My blog

I write in spurts, mostly at random.

Escape the web design dungeon

website is supposed to be liberating — a wide open window for communicating your best message to the world, and for sharpening its focus constantly in response to that world. Some unfortunate website owners, however, instead soon find themselves...

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Trump’s black family on Twitter and alter egos

Grabbing my first cup of coffee this morning, I turned on Milwaukee's NPR station and heard, of course, about Donald Trump and his "Look at my African-American over here!" remark from yesterday. Continuing on to Twitter, I saw that Trump was already beginning to churn...

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Cicero, Illinois: Tour of Shirley’s childhood home

Just before this past Christmas, my mom's cousin Wanda died. Back in Cicero, Illinois in the late 1930s, 40s, and early 50s, Wanda was like a big sister to Shirley. My own sister Karen drove us down to attend Wanda's wake and, arriving with plenty of time to spare,...

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Video: Zoey’s bedtime story gibberish

The date of this video is November 13, 2010. We came across it the other day and decided to put it on YouTube. I hope you enjoy it. Our great niece Zoey and her older sister Nadine were staying with us for a couple of days. It was 9 p.m. and Nadine was done for the...

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Unlocking the smartphone labyrinth: From Sprint to Verizon

Getting decent phone service at a reasonable price has been our elusive goal for years. Now we have ventured deeper into these mysteries, chasing questions like "How the hell do you unlock a Sprint smartphone for use on another carrier?" and "How can a three and a...

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‘The Way’ (2010 movie, Martin Sheen, Emilio Estevez)

Regular readers may remember the recent review of The Alchemist here, which also touched upon the unique biography of author Paulo Coelho. The book Coelho wrote before The Alchemist was The Pilgrimage, a story about his walking the Camino de Santiago which led him to...

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‘Treme’ (HBO series in New Orleans, 3 1/2 seasons)

Treme is an HBO TV series about New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Created by David Simon and Eric Overmyer, who previously collaborated on Homicide: Life on the Street and the masterpiece HBO series The Wire, Treme is named for the New Orleans neighborhood where...

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‘Neil Young Journeys’ (2011 Jonathan Demme movie)

It helps if you're into Neil Young. Back in the mid-1970s there was this guy Brian, who wore his dirty blonde hair down to the shoulders of his Army surplus jacket. He would come around the park across from my house carrying albums, like After the Gold Rush. My mom...

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‘Locke’ (movie by Steven Knight, starring Tom Hardy)

Locke, the 2013 British drama written and directed by Steven Knight, is a movie in which we see just one single actor driving at night from point A to point B down England's M6 motorway. His drive is spent taking and making a series of stressful phone calls....

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Our house smells of roast wet dog

Forgive me if I pause to discreetly gag while writing this, honorable reader, but our house smells of roast wet dog. The lesson to be portioned out from this is that the expiration date of a fresh turkey should not be stretched, not even by a couple of days. As you...

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‘Boyhood’ (2014 movie, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke)

Boyhood -- the Richard Linklater movie that won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama on Sunday, and is sure to be among the Oscar nominations this Thursday morning -- at first appears to be an interesting experiment in time-lapse photography, but...

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Messages through the wall, heard on radio

You have probably heard the story of how, as a POW during the Vietnam War, Sen. John McCain tapped messages through his prison wall to his fellow American prisoner, Ernest Brace. The conversation started with McCain tapping out "Shave and a haircut," and Brace...

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Open G guitar tuning: From Keith Richards to Slack Key guitar

Above is a YouTube video Marty Schwartz did for Next Level Guitar demonstrating the Open G guitar tuning. Marty explains how to tune your guitar to Open G, and then shows off some of Open G's advantages. It's an easygoing, relaxed guitar lesson, and he takes his time...

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‘Birdman’ (2014 movie, Michael Keaton, Emma Stone)

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is a masterpiece of moviemaking. Presented as if it were one continuous flowing shot, it gives a tremendously heightened sense of real life, of the seer inside us who follows paths -- hallways, staircases, sidewalks --...

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Historical Jesus: ‘A Marginal Jew’: Volumes III & IV

As someone who's made a regular hobby of studying the Bible for about 30 years and counting, I find it hard to express how enjoyable the John P. Meier book series A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus has been to read. Chapter by chapter, Meier peels away...

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Russell Brand, Alec Baldwin: The rich flee climate change

Energetic thinker Russell Brand -- whose brand new book is called Revolution -- has a YouTube show called The Trews ("The Trews is news if the news were true") on which he discusses current events and world problems. Back in August, The Trews gained attention through...

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‘Muscle Shoals’ (2013 music documentary movie)

Muscle Shoals is a 2013 documentary about a legendary recording studio in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, way up in the northwest corner of that state, a 150-mile drive from Memphis, Tennessee. Actually, it's a documentary about two legendary recording studios in that little...

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‘The Wire’: Must-watch HBO series from a decade ago

Amy and I just finished watching all five seasons of The Wire. While we were doing this, I was surprised by the number of people I mentioned this to who had never heard of the show. "The what?," they'd ask. "The Wire?" Yes -- The Wire. The Wire was an HBO series that...

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‘Tiny Dancer,’ by Elton John and Bernie Taupin

The Elton John song "Tiny Dancer" (lyrics by Bernie Taupin) is in my iTunes library because of its use in the sing-along scene of Almost Famous, the Cameron Crowe movie from 2000 in which a touring rock band, its crew and entourage are touchingly reunited by the song...

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SC Johnson headquarters tour, Racine, Wisconsin

The SC Johnson headquarters in Racine, Wisconsin is a peculiar little enclave. The company's heritage campus includes its iconic, Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Research Tower and Administration Building, as well as the Golden Rondelle Theater, transplanted from the...

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Shaving cream switch: Goodbye shaving gel, hello Cremo

After years of annoyance, I have ditched my blue shaving gel for a new type of shaving cream, and I am a happier man. The new stuff is Cremo Astonishingly Superior Shave Cream. It helps my razor glide smoothly across my face, resulting in a nice, close shave. It has a...

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Frances Ha (2013 movie, Noah Baumbach, Greta Gerwig)

If you'd like to spend an hour and a half sometime watching a thoroughly enjoyable portrait of an adorable young woman coming to grips with adult life in New York City, Frances Ha is the movie you should see. Directed by Noah Baumbach and starring Greta Gerwig as...

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Jesus of Nazareth, the ‘Marginal Jew’ behind Jesus Christ

Who was Jesus of Nazareth, according to historical evidence? An ample crop of recent books on the "historical Jesus" has offered yet more answers to this perennial puzzle. Reza Aslan's Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth sounds very intriguing. Misquoting...

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Mitchell School fire in Racine, Wisconsin: Video, photos

My wife Amy was already up at 2 a.m. when the fire truck horns started blasting down our street. Mitchell School was on fire. Mitchell Middle School and Mitchell Elementary School are co-located. The entrance to Mitchell Middle School is on Drexel Ave. at Webster St....

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