sodium):



Only two points a serving, so I'm doubling up the servings for my lunches this week -- it's just that freaking delicious.

I also tried my hand at Indian cuisine over the weekend, trying to use up the ton of spinach in my fridge, as well as a couple of the potatoes in my neverending supply. The result, a pretty decent Aloo Palak:



Used a the coriander and turmeric I bought in Delhi, so it was pretty cool to use locally sourced ingredients mixed with a bit of my travels.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

30 by 30: Indie Workout Mix 2

First, I'd like to apologize for disappearing. Unfortunately after my trip to Arizona, I came down with the "headcold of doom" and have been a useless lump for the past five days.

But I'm back and back to the gym. Today I eased back into it with 30 minutes on the elliptical at the Wisconsin Athletic Club. As I did a couple of weeks ago, I made another mix. This week's is a bit more rocking though.

Sixteen - The Heavy
Crown on the Ground - Sleigh Bells
Fences (Friendly Fires Remix) - Phoenix
Big Booty Woman - Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears
Bleed 2 Feed - C.C. Adcock
Got Nuffin - Spoon
How You Like Me Now? - The Heavy
Last Dance - The Raveonettes

Thursday, November 5, 2009

time out thursday: phoenix bound

I may be a little quiet this weekend as I'm heading to add a new state. That's right, I've never been to Arizona, but I couldn't resist the Southwest Airlines intro fare a few months back to take the opportunity to change that.

Originally I'd planned to visit my friend Tonia, but as she has shipped off to ports unknown, my parents are coming down to meet me. I get to spend the afternoon putzing around on the light rail line by myself, then join up with my mom at the airport.

Not sure what's on the agenda for tomorrow, but on Saturday we're going to Flagstaff for the day so we can see the Grand Canyon.

I think it's a pretty incredible year when you get to see the Taj Mahal and the Grand Canyon, if I do say so myself.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

one year ago...




My friend Ben started a great thread today asking our friend group (pictured above minus our live updater, Adam) to reflect on the historic night we experienced last November 4.
Seems a lot longer then a year since we witnessed history (Or were tweeting about it). 

 To set the mood.

Any reflections over the past year? Are we where we thought we would be? Does that night still give you the chills?

To answer Ben's easy question first -- YES, of course that night still gives me chills! Looking back, it's almost surreal. I will truly remember that night for the rest of my life and it's something I'll tell the neighborhood kids about when I'm a crotchety old spinster (after I yell at them to get off my lawn).
 
I never thought Obama was going to fix everything in a year. I learned at a young age that the Mary Poppins "snapping your fingers and everything returns to place" trick doesn't actually work. This administration clearly had a LOT of cleaning up to do. Screw health care reform, they haven't even gotten around to reversing the tariffs on Roquefort cheese.
 
That said, despite the unbelievable obstacles to mass change, I think an educated and informed person can point to several initiatives they've begun to dig us out of the pile of sh*t that Bush left the world:
  • At least begun public debate on health care reform. Regardless of all the ridiculous opinions flying around out there, at least people are discussing it. The end solution is going to be political, but at the very least I think all sides are beginning to agree that pre-existing conditions are morally reprehensible.
  • Increasing transparency in government. The White House blog! The podcasts! The videos! Even some of the cabinet blogs (I'm a fan of Ray LaHood's Fast Lane blog, oh yeah, Transportation!) I feel engaged in the process and like these very important people are accessible. I really do believe that social media is the great leveler. (Socialist!)
  • A shift in the mood toward public transportation. Let's just say, when I'm feeling lonely, I drink some wine, put on some Sade, and look at the High Speed Rail map. Okay, kidding! Although our local transit funding is still dire, the stimulus funds will help immensely. Also, there's an upbeat tone nationwide. The transportation industry newsletters have been so optimistic--talking about new projects and services, compared to the previous years of "and the Bush administration cut this again or made this logisitical nightmare of a change so that a handful of private industry players could profit."
  • Emphasizing the importance of healthy eating. This may be the most solid healthcare reform that the administration has done (word to my girl Michelle). It goes beyond the White House garden. She's made it hip to grow your own food, eat sustainably and go to farmer's markets. (Well, actually I made it hip, but that's neither here nor there...next thing you know they'll be having an indie rock concert on the White House lawn).
  • Oh yeah, and there's that whole reducing troop levels in Iraq thing too...
I'm not living in a bubble of joy. I recognize there have been some really boneheaded decisions. I recognize that some programs were hastily thrown together to soothe political pressure:
  • Auto Industry "Reforms" -- hooray for new fuel efficient vehicles on the road through Cash for Clunkers, but what happens to all the clunkers? Couldn't we have mandated public transit reform? Can't GM rebuild all the infrastructure they tore out in the '50s?
  • Increased troops in Afghanistan -- I am very pleased that the focus is back to y'know, where it should've been eight years ago. I don't agree with an increased military strategy however. Why not build schools? Improve infrastructure? I agree we do need a presence though. If you've ever read The Kite Runner or A Thousand Splendid Suns, you know that the Taliban are bad, bad, bad people
  • Obama's choice at the beer summit. Bud Light? Really. That totally takes away your hip cred. You could've at least had a PBR.
This exercise has made me feel a lot better after watching the conservative circle jerk on Twitter last night. We also have to remember that there's three years in this term and hopefully four more years after that--lots of time to get things done. On a personal level, I still feel incredibly inspired by Obama himself. I don't know if I would have attended The White House Project Go Run training a couple of weeks ago with the same motivation, had it not been for that glorious November night.
 
