Thursday, December 11, 2008

Married

Erin and I got married a week ago today. It was a short civil event at the county courthouse here in Huntsville. Our witnesses were two great men who are partners in life: Wilson and Ron. They both work for the library at the university and both are musicians--Wilson an organist and Ron a very accomplished, fine tenor who is in demand as a soloist hereabouts. The reason we chose them is that they were part of Erin's selection committee and it was love at first sight: they loved her and vice versa. They really lobbied her to take the job and move here. We are glad they did. You see above the wedding party at the courthouse, the pre-dinner bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape I bought (yum), and below, us at the wedding dinner. (Note the custom made, double breasted, double vented blazer that was built for my bod at the tailor shop in the expensive hotel where I stayed last time I was in Korea. Spiffy, eh. The tailor was a prizewinner in a Swiss international competition).

So Sam is no longer a bastard dog and has real parents, which is a genuine relief to him, poor thing; he was embarrassed at the city dog park when asked about his current situation by other dogs. They pointed at him and laughed.

No longer. And Erin can now refer to me as her husband instead of her partner--which sounded like she was a lesbian, or as her man--which sounded like she was trailer trash. As for me, I was accustomed to being referred to occasionally as Mr. Colwitz and I once referred to myself early on as her live-in lover to a couple of delivery men who just spluttered and went about their work without ever looking me directly in the eye.

Now we have all the certificates that make it legal, one of which has Holy Matrimony on it (this is Alabama, after all) even though God was not mentioned by the judge, who by the way signs his name as Tommy instead of Thomas, even though middle-aged and an official of the court (this is Alabama, after all). Only his mom should call him Tommy, for Pete's sake.

Oh, and we didn't have to get an AIDS test (Alabama . . . )

"Holy Matrimony, Batman!!" This has become our new expletive.

We are both very pleased with our new status, though it hasn't affected (NOT impacted!) our relationship a bit: it remains the happy, affectionate, easy, contented, and occasionally erotic one that it was before Tommy's sanction of it. We are both very grateful for that. Holy Matrimony!

Erin's family is very happy for us, as is what remains of mine. Not everyone knows about it yet, even though Erin blabbed it all over Facebook (we were supposed to wait until the printed announcements arrived and were mailed, which happened yesterday. But no, Colwitz has to put it up on to the Cyber Gossip Page. Jeez).

But now it is official, and you can go on-line to Target and/or Williams-Sonoma, where we are registered for a period of time yet, and buy something for us from our wish list. Don't do this for me, do it for Erin, who hasn't had this experience yet and who didn't have a big white dress that cost four figures nor a gaggle of bridesmaids. A few items from these places would sure help make up for that (you can tell which things she tagged (candle paraphenalia, for God's sake) and which are mine (Pig Stuff: tools and knives and cookpots and other things for aging far-sighted hunter-gatherers). Only a few are really expensive, but nothing is over $200.

Sorry it's Christmas, too, but we didn't really want to wait.

*****

Up to Packerland in a week or so we go. And Rob and Brandon will be here from Cali for New Years Eve.

All in all: a very happy time, especially for me.

Even in Alabama, where we are having a sub-tropical monsoon at the moment, so I think I'll cook sauerkraut and porkchops tonight to remind me of my Nordic roots.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Bird
















Here you see the Thanksgiving Extravaganza hosted by L and L. I was responsible for the bird, and I did a MagazineCover job, as you can see (click on the pic for a better view; I especially recommend this for a view of The Bird, to heck with DaBoys and their parents). Cooked it on the grill, as I have done since 1976--never have I shoved a bird in the oven. Imagine that. Most people east of the Rockies have no idea what I'm talking about. You want the recipe, give me a holler. Also note the supercool shirt I bought at CNN headquarters in Atlanta: my pro name is Petersen Hunter and I'm stationed in Kuala Lumpur.

Was great to be in Davis even though I got a cold and felt like hell much of the time. It was fun anyway. I already had met L and L's friends before, with some exceptions, but it was nice to see them all in one place and break bird with them.

You can see the spread set-up L and L laid on for the gang (who all brought side dishes--the German woman brought dressing and gravy, saints preserve us). They did a beautiful job and everyone loved everything, including the six kids at the Kid Table, where K is the blond Prince Valiant and B is the one looking right at you. Wonderful, smart kids (sometimes too smart) who are now 4.5 and 2.5, respectively. Took them shopping for a couple of hours one day and bribed good behavior with smoothies; they were great, despite the delay at Long's Drugs.

