By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Nov 09, 2006 at 5:27 AM

Welcome to another installment of "OMC Recommends," a periodic look at cool things that we like and think you should know about.

Use the Talkback feature to let us know what you think of our picks. If you'd like to add some of your own, e-mail them to

“The Wire" on HBO -- Hands down, the best show on television right now. In its fourth season, the gritty and compelling series about life and crime in Baltimore is worth the extra $10 a month it costs to subscribe. In addition to stories of criminals, police, politicians and junkies the show has been known for in the past, season four adds a heartbreaking subplot about inner-city public education that is eerily reminiscent of stories I've heard from people working at Milwaukee Public Schools. If you're serious about getting into this show, check out the first three seasons on DVD. It's worth the effort. -- Tyler Casey. Effen Vodka Raspberry Press -- A new designer vodka with a smooth finish, combined with Raspberry Press Cocktail Mixer. A touch of raspberry sweetness that slightly cuts, but doesn't overpower the vodka's taste. Be careful, they go down easily. -- Kevin Brandt.

The John Thompson Foundation Classic, hosted by UWM -- Interesting coaching subplots abound as head coach Rob Jeter and the Milwaukee Panthers host the tournament this weekend at the U.S. Cellular Arena.
Jeter and the Panthers, who are trying to find their stride after losing several key players to graduation, welcome Washington State, Alabama-Birmingham and Radford for a three-day round-robin that will let them know how far they have to go to be exceed expectations in the Horizon League.

Washington State is coached by former UW-Green Bay standout Tony Bennett, Dick’s son, and will be the first-ever Pac-10 opponent for UWM. UAB is coached by former Indiana coach Mike Davis. Radford, which is located in Virginia, found out this week that coach Byron Samuels will step down at the end of the season, citing personal reasons.

The schedule for the tournament: Friday -- Washington State vs. UAB, 5 p.m. Milwaukee vs. Radford, 7:30 p.m. Saturday -- UAB vs. Radford, 5 p.m.  Milwaukee vs. Washington State, 7:30 p.m. Sunday -- Washington State vs. Radford, 3 p.m.  Milwaukee vs. UAB, 5:30 p.m. –- Drew Olson. -- Lena, a new-wave craftster who specializes in ultra-cool accessories such as origami earrings, bangle necklaces, screen-printed ties and cuff bracelets. You can find her and her wares twice a year at Art vs. Craft -- hers is the table that is always swarmed -- or any time of year at Paper Boat Boutique in Bay View. – Julie Lawrence. The European Copper Beech Tree in South Shore Park (just east of Superior on Estes) -- This massive tree is great for climbing, chilling underneath or just standing back and marveling at all of its arbor-iffic splendor. A plaque on a nearby rock explains that it's Wisconsin's largest tree of its kind, and that it was probably planted in the mid-1800s on what was then the Estes family farm. In 2005, it measured 180 inches in circumference, 61 ft. tall and had a spread of 71 ft. My son said the gnarly bottom part of the trunk looks like a massive elephant foot -- and, indeed, it does. -- Molly Snyder Edler.

Marcella -- One of the most unique (and that's not a backhanded compliment) bands in Milwaukee. Blending hard-rock riffs with a jazz singer's lead vocals, Marcella has a sound that is catchy without sounding like it's trying too hard. The band’s debut album "Craving" was recently released and they're playing Nov. 11 at Live on North Avenue. Go check them out. – T.C.

Raspberry White Mocha from Starbucks - People are always into customizing their coffee drinks -- tall, decaf, soy, with an espresso shot, extra whip and on and on. Well for a drink that's a bit sweeter, think a liquid dessert in the middle of the day, try a raspberry white mocha. Tall for those not really into the sweet coffee and grande for those that have a sweet tooth. Never go venti, because it's too much. -- Heather Leszczewicz.

"Available Light," the new album from Willy Porter -- Someone once said that we all have a gift from God and it is up to us to  find it. All I can say is that we are blessed that Willy Porter found his. His new album is in a word, magnificent. I sometimes think that Milwaukeeans don't appreciate the musical talent that this city has to offer. Milwaukee is home to three of the industy's most well-known and respected guitarists in Willy, Greg Koch and Daryl Stuermer. Not to mention a host of other amazing artists who are often times overlooked because of the masses' infatuation with festival cover bands. Those with discriminating tastes have found these gems. More people need to find them as well. -- K.B.

The Killer Instinct -- I tend to read too many business and success books. I love them, but every now and then one needs an easy and fun read. "The Killer Instinct" by Joseph Finder is just that. A quick read, written in conversational, first-person prose, "Killer" is a business thriller so it quenches my thirst for a business read while adding just enough Hollywood to make it fun. Pick it up. – Jeff Sherman.

Pacific Natural Foods Creamy Tomato Soup - The most decadent and delicious tomato soup. Perfect for a warm up after being out in the Wisconsin cold, or it can be that comforting soup when you need it. - H.L.

NYLON -- Granted, it's a women's fashion magazine of which there are a dime a dozen, but instead of featuring commercial cleavage on its cover each month, the editors focus on creative and left-of-center creations by independent clothing designers, while reserving ample page space to fresh new music -- indie, of course -- literature, film and daring D.I.Y.ers deserving of a little lime light. A very refreshing and intelligent take on fashion. -- J.L.

New sushi at Outpost - It seemed only a matter of time before Outpost added sushi to its mix, and it's really good stuff. Fresh and flavorful, it's the closet Japanese you can find in Bay View (not counting the stuff at Groppi's, which isn't in quite the same ballpark). – Andy Tarnoff.