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Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.

The Music of Christmas: "I am a fine musician"

When you talk Christmas classics, there are those chestnuts, the Christmas songs that have lasted decades, generations.

Christmas classics on TV usually involve animated specials like Charlie Brown, Rudolph, the Grinch, and Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol.

What about TV shows that weren’t cartoons?

How about the All in the Family episode, “The Draft Dodger,” when Christmas dinner at the Bunkers finds Archie playing host to a draft dodger and a father whose son was killed in the war. A back and forth conversation between the Gold Star father and the draft dodger leaves Archie stunned and speechless.

As good as that was, I think the best Christmas TV classic that wasn’t animated or a variety special was the Happy Days episode, “Guess Who’s Coming to Christmas?”


“At Arnold's, Fonzie comes and brings everyone presents.  Potsie tries to invite Fonzie over for a Christmas turkey dinner, but Fonzie says he's planning a trip to visit family in Waukesha.

Howard and his employees have a party at Cunningham Hardware. Howard and Richie have car problems. Fonzie fixes their car and turns down their invitation to drive him to Waukesha. As Richie goes back to the garage to give Fonzie his present (a three-in-one wrench), he sees Fonzie sitting alone eating a sandwich and ravioli out of a can.

Howard and Chuck decorate the tree, and Richie mopes around thinking about Fonzie. Richie and Howard go over to Fonzie's apartment and try to convince him to come over to the house to fix the Santa. Fonzie is able to fix the Santa and the Christmas tree lights which were not working.

At this point, Fonzie has ‘missed his bus,’ so he stays and pops some popcorn in the fireplace and reads The Night Before Christmas. Richie takes a picture of Howard with Chuck, and Joanie and Fonzie look at a Viewmaster. The family sits down to eat, and Fonzie says grace.”

Then there’s the Dick Van Dyke Show from December of 1963, “The Alan Brady Show Presents.” From

“This half-hour musical comedy-revue is staged as the Christmas episode of ‘The Alan Brady Show’ (though clearly played by Carl Reiner, we still don't see Alan's face, since he is hidden behind a Santa beard). The program is a showcase for Brady staffers Rob Petrie (Dick Van Dyke), Buddy Sorrell (Morey Amsterdam), Sally Rogers (Rose Marie), and Mel Cooley (Richard Deacon) as well as Rob's wife Laura (Mary Tyler Moore) and son Ritchie (Larry Mathews) “

This might be the best Christmas episode of classic television.

The Dick Van *** Show cast

Here is the great finale...


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Assault rifles, pistols and machine guns: OK; Nail clippers: NOT OK

is a very good read.

Not only is the TSA a bunch of buffoons, they're lying buffoons.

La Crosse billboards emphasize humanity of the preborn Baby Jesus

La Crosse billboards emphasize humanity of the preborn baby Jesus

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Conceal-carry is coming to Wisconsin

Young and old, male and female, they stormed Wisconsin woods for nine days.


600,000 of them on the hunt.


600,000. That’s about the population of the city of Milwaukee.

600,000, all carrying loaded guns.

According to the misinformed, disillusioned gun control crowd, this should have been a recipe for disaster, an invitation to massive human carnage. That many people with that many rifles in such proximity? The only people smiling should be the undertakers. People don’t kill people, we are lectured. Guns kill people. Never mind that some evil person has to actually pull the trigger. It’s those blasted guns, and there are just too damn many of them. We need to get rid of all those guns. The sheer number of available guns is the main reason we have so much crime. So we are told.

Using this extremely flawed logic, the annual Wisconsin deer hunting season had all the earmarks of a veritable bloodbath. 600,000 guns is a lot of guns. Bring out the body bags.

The problem for the liberal point of view that is so often incorrect is that the mass murders never transpired.

Incredibly, with all those guns concentrated in the woods, there were ZERO fatalities. ZERO.

Twelve hunters were injured. That’s 0.00002 % of all hunters.

Wisconsin hadn’t witnessed a ZERO fatality deer hunt since 1974.

The 2009 season had but one fatality.

How can this be? The north woods was supposed to be a war zone.

Shooting large holes in the gun control argument, 600,000 hunters exhibited the utmost in safety because:

1) They are licensed.

2) They are trained.

3) They take their gun ownership and use very seriously.

Wisconsin’s uneventful and virtually harmless deer hunting season demonstrates why the state should and will become the next to approve conceal-carry legislation, just like 48 other states. The deer, if you will, are all in a row: New legislative session beginning in January with a Republican governor, Republican state Senate, and Republican state Assembly. No more gubernatorial veto, no more gubernatorial veto upheld because a Democrat changed his vote.

Conceal-carry that would allow law-abiding citizens that have undergone training and background checks, much like deer hunters, to arm themselves for their protection and the protection of others is not the highest priority for state policymakers, nor should it be. Appropriately topping the list are jobs, economic recovery, balancing the budget, and tax and spending relief.

Fixing the $3 billion budget deficit can be done, but the arduous process takes time, right through the end of June 2011. The tsunami of Wisconsin voters that swept Democrats out of power will want some major bones tossed their way. Call it instant gratification, but they will want some action completed before next July. That means work on making it easier for the private sector to create jobs begins immediately.

Governor-elect Scott Walker says his legislative priorities include creating a Waste, Fraud and Abuse Commission that will find and eliminate waste in state government; balancing the budget; 
implementing a small-business tax cut; restructuring the Department of Commerce so the Secretary of Commerce dedicates more time to economic recovery; enacting tax breaks for those with health savings accounts; and curbing malpractice lawsuits against medical professionals.

That’s all important; however, Republicans in control should sense the “what have you done for me lately?” sentiment of voters. Enter photo ID. I predict Governor Walker will sign photo ID legislation into law soon after the 2011-12 legislative session begins. Editorial writers will cringe. The majority of voters will celebrate.

There eventually will be other major policy decisions including conceal-carry. As mentioned earlier, nothing can stop the measure from becoming law.

John Lott, author of “More Guns, Less Crime” has conducted the definitive research and study on this issue, analyzing crime and handgun
data for all 3,054 counties in the United States during 18 years from 1977 to 1994.

“Criminals are deterred by higher penalties. Just as higher arrest and conviction rates deter crime, so does the risk that someone committing a crime will confront someone able to defend him or herself. There is a strong negative relationship between the number of law-abiding citizens with permits and the crime rate—as more people obtain permits there is a greater decline in violent crime rates. For each additional year that a concealed handgun law is in effect the murder rate declines by 3 percent, rape by 2 percent, and robberies by over 2 percent,” says Lott. “When states passed these laws, the number of multiple-victim shootings declined by 84 percent. Deaths from these shootings plummeted on average by 90 percent, and injuries by 82 percent.”

Lott contends that adults and children both benefit from conceal-carry laws.

“After extensively studying the number of accidental shootings, there is no evidence that increasing the number of concealed handguns increases accidental shootings. We know that the type of person who obtains a permit is extremely law-abiding and possibly they are extremely careful in how they take care of their guns. The total number of accidental gun deaths each year is about 1,300 and each year such accidents take the lives of 200 children 14 years of age and under. However, these regrettable numbers of lives lost need to be put into some perspective with the other risks children face. Despite over 200 million guns owned by between 76 to 85 million people, the children killed is much smaller than the number lost through bicycle accidents, drowning, and fires. Children are 14.5 times more likely to die from car accidents than from accidents involving guns.”

The benefit to women is even greater. Lott says, “An additional woman carrying a concealed handgun reduces the murder rate for women by about 3 to 4 times more than an additional man carrying a concealed handgun reduces the murder rate for men.”

Conceal-carry is not all that high on the Republican priority list. It may not even be in the top ten. But make no mistake, it is a priority. And it will be approved in the next legislative session. The question is simply when.

The Music of Christmas: Mary's Boy Child


Harry Belafonte first recorded “Mary’s Boy Child” in 1956.

Belafonte’s version featured a soft, slow, melodic tone.

Every Christmas season, radio stations are flooded with requests, not for Belafonte’s recording, but for the 1978 cover by the Euro-disco group Boney M.

German producer Frank Farian had a successful single in 1975 but decided he wanted some attractive singers and dancers to present on stage and in concert. Farian was watching an Australian detective series. The main character was called Boney Maroney, and that’s how he came up with the name for the group.

From the unofficial Boney M website:

Boney M. was a studio-group and all vocals on the records were done by Marcia Barrett, Liz Mitchell and Boney M.'s producer and mastermind Frank Farian. When Reggie Tsiboe replaced Bobby Farrell he would also be a part of the recording-team. From around 1980 session singers would also be used for backing vocals. However it should be mentioned that no matter what is said or written then the members of Boney M. did sing live on stage at live concerts. Farian wasn’t a part of that act.

(In 1978) Boney M. broke record sales in most countries. It wasn't just another hit - it was THE Christmas record of the year.

"Mary's Boy Child - Oh My Lord" was released in Germany on 27th November and an instant hit. However the strange thing was that in Germany the single first went to no. 1 in early January 1979 when the Christmas period was over.

In England the single was no. 1 for four weeks and in Denmark "Mary's Boy Child - Oh My Lord" was the first single ever to be achieving platinum status.

Today, radio stations in Milwaukee get tons of calls asking for the name of the group that does that, “Oh my Lord,” song.

It’s Boney M.

Here they are in all their late 1970’s cheesy disco-ness. (Just look at those clothes and hair styles).

I dare you to watch the entire video and not be humming or singing the tune for hours after.

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"This is why the People have Thrown You Out"

Watch how Democrats govern.

Watch how Democrats control proceedings.

Watch how Democrats regard their Republican colleagues.

Watch (and you can also hear) how the Acting Democrat Speaker, Democrat Congresswoman Laura Richardson, who just happens to be from the same state as outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi, 
is coached on how to address Republican Indiana Congressman Steve Buyer:

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I'll need to see (AH-CHOOO!!!) a photo ID

Soon-to-be Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald promises that the first piece of legislation introduced in the state Senate that reconvenes January will be a bill to require photo ID to vote.

That, of course, is tremendous news. It’s too bad we can’t fix another photo ID mess.

This week, Missouri’s Governor Jay Nixon and Attorney General Chris Koster announced their backing of legislation to require a prescription to buy cold or allergy medicine containing pseudoephedrine. Popular cold pills like Sudafed or Claritin contain the drug needed for making methamphetamine. According to the World Health Organization, methamphetamine is second only to marijuana as the most widely abused illicit drug in the world. Normally referred to as “meth”, the drug is extremely addictive. Users experience acute psychosis and can become extremely violent.

Missouri would become the third state in the nation (Oregon and Mississippi are the others) to require a prescription for popular cold medications. Wisconsin, thankfully, hasn’t gone that far.

Governor Doyle signs SB 78

On June 7, 2005, Wisconsin Governor Doyle signed into law the “Meth Bill.”  Talk about your bipartisanship. Only six of Wisconsin’s 132 legislators voted no. At times, bipartisanship is like taking a bath. After awhile, it’s not so hot.

A Wisconsin Legislative Council memo states that under Senate Bill 78, the “Meth Bill”:

Any person purchasing the substance (cold medicines containing
pseudoephedrine) must, at the time of purchase, present to the seller that person’s name and address and an identification card containing the person’s photograph. The seller must record the name and address and the name and quantity of the product sold. The purchaser and seller must sign the record of the transaction unless the product is sold by a person working under the direction of a pharmacist, in which case, the supervising pharmacist must sign the record of the transaction.

The records of transactions of sales of pseudoephedrine products may be kept in either a paper or electronic format and must be maintained by the pharmacy for at least two years. Only a pharmacist or a law enforcement officer may have access to information recorded with respect to the sale of a pseudoephedrine product.

