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The good news is I'll have more time to Take the Blog for a Walk

6) when I'm feeling sad, let us pray, St. Vincent, Workforce

The bad news is I lost my job of 24 years.

Was looking forward to the 40th anniversary of Earth Day if for no other reason than to spend the day thinking about nature and the environment. It was a beautiful day. I just wish they would've picked a different day to let me go, though probably no day is better than another when it comes to that.

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What's Happening: May 3 to May 10

05/04/10
Ten Chimneys 2010 Tour Season Begins

Ten Chimneys is the estate lovingly created by Broadway legends Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne. With no ropes and nothing under glass, guests are treated to a VIP guided tour of a National Historic Landmark.. S43 W31575 Depot Road, Genesee Depot; 10 a.m.- 2:30 p.m.; 262-968-4110; www.tenchimneys.org

05/06/10
Farmers Market

Wednesday's Farmers Market start of season - runs through November. Main St. just west of Appleton Ave.; 8:00 - 4:00; 262-251-8797; www.menomoneefallsdowntown.com

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Deer Here

Over the past few years, I have seen a number of strange things in downtown Waukesha.

Some of them I have written blogs about, like the time a car drove into the Fox River or the year we had a little flooding problem downtown.

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Harley Davidson to be Wisconsin's Government Motors?

Motorcycle, Politics-Local, Politics-National

Harley Davidson is in trouble. Either every old coot who's going to buy one has done so or those that have passed along without wrecking theirs has caused the used motorcycle market to be glutted with them so new  sales have tanked. I say this with affection as I somewhat fit into that category. I now have three motorcycles in the garage myself. One is brand spanking new....but not a Harley.

Putting aside my criticism of most of their models just being styling variations of the the same basic machine and lacking any real diversification, lets look at the political reasons why they are in trouble. Taxes and labor expense.

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still praying

let us pray, Workforce

As today is the National Day of Prayer, and exactly two weeks since I lost my job, thought I'd offer up a few.

For the families of those killed by senseless acts of violence, tornados, earthquakes, floods, mine disasters. . .

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What's Happening: May 10 to May 17

05/12/10
Caregivers Chat

Nourish Your Noggin, Judith Gunkel of The Alzheimer's Association. The Caring Place, Waukesha; 4pm-5:30pm; 262-542-6388 or 262-928-2314; www.caringplacewaukesha.org

05/12/10- 06/30/10
Almont Gallery presents “Land Marks”

Landscape Exhbition featuring Artists Mark Mueller, & Don Fundingsland and other Almont artists and artisans. . Almont Gallery- Historic Downtown Waukesha; ; 262-542-1522; www.almontgallery.org

05/14/10
Youth Wind Orchestra of Wisconsin concert

Orchestra concert by talented high school students.. Shattuck Music Center; 8 p.m.; 262-524-7182; www.carrollu.edu

05/14/10- 05/16/10
The Kitchen Witches

When two cooking show hostesses, Dolly and her nemesis Isobel, get cast in the same cable cooking show, trouble starts a'brewing.. Waukesha Civic Theatre; ; 262-547-0708; www.waukeshacivictheatre.org

05/15/10
Waukesha Farmers' Market

Weekly Event! Waukesha Farmers' Market products are grown, raised, or made in WI. Market-goers can expect to find in-season fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs, plants, breads, jams, hand made soaps, artisan cheese, naturally raised meats and more!. Riverfront Plaza East of 332 Riverfront Plaza Waukesha, WI; 7am-noon; 262-549-6154; www.DowntownWaukesha.com

05/15/10
Rituals of Spring

Join us in readying the farmsteads for the growing season.  See draft horses plow, watch wool go from fleece to fiber, see how stock dogs herd sheep, Help the historic farmers assemble an antique saw mill.  And heirloom plant sale.. Old World Wisconsin; 10am- 5pm; 262-594-6300; www.oldworldwisconsin.org

05/16/10
Verdi's Requiem

Waukesha Choral Union, in collaboration with Bel Canto Chorus, Milwaukee Choristers & Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Richard Hynson, present Verdi's Requiem.. Oconomowoc Arts Center; 03pm; 414-297-9310; www.ChoralUnion.org

 

Marquette U associate dean chosen as head of Milwaukee archdiocese schools

Catholic, private schools, Marquette University, Catholic Memorial High School

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee has named an associate dean at Marquette University's College of Education as the next head of southeast Wisconsin's Catholic school system.

Kathleen Cepelka, who was the principal of Waukesha's Catholic Memorial High School for eight years before assuming her job as associate dean and director of teacher education at Marquette in 2007, is slated to start on July 1.  

