Tag Archives: Wisconsin

Interview: Chris Ponteri, Director of the Milwaukee Running Festival

Chris Ponteri is Executive Director of Milwaukee Marathon, Inc., which is putting together the inaugural Milwaukee Running Festival (October 30-November 1, 2015).

Chris Ponteri

1. It appears that something special is happening in Milwaukee at the end of October. Would you like to briefly tell us about it?

We are putting together the inaugural Milwaukee Running Festival, which is exactly what the name suggests: a festival of running. And since Milwaukee is the “City of Festivals,” we feel it’s a good fit.

MRF

2. Why did you decide to make this a three-day event rather than simply a one-day marathon?

Most major marathons are in fact three-day events since they have an expo the two days leading up to the race. We decided to not only have the expo, but also have some other events like a mile race and a kick-off party. Many of our city’s festivals are not just held on one day; they run multiple days. This is no different.

3. How many running events are being held in addition to the marathon?

There will be a half-marathon, a 5k race and a mile race.

4. Do you have an estimate of how many runners will be participating in the marathon and in the other running events?

Being a first-year event it’s really hard to tell. If I had to guess, I would say we will get about 2,000 registrants for the marathon and approximately 5,000 for the other races.

5. How will the city of Milwaukee benefit from the Milwaukee Running Festival?

There are multiple benefits to the city. The most obvious one is the economic impact it will generate. The least obvious one is the impact it will have in the various neighborhoods we will run through. We are doing considerable outreach in these areas and trying to get the residents involved, not just as spectators or volunteers; we would like to see them participate in one of the races. There are numerous other benefits including attraction and retention of professionals who want to live and work in a city with major running events like this, promotion of a healthy activity, and raising funds for charity.

6. How will Milwaukee charities benefit from the Festival?

We have a charity program in which runners can sign up to raise funds for one of the participating organizations. So far we have five charity partners.

7. Runners have a broad variety of locations to choose from in selecting a marathon to participate in. Why would you encourage them to participate in the first-time event?

We are creating something special here and I can tell you that there will be a huge buzz in the running community after our event. So why not be a part of it in its first year?

8. I understand that you are seeking to ensure diversity in terms of the participants who will be running through the streets of Milwaukee’s historic neighborhoods. Can you tell us about your work in coordinating with representatives of the African-American and Hispanic communities in Milwaukee?

One of the missions of this event is to bring running to some of the segments of our community that are not as exposed to it as others. This includes Milwaukee’s African-American and Hispanic communities. I have made it a priority to find influential runners among these populations and asked for their help in spreading the word about running and our event. I am very excited about this.

9. How will you know if the Festival is a success?

It will be a success if we get to do it again next year.

10. Is there anything else you would like to add?

One common misconception about this is that it is solely a running event. As I have said hundreds of times, this is a community event first and a running event second. We want to do everything we can to include the entire community and try to get them to be a part of this. We want to create an event that will make people proud to live and work in the Milwaukee area.

Thank you, Chris.

Joseph Arellano

This interview was first published on the Blogcritics site:

http://blogcritics.org/interview-chris-ponteri-director-of-the-milwaukee-running-festival/

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Man on the Moon

Beer Review: Moon Man No Coast Pale Ale from New Glarus Brewing

Moon Man

While I was spending my summer in Bloomington, Indiana, a good friend of mine, Eric, visited for the Fourth of July weekend. He and I are what some may call beer snobs. We prefer the term beer geeks, however, because at the end of the day, we really don’t care what people are drinking so long as they are enjoying what they’re drinking. We both wish we could expose others to craft beers, help guide them through what they’re tasting, and see their reaction to major hop bombs or big roasty stouts. But that’s not what some people are into. Again, what separates us from the snobs out there is that we really don’t care what people are drinking so long as they are enjoying themselves.

Eric was visiting from Gurnee, Illinois, located near the border of Illinois and Wisconsin. He knows how much I enjoy New Glarus beer, and seeing as it has very limited distribution, he picked up some six packs and headed down. When he arrived, he showed me his mini haul; a six pack of Spotted Cow, a New Glarus classic, and a mixed six pack consisting of Moon Man and a few others.