No person, other than a physician, dentist, veterinarian, or pharmacist may purchase more than 7.5 grams of a pseudoephedrine product within a 30-day period without the authorization of a physician, dentist, or veterinarian.”


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The Music of Christmas- Elvis Style

Forty-two years ago today, Elvis Presley made TV history.
 On December 3, 1968, NBC-TV aired a one-hour special simply entitled, “ELVIS.”

Elvis’ manager, Colonel Tom Parker envisioned the project in the vein of traditional Christmas specials done by the likes of Perry Como. Elvis would perform some safe, warm Christmas carols on some holiday-themed sets.

Thank goodness the people involved in the special’s production didn’t let the Colonel have his way.

The producers plotted a special that would let Elvis be Elvis, and break out of the Hollywood B-movie mold he had become trapped in the entire decade of the 60’s.

Elvis performed elaborately staged production numbers. He sang in the round with his old band mates.  Elvis was in the round. Elvis was the first entertainer to go unplugged.

Remember, this was 40 years ago.

The special was the highest rated show of that television season and is now referred to as the Comeback Special.

Elvis did his top material, but he also sang some Christmas songs.

One of them, of course, was “Blue Christmas.” 

Originally a country song recorded by Ernest Tubb in 1948, Elvis iput his rock and roll style on the song in 1957, and it became a classic.

He also sang the bluesy, “Santa Claus is Back in Town,” during filimg of the TV special, but it didn’t make the final cut.

Both songs were from his mega-selling 1957 Christmas album.

Author Peter Guralnick who has written extensively about Elvis, contributed to the liner notes of one of Elvis’ box collections about “Santa Claus is Back in Town.”

Guralnick wrote that E
lvis had asked songwriting duo Mike Leiber and Jerry Stoller, who wrote many hits for Elvis including, Jailhouse Rock,” to come up with a Christmas song during sessions for the 1957 Christmas album; within a few minutes, they had the song written and ready for recording. It was originally titled "Christmas Blues", and features a slightly risqué treatment and lyrics.

Elvis’ backup singers, the Jordanaires were interviewed a few years after Elvis’ death and said they warned Elvis he couldn’t do Christmas songs this way and would face heavy criticism. Elvis politely told the Jordanaires to let him worry about that.

Here’s Elvis, resplendent in famous leather outfit, from the ’68 special doing "Blue Christmas."

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MUST SEE VIDEO: Chris Christie advises incoming GOP Governors about unions

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Goodnight everyone and have a soft and smooth December weekend!

It's Friday night. Time to unwind with our regular Friday night feature on This Just In.

The weekend has finally arrived.

The sun has set.

The evening sky has erupted. 

Let's put controversy and provocative blogs aside for the rest of this work week and smooth our way into Saturday and Sunday.

Tonight, more great sounds of the season from some performers that might be new to you.

We begin in a big way.

Every year, smooth jazz saxophonist Dave Koz puts together a list of musician friends that go on tour in December for special Christmas concerts. It’s a great show and if you haven’t seen it, there’s a CD available, “Smooth Jazz Christmas by Dave Koz & Friends” featuring vocalist Brenda Russell, pianist David Benoit, guitarist Peter White, and trumpeter Rick Braun.

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The Music of Christmas: Rudolph

The Christmas of 1938 was shaping up to be the worst holiday ever for Bob May, an advertising copywriter for Montgomery Wards in Chicago.

May’s income was paltry.  Exhaustion was settling in. So was the Depression. And his wife, Evelyn was fighting an uphill battle against cancer for two years.

One night in December, after visiting her emaciated, bed-ridden mother, four-year old Barbara May jumped up into her father’s lap and sadly asked him, “Why isn’t my mommy like everybody else’s mommy?”

Put squarely on the spot, May struggled for an answer.

Inspiration for his response came from his recollection as a frail child. So thin was May that other kids made fun of him, calling him, “sissy,” and other names.

Despite being forced by the Depression to work at a job far below his skill level, and despite living in a two-room slum-like apartment, and despite his beloved wife having life-threatening cancer, May wanted to give his daughter an answer filled with hope.

There in that tiny apartment, with his inquisitive daughter in his lap, May made up the story of a reindeer with a large, bright red nose.

Barbara enjoyed her father’s story so much that she asked him to tell it every night. And so May did, each night adding more details.

Unable to afford a Christmas present for Barbara that year, May utilized his skill as an artist and made a book with drawings about his story about the reindeer he called Rudolph. He’d work on it at night, when his sickly wife and daughter were asleep.

Before Christmas arrived, Evelyn succumbed to cancer. His heart filled with grief, May somehow finished the Rudolph book before Christmas. Barbara found it on Christmas morning.

A few days later, May was expected at the company Christmas party. Called upon to read his book in front of his fellow workers, May’s book was a hit, and every employee wanted a copy.

Realizing May was in need of funds, the chairman of Montgomery Wards, Stewell Avery bought all the rights to the Rudolph book from May. Avery then had thousands of copies printed and sent to Wards stores in time for Christmas 1939. For the next six years, any child visiting Santa at a Wards store was presented a Rudolph book.

It is now 1946 and over six million of the books have been given away.

As Avery was inundated by requests to publish a new version of the book, Avery exhibited the utmost in holiday spirit.

In a phenomenal gesture, Avery gave, he didn’t sell, he GAVE all rights to Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer back to May.

One year later, May was officially a wealthy man.

Re-married and very happy, May allowed his brother-in-law, Johnny Marks to adapt the story into a song.

Marks wanted Bing Crosby to sing Rudolph.

Crosby said no.

The next choice was Dinah Shore.

She balked.

In fact, nobody wanted their voice associated with the song.

Then, Gene Autry was contacted.

The thought was Autry, who liked to sing kids’ songs, would do it, especially since he had recorded, “Here Comes Santa Claus.”

Autry didn’t like the song.

Marks didn’t give up and begged Autry to reconsider.

Autry took the song home for his wife to hear (Remember, Walt Disney’s wife told him to change Mortimer’s name to Mickey).

Touched by the lyrics, Ina Autry insisted Gene record the song.

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer is the second-largest selling Christmas song of all-time. Burl Ives immortalized Rudolph in an incredibly popular animated special that debuted in 1964.

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The Barking Lot (12/04/10)

The Barking Lot

The Barking Lot is a regular weekly feature of this just in
Written by my lovely wife, Jennifer and me.  It opens with the weekend dog walking forecast followed by the main blog from dog lover, Jennifer. Then it
s DOGS IN THE NEWS and our close. Enjoy!

THE WEEKEND DOG-WALKING FORECAST: We grade the weather outlook for taking your pet outdoors. 

TODAY:  Snow showers. High of 31.  "F"

SUNDAY:  Morning snow showers, windy. High of 26.  "F"

My lovely wife, Jennifer has been dealing with a teething baby angel this week.


Yours truly is stepping in to guest blog on my very own blog. That means a bit more edginess to The Barking Lot this week.





As I observed this week what was happening in Brookline, Massachusetts, I couldn’t help but think of Franklin Alderman Steve Taylor.  One of his top priorities recently, and I kid you not, was to ban dogs from being off leash when off owners’ properties. 

My, what a clever devil he is. I guess dogs running off leash at any dog park in Franklin would be……..hmmmm……..AGAINST THE LAW!

What a relief that incredibly serious problem has been addressed here in Franklin.

Now, think about it.

A dog park.

Anywhere in the good ol’ US of A.

What would one expect a dog to do at a dog park?


Run with reckless abandon?

Run without a leash?



The local authorities (remember this is Massachusetts) see this as a revenue enhancer. They’re Democrats, folks. They can’t help themselves.

If it’s not nailed down, Democrats will find way to tax it.

In  Brookline, Taxachusetts, the local Park and Recreation Committee is pushing a plan to charge Brookline residents $50 a year to allow their dogs off the leash in any of the 14 local parks.  The fee is per dog, and anyone who doesn’t live in Brookline would pay $100 a year.

Most of us realize that a fee is a tax.

It’s not as low as you can go (Jim Doyle's tax on nursing home beds is especially scummy), but c’mon. A tax, and that’s what the hell it is, to take your dog to a dog park and take the leash off so that the dog can run around playfully with other dogs for a few minutes?

I guess the Democrats that are just aghast by such a proposition are like the mom in the movie The Christmas Story whose son wants a BB gun. Her reaction? You’ll shoot your eyes out.

Can’t have dogs running loose in a dog park, dad gum it!

Needless to say, dog owners that possess common sense are not happy.

About 66% of those that responded to a Boston Globe survey were opposed to the fee. Why? Because they used the brains God gave them.

The newspaper’s out of touch liberal editorial board, like so many others around the country (and they wonder why circulation is plummeting) reacted huffing and puffing, writing:

“Ideally, Brookline could pay for the position through its general fund. But money is tight. Organized groups like sports leagues already pay for permits to use the grounds. While dog owners may see themselves as individual park users, the city can’t afford to.

Leveling a fee on dog owners that amounts to less than $1 a week is a better choice than simply ignoring one of the town’s longstanding bones of contention.”

The fact is no other group is being targeted for fees, i.e., taxes in Brookline parks except dog owners. Fairness doesn’t matter to liberals. If there’s a chance to charge a fee or tax, they will jump immediately.

Dog owners in Brookline, keep fighting!

Time now for DOGS IN THE NEWS, canines that made headlines the past week.

Should airport screening go to the dogs?

Dog burned alive gets day in court thanks to a cellphone.

"Contact voltage"
electrocutes Seattle dog.........MORE.

Amazing Caine
doing well after losing three inches of his tongue.

Earless puppy finds home.

Dog saves Marine in Afghanistan.

Dog found in tornado ravaged home.

Amy Hunt has saved over 500 dogs.

Wyoming pastors rescue stranded Wisconsin dog.

Wisconsin woman devoted to saving disabled dogs needs help.

A dog mural is the subject of a lawsuit.

A fee to unleash your dog at a dog park?

Sixth grader wants to expand beach access for dogs.

Philadelphia looking for
"spokesdog" to educate about the evils of dog waste.

10 human remedies that are poison to dogs.

Mona is the perfect dental assistant.

Is it a good idea to
bring a dog to work?

Show dogs stolen, then found.

Pampered stray dog leaving Chicago for Utah.

It's a dog's life at the
White House this Christmas.

A dog rescuer's
12 Days of Christmas.

10 reasons why you should get a dog.......instead of a facelift.

Congratulations. You may now kiss the.......

That’s it for The Barking Lot.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Week-ends (12/04/10)


A look back at the people and events that made news the past week. Week-ends is a regular weekly feature of This Just In...


Marinette students

Those who treat the US war wounded

Maybe not the textbook hero, but a hero nonetheless.

The mayor of Philadelphia

Chuck Norris


Garron Lewis

Mary Grier

Bianca Rodriguez

Wal-Mart customer

Mariusz Wdziekonski

St. Lucie County (Fla) school system

Boss in Norway

And we can't forget........the TSA.


“Grandmama, they touched you on your special girl spots.”
Antonia Riggs Miernik's granddaughter on her pat down.