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I love my wife

Dad, say uncle

Twenty years ago today I married the love of my life, Tammy. We settled in the city we loved, Waukesha, and raised two babies into fine young men. Naturally every day wasn't warm and sunny, and probably will never be, but together we persevered. Our differences made us stronger. 

Today I'm remembering those at our wedding who have gone before us. My Uncle Lee who officiated the wedding ceremony. My dear Aunt Margaret, who I would not see again. And, of course, my dad who did so much to prepare me for that day and the days to follow.

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Do You Know The Facts About The Marquette Controversy?

Hot Topics, Various Topics

As an assignment, please read the letters to the editor in Sunday's Crossroad's section concerning Marquette University.
 

Politically, many of us seem to take someone's or a party's conclusions too easily. We don't do our homework to see if their opinion should be ours. Case in point is the hysteria concerning Marquette University and the withdrawal of a job off from a Washington University professor to be Dean of a department. Have you formed an opinion? If you have or haven't, have you seen why her job offer was retracted? I will provide you with what the Journal has not, this is a link to her “Curriculum Vitae”. If after reading through it, you think that she still should be offered the position, I sure would like to see your comment placed below!

What's Happening: May 17 to May 24

05/19/10
WCAL Scholarship Presentation

Waukesha Creative Arts League will present three $500 Art scholarship awards will be presented to high school seniors chosen by the WCAL Scholarship Committee to honor their outstanding artwork. Waukesha Goodwill Industries; 6:30pm; 262-385-5320

05/20/10- 05/23/10
Run 'O the Mill Pony Show

Waukesha County Expo Center; ; 262-896-8490; www.waukeshacountyexpo.com

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Imagination-The True Magic Carpet

For more information, including A.C.T. scholarship opportunities, or to learn more about A.C.T.'s Outreach Programs, go to www.waukeshacivictheatre.org, or contact djarecki@waukeshacivictheatre.org.

Nearly six months ago my empty-nesting husband, Ted, and I were catapulted into familiar but difficult roles.  The feature?  Parenthood, Take 2.  The reason?  Our son's deployment.

Now, please understand we love these two grandsons, ages 6 and 4,  who were entrusted to us; but, after a nice seven-year hiatus from 24/7 parenting, and even longer since having children this young in our constant midst it's been challenging and oftentimes frustrating; because these boys seemingly lack a vital piece of their childhood make-up - imagination!  To borrow a line from a song performed in WCT's recent production, Bye, Bye Birdie - what's the matter with kids today?

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I had a hammer

helping

It's been a while, at least it seems that way. I'm still without a computer and write whenever I can borrow one, as long as it's not in the middle of the night. I bought a used one cheap to have as a spare and had to put it into service two weeks later when the mother board or whatever went on the one we've had nothing but trouble with. For a while I was very happy with the used machine. It was at the start of my job search and had all the office programs and a nice printer with it. But it lasted only two weeks and can't be fixed. It was homemade and had no Microsoft license but did have 6 hard drives! It was probably the mother board too, but it just wasn't worth the expense to find out without the license. North American Computer once again took very good care of me even though I'm still computerless.

I helped with the Postal Service Annual Food Drive a couple weeks ago. I sorted bottles, boxes and cans at future home of Waukesha Food Pantry on Sentry Drive and liked it so much I offered to help more. Last week I worked two days at the Food Pantry's current North Street location and loved it. If my fellow volunteers' years of service are any indication, it more than likely won't be my last time there. Lots of good people there doing good work.

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Mayor Scrima Working As Mandated

Politics-Local

In media both printed and electronic, I have seen pre-election-like criticism of Mayor Scrima. It is apparent that many of these people will criticize for any reason, be it unfair or trivial. I believe them to be ideologues of the Nelson administration who remind me of President Clinton’s staff vandalizing the White House prior to President George Bush taking residence. I want to be clear that I am in no way implying that Mayor Nelson has any connection with this. I see it as groupies or paparazzi which the person of focus has no control over.

Candidate Scrima campaigned on exploring options to rolling over to the paranoid Milwaukee politicians. People forget that obtaining Lake Michigan water requires more than an agreement with Milwaukee or Oak Creek or Racine. It requires approval of each governor of the states and provinces on the lake. Does anyone really believe we will get that approval? It would set off a flurry of requests for approval by other municipalities. Any one of them not getting approval would spawn a lawsuit. It’s easier for a governor to say no than explain to the citizens of that state why they are spending money to defend themselves from something that could have been avoided by just saying no the first time.

