It's time for a brand new set of recommendations from OnMilwaukee, this one even more eclectic than usual.
Speaking to kindergarden classes – I highly recommend, should you ever have the opportunity, to speak to and with a kindergarden class. Several communities have career months/weeks, and taking 10-20 minutes out of your day to pow wow with 5- and 6-year-olds about what you do and how you do it is true fun. I’ve had the opportunity several times, and the questions, comments and smiles always make my day. – Jeff Sherman
Vea e-Cigarette – As a veteran smoker, I have been leery of the efforts to replicate the smoking experience in a truly satisfying way. Combining the flavor, feel and "bite" of a cigarette is not an easy task. However, the e-cig from Vea does just that.
Locally produced in our own Johnson Creek, they have taken the market by storm. They use only local fresh ingredients to create their "Smoke Juice," unlike some leading competitors that import their materials from China. Supporting a local company with this commitment to quality made it easy to choose Vea when deciding which brand to experiment with.
Since there isn't an industry standard for the sizes and styles of smoking devices, the brand you choose determines which flavors are available to you. The flavors range from those trying to imitate tobacco to minty to fruity. They encouraged me to try any that sound interesting and to have fun experimenting with them. I did just that.
The JC Original was a close approximation of a cigarette flavor. However, I really enjoyed the Merengo the best. It's a bit fruitier than I would have anticipated choosing, but it kept me coming back for more.
The flavor is really only one third of the experience. While the device doesn't look like a cigarette, it does look cool and somehow retro (which is odd since there's no old version of this to echo). The versions I've seen that are imitating the look of a cigarette seem so much like a fake version of something real. Vea was wise to forge their own identity and challenge the user to embrace something new.
As for the "bite" – that feeling in the back of your throat when you inhale cigarette smoke – I'm no scientist, so I can't explain it, but they have gotten it down. Without the bite, this experience would feel like a hollow imitation of the real thing.
Getting a smoker to, when given the choice, pick up your product instead of a cigarette is no small task. In all candor, I have not completed that transition yet. But the Vea has become an integral part of my life and may just be the ticket to going smoke-free. – Eron Laber of Front Room Photography
"New York City Public Schools from Brownsville to Bloomberg: Community Control and Its Legacy" by Heather Lewis (Teachers College Press) – I devoured and learned a lot from Diane Ravitch's seminal "Great School Wars," which recounted the story of public schools in New York City through when it was written in the first half of the 1970s. But decentralization was just being born then so in a sense, Ravitch's book came with a cliffhanger ending.
Lewis begins with the demand for community control in the mid-1960s and recounts the vicissitudes of NYC schools through the city's fiscal woes of the 1970s, the decentralization that continued until Bloomberg took office in 2002 and was handed control of the schools, and on into the Bloomberg years. But, again, with the end of the Bloomberg era coinciding with publication of this book, Lewis has also left us with yet another cliffhanger as we await the arrival of Bill DeBlasio and his approach to public education, which he has assured us differs from his predecessor's.
While we wait to see who will step up to write the next installment, I'm reading this one closely. – Bobby Tanzilo
Weekend Update on "SNL" – I DVR "SNL" weekly, and while I rarely watch more than a segment or two, I usually try to watch Weekend Update with Seth Meyers and Cecily Strong. It's consistently good, pushes the envelop as much as it can for a network show and does a good job of weaving in funny, original characters. I've really enjoyed the addition of Strong this season. Her "The Girl You Wish You Hadn't Started a Conversation With at a Party" character last year was annoyingly good, and as herself on Update, she has great delivery and timing with Meyers. – Jeff Sherman
"The World's End" – I reviewed the final installment of the Cornetto Trilogy back when it came out in August, but it's now out on DVD so I get to recommend it again. It's truly rare to find a comedy that has anywhere near the energy of "The World's End," which tells the tale of a band of old friends (headlined by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) trying to complete a legendary pub crawl only to be interrupted by ... well, if you don't know already, it's best to keep the secret.
Director and co-writer Edgar Wright films with an utterly contagious and blissful energy, seemingly filling every frame, edit and line with meaning – and most importantly, jokes. It's possibly the most emotionally complicated installment in the Trilogy, but I think it's also the most satisfying in a weird way. I saw it several times in theaters back in the late summer, and each time, I found something new to make me laugh or think. So this weekend, tell your friends, "Let's boo-boo," and snag "The World's End." – Matt Mueller