Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Grandchildren Have Landed

Should we be alarmed?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Tribute to Levi Stubbs & the Motown Sound

Steve Hyden's appreciation is found at the A.V. Club blog.

And another Steve (?) plays the James Jamerson bass line from "Bernadette". Jameson's musicianship was so inventive that not even a 1960s, tinny-sounding, AM car radio could obscure the emphatic "bottom" that he provided to the Motown sound.

The Four Tops song that deserves a much heavier rotation on oldies radio is found here.

Friday, October 17, 2008

You'll Love This Cookie

Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies


  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 2/3 cups butterscotch chips


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl beat the butter or margarine, white sugar and brown sugar together. Add the eggs and vanilla, beating well.
  3. Stir together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir until blended. Stir in the oats and the butterscotch chips. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
  4. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until the edges begin to brown.

Rep. Lewis Has It Right

A picture-postcard view of the "Aud"
(Construction began in 1939)

Rep. John Lewis, a Democrat from Georgia, recently compared the level of anger and vitriol at recent McCain and Palin campaign rallies to the atmosphere of those held by George Wallace in 1968. The Republicans responded with predictable Pavlovian outrage. As one who attended a Wallace rally – at the War Memorial Auditorium in Buffalo – during the first semester of my freshman year at UB, I thought the analogy was very apt.

In the fall of 1968, all three candidates – Nixon, Humphrey, and Wallace – visited the “Aud” during the month of October. New York, with its 43 electoral votes (the most of any state at that time) was definitely a battleground state, and Buffalo seems to have been ground zero, at least in retrospect. (I also attended the Humphrey rally. Had also planned to be at the Nixon rally but some long-forgotten conflict arose.)

Four of us from the 482 A & B Allenhurst apartments, Humphrey supporters all, rode the bus downtown and attempted to blend in with the huge turnout of Wallace supporters. (War Memorial Auditorium had a capacity of 12,000, and I recall most of the seats being occupied.) As though we were conducting a sociological field experiment, our goal was not to protest but rather to be part of the crowd. We succeeded – at least no one accused us of being long-haired hippie scum, or worse yet (in their collective mind), college students – mainly because all but one of us sported pre-Beatles 1960s era haircuts. Nevertheless, I gotta believe we looked seriously out of place, especially since we weren’t offering up any cheers of support.

Forty years later, I can clearly recall the seething anger and racial fears that Wallace brought to the surface. It permeated the cavernous building like a foul smell. The four of us had entered a different universe – and were relieved to return to reality. Or at least what vaguely passed for reality on college campuses in the late 1960s. (I continue to regret the fact that I didn’t keep a journal at this time in my life -- or make copies of the letters I wrote to friends.)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The 4th Presidential Debate

No surprise that I saw it here first.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Today's Specials & Announcements

Loyalty test: If your candidate's bay was occupied and the other candidate's was open, would you wait? And if you opted to wait, would you allow your engine to idle or would you turn it off? [10-15-2008. The Wisconsin State Journal caught sight of this gimmick.]

A more scientific approach to polling is found here.

Good place to watch a Badger game. You can take out your frustrations on the bowling pins.

"The Place for Steaks" actually has an excellent fish fry.

Take a pint of what to go? Turtle Bacon Deluxe? I bet that'll go great with a Little Thickburger. (See below.)

Planting bulbs. It's on my fall to-do list.

Hank you, too!! And I always pu mp my own gas.

I'll take a pass, thanks.

Might as well party at a place that has spirits all year round!

Maybe you'll have the privilege of waiting on this guy with his 1972 sideburns.

The C's Restaurant, the mostly obscured white building in the center-right of the picture, serves up a great breakfast.

And they'll insist that your air filter needs changing, too. But it won't be a freebie.

Little Ceasars?

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

What's wrong with this picture of a 5-member panel discussing media bias and media elitism? (Found here.)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Afternoon Shadows


You've heard of Elephant Mountain. (Still a great album nearly 40 years after its release.)

Now visit Elephant Hill. Hike to the top of the rise at the northern edge of the Pheasant Branch Nature Preserve, and you'll be rewarded with a spectacular 360-degree view. (Unfortunately, I don't have the pics uploaded.)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Easy Stove-Top Supper

Cook pasta according to the directions on the box.

Heat sauce in pan.

Cook sausages according to the directions on the package. Cut into 1/2-inch discs before adding to pasta and sauce mixture.
Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.

There'll be an encore presentation tomorrow at the Middleton High School cross-country team pot-luck dinner.

Guilty Pleasure of the Day

Every once in awhile, I'll tune in WTUX (1550 on the AM dial), "The Music of Your Life", while working in the kitchen. The station provides an instructive overview of popular (read: easy listening) music over the past 70 years or so. Today I heard this song (click on the embedded YouTube video) for the first time since I was in high school. It's held up very well through the years.