“Everyone knows that the reason we have to take off our shoes, have our toothpaste confiscated, and get photographed naked or groped at the airport is because Religion of Peaceniks keep trying to kill us out of sheer evil. We go through these intensely irritating rituals so that our liberal rulers can make it clear that they would rather we suffer than profile the Muslims who commit terror attacks.”
Blogger Van Helsing on Moonbattery

“We had the greatest generation -- I think this is the greediest generation.”
Alan Simpson

“Liberals don't care. Their approach is to rip out society's foundations without asking if they serve any purpose. Why do we have immigration laws? What's with these borders? Why do we have the institution of marriage, anyway? What do we need standardized tests for? Hey, I like Keith Richards -- why not make heroin legal? Let's take a sledgehammer to all these load-bearing walls and just see what happens!”
Ann Coulter

“Wikileaks’ deliberate disclosure of these diplomatic cables is nothing less than an attack on the national security of the United States, as well as that of dozens of other countries. By disseminating these materials, Wikileaks is putting at risk the lives and the freedom of countless Americans and non-Americans around the world.”
Joe Lieberman 

“There have been many sharp cuts in tax rates under Presidents Calvin Coolidge, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. So we don't need to argue in a vacuum. There is a track record. What does that record say? It says, loud and clear, that cuts in tax rates do not mean cuts in tax revenues. In all four of these administrations, of both parties, so-called 'tax cuts for the rich' led to increased tax revenues-- with people earning high incomes paying not only a larger sum total of tax revenues, but even a higher proportion of all tax revenues. Most important of all, these tax rate reductions spurred economic activity, which we definitely need today.”
Thomas Sowell

“The federally funded National Portrait Gallery, one of the museums of the Smithsonian Institution, is currently showing an exhibition that features images of an ant-covered Jesus, male genitals, naked brothers kissing, men in chains, Ellen DeGeneres grabbing her breasts, and a painting the Smithsonian itself describes in the show’s catalog as ‘homoerotic.’ Please. If you want to impress me with your artistic courage, pay tribute to the American flag or Sarah Palin. Naked brothers kissing is about as avante-garde as bringing a keg of imported beer to a frat party.

How can the same political party that claims our nation’s infrastructure is crumbling, children are going to bed hungry, and that more money is needed for breast cancer and AIDS research justify spending millions on this crap? Do Leftists want people crushed in bridge collapses, children to starve, and women and gays to die prematurely?

I guess so. There’s really no other way to explain their priorities.”
John Nolte at Big Hollywood. The Smithsonian later took down the exhibit.


Your tax dollars at work. Christmas at the Smithsonian. 

: Due to protests, the Smithsonian took down the display.


Media ignores GOP taking over Obama's Senate seat.

Report warns Obama about 'New' Dark Ages.


LeBron James returns to Cleveland.


Shave and a haircut.......and a car crash.  MORE

Passenger strips on plane.

Your suggestions/nominations for any of these categories every week are welcome, especially for HEROES OF THE WEEK. If you know of anyone in the community deserving of recognition, please e-mail me. 

The Music of Christmas: The Fat Man is watching


The following is from the Kiwanis International website:

Claus alert!

In 1934, J. Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie began warning children to be on their best behavior, lest their names be written on Santa Claus’ “naughty” list. Fred—the composer—wrote the music for more than 700 songs, including Precious Little Thing Called Love, Love Letters in the Sand, and the holiday classic Santa Claus Is Coming to Town. But he also was a New York City Kiwanian. His story, including memories of his fateful encounter with lyricist Gillespie, appeared in the December 1956 issue of The Kiwanis Magazine.

Following is an outtake of the article, relating Fred’s fateful encounter with lyricist Gillespie.

“One morning in June (1934), Coots was on the subway to Brooklyn when he saw a vaguely familiar face. ‘It was Lady Luck, but I didn’t know it then,’ he says. The man looked at Fred expectantly, then sauntered over and stuck out his hand.

“‘You’re Fred Coots, aren’t you?’

“‘Yeah, and you’re…’ Coots still couldn’t recall his name.

“‘Gillespie. Haven Gillespie. Lyric writer. From Covington, Kentucky.’

“‘That’s right,’ said Coots. He remembered that Gillespie had written the lyrics for several very popular songs. ‘What are you doing up here?’

“He was going over to Brooklyn to see an old friend, a composer who might be able to set some of his lyrics to music, explained Gillespie. He’d felt the pinch of the Depression and was in his old business, running a Linotype, to carry himself over. He tapped his pocket. ‘I’ve got an idea here for a Christmas song that might go over,’ he said.

“Like most song writers, Fred Coots thrives on the ideas and suggestions of lyric writers. He tingled with expectation at the thought of Gillespie’s lyrics, but he knew that the ethics of the trade demanded that he ignore them as long as they were committed to some other composer. ‘But I’m at the Albee in Brooklyn, Have,’ he said, ‘and if there’s anything I can do, just drop in and see me.’
“When he finished the matinee that afternoon, Coots found Gillespie waiting in the dressing room. ‘My friend’s gone to California,’ said Gillespie ruefully, ‘and it looks like I might be stuck with these lyrics.’ He handed them to Fred…

“‘Uh-hug,’ said Fred without enthusiasm. ‘You got a love song? A ballad?’

“Gillespie shook his head. All he really had was this little ditty—‘a kid song,’ says Coots. Fred sat down and pecked away speculatively at a piano backstage. In about 10 minutes, he had the skeleton of the tune knocked out. ‘I figured that I’d humor the guy,’ he says. ‘If I tried to do something with this kid song maybe he’d bring me his next ballad.’

“When he brought the song around to his publisher, Leo Feist Inc., Coots aroused no enthusiasm. ‘Nice tune, Fred,’ they said, ‘but it’s a kid song. Can’t really expect too much from it.’ They talked and haggled and finally the publisher agreed to put it out, with some doubts and reservations.

“Later that same summer, Coots offered the tune to Eddie Cantor, who decided to use it on his radio show in November. Suddenly the song shot from nowhere into the hearts and minds of an America that needed a lilt and a lift. ‘The morning after Eddie sang it on the radio, we had orders for 100,000 copies of sheet music,’ says Fred. By Christmas, sales had passed 400,000. ‘It picked Tin Pan Alley right off the floor and really gave it a merry Christmas,’ says Coots. Since then, the song has become one of the best-sellers in American music history. It’s sold millions of records and copies of sheet music—most of them in December. ‘You can see why I have a special affection for Christmas,’ says Fred.”

If I had to choose just one, my favorite Christmas album, it would most likely be,  “ A Christmas Portrait,” by the Carpenters.

Richard Carpenter’s lush, old-fashioned arrangements backing the angelic voice of his sister, Karen, are a perfect Christmas combination. Karen did “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” like no one else.

From the Carpenters' web site:

In November 1974, Karen and Richard released a shimmering ballad version of “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town,” a holiday staple since 1934. Richard’s torchy arrangement was as unexpected as his 1969 ballad interpretation of the Beatles’ “Ticket To Ride.” Karen and Richard recorded the basic track and the lead vocal in 1972, and added brass, strings, the sax solo and background vocals two years later. They sang the song on a Perry Como Christmas special that aired on Dec. 18, 1974.

Here is that performance from the Perry Como special, featuring a jazzy, sultry vocal by Karen and a great sax solo.

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Photos of the Week (12/05/10)

Photos of the Week

President Barack Obama greets troops at a rally during an unannounced visit at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan, Friday, Dec. 3, 2010. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Members of 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, based at Fort Stewart, Ga., sit in the belly of a C-17 aircraft at Sather Air Base in Baghdad as they begin their journey home after a year in Iraq. More than seven years after 1st Brigade entered Baghdad as the first conventional U.S. forces in Iraq, its soldiers are coming home from a yearlong deployment that saw the end of combat operations. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)


The U.S. Navy's USS Fort Worth, a littoral combat ship, slides into the Menominee River during its launch at Marinette Marine in Marinette, Wis. on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2010. (AP Photo/The Marinette EagleHerald, Rick Gebhard)


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Culinary no-no #195

Culinary no-no's

Here are some of the key ingredients for this week’s Culinary no-no:

cheese·burg·er  (chzbûrgr)

n. A hamburger topped with melted cheese.

The above is the Frenchie burger from the NY restaurant, DBGB.

obesity  (-bs-t)

n. The condition of being obese; increased body weight caused by excessive accumulation of fat.


n. A plot of land used for the cultivation of flowers, vegetables, herbs, or fruit.

The above garden is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. 

hyp·o·crite  (hp-krt)

n.  A person who professes beliefs and opinions that he or she does not hold in order to conceal his or her real feelings or motives


hyp·o·crite  (hp-krt)

n. A person who professes beliefs and opinions that he or she does not hold in order to conceal his or her real feelings or motives.

Barack and Michelle Obama, the two leaders of the federal government’s food police, have lectured us to death.

America, you’re too fat.

America, you don’t eat right.

We will show you how to eat properly.

We will tell you what to eat.

We will tell you what not to eat.

Restaurant owners, we will tell you what to serve.

Restaurant owners, we will tell you what not to serve.

We will set the rules and you will follow them or government bureaucrats will make you suffer.

The complete and utter condescension has been sickening.

The Obama’s have become the quintessential spokespeople for the phrase, “Do as I say, not as I do.”

Last year, the New York Times reminded us, “As President Obama ran for office, whenever questions of his ordinary-man credentials arose, his aides were quick to say that he loves a good burger. As he worked to win over male voters, a stop at a beer joint would suddenly be on his itinerary. But when the cameras weren't rolling, he was just as likely to have a healthy plate of sea bass and steamed vegetables as a burger and fries."

The newspaper noted Obama’s cholesterol had jumped 42 points since 2007. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told White House reporters, ''You guys think he eats carrots and celery. There's more cheeseburgers, fries and pie than you previously knew.''

How could this be? After all, the First Lady took on America's girth as her persoanl crusade, going so far as to plant a veggie garden to promote all heathy items green and orange.

The British press asked the obvious question: What would Michelle say? (We also learn the Obamessiah isn't exactly a terrific tipper).

So, Barack isn’t following his wife’s advice. One could argue the president is allowed because Mrs. Obama doesn’t practice what she preaches.

On March 11, 2009, the website suggested five foods Michelle Obama should banish for American diets. Sure enough, burgers made the list, and that would seem to follow the First Lady’s emphasis on vegetables rather than meat.  A month later, the Associated Press shockingly reported that, for shame,
Michelle sneaks out for burgers.

It gets better.

Last August, Mrs. Obama visted the Good Stuff Eatery in Washington D.C. with daughters Malia and Sasha where they dined on cheeseburgers, fries, and shakes. The New York Post reported, "Fellow patrons had their cellphones temporarily confiscated to prevent pictures from being taken.
Nope. Can’t have photos floating around of the queen of carrots and peas chomping down on a juicy, fat-laden burger. 

This past October, while campaigning for Russ Feingold, Mrs.Obama stopped at Miss Katies Diner in Milwaukee and ordered a cheeseburger. Apparently forgetting she was in America’s Dairyland, she eschewed a milkshake.

Washington's radical attempt to reform America’s diet isn’t working. A recent Gallup poll shows that we are not stupid. Most of us understand the value of healthy eating and can easily find affordable fresh produce.

NEWS FLASH to the food police: We just don’t want to eat it. We eat what we want to eat because we live in what is still a free country. What a concept!

No one is suggesting that the Obama's should never indulge in a greasy burger. However, if they're not going to lead by example, they need to tone down their pontificating and over-regulation.

But they won't.

A new book contains an anecdote about the all-knowing Calorie Counter-in-Chief counseling an overweight staffer that he will eat a salad and like it.


1. The practice of professing beliefs, feelings, or virtues that one does not hold or possess; falseness.
2. An act or instance of such falseness.

It's run amok at the White House.

Federal nutrition bill would curb school bake sales

Federal nutrition bill would curb school bake sales

Federal nutrition bill would curb school bake sales

Federal nutrition bill would curb school bake sales

Federal nutrition bill would curb school bake sales

Federal nutrition bill would curb school bake sales


There couldn't possibly be more, Kev, could there?

