Friday, January 30, 2009

Thursday, January 29, 2009

What's the Hold-up, Man?

Folks waiting for a place to drive into at.....
That's what. (Sonic must be a gold mine if they can afford to pay people just to direct traffic.)

And the perfect weather for it.

Kite on Ice 2009

In tune with the time.

John Martyn, 1948-2009

Listen to the haunting "Auntie Aviator" from The Road to Ruin. (First 6 minutes of clip.)

Variety obituary.

Separated at Birth

Lonesome Rhodes/Rush Limbaugh

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

My Favorite Updike Sentence

Rabbit Angstrom and Charlie Stavros share a rambling conversation on a slow afternoon at Springer Motors.

"It's like wood," Harry says, groping back through history, which is a tinted fog to him, marked off in centuries like a football field, with a few dates -- 1066, 1776 -- pinpointed and a few faces -- George Washington, Hitler -- hanging along the sidelines, not cheering. [Rabbit is Rich, p. 12]

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

John Updike, 1932-2009

The Great American Novel X 4

And I can't even give him a proper sendoff.

I had planned to listen to Wolfman Kadinsky's excellent reading of these 4 books -- consider it, in this case, the world's longest homily -- but his voice is heard only on the cassette tape version.

Then I checked LINKcat and discovered, to my great horror, that the Meadowridge branch of the Madison Public Library has the only copy on CD. Worse, it's on order, and, worst, someone else is ahead of me on the holds list. There's more. The CD version has a different reader: Arthur Morey. (Wasn't he a dancer?) ;-)

What just became a sad day has now devolved into a sadder day.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Eye Roll of the Day

The Wisconsin State Journal runs a story about the difficulty the newly unemployed have in reaching a claims specialist by phone at the Department of Workforce Development.

At least the reporter mentions that DWD received 254,401 calls last week compared to 56,641 during the same week last year.

So then why would you call the DWD hotline unless you had a truly legitimate need?

Quoting from the story. While some calls from the State Journal were met by busy signals Wednesday, others managed to connect to the automated phone system.

Reportage or inconsiderateness?

I know what call I would make.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Will Dump Friends for Food

Link to January 15 New York Times post, "‘Whopper Sacrifice’ De-Friended on Facebook".

Not me. My Burger King days are long gone. But back in 1969-1970, the residents at 482-A Allenhurst, UB sophomores all, ate our fill of 49-cent Whoppers. That full feeling continues 40 years later.

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It take 2 hands to handle a Whopper. Still true?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Retro Dining

Mel and Levina Karlson, two of the nicest people ever and among the most faithful and active members of St. Paul's Lutheran Church (Warren Pennsylvania) during a long stretch of the mid-20th century, used to invite Pastor Nelson and his family to dinner at least once a year. I suspect that it was shortly after this recipe appeared in a 1963 magazine -- Good Housekeeping or Woman's Day, I'd guess -- when Levina prepared this casserole for us. I liked it, but my three younger siblings were put off by the taste of the green olives.

I prepared this casserole for Wednesday's supper. Last year, when I first revived it, Andy must have been away at college. His reaction?

"I don't think I can finish this," he informed me, pointing to the few mouthfuls left on his plate. "I'm not a green olive person."

Fresh from the oven
A great meal for a subzero day

Here's the original recipe:

1 can Ballard OvenReady Biscuits (any brand will do, of course)
1 1/2 pounds ground beef (I used ground round)
1 cup chopped onion
1 package (8 oz.) Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese
1 can (10 1/2 oz.) cream of mushroom or chicken soup (gotta go with mushroom)
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup catsup
1/3 cup sliced stuffed olives, if desired

Brown ground beef and onions, drain.

Combine softened cream cheese, soup, milk. Add salt, catsup, olives, ground beef. Pour into 2-quart casserole. Bake at 375°, 10 minutes.

Place biscuits around edge of casserole; if desired, top with olive slices. Bake at 375°, 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

From the Cookie Daily Calendar

From the January 5 page

Scottish Shortbread

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. rice flour
3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup superfine sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp granulated sugar + more for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 300F. Line a 7 x 11 pan with foil. Sift the flour into a large bowl and add the rice flour.

Beat the butter and superfine sugar until smooth. Add the vanilla extract and stir in the granulated sugar. Work the dough until it starts to clump together, then press it into the pan.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. The shortbread will look cooked before it actually is, so ensure that it bakes for the full 45 minutes. (I followed directions, sir, and left it in the oven for 45 minutes. Next time I'll cut the baking time to 40 minutes. I thought the texture was a wee bit too crunchy.)