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The Academy Gets It Wrong Again!

Blog, Oscars Movie Waukesha Marquette

 Having seen almost every movie nominated for an award tonight, I was excited to watch the Oscars. I was very confident that I knew who would win most of the awards. As the night progressed, I guessed correctly on every major award with the exception of Film Editing. So you can imagine my surprise when Hurt Locker won Best Director and Best Picture. Don't get me wrong - when I saw Hurt Locker I knew it was going to be nominated for a number of awards. I knew right away that it would get a Best Picture nomination. But to be honest, 2009 was a really terrible year for movies aside from a few good ones like Avatar, Hurt Locker, Precious and Up in the Air. Those were all good movies, but 2009 was not loaded with great films. None of those could stand up to the likes of Crash, Babel, There Will Be Blood, No Country For Old Men or Slumdog Millionaire. The bar was pretty low this year.

Hurt Locker was a good movie. But I can't conceive of how it beat out Avatar, the most successful movie ever made. Bigelow did a great job of directing, but there's no way she outdid James Cameron. I can't imagine how the members of the academy came to that conclusion. Avatar was not strong because of its acting. It was superb because of this world James Cameron created, something so surreal and yet so believable. The visual effects were stunning, the story was engaging, and the film certainly deserved its award for cinematography. He was robbed.

It also bothers me to see the kind of chicanery that Hurt Locker's promoters engaged in, casting the film as an underdog competing with a Goliath like Avatar. As you may know, they were disciplined by the Academy for attempting to inappropriately influence Academy voting. If you're so confident that your film is the Best Picture, then there is no need to engage in that kind of nonsense. The fact that they did so only goes to show that they didn't think the film would win on it's own merits. They were right - it shouldn't have.

I also have to say I thought Sandra Bullock's performance, while great, was not as great as Gabourey Sidibe's performance in Precious. Bullock's performance reminded me of many of her earlier performances, though this is a much more serious role than Hope Floats or Miss Congeniality. I thought she turned in a much better performance in Crash. Sidibe's performance was so entirely unique from just about anything that had been done before. I knew Bullock would win, but I didn't think she gave the best performance this year.

These things happen. Just ask Steven Spielberg how Saving Private Ryan could have ever lost to a lesser film like Shakespeare in Love. For the most part, the academy got it right thie year. But where it counts, the biggest awards, I wonder whether they were watching the same films I was.

Alice in Wonderland

 Alice in Wonderland is Tim Burton's adapation of the classic story. While the movie does vary from the story line, the number of fascinating characters and the superb intergration of live action with animation makes Alice in Wonderland a treat for viewers of any age. Alice, played by Mia Wasikowska, begins the movie by being forced into making a choice between one of her society's most eligible bachelors (who she finds revolting) and embarassing him in front of hundreds of well wishers. She runs away, having spotted a rabbit, and finds herself falling down the familiar rabbit hole. Although the world she enters is really her own dream, she is amazed that she seems to have very little control over her the events which play out in it. As she meets a number of fascinating characters such as Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum, she comes to find that she is destined to be a warrior who will vanquish the most potent weapon of the Queen of hearts, materfully portrayed by Helena Bonham-Cater. As a gentle, non-violent person, Alice cannot imagine herself harming another being. She befriends the Mad Hatter, wonderfully played by Johnny Depp, who is later taken prisoner by the Queen. Alice works out a scheme to come to his rescue, only to find herself in the middle of a brooding conflict between the Queen of hearts and the Queens' sister, also a queen of the white Kingdom. Overall this is a very entertaining and creative film. The dialogue can be difficult to follow at times, but the acting is very strong. I saw the movie in 3-D, which made the creativity all that much more enjoyable. I give it 3.5 stars.