Being an American Pale Ale (APA) lover, the first beer I wanted to try was Moon Man, and I was not disappointed in the least bit.

moon-man

The appearance of this beer threw me off. It poured rich gold in color, which is a little light in color for the style and there wasn’t much head and the little there was dissipated rather quickly. What saved its appearance rating was the great lacing it left in the glass. Although it may not look exactly like what I think an APA should look like, its appearance is the least important quality of the beer. I rate its appearance as a 3.75/5.

As far as aroma is concerned, this one packs a very fruitful, floral aroma. Some citrus notes – grapefruit, I believe. Very bold. Not very piney, which is a characteristic common in APAs, but I was completely OK with that. This beer gets a 4.5/5 for its fresh floral and citrus aroma.

Regarding taste, balance is the name of the game with this brew. It has a very sweet malt profile that contradicts the hops. It’s definitely not the hoppiest pale ale out there by any stretch of the imagination. You get the sweetness up front that is finished off with an acute burst of hops on the way down. Not too sweet, not too bitter – BALANCED. This one easily earns a 4.5/5 for taste.

When drinking, this is a very smooth beer. It leaves a hint of dryness on the back half, but overall it’s very crisp and nicely carbonated. For the mouth feel I’d say it deserves a 4.25/5.

MoonMan-cropped

Overall: I was incredibly surprised by this brew. Moon Man is fully unassuming and a phenomenal representation of the style. APAs are my favorite, and this one is at the top of my list. Moon Man has a nice malty presence that works well with the hops providing perhaps one of the most balanced beers I’ve ever had. This is a great beer and one that I feel may be under-appreciated due to its limited distribution. If I lived in Wisconsin, I’d be drinking this every day. As an overall grade, I rate this beer a 4.5/5.

Update: Although I had this beer a couple of months ago, I went recently to Wisconsin and stocked up on it. It’s a beer I will buy whenever I can get my hands on it, and I highly recommend that you do the same. Although it may not be a total hop bomb, it’s a cool, relaxed beer that plays to the characteristics of its style. I am very grateful that Eric shared this beer with me, and I hope my recommendation will influence anyone reading this to give it a try.

Eric and I are in the process of creating a blog dedicated to our love of craft beer and we have an Instagram exclusively for our journey through the world of craft beer. If you want to check us out, you can find us on Instagram @maltedhopballs.

Ryan Moyer

Ryan is a graduate of the University of Indiana.

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What Made Milwaukee Famous

Bottoms Up 4Summer days and the summer nights are gone/ I know a place where there’s still somethin’ going on…” Bob Dylan, “Summer Days” from Love and Theft (2001)

Bottoms Up: A Toast to Wisconsin’s Historic Bars & Breweries by Jim Draeger, Mark Speltz, and Mark Fay (Wisconsin Historical Society Press, $29.95, 272 pages)

Bottoms Up: A Toast to Wisconsin’s Historic Bars & Breweries has the potential to appeal to a variety of readers. Weekend travelers and curiousity seekers will find ideas for a mini-excursion in the coffee table-style book. History buffs should be drawn to various aspects of the account: prohibition, supper clubs, old-fashioned breweries, local culture, hops, architecture – a little something for everybody. But, most of all, beer lovers from anywhere should be attracted to tales of secret entrances for women; classic bartenders; dice games; microbrews; corner taverns; tourist traps; highway stopping off places; and memories of 10-ounce drafts, fish frys, crazy uncles, dart boards, and, for the true Wisconsinite, the magic potion known as an Old Fashioned.

The first 74 pages are an historical account of immigration, breweries, prohibition, and various other stories detailing Wisconsin traditions and the evolution of the brewing industry. There are times when the Germans and the Irish play nice, and times when they don’t. The rest of the book divides the state into regions and lists 70 must visit places throughout the state.

The writing is mostly straightforward. There is a hint of cleverness to some passages, but the book avoids being schmaltzy – even if it sometimes touches on malt – and can be appreciated for possessing characters, humor and insight without being contrived, forced, or displaying any hint of condescension. Having been in many of these places myself, I can personally vouch for the fact that these authors know what they’re talking about.

To memories and old friends. Cheers!

Well recommended.

Dave Moyer

This book is also available as a Kindle Edition and Nook Book download. Dave Moyer is a public education administrator and the author of Life and Life Only: A Novel.

