Wednesday, February 27, 2013

So DO Something About It!!

I get so many spam e-mail blasts from so many politicians of every stripe that I usually delete them without even a cursory glance, but I stopped and looked at one I got this morning from my new Congressman, Mark Pocan.  The subject line was “Tornado Warning”.

OK, it caught my attention.  But as I glanced through the text of the e-mail, it suddenly became obvious – annoyingly so – that this was just another spam blast begging for more money.

The “hook” with the subject line was Mark’s assertion that “a budget tornado is set to hit Wisconsin this Friday if Congress doesn’t act”.  Then there was a short paragraph with a recitation of all the horrible things that MIGHT happen with the so-called sequester, and the concluding sentence, in bold black, “Wisconsin alone stands to lose 36,000 jobs”.

Three short sentences later, the REAL subject of the e-mail was revealed: “Please stand with me and help me stand up for Wisconsin jobs”….yadda yadda yadda….click here to send me money.

Then there was still another link for cheapskates who only want to send in five bucks.

I like Mark.  I’ve known him for a long time, since his first campaign for state assembly. I think he will do a fine job in “Tammy’s seat” in the house.

But now, apparently he’s just fallen right into step with the rest of the Washington politicians, using some trumped-up outrage/tragedy/crisis to ask for campaign money.  The so-called sequester might be bad for Wisconsin; it might not cause much more than a shoulder-shrug for the vast majority of ‘sconnies; but what it’s NOT is an opportunity for politicians to beg for more money.  They’re the ones who created this mess in the first place!

Do something tangible about it, Mark.

After you’ve accomplished something, tell me about it, and THEN ask me for money.

But first DO something.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Nothing is Sacred – Not Even Cubs/WGN

I know.  It’s all about the money.  The relatively new owners of the Cubs have fired a shot across the bow of the Tribune Company, saying when the WGN TV contract comes up next year, they’re examining their options.

The Trib’s Cubs writer, Paul Sullivan, says the tradition (since 1948) of Cubs games on WGN-TV and the ability of fans to see the Cubs most anywhere in the country on WGN America will not matter to the owners as much as money, when it comes time to make the decision.

I posted a link to the story on my Facebook page and my journalism guru and tuba buddy Dr. Jim Hoyt, Emeritus UW Professor, commented “Nothing is sacred in broadcasting. I don’t like that.”  I don’t, either. The Cubs and WGN are, and always will be inseverably connected in my mind, just as strongly as Harry Caray is connected with the Cubs and WGN in my mind.

It’s all about money now.  It has nothing to do with loyalty or tradition.  And that sucks.

I’m a Brewers fan first, and a Cubs fan second.  Why the Cubs?  Because ever since the earliest days of Community Antenna TV, which morphed into Cable TV, I’ve been able to watch the Cubs.  I love baseball.  Loved playing it, loved broadcasting it, still love watching it on TV and in person, still love talking about it. And way back when cable was in its infancy, “Superstation WGN” was on just as many, if not more cable systems, than “Superstation WTBS”, Ted Turner’s outfit, which carried the Braves games.

When I lived in New Orleans, I couldn’t watch my Brewers unless they were on the game of the week. But I could see the Cubs on WGNO-TV four or five days a week. When I lived in Los Angeles, I couldn’t see my Brewers very often, but the Cubs were on the cable. Counting the past 30 years, I’ve probably seen as many Cubs games as Brewers games.  Being married to a Cubs fan is a factor, too.

Nowadays, you can get cable or satellite TV anywhere in the nation, and you can get MLB-TV and see any team you want just by ordering the appropriate package.  And the new owners of the Cubs are well aware of that fact.  Anybody can get any team they want.

It’s all about the money, and nothing is sacred.  And they’ll just add another 30 second ad between halves of each inning, and make the game longer, and they’ll make their money.


Monday, February 18, 2013

Vote Early, Vote Often...

Tomorrow is a primary election day, and while this news is greeted with a yawn by 90% of the eligible voters in the state (turnout is predicted to be 10%), for some of us it’s a must-vote day.

By any metric, our state Supreme Court – pictured above – is one of the most dysfunctional, politicized bodies in the nation.  Half of them are, let’s face it, bought and paid for by left-leaning “progressive” political organizations; the other half are in essence a wholly-owned subsidiary of the very right-leaning Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce.

Patience “Pat” Roggensack wants a second 10-year term on the highest court, and she’s the only one of the three candidates with enough money to do TV ads.  Her ads are paid for by an outfit called “Wisconsin Club for Growth”, which in English is pronounced “The Republican Party”.

