Tuesday, September 30, 2008

october eve: a new month so let's throw so goals out there

The goals below are not for October (obviously there are things that would be impossible to do without violating the space/time continuum), but for the next year and beyond. I'm gonna figure out how to be all nifty and add them into my blog sidebar or somethin' but thought I would introduce them here. I will continue to add to them as well, so be prepared.

  • Volunteer at Growing Power -- I mentioned this organization in my last post and would like to go to the volunteer orientation the first Saturday morning I have free after the
  • Go to a Timber Rattlers Game in 2009 -- they are a Brewers farm team now and just a skip away in Appleton. Tubing and Baseball anyone?

  • Limit eating out to 1 lunch and 1 night per week, 1 night OR brunch per weekend -- this is one of the greatest areas where my spending starts spiraling. I'm determined to remedy that.

  • Limit buying cocktails to 1 per weeknight, 3 per weekend night -- another spending death trap. I think this is a reasonable goal. Cocktails does mean beer and wine as well. And note that it basically refers to going out and buying them. If I have a couple glasses of wine at home I don't think there's any harm there.

  • Create viable eat local plan -- I'm starting with my October plan to do one meal a day. We'll see where it goes from there.

  • Register to take GRE before December -- basically meaning, overcome fear of standardized tests

  • Post a blog (minimum) three days per week -- you'll be hearing a lot more from me

  • Obama campaign activity at least once per week through the election -- this is going to be tricky but I have to find/make the time. If a week goes by where I can't make it in, I'm going to make myself donate $5.

  • Read three books per month -- a reasonable goal and motivation to pay off my library fees

  • Attend one author talk per month -- Schwartz always has a ton, as do local universities. So do smaller bookstores. I'm sure I'll find something!

  • Attend one film at UWM Union Theatre a month -- they're free so this should be easy

  • Attend one art gallery show per month -- Quarterly gallery nights make it easy, but I'll have to get creative during the off-months.

  • Take one continuing ed class per semester -- this semester is pretty much shot, but starting in Winter 2009 I should be able to find something reasonable at UWM

  • Do one load of laundry per week -- you don't even know how this piles up

  • Clean one room in apartment COMPLETELY each week (make rotating chart) -- I need to start being a grown up and stop being a clutter freak

  • Write Final 12 hours in Milwaukee blog -- some of my goals are going to be inspired by things I see on other blogs. This one came from Amateur Gourmet

  • Go to one Urban Ecology Center program/event per month -- I'm a member, it's a fantastic organization, so why the heck not?

  • Utilize my memberships at the Milwaukee Art Museum and Discovery World at least once per month--even if it's just to pop in and look at a picture or pet a stingray for 10 minutes

  • Use my UPAF Smart Card at least FOUR times -- I earned it and need to check out a greater array of performing arts beyond the Rep and the Symphony.

  • Get back in a routine of going to the gym 2-3 times per week -- the WAC was the best birthday gift I could've received, now that it's chilly it's time to rededicate. I just need to get this cold out of my system so I can breathe!!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

food awareness: local or loca?

For the past year or so I've tried to be more and more conscious of what I put in my mouth.

(Get your mind out of the gutter!)

As I get older and my body processes food differently, I want to make sure that I'm putting less crap in. As I educate myself on agricultural issues, I want to make sure I'm supporting the future by making smart buying choices. And as I taste food from local farms it reawakens tastes from my childhood -- tastes that have been systematically removed from our food supply by the interest of big business.

Try it, eat a tomato from the grocery store and then eat one from the farmer's market. Even eat an organic tomato from the grocery store. The tastes don't even compare.

2008 has been a banner year for me in food self-education.

It started by making the choice with three of my friends to become shareholders in a CSA for the summer. After attending a Spring Open House at the Urban Ecology Center, we opted to be members of Rare Earth Farm. Despite a couple hiccups (especially thanks to the June floods), I have been completely thrilled with the decision to do this. I am participating again next year regardless of the decisions of my co-investors.

Another huge education tool for me has been subscribing to food blogs via my Google Reader. Thanks to suggested links and clicking through posts my friends share, I've found loads of resources out there on various food and agricultural issues. One resource that kept coming up (and who had a table at the aforementioned Moo & Brew event earlier this year) was Slow Food Nation. Recently I decided to become a member of that and joined the Southeastern Wisconsin convivia. Provided the Brewers playoff schedule does not interfere, I will be attending my first event for that in October.

I honestly feel though that all of my local food self-education has come to a head in the last week.

Last Monday I purchased the book Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver at the Powell's in the Portland Airport. I haven't finished yet, but I've been unable to put the book down. It's such an easy read with a conversational tone that makes you forget (almost) that it's cramming you with useful information. I bought it to learn about seasonal eating, but am learning about so much more, especially the politics behind farming. It's a fascinating read and one I absolutely recommend.

