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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, April 24, 2014

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"Sex and the City: The Movie" opens May 30.
"Sex and the City: The Movie" opens May 30.

Excited about "Sex and the City: The Movie?"

When "Sex and the City" aired its last episode in 2004, I was one of those lamenting ladies who felt like she lost four of her best friends. (Did I just write that? Get a life, Edler.)

I completely admit that Carrie Bradshaw, the main character in the show -- played by Sarah Jessica Parker -- led my "path not taken" life. I chose motherhood and Brew City, whereas she picked Manolos and the Big Apple. Not to say I could have made it in New York City, but I certainly never tried, either.

In any case, I am super psyched to be reacquainted with the Cosmo-swilling ladies: Samantha, Charlotte, Miranda and Carrie.

When the series ended, Charlotte and her husband were about to adopt a baby from China -- a plotline I am particularly excited about since I, too, have an internationally adopted kid. Also, I am curious about the finally rolling relationship between Carrie and Mr. Big -- whom we found out in the final moments of the finale is actually named "John."

I'm less curious about the whereabouts of Miranda, since in the final episodes she was settled and content (which in TV land translates as boring) with her baby daddy, Steve, and son, Brady.

I am interested to see more of Ann Meara in the film. Meara played the Alzheimer's-stricken mother-in-law. One of the most moving scenes in the final season was when Miranda, who was always annoyed by her mother-in-law, lovingly bathes her after finding Meara's character confused and eating food from a garbage can on the street.

Also, supposedly one of the characters dies in the 2 1/2 hour film. I'm wondering if it's Samantha (she had breast cancer), Mr. Big (he had a heart attack) or the most obvious choice, Steve's mom. I'm hoping Big gets offed, since I was always more of an Aidan gal myself.

Of course, I am prepared to be disappointed by the film after all of the hype. However, despite early, lukewarm reviews, I cannot wait to sneak peek it on May 27 (three days prior to the film's re…

Home brewing is my new favorite hobby.
Home brewing is my new favorite hobby.

Update on my home brewery

A few months ago, I blogged about my first homebrewing experience. Since then, my husband and I drank the first batch and made a second, which we just sampled last night.

I am happy to report that both of our batches were very drinkable. However, the first, a light-bodied lager, had a slightly bitter smell to it. Not offensive, but definitely not right, either. We think it was from the sanitizer we were sold, which was a sulphite sanitizer that we later found out is better for sanitizing wine bottles. We did not use this sanitizer the second time, instead we used One Step, and it was much better.

Our first batch, named "Leap Year Beer" because it was brewed on Feb. 29, had a lightly hopped malt extract that gave the beer a clear, golden hue. We will definitely make this one again in the summer because it was a total thirst quencher.

Our second batch, called "Long Winter Brew," is a stout. Technically, it is still in the carbonation process, but we couldn’t wait any longer and cracked open a bottle last night. (We tried in about a week early.) It’s meant to be a Guinness rip-off, with a dark caramel color and rich -- yet surprisingly light -- taste.

I have not gone so far as to make labels for our beer, but I am considering it for the next batch. Then, they would make nice gifts. I would also like to bottle a few 40 ouncers, since our brewery is jokingly called "Jamol's Ghetto Brewery."

We are currently researching how and when to add fruit to beer, since in a couple of months we will have tons of raspberries in our backyard, just begging to get added to a batch of Weiss or Lambic.

I am leaning towards brewing a Lambic, especially after ordering one this weekend, not knowing it was a $12 bottle of beer. It tasted delicious, but I really can’t make a habit of buying such pricey brews. So, like so many things I want but can’t afford, I’ll just have to make it myself.

Can I read this entire book this weekend? We'll see ...
Can I read this entire book this weekend? We'll see ...

Mother's Day weekend sans kids

For the first time, my kids are spending the weekend with their grandparents in Green Bay. We’ll pick them up on Sunday so I can spend Mother’s Day with them, but I’ll have about 48 hours prior to that without them.

So far, it’s strange. Good strange, but strange. I had one split second of panic, where my mind yelped, "The kids!?!" as if I had accidentally left them at a shopping center. Also, I’ve (so far) had one moment of melancholy when I saw their tiny, identical sandals lined up next to the back door.

However, overall, I am really excited to have some "me" time.

Here are a few things I plan to do this weekend:

1.    Read an entire book. I’m a fast reader, so this isn’t a big deal, but I do plan to plow through "Water for Elephants" since my book club meets next weekend and I haven’t started it.
2.    Plan my garden. We share a garden with our neighbors, and meet with them this weekend to divvy up the beds and responsibilities. I can’t wait to get dirty.
3.    Go to a completely non-kid-friendly fish fry. Not sure where this will be, but I’ll track one down.
4.    Drink copious amounts of homebrew. We finished two batches of homebrew this winter and early spring: "Leap Year Lager" and "Long Winter Stout." Both have been ridiculously under consumed, but not for long.
5.    SLEEP IN. Sadly, it will be amazing if I can slumber past 9 a.m., but I am really going to try.

Anything else I have planned for this weekend I’ll keep to myself since it may or may not be suitable for a blog that’s owned by my employer. Wink.

Glen Hansard of The Swell Season.
Glen Hansard of The Swell Season. (Photo: Andy Stenz)
Hansard and Marketa Irglová are music and life partners.
Hansard and Marketa Irglová are music and life partners. (Photo: Andy Stenz)
The Swell Season was originally slated to appear at The Pabst, but moved to The Riverside to accommodate the demand for tickets.
The Swell Season was originally slated to appear at The Pabst, but moved to The Riverside to accommodate the demand for tickets. (Photo: Andy Stenz)

Slam-dunk for The Swell Season

Prior to last night’s sold-out performance at The Riverside, I expected to see The Swell Season play the songs from the film "Once" and be done with it.

Instead, romantically-linked musicians and stars of "Once," Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, delivered a three-hour show -- along with their band -- that waivered between an explosion of raw emotion and an Irish hootenanny.

Opening act Damien Dempsey -- reportedly found by Hansard busking on the back streets of Dublin -- promised The Swell Season would "knock your socks off," and if I had been wearing any, they would have unraveled into a heap of synthetic, argyle fibers. Maybe even started on fire.

Yes, it was that amazing. 

Hansard opened the show, without a mic, singing the beautiful "Say It To Me Now" from the "Once" soundtrack, and then introduced the Czech singer, songwriter and pianist, Irglová.

Both appeared almost identical to the characters they played in the film. Hansard, who wore jeans and a work shirt with a blazer over it, maintained an infectious smile for most of the show, whereas Irglová was gentle and more stoic, dressed in a long red skirt and black top.

She did, however, absolutely beam when Dempsey told a story during the encore about the first time he saw Hansard perform in Dublin and how his singing made the hair on the back of his neck stand up.

Irglová, 20, and Hansard, 38, fell in love during the making of "Once," which adds a deeply intense dimension to the film and the music. The couple, who started The Swell Season the year before the film came out, wrote all but one song on the soundtrack.

Earlier this year, they won an Academy Award for the soundtrack’s big hit, "Falling Slowly."

Hansard -- who is every bit as much a storyteller as he is a musician -- said the unexpected popularity of "Falling Slowly" made him feel like a kid who kicks a ball, hoping to make it past the garden, but instead, slams it over the garden, over the…