It couldn't possibly get any better, could it?

It could and it does.


A WHAT-tini?

I don't care what's in a hot dog. I'll take one anytime.

Why you ate too much on Thanksgiving.

The Music of Christmas: "Haul out the holly...."


The mid-60’s gave us the popular Broadway musical, “Mame.”

From the website, “The Guide to Musical Theatre”:


Who is Mame? There's surely one in every community, often there's one in every family. Some of the wild, exploratory spirit of Mame bubbles in each and every human being who believes that "life is a banquet!"

Mame is Eve, St. Joan, Lady Godiva, Susan B. Anthony, Clara Bow and Florence Nightingale, all rolled into one. She epitomises optimism, the power of positive -thought and sheer joie-de-vivre, and projects them to everyone that meets her, influencing and improving the lives of them all. She is ageless, timeless, graceful, beautiful, kind and elegant. She dances, too, and cuts across all barriers, whether of age, colour; creed or gender. We have all seen hundreds of Auntie Mames and in each and every one, there seemed to be a flash of something a bit different, a new discovery in the way that this particular remarkable lady thinks, feels and moves.

Musically the show is packed with Jerry Herman songs that are in perfect accord with the whole positive attitude of the story, and includes what is probably the most memorable title song ever written.


Agnes Gooch brings young Patrick Dennis from a farm in Des Moines to his only living relative, Mame Dennis. This notorious Auntie Mame is a swinger; a vogue-following, high-living friend to everyone. Knowledge, love, and the stock market are her dearest possessions.

She is overjoyed with Patrick. Unfortunately her authority over him is shared with Dwight Babcock, a trustee for the Knickerbocker Bank. They clash on schooling, but Patrick's father's will spells out a conservative education. Babcock wins, but Mame is busy opening exciting windows for Patrick behind Babcock's back. Babcock catches Patrick enrolled in Ralph Devine's Laboratory of Life - a foreward thinking establishment. This is hardly a conservative education as stipulated in the will and so he packs Patrick away to boarding school.

To add to her problems, the stock market has crashed and Mame must attempt the only thing in the world for which she is unsuited - work. She gets a job in the theatre in the show that her friend is starring in. However, she upstages her actress-friend, Vera Charles, and is fired.

It’s that this point in the story that Auntie Mame decides that she "needs a little Christmas" early. She exhorts her nephew Patrick to "put up the tree before my spirits fall again", even when he reminds her that it's still a whole week before Thanksgiving.

(Mame circa 2010 would have the same scene taking place around the 4th of July).

Angela (“Murder, She Wrote’') Lansbury was Mame in the original musical. Here she is singing a very popular holiday song with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir:

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If you wanna get through airport security, aka the TSA, get a burka

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High taxing/spending Franklin City Hall in damage control

It happens all the time.

When people learn I reside in Franklin, they gasp. The stunned reaction is unanimous. It normally sounds like this:

“My God, man, how can you afford those taxes?”

Franklin is a tax hell. And you don’t have to live here to comprehend that fact.

Last month, the Franklin Common Council on a vote of 5-1 with support from Mayor Tom Taylor adopted a 2.6 percent property tax levy increase during a recession when taxpayers are facing salary and benefit cuts, job losses, and foreclosures. We who pay the bills were lectured that this tax and spending increase was “responsible.” In other words, keep your mouth shut, accept it, and pay your bill on time.

Just a few weeks later, could it be that a case of the guilts has descended upon City Hall?

At the request of Mayor Taylor, an informational report has been compiled for Tuesday’s Franklin Common Council meeting entitled: “Comparison of Municipal Property Tax Rates and Other Municipal Charges.” The intent is crystal clear. The report, prepared November 30, is to be used as ammunition in defense of the recession property tax levy hike.

The Mayor, the report states, asked for the analysis “to address whether or not Franklin has high taxes compared to other communities. It further claims, “Franklin has very low municipal property taxes when compared to other Milwaukee County communities, and when other municipal special charges are considered, Franklin fairs (sic) even better.”

I’m sure that comes as great comfort to Franklin taxpayers who will be brimming with exuberance when they get their annual Christmas present from the city in the mailbox later this month.

City staff analyzed the assessed property tax rates for all 19 Milwaukee County communities and then applied the 2009 Aggregate ratio of Assessment to those rates to determine an equalized property tax rate for each community. The Franklin reports states, “Franklin has the third lowest rate with 13 of the communities exceeding Franklin’s rate by more than fifty cents per thousand dollars of equalized value and nine of those communities exceeding Franklin’s rate by more than $1.00 per thousand dollars of equalized value..”

The report then makes this bold claim:

“From this perspective, Franklin clearly has very low municipal property taxes when compared to other Milwaukee County communities.”

Another key point of the report is that other communities impose “special charges” for services. Franklin does not assess a special charge for garbage collection, recycling, or storm water utility.

Finally, the report asserts, “Franklin’s equalized municipal property tax rate is one of the lowest in the County. (The special charges in other communities) clearly solidifies Franklin’s position as a comparatively low taxed and charged community.”


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The Music of Christmas: Judy Garland


After starring in, “The Wizard of OZ,” young Judy Garland needed a more “mature” role. It came five years later in “Meet Me in St. Louis.”

In one of the key scenes, Garland was to sing a song to her sad little sister. The younger girl was worried that when the family moved to New York from Missouri, Santa would be unable to find her. Garland’s character was also sad because she had just fallen in love, and thought the move would end her wonderful relationship. 

Songwriters Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane wrote what would become a classic for that scene, but at first, Garland didn’t care for the song. 

The first words originally were, “Have yourself a merry little Christmas, it may be your last; next year we will be living in the past.”

Realizing World War II had millions of soldiers homesick for the holidays, Garland wanted a more uplifting song filled with hope that would remind people of, “Over the Rainbow.”

Martin and Blane changed the words, and a timeless masterpiece was born:

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Elvis was a great American


Mahalo, Elvis.

There is Still a Pearl in the Harbor.

If only it happened in America, the ACLU would have gone into cardiac arrest

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One of the best political cartoons of the year

Political Cartoon by Michael Ramirez

The Music of Christmas- A partridge in a pear tree


It is an urban legend that, “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” was created as a coded reference to important articles of the Christian faith. That’s according to the urban legend de-bunker, says, “The twelve days of Christmas in the song are the twelve days between the birth of Christ (Dec. 25) and the coming of the magi (Epiphany, January 6). Although the specific origins of the song are not known, it possibly began as a “Twelfth Night “memory-and-forfeits” game in which the leader recited a verse, each of the players repeated the verse, the leader added another verse, and so on until one of the players made a mistake, with the player who erred having to pay a penalty, such as offering up a kiss or a sweet. This is how the song was presented in its earliest known printed version, in the 1780 children’s book Mirth without Mischief.

Textual evidence indicates that the song was not English in origin, but French. Three French versions of the song are known and items mentioned in the song itself (the partridge, for example, which was not introduced to England from France until the late 1770’s) are indicative of a French origin.

The “Twelve Days of Christmas” is what most people take it to be: a secular song that celebrates the Christmas season with imagery of gifts and dancing and music."

I’m not a big fan of this Christmas song. Sounds like one big skip in the record, the same old annoying refrain over and over and over again. 

That’s why I do enjoy versions that are a bit different.

Like this one.

Gather the kids around the computer for The Muppets and singer-songwriter John Denver performing "The Twelve Days of Christmas" together on the 1979 television special John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together.

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30 years ago tonight, Howard Cosell was reluctant to break the news

Hard to believe, but true.

OK, now the TSA has REALLY gone too far!

Santa Claus Larry Durian is taken to a private TSA room after passing through metal detectors at the Akron Canton Airport on Dec. 8, 2010 in Green, Ohio. Santa planned to spend seven hours at the airport greeting passengers for their customer appreciation day. He emerged from the room a short time later. AP photo


The Music of Christmas: Disney-style

It is one of the most moving spectacles I’ve ever seen, so moving that grown men weep openly.

The Candlelight Processional at Epcot in Walt Disney World takes place three times every evening, this year from November 23-December 30.


A Disney tradition now in its 37th year (2007), the Candlelight Processional is a moving presentation of the Christmas story in readings by a celebrity narrator and music by a Mass choir and 50-piece orchestra.

And from

This beautiful Christmas program began in 1958 at Disneyland in California. Walt Disney World held it's first Processional in the Magic Kingdom in 1971. Since 1994 is has been in EPCOT.

This is a show that should be on everyone's Christmas agenda. It is a retelling of the Christmas story narrated by a different guest celebrity every few days till the end of the program. This is all accompanied by the Disney orchestra and over 400 singers in the chorus. The singers are anchored by the "Voices of Liberty", the famed a cappella group that performs in the American Adventure rotunda. For anyone who has heard this group, they have the most amazing voices and range of any singers I had the pleasure to listen to. The other vocalists are from participating guest choirs from over 15 states and are dressed in gold. The choir members in green are Disney Cast Members who volunteer to be a part of this wonderful show.

The cast members in green are arranged on the stage in the shape of a Christmas tree and the Voices of Liberty singers are at the base of the tree. All other choir members flank the tree; this with the lighting and decorations make is visually stunning and gives that "Feeling of Christmas". But the centerpiece of the show is the narration of the Christmas story; and after a passage is read, the choir and the orchestra showcase stirring Christmas songs relating to the passage read. And this will continue to the end of the show. And before the narration begins, the choir and orchestra will play Carols and songs that have to be heard to appreciate!

Homemade videos don’t do the Candlelight Processional justice. Trust me, the performance is phenomenal.

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UPDATE: If only it happened in America, the ACLU would have gone into cardiac arrest

They broke out in song in Canada.

Another "Random Act of Culture" as it's being called took place at Macy's in Philadelphia at the stroke of NOON on October 30, 2010.

650 choristers mingled as shoppers. And then at 12:00, the famous (and huge)  Wanamaker Organ erupted. Watch the reaction.

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BEAUTIFUL VIDEO: Liberal shout-fest on MSNBC

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One of my favorite holiday blogs


Top Ten Reasons Why Liberals Hate the Holidays

10 - Thanksgiving is mass murder for turkeys.

9 - Too many SUVs traveling to grandma's house.

8 - College bowl games encourage competition.

7 - Millions of Christmas trees are cut down.

6 - The pilgrims thought up Thanksgiving, not the Indians.

5 - Christmas lights waste electricity.

4 - People are giving thanks to WHO?

3 - Winter lull in global-warming hype.

2 - Daycare centers are closed.

1 - Christmas celebrates a birth, not an abortion.

Jesus Reason for the Season

Tis the Season for Liberals to Go Nuts Over Nativity Scenes


Ding Dong! The Train is Dead. Which old Train? The Wicked Train!
Ding Dong! The Wicked Train is dead!

That would be the $810-million half-fast train between Milwaukee and Madison that would cost $8 million a year in operational expenses, would create only 55 permanent jobs, and that few would ride meaning the riders could never pay for or sustain this transportation boondoggle.

Scott Walker said he’d kill the train. He did.


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The Music of Christmas: "Snowing and blowing up bushels of fun"


One of the classic Christmas songs reached the 50-year milestone a few years ago. 

From in Martinsville, Indiana, December 17, 2006:

When Bobby Helms first read the sheet music for “Jingle Bell Rock,” he didn’t like what he saw.

Work was needed on the song. Session guitarist Hank “Sugar Foot” Garland and Helms decided to make a few changes in the song written by Joe Beal and Jim Boothe.