I am thankful for such a family and love them dearly. DaBoys love me, too, and squeal with delight when they see me at the airport. K dubbed me 'Bumpah' when he was two and the appellation has stuck, thank goodness--none of that 'Grandpa' stuff for me, nossir.

And now am back in my Sweet Home Alabama, where it is cold and trying to snow. In a couple of weeks we go to Packerland for Christmas with Erin's huge family. I will cook Coq au Vin, we will see the last Packer game of the season against the worst team in the league, we will exchange gifts, we will go to Doot's for breakfast one morning, we will watch bowl games until numb, Sam will play in the snow for the first time (not looking forward to the 12-hour drive with a 60-lb. retriever 'puppy').

All in all: I couldn't be either luckier or happier. Sam could, though: he lost his nuts last Tuesday.

(Groan).

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Korea II

I was in Korea for the second time this year from 5-19 October as guest conductor of the Pilgrim Mission Choir in Daegu. I was the first guest conductor this group has ever had. They are not a professional ensemble, though many of the 25 singers are professional; they just don't get paid to sing in this group. They have won prizes in a number of international competitions in Europe and Asia. They are a stunningly good ensemble, devoted to sacred music, their conductor and each other. I thoroughly enjoyed our nine rehearsals together and they thoroughly enjoyed their concert performance on the 18th in front of a full house of 1500. The meat of the program I chose for them included Poulenc's Four Christmas Motets, Verdi's Pater Noster, Pinkham's Easter Cantata, and a couple of settings of Cantate Domino by Sch├╝tz and Hassler. Except for the latter two pieces, this was a difficult program and they performed it beautifully. I was thrilled and apparently the audience was, too: I autographed dozens of programs in the lobby following the concert, especially for young people, who are the future of choral music.

It was fulfilling and fun (sorry, but that last is an f-word I can still live with).

Their conductor is Jae-Joon Lee, who got his MM in choral music from USC in 1999. He got it to improve his work with choruses because he is a former trumpet player and primarily an orchestral conductor. He conducts a professional orchestra in Daegu in addition to a youth orchestra that does Tchaikovsky and toured Spain. He also runs a music school in Daegu, conducts two choruses when at home. Oh, and a choral seminar for music teachers in August which is usually attended by almost 500. I was part of that seminar last August. Daegu is surrounded by mountains so it was hotter than the hinges of hell and the air was wetter than Rangoon. (I won't go anywhere near East Asia in August ever again. It's May or October or nothing. Jeez.)

He is famous in Daegu and raises money willy-nilly for the Pilgrim Mission and the music school. I had a number of dinners with his supporters while there. He earns his income, though, primarily by conducting opera orchestras in the Phillipines, Cuba and Russia. He has a British agent. He takes no salary from the Mission or the school. He does accept nice suits from his supporters, but nowhere near the level at which Sarah Palin did.

He also is very handsome and has gorgeous hair, very maestro hair.

He thinks I'm wonderful and I am happy to humor him. His singers loved my musicianship, rehearsal technique, conducting gesture, enthusiasm, and interpretation. They gave me a gorgeous, heavy lead crystal 'plaque' that says so. It sits on the top of my filing cabinet now.

And they thought I was funny, especially when I did my impression of a Korean businessman dealing on his cellphone. I can be a real hoot.

I stayed in the 6-star hotel in town (the country's third largest city), in the same suite that Guss Hiddink had in 2002. It had his pictures all over, as well as a bronze plaque on the door. Hiddink was coach of the South Korean World Cup team that damned near made it to the finals in 2002. I remember getting up at 430 in the morning in California to watch their matches. I was sad when they finally lost.

I ate like a prince and was ushered to and fro by J-J and a number of the singers, usually sitting in the Asian BigWig seat behind the passenger seat. Harumph. My tux and briefcase were carried to and from my dressing room by others. They bowed to me when I came into the rehearsal. Asians worship teachers and respect the elderly. I am both.

Sigh.

To them: thank you, friends. Hope you can get someone to translate this for you.

I will miss you.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Dumps


I know, I know. You've been waiting a whole month, poor you.