Marquette University Law Professor Ed Fallone and Milwaukee consumer law attorney Vince Megna are also running.  The top two vote-getters advance to the April 4th general election.

Roggensack’s TV ads claim she’s supported by just about every county Sheriff and law enforcement agency in the state, and when a candidate touts that fact, and that fact alone in their TV ads, you know which way they lean, even though the ads also loudly proclaim she’s a “fair and impartial” judge.  It's my opinion that a “fair and impartial” judge wouldn’t trumpet her only claim to fame as being the darling of the cops.

But then, there aren’t many cogent adults in Wisconsin who don’t know which way any given Justice of the State Supreme Court leans.  Our “non-partisan” highest court can easily be broken down into left-leaning and right-leaning: Roggensack, along with Justices Annette Ziegler, Michael Gableman, and David Prosser (former Republican Assembly Speaker, appointed to the court by Tommy Thompson and re-elected, who clearly has rage and impulse control issues) are right-wingers; Chief Justice Abrahamson and Justices Ann Walsh Bradley and N. Patrick Crooks are left-wingers.
Non-partisan?  Not really.

Considering Justice Gableman and Justice Ziegler’s well-publicized ethics issues, Justice Prosser’s apparent proclivity to try and strangle Justices who hold a different opinion, and the parade of name-calling attack ads that characterized the last three state Supreme Court races, we’ve got a real mess on our hands.  More than a few media editorial boards in Wisconsin have begun calling more loudly for Supreme Court Justices to be appointed, not elected.

As regards tomorrow’s election: I’ll be voting against, rather than for.  The decision is yours, but please vote.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Our Dogs Could Totally Win at Westminster

I know, I know….a lot of dog owners think their dog is just as good, if not better, than the dogs that win at the annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, which is being televised again tonight.  Our dogs are special to us, members of the family, and they’re both champions as far as we're concerned.
The picture at the top of the post is our girl Shadow’s daddy.  His name is Dylan - ok, his AKC name is CH Ka-Zes Tangled Up In Blue, and the CH means he’s a champion.  Many times a champion.  He’s also the daddy to our “little girl”, Sunny.

Here’s a picture of Shadow’s mom, Hope. CH Ka-Zes Hope Key To My Heart is her AKC name, so you know she’s won more than her fair share of dog shows, just like Dylan, and is also officially a champion.

Here’s a picture taken a couple years ago of Dylan and Hope’s child, our "big girl", Shadow –AKC name Ka-Zes Shadow Tangled Up Heart – the Collie who came to live with us in 2006.  She won’t be a champion because we’re never going to put her on the show circuit.  And, the only reason we were able to buy Shadow when she was a 6-month-old puppy is that her neck is too short for “conformity” – which is a term breeders use when they’re talking about whether or not a particular dog has the physical characteristics of past champions of the breed.

Here’s the first picture of our girl Shadow, still with all her fuzzy puppy fur, up on a stand getting a close look from her breeders, Kathy and Jerry Zehtner (Kathy Zehtner = the “Ka-Zes” part of the AKC name) at their kennel, Ka-Zes Collies, in Franklin, WI.  Kathy and Jerry breed champion Collies, and when one like Shadow doesn’t meet conformity, they know they can’t show her, so – they find a good home for her.  We had to jump through a lot of hoops with Kathy and Jerry before they would let us take Shadow home.  They asked us a million questions about our history with dogs, what our property was like, was it fenced, and how much running room there was. Collies have to run; they’re not apartment dogs.  They were bred to run all day, herding sheep in the hills of Scotland.  Years ago, Collies were common on farms in Wisconsin as working dogs. Kathy even had a conversation with our veterinarian, Dr. John Gustafson, to make sure we were responsible dog-owners.

As far as we’re concerned, Shadow – the classic sable Collie, like Lassie – is just as much a champion as that sable Collie who was competing in the Herding Dog class at Westminster last night.

Above is a picture of our “little girl”, Sunny (AKC Ka-Zes  Rivendell's Uptown Girl), who actually won a whole bunch of Blue Ribbon awards at shows sponsored by the Collie Club of America and the Collie Club of Wisconsin.  Sunny is a blue merle Collie, with the distinctive markings of that kind of Collie.

Here’s a shot of Sunny, back when she was called Christie. The “Uptown Girl” in her AKC name is from Billy Joel’s song about Christie Brinkley. In this photo, she’s just barely out of her puppy fur and already charming the judges with her good looks.

