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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014

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In 2011, fan enthusiasm was through the roof. Where did it go?
In 2011, fan enthusiasm was through the roof. Where did it go? (Photo: Eron Laber of Front Room Photography)

Defensive indifference

Entering play tonight, the Brewers are 1.5 games out of the playoff picture. Right now, all of Milwaukee should be very excited about the Brewers, starting with me.

Yet, for some reason, we’re not.

This was a team that, even as it sat alone in first place for most of the season, we expected it to come crashing back to Earth. Something seemed fishy as it raced to 50 wins. As it slowly fell apart, culminating with a 10-game losing streak, we all smugly and vindictively said, "We told you so."

Still, the Brewers are very much in the hunt, and winning the division isn’t even out of the question.

So what’s wrong with us? Well, I can’t speak for you, but I’ll tell you how I feel.

It’s not that I’ve become used to success. When I really got into the Crew in 1994, the team was was bad, and for most of the seasons since then, I’ve supported the Brewers during these very lean years.

I think – at least what I’m telling myself – is that this year’s Brewers just aren’t great, and if they sneak into the playoffs, they’ll quickly be exposed and beaten. It will be like 2008’s postseason again; except we won’t have the excitement of getting there for the first time in 26 years. I tweeted that very idea a week ago, and more than a few people told me they had the same sinking feeling.

Maybe the team isn’t the likable group of overachieving, excitable players it used to be. Don’t get me wrong: Carlos Gomez is everything we could ask for, but Ryan Braun is an always-injured fallen angel, who has turned into a .273 singles hitter. Jonathan Lucroy remains a fan favorite, but gone are characters like Nyjer Morgan and John Axford. I still love Lyle Overbay, but who gets excited over Matt Clark or Gerrardo Parra? Even Aramis Ramirez acts and plays like he’s 50 years old.

Or maybe I just don’t believe the team is really that good. Yes, K-Rod has an incredible 41 saves, and Mike Fiers has been lights-out, but this team has only one player (Lucroy) …

Happy birthday to us!
Happy birthday to us!'s sweet 16

If was a child – and it many ways it feels like one to me – Milwaukee’s Daily Magazine would be getting its driver’s license today.

It would be a junior in high school. Hopefully listening to the Violent Femmes and not Justin Bieber.

It’s pretty amazing to me, even as a parent of a real human, that anything I created could be 16-years-old, but is just that now. And every one of our 15 full-time employees, one part-timer and another dozen freelancers has raised it, watched it grow and nurtured it into the well-mannered teenager it is today.

I’ve said this many times before, so I won’t repeat myself (too much), but I didn’t know that when we "flipped the switch" on Sept. 1, 1998, that we’d still be doing this – and growing – all these years later. But like my business partner, Jeff, and like many of our employees – some who have been here almost since the start – this company has become a big part of my identity. Calling it our baby really isn’t a huge stretch at all.

This week, we all worked on our Editor & Publisher’s EPPY Award application, a prize we took home in 2012 for the country’s best entertainment website. Obviously, we hope we win again, but in writing it all down, it reminded me that we have a special business here no matter what accolades are bestowed upon us. Sure, I feel that every day I come to work, but seeing it in front of me reinforces that our lofty business plan, pre-Google, pre-Facebook, was not just good for us and the people who we’ve employed, but also good for Milwaukee.

So please indulge me and take a look at a portion of our application. And thank you for your continued support of our almost-grown-up baby. We expect 2014 to be our best year ever in lots of ways. I believe the best is still yet to come.

Founded in 1998, is a full-service digital media company based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with more than 16 years of award-winning publishing experience. …

Country Springs is a splashing good time.
Country Springs is a splashing good time.

3 end-of-summer kids mini-trips

Back in June, I wrote about the 5 summer kids trips I couldn’t wait to take.

Well, summer got busy, and despite my best intentions, I only made it to one of my top five suggestions.

But that’s not to say I was a deadbeat dad this season. My almost-6-year-old and I had lots of fun this summer, and in fact, we found a few other places to visit as the calendar inched closer to the return of school. All three were just within an hour from home.

1. The Hi-Way 18 Outdoor Theatre

As much as I love going to one of the area’s two drive-in theaters, it can be a tricky project with young children. Last summer, we visited the much dumpier one in Kenosha – the Keno – and our kid fell asleep 20 minutes into the first movie, then woke up and whined until we left.

This summer, though, we did it right. First, we went to the Hi-Way 18 drive in Jefferson. It’s a long drive, but an easy one. We also waited until later in summer when dusk wasn’t so late, so we could get in an entire movie before our daughter passed out in her car seat. If you get there early enough, there's a playground by the screen that's teeming with kids.

On a weekend, this place gets very busy, so we parked way in the back. But in some ways, that made it more fun, since we could giggle and chat more through the movie. The facility here is a lot nicer, too, and even though we didn’t make it to the second movie, this summer, we got in enough family time to make the trip well worth it.

2. Country Springs Hotel and Water Park

Obviously, kids love water parks, and I’m a fan, too. While the Wisconsin Dells may hold the record for quantity and quality over, well, everywhere else in America, that’s a long and expensive trip.

Much closer to home is the County Springs Hotel and Water Park in Pewaukee. We actually visited last summer, but now that my daughter is a little older, she even had more fun (read: tears when we left). I tried this one-nighter as my own as a daddy-daughter activity, an…

This is not your average car show.
This is not your average car show.

Milwaukee Masterpiece rolls into town

I recently interviewed a former boss, a courageous woman who once hired me as an intern. She’s now affiliated with the Milwaukee Masterpiece, a high-end car show.

Meet Bev Jurkowski, my mentor –  and the woman crazy enough to ask me to be a "celebrity judge" this weekend at the show. So how did you get involved in the Masterpiece?

Bev Jurkowski: I’ve been a gear head for a long time. It started with my days at Miller when I worked with the sports marketing group and got to meet race legends like Danny Sullivan (the guy who did a 360 at Indy – not intentionally – and still won the race), and NASCAR greats Bobby Allison and Rusty Wallace. I’ve been involved in car clubs since the 1980s. A few of my friends in the Porsche Club are working behind the scenes for the Milwaukee Masterpiece and they drafted me to join them.

OMC: What can people expect to see when they attend the Masterpiece this year?

BJ: It’s a two-day event. On Saturday, Aug. 23, you’ll see cars and motorcycles shown by anyone who wants to bring a vehicle down to the show field in Veterans Park. Spectators will pick a People’s Choice winner. Saturday is a prelude to Sunday. That’s the real deal when the show field will be occupied by 230 vehicles that the Concours Committee has invited to compete for awards. These vehicles will be judged in 29 different classes. Each class will have a first-in-class winner. Prestige awards will be given as well including the Chief Judge’s award and the granddaddy award – Best of Show.

The lakefront provides the perfect setting for this family friendly event.

OMC: This sounds kind of stuffy.

BJ: Not at all. The people who own these unique vehicles are down to Earth. They’ll talk your ear off if you indicate the slightest interest in their vehicle. Stop and talk with Jack and Annie Bonham of Shawano who will be there with their 1941 Packard 120 Convertible Coupe. Jack spent 14 years working on the restoration.

OMC: Some o…