Sunday, September 30, 2012

Autumn Saturday At The Elegant Farmer

This past Saturday, I visited The Elegant Farmer, just west of Mukwonago, Wisconsin, for the very first time, just to see what everyone else was talking about.  The Elegant Farmer is a great place to get seasonal produce right off the farm as well as cheeses, sausages, coffees & teas, and baked goods, all homemade.  The highlight of the farm is the fact that you can pick your own fruits and vegetables.  Right now, apples and pumpkins are in season, but unfortunately, the apples were picked over.  Visitors were able to choose their own apples to buy, however, from bushels within the orchard.

As I was walking through the orchard, I did come across some underripe apples lying on the ground:

On the weekends, throughout September and October, visitors can ride on the hayride out to the pumpkin patch:

Or they can get pumpkins out of boxes in the main field, both orange:

And white (or albino), which I'd never seen before:

After I visited the orchard, I grabbed a morning snack at the donut shack.  It was an apple donut, which was warm and sugary.  You could also buy donuts in 6 or 12 packs (or more), and apple cider.

From there, I walked over to the market, where they had all kinds of produce, plus lunch meals including BBQ pulled pork sandwhiches:

There was also a gift shop on the farm called Harmony Hill, right across from the smiling barn:

I then went over to where the East Troy Electric Railroad has one of it's main depots, where I found this welcoming sign:

 They also had a handy way to take children throughout the orchard, the little red wagon coral:

Below, you can see the bounty I brought back from The Elegant Farmer: 2 kinds of gourmet coffee, Asiago cheese, crackers, and pumpkin-apple bread.  I'm looking forward to indulging in all of it!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Summer Flowers, Revisited

We may be in the early part of autumn, but I for one am not ready to say goodbye to summer yet.  I took these photos at Milwaukee's Boerner Botanical Gardens this past summer, and at least I know I can look at them later this year as the snow falls to remind me another two seasons of flower-viewing are ahead. 

I hope you enjoy the photos in this post, which is also my "S" entry for Alphabe-Thursday.  For more entries, click here.

Wordless Wednesday: Fall Colors

The leaves are starting to change in my part of Wisconsin.  In a few weeks, or maybe sooner, they may look like the photo above which I took two years ago in Cedarburg.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Rock n' Roll Memorabilia in Madison

As I mentioned in Sunday's Post The Many Moods of Madison, WI, I went to my state's capitol on Saturday for a very specific reason.  That was to visit an exhibit at the Wisconsin Historical Museum called "Smart Sounds, Alt Music, Mad Scenes" and it was all about the alternative rock scene that Madison played host to in the 80's and 90's.  For those of you who don't know, I am a rock music fan, collector and (sometimes) scholar, so I had to see this exhibit before it closed on September 15.

The main focus of this exhibit was Smart Studios which opened in 1983.  The studio was started by producers Butch Vig and Steve Marker, who would eventually form the 90's alternative rock band Garbage.  Many popular alternative bands recorded parts of their albums at Smart Studios including Smashing Pumpkins, Soul Asylum, Everclear and, of course, Garbage themselves.

But the most famous album to have been partially recorded at Smart Studios was Nirvana's Nevermind.  In fact, Smart Studios collaborated with Seattle's Sub Pop records for another of their local bands, Tad.

The exhibit displayed a lot of the covers of the albums recorded there until it closed for good in 2010.  The exhibit also featured replicas of one of the mixing rooms as well as one of their recording rooms, shown below.

The other part of the exhibit spoke of Madison's alternative/punk club scene.  There were three major clubs that played a role in bringing this new, harder yet stripped down music to the capitol city: Club de Wash, O'Cayz Corral, and Merlyn's, where U2 famously played in 1981.  The photo below is a replica of Merlyn's front door. 

Of course there was a lot of memorabilia from this era - T-shirts, calendars of events, photos, and promotional posters.