Here are the top 20 songs on Billboard Hot 100 during the week when this song peaked. (For the week of August 20, 1966)

1. Summer in the City (Lovin' Spoonful)
2. Sunny (Bobby Hebb)
3. Lil' Red Riding Hood (Sam the Sham & the Pharoahs)
4. Wild Thing (Troggs)
5. They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Ha (Napoleon XIV)
6. See You in September (Happenings)
7. The Pied Piper (Crispian St. Peters)
8. Mother's Little Helper (Rolling Stones)
9. I Couldn't Live Without Your Love (Petula Clark)
10. Sunshine Superman (Donovan)
11. Blowin' in the Wind (Stevie Wonder)
12. Sweet Pea (Tommy Roe)
13. Over Under Sideways Down (Yardbirds)
14. My Heart's Symphony (Gary Lewis & the Playboys)
15. Sweet Dreams (Tommy McCain)
16. Summertime (Billy Stewart)
17. Working in a Coal Mine (Lee Dorsey)
18. This Door Swings Both Ways (Herman's Hermits)
19. Somewhere My Love (Ray Conniff & his Singers)
20. Land of 1,000 Dances (Wilson Pickett)

WTUX also includes "Sunny" and "Somewhere My Love" on its playlist. My favorite song on the Top 20 (#13) will never make the cut.<

Happy Birthday Mom

Eddie, Grandma Nelson, Andy (Thanksgiving 2007)

Mom celebrates her 88th birthday next week. Her weekly letters from Warren, Pennsylvania, are full of chatty reports about her active life. She cooks and bakes (there's usually more than 6 varieties of cookies during our too-infrequent visits), cleans her own house (where she has lived since 1957), remains active in church activities, visits the public library on a regular basis (likes to browse for fiction), goes out to lunch or dinner with family and friends, and still loves to shop. Two years ago, she became a HUGE Pittsburgh Penguins fan and rarely misses a game on TV -- although it's tough for her to stay up when the team doesn't play in the Eastern time zone. (Hockey. I would have never guessed.)

After sharing my last two cookie recipes with her, she mentioned that the Peanut Butter Fingers in the (1975) St. Paul's Lutheran Church cookbook is one of her favorites recipes.

So I tried it out. And confirmed the fact that you can never go wrong combining peanut butter and chocolate.

Peanut Butter Fingers (attributed to Doreen Seymour)
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg (beaten)
1/3 cup peanut butter (I used smooth)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1 cup oats
6 ounces chocolate chips
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 to 4 tablespoons milk

Cream together shortening, white sugar, and brown sugar. Add beaten egg, peanut butter, soda, salt, and vanilla. Stir in flour and oats. Spread in a greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 350 for 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle on chocolate chips. Let stand for 5 minutes. Combine confectioner's sugar, peanut butter, and milk to make glaze and pour over top.

Can't figure out which pic I like best.

And I'm sure you've noticed how fat I made my fingers!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Royalty Alert

Meet the handsomest member of the 2008 Middleton High School homecoming court.

Tuesday was Super Hero Day at Middleton High School, when students dressed as the comic book character of their choice. School administrators forbade the use of masks and face paint, which added a significant degree of difficulty to Eddie’s idea to show up as Walter Kovacs, a.k.a. Rorschach, a character in the Watchmen series. JoAnna and I had never heard of the character or the book.

Had the mask restrictions not been in place, Eddie said his main challenge would have been figuring out a way to breathe while having his face wrapped in a cloth designed with a strategically placed Rorschach blot. I’m sure it would have been very effective. Instead, though, we made a last-minute trip to Goodwill so Eddie could buy an olive-green sports jacket and matching tie – both of which he found within a few minutes. I guess that's Walter Kovacs’ civilian look?

More details and pics to follow: Friday afternoon parade, Friday evening introductions at halftime of the football game, Saturday dance.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Yard Sign Tally

Along a route of nearly 16 miles, I counted 112 Obama yard signs and 10 McCain yard signs.

According to JoAnna, John Kerry received 65% of the Presidential vote in the City of Middleton in 2004. Granted, yard signs don't vote, as the whiners say, but I suspect Obama is going to boost that percentage.

(Oh, and while you're at it, name the constellation outlined in red below.)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Always Somethin' Needs Fixin'

1996 Saturn
(Andy always parks his car
on the lawn of his Milwaukee estate!)

“Hey, Dad.”

It was Andy, greeting me at the beginning of a voice-mail message he left for me while I had my phone on mute during my workshop presentation in Fennimore.

“I’m coming home this weekend,” he announced. “I have a class until 12:30 tomorrow,” he added, leaving me to figure out the rest of his schedule for the day.

With a follow-up question in mind, I called him as I walked back to my car. All I could do, though, was leave him a voice-mail message in return.

I didn’t ask him how firm his schedule was and whether or not there’d be time to schedule a last-minute appointment for an oil change at Jim’s BP, our usual destination for servicing the cars.

As it turned out, he didn’t show up at the house until after 4:00, so an oil change was out of the question. That’s why I spent 20 minutes earlier this morning parking my butt in the lounge of the local Jiffy Lube, as Jim provides only emergency service on the weekends. The Jiffy Lube service guy, of course, made his usual pitch for additional maintenance work. After inviting me into the service bay, he pulled out the Saturn’s dipstick, as if it were something new to my eyes, to show me how dirty the oil was.

“You must have really let things go beyond the recommended oil change time,” he noted.

“It’s been 4,000 miles,” I said evenly, a calculation I had made, before backing out of the driveway, when I looked at the sticker from the previous oil change on the upper left-hand corner of the windshield.

“You might want to consider an engine flush,” he advised. “And your windshield wipers look pretty worn.”

Surprisingly, even though the air filter had been removed and displayed prominently on the engine block, he didn’t offer to replace this item. From past visits, I’ve learned that the air filter is always in need of replacement. Funny how that is.

“Just the oil change today, please,” I replied, making a slight turn in the direction of the lounge, as if to say our conversation had ended.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Turn Off Your TV, Read a Book

The media dementia continues.

Link to October 3 Editor & Publisher post, "The Debate: Again, A Pundit/Viewer Divide".

Best bet: Cut down on TV as a source of news.

Fortunately, it's not a complete wasteland out there.