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Winter just doesn't feel like such a big deal this year.
Winter just doesn't feel like such a big deal this year.

Is it cold enough for you?

Absolutely not. Not by a long shot.

In fact, except for a brief stretch earlier in the month where my car's thermometer told me it was 2 degrees outside, the cold weather this winter has barely bothered me at all. Even then, I managed to get through that snap pretty easily.

Now, I know that this winter has been much more mild than usual, but I'm thinking back to a blog I wrote on July 18, call "Is it hot enough for you?" In that piece, I talked about how I simply wilt during heat and humidity, and even though I prefer summer to winter, I also prefer roasting to shivering.

But I said I'd revisit the topic in January, and here we are at the end of the month. And I'm hanging in there. How about you?

Where's your personal best of the best?
Where's your personal best of the best?

Why the "best of bars" poll matters

Even though I'm the co-owner and co-founder of what I believe to be the area's premier dining and nightlife guide, I too, get stuck in ruts.

When a friend from out of town says, "Where should we go?" I all too often think of the old standbys, the regular haunts, even though Milwaukee has more interesting bars than just about anywhere on Earth.

So I, too, use our annual "Best of Bars & Clubs" survey as a refresher, a handy guide, if you will.

With 50 questions and 15 choices for each, barring a bit of overlap, there are almost 750 great picks to whet your whistle. I treat it as a chance to pick not only my favorites, but to see where my fellow Milwaukeeans love, too.

Of course, I'm privy to seeing the results as they come in, and while I can't share them with you yet, there are some surprises and close battles unfolding. In other words, your vote can very well make a difference.

Our annual poll runs through Jan. 30, so time is running out. Do yourself (and us) a favor, and vote today. Cheers!

Brian Ritchie and his wife in Milwaukee in 2005.
Brian Ritchie and his wife in Milwaukee in 2005. (Photo: Eron Laber of Front Room Photography)

Femmes' Brian Ritchie to become an Aussie

The Violent Femmes' Brian Ritchie may be a native Milwaukeean, but he's about to become an Australian citizen.

According to The Age, an Australian newspaper, Ritchie will pledge his loyalty to the Land Down Under at an Australian Day ceremony in Hobart. He's lived in the Tasmanian capital with his wife since 2008, and his mother-in-law is already a permanent resident.

"After five years here, I just want to become a citizen as quickly as possible," he said. "I love Australia and want to make that commitment."

The Violent Femmes have always been extremely popular in Australia, perhaps second only to their reception in Milwaukee. I've met Ritchie several times, and when I interviewed him at his East Side apartment in 2005, he said, "They really have a warm spot in their hearts for us, and we've been pretty devoted to going to Australia and New Zealand. In fact, New Zealand was where we got our first gold record. We love them, and they love us."

I'm not sure exactly what it means to renounce your American citizenship, but Ritchie will certainly keep his Milwaukee accent ... even if he'll need a passport to travel back to Wisconsin.

Riding into town back in 2010.
Riding into town back in 2010.

Las Vegas suggestions, please

This weekend, I'm heading out to Las Vegas with two friends, partly for a quick desert getaway, and partly to write my annual winter travel story from my favorite adult playground. It's a perfect world when work and fun combine, and I just received my credentials to cover the Adult Video News Expo at the Hard Rock Casino.

I think the topic of this article will be "putting the sin back in Sin City."

Now, I've visited many times before, but there's always something new and fun to explore, and my mantra is "no repeats."

Indeed, our schedule is pretty jam-packed, but Milwaukeeans tend to be very well traveled when it comes to Las Vegas, so I'm guessing our readers have suggestions for places off the beaten path that we're not thinking of.

So, yes, I know about the pirate show at Treasure Island and the low-minimum blackjack tables downtown, but what do we really, really need to see this weekend?

I've lost track of how many times I've been to Las Vegas, but it's approaching double digits. I'm counting on you, awesome readers of, to take our trip up a notch. Thanks in advance!