There was one other piece of music memorabilia that I wanted to see while I was in Madison, and it was one of the reasons why started my day at Monona Terrace.  This is where a memorial plaque sits for Otis Redding, who died in a plane crash on Lake Monona in 1967.  I especially like the last line that reads "Otis Redding stands with Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and Sam Cooke in the first rank of American rhythm and blues singers."  My personal favorite song of his is "Try A Little Tenderness."

Unfortunately, like I mentioned above, this exhibit at the Wisconsin Historical Musuem ended on September 15.  But I'm always on the lookout for places that honor the history of rock n' roll music.  I have also been to Cleveland to visit the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame and Memphis.  Are there any places you like to visit in your home state that are dedicated to your favorite music?  Please feel free to give me suggestions in the comments section.

This is also my "R" post for Alphabe-Thursday.  To see more "R" posts, click here.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Many Moods of Madison, WI

Everyone has a getaway place, where they can go to recharge or relax and feel more at home.  I have three such places: Brady Street and Bay View in Milwaukee, and Madison, WI.  Since I hadn't yet visited Madison this summer, I decided to drive 60 miles west to our state's capitol to visit some old favorites and get to know someplace new. 

If you have never visited Madison, there are many ways to fill your day here, especially on a summer weekend.  I started my day early, leaving home at 7:00 so I could get a good parking space downtown.  On the way on Interstate 94, I had a very interesting experience.  I was driving along and saw a hot air balloon in the sky over Ixonia, about 30 minutes from home.  I thought this would be a great photo opportunity, so I pulled off the highway to a Mobil station I saw from the interstate.  Below, you can see the balloon.  There was still fog in the air so that's why it looks like it could use more contrast.

If the hot air balloon wasn't interesting enough, I went back to my car and saw a peacock just walking around the parking lot like it was the owner's pet (the horse, however, was fake):

It must have escaped from the "zoo", also on the property:

After that strange detour, I was back on the interstate to my destination.  I parked and started my visit at Monona Terrace, a convention center located on Lake Monona and designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.  I went there specifically to see the rooftop garden:

And to get some shots of the lake itself:

While I was there, I spoke to a nice gentleman who said they were setting up for two weddings that day on the rooftop.  I don't blame any bride and groom for wanting to take advantage of such an amazing view.

From there, I wandered down King Drive to the Farmers Market.  The Madison Farmers Market is, I believe, the largest in the state, and has vendors of all sorts with stands located around the capital building.  A lot of the vendors had a mixture of food and flowers:

While some just had flowers:

and since it's almost fall, there were a lot of gourds and pumpkins to see, both small:

And normal size:

One of the reasons I wanted to get back to Madison was to visit the Veterans Museum.  The last time I visited, the Civil War exhibit was under construction.  Right now, they have a special exhibit showing Wisconsin's involvement, including many dioramas:

And art from that time period:

The museum's main gallery features many fascinating dioramas spanning from the Mexican-American War (notice the messenger is riding a Harley Davidson):

World Wars I & II, Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf War.  I thought the Vietnam diorama was the best one:

From there, I crossed the street back to the capitol building, since I hadn't taken any photos in the building for a few years.  The architecture is beautiful, with each branch of state government having it's own wing.  If you look closely at the entry to the Supreme Court, you can see our state mascot, the badger.  A badger sits at the entrance of each wing.

On the 2nd level, they have a replica of the Liberty Bell, made in France:

I also participated in 3 of my Madison traditions.  I did a little people-watching on State Street, visited the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, and went over to East Town Mall to shop at Gordmans

There was a specific reason I chose yesterday to visit Madison, and I'll post about that on Thursday for Alphabe-Thursday.  But here is a sneak preview:

For more information on Madison, Wisconsin, click here.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Quite The Cinematic Season

I love autumn.  Not just because the leaves will be turning and I get to break out my cute sweaters, but also because it is the official kickoff of the film industry's awards season.  There have already been a few film festivals that present awards, including the Venice Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival.  You probably don't know that Milwaukee has a festival as well, which mostly features documentaries and short films from filmmakers around the world.  It runs September 27 until October 11.

