This week, we're all a flutter about a cadre of techy-toys, a crunch snack and a spicy sauce, some quirky funk and, brace yourselves, Drew Olson has a Bruce Springsteen reference in this week's edition of OnMilwaukee.com Recommends.
"Light in Darkness" -- Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band put on a show for the ages Sunday night at the Bradley Center. Though I've been accused by some (you know who you are) of over-covering that event, I feel it's my duty -- given that it may be a long time before Bruce heads this way again -- to recommend this book by Lawrence Kirsch. The 208-page tome chronicles Springsteen's "Darkness on the Edge of Town" tour, which included a stop in Milwaukee, in exquisite detail. Kirsch lets the fans and the incredible photos tell the story. If you're not a Bruce fan, you probably won't get it. But, it may help you understand why the man's fan base is so fervent and fans treat shows like religious events. --Drew Olson
More bacon-flavored stuff from the BaconSalt guys: -- A while back, I reviewed BaconSalt and told the story of its creators. I love this stuff, I really do. But the founders didn't just stop with salt. They've expanded to mayo and more, and recently sent me another package of crazy bacon-flavored stuff. If you can't get enough of smoky pork products, you might consider buying Mmmvelopes (bacon-flavored envelopes), powdered bacon ranch dressing and dip mix, or even bacon flavored lip balm. On the other hand, probably skip the lip balm. While I don't disagree with their slogan, "Everything should taste like bacon," it is a little weird on chapstick. Same probably goes for their bacon-flavored lube, but I wouldn't know. Kudos to these guys for pushing the bacon envelope (pun intended). It's all at baconsalt.com. --Andy Tarnoff
"The Dayne Game: Ron Dayne and the Greatest Day in Wisconsin Football History" -- Like the famed "Ice Bowl" before it, hundreds of thousands of fans claim to have been at 70,000-seat Camp Randall Stadium the day Ron Dayne set the NCAA career rushing record. It was a magical day in Madison, and Justin Doherty's latest book weaves together a number of storylines that converged on Nov. 13, 1999. He talks about Dayne and his quest for the record, tracked down the streaker -- who celebrated the record with an end zone to end zone dash -- and found the company that made the towels, famously displayed in tribute to Dayne. If you're a Badgers fan -- especially one that remembers the bad, bad years -- you're going to want this in your collection. --Andrew Wagner
Great Lakes Distillery’s Amerique 1912 Absinthe Verte & Absinthe Rouge -- The makers of Rehorst vodka recently introduced two flavors of absinthe based on a pre-ban recipe that includes anise, grande wormwood, fennel and select botanicals. Absinthe, which tastes a little like black licorice, is prepared via a traditional absinthe fountain or it can be mixed into cocktails. Absinthe was banned in 1912 because it was believed to make drinkers mad and / or hallucinate, however, in 2007 this was proven to be 100-year-old misinformation. Rehorst’s absinthe, which is 126 proof, is hand-crafted in small batches and then pourd into attractive bottles that are stored in a tube to prevent light from discoloring the liquid. Because of the beautiful packaging, the quality product and the locally-made factor, Great Lakes Distillery’s absinthe makes a smart and super unique holiday gift in lieu of a bottle of wine or Baileys Irish Cream. --Molly Snyder Edler
Mophie Juice Pack -- As awesome as the iPhone is, it's not without its drawbacks. One of those is battery life. On its own, it's not bad. But factor in Web surfing, video playback, tweeting and checking e-mail all day and your iPhone will drain its battery in no time. The Mophie Juice Pack solves the battery problem and offers a protective case, too, adding an external 1800 mAh battery to the mix. That translates into an extra 350 hours of standby time, six hours of talk time or Web surfing time, 28 hours of iTunes music and eight hours of video playback. And that's without even touching the phone's internal battery. The case is heavy and bulky but smoothly contoured, so I don't use it every day. But for traveling or if you're working remotely away from a charger, this thing is pure gold. It costs about $80, so it might not be for everyone, but for people who use their iPhone for work, all that extra juice is indispensable. --A.T.
Organic Crunchy Pretzel Sticks from Whole Foods: Maybe it's my lack of hipness, but I never really got into the organic food craze. I'm still not, but on an hunger-induced trip to Whole Foods last week, I may have stumbled upon my new, go-to snack. I like pretzels - probably my favorite snack - and these are, hands-down, the best little sticks I've had. Crunchy and thick, a handful of these provided the perfect way to silence my grumbling stomach until dinner time. At about $3.50 for an eight-ounce bag, the price is a little steeper than I'd normally like, but I have to admit, they were good. --A.W.
Sriracha -- This stuff rocks. Hot, but not too hot Sriracha and its bright red deliciousness is perfect for about anything. Use this hot chili sauce instead of or even mixed with ketchup and you'll be happy. --Jeff Sherman
Nouvelle Vague -- "3" (Peacefrog) -- As the title suggests, this is the third installment of quirky covers of punk and post-punk favorites. In the past, the results have been more bossa nova and lounge-y, but this time there's a more acoustic vibe and lots of guests. "Master and Servant" has Depeche Mode's Martin Gore, "All My Colours" features Ian McCulloch, "Parade" features Barry Adamson and a folky "Our Lips Are Sealed" boasts an appearance by Terry Hall. Of course, there is a range of suave female singers, too, and Milwaukeeans can rejoice that the Femmes have made it in this time, thanks to a groovy uptempo '60s rave up version of "Blister in the Sun." My favorites? Covers of Soft Cell's "Say Hello Wave Goodbye" and a nice mellow version of The Police's "So Lonely." Add in tunes by Magazine, Sex Pistols and The Psychedelic Furs and I'm suddenly wondering if Nouvelle Vague's Marc Collin and Olivier Libaux and I had nearly identical record collections in 1982. --Bobby Tanzilo
LA robe Netbook sleeve -- Netbooks are great, mostly because they're just so tiny. Perfect for traveling, their size has only one drawback: they're easy to damage. Even though the hardware is fairly durable, cramming a 8.9 inch laptop into your suitcase exposes it, and regular laptop cases defeat the purpose of micro-sized computing. The LA robe netbook sleeve uses something called "Low Resilience Polyurethane" technology, which is sort of like memory foam, to protect your netbook. Even though it's only 5 millimeters thick, it'll more than do the job. And not that I carry my "Hackintosh" around for fashion purposes, but the sleeve is actually kind of stylish. It's about $20 on Amazon.com. --A.T.