Well, I've been busy: finally began writing The New One on 1 September; visited DaBoys in California for a week; Saturdays fly by with wall-to-wall college football; and been spending far too much time reading politics on the Web. No blogs, though, only the liberal-biased, LeftWing, DriveBy publications and websites of the NYT, LAT, Newsweek, and Time.

You know: those. Plus listening to Limbaugh/Hannity to scout enemy territory and watching Keith Olbermann to keep myself sane. I'm going nuts and am down in the dumps because I'm losing faith in my people, bless their hearts (that's what they say down South here when they're talking about someone really stupid or feckless). I'm afraid H.L. Mencken was dead on (in an earlier post I attributed the following to P.T. Barnum, but he said, 'there's a sucker born every minute,' which works here, too): 'Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.' Palin, the entire Republican Party, the success and incredibly plump contracts of L/H and their ilk; all prove both Mencken and Barnum correct.

Add to that this latest economic nightmare (we won't talk about my retirement account) that the Republicans got us into for the second time in eighty years (2009-1929 = 80, just in case Biden is reading: say it ain't so, Joe--FDR and TV had nothing to do with it. Sigh. Motormouth.)

I am really blue, folks. The only thing that keeps me afloat is Erin and spending time with DaBoys and the always-wonderful L & L; they put things in perspective for me because they represent the future, not the miserable present.

Even USC let me down out in Corvallis. Sob. But Erin, the plucky wench, seems able to keep her spirits up by volunteering at local Democratic Party headquarters; actually DOING something about it, in other words, instead of pissing and moaning, as I do here. She brought home two T-shirts: Obama Y'All and Sweet Home AlObama. I shall wear one of them everywhere I go in this town from now until the election. When I get frowned or sighed at (and I will), I will say, 'oh, gosh, I'm so sorry, you must be rich or a fundamentalist Christian. Please forgive me for offending you.'

No kidding. I will. If the conversation goes further, my parting shot: 'What other reason could you possibly have to NOT vote for a superb, intelligent, self-made gentleman like Obama?"

I'll keep you posted, I promise. Or as Palin would say. 'I'll get back to ya!'

But here's what we need to do for DaBoys, who'll be paying for this second Republican mess long after we're dead: we need to put Democrats in office until they are old enough to vote, which will be in 16 years. That's four terms, two presidents to accomodate them both until they have a chance to speak for themselves, even though we wouldn't much care for what they have to say about us when they do start speaking. It's the least we can do, don't you think?

But can we do it for them? Get me out of the dumps; tell me we can. Tell me I'm wrong about my people. Please.

If you can't, wish me luck with my T-shirts, at least.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

NewYear'sEve II

Tomorrow is New Year's Day for anyone who has led the academic life and lived by its calendar as long as I did: rehearsals and classes begun, the clock reset, the air cooling off a bit (even here), the sun heading south and, most important of all, the college football season begun.

The first of twelve Holy Saturdays was yesterday and was celebrated in style: applewood smoked bacon ($8/lb. at the Why-Pay-Less Market!!), eggs, reheated french fries, and milk. Now THAT's a communion meal. And to top it off, USC's offense sliced and diced the Virginia defense while their defense took multiple meat tenderizers to the Virginia offense. Ah, joy. Tomorrow, UCLA tries its luck and new coach against Tinnissee (emphasis on the first syllable). I suspect the Pac-10 will not prevail in this case.

***********************

Erin is enjoying her job very much: two good groups to conduct (two others conducted by fine local people), very amenable colleagues, sweet (though conservative) students who love her, a course in diction, three voice students, and a team-taught conducting course. And time to prepare without spending two hours/day on the 91 and 405 freeways.

**********************

This is the first anniversary of this blog, too. Don't know how I feel about it though I gather that a few folks have enjoyed it, my daughters and some former students among them. I guess I'll keep going for a while.

Tomorrow also marks my first full year of retirement, during which I have done little besides cook, read, shoot hoop, lift weights, see my daughters and grandsons a number of times, help manage and answer tidal waves of email for NCCO, move across the country, establish a nice new home, do a boatload of handyman work, manage my retirement fund, keep track of insurance, medical and dental matters, turn 66, do a number of guest conducting and clinical things, and help train a very bright and athletic golden retriever (America's Favorite Dog!). A former student, Buddy James, commented that if a man had a good dog and a good woman (in that order), there wasn't much else he could ask for.

He may be right.