After emailing the group, I realized some thoughts had been left out and others had more reflections. Below are the unedited essays.

Larissa:
While I agree with most of what Meghan said, I do want to draw a point on Afghanistan. Much like Iraq, what Bush failed to do here was to employ a strategy to hunt Al Qaeda (even though I can't imagine that this would be an easy thing to do). The other thing that Bush didn't do in Afghanistan was completely dismantle the government of this country. The reason they were able to actually get to work stabilizing and rebuilding Iraq was because they installed a coalition government and trained them on how to run the country. Afghanistan still has a nut job with delusions of grandeur who has now declared himself the winner of a rigged election TWICE.

Not to mention, if there's no buy-in from the existing government and you're left with a rash of suicide bombings and that makes it pretty hard to build a school or two. As much as I hate to admit it, I think we need a troop increase (and the accompanying STRATEGY, which I'm sure exists but the media never seems to get around to telling us about) to stabilize the region. To simply pull out would be a horrible idea, cuz Al Qaeda would see that as an open invitation to wreak havoc not only on the region, but on countries like ours as well.

Just my 2 cents.... I'm glad the media is being critical of Obama but I'm extremely disappointed in the Republicans for not even trying to work with the Dems, and I'm also sort of disappointed in the Dems for just giving up on bipartisanship altogether and pushing their agenda. On the other hand, I don't really blame the Dems for cutting their losses (at least they DID try) and actually getting stuff done. And props on adding sexual orientation to the hate crimes bill!
 Adam:
Yeah, Lilly Ledbetter got me through more than one argument about the Nobel prize. (It's a pretty easy answer to the claim "He hasn't done anything!")

I guess looking back, I feel a bit disappointed in that it seems like democrats in general have wasted a great opportunity. With the White House, momentum and congressional majorities, people on the right were stockpiling and hugging their guns, while people on the left were looking for retail space for "Osama's homo-abortion-pot-and-commie-jizzporium". Of course, it's no shock that Obama smacked into the brick-wall called "the reality of modern politics and bureaucracy" which tended to slow things down a bit, and make those easy to repeat campaign promises magically transform into briefing books, memos, and weird congressional parlimentary procedures (reconciliation! woo-hoo?).

I can understand wanting to use whatever advantage a new president has in the first 6 months or so to get things done. And in that mindset, it makes sense to tackle the hardest issues first, like healthcare reform. But now we're about 10 months in, and it seems that no amount of perceived political capital can just gloss over all of the crap that has to go into an overhaul this big. It doesn't matter how popular Obama is, Olympia Snowe will still want attention, Joe Liberman will be a jerk, and Max Bacaus will still have no spine.

So, instead of taking on something so huge, I wish they would have tried to win more of the small battles that are doable. There are a lot of areas where Obama can affect major change, and it's hard to see all of the rest of them fall away as we tackle healthcare. It's certainly one of the most important issues facing us as a country currently; it's just not THE one most important.

I also think Obama is learning what it takes to get things done in a position of this much power. It was clear in both the stimulus and the inital healthcare bills in committee that he put too much faith in the congressional committee leaders to iron out the details, while making overarching statements that didn't touch on the sticky small stuff. I think going forward, he'll be better about clearly outlining exactly what he's looking for in legislation. Although, he's still only saying things like "yeah, sure, I'd like a public option" as if a waiter offered him some extra mayonnaise. (I just like the idea of slim mcgoo eating anything with that much fat in it.)

Maybe he'll learn to be more forcefull in other ways too. While I've heard a bunch about how hard he was courting Snowe in committee, I'm surprised that Liberman and a number of other Dems have gone to the press to say they won't vote to stop the fillibuster of healthcare with a public option. Obama really should be taking responsibility for this, whipping people into shape, and doing what it takes to get this to pass. Maybe crazy Joe (who it seems just really really really likes the insurance companies for some reason, now that Dodd has distanced himself from them) is beyond help, but I thought Rahm's job was to kick ass on the hill to get their priorities accomplished.

I know none of this fits into the world Obama described during the campaign. (Or even earlier.) While we may not be separated into a red America and a blue America, we definitely have a majority pary and an opposition party. And while I'm dissapointed in the dems, I'm just completely exasperated by the Republicans (and not just McConnell's stupid press releases). I guess I'm like Jon Stewart, in that I'm a hopelss optimist when it comes to this kind of thing, and I assume that when someone is sent to Washington to help fix our country that they would much rather be part of the process, as opposed to willing to sit it out until they get a majority again. I don't think the the Republican's strategy of immediately opposing Obama on anything is working, at least not in a way that helps them.

By just saying no to everything, it allows the fringes in the Democratic party to get more of a say. Both Ben Nelson and Jay Rockefeller get much more attention, which leads to more party in-fighting. What results is a watered-down, more useless bill that still gets passed, which has none of the reforms the GOP actually wanted, since they weren't part of the process. If the Republicans are looking to actually get their own issues and concerned addressed, they are totally failing. If their only goal is to destroy the Democrats then they're succeeding.

So, where do we go from here? I'd like to see Obama stand strong on key issues, and make congress accomodate his concrete plans. I don't know what you do to get the Republicans to engage in actual debate on key issues (more self-tanner for Boehner?), but until that happens, you need to pass things through with the situation you've got, instead of hoping that things improve.