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8-Track Flashbacks

8-Track Flashbacks by Tom Alt (Mag Mile Books, $11.99, 128 pages)

Tom Alt’s memoir, 8-Track Flashbacks, is the equivalent of a new band on the scene, which produces an album that has one or two decent songs, but as a whole does not stand on its own.   At 113 pages, it is sized more like a novella than a novel.   It is a story of growing up in the 60s (and early 70s).   Ironically, most of the story takes place before 8-tracks were popular.

Alt grows up in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, a few miles west of Milwaukee.   His father leaves, and his early childhood involves sports, girls, drinking, and more girls – not all that dissimilar for boys of almost any era.

A key events almanac for each year of the decade introduces the chapters, though the events listed and the songs referred to are largely isolated from the stories contained in the chapters.

There are some very well-written passages, some vignettes that might cause the reader to recall that time of their life or that era in general.   Perhaps some from the Midwest will relate to the sports teams, towns, or liberalism of the University of Wisconsin.   However, there is a depth to the account that is missing.   The characters exist but the reader does not really get to know them sufficiently to bond with them.

Because of the vagueness, it is difficult to get to the main point of why this memoir might stand out as one to read.   It is hard to distinguish if this is supposed to be about the era, growing up, heartache or survival – too many important issues are introduced and then left dangling.   More time is spent on Alt’s high school years, which basically comes across as a boy clowning around and skating by.   His relationship with his mother and siblings probably should have been more prominent in the story; his college relationships; draft status and subsequent failed physical; and other portions of the story are glanced over a bit too hastily.

The book can be read in one sitting or as time permits.   It’s not a bad book.   It’s just not a great book.

Dave Moyer

A review copy was provided by the author.   8-Track Flashbacks is also available as a Kindle Edition and Nook Book download.  

Dave Moyer is the author of Life and Life Only: A Novel.   He has recently completed a second novel.

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Puppy Love

New Tricks: A Novel by David Rosenfelt (Grand Central Publishing, $24.99, 320 pages; also available as a Mass Market Paperback for $7.99)

You are in for a doggy treat – not to be confused with Milk Bone biscuits.   Author David Rosenfelt is a master of timing, understatement and spoofing.   This Andy Carpenter novel, New Tricks, is an all-around good read; a mystery complete with an attorney who has a reputation for defending dogs (of the canine variety), a temperamental and outspoken judge nicknamed Hatchet and a lady police chief from Wisconsin who just happens to be the attorney’s long-distance girlfriend.   The cast of characters is enhanced by a friend who communicates with the attorney by singing the lyrics of popular songs.   The center of attention is Waggy, an eager and energetic Bernese puppy whose ownership is in dispute.

An exploding mansion with collateral damage that murders the owner is the attention-grabbing action that marks the beginning of the mystery story.   The plot twists, turns and then doubles back on itself.   There are plenty of red herrings, hidden motives, puns and double entendres that give an appreciative reader cause to laugh out loud.  

The plot twists and turns are worthy of The Rockford Files and 77 Sunset Strip.   For readers under the age of 50, author Ellen Raskin (The Westing Game) comes to mind.

Highly recommended.   A charming tail wagger!

Ruta Arellano

A review copy was provided by the publisher.   “Packed with shootings, explosions, murder, and gritty courtroom drama…  a treat.” USA Today

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Long Train Runnin’

Carrie Goes Off the Map by Phillipa Ashley (Sourcebooks Landmark, $9.99, 384 pages)

Carrie Goes Off the Map is a very enjoyable road trip novel through England.   Carrie is two weeks away from marrying her long-time boyfriend Huw, when he drops a bombshell; he is breaking up with her.   Carrie had put aside her own dreams of becoming an actress for Huw and had spent the years since graduating from college helping Huw run his family dairy farm.

Suddenly, without a purpose in life, Carrie moves in with her friend Rowena and tries to determine what her next move will be.   Rowena tries to cheer Carrie up by planning a European road trip in a vintage VW camper named Dolly.   Unfortunately, Rowena is unable to go at the last minute and has found a new companion for Carrie, the handsome Dr. Matt Landor.

Matt is back from his work in Tuman after an unfortunate accident.   Commanded to take four months off to rest and get himself together, he is not sure what he is going to do with his time off.   Matt was friends with Huw back at the University, and after meeting Carrie again at a bad moment (it’s a classic moment in the book, I don’t want to ruin it for those who haven’t read it yet!) he is officially intrigued.   Together they go on a tour of Southern England and learn how to move on with life.   And also learn more about each other.

