Even though listening to radio and watching TV and movies is my job, they still remain entertaining to me. Here's a look at some of the things that kept me entertained and enlightened this year.
TV -- There are the usual shows that keep me coming back weekly, but nothing approaches the nightly satire of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show." Yes, he's a liberal, but that doesn't prevent Jon Stewart from going at the president and the rest of the Democrats when they provide comedic possibilities. And his Rally to Restore Sanity provided a good-natured laugh at our divisive culture of arguing about everything -- including Bristol Palin's luck on "Dancing with the Stars."
Radio -- I grew up listening to Chicago's WGN-AM (720), mostly because my mother had it on through much of the day -- until her soaps started in the afternoon. And I'm as happy as can be that the slash-and-burn program director Kevin Metheny is gone, and a talk format without the harsh edge of conventional talk radio is back. The best: Garry Meier's hilarious drive-time show from 3 to 7 p.m. weekdays. If only we had something like this on Milwaukee's radio dial.
Movies -- I've seen a ton this year, both at the theaters (I don't pass up the chance to see something at the IPic at Bayshore Town Centre), and at film festivals in Toronto and right here in Milwaukee. But it's a little documentary that isn't in general release that caught my eye. "Osadné," directed with sensitivity and wit by Marko Škop, tells the story of a tiny village in Eastern Slovakia and a group, including the village's long-serving mayor, the local Orthodox priest and a Carpatho-Rusyn activist, who head to Brussels to find out whether there's any money in the coffers for this eastern outpost of the European Union. I'm hoping it gets a Milwaukee screening in 2011, or at least one close to Milwaukee.
Books -- I haven't been reading as many books as a I would like, but I picked up an interesting used cookbook this fall that proved to be my find of the year. Copeland Marks' 1996 "Indian & Chinese Cooking from the Himalayan Rim" offers a wide range of cooking styles. The book -- which cost me $2 -- yielded what has become a cold weather comfort food favorite for me, a simple chicken and rice dish called shela pilau, or pish pash.
Meals -- Speaking of meals, I checked out 2008 "Top Chef" winner Stephanie Izard's Chicago restaurant, "Girl and the Goat," in the West Loop and had a wonderful meal seated at a bar overlooking the open kitchen. If you're an adventurous meat eater, its interesting array of small plates will tempt you. But after trying a couple choices from the vegetable side of the menus, I'm still thinking about the green beans. That's right, green beans.
Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for OnMilwaukee.com. He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.
A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.
In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at OnMilwaukee.com.
When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.