Oh, and with Afghanistan I'm actually starting to agree more with Matthew Hoh. I really liked his point about how al-Qaida isn't looking for a safe haven in Afghanistan anymore. He feels that they have enough places like Somalia and Yemen to hide in, and that we can't keep treating this like a war against one country, that exists only in a single country. I would also add to Meghan's list this book too to read about the situation in the region.

What are your thoughts and reflections on that historic night and the last year? On a highly personal level, I shudder to think what I would have done with myself had we lost. My three-year relationship was crumbling, I was at the heaviest I've ever been (due in part to the crumbling relationship) and in massive debt. Working on the campaign truly did fill me with hope, and I'm pleased to say I rode that hope throughout 2009. I've lost almost 30 pounds, digging my way out of debt and am (not always, but mostly) happily single.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

maine taught me my first lesson about marriage equality

Astute readers of The Accidental Wisconsinite may know that I was born in Portland, Maine, but grew up in Portland, Oregon.

I'm about to pack up for the night, but wanted to point something else while I fall asleep to an absolute nailbiter.

The gay marriage debate is often likened to that of interracial marriage. A half-century ago it had several states up in arms, and now we look back (with the exception of some freakazoid (former) judge in Louisiana) and ask "what were we thinking?!?"

Little did I realize a quarter-century ago, when I was a child attending one of my earliest weddings in memory, that some close-minded people may have had a problem with it. To me, this wedding stands out in my foggy reminiscences because it was the first ceremony I recall not being in a church. It was in a house and there was a super fun party in the backyard with lots of tasty food and live music. I remember running around with other kids for hours and having a total blast. In my memory, the house was a yellow Victorian. Only with my societally-influenced adult mind do I recognize that the bride was white and the groom was black.

What difference does that make to me? None. They could be purple, but my Auntie Willow and Uncle Foris were a major part of my childhood and I love them like they were my blood relatives. That's why I don't understand why it would be any different if it were two Aunties or two Uncles getting married? If they were a loving couple and a model to young people of a happy, healthy relationship...why should a law stand in the way of their commitment?

Why can't we get a referendum on the ballot that says "Marriage shall be a recognition of love between two consenting adults, it doesn't matter what is between their legs?"

Monday, November 2, 2009

monday munchies: fall food



A bittersweet haul from the last Easttown Farmers Market of the season will provide me with some morsels for the week. Still sticking it out with Weight Watchers, I'm trying to create some healthy and nourishing fall foods.



After a failed attempt earlier this summer, I was pleased that my potato leek soup turned out freaking delicious this time around. I opted not to puree after my grandma recommended enjoying the flavor of the chunks.



This is a really crummy photo of a pretty darn amazing creation. Quinoa cakes -- super filling and loaded with protein. Just sort of made them up using 2c quinoa, 1c each of spinach, red pepper, red onion, and 2 eggs. Cooked 1/2 c of mixture at a time in olive oil. Use a spatula to hold together, or it does fall apart (like the photo above). You can top with cheese to make even more tasty.



My delicious "hangover" dinner on Saturday...baked potato with yogurt and cilantro and just look (!!!) at that sauteed kale with shallots. Doesn't it just look full of healthy things?



Finally, my lunch for the week: Cream of Celeriac soup. Celeriac may be the ugliest root vegetable out there, but dang, does it make one mouthwatering soup treat.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Saying Goodbye: Jake, the best dog ever


Jake Arnold was the best family dog a girl could ask for that she didn't grow up with. Jake came along after I'd been written off the "Arnold Show"...away to Milwaukee, never to return to Portland except for the occasional extended break. Despite not living in the same house with him, he was my dog.

I don't know how anyone couldn't love Jake. He was just such a goofy, loving pup....

...okay, I can't write this now...I'm crying too much on the keyboard. Just know you'll be missed...

30 by 30: Indie Workout Mix 1

Always mixing things up over here at the Accidental Wisconsinite, and today is no different. I restarted my membership at the Wisconsin Athletic Club today and took it easy with just over a half an hour on the elliptical (2.75 miles).

While I plan to spend most of my WAC time initially going to structured classes (and thus being subjected to the musical whims of the instructors), I needed to create a good mix of fresh tunes to get me motivated on my own. Here's my playlist for today:

Dream City - Free Energy
Something in Common - Free Energy
The Laurels of Erotomania - Cold Cave
True No. 9 Blues (True Romance) - Golden Silvers
IRM (Diskjokke Remix) - Charlotte Gainsbourg
Songs Remind Me of You - Annie (my new dance jam of the year)
Here to Fall (Popular Songs Version) - Yo La Tengo

Enjoy!

Friday, October 30, 2009

time out thursday: halloweekend

Are you SCARED that you don't have solid plans for this weekend? Don't be a lonely boy or ghoul, join me in tearing up the town for this All Hallow's Eve.
 
Frightened Friday
The party will be at Mad Planet for the Retro Night Halloween Costume Party. Just $4 will get you onto the dance floor along with all the crazy costumed Riverwesterners. Probably getting there around 10ish to check out the line, if there isn't one there may be a stop at Riverhorse or Foundation first.
 
Scary Saturday
Giving some local love to the Made in Milwaukee party at Turner Hall. I'm excited to check out local bands and artists. I'm also stoked to see Great Lakes Swimmers (eek! Canadians! Scary!). I'm very intrigued by the extra-special guest at 7, so I'll be there early. Wonder if they are raising someone from the dead? Apparently there is also a Warhol-inspired costume contest, so we'll see what I come up with. I may be up for meeting folks out afterward if my broomstick wants to keep flying.
 