Nevertheless, tomorrow I also get back to writing, which I have not done at all since retirement except in these pages. It will be another book, though the form it will take and when it will be finished is anybody's guess. I need something in my daily schedule besides the YMCA, cooking and dog eliminations. Might as well be a book.

In a couple of weeks I go visit L and L and the grandsons for a week. Double Joy.

Time for another dog elimination.

Happy New Year, y'all.


Bama Boy

Monday, July 21, 2008

Huntsville



The annoying stuff first: two churches in every block, mostly Baptist (the parking lots of which rival that of the Rose Bowl, and they have city cops direct traffic before and after services); opaque covers over magazines that show too much skin in grocery stores; the only talk radio station has Limbaugh, Hannity and Ingraham; humidity; libraries charge .50 for a hold on a book (budget too small); movie theaters ID anyone under 25 lest they get exposed to sex in R-rated movies (violence--Batman--is ok, of course); the cable service doesn't supply an automatic screen saver on Pause for my LCD monitor; no Trader Joes or IKEA; the YMCA doesn't give away T-shirts for achieving the fitness levels (I earned white, yellow and red in SoCal); many restaurants not open on Sunday, the library and the Y not open until 1:00 (you're supposed to be in church, dammit); my first electric bill was $96 because of air conditioning (headed for 100 degrees for the first time today); humidity; pretty lame Mexican food (white cheese in the enchiladas; cross-eyed stares followed by compliance when I ask for shredded beef in my tacos); the Sierras are too damned far away.

The good stuff: no traffic; you can get anywhere in 15 minutes; lovely rolling hills surround the town (locals call them mountains but this MountainMan knows better); lovely neighborhoods everywhere (even the Projects are nicely landscaped); enough competition to keep prices in line, especially in restaurants; wonderful grocery stores (I was surprised); no traffic; most people are polite and kind (my 84-year old neighbor invited us over for pecan pie the other night); the NASA Space Center (the House That Von Braun Built) is spectacular, thus every possible high tech industry is here--including some from Japan and Korea--which yields the stat that this town has more PhD's per capita than anywhere in the country, thus many Saabs, Range Rovers, Beemers, Mercs, Lexi--and Toyotas galore (unfortunately, many of these guys wear shorts and boat shoes without socks, which is only marginally better than sandals with black socks); no traffic; a fascinating hybrid culture (see the ad for the magazine I skimmed while at the vet shop and click on the picture above to see the Brag List more clearly); a wonderfully relaxed pace--ain't no hurry and it's too damned hot, anyway, though I AM adapting and no longer yell Whoof! upon walking outside; no traffic; a fine, cohesive choral community to which Erin has already been warmly welcomed and that I may come to know also; no traffic; a beautiful new 4-plex, single story condo that in LA would have cost three-four times what we paid for it (LA around here stands for Lower Alabama--a vastly different region from Northern Alabama)--I love my new digs. A lot.

*********************************
I can't describe the disbelief, scorn, pity, derision, and mute stares I encountered when announcing this move while still living in California. No surprise, I suppose. I was a cosmopolitan, educated, intelligent Liberal from somewhere else.

To my delight, I still am and have encountered quite a number of kindred folk here--many of them not even gay (!)--and will have no lack of spirited, like-minded discussions, with the only real bone of contention being the relative merits of Pac-10 and SEC college football. I suspect I will encounter more as time goes on. In short, I really like it here, and

I'm glad I came.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Garage

Some pictures of a Real Man's Garage after Gene and I did some male bonding.Note the wall shelving; good use of space, eh.

Gene and I also built a work bench that's on wheels: Gene's Genius.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

SweetHomeAlabama

Some pics of the interior our home here. (The only rooms not represented are Erin's study (the third bedroom) and the guest bath.)














I include pics of Patti and me cooking, as well as Patti planting amidst Male Bonding Sawdust and the finished workbench and storage shelves in the garage (all praise to Gene).





























The guest bed is from my old apartment and the couches are from Erin's old apartment.















The new master bedroom stuff cost a King's Ransom. (Master Bath has TWO vanities, by the way).




















The rugs we bought at a Wickes close-out auction in Torrance not long before we left (two Turkish, one Belgian)--cheaper than Sears, as it turned out, and more attractive to boot.





Dining room is included here only tangentially; it's between my study (the room with the three Office Depot pieces) and the kitchen.















Bill's study...view with the lovely rug.