After those changes were incorporated, Helms’ 1957 recording of “Jingle Bell Rock” went on to become what is still, 49 years later, a part of many family holiday celebrations along with eggnog, mistletoe, stockings and glowing Christmas trees. And that’s in addition to it becoming a nearly instant hit.

Martinsville residents Rob Helms and Angel McCartney, two of the singers’ children, say the song has sold more than 100 million copies since it was released.

On the walls of the Martinsville room where Rob Helms and the rest of the band Bigg Country rehearse are gold records symbolizing the success of that song. A picture of Bobby Helms taken during one of his appearances on “The Ed Sullivan Show” is part of the memorabilia in the room that bears homage to Helms’ career.

Helms lived in Bloomington when he recorded the song, but moved to Martinsville in the late 1950s. He lived most of his adult life in Martinsville until his death from emphysema in 1997, his children said.

Helms isn’t in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame nor the Country Music Hall of Fame, but his children say a good case can be made for his election to one of the halls. Helms is in the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and a Web page at its site features him.

“Anyone who sold 100 million records of one song deserves to be in the country or rock ‘n’ roll hall of fame,” Rob Helms said.

An article by John Bush at the Web site states, “Though his name is unfamiliar to most, Bobby Helms rules the airwaves every year around December 25th.”

After “Jingle Bell Rock” became a hit in 1957, it reappeared on the charts four of the following five years. Bush writes that the song is “an all-time Christmas classic.”

In addition to the “Ed Sullivan” appearances, Bobby Helms appeared on “American Bandstand” about a dozen times, his children said. During his career, he performed at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tenn., and in other venues ranging from Market Square Arena in Indianapolis to halls in Germany. His break came after country legend Ernest Tubb saw him on “Hayloft Frolic,” a program on Bloomington’s Channel 4.

“Jingle Bell Rock” makes the record sales charts nearly every year, but 1957 was the biggest year for the singer, his children said. The holiday song was one of three hits for Helms in 1957. “Fraulein” and “My Special Angel” soared on the country and popular music charts that year.

“Fraulein” was his debut single in 1957. The song didn’t sell well at first, but in April soared to Number One on the country charts.

In October 1957, Helms’ “My Special Angel” was released. It was Number One on the country charts for four weeks.

Helms also found success on the pop music charts with “Fraulein” breaking into the Top 40 and “My Special Angel” reaching Number Seven.

In an edition of Billboard’s Hottest 100 Hits, “My Special Angel” was in the top 500 of a listing of the 3,000 biggest singles in the rock era from 1955 through the early 1990s.

“Jingle Bell Rock” was released only two days before Christmas 1957, but it reached Number Six on the pop chart.

At first, however, Helms hated the song and didn’t want to record it, Rob Helms said. Garland, a top Nashville, Tenn., session guitarist, worked on the bridge with Helms, creating a perky guitar twang that meshed with Helms’ voice and the background chorus.

After the success of the record, Helms grew to love the song and sometimes honored requests to play it several times a night during live shows.

Helms died in 1997.

Like most Christmas songs, many versions of "Jingle Bell Rock" by different artists have now been recorded.

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Let's see how much coverage this story gets

Dem Saying “F— the President” Worse Than Joe Wilson Shouting “You Lie”

Goodnight everyone and have a Christmas cocktail this weekend!


It's Friday night. Time to unwind with our regular Friday night feature on This Just In.

The weekend has finally arrived.

The sun has set.

The evening sky has erupted. 

Let's put controversy and provocative blogs aside for the rest of this work week and smooth our way into Saturday and Sunday.

Tonight, the albums your father had that you thought weren't cool.....

Turns out, they're mighty cool.

More sounds of the seasons, wrapped with Christmas cocktails.

We take you inside music from the Ultra-Lounge series, described by the record company as:

“An era batted in gimlets, hi-balls, straight up, on-the- rocks, shaken not stirred, hi-octane elixirs dressed in garish garni. A time viewed through the seductive daze of slow-burning lipstick-kissed cigarettes that end up dancing ashtray dancing with cigar stubs and cherry stems. The atmosphere mambos to the soundtrack of cool. Rumbling saxophones. Jazzy vibes, over-heated Hammonds, and the sexy chill of a brush a cross a cymbal. So pour yourself a cocktail, slip off your shoes, shuffle across the shag to your favorite easy chair and enjoy an intoxicating taste of the Ultra-Lounge.”

"Ultra-Lounge" is a series of 1950's to 1960's lounge music cds released by Capitol Records. It’s our feature tonight.

From the back cover notes of Christmas Cocktails-Part Two:

"Another Round Of Cool Holiday Spirits. Christmastime is here again and Santa's mixed up another batch of intoxicating hi-fi holiday highballs, cooler than Jack Frost's smile and sweeter than a candy cane swizzlestick. If these 18 hot chestnuts don't jingle your bells, then you're Scrooged, man. Fruitcake!"

Llet’s get our Santa Claus’ party going with duel pianists, Ferrante and Teicher followed by Les Baxter.

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Rail Expert Sees Wisconsin High Speed Rail Reversal as Political Retribution

Randal O’Toole Sees Wisconsin High Speed Rail

Reversal as Political Retribution

Though Nationally-Recognized Rail Expert Believes Obama Administration Miscalculated

MacIver News Service | December 10, 2010

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The Music of Christmas: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year


When I was a mere child, there were certain annual TV Christmas specials you didn’t miss. In the Fischer household, one of them was the Andy Williams Christmas show.

Williams taught America that it was cool to wear V-neck or turtleneck sweaters.

That was over 40 years ago, but the name Andy Williams is still synonymous with Christmas. When he appeared at the Riverside Theater in December of 2000, Dave Tianen of the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel wrote this in his review:

If Bing Crosby defined the sound of Christmas in the '40s and '50s, it was Andy Williams and his long-running series of holiday TV specials that gave voice to Christmas in the '60s.

Today, Williams is 73, and it takes the magnetism of Christmas to lure him from his home in Branson, Mo. It was his annual Christmas tour that brought Williams back to the Riverside.

Probably not even Williams would argue that it's a contemporary show. Doubtless, the older audience that nearly sold out the Riverside wasn't interested in a contemporary show. They wanted to bask in the warm glow of Christmases past, and Williams obliged them. Williams opened with his own holiday hit from 1963, "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year."

Williams set the agenda when he told the crowd he wanted to sing some old chestnuts.

"Chestnuts are old songs that just get better and better with age," he said. "Just like me."

Amazingly, no one covered Williams’ big hit from 1963 for decades. A few newer versions have popped up in recent years, including one by Amy Grant.

In 1997, the Oklahoma City Philharmonic was selected to perform with Kathie Lee Gifford in her Christmas Special Just in Time for Christmas. The show was taped at the Civic Center Music Hall and featured performances with the orchestra by Grant.


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The Barking Lot (12/11/10)

The Barking Lot

The Barking Lot is a regular weekly feature of this just in
Written by my lovely wife, Jennifer and me.  It opens with the weekend dog walking forecast followed by the main blog from dog lover, Jennifer. Then it
s DOGS IN THE NEWS and our close. Enjoy!

THE WEEKEND DOG-WALKING FORECAST: We grade the weather outlook for taking your pet outdoors. 

TODAY:  A wintry mix of rain and snow. A mix of rain and freezing rain this morning will change to all rain by this afternoon and all snow by tonight. High of 38.  "F"

SUNDAY:  Snow showers, windy and cold. High of 19. "F"

Here’s my lovely wife, Jennifer with this week’s main blog:

“Santa Baby, forgot to mention one little thing… a ring… I don’t mean on the phone…”

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Week-ends (12/11/10)


A look back at the people and events that made news the past week. Week-ends is a regular weekly feature of This Just In...


Tom Mahoney

J.C. Penwell

Durrell Conner

Charlie Cangelosi

Halley Knight

Claudio Palma

James Stone III

Rohan Murphy

The folks at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte


State agencies in WI

Sheboygan woman

Brian David Mitchell

Mark Prior

Westboro Baptist Church

Isaac Henry Anderson and ????

Lisa Brabazon

Bristol Palin haters

Union Square Macy's in San Francisco

University professors

Congressman Jim McDermott (D)


“If Bradley Tech was a tavern in the city of Milwaukee, it would have been shut down.”
WTMJ’s Jeff Wagner

"Then get the hell out of here if you don't like it."
Franklin Alderman Steve Taylor to bloggers that have been critical of Franklin's high taxes.

“It’s tempting not to negotiate with hostage takers, unless the hostage gets harmed…the hostage was the American people.”
President Obama on his discussions with Senate Republicans on tax cuts, calling the GOP, “hostage takers.”

"A long political fight that carried over into next year might have been good politics, but it would be a bad deal for the economy and it would be a bad deal for the American people. This is a big, diverse country. Not everybody agrees with us. I know that shocks people.”
President Obama on criticism from his party over his compromise with Senate Republicans on tax cuts.

“Unfortunately I think that President Obama sees the job more as negotiator-in-chief than really the leader of our country and the leader of our party.” 
Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY)

We're interested in what the men who fight think. As the Pentagon study itself reports: ‘A higher percentage of service members in war-fighting units predicted negative effects.’

So gays openly serving in the military will harm the ‘war-fighting’ part of the military, but the ‘social action’ part will thrive!

Naturally, Marines are the most resistant to overturning ‘don't ask, don't tell,’ with 58 percent of those in combat opposed.

Who cares if the Pentagon's sexual harassment task force supports gays in the military? The combat units don't, and they're the ones who do the job. The rest of us shouldn't get to vote on gays in the military any more than we get to vote on the choreography of ‘Chicago’."

Ann Coulter

“The bankrupt federal government has decided to spend $4.5 billion regulating bake sales and high school football concession stands. Because, it would appear, there's nothing more urgent than issuing licenses to sell chocolate chip cookies. To be a member of the modern Democrat Party, you have to be exceedingly stupid. The voters just kicked the crap out of Democrats at every level of government for precisely this unconstitutional insanity.

And while they're regulating bake sales, the economy is trembling as taxes on every American are poised to increase. But the lame duck Democrats can't trifle with those minor concerns: vending machines are killing kids. Killing kids, I say!”

Blogger Doug Ross

“So what are they mocking her for? Only for one thing: For not getting an abortion, like any smart career-minded media woman, or media man, like Keith Olbermann, would do. Or advise. Or cajole. Or insist upon. Or pay for, and I don't just mean for the costs of the procedure.

Blogger Ace of Spades on the attacks against Bristol Palin.

“They basically are just raping you in public. I got asked the other day, do you want to go for a screening or get patted down. I don't want that X-Ray to see everything, honey. The people are so aggressive! It's like, 'Chill out, you didn't find anything on me yet, calm down,'. They say, 'OK, I'm going to be patting you down and I'm going to be touching the crease of your ass.' That is so inappropriate!”
Khloe Kardashian on the TSA patdowns

"On this tragic anniversary please join me in remembering John with deep love and respect. In his short lived life of 40 years, he has given so much to the world. The world was lucky to have known him. We still learn so much from him today. John, I love you!"
Yoko Ono on the 30th anniversary of the assassination of John Lennon

"These critics with the illusions they've created about artists; it's like idol worship. They only like people when they're on their way up. I cannot be on the way up again. What they want is dead heroes, like Sid Vicious and James Dean. I'm not interested in being a dead f . . king hero . . . so forget 'em, forget 'em."
From the last interview John Lennon gave before he was shot dead, revealed in full for the first time this week by Rolling Stone magazine.


About two dozen squad cars responded to a disturbance at Bradley Tech last week. MPS tried to cover up the story. When it broke this week, MPS tried to downplay the incident.