Ghost Writer

 Ghost Writer is the latest movie by director Roman Polanski. Ewan McGregor plays "The Ghost", a character who is tapped to edit the memoirs of a former British Prime Minister, Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan). The ghost accepts the job after the previous ghost writer washes up dead on the eastern U.S. island where Lang and his wife are holed up during the process of writing the memoir. While he attempts to make sense of the previous writer's manuscript, the ghost hears the news that Lang is about to be investigated for war crimes related to his turning over of suspected war criminals to the CIA for questioning and torture. The ghost finds information left behind by the previous writer which calls Lang's story about his beginnings in politics into question. He attempts to follow leads based on that information and begins to uncover connections between Lang and the CIA which were never meant to be included in the memoirs. The plot is complicated by Lang's smart but manipulative wife, who both distrusts and desires the ghost. She harbors deep suspicions about her husband's relationship with his assistant, played by Kim Cattrall.
The movie's rhythm is such that the plot builds on its own merits. The audience feels as though they know what's happening, but not enough to suspect the next twist. The gray, rainy weather adds to the dark, foreboding nature of the storyline. The movie does not succeed as a thriller: the ending does not surprise as much as it confirms the suspicions that the audience has been harboring. It has more of the feel of a murder mystery. Cattrall's command of an English accent is lacking; she doesn't seem to be the right actress for the part. It's also difficult to like any of the characters besides the ghost, and his willingness to engage in unprofessional behavior doesn't endear him to the viewer. But his willingness to risk his safety to satisfy his curiosity makes his character quite interesting. Besides Mcgregor, the acting isn't particularly strong. But the overall production and the storyline reflect the kind of skill that only someone on the level of Polanski can deliver. I give it three stars.

Green Zone - Not Another Bourne Reincarnation

 Green Zone is one of many Iraq war films in recent memory. But it differs from other films in one particular way: whereas most films depict the agony of the experience of war, even for those on the "winning" side (if there is such a side), Green Zone focuses on a particular part of the rationale for the war. The film is clearly not concerned with the lives of the soldiers who are engaged in the fighting; rather it seeks to ask why the weapons of mass destruction which appeared on US intelligence reports were never found. Matt Damon plays the role of CWO Roy Miller, whose team is tapped to locate WMDs in the places where they were believed to have been stored. After Miller's team fails to find WMDs in a series of locations which were pintpointed by intelligence, he begins to question the validity of the intelligence reports and their sources. He finds no sypmathy for his growing suspicions among his commanding officers, and his concerns are rebuffed by Clark Poundstone (Greg Kinnear), a senior Pentagon official involved with the process of setting up a democratic government under a previously exiled Iraqi leader. His only solace is a contact in the CIA, Martin Brown, who seems to be aware of the flaws in the intelligence. Miller encounters an Iraqi civilian who gives him an actionable tip regarding a meeting of the remaining officers in the Iraqi army. Miller and his soldiers pursue the Iraqi army commander who seems to outrank the rest: Al Rawi, AKA the Jack of Clubs in the post war wanted list. In the course of his pursuit Miller finds that Al Rawi had met with US intelligence officials prior to the war and had insisted that there was no WMD program in Iraq. Miller and Brown attempt to bring Al Rawi in if for no other reason than to prove that the war was fought on the basis of worthless intelligence. But their efforts are continually thwarted by Poundstone and the special forces, who consider the question of the intelligence reports' legitimacy to be beside the point at this stage of the invasion.
The action in the film is very fast-paced. The camera moves in a way that simulates the frenetic pace of military life in the days after President Bush declared major operations over. But the pace of the action and the acrimony of the dialogue, along with the ponderous rhythm of the soundtrack have a tendency to weary the viewer. One begins to feel the film talking down to the audience, even if one acknowledges, as President Bush did, that the WMDs in US intelligence reports never existed. Matt Damon's great skill as an actor does not lift the film beyond the cinematic level of an average action film. And through the entire film the viewer is forced to rehash old debates, regardless of one's view of the merits of the war. Those feelings end up peventing the viewer from focusing on the film's plot, which actually does hold a number of interesting twists. Overall I give the film 2.5 stars.

Julie and Julia Leaves You Hungry!

 Julie and Julia splits its time between the life of Julia Child (Meryl Streep) and a later devotee of Julia's work named Julie (Amy Adams), a working class "mid-level bureaucrat" living in Queens. Julia arrives in Paris with her husband (Stanley Tucci), who works for the American Embassy. Bored with her life and clearly in need of some pursuit to occupy her mind and talents, Julia ends up choosing culinary school. Although she starts as an underdog, her hard work and persistence pay off when she is asked to help write a French cookbook for American readers. Simultaneously, Julie embarks upon the daunting task of cooking all 524 of Julia's recipes in one year and blogging about each experience.

 
There are both contrasts as well as striking similarities in the lives of these two women . Julia's husband is entirely supportive, and their relationship never suffers as a result of her efforts to work with her co-writers on the book. Julie, by contrast, becomes self-absorbed with her endeavors. The ensuing conflict with her partner (Chris Messina) leads him to leave for a brief time. In terms of similarities, both women spend a great deal of time wondering whether or not their work will be taken seriously. Both struggle with doubts about the value of their writing. And in the end, both are overjoyed to find that they do indeed have an audience.
 