The kitchen...with more cabinets than we need. Yea . . .

Monday, May 26, 2008

Korea


South Korea has around forty professional choruses, which is amazing if you think about it. How can fifty million people stuck on a penile extrusion jutting into the Yellow and East seas support that kind of professional choral activity?

With local taxes, that's how. I met the mayor of Bucheon just prior to performance last Thursday; he is very proud of his city's chorus and orchestra, believes they do a lot for the lives of his city's people--and he's right, they do. What an amazing thing that this small country that didn't have four connected standing walls left in 1954 has put together an economic powerhouse garnished with government-supported arts organizations in just fifty short years. What a sad thing that our immense, 250-year-old country does not boast one single government-supported arts organization, while we spend $5000/minute occupying Iraq and God Knows How Much money bailing out and/or supporting failing and/or corrupt corporations.
*******************************************
For some reason, Asians like me, especially Koreans. In fact, I was told by Sources Close to the Administration that Koreans in the Bidnizz consider me to be the finest American guest conductor.

Perhaps this is because they claim I look like Sean Connery and can do a killer James Bond imitation. Who knows?

This was my second time with the Bucheon chorus, and that was a result of the fact that the singers were polled as to who they would want to be their guest conductor for their 20th Anniversary Season, and that person was me. I was honored to be their choice and flattered that so many of the forty-eight singers remembered me fondly from my time with them in 2001. Their conductor had a bit to do with it also, of course, and he treated me like a visiting emperor, as did the teachers and students in the master classes I led. (The chorus gave me my flowers at the dress rehearsal rather than after the performance, which followed a couple hours later: see the pic above--also note the omnipresent sweat towel and ManPurse).

This is in part because teachers and the elderly are highly respected in Korean culture and I am both, so I get bowed to and served first in any crowd. I had a couple dozen young people--including two little boys who barely came up to my waist--clamoring for my autograph in the lobby afterwards. I gave it to them. Most of their English consisted of "how are you?" and "I love you." Boy, I can take that. What a change from a culture where teachers are either suspect or considered lazy fools. As for the elderly, well, ahem . . .

So it was great, but I was glad to come home to someone who loved me and to speak fast English secure in the knowledge that I would be understood, even by the Pakistani taxi driver who brought me home from LAX.

And I made a few shekels, too. I would probably do it for expenses only but I wouldn't want that word to get out there. I only have enough retirement money to last until I'm 90 or dead, for one thing, and for another, I almost consider my fees to be compensation for time spent in Economy on 10-12-hour plane flights. ( Korean Air is awfully nice, though. Sure beats United. Just don't want to spend my entire fee on Business Class in either. So I either charm desk staff into an exit row seat or endure. Groan).

But the twelve wonderful days on the ground more than make up for the two miserable days in the air.

Until next time, to my host, fellow conductor Sang-Hoon Lee, and to former students Soon-Jung Kim (my very adept translator, who appears in the pic above), In-Gi Min, Yoseob Lee, Soo-Jung Jung, and Eunsil Kim:

anyonghikeseo, kamsahamnida,
friends.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Elite II

It's happened again.

"Elite" has resurfaced as a dirty word in American culture and politics. Please see my first Elite posting, where I talk about this at length. Enough to say here that anti-intellectualism was at the core of American culture as soon as the founders of this country were all dead: now THEY were elitists. A number of them even spoke French.

Horrors.

Also see where I myself came from in my early blogs, especially Mom and Dad, just so you know that I came from even humbler origins than Obama, though not half black ("as far as I know," to quote Hillary).

Why is it that a feckless, barely literate chimp born with a silver spoon in his mouth, with an immense trust fund at his disposal, and who hasn't had to work a day in his life, isn't called an elitist? Because his elitism lies in money. That's OK in our country. If our elitism lies in brains, personal achievement or cosmopolitan awareness of the world, that's not OK. That's why Obama is not OK: he did it himself without using anyone else's money, especially his black daddy's. Talk about bootstraps!

How can a woman who owns half of a hundred and nine million dollars and who served on the board of Walmart call someone else an elitist? See above. How can a man who married rich the second time and no longer has to work for a living call someone else an elitist? See above.