Dems gone wild: F*** the president!


To read the one-sided coverage, one would think the death of the $810 million train from Milwaukee to Madison was the end of the world.

Is it?

Let’s find out.

How about we ask……

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Editorial Board!

How about it, guys?

This isn't the end of the world.”

Thank you.


Gettin' high around the Christmas tree.

He put his watch on eBay for $9.95.....

Your suggestions/nominations for any of these categories every week are welcome, especially for HEROES OF THE WEEK. If you know of anyone in the community deserving of recognition, please e-mail me. 

Living Nativity this weekend in Franklin

It's at St. Paul's Lutheran Church.

Sure hope this doesn't happen.

The Music of Christmas: Santa Baby

The naughty but nice Christmas song.

In 1953 Eartha Kitt recorded, “Santa Baby.”

From Kitt’s official website:

Eartha Mae Kitt was ostracized at an early age because of her mixed-race heritage.  At eight years old, she was given away by her mother and sent from the South Carolina cotton fields to live with an aunt in Harlem.  In New York her distinct individuality and flair for show business manifested itself, and on a friend’s dare, the shy teen auditioned for the famed KATHERINE DUNHAM DANCE TROUPEShe won a spot as a featured dancer and vocalist and before the age of twenty, toured worldwide with the company.  During a performance in Paris, Miss Kitt was spotted by a nightclub owner and booked as a featured singer at his club.  Her unique persona earned her fans and fame quickly, including Orson Welles, who called her “the most exciting woman in the world”Welles was so taken with her talent that he cast her as Helen of Troy in his fabled production of DR. FAUST


Eartha Kitt possesses one of the most seductive and feline voices ever known. She is the textbook diva — a woman who acts with divine providence as high as her cheekbones. She has danced for the Katherine Dunham dance troupe, acted on Broadway with Orson Welles and on film with Sidney Poitier, recorded pop hits and taken a place in the kitsch history books for her portrayal of Catwoman on the Batman TV series. Her American career came to a halt in January '68 when she made an anti-Vietnam remark at a White House luncheon hosted by Lady Bird Johnson. Kitt soon found herself blacklisted from performance venues and recording.

Following Kitt’s huge hit with “Santa Baby,” she recorded a follow-up in 1954 called, "This Year's Santa Baby." It bombed. That’s why you never heard of it!

In 1987, Madonna did a cover for the 1987 charity album A Very Special Christmas.

I guess you either love this “baby” or you don’t. One Internet reviewer wrote:

Madonna had been around the block far too many times to get away with playing the infuriating Betty Boop-ish ingenue. When Eartha Kitt made a case for being a good, deserving girl -- "think of all the fellas that I haven't kissed" -- it was mildly amusing. When Madonna trotted out the line, it was just another reason for Sean Penn to start throwing ornaments.

Start throwing your tomatoes. I not only like the song, I prefer Madonna’s uptempo version to Kitt’s more laid back original.


Here we go.
 C’mon, Santa.

Slip that sable under the tree.

Been an awful good girl...

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Photos of the Week (12/12/10)

Photos of the Week

Governor-elect Scott Walker speaks to reporters at the Wisconsin Realtors Association conference in Waukesha. He addressed the importance of Realtors in getting out the word of a more business-friendly Wisconsin under his leadership. Walker also spoke about the withdrawal of high-speed rail funding and "right-to-work" laws. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel photo:  Michael Sears

Police officers break a rear window of an SUV and insert a gas canister during a standoff on I-94 westbound on Friday, Dec. 10, 2010 in Milwaukee. Officers sent in a robot they normally use to defuse explosives to break an SUV window and end a standoff that shut down a major Milwaukee freeway for six hours on Friday. The robotic device, with its long tentacle, broke a rear window on the vehicle authorities suspected was stolen, and a deputy then used a long stick to drop in a canister of gas. The driver emerged in a cloud and laid down on the freeway as SWAT officers moved to handcuff him. (AP Photo/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Gary Porter)


A man raises his hands as he exits a vehicle after officers inserted a gas canister through a back window during a standoff on I-94 westbound on Friday, Dec. 10, 2010 in Milwaukee. Officers sent in a robot they normally use to defuse explosives to break an SUV window and end a standoff that shut down a major Milwaukee freeway for six hours on Friday. The robotic device, with its long tentacle, broke a rear window on the vehicle authorities suspected was stolen, and a deputy then used a long stick to drop in a canister of gas. The driver emerged in a cloud and laid down on the freeway as SWAT officers moved to handcuff him. (AP Photo/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Gary Porter)

Inmates at Chino State Prison sit inside a metal cage in the hallway on December 10, 2010 in Chino, California. Inmates wait in the cages to be assigned permanent housing or for medical, mental health, counselor or other appointments. The U.S. Supreme Court is preparing to hear arguments to appeal a federal court's ruling last year that the California state prison system would have to release 40,000 prisoners to cope with overcrowding so severe that it violated their human rights. More than 144,000 inmates are currently incarcerated in prisons that were designed to hold about 80,000. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

U.S. Border Patrol agent Richard Funke looks for footprints from illegal immigrants crossing the U.S.- Mexico border on December 7, 2010 near Nogales, Arizona. Although a new fence has been built along the majority of Arizona's border with Mexico, critics have called for fencing of the entire stretch. Much of the unfenced terrain is in remote and mountainous areas. Although illegal immigration has slowed all along the U.S. Mexico border, Border Patrol officials say the Tucson sector remains the most heavily trafficked in the nation. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)


Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), officers pat down undocumented immigrants from El Salvador before boarding them onto a deportation flight on December 8, 2010 in Mesa, Arizona. Of the 111 Salvadorians on the flight, most had criminal records. Although illegal immigration to the United States has decreased nationally in the last few years, ICE deported almost 400,000 people in the last year, which is a record. Of that number, almost half had criminal records. The Obama administration has made targeting undocumented criminals a priority in its immigration enforcement policy. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)


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Culinary no-no #196

Culinary no-no's

Last week’s Culinary no-no, #195 focused on:



The Obama’s like to lecture all of America about eating habits, but they don’t practice what they preach.

Some celebrity types have decided to ignore the White House condescension. They include:

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 08:  Celebrity Chef Bobby Flay poses during Hellmann's NYC Turkey Challenge launch with celebrity chef Bobby Flay at C & C Studios on November 8, 2011 in New York, United States.

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 04:  Emeril Lagasse Launches New High-Performance Kitchen Collection At JCPENNEY at Greeley Square Park on April 4, 2012 in New York City.

Hubert Keller (Extended)

Chefs Bobby Flay, Emeril Lagasse, and Hubert Keller, shunning the call of the president and First Lady to eat healthier, are just a few in their profession to open restaurants that feature gourmet burgers.....big, juicy, fatty burgers.

The Wall Street Journal reports, "Some beef experts say the main secret behind tasty celebrity-chef burgers is simple: They pile on the fat, whether from beef patties with 30% fat content or from patties basted in butter. That alone may make their burgers delicious at a time when supermarket ground beef may contain as little as 8% fat."

Burgers with 30% fat swimming in butter! In front of a camera, Michelle Obama would frown. When the camera goes off, she’d run as fast as she could to order.

Burgers are big business. Top-shelf chefs have noticed, ever since Hubert Keller opened Burger Bar in 2004. Restaurants where beef on a bun is king run by TV chefs who’ve become household names have opened across the country.

Adorned with a myriad of toppings, these burgers have gotten cool reviews showing what little many of these writers actually know. The Wall Street Journal reports, “
Instead of the 9% to 12% margins of his fine dining restaurants, Mr. Keller says he pulls down a 35% margin on annual sales of $7.5 million at Burger Bar in Las Vegas.”

Imagine that. The masses ignore a few snooty critics.

Who’d a thunk it. As a recession pounds the restaurant industry, one way to fight back was to put haute burgers on the menu.

Let’s examine one entrée in particular. To do that we visit….

Downtown San Francisco Skyline Photos

Tony Bennett left his heart there.

The city by the Bay.

Specifically, we head to............

We need to take an elevator to the 6th floor...

Check out the TV's at the table....

That's where we find...

Hubert Keller's Burger  Bar.....


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The Music of Christmas: The Best Ever?


Ask anyone their favorite Christmas song, and they’ll probably mention a dusty oldie recorded decades ago.

Is there a modern Christmas classic?


How about, “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” by Mariah Carey.

Certainly you’ve heard of her.

Sasha Frere-Jones wrote this in the New Yorker on
April 3, 2006:

he (Carey) co-wrote one of the few worthy modern additions to the holiday canon, the charming “All I Want for Christmas Is You” (from “Merry Christmas,” of 1994, which also happens to be the best-selling Christmas album of all time).”

Roch Parisien of the All Music Guide wrote,Mariah Carey's co-penned "All I Want for Christmas Is You" is a well-crafted Phil Spector tribute, with Beach Boys-style harmonies, jangling bells, and sleigh-ride pace…”

But Rachel Beckman of the Washington Post wrote that Carey’s colossal Christmas tune is the “best ever.”

It's a holiday tune full of pure joy

It hasn't been around as long as, say, 'Joy to the World,' but Mariah Carey's 'All I Want' strikes an ecumenical chord even today.
By Rachel Beckman
Washington Post
December 4, 2007

It isn't December until Mariah Carey puts on her bright-red knit hat, zips up her white boots and kicks around in the fakest-looking snow ever with Santa Claus.

Is the scene familiar? It's from Mariah's music video for her 1994 holiday hit, "All I Want for Christmas Is You," the best Christmas song ever. Lots of people apparently share my love of this song: It was the 21st most-downloaded song on iTunes last weekend. Pretty impressive for a 13-year-old pop tune.

I first heard it while sitting in the basement of my Portland, Ore., home, watching MTV with my younger sister Heather. I was 12.

It starts with dramatic piano music, tinged with the sound of festive bells. Mariah drags out each syllable for maximum theatrics: "I don't want a lot for Christmas / There is just one thing I need."

About 50 seconds in, the chorus peps up, the piano goes nuts, a gospel choir claps and harmonizes with Mariah. My little *** heart couldn't soak in all the joy emanating from the television screen, so Heather and I danced.

We jumped around the basement, twisting our hips and squealing with delight. We tried and failed to hit Mariah's glass-shattering last note. "All I want for Christmas is YOU!"

Read the entire article.

Here’s the yummy Mariah Carey in an outfit that could melt an iceberg, singing this contemporary Christmas classic to open a recent Christmas Day parade ABC-TV special from Walt Disney World.


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NPR highlights lefty Nutcracker


National Public Radio is in the fight of its life. Republicans on Capitol Hill are threatening to defund the taxpayer-supported network. How does NPR respond? By continuing to step in it.

On Saturday's Weekend Edition newsmagazine, NPR broadcast a story about a San Francisco holiday production, "The Revolutionary Nutcracker Sweetie," described as a performance "decorated with a grab-bag of liberal political causes."

NPR's reporter, who once ran to the left of Nancy Pelosi, said, "
There's a snow dance where ice caps melt in the background....The Sugar Plum fairy battles the Mouse King of British Petroleum....And Code Pink makes a guest appearance in the triumphant anti-war dance."

No, it's not your typical Nutcracker ballet. Mr. and Mrs. McGreed have a gay son decked out  in a Che Guevara T-shirt and a pink Mohawk. Clara is an illegal immigrant maid.

Your tax dollars at work.

The Saturday NPR program also spent several minutes discussing agnostic holidays.

Franklin city taxes by-the-numbers

In Sunday’s Crossroads section of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Steve Walters offered a statistical analysis of the 8 years Jim Doyle served as Wisconsin Governor.