I returned to town and found out that Growing Power, a non-profit I visited once for work, had gotten some serious national recognition. Growing Power has been in the back of my mind for awhile as somewhere I would like to volunteer. I would like to resolve that after the campaign is over that I will go to a volunteer orientation there.

Then today I had to present at Milwaukee's first Sustainable Living Conference at the Urban Ecology Center. Despite having a very limited voice (from being sick and then cheering for the Brewers on Friday night), my presentation squeaked out just fine. BUT, before my own talk (on transportation alternatives) I had the pleasure of attending some of the other sessions. The one that truly resonated with me was about eating locally. I went to the talk looking for a "how," but was really engaged by the discussion amongst the panel of the larger issues at hand in moving beyond, what one presenter put it, "the hot pocket culture."

There's a lot spinning around in my head on what I feasibly can do. I know I just missed Wisconsin's Eat Local Challenge. I know I cannot commit to the National Eat October Local Challenge due to a crazy October on the books, but there are smaller things I can do.

So where am I starting?

I pledged to eat one local meal a day for the month of October. Even if that means just eating an apple for breakfast from a local orchard, I'm committed to doing it. And I truly do hope to keep this blog more active with updates.

Wish me luck!

what a day to be a wisconsinite!

The Brewers are going to the playoffs for the first time since 1982!!!!!

And yours truly will see them face off against the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 3 of the NLCS next Saturday, October 4.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Retro Blog: Kevin’s Milwaukee Visit

It’s amazing how much cooler siblings get with age. Last month I had the privilege of hosting my brother, Kevin, on his first vacation in two years. I took Friday off too, so it was sort of my vacation as well.

He arrived Thursday morning on a red-eye from Portland, so after picking him up from the airport (thanks Adam for letting me borrow the car!), I dropped him off and headed to work. Later that afternoon he took the bus to meet me, so he could see where I worked. (The past two times he visited Milwaukee I was in—or just out of—college, so I didn’t have a “real job” yet.) Unfortunately the co-worker who really wanted to meet him was out sick, but he got a solid tour of the office.

We left work and drove to pick up my CSA share for the week. Kevin was impressed by the spread of veggies, which were particularly colorful that week.

After dividing up shares, we headed over to Jazz in the Park. Kevin had some déjà vu there, and reminded me that I took him there when he visited at 19, so that he could drink. Whoops! It was still a good opportunity for him to meet quite a few of my friends and former co-workers. Plus always solid people watching.

Becky also joined us there before heading home to Minnesota for her high school reunion, so it was nice for Kev to see a familiar face, even if it was from six years ago.

We had to cut out of Jazz early so I could take Kevin to see The Pabst Theatre. He wasn’t too excited about seeing Bon Iver, but luckily it was an incredible show in an already incredible setting and he thoroughly enjoyed himself. The only downside was that we did miss most of AA Bondy, the opener, but we definitely did not miss out on the amazing mostly acoustic amazingness that is Bon Iver. The band is from rural Wisconsin too, so it made for an interesting audience of hipsters and family.

After the show I had to take the bro to Buckley’s for half-price beer night. He got a Manhattan though and claimed it was the best ever. Thanks Britt.

Smart move on taking Friday off. We slept in a bit before biking to Alterra on the Lake for lunch. Phil went out of town for the weekend but lent Kevin his mountain bike, which lasted for a day (more on that later), but it was very kind of him. After lunch we hit up the now-closed Gilbert & George exhibit at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Outstanding. We looked at the fascinating photo exhibit in one of the smaller galleries, which compares contemporary quirky portraits by a Wisconsin team to portraits throughout the last century. We also hit up the Sensory Overload installations, which I’d yet to experience. A quick turn around the Bradley Collection, folk art, Georgia O’Keefe and decorative arts (including the Chair Park!) and we were done. Didn’t realize how much was new since 2002 when I took him last time. The building may be cool, but the museum as a whole is a true gem to Milwaukee.

After we finished, we headed over to Discovery World. I saw my friend Wren on the way in but she was with a vendor, so didn’t see me. Kevin didn’t believe she was my friend. Pretty funny, especially as the two of them spent the rest of the weekend bonding over comics and art. The brother and I walked through the Les Paul House of Sound exhibit and the aquarium. There were a few too many kids for us to play with too much, but we still had a fun time.

A quick ride through Lakeshore State Park and we found ourselves entering for free at Irish Fest at 4 p.m. This was Kevin’s first Irish Fest (and the reason Mom shipped him out here), so we took our time going through the grounds. Brooke and Craig met us shortly after, which was another familiar face for Kevin. Wren, her friend Diane, and Grant all joined the party and we all got to watch the parade before we hit the beer stands. Lovely evening, spent most of it people watching, until 8 p.m. when the Quigleys started their bartending stint. Met another group of my friends down there and hung out until we had to skip back to MAM for Cedar Block’s What Do You Get? – a local artist interpretation of the G&G exhibit.