I really enjoyed this book.   At one point, a barber cuts Matt’s hair and says that he looks like a modern-day Mr. Darcy.   There were indeed elements of that classic story  in this book with Carrie and Matt meeting again after so many years and having a misunderstanding that sets the two at odds at first.   Carrie was much more against Matt than he is against her.   Their delightful friction kept me entranced throughout the book.

I also enjoyed the description of the road trip in the campervan.   It sounded like a lot of fun.   Phillipa Ashley traveled in a campervan as part of her research for this  novel.

I also really liked an odd thing, that Huw was a dairy farmer.   The descriptions of the mega-farm and life on the farm reminded me a lot of life around Wisconsin, AKA Dairyland, USA.   It made me realize that things are really not that different between the United States and England.   It was funny that HUW was considered quite a catch as he was a rich farmer, which is the same as some of the farmers in my county who are millionaires.   Family farms are not the same as they used to be anywhere anymore it seems.

Overall, I found Carrie Goes Off the Map to be a delightful book with great characters, romance, and a wonderful journey.   Phillipa Ashley has become one of my new favorite contemporary romance authors.

Laura Gerold

This review by Laura Gerold was reprinted with her permission.   You can see more of her interesting and helpful book reviews at Laura’s Reviews, http://lauragerold.blogspot.com/ .

Carrie Goes Off the Map is available as an e-book (Kindle Edition and Nook Book) download.   Phillipa Ashley is also the author of Decent Exposure: A Novel.

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Only the Good Die Young

Good Graces: A Novel by Lesley Kagen (Dutton, $25.95, 337 pages)

“The almighty works in mysterious ways, ma cherie.”

It’s 1960.   You’re a young girl living in a quiet suburb of Milwaukee, in a community whose foundation is the Feelin’ Good Cookie Factory (the closer one lives to the odoriferous factory, the poorer one’s family is), with your cunning sister Troo.   The problem is that the adults in the community seem to be clueless to the problems in their midst, including juvenile delinquency.   Troo’s reporting of the troublemaker known as Greasy Al means that he’s been sent to a juvenile detention facility, which seems like good news until you find out from your police detective step-dad-to-be (he’s engaged to your  mother) that the evil kid has escaped.   Now it’s up to Troo to come up with a perfect plan for dealing with Greasy Al’s imminent return.

As Troo’s sister, you know that she’s no amateur when it comes to this business.   You previously had a problem with a male summer camp counselor, and Troo made him disappear from the face of the earth.   So now you’re hoping that Troo’s plan for Greasy Al is not too efficient…   And just when you’re dealing with this, you learn from other kids in the neighborhood that one of the respected pillars of the community is making young boys “do bad things,” which immediately changes everything.   Now Troo puts Plan A on the back-burner while she develops a new plan to bring law and order to your town.

You and Troo must rely on a couple of other youngsters to help you – one male and one female – and you have to hope that they can keep their lips sealed forever if Troo’s new solution works.   You both think you can count on Artie and Mary Lane, especially the latter since:  “She’s been tortured by the best in the world – nuns.   So detectives asking her a couple of questions wouldn’t bother her at all.”

Good Graces, written in a child’s voice, is simply one of the most enjoyable novels that I’ve read in years (at least three or more).   Kagen’s ability to write in an adolescent’s voice is remarkable, and she has fun toying with the artifacts of the time, such as the TV shows Queen for a Day and Howdy Doody.   Adult readers who grew up in less prosperous homes will identify with the characters, as will Catholics and lapsed Catholics.   The young characters in the tale attend Catholic school and learn that the  nuns can indeed inflict pain when it’s needed and otherwise.

At its base, this is a fine and fun morality play in which children save a community and the almost-brainless adults are never the wiser.   It’s the sequel to Whistling in the Dark, and I can hardly wait for the third part of Lesley Kagen’s true justice trilogy.

Highly recommended.

Joseph Arellano

A review copy was provided by the publisher.   “Moving, funny, and full of unexpected delights…   Kagen crafts a gorgeous page-turner about love, loss, and loyalty, all told in the sparkling voices of two extraordinary sisters.”   Caroline Leavitt, author of Pictures of You.

Good Graces was released on September 1, 2011.

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