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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Peace, Love and Anarchy (Rarities, B-Sides and Demos, Vol.1)" by Todd Snider -- In lesser hands, you might cynically dismiss a collection like this as a blatant cash grab by a record label in the ‘Artist X left us so let's empty the vault' vein.
Snider and Oh Boy didn't let that happen.
This material was recorded during Snider's five-year run with the Nashville label and he participated enthusiastically in the selection and production of the tracks. The result is typical of his other work: sharp, witty and unselfconscious.
Kicking off with a rollicking version of "Nashville" and ending with a boot-stomping take on "Cheatham Street Warehouse," Snider fills the cuts between with trademark tracks like "Combover Blues," a hilarious ode to the onset of middle age, and collaborations like "Feel Like I'm Falling in Love" (with Jack Ingram) and "Deja Blues" (Billy Joe Shaver). He also tosses in "Stoney," a heartfelt tribute to one of his heroes, Jerry Jeff Walker.
Compilations like this are generally geared toward hardcore fans; and few in that group will be disappointed by the 14 tracks here. (The inclusion of "East Nashville Skyline," which was left off the album of the same name, is worth the price of admission for the steel guitar work of legendary Lloyd Green).
Those unfamiliar with Snider's work won't feel excluded by this collection, but there may be better ways to indoctrinate oneself into his catalog. As enjoyable as these cuts are, listening to them without knowing Snider's full body of work is like watching the DVD bonus tracks without seeing the movie.
The Whirlpool Fabric Freshener -- If you see the counter people at the drycleaner more often than your significant other, it might be time to plunk down $200 and pick up this nifty portable appliance. It removes odors, relaxes wrinkles and leaves your best duds clothesline fresh and ready to wear in about 30 minutes. It's perfect for spring and summer, when silks and linens pop out of storage. The collapsible unit won't remove stains, but it almost certainly will pay for itself by cutting down trips to the Martinizer after you spend too much time in smoky bars. Check it out at http://www.whirlpool.com/catalog/product.jsp?productId=513.
Ashton Classic Prime Minister cigars - Manufactured by the Fuente family, the Prime Minister balances complexity and character and is a perfect way to celebrate a special occasion or kill time while the steaks are barbecuing. Our friends swear by the Aged Maduro, but that is a darker leaf and the rich, nutty tones can overpower the occasional smoker. The Prime Minister, handrolled from a blend of three- and four-year Dominican tobacco, is just right, every time.
The goat cheese, pine nut and sun-dried tomato salad from Louise's -- Some friends at a Waukesha office order this so often that they simply refer to it as "the salad." The mix of organic baby lettuces tossed with a Sherry wine vinaigrette makes for an appetizing lunch. At $7.95, the small is plenty for lunch. Nobody has been hungry enough to attack the large ($11.95). If you want extra protein, order it with grilled chicken. Louise's is located on Jefferson Street across from Cathedral Square Park and in Brookfield.
The Channel 58 News at 10 -- Not long ago, this entire enterprise had a "cable-access" feel and ratings to match. While the CBS affiliate doesn't have the resources of its competitors, the stripped-down approach seems refreshing compared to the over-hyped, chest-thumping bombast of the other news shops in town. With solid lead-ins from a strong network and a personable anchor team of Paul Piaskoski and Rebekah Wood, the audience for 58's newscasts is growing. This isn't quite ‘must-see' TV and we'd probably turn elsewhere for coverage of a major local story, but the folks at Channel 58 deserve credit for improving. At least you don't have to scramble to find the remote at the end of "CSI: New York."
The Ancient Americas exhibit at Chicago's Field Museum -- With a dizzying array of more than 2,000 artifacts augmented by videos and interactive displays, this 19,000-square-foot permanent exhibit documents 13,000 years of human ingenuity. You'll see how Ice Age mammoth hunters ate and then walk through a replica of an 800-year-old pueblo dwelling while checking what different cultures did to live, thrive and survive. For the price of a $12 adult admission, you'll see one of the great museum exhibits in the country.
The skating, racing cheeses at Admirals games -- The Racing Sausages from Klement's may be most widely recognized racing food product in the US, but they best watch their back because there is competitor closing faster than a Kenyan on an American in the 24th mile of the Boston Marathon.
Introducing Swiss Almond, Port Wine, Sharp Cheddar and Beer -- The Milwaukee Admirals Amazing Skating Racing Cheeses. A new addition to the already exciting intermission entertainment provided by the Admirals, the Racing Cheeses are now a fan favorite. With racers donning blades of steel and outfitted in oversized Merkt's Cheese Tubs, the two lap race brings excitement and an element of danger to the food race. At any given point, a cheese could go down much like the Number 8 dog in turn one at Dairyland Greyhound Park.
With the four racing cheeses in place it begs the question, "Do the Admirals expand the field with the ever spicy and always satisfying Chihuahua Cheese?" We must wait and see.