Want to be a Zombie?
Then don't sleep this weekend and get in some community service weekend too! On Saturday morning, from 9-noon, discover that there's nothing scarier than invasive species in our parks. Join the Juneau Park Friends at the "Hallo-weedout" and pull weeds off the Juneau Park bluff. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Juneau-Park-Friends/113584992257?v=app_2344061033#/event.php?eid=160441235422&index=1
 
Hope to see you out this Halloweekend!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

time out thursday: i can't take a break

I had one free weekend in October. My first entirely free weekend since May. So what do I do? Sign up for a women's leadership conference of course! Signed up around the same time as Weight Watchers in a total grasping for something before I turn 30. It should be an interesting weekend though and help me become more active and engaged in my community.

Tonight though, I'm heading to the Milwaukee Ballet for the premiere of Cindrella. As part of my UPAF fund raising, I was able to pick one arts group to get "season" tickets for (I'm not technically a "season ticket holder" -- just vouchers -- hence the quotes). I have season tickets for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra's Classical Connections series and regularly attend the Milwaukee Rep's Entourage events, so I thought I'd try something new and different. At the time The Skylight kerfuffle was going on, so the ballet won out. I do need to get to The Skylight and The Florentine sometime this season, so let me know, dear readers, if you ever want to go.

Finally, on Sunday, Becky and I will make the annual pilgrimage to Elegant Farmer for a little late-season apple picking. Have to build up my stores before the markets end for the season.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

WTFisconsin: Racial Gap on Test Scores Among Widest

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported last week that while math scores in Wisconsin are up, the gap between black and white students hasn't improved since the early 1990s.

Clearly SOMETHING has to be done. So, more mind-boggling to me are the groups of folks who are dead-set against shaking up the Milwaukee Public School system and trying out mayoral control. Just like so many other issues in Milwaukee, it seems like people are more keen on bitching about things than offering actual solutions. I'm not qualified to judge beyond the catfights I read in the papers, but at this point, why not give it a try?

Of course, I'm also completely confused by why Milwaukee buses kids halfway across the city for school. Why not just invest in and improve neighborhood schools? Wouldn't that lift up the neighborhoods as a whole? I love this city, but so much here just doesn't make sense.

milwaukee props: cracking down on stupidity

Major props out tonight to the Wisconsin State Senate which passed a bill to ban texting while driving.

As a bicyclist and pedestrian, I thank our state's leaders for expanding the ban beyond the original "under 18 demographic." It's not like one turns 18 and suddenly has a magically third eye to keep on the road.

I am looking forward to safer streets.

Monday, October 19, 2009

monday munchies: ohh-ohh portion control!

Yeah, if you're a Prince fan you can't get that out of your head now.

So, as you know after my "last supper" last week (corn chowder, homemade "country french" bread and chicken in a sage/mushroom cream sauce -- got fresh cream from Ruegsegger Farms--over Autumn Harvest (sage, chestnut, pumpkin) orzo)...



...I began Weight Watchers through my work. After a rough first day, I've been getting into the swing of things. I've been "cheating" in that I've been forcing myself to get more exercise so I can gain "activity" points and eat more. I have my first "weigh-in" tomorrow, so we'll see if that strategy is working.

My goal for the week was to ride my bike to/from work each day and so far, so good. I've worked up culinary concoctions in fairly decent portion sizes too:



Black beans, wild rice, shredded cheese, pepper and onion



Half a Buck Bradley's "Half Pound" Grilled Chicken Sandwich and Black Beans.



Green Beans, Pureed Rutabaga and Herbs, Wild Rice

Not to mention, I found a Web site breaking down portion sizes for Halloween candy that has been very helpful. Sometimes a girl just needs 22 candy corns!

I thought this weekend, going camping, would be a challenge, but I earned off the charts activity points having dance parties and hiking with friends around the beautiful Camp Lakotah...



...and trekking through the breathtaking Horicon National Wildlife Refuge (who knew the largest freshwater cattail marsh in the United States was just an hour north?).



Good thing I did too, because while I took it easy on the boozing, and made wise choices at the adorable New Moon Cafe, in adorable downtown Oshkosh (again, who knew?)...



...I went a little crazy at our stop at Tandoor for dinner. Well, most of my choices were decent, but they didn't put biriyani in the Indian foods section of the WW pocket guide, so come to find out it was NINE points. Whoops. Luckily, I had most of my reserves intact and just scraped by with enough points. Good thing, or I would've been running around the block for an hour last night.

I do have to send a shout out to my wonderful friends who are popping out of the woodwork to tell me about their Weight Watchers experiences. It's very helpful to not view this as shameful, but encouraging. Thank you awesome people!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

blog action day: you can make an impact

You may notice that today is Blog Action Day if you're a heavy RSSer. This is a global movement to have bloggers take one day out of the year to focus on a preset topic. This year it's climate change.

It's so funny to me that people dispute climate change. I remember when I was about 9 or 10 years-old getting a fun activity book from Target that explained the issue to kids and taught us what we could do then (1990ish) to make a difference. I hardly think Target, as much as their ads would like us to believe, was being subversive.

I think the doubters are truly just people unable to look at the big picture. Yes, it may be "cold" in Milwaukee, in October, but how does that correlate to the planet itself not warming up? Being a creative, and by no means a "math & science" person, I am still shocked and sickened by the way that math and science have been tossed aside in recent years. It's kinda freaky, and from my literary point of view, kinda dark ages.