Why is it that Obama offends so many so often? Because he is highly educated and much smarter than his current opponents, 90% of the Republican Party, and most of the presidents whom we have elected, with the exception of JFK, FDR, Lincoln, and Jefferson. And because he is unflappable, counterattacks with facts when assaulted, maintains his cool, and--most unforgivable of all--tells the goddamn-often-unpalatable truth again and again in the face of half-truth, innuendo and lies. He also has a conscience his enemies can't forget and for which they hate him all the more because they themselves are impotent in the face of its power.

And guess who volunteered for the marines and served in Vietnam while chicken hawks Bill and Dick (and I) were getting deferment after deferment and chicken hawk Dubya was drinking and malingering in Alabama while supposedly with the Texas Air National Guard (a post his daddy wangled to keep him out of the war)?

Jeremiah Wright, Obama's maligned minister.

Dass who.

And let the Republicans and sportscasters wear that stupid lapel pin, Barack. You keep it off. You're a better patriot than all of them put together without it.

So am I.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Packerland


So.

On 26 December we flew to Green Bay, opened presents with Erin's parents, her sister and brother and their S.Os. Then we ate. (Speaking of which, I cooked two meals for the six of us that week and they
seemed to like them.) A couple of days later, we did a round robin to two houses, eating breakfast and then dinner and playing games with Patti's (Erin's mom) very loud family; the decibel level was remarkable and they are a very funny family, including the 86-year-old patriarch. I learned the expression "kiss my squirrel" from one of Patti's sisters. This was the first time that Erin had seen her family as Dr. Colwitz, by the way. They didn't seem to give a rip, though excited for her about her job and her move. I include a picture here of Erin when we went to a great New York style steak house in Long Beach to celebrate her Doctorization. Just so her family can see it.

We watched college bowl games all week, of course, but the highlight of the week for us was going to the Packer-Lions game on the 30th at Lambeau Field with Andy, Erin's brother, and Karen Schrock,
my favorite soprano of all time. Karen's parents were the ones who scored the tickets for us, which were on the 20 and halfway up--great seats.

Of course, the temp was about 19 degrees. We had on Gene's (Erin's dad) ski and snow gear and I bought a pair of camo long underwear, tres chic, so we were fairly warm until the fourth quarter. Our tailgate party was with Karen's dad's corporate lawyer, who had converted an ambulance to a Packermobile for pregame partying, complete with brandy, beer, sandwiches and chili with macaroni in it (!!), but the sauce wasn't bad, even though a bit wussy with the pepper-- this is still Wisconsin, remember.

Speaking of Wisconsin, a Packer tailgate parking lot is a cultural phenomenon possibly unlike any other. 74,000 people are waiting for season tickets and those who have them spare no effort in terms of costumes, lunacy and sheer fun. Only sixteen people got tossed out, only five arrested. This is remarkable, considering the amount of booze consumed from 9:00 AM until the start of the fourth quarter. People are very friendly; no one is a stranger. Especially to Erin, Karen and Andy, who drank beer and talked to everyone and peed for most of the afternoon. I refrained from beer because of the icy steps and the many layers of clothing that I didn't want to bother with. Even in the heated toilets.

A big part of what makes Packer culture unique is the fact that, unlike any other team in the NFL, the Packers are not owned by a single, obscenely rich man or woman, but by the city and a corporation set up by the city. Green Bay citizens are in many ways shareholders in their team. This makes the team and the town easy to love--they are the smallest market in the league, yet they not only survive, they prosper. When the Pack won the Super Bowl, the town shut down for three days: no school, no work. Not bad for a city of only about 150,000. Astounding, actually. And in my mind, American in the best sense of that overused word. Their name comes from the fact that they started playing with a bunch of immigrants who worked for the Acme meatpacking company. These were not gentleman celebrities. These were tough sons-a-bitches who banged heads in their spare time for the hell of it. And probably for ten bucks a game. Better, and more fun, than killing livestock and skinning carcasses.

Speaking of carcasses, Erin and I had New Year's Eve dinner at a very trendy and expensive restaurant that actually had Osetra caviar and a fine wine list, in addition to an unheard-of cognac and espresso. Food wasn't bad, either, though overpriced. The room was beautiful--we were near the fireplace, a real one--but the focus of the room was an immense moose head over the fireplace. Ah, Wisconsin: caviar, cognac, coffee, and a moose head. Can't beat 'er, eh. Doesn't happen anywhere else.

As you know, Brett and the Pack play soon in the NFC Championship. Root for 'em. Ain't nothin' quite like 'em.

Nowhere.