Remove from the oven, sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar, and cut into fingers. Cool for 20 minutes and remove from the pan.

Andy and Eddie, not big fans of shortbread, gave the recipe a thumbs up.

Friday, January 9, 2009

A Christmas Tradition

For the past 10 (or so) years, I have purchased daily calendars for JoAnna, Andy and Eddie. I guess you could call them stocking-stuffers, except for the fact that the Christmas stockings hanging off the fireplace mantel are that stretch-y.

For Andy, the selection usually boils down to sports vs. TV. TV won out for the 2009 calendar year.

I have to admit I'm not particularly fond of Family Guy. I've yet to sit through an entire episosde. Every time I pause to take in a torrent of wisecracks, though, I bring up the following analogy.....

Alice Kramden:Wilma Flintstone::Kitty Forman:Lois Griffin.

...only to be derisively hooted down every time.

I'm not backin' off, though.

Eddie, a big fan of the comics and graphic novels, eagerly shares some of his favorites with me. This year I rewarded him for his persistence.

I used to be a regular reader of the comics page. I have fond memories of my roommates and I reading and analyzing B.C. during our freshman year of college (a reminiscence worthy of its own post) and being a disciple of Doonesbury through the 1970s and early 1980s. (Still have the well-worn anthologies to prove it.) Then I just fell out of the habit. Until a year ago, only This Modern World was required reading.

Then Eddie suggested a certain strip found on the Wisconsin State Journal's "funny pages". (Does anyone even use this term anymore?)

'You'll like it," he insisted. "It has your kind of humor."

And so it does.
For JoAnna, I tend to use her French heritage as a buying guide, but how many Manet calendars can one person buy in a decade? This year I decided I'd get something that both of us can enjoy!

The calendar's format is to present a recipe and then follow it up for 2 or 3 days with variations on a theme. I've tried the first 2 recipes (triple chocolate and Scottish shortbread) with great results.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Street Signs as 2009 Metaphor?

Have a cookie. It'll make you feel better.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

State Street Stalwarts

OK, for those of you keeping track, I'm following up on a moment of wonder, i.e., I wonder how many current business along Madison's State Street were in operation when I moved to Wisconsin in 1978 -- or even when JoAnna and I moved to Middleton in 1986? The photography excursion took place on Friday, December 12, when it was so cold my trigger finger nearly froze. (The captions have been added in bits and pieces over that past few weeks.) I used photocopied pages from the 1978 and 1986 Polk Directories for Madison as a verification source. My memory certainly isn't keen enough on its own.

(This article would have helped had my research needed to reach back to 1966.)
Teddywedger's. Pasties. Comfort food heaven. If Teddywedgers (c. 1986) was located, say, in Middleton's Parkwood Plaza, two blocks from where I live, I wouldn't be just Retiring Guy. I'd be Retiring Starchy Guy. And I wouldn't walk there; I'd waddle. In the 1960s, Nelson family reunions took place at Uncle Harry and Aunt Svea's cottage on Lake Spread Eagle in Florence County Wisconsin. It was mandatory to make the pilgrimage, more than once, to nearby Iron Mountain, where pasties seemed to be on the menu of every restaurant. Even the drive-in A&W, if I recall. (Teddywedgers always puts me in a reflective mood.)

Probably a pretender. I assumed that Cinnamon Girl, a women's apparel store, was a relatively new business -- from the looks of the storefront, anyway -- but it shows up in the 1978 Madison city directory, though at a different address. (There's no State Street listing for 1986.) I suppose further research is in order, which might also help to answer the question: Named for the Neil Young song?

From the looks of it, Blum's Trophies has been in business here well before 1978.

The preserved facade of the former Yost's, now incorporated into the Overture Center for the Arts. The original was constructed in 1923.

I've browsed in Jack's Shoes a few times. Bought a pair of shoelaces there once. (In reference to the "MEN'S SIZES 5 TO 18", my older son wears a size 13 shoe, which, we discovered, is generally the high end of what most shoe stores stock.)

Paul's Club. Great place to hang out with friends. Not as many lights as Cleo's, though.

Another preserved facade that's now incorporated into the Overture Center. The Capital Theater open to much fanfare in 1928. (A photo of the construction is found here.)

Located across the street from the former Capital Theater, the Orpheum opened in 1927 and still shows movies 81 years later. Since 1999, it has also featured a lobby restaurant, where JoAnna and I once enjoyed a great evening out with friends. (The fact that we haven't been back is not a negative.) We've never seen a movie here but attended a spirited presentation/reading by author T. C. Boyle as part of the 2007 Madison Book Festival.