At any rate, tonight I will try and get up some "best of" posts or my reflections on a Wisconsin affected by climate change. But, before rushing off to work in the cold and rain, I'll leave a few tips for you to try today to make your own impact in the battle against climate change:

  • Take public transportation somewhere this week. In Milwaukee, you can go to RideMCTS.com to figure out how to do that.
  • Ride your bike or walk to run errands. Absolutely walk if you are going less than a half mile away.
  • Turn off all the lights before you leave the house.
  • Unplug your cell phone charger, if you aren't charging your cell phone.
  • Shut down your computer, or at least put on your "energy saver" functions
  • Eat and shop local (start with this great list here in Milwaukee)...and pay attention to those labels I was buying orange juice the other day and noticed that half the juice was now from Brazil. Florida's Natural got my purchasing vote because it was all a product of the U.S.A.
Remember, you can't change your lifestyle habits overnight. Pick one thing on the list and do it just once a week, or even once a month. Slowly, over time, you'll realize you're doing the right thing for yourself and our planet.

Good luck!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

30 by 30: Excuses for Not Blogging

The good news is: tomorrow I HAVE to blog on the topic of Climate Change due to Blog Action Day.

However, as you can tell, I've been slacking. But why?

Well, I made a big (no pun intended) step in my life this week. I joined Weight Watchers at Work through my employer. As long-time readers know, I made it my goal to lose 30 pounds before my 30th birthday. The tricky part of that goal is that my fear of scales made it difficult to estimate my starting weight. I've been going off of what my doctor's scale said in February, but I've yo-yo'd around 10 to 15 pounds lost since then. Right now, it's an even 10 less than February. However, when I compare to how my clothes fit pre-breakup (last November), I've lost a significant amount.

But for statistics' sake, I'm going to say that I have lost 10 and have 20 to go before January 11.

After that I'll have about another 30 during 30 to go, but we'll deal with that when we get there.

The nice thing I'm finding about Weight Watchers though, is that I can stick to my propensity toward natural and organic foods. Yeah, I could "save points" by eating reduced-fat cheese or bread, but until I can find a "whole foods" version of that, I'll stick to eating less and knowing there's no icky chemicals in it.

Today was my first day on the plan, and I learned that I have to balance it out slightly better. I didn't eat enough earlier and I was really focused on how hungry I was. My friends who have done it before tell me that will pass. I guess it's like giving up smoking or something. Luckily, having a group of co-workers around provides some release. We were joking this afternoon about how many points a right arm would be if we gnawed ours off. We decided 5.

Another nice thing that I have discovered is that the more physical activity I do, the more bonus points I earn. In fact, by riding my bike to/from work, I am picking up 2 points. Once November 1 rolls around and I rejoin the WAC, I should be able to treat myself more often.

The physical activity incentive is a big one for me this weekend as I head with a group of friends Up North for camping. Going to try and run/hike/paddle around enough that I can enjoy some adult beverages by the fire.

Have you done Weight Watchers or a similar diet plan? What suggestions do you have?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

music madness: wisconsin pride

I sit here, listening to the RadioMilwaukee rebroadcast of what is likely going to be my 2009 Concert of the Year, and reflecting on how proud I am to be an Accidental Wisconsinite today.

But before I delve into how amazing the Bon Iver show was, a little self-reflection and good, old-fashioned ranting.

As loyal readers of the blog know, I'm somewhat of a music freak. You may imagine me growing up in Portland, a late-'90s teenager, sneaking out of the house and smoking Parliaments and downing Henry Weinhards at some crazy Pavement, Built to Spill, or Sleater-Kinney shows in a basement in Hawthorne. But alas, my adolescence was confined to suburbia, and as far as I know, no serious rock was coming out of Beaverton. My only brush with the indie rocker world came just after high school graduation, when Kat and I met Elliott Smith's sister at the Denny's by Washington Square Mall.

Nope, in those days our alternative station didn't even come in that well on my side of the hills, and with no older siblings to guide me, I resigned myself to my parent's awesome collection of classic rock. Then at some point I discovered '80s alternative and geeked out about that pretty hardcore.

So when I moved to Milwaukee and found out it was the home of the Violent Femmes, I was pretty excited about that. And I thoroughly enjoyed my first few Femmes shows. But sometime during that period I started dating boys who really liked music, and so I expanded beyond my foundation and discovered a whole world of audio deliciousness -- and discovered that I'd just missed out on being an uber-hip kid.

Knowing that I'd been oblivious to the "scene" in Portland (although I did get to see a circa-The Moon and Antarctica New Year's Eve Eve Modest Mouse show at the Crystal Ballroom when I was home for Christmas from college one year), around senior year I started asking my local pals who the important area bands were. The answers still make me cringe:

The Gufs and The Bodeans!

I know I'm going to offend a lot of my dear friends with this one, but those are not bands you want to claim. That would be like if Portland only claimed Everclear, and at least they had a top album and a Behind the Music episode. (And yes, of course, I was a big fan when I was 17 and still would turn up "Santa Monica" if I heard it on the radio).

In regards to the first band, people need to realize that NO ONE outside of the Milwaukee and suburban Chicago market has EVER heard of The Gufs. Someone started a rumor (pre-Internet, impressively), that they were a huge band and about to take the music world by storm. Not so. Sorry kids, hate to break it to you. I can totally respect that some folks remain fans because that was the music of their youth. Just know that you are fans of an aging local band, not aging rock gods.

