The Incredible Shrinking Blue Book

incredible shrinking blue book

The venerated Wisconsin Blue Book is the latest victim of downsizing print products, be they newspapers, magazines or reference books.

Iconic Wisconsin Blue Book sheds 300 pages, blue cover

“Compared with its predecessors, the tome is much slimmer – 677 pages compared with 973 pages in the 2015-16 version – has noticeably larger type and poorly cropped photos of legislators.”

So, significantly less content – partially disguised with larger type so that the reduction seems to be a mere 300 pages when the word count cut is much deeper – and less attention to detail. Where have we seen that before? Continue reading The Incredible Shrinking Blue Book


Burying the sports lede/lead/whatever: a pet peeve

vintage TV

One of the seven major sins that reporters were once told to avoid is burying the lede.

(Tangent: It is a mystery to me when journalists started spelling it “lede” to differentiate a news lede from, say, the lead paragraph of a news story or the leader of the free world. But there it is.)

To bury the lede means to tell the most important part of a story deep inside the story. For example: The Megacorporation has announced a major advance in its manufacturing process that will take the company to the next level of wonderfulness. The process allows the corporation to fulfill its mission of making the world a better place while pleasing its shareholders and investors bigtime. “This is a fantabulous moment in human history as Megacorporation moves into the brightest future imaginable,” said Todd Bogguss, president and CEO. The company is laying off 30 percent of its workforce as part of the major restructuring.

What’s the lede? What’s the most important fact? What should have gone first? Continue reading Burying the sports lede/lead/whatever: a pet peeve

Paranoia strikes deep

I went to the basement to empty the dehumidifier and saw my recently reassembled stereo system there. I pulled a record off the shelf, set it on the turntable, and played Judy Collins’ classic recording of “Both Sides Now” while I did my little chore.

The Smart TV sat quietly on the other side of the room.

Three hours later, I picked up my smart phone and turned to Google to look something up. Under the search bar was a link:

Watch the Tallest Man on Earth Cover Joni Mitchell’s ‘Both Sides, Now

Coincidence? I think not. Somehow the device knew that particular song was on my mind.

Our electronic toys see us when we’re sleeping, and they know when we’re awake. I’m pretty sure they know when we’ve been bad or good, so …


Brands of my kid-dom

Brands of my kid-dom web

I looked at the logo on the coffee cup I use a couple of times every week and started thinking about how some brands and people take me back to being a kid every time.

That elongated S for Studebaker transports me to the days I always rode in the back seat with my two brothers. Dad bought a succession of Studebakers through the 1950s and mid-60s, sold on the company and the trusted Werner dealership he favored. I remember how foreign the back seat of that 1965 Ford Galaxie felt.

There are few brands that feel so linked to my childhood – but there are a few. Continue reading Brands of my kid-dom

O, give me a beer

Leinenkugel's Anniversary Lager

A couple of months ago or so, Leinenkugel Brewing Co. introduced something called Anniversary Lager. Just the concept is interesting: This is the 150th anniversary of Leinenkugel’s. It’s also the 400th anniversary of Hofbräu München.

“This special beer combines the best of both breweries,” the box says. “Brewed in the spirit of Reinheitsgebot (purity law), this German-style amber lager is brewed with some imported German malts and all-American hops to create a beer that is flavorful, balanced and refreshing.”

Rarely does a product live up to the copy hype, but Leinenkugel’s Anniversary Lager is indeed flavorful, balanced and refreshing. It’s been my go-to adult beverage all summer. Of course, all bets come off every Aug. 1.

Leinenkugel’s Oktoberfest is an annual tradition for me. Two or three years ago I realized that it appears on the shelves on Aug. 1 every year. I posted this photo on Facebook with the caption, “Yep, it’s really August again! Here’s the proof.”

Leinenkugel's Oktoberfest

I got a handful of comments about “Oh, no, October, noooo!!!!” from people who didn’t get the point. I wasn’t making fun of the release date two months before October; I was celebrating Aug. 1 the way I always do now – by seeking out the new release at the beer store.

This Märzen style beer is a smooth, malty treat that goes down easy and comfortable. From now until somewhere around mid-November, this will be the taste that soothes me after a day’s work (or at least once I finish my stash of Anniversary Lager). I love my Yuengling when I have the opportunity to quaff it, but Leinenkugel’s Oktoberfest is my best old late summer/early fall friend. Yum!

Between these two, it’s been a Leinenkugel’s year for me. They get a lot of mileage out of their Honey Weiss and summer shandies, but you can have those. I’ll take these great German-style beers every time.

What are the odds

After inhaling All Around the Town, a novel by Mary Higgins Clark, in one weekend, I decided to try another of her mystery-suspense stories and pulled the only available audiobook out of the local library: No Place Like Home.

I was immediately put off by the book’s outlandish premise: A woman who killed her mother accidentally at age 10 while protecting her from her brutal stepfather has pledged to her dying first husband not to reveal her past to anyone again – and her second husband just happens to buy her a new house for her birthday that just happens to be the childhood home where her mother died.

The monstrous coincidence – which I presumed would turn out not to be a coincidence – and the character’s reticence to tell her husband the truth (her husband!!!), almost put me off to continuing the story.

But then the narrator explained where the story is set: It all comes down in Mendham, New Jersey, less than five miles from where I spent the second half of my childhood. What are the odds, of all the books in the world, I would randomly pick up one that was set in my hometown?

If that kind of coincidence is possible in the real world, why not the crazy coincidence Clark asks me to accept in hers? So off we went …

Before that happened, this happened

peninsula playersweb

The best time to attend a Peninsula Players outdoor production is the last performance. But that makes offering a review a challenge, because who wants to read that they missed a chance to see a real gem?

For readers who live beyond the reach of Door County, Wisconsin, the Players are a professional theater troupe who produce four shows every summer in their renowned Theater in the Garden just south of Fish Creek, plus a fall production in the friendly confines of Door Community Auditorium.

The outdoor shows – which are actually staged inside a wonderful pavilion so rainouts are no longer an issue – usually take place at 8 p.m. (7:30 p.m. Sundays), but the last performance is a 4 p.m. matinee, which allows budding geezers like me to get home by sunset even though we live an hour away (my home county is a looong peninsula).

And so we attended the July 2 final performance of “The Actuary,” arriving an hour early so we could stroll through the garden, enjoy the view of the water, and watch other theater goers nurse their glass of wine or two before the show. Continue reading Before that happened, this happened