It's a busy week in the editorial office, where we are talking about a swingin' TV series, as well as some great music, a fun Web site and a classic educational video.
"Swingtown" -- I do not watch CBS -- or much network TV in general -- but on a rainy June night I skipped across the pilot episode of "Swingtown." Set in Chicago in 1976, the show focuses on three married couples and their exploration of what it meant to be "open" in the ‘70s. I would usually expect to find this subject matter on F/X or TNT and am still surprised it's on CBS (my Grandma's station), but the show won me over. After watching the pilot, I assumed the characters would play out a predictable storyline related to cheating, drug addiction and teenage rebellion, but the show has done just the opposite. The characters have developed in a way that makes you believe you might have known these people and been their neighbors around the Bicentennial. I'm also fascinated by the series because it makes sense of the shag carpet, orange paneling and built-in fish aquariums in the basement of my childhood home (decorated by its previous owners, not my parents). It airs at 9 p.m. Friday. --Erin Ulicki
The Smoking Gun's mug shots of the week -- Visiting TheSmokingGun.com is sort of like attending some of Milwaukee's more esoteric festivals: silly, sometimes freaky, and in a smug way, they both make you feel thin and beautiful no matter what. That's why I put TSG's "mug shots of the week" into my RSS feed. Each week, the site's editors gather some random and always bizarre police booking photos of non-celebrities, and then add some snarky comments to the best of the best. If you're not done taking pleasure in other peoples' suffering, you can also surf around the site for their "featured document" or peculiar musicians' riders. TSG is an oldie but a goodie. --Andy Tarnoff
The Gentle Leader Easy Walk Harness -- If your dog likes to chase rabbits or pull during your daily walks, try this harness. The leash attaches in the front rather than the back and the results are miraculous. --Drew Olson
Bon Iver -- The phrase "Something special from Wisconsin" is applicable here. Bon Iver (aka Justin Vernon) shut himself up in a Northwoods cabin in early 2007 to write the critically acclaimed "For Emma, Forever Ago" last fall. Pitchfork Media, of course, was all over it, but when indie label Jagjaguwar picked it up and re-released it in February '08, NPR got word and he was launched to singer / songwriter stardom in what felt like a matter of minutes. That's not to say it wasn't deserved. Although he still calls Eau Claire home, he's flying out this week for a major tour that includes nine U.S. stops and about 20 throughout Europe. Luckily for us, he's got home-state pride and chose Milwaukee as one of his first gigs. He plays The Pabst Theater tonight at 8 p.m. Tickets are just $10. --Julie Lawrence
Milwaukeedailyphoto.com -- I discovered this site -- and hope you did, too -- through the daily readers' blog here at OnMilwaukee.com. The name says it all, daily photos from in and around Milwaukee. Check it out and submit suggestions, too. --Jeff Sherman
"School House Rock" DVD -- My kid got the special 30th anniversary edition of "School House Rock," the short films that ran during Saturday morning cartoons between 1973 and 1986. The double-disc DVD features 51 of the 52 episodes -- apparently, there is a lost episode called "Computer Rock" -- and all of the classics are on here, from "Conjunction Junction" to "Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, Get Your Adverbs Here." These shorts passed the test of time, and entertain and educate my kids while simultaneously mainlining Mom with a jolt of nostalgia. --Molly Snyder Edler
Text reminders from nbcolympics.com -- The Olympic buzz is strong this year, but it's somewhat hard to watch the games all night long. I want to see the events that I'm interested in and need to know when they start. Luckily, NBC's site provides text updates that remind you 30 minutes before an event's start. Don't want to miss the next Team USA hoops game or Phelps' next swim? Sign up for reminders today here. --J.S.
Fireflies -- Sitting on our porch these past summer nights, I am overwhelmed by the beauty of the fireflies. Each time I see one, it reminds me of a trip back to my great grandfather's house in the coal-mining hills of southwestern Pennsylvania. There isn't much to do in Grindstone, but as little kids it was our nirvana. We spent one perfect night catching fireflies while our parents rocked on the porch and indulged Grandpap's stories (which I'm sure had racist and sexist overtones). Fireflies are a reminder to kick back and enjoy the magic of the summer. Click here to learn more. --E.U.
"This is" books illustrated by Miroslav Sasek -- These books are awesome, and many have been re-released in recent years. The series features fun and informational snapshots of many of the world's best destinations. "This is New York," originally released in 1960, captures all of the bustle and charm of NYC though amazing paintings, stats and other whimsical elements. Author and illustrator Miroslav Sasek was born in 1916 in Prague. After a three-week vacation in Paris, he was inspired to begin this series of illustrated travel guides for children. Buy a reissue or find an original online. You'll love it. No Milwaukee version, though. --J.S.