Totally had not thought through the outfit for the day, but proudly rocked my “Smart & Sassy Irish Lassie” t-shirt amongst the throngs of hipsters. Kevin was impressed at the lacking of judgmental gawking by the scenesters at the affront to fashion. Made me want to give Milwaukee a hug.

Event was fun times. Saw Monica and her bf Joe, and my friend Mario’s gf Jess was volunteering there. Jess coerced us into making an art project, which we have big plans for later this year.

Though Monica and Joe tried to convince us to accompany them to Comet, Kevin and I decided it would be best to turn in as we had a big day ahead of us.

Saturday morning we hit up the Plaza for breakfast before heading to the Lakefront Brewery Tour at 1. Of course coordinating a large group for the tour never works as planned, so we ended up on the 2 p.m. A nice group of my friends – Jason, Lars, Marcella, and her roommate Mary came out for the tour. We had a very dry guide, but Kevin had a great time and we biked over to Wolski’s after where we met up with Ben.

Kev and I had to split though to get down to Bradford Beach to meet Jane, Ralf and Mar. We were a little late due to bike troubles and missed most of the festivities down there. Had a nice visit though and headed back to my apartment for dinner and naps. BUT FIRST, we did have to cram ourselves in the car with two bikes and four adults. Hilarity ensued.

I scraped up a dinner out of CSA veggies and after we were fed and rested, Mar scooped us up to go to Bryant’s. Marcella, Wren and Grant all met us there. Poor Kevin did not enjoy it thoroughly as too many drinks were recommended to him, but we had a good time nonetheless. I had to get up early the next morning, but en route home we learned everyone was at Bad Genie, so we stopped so I could have some water and Kev could have a Scorpion Shot. He actually ended up staying out with my friends as I headed home early.

Got up early the next morning to bus down to Warnimont Golf Course for my last golf “mini-lesson.” Did terribly, but learned how to play on an actual course. Not as terrifying as expected. Thanks to Olivia, Hakan and George for their patience with me.

Our gang went to “celebrate” with brunch at Sheridan’s afterward. By the time I got home I desperately needed a nap. Poor Kevin just watched some DVDs while I caught up on rest. When I woke up we headed down to Irish Fest where we explored the grounds a bit more, caught a couple bands and waited for the Scattering at the end of the night. Whilst there, Phil returned to town, so we took a cab up to Jamo’s to meet him afterward.

Kevin volunteered to take the bus to the airport in the morning, so I headed off to work one tired sister, but glad I got some sibling bonding in over a jam-packed weekend, as well as got to highlight my awesome adopted city.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Monday, September 8, 2008

brush up your shakespeare: love's labour's lost

It seems these days everything that is old is new again. 90210 2.0 premiered last week, the New Kids reunited this summer...are the '90s back? Well, the 1590s are back at Milwaukee Shakespeare and Love's Labour's Lost 21st Century repurposing is a must-see for both theatre-lovers and pop-culture aficionados alike (or any combination thereof).

A quick read of the program explains that this is Shakespeare's only "original" play (the others based on history, myth or literature) and was set around many of the current events and scandals of the late 16th century. [Think someone setting PerezHilton.com to iambic pentameter]. It kinda fell by the wayside for many centuries until people starting tweaking with it in the last hundred years or so. Even being an English major who aced every Shakespeare run-in I encountered, I never saw or read this play.

Milwaukee Shakespeare's tweaks stay true to Willy's voice, but infuse the plot with props and references that are unmistakably modern. Even the play-within-a-play during the last act is set to the tune of American Idol. Unlike some "updates" that seem terribly out of place in the Bard's world in other adaptations, these are blended so well that it's hard to imagine the play without them and believe that WS didn't have "Guitar Hero," blackberries and reality television readily at his disposal. And with pot references (and sight gags) worked so brilliantly into the action, one thinks that from a comedic standpoint, Mr. S just may have been the Judd Apatow of his time.

Of course in addition to the wonderful technical direction, the actors always do contribute to "selling" the play. This was my first Milwaukee Shakespeare experience and I was delightfully impressed at the spate of young actors involved in the company who clearly are learning from the older residents. While I love the Milwaukee Rep, I've seen many of the same faces there for the 10 years I've been here, so it was great to see trained but youthful interpretations.

And from someone who's spent some time on the couch vegging to TCM On Demand as of late, I appreciated the lead actress' interpretation of Katharine Hepburn meets Bette Davis.

Plus everyone on stage looked like they were genuinely having a good time.

While I was lucky enough to catch Love's Labour's Lost on a special $12 night (thank you Christina for the scoop!), I would totally go again for full price if I had time. I will be encouraging my friends to see this, and I encourage you, blog reader to go check it out before the run ends on October 5th.

p.s. I still owe posts on several of my August events. They may come soon.

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