Now, The BoDeans, that's a totally different story. I'll give you the national-recognition -- circa 1995. But, do you think that wherever The Rembrandts are from (LA, according to Wikipedia) claim them as important native sons? Okay, okay, LA, you argue. Dude, even if they were from Omaha, I doubt they'd have as much false importance placed on them as the BoDeans do here in Wisconsin. And that whole "they opened for U2 on the Joshua Tree tour" argument -- well, a lot of bands have opened for U2, and I know at least Dashboard Confessional is worse than The BoDeans, so they have that going for them. I kid, I even admit to quite enjoying the song "Good Things," but please don't tell me that this is a critically amazing band. Or that they ever were.

The Femmes may be total caricatures of their punk selves, but they once made several important songs. They earned the respect of angsty teens beyond the borders of the Midwest. They provided the soundtrack to geeky teens' crushes, heartaches, and familial conflicts before the hipster-teen existed. They actually provided the soundtrack to (the way-better-than-even-if-it-was-on-shorter-than-Party-of-Five) My So-Called Life and Reality Bites. At any rate, they were a band I could say was from Wisconsin, when chatting with my West Coast pals.

Then came the indie-revolution of the "aughts," I had to shift focus to associating the Milwaukee scene with the Chicago scene. Not that I wasn't starting to hear good music from around Wisconsin (especially once I got out of the Marquette bubble), but that it wasn't creeping onto the radar out of state.

At some point though, while I wasn't even paying attention, Milwaukee and Wisconsin developed a crazy great music scene. And suddenly this amazing group from Eau Claire, I'd heard first played on WMSE, was becoming a Pitchfork poster child. I have been lucky enough to catch Justin Vernon and company at the Pabst Theater, Lollapalooza, and this morning for a pre-AIDS Walk Wisconsin acoustic set, but tonight's concert at the Riverside Theater was near-perfection.

I think what made it so fantastic is that this band has every right to be total jerkwads. They've "made it." But they're so blatantly humble and gracious to their audience, you just want to keep rooting for them. From my ridiculously amazing solo seat, I could see Justin Vernon doing his own set up after the kickass opening set by another new must-check-out Wisconsin band, Eau Claire's The Daredevil Christopher Wright. (They gave the opening band a nice chunk of time to highlight their wares too.)

Every bit of the Bon Iver set was magical. The song selection (although quote of the night, after an audience member yelled out a song name, "Pop quiz: we only have like 11 songs, so chances are you're gonna hear all of them."), the arrangements and improvisations, the audience participation, and the constant "thank yous" and earnest "it is so wonderful to be here." The combination of a homecoming and tour-closing show, truly made the night electric.

And how can you go wrong with a stripped down version of The Outfield's " Your Love"?

Oh, and they create beautiful, haunting, original music too.

And hopefully none of it will ever become the theme song to a Neve Campbell vehicle.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

time out thursday: finally laying low

I'm really, really looking forward to this weekend. Why? Because I finally have a chance to relax and tackle the insanity that is my apartment at the moment. I also hopefully have a chance to sketch out some blogs for the upcoming weeks. I feel badly that I didn't get a Worldly Wednesday post up yesterday -- am going to have to plan better for that.

Although I'm "doing nothing," here are some of my "low-key" things on tap:
Other than that, cleaning, and blogging, I plan to attack some of the fruits/veggies in my kitchen and create a couple of dishes for the upcoming week. I just got a bunch of sage from my CSA and don't want that to go to waste.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

milwaukee props: streetcar meeting this thursday



As down as I get sometimes about all the NO NO NO NO NO we hear in Wisconsin when it comes to progress, I forget that there's plenty of open-minded, big picture thinkers doing what's best to move our region forward in a global reality.

That's why I'm very excited about the upcoming Milwaukee Streetcar meeting, this Thursday, October 8 from 3-7 p.m. at the Zeidler Municipal Building/ Broadway Entrance Lobby Area, 841 N. Broadway.

You can review all the materials at MilwaukeeConnector.com before you go and give your input.

What route do you favor? Are you planning to go and take part in this exciting step toward Milwaukee's better future?

WTFisconsin: Charging for CCAP?

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, so how does the Wisconsin State Assembly respond? By proposing a charge for the popular online court records database -- CCAP -- on October 1.

While I agree that there are reforms that should be made to this service (if people are truly listed who have been falsely accused, by all means fix that), I disagree that a charge should be implemented.

Granted the fee is only $10, but I doubt people will pay that to look up their dates, as all the single women I know do now. That's unfortunate because that $10 could save a life if the dude you're about to go out with has four restraining orders against him. I could see lawmakers responding and saying "well, we won't charge shelters, women's centers, etc." Well the thing is, lawmakers, domestic violence knows no class or social status. I can't forsee a young professional saying "oh, I don't have $10, but I'll swing down to the shelter and check out this guy."

Please, keep CCAP free for all to use.

Monday, October 5, 2009

monday munchies: unhealthy kick


Being on the go for two weeks has not helped my eating habits. I have a bunch of potatoes and leeks and am hoping to have the opportunity to make some potato leek soup tomorrow evening after catching up with my friends, The Filter, at the new restaurant, Coa.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

girl on film: congratulations milwaukee film!

Major kudos to the staff of the inaugural Milwaukee Film Festival for pulling off the best film fest this city has ever seen. As a long-time volunteer with various incarnations of film events in this city, this was the best experience I've ever had volunteering with any organization. As a long-time patron of various incarnations of film events in this city, this was the first time where I've had to agonize over the decision of which movie I'm going to go see because they're all such great picks.