“Going forward, my mind will be open to every solution -- except one. We should not -- we must not -- and I will not -- raise taxes. Wisconsin's problem is not that we tax too little. It is that we spend too much.”
Governor Doyle during his 2003 State of the State address

Here is one of Steve Walters’ findings:

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates that the December 2002 net property tax bill on that mythical median-valued Wisconsin home was $2,517, and the bills that will soon be arriving in that homeowner's mailbox will be for $3,000 - a $19.1% increase."

Walters’ column got me wondering how the city of Franklin’s tax numbers changed during the same 8-year period.

The property tax levy is the most important tax piece. In 2002, Franklin’s property tax levy was $15,606,851. The recently-adopted Franklin budget has a property tax levy of $ $20,426,000.  That’s an increase of 30.8 %.

Rather than focus on the levy, Franklin City Hall leaders have been concentrating on the tax rate. They submit that Franklin’s taxes when comparing our tax rate to the rates in other communities aren’t all that bad.

OK, so let’s look at the tax rate. In 2002, Franklin’s tax rate was $8.17. The recently-adopted city budget has a tax rate of $24.76. That’s an increase of 203%.

Even if you just look at the past four years going back to 2006, Franklin’s property tax levy increased 10.4%. The tax rate increased 15.3%. The current recession began in late 2007.

Is Franklin a tax hell? You be the judge.

And BTW, my kingdom for that median valued property tax bill Steve Walters wrote about.

After all the warnings, watches, alerts, predictions of Armageddon and the Apocalypse and urging to hide in our basements because we were all going to die.....

The latest storm brought a whopping 1.1 inches of precipitation to Milwaukee County.

Thank you, local weather “experts” for once again needlessly scaring the devil out of people.

The Music of Christmas....that has nothing to do with Christmas

Ever notice how so many “Christmas” songs have absolutely nothing to do with the holiday?

Let’s look at some examples, shall we?

There’s the 1937 song, “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm,” sung here by the man who’s re-invented himself by  performing tunes older than he is….Rod Stewart.

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UPDATE: Culinary no-no #109

Culinary no-no's

Culinary no-no #109
addressed the advent of the food truck craze.

Starting in California and spreading to the East Coast, popular food trucks have hit a roadblock in nearby Chicago.

The Wall Street Journal video…..

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Warm, fuzzy lefty Chris Matthews is told what he can do with his fat comments

Hardball's Chris Matthews last week criticized New Jersey's Republican governor:

"Chris Christie is moon over New Jersey, he should not wear white shirts, I tell you that. I saw him the other day and I was amazed by it, he must be 300 plus, and that’s something he’s just gotta deal with because you’re not going to say, ‘I’m going to cut the budget,’ well, how about starting with supper?"

A response from Neil Cavuto...


Brett Favre: Greatest athlete of all-time?

Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre runs stairs before working out with his team in this file photo taken Janaury 23, 1998 at the University of California San Diego. For the first time in 19 seasons Favre failed to report for work on December 13, 2010, ending one of the most remarkable ironman streaks in all of sport. Picture taken Janaury 23, 1998.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre (4) hoists receiver Greg Jennings after Favre threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to set an NFL record for career touchdown passes at 421 during the first quarter of their National Football League game at the...


New York Jets quarterback Brett Favre (4) is sacked by Seattle Seahawks defensive end Darryl Tapp during the second quarter of their NFL football game in Seattle, Washington, in this file photo taken December 21, 2008. For the first time in 19 seasons Favre failed to report for work on December 13, 2010, ending one of the most remarkable ironman streaks in all of sport. Picture taken December 21, 2008.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre (4) throws a pass during the second quarter of their NFC, NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals in Minneapolis in this November 7, 2010 file photo. Favre will not start in their game against the New York Giants December 13, 2010, breaking his streak of 297 consecutive starts, according to reports.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre gets carted off the field after being injured against the New England Patriots in the fourth quarter of their NFL football game in Foxborough, Massachusetts in this file photo taken October 31, 2010. For the first time in 19 seasons Favre failed to report for work on December 13, 2010, ending one of the most remarkable ironman streaks in all of sport. Picture taken October 31, 2010.

Buffalo Bills linebacker Arthur Moats (52) hits Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre (4) during the first quarter of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 5, 2010, in Minneapolis.

DETROIT - DECEMBER 13:  Quarterback Brett Favre #4 of the Minnesota Vikings covers his face with his hand during the game against the New York Giants at Ford Field on December 13, 2010 in Detroit, Michigan. The Giants defeated the Vikings 21-3.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre speaks to the media after their NFL football game against the New York Giants at Ford Field in Detroit, Monday, Dec. 13, 2010. The Giants won 21-3.

You might be tempted to say YES after reading this AP article.


Photo of Representative Stone

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The Music of Christmas: You're a Mean One


It wouldn’t be Christmas without him.

From the National Public Radio website:

Dec. 23, 2002 -- To most folks, he's the scheming, green sourpuss who hated Christmas so much he tried to make it vanish completely. But the Grinch inspired a little more sympathy in his creator. To Dr. Seuss, he wasn't a villain -- just a guy whose heart, "two sizes too small," needed a dose of the true spirit of the holiday. In fact, Seuss himself said that he identified with the fuzzy anti-hero.

Just like the Grinch, Theodor Geisel, who wrote and illustrated dozens of books under the pseudonym Dr. Seuss, didn't go in for the fancy celebrations surrounding the holiday. According to his niece Peggy Owens, he wasn't "into the sentimentality" of the season. Still, he spent every Christmas at home with his family in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Theodor Geisel was a private man, but those who knew him said he was a meticulous worker. He created his thought-provoking comic masterpieces in a house on Mt. Soledad, overlooking La Jolla, Calif., and the Pacific Ocean. Ted Owens, who is Geisel's great nephew, remembers the studio where the unmatched Seuss imagination was set free.

"All the walls would just be plastered with rough tissue sketchings," Owens says. "Sketches of what the story would be, what the layout would be, with the ideas for texts (and) crossed-out words as he refined over and over again, finding the right cadence and words to use in these stories."

In 1957, at the age of 53, Seuss published The Grinch, and thousands of children first discovered the story of the Whos -- an endlessly cheerful bunch bursting with holiday spirit -- and the outsider so sickened by their joy in the season that he decides to hijack the holiday. The Grinch proves a natural at thieving, even lying to little Cindy Loo Who about his intentions as he stuffs the family tree up the chimney. Yet his efforts to ruin Christmas fail in the end.

Nine years after the publication of the book, television came calling. For help in translating his character to the screen, Seuss turned to Chuck Jones, the animator behind Bugs Bunny, Wile E. Coyote, the Roadrunner and many others. The two artists first met while collaborating -- imagine this -- on a series of military training films during World War II.

Jones' oddball, sardonic sensibility meshed perfectly with Seuss' nasty-but-nutty creation. Jones respected the source material, but trusted his own artistic instincts. In a 1996 interview with NPR's Bob Edwards, Jones revealed that it was his idea to make the Grinch, drawn in black and white in the book, into a green meany.

Listen to a report on the Grinch by NPR’s Elizabeth Blair.

The of TV, film, and Broadway.

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"Mary's ultrasound" billboards expand to Milwaukee and Green Bay

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This is how the Democrats govern....

And why the people tossed them out on their ears in November.

Read what transpired Wednesday night.

A great final chapter to the legacy of the disgraceful Jim Doyle.

Meanwhile, the MacIver Institute offers this....

Firings Rare in State Service MacIver Analysis Finds

MacIver News Service | December 15, 2010

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The Music of Christmas: Southern gospel's contribution

You may not know who Mark Lowry is, but you probably know the most famous song he ever wrote.

Ace Collins writes about Lowry in his book, “Stories Behind the Best-loved Songs of Christmas.”

Mark Lowry started singing almost before he could talk. As a pre-schooler he was already belting out solos in the grade school choir.

Mark stood out in teachers’ eyes for more than his singing. During his first years of elementary school, Lowry was diagnosed as hyperactive and place don medication. At about that same time it became apparent that the boy had absolutely no athletic ability. To many adults and kids, mark appeared to be little more than an energetic klutz- an out of control mini-tornado. Rather than allow their son to be sidetracked and dismissed as a hopeless cause, Mark’s parents made sure that this “curse” was looked at as a blessing. They emphasized the positive.

The Lowry’s assured Mark that God had a plan for his life and that his uniqueness was a part of it. Instead of trying to make him act just like all the other kids, The Lowry’s allowed Mark to exploit his curiosity and his energy. He loved performing, so they put him on every stage that would take him- everything from church programs to community musicals.

As a teen, he was discovered, and recorded inspirational albums with the London Symphony Orchestra.

Collins continues:

In 1984, when he was living in Houston, his pastor asked Mark to write the program for the living Christmas tree choir presentation. The group traditionally sang familiar holiday carols, so Lowry’s job was to write the bridges that connected one song to another. It was while he was working on the project that Mark considered what it would have been like to be Jesus’ mother.

“When I wrote this thing about Mary,” Mark explained, “I began by thinking I was interviewing her on her thoughts of being a mother to Jesus. A couple of the lines I wrote really stood out, like ‘when you kiss your little baby, you’ve kissed the face of God.’ I just thought this needed to be a song.”

Keeping the perspective of a reporter doing a story on Jesus from Mary’s viewpoint, Mark penned a poem that sent chills up his spine. Still, taking those powerful lyrics and turning them into a full-blown song was a bigger challenge than even he could have expected. Although he gave the words to a solid music writer, he wasn’t happy with the results; the melody didn’t have the right feel. Filing “Mary Did You Know?” away, Mark decided to wait on the Lord’s timing rather than put his lyrics to music that failed to move him.

In 1988, after Gary McSpadden left the Gaither Vocal Band, Bill Gaither was looking for a replacement to fill the void in his quartet. After watching a video of Mark Lowry onstage, not only was Gaither impressed with Mark’s singing, , he thought the young man could bring a great deal of Christian humor to the group’s performances. When Bill called, Mark packed his bags.

Mark had been with the band for two years when Buddy Green joined them. A talented musician, Buddy was also a songwriter who was beginning to hit stride and produce some very strong work. Mark decided to share, “Mary Did You Know?” with Buddy.

Rather than pull Green to one side and share the story behind the song, Mark wrote a short note over the top of the lyrics:  Buddy, here are some God-inspired words. Please add some beautiful music and make it a profitable hit. The memo was meant as a joke, but Green took both the note and his job seriously. He set the lyrics aside for a couple of weeks, then went to work. When he finished, he called Mark on the phone and sang the song to him. Lowry loved it and within a week they had put together a “jam box” demo to give to one of their favorite artists.

Their pick for the song was impressed as well. When “Mary Did you Know?” was originally cut by Christian sensation Michael English, the writing duo felt blessed, but they really didn’t expect anyone else to jump on the bandwagon. Then country singer Kathy Mattea heard the Lowry-Green number and recorded it next. Scores of other acts quickly took the song into the studio.”
For the first time ever, southern gospel music had given the world a Christmas carol.

Collins then credits Mark’s parents for viewing their son’s problems as gifts.

Looking at the world through his unique, God-given perspective led him to think of one of the world’s most familiar stories in a new light. “Mary Did You Know?” a song like no other Christmas carol ever penned, written about a mother like no other, came from the hand of man like no other.

Lowry can now be seen on Bill Gaither’s gospel programs on public television. Here’s Lowry singing his own Christmas carol.


The Music of Christmas: Jingle Bells

2) The Music of Christmas: "I am a fine musician"

3) The Music of Christmas: Mary's Boy Child

4) The Music of Christmas - Elvis Style

5) The Music of Christmas: Rudolph

6) The Music of Christmas: The Fat Man is watching

The Music of Christmas: "Haul out the holly....."

