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.
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.

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 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!

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 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:

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:


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)

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