Goodman's Jewelers. "Celebrating 75 years as the Diamond Store of Madison", according to its website.

Nick's Restaurant. In business since 1959. Reminds me of the Plaza Restaurant in Warren, Pennsylvania. Classic. Unpretentious. Great food and no-nonsense service.

The Fanny Garver Gallery. Offering you the finest artwork since 1972..
Strictly window-shopping for me.

Fontana Sports. Was going to stop here and look for a pedometer. I could have used a little warmth at this point.

The Triangle Market. "Tours Daily. Free Admission". The original convenience mart.

Parthenon Gyros. It's been more than 10 years since my last gyros here. I'm w-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-y overdue. This gap tells you I'm not the world's biggest fan of this extremely messy sandwich, but I will give the Parthenon my vote for the best gyros ever. I can't imagine how anyone could improve upon it. (Note to Pat: Along with donuts at the Greenbush Bakery -- "Major chow!")

1970s Deja Vu Central.

Love the facade. The upper floors contain 4 apartments. "Wallrock" provides the following review: The Irish Pub was the first bar on State Street I ever frequented and I still make it a point to stop by when in the area. There's plenty of places nearby that have nicer things or better taps but there's something about the atmosphere that makes the Irish a comfortable place to be. If you've got a group get there early and snag a table upstairs. The men's is definitely small but that's a minor issue. The jukebox here is one of the better ones in Madison but the queue fills up fast.

The one and only Soap Opera. Read about a State Street anchor and one of its biggest success stories here.

When I lived in Oshkosh, a visit to Jazzman was mandatory whenever I was in Madison. Nowadays I tend to pass by the store with barely a glance inside.

I've shopped at Ragstock twice, both times to purchase items to wear at Halloween costume parties. (Yeah, Retiring Guy is really showin' his age.)

The current tenant at this location is Dr. Christopher G. Schanel, son of (?) Dr. Corliss G. Schanel, who is listed in the 1978 and 1986 Madison city directories.

Badger Liquor. Someone else has an even deeper fascination with this sign.

Scoshi, a women's specialty clothing store.

The B Side. When I made the transition from vinyl to disc, I found replacements for most of my obscures 70s music here. I spent many pleasant hours bin-browsing.

Sacred Feather. In business since 1975. Another 70s flashback moment. Didn't Duane Allman wear a hat like the one pictured over the entrance? (I know some 60s/70s era rock star did. Help me out!) Actually, the sign is very misleading. According to its website, Sacred Feather, [o]ur hats run the gamut from baseball caps to collapsible silk top hats, with a broad range of styles in between. I've always wondered what I'd look like in a fedora.

Apparently, Yellow Jersey has some issues with their previous Internet service program. And from the looks of it in this photo, folks who work and shop here take their biking very seriously!

The Stop& Shop Grocery. From a 2006 article in Madison magazine: On the corner of State and West Gilman streets, the Stop & Shop Grocery is tucked into a triangular-shaped building. The mood here is wild, almost frenetic, with loud music screeching out of speakers and pulsing through the floorboards. "We sell a lot of smokes here," grins a heavily pierced young sales clerk. "Plus a lot of Chore Boy scrub pads and tire gauges. I dunno why." On the level?! Guess it's time to pay this place a visit -- just to say I was there.

Sandy Glaeve, owner of The Peacock, is interviewed here about the recent State Street construction project.

Gino's. In business since 1963. I had my first taste of stuffed pizza here -- when JoAnna and I were dating. Loved it -- and still love her, of course -- though we've never been back.

What's missing from this picture? Pub customers sitting along the window and watching the parade of people pass by.

Based on these reviews, and my own personal dining experience, it's no surprise that Husnu's has been in business for nearly 30 years.

State Street Brats. (Formerly the Brauhaus.) Great place to get fortified before and/or after a visit to the Kohl Center.

Madison Optometric Center. Since 1985.

The Name of the Game. State Street's "senior" Badger apparel outlet.

It's like the first time every time I walk into Paul's Books. From frequent visits, though, I know that the inventory does change. I'm very focused when I browse here, as the following titles will attest:
Memphis, an Architectural Guide
Oberlin Architecture, College and Town, A Guide to its Social History
New Haven, a Guide to Architecture and Urban Design

A barber shop on State Street that survived the 1960s? Ya gotta take your hat off. Melanie McManus interviews Don Fine for a 2006 Madison magazine article, "State Street: Collegiate Commerce". At the time, Fine had been working at the College Barber Shop since 1953!!

Last, and probably least -- the utilitarian Walgreen's across from the Library Mall.