I guess the success of this festival can be boiled down to how easily the starpower blended with us regular Milwaukee folks. The major funder of the previous film organization that I volunteered for (for several years) never ONCE humbled himself to thank the volunteers. The opening night of this festival my co-theatre manager and I ended up in a casual conversation with one of the staff members and Chris Abele, the major funder of Milwaukee Film and this festival. Mr. Abele was courteous to Mary and I, and thanked us for volunteering. It's wonderful to encounter donors who realize that it takes both donated money AND time for an event like this to succeed.

Of course another aspect of a film event is to make everyone who attends feel a little bit like they're part of the red carpet scene. Part of this is achieved through inviting bigger-name celebrities to appear alongside their independent film projects. At past film festivals, these folks (with the exception of the guy who played Puddy, Patrick Warburton) flew in, did their talkback, probably attended a VIP-only thing, and left. What a delightful surprise then, for the hundred or so of use who went to the closing ceremonies at Beans & Barley tonight to find ourselves in the company of a Hollywood legend. Martin Landau had been doing promos for his new film, Lovely, Still (which I unfortunately was unable to catch), but had no obligation to hang out with us commoners. It was so wonderful to see him just hanging out at the bar, chatting it up with local filmmakers. Said bar has been set damn high.

Impressive work Milwaukee Film staff. Well done. Now sleep!

***

I realize I still owe posts for The Milwaukee Showcase, The Milwaukee Show, Crude, The Life Over There, Favela on Blast, Gigante, and Precious (didn't make it to The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle, and Kimjongilia was canceled). Look for those some time soon. After I sleep.

I did have time to complete a request I got on Twitter to create a guest post for another festgoer's blog. Tilney had a really creative idea to write a "what I learned" series for each film. Here's my guest piece: http://bit.ly/43g1WS

sassy saturday: too sassy to post

I promise I'll be better at this daily blogging thing once the Milwaukee Film Festival ends. I've seriously been at parties this week at the YNOTIII, Landmark Lanes, Wolksi's, Turner Hall, My Office and MOCT...can you forgive me the slacking?

Friday, October 2, 2009

freestyle fridays: happy birthday mr. gandhi



As anyone who has visited Google today knows, it's Mahatma Gandhi's 140th birthday. Please take the time to reflect this evening (or this weekend) on Mr. Gandhi's most well-known, oft-quoted, but rarely followed words of wisdom:

BE THE CHANGE YOU WISH TO SEE IN THE WORLD.

Simple advice that we all should follow in order to make our own communities better.

I struggle with implementing this quote in my life as well. The picture above was taken by me, in India, at the site of Gandhi's assassination (Gandhi Smriti in New Delhi). While this museum was tranquil and set in a beautiful, quiet neighborhood, the majority of my trip exposed me to the worst abject poverty I've ever witnessed. Months later, in the comforts of my first world lifestyle, those images seem to have faded and combined with those I only view in documentaries or read about. I should be driven to act, but yet, acting is overwhelming. However, I do know that I can make a difference on a local level and I try my best to keep involved.

Others ask me why I'm so overinvolved, but then I look to a legacy great human beings and feel that there's so much more I can do.

time out thursday: october weekend upon us

Just like last, this weekend is devoted to the Milwaukee Film Festival.

Friday night I'll be staffing the Oriental, but the rest of the plan, for now, is as follows:


Saturday, October 3:

12:30 PM: Crude

2:15 PM: The Life Over There (another Milwaukee film)

5 PM: The Milwaukee Show (more Milwaukee short films!)

7:30 PM: Favela on Blast

9:15 PM: The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle

Sunday, October 4:
Hopefully starting the day at the Brady Street Dog Parade with Jane and Gracie, then heading for an afternoon of movies.

3:30 PM: Kimjongilia

5:15 PM: Gigante

7:30 PM: Precious (this film has been a hit at festivals all year, excited to see it here in Milwaukee)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

october blogging

Hey there reader! Remember when The Accidental Wisconsinite used to blog on a semi-regular basis? Remember classic posts that were passed around the internet causing my Google Analytics page to make some pretty line graphs?

I hope to bring those back.

The weather is getting colder and it's getting darker earlier. That means I can hunker down and start entertaining (?) you all again with my witty bloggery opinions of life and Milwaukee.

I'm going to mix it up a little bit too. Here's what you (and I) can hope for in October:

Monday Munchies - Still will focus on my kitchen adventures and dining experiences, but I'll try to mix in a healthy dose of agriculture and sustainable food related issues

Twofer Tuesday's will offer two conflicting posts--an optimistic Milwaukee Props and a more critical WTFWisconsin

Worldly Wednesday - This is a new feature I'd like to add, focusing on issues around the globe that come to my attention. I actually was pretty darn inspired by the documentary Reporter that I caught during the Milwaukee Film Festival, which highlighted the work of New York Times reporter Nick Kristof and his convictions regarding the role of responsible journalism to highlight global crises. The film took a swipe at the personalization of the media and blogs, which is allowing people to go through their day and not even know about terrible events going on around the world. This only set off the alarm that was already stirring since my co-worker did not get my Joe Wilson reference after the "You Lie!" incident. If I can reach my handful of readers with global awareness, maybe I can make a nanochange.

Time Out Thursday - Since it's rare that I have a weekend where nothing is going on, Thursday's will serve as my weekend preview

Freestyle Friday - I'll try and get something short and random up, whether it be pictures, links, events, whatever

Sassy Saturday - I'll foray into some self-reflection here, whether it be on friendship, lifestyles, the single life, whatever. We'll see how this one goes.