The last time Streep and Adams appeared together in a film was in "Doubt". Both are brilliant performers, but Streep is arguably the best movie actress of all time, if not the modern era. Her vocal inflections capture the sound of Julia Child's distinctive voice in a way which causes the viewer to forget that Child herself is not actually on screen. There is tremendous comedic value at number of points in the film even though it does not have the feel of a comedy. Julie is significantly less likable of a character than Julia, but the viewer ends up pulling for her as she cooks and writes her way toward culinary excellence. This movie will warm your heart and make you want to try your hand at some high French cuisine. I give it four stars.

City Island - The Truth is Too Much

 City Island, directed by Raymond De Felitta, is my first prediction for Best Picture nominee in 2010. The story centers on a family living on a small island on the outskirts of the Bronx. Everyone in the family tries desperately to hold on to their personal secrets, the least of which is that they all smoke when no one is looking. Vince Rizzo (Andy Garcia) is a corrections officer who realizes that one of the inmates he guards is his son Tony (Steven Strait) from a late teen dalliance with a slightly older woman. He also is disguising the fact that he's taking acting lessons by telling his wife Joyce (Juliana Margulies) that he's out playing poker (he's apparently ashamed to admit his passion to her). Their college age daughter is secretly trying to make ends by working in the adult entertainment industry while their son is hiding a fetish for feeding obese women.

 
Their ability to keep their secrets begins to unravel when Vince brings his newfound son home for the last thirty days of his sentence. The living arrangement at first causes conflict because of the pure absurdity, and because Vince doesn't reveal the fact that he is Tony's father, not even to Tony. The fact that Tony's very polite and so easy on the eyes quickly diffuses Joyce's concerns. But the longer Tony stays, the more he realizes that his life is significantly less dysfunctional than that of the Rizzo family, despite his history of robberies. One by one he stumbles onto the secrets of the family and challenges them all to face their demons with honesty. Meanwhile, Vince, who doesn't consider himself an actor at all, develops a relationship with an attractive fellow acting student who encourages him to audition for a part in a big movie. Vince is shocked to receive a callback after being chosen from hundreds of actors. The movie climaxes in a scene where all the secrets are revealed and the honesty fails to bring the devastation everyone fears.
 
The movie is successful because of the performances of Garcia, Margulies and Strait, which show the complexity of a life lived in the shadow of dishonesty towards those we love most. The scenery, as well as the Bronx flavored dialog, set this comedy in the busyness of New York, where the pace of life often functions as a cover for the truth about who we are. The script is crisp and funny. The movie is a refreshing change from the typical attempt to rely on a particular actor's comedic talents. The plot itself is funny and engaging enough, and the performances only make the movie better. This one's a must see. I give it 4.5 stars.

What's Happning: May 24 to May 31

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05/27/10- 06/18/10
Waukesha Public Schools Art Teachers Exhibition, mixed media

Local art teachers show new work.. Humphrey Memorial Chapel and Center; ; 262-524-7195; www.carrollu.edu

05/29/10
Waukesha Farmers' Market

Weekly Event! Waukesha Farmers' Market products are grown, raised, or made in WI. Market-goers can expect to find in-season fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs, plants, breads, jams, hand made soaps, artisan cheese, naturally raised meats and more!. Riverfront Plaza East of 332 Riverfront Plaza Waukesha, WI; 7am-noon; 262-549-6154; www.DowntownWaukesha.com

05/29/10
Veteran's Memorial Ceremony and Festival

An inspirational Memorial Day ceremony at the Veterans Bell Tower Memorial in Pewaukee offers attractions for the whole family. The Memorial Day ceremony begins at 10:30 a.m. at the bell tower site, Capitol Drive and Hwy. 164 in Pewaukee.The program, emceed by radio personality Jonathan Green, includes a military flyover, a display of military vehicles and characters from historic battles, portrayed by Friends of Reclaiming Our Heritage. Attendees are encouraged to attend the Veterans Festival in Village Park. www.veteransbelltower.com or call 262-691-9400.

05/31/10
Waukesha Memorial Day Parade

Assembly will begin at 9:15 a.m. on Baxter St. by the Schuetze Building and in the Frame Park parking lot. At 10:15 a.m., the parade is planned to start and will follow the route: west and south on Baxter St., south on Buckley St., west on W. Main St. and south on Maple Ave. to W. Park Ave. The parade is expected to conclude at 10:45 a.m. and finish disbanding at 11:00 a.m. www.downtownwaukesha.com or 549-6154

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