Sunny (my wife named her as a counterpoint to Shadow) came to live with us because although she has perfect conformity and won lots of Blue Ribbons at an early age, she turned out not to have “the Ka-Zes look”, as Kathy and Jerry said.  When Kathy and Jerry wanted to expand their breed line, they mated Dylan with another champion Collie from a different breeder (Judy Roller's Rivendells Collies in Mazomanie), and Sunny was the only female in a litter of nine, and she went to live with Kathy and Jerry as a show dog.  But her "face" was too different from the "Ka-Zes look".

When we decided we wanted a companion for Shadow two years ago, we called Kathy and Jerry, and, long story short, they said “let’s put Shadow together with Christie and see if they get along”.  They did, because Shadow is the most mellow dog that ever lived, and loves everything and everyone.  So we loaded Sunny and Christie into my SUV and brought them home. Within hours they became best friends, inseparable buddies, and they spend their time patrolling our grounds, racing back and forth across our “back 40”, and lavishing love and attention on their owners.

So, every year when we watch Westminster, we enjoy seeing all the fancy and expensive dogs paraded around.  But we know our two Collies are just as good as any of those dogs on TV, and would win all the prizes if we entered them.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Why The BLT Is Comfort Food To Me

Last night my bride made BLT’s for our dinner.  I was a pig and had two.  Every bite brought back a flood of childhood memories of Sundays at Grandma’s house.  In the mid-50’s, at least one Sunday a month was spent at Grandma and Grandpa Morrissey’s huge old six-bedroom house in Oshkosh.  We’d make the trip from our home in Hortonville, a half-hour away, and arrive around 10:30 AM.

Grandpa and my dad both wore a suit.  The women wore dresses.  My sister Lynn and I had on our “Sunday best”.  It was a formal occasion every time. 

The entire family would go to noon mass at St. Peter’s Church in Oshkosh, and then return home to make the BLT’s.  It was always BLT’s.  And there was a well-practiced assembly line routine involved in their construction.  Grandma Morrissey fried the bacon, and the bacon was always procured at Buttman-Binner, a butcher shop on Main Street in Oshkosh.  Grandpa Morrissey sliced the tomatoes, which he called “tommy-toes”.  If they weren’t from his garden, they were from the A and P.  He had a knife, which to this day I can picture in my mind, which had one, and only one use: slicing the tomatoes for the BLT’s.  My mom washed, drained, and prepared the lettuce and was in charge of setting the table in the dining room and making coffee.  My aunts, Ruth Ann and Sara Jane, ran the bread prepration operation.  There were four toasters involved; the bread was from Schoenberger’s Bakery, next door to the butcher shop. It was toasted to perfection, then one slice was buttered, and the other was coated lightly with Hellmann’s Blue Ribbon Mayo.  Never Miracle Whip; Grandpa said Miracle Whip introduced spices that had no business in a BLT.  My dad and Grandpa were in charge of final assembly.  

The sandwiches were assembled, sliced in half (NOT with the “tomato knife”), placed on a large platter which was covered by a clean dishtowel to keep them warm.

There was beauty and precision in the operation.  The roles and the routine never varied.

When my Grandpa deemed that enough had been assembled, he proclaimed it was time to eat; the platter was transported to the dining room, everyone was seated at the huge table, Grandpa led the family in saying “Grace”, and the eating commenced.  The taste was as indescribably delicious as it is memorable; I felt the same way last night eating Toni’s BLT’s as I did nearly six decades ago.

The adults carried on conversation during “brunch”, as it was called; my sister and I were children, “who were to be seen, but not heard”, by my father’s dictate.  We were, however, always part of the clean-up crew afterwards, carrying dishes to the kitchen, where another assembly-line operation of dish washing, drying, and putting away – involving everyone – “he who eats, must help clean up” took place.  Since both my dad, who had served in the Army of Occupation in Japan after helping Patton win the war in Europe, and my Uncle Jack were somewhat aware of the Japanese culture (Uncle Jack having served as a spy in the post-war Army), the phrase “many hands make light work” was repeated several times during the clean-up.

After the clean-up was done, “the men-folk” would retire to the “living room” where current events and politics and sports were discussed; “the women-folk” would retire to the parlor, where other topics were given a workout.  Often, my sister and I would retire to the “sun room”, a four-season porch, where I was allowed to listen to Grandpa’s five-band radio – and in spring, summer, and early fall, that meant listening to Earl Gillespe calling the Braves’ game.  My sister contented herself with dolls and other toys available.

At some point late in the afternoon, we would say our good-byes and return home.  The BLT’s – and the family events surrounding them – will never be forgotten.

Comfort food.