Various & Sunday Items - This will be a longer potpourri blog, likely ending up either Girl on Film, Art Attack, Music Madness, Globetrotting, or Daily Inspiration

Anything YOU would like to see me write about more?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

girl on film: weeknight festing

I hopefully can find time after this all over to write proper opinions.

Yesterday I caught Il Divo, which was the quirkiest mafia film I've ever seen.

Tonight I finally saw the documentary Art & Copy, a must for any creative professional. I also saw what I'm declaring my best movie of the festival thus far, Terribly Happy. I had zero expectations going in and wow, it was just a fantastic film.

More later. Bed before midnight!

Monday, September 28, 2009

girl on film: documentaries and revenge

Hopefully will have time to write proper thoughts tomorrow, but the films for today were:

3 PM: Reporter

5 PM: Changing the Conversation

7:15 PM: All Tomorrow's Parties

9:30 PM: Revanche

The first one was probably my favorite of the day, just a really well-made documentary. I feel my opinions of Changing may have been tarnished by watching an excellent film beforehand.

Oh, and the first one had to overcome the rocky talkback at the start. There was a short film, "It's in the P-I," by two Seattle filmmakers and a quick Q&A before the feature. This wackjob lady walked in late and did not follow the cardinal rule of "if you don't have any clue what is going on, keep your mouth shut." The filmmakers were answering a question about the 5-day film competition they'd made the piece for, when this woman asks "SO DID YOU GUYS MAKE A MOVIE?"

Filmmaker: "Uh, yeah, the movie that just showed..."
Woman: "OH, SORRY I WALKED IN LATE."

Then later, after a couple more relevant questions, crazy lady again: "SO ARE YOU GUYS MILWAUKEE GUYS?"

Filmmaker: "Uh, no, um, we're from Seattle...."

Really? What is wrong with people? And why do nuttos like this have to give a bad impression of the Milwaukee community?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

girl on film: gay politicians, not really gay hipsters, and korean serial killers

Day three of the Milwaukee Film Festival for me, and day two of my movie viewing experience.

After a shift of theatre managing at the Oriental Theatre, I caught the documentary Outrage, which I've been looking forward to for quite some time. The film focuses on hypocritical closeted politicians and the reason gay media outlets publicly out them. It thoughtfully explored the reasons politicians are and/or have been closeted (kudos to the "out" politicians who shared very personal stories in the film). It painted many of these politicians not just as despicable, but really, people who should be pitied for not being able to truly be their real selves. It expressed hope though that this may not be a problem as younger generations accept the LGBT community as part of the general community.

I ended up bailing on my fellow FUEL leaders for the Kings of Leon concert in favor of a much needed nap and the desire to catch the much-hyped Humpday instead. As I "status messaged" earlier, by age 29 I should've known I'd pick an indie film over a mainstream concert, and I should've saved my $25.

Definitely glad I caught Humpday. It was pretty darn hilarious, in that mumblecore Gen-Yish kinda way. At the same time, it quite genuinely portrayed relationships of best friends and (what I imagine) married couples. To sum it up, this movie's alternate title could have been "Zack & Marty Make a Porno" -- about two best friends (this time of the same gender) who consider making an adult film. Hilarity and self-reflection ensues. I also got my share of beard (thanks to actor Joshua Leonard) in this movie, since I'll be missing Built to Spill at Turner Hall tomorrow night. I had to giggle at the fact that the protaganist in the film was a transit planner because I can't imagine anyone that hipster-y attractive and adorably angsty working in my office. Perhaps I need to transfer to Seattle. I was glad to see this after Outrage, because films like this give me hope that the more open society is about issues of sexuality (and not treating sexual feelings like they're dirty, disgusting things to repress and NEVER, EVER, EVER share with ANYONE), the better we all will be toward addressing the real issues in this world (aren't things like climate change, terrorism, collapse of global economic systems just a WEE bit more important than gay marriage? Just a wee?).

I ended up meeting up with my old pal Howard via Twitter, as well as his friend Tonia, for the midnight movie. The Chaser was probably the best serial killer thriller I've seen since Silence of the Lambs. It was funny, it was touching, it was violent, it was gutwrenching, it was DRAINING. But, whoa. I don't know if I could ever watch it again, but I would highly recommend it. I really hope they don't bastardize it if Hollywood remakes it for the American market. After all, the glory of indie and foreign films is you just KNOW they're not going to end well. No matter how much they tease you that it might.

Unfortunately, on the bike ride home, I encountered something that is much more sinister than Korean serial killers -- American drunk driving culture. Of course it also didn't help that some drunk idiot stole the front light off my bike (there goes another $12 down the drain). I had two assholes speed by me (one had to be going over 90 mph down Farwell Avenue, which I believe is a 30 zone), but the scariest of all was this shithead that lurched through a red light at Farwell/Brady/Cambridge nearly taking me and a pedestrian out in the process. Thank God my primordial scream (it's amazing what vocal capacity you have as headlights move directly toward your side) stopped the guy enough for him to slow down, swerve around me and yell "BITCH!" Of course, instead of getting his license plate like a sane person, I spouted off a string of obscenities that would make a sailor blush as he sped away. The pedestrian was like "YES! Thank you!", but as soon as I'd pedaled into safety I burst into sobs.

In some aspects I guess I can thank these drunk idiots -- the adrenaline gave me enough energy to write this blog entry. Off to bed before a full slate of flicks tomorrow.

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