Back to this year's Hollywood awards race.  So far this year, in my opinion, there haven't been too many films that have screamed "Oscar".  The ones with the best odds seem to be "The Dark Knight Rises" and "Moonrise Kingdom".  But, that's all about to change in the coming weeks. 

Normally, I don't write about movies, since it's hard to use your own photography when doing do.  But since this is also being used as my "Q" post for Alphabe-Thursday, I thought this would be a great way to talk about the movies I'm excited to see and what is on the critics' radars as potential Oscar nominees and winners.  I've been scanning websites such as The Gold Derby to see what the critics have been saying about the upcoming fall/winter films, and I have compiled a Top 10 list, chronologically, of what has the best odds come awards season.  You can click on the titles to see all of the information has on the films.

1) The Master (starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman & Joaquin Phoenix; Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson) - September 14 (limited release).  A film about a troubled WWII veteran (Phoenix) taken in by a "cult leader" (Hoffman) could net Phoenix his first Academy Award as Best Actor, having been nominated in 2006 for "Walk The Line".

2) Argo (starring Alan Arkin & John Goodman; Co-Starring & Directed by Ben Affleck) - October 12.  A CIA infiltrate tries to rescue Americans during the Iranian revolution by sending in a fake movie-making crew.  This film, so far, has the best odds at a Best Picture win having been hailed by critics at the Teluride Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival.

3) Lincoln (starring Daniel Day-Lewis; Directed by Steven Spielberg) - November 16.  Day-Lewis could nab his 3rd Academy Award as Best Actor for his portrayal of the doomed President and his fight to abolish slavery at the end of the Civil War.

4) Cloud Atlas (starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry & Hugh Grant; Directed by the Wachovski Brothers) - October 26.  The team behind "The Matrix" and "Run, Lola, Run" bring you a time-bending drama where the actors play multiple parts, often unrecognizable.
5) Anna Karenina (starring Kiera Knightly & Jude Law; Directed by Joe Wright) - November 16.  "Antonement" director Wright brings the Tolstoy novel around for another big-screen adaptation, this time by playwright Tom Stoppard.
6) Silver Linings Playbook (starring Bradley Cooper & Jennifer Lawrence; Directed by David O. Russell) - November 21.  Mental institution patients Cooper & Lawrence form an instant bond in this comedy-drama that critics have already praised for their multi-layered performances.
7) Life of Pi (directed by Ang Lee) - November 21.  Lee, who won the Best Director Oscar for both "Brokeback Mountain" returns with this ambitious cinematic adaptation of Yann Martel's novel about an Indian boy's travels with a hyena, zebra, orangutan and bengel tiger.
8) The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (starring Martin Freeman & Ian McKellan; Directed by Peter Jackson) - December 14.  Jackson has another go-around with the work of Tolkien for his adaptation of the prequel to "Lord of the Rings".
9) Les Miserables (starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe & Anne Hathaway; Directed by Tom Hooper) - December 14.  Expect many nominations for this adaptation of the famous Victor Hugo novel and Tony Award-Winning musical, including Best Costume Design, Production Design and Cinematography.
10) Django Unchained (starring Jamie Foxx & Leonardo DiCaprio; Directed by Quentin Tarentino) - December 25.  A former slave (Foxx) seeks vengance against his former owner (DiCaprio) and tries to rescue his wife, from the writer/director of "Pulp Fiction" and "Inglorious Bastards."
Give me your feedback!  What I would like to know is, what films are you most excited to see this fall and winter, and what films do you think will get nominations during the upcoming awards season.  Please feel free to place your comments below. 

Wordless Wednesday

This Wordless Wednesday photo does need a little explanation.  The Asian pagoda and fountain, which you can see live at Olbrich Botannical Garden in Madison, Wisconsin, was on the very last plane to land at JFK Airport in New York City the morning of 9/11/2001. 

To see more Wordless Wednesday entries, click here.