8) The Music of Christmas: Judy Garland

9) The Music of Christmas: A partridge in a pear tree

10) The Music of Christmas: Disney-style

11) The Music of Christmas: "Snowing and blowing up bushels of fun"

12) The Music of Christmas: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

13) The Music of Christmas: Santa Baby

14) The Music of Christmas: The Best Ever?

15) The Music of Christmas....that has nothing to do with Christmas

16) The Music of Christmas: You're a Mean One

17) The Music of Christmas: Southern Gospel's Contribution


Culinary no-no #197

Culinary no-no's


Say what?

Culinary no-no?

On a Thursday?

Yes, that’s correct.

Culinary no-no.

On a Thursday.

Consider this an early Christmas present from all the adorable folks at This Just In…

In America, the greatest country on this planet, we celebrate. We celebrate each and every day. We celebrate this or that or some other thing.


This Past Sunday, it was National Ding-a-Ling Day. 

Monday was Ice Cream Day and Violin Day.

Tuesday was National Bouillabaisse Day.

Wednesday was not only Bill of Rights Day, it was National Lemon Cupcake Day.

What could TODAY possibly bring, you ask in wondrous excitement?

I will tell you.

It has to do with…..










Of course you do. You wouldn't be human if you didn't.

So, let's get ready to make the most of today by honoring..........


All of the above scrumptious photos? Yep, totally, deadly cool.

But chocolate on anything?

That would mean:



Hot dogs


Pig's feet



Cole slaw

Mashed potatoes

Baked beans

Beer battered cod

The ever popular green bean casserole.

You get the point.

Whoever came up with this idea:


The Government Can

Since it's taxpaying time, let's pull out an oldie but a goodie from Tim Hawkins....


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Seen for sale at Mayfair Mall.....

Throwback jerseys worn by the Green Bay Packers a few weeks ago against the San Francisco 49ers.

One of the featured #'s was 85.

Greg Jennings

C'mon. Who in their right mind would buy this crap.


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Guys, these are absolute MUST'S for your Christmas list

It’s very simple. You want:






But not just any shirts, sweaters, sweatshirts, slacks, or ties.

You want ….

Red Shirts.

Red Sweaters.

Red Sweatshirts.

Red Slacks.

Red Ties.

Andrew Elliot of the University of Rochester has done research showing that women are more attracted to red than any other color. When women see men in red, they are more sexually attracted and view the men as having higher economic status and greater self-confidence.

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Person of the Year & Person of the Decade

Who are they?

The results of the Zogby International survey.....

The Music of Christmas: "Soon It Will be Christmas Day"


Ray Evans and Jay Livingston were talented songwriters. They wrote “Mona Lisa” for Nat King Cole. Also on their songwriting resumes: the themes to “Bonanza” and “Mr. Ed.” But their best and most popular composition is a Christmas standard.

Christopher Reed wrote for Guardian Unlimited that the two were commissioned to write a Christmas song for a movie:

“In 1951, under their contract for Paramount, they were assigned a Bob Hope movie from a Damon Runyon story called The Lemon Drop Kid, which needed a song. But Evans and Livingston wanted an Oscar hit. Their first had been in 1948 for Buttons and Bows, the novelty song Bob Hope sang to Jane Russell in the comedy western, The Paleface. They won another for Mona Lisa in the 1950 film Captain Carey, USA, but the haunting song had yet to become the international standard sung by Nat King Cole, who only released it months after the film's premiere, and then as a B-side to a now forgotten song.

What Evans and Livingston believed was that a Christmas song was not big-hit material. They grumbled, but in vain. The studio bosses insisted and the pair went back to their office. Then, inspired by a little bell on their desk, they cranked out the song in two days, with Livingston providing the melody, Evans the words.”

Ace Collins, author of, “The Stories Behind the Best-Loved Christmas Songs,” wrote that before Evans and Livingston shared their new Christmas song with Bob Hope, “they decided to sing it to Ray’s wife. The men were chagrined and confused when the woman giggled as they sang. As she doubled over in laughter, the team wondered what had gone wrong.

When Mrs. Evans composed herself, she informed the duo that the chorus was all wrong. It wouldn’t work, she assured them. She pointed out that when others heard it, they would laugh as hard as she had.

The song’s problem could be traced to the small bell that served as its inspiration. Livingston and Evans had named their song after that tiny instrument….”

As Christopher Reed pointed out in his Guardian Unlimited article:

They called it Tinkle Bell, but Livingston's wife reminded him that "tinkle" had another association. "It was something you did in the bathroom," Evans recalled years later, "but that's a woman's word and I'd never thought of it. But I was very unhappy again because I hate to rewrite." What he did was to change the first word to "silver", but still the song had problems.

The film's original director disliked it and had singers perform it so boringly that the writers thought it would be cut, but the producer loved the song and brought in another director, Sidney Lanfield. He filmed Hope and co-star Marilyn Maxwell singing it together as they pranced through New York. It made the film but not the Oscars. But before its release, Bing Crosby came by the songwriters' Paramount lunch table and asked if they had any songs for him. "He loved it and recorded it and that made it a definitive Christmas song," Evans recalled. It became one of the most popular, and in his later years, Evans calculated, it still brought him about $600,000 annually in royalties. He appreciated the irony that as a Jew and a non-believer he had never liked Christmas carols.

Ray Evans died in February of 2007. He was 92. His partner, Jay Livingston died in October of 2001.

Here are Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell in 1951's, "The Lemon Drop Kid."

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Bring Him Home Santa

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Goodnight everyone and have a delightful holiday weekend

It's Friday night. Time to unwind with our regular Friday night feature on This Just In.

The weekend has finally arrived.

The sun has set.

The evening sky has erupted. 

Let's put controversy and provocative blogs aside for the rest of this work week and smooth our way into Saturday and Sunday.

Tonight, more great sounds of the season.

We open with a swingin', toe tappin' version of Rudolph from the Glenn Miller Orchestra.

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The Music of Christmas: And Heaven and Nature Sing

One of the most beloved Christmas carols was written by two men who never met each other.

Lindsey Terry writes in Today’s Christian:

One of our most popular Christmas carols is the result of the efforts of Isaac Watts and Lowell Mason—and, some believe, George Frederick Handel. Watts was a frail, quiet man only five feet tall. Mason was an energetic publisher, choir director, and composer. Handel was a large, robust musical genius. Handel and Watts were contemporaries in London and one imagines they must have appreciated each other's talents. Mason lived 100 years later in Boston.

In 1719 Isaac Watts, already a notable scholar and author, sat down under a tree at the Abney Estate near London and began to compose poetry based on Psalm 98. Watts had begun writing verses as a small child. In his teen years he complained that the songs in church were hard to sing. His father said, "Well, you write some that are better." And so he did. For the next two years, young Isaac wrote a new hymn each week. (He would eventually write more than 600 of them, all based on Scripture.) Today, hymns like "Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed" and "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" are hallmarks of the Christian church, and Watts is regarded as "the Father of English Hymnody."

Almost a century later, Lowell Mason set Watts's poem of "joy" to music. For years it was assumed that Mason used tunes from Handel's Messiah for portions of the arrangement, but the veracity of that claim is now debated among scholars. Listeners can judge for themselves. But this we know: It was Mason who ultimately brought the pieces together to give us "Joy to the World."

Here’s Mannheim Steamroller performing in the historic Orpheum Theatre in their home town of Omaha, Nebraska.

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The Barking Lot (12/18/10)

The Barking Lot

The Barking Lot is a regular weekly feature of this just in
Written by my lovely wife, Jennifer and me.  It opens with the weekend dog walking forecast followed by the main blog from dog lover, Jennifer. Then it
s DOGS IN THE NEWS and our close. Enjoy!

THE WEEKEND DOG-WALKING FORECAST: We grade the weather outlook for taking your pet outdoors. 

TODAY:  Partly cloudy. High of 18.  "F"

SUNDAY:  Partly cloudy.  High of 18. "F"

Here’s my lovely wife, Jennifer with this week’s main blog:

Every Christmas, our pets got gifts just like the rest of the family.  Tommy (our Sumo wrestler-sized cat) and Sugar and Skippy all knew what packages where theirs, so they remained hidden away until it was time to open all our “loot.”  Actually, they all got gifts on their birthdays as well.  And why shouldn’t they?  They are, after all, part of the family.  And if you are wondering…  Yes, they all wore red ribbons around their necks for the Christmas season.  Big surprise that Tommy wasn’t too fond of that tradition---I guess that’s why I’ve become even more of a dog person over the years!


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Week-ends (12/18/10)


A look back at the people and events that made news the past week. Week-ends is a regular weekly feature of This Just In...


Mike Jones

French teacher

Luke McDermott

Alyssa Gutierrez

Sarah LaFave

Paul Tudor Jones III

Hector Mendez

Lester Warner

Bob Feller


Donald Ray Hale

Heidi Jones

Mason Holland

Dog owner

The Feds

The British Red Cross

Joanne Faulkner


“While I would obviously have rather seen a different outcome in the election ... the people of Wisconsin have spoken. They have said they want someone else making these decisions for them. There is no reason the next Legislature cannot take up these contracts. Now that the election has been held and the voters have spoken, I do not feel comfortable casting a vote in favor of these contracts.”
Outgoing Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker (D) explaining why he voted against state union contracts. Democrat Senator Jeff Plale also voted against the contracts. When the contracts failed, Democrats ousted Decker as their leader.

"In 28 years I've never seen a leader stick it to his members like this. Psychologists probably write books about this type of behavior. It's a disorder that's probably now being named."
An angry Senator Bob Jauch (D-Poplar) after the union contract votes failed in the state Senate.

"Decker's a whore."
AFSCME Council 24 executive director Marty Beil

"Clearly the union leadership realized they needed a better public face than Marty Beil spouting off, red faced, about plantations and slaves. But today's press conference misses the point.  Obviously the thousands of state government employees are real people; and we have not argued that most of them do good work. The question is, however, as the state faces a $3 billion deficit, are taxpayers getting the best value possible.  We would argue no. Moreover the post election rush to ram 16 agreements through a lame duck legislature is plain irresponsible.  The union members had 10 days to be briefed on, study and decide on the contracts, the MacIver Institute believes taxpayers deserve the same courtesy."
Brian Fraley of the MacIver Institute

“So Scott Walker continues to be vilified for his part in stopping the high speed rail line between Milwaukee and Madison and the federal government's decision to take back the $810 million that Wisconsin was going to get for the project. Maybe I missed it, but I can't seem to recall the same level of outrage over WEAC's role in Wisconsin's failed bid for Race to the Top money.”
Blogger Rhymes with Clowns

Every Sunday he was there, starting on Sept. 27, 1992. Freezing rain, sleet, blowing snow. Nothing stopped Brett Favre. Through separated shoulders, concussions and sprained knees, broken thumbs, torn biceps and twisted ankles, he played.

He began as the fresh-faced hero of the Cheeseheads, then became their Super Bowl champion and MVP, until the Green Bay Packers wearied of his on-and-off retirement and cut him loose. He has worn two different uniforms since then - Jets and now Vikings - and he’s had surgery after the last two seasons.

Still, he’s been there, on the field, for every game.

Until now.”
The Associated Press


Obamanomics and letters to Santa.


Have you filled up your tank lately?


Is Oprah gay?


It's just gotta be....

Your suggestions/nominations for any of these categories every week are welcome, especially for HEROES OF THE WEEK. If you know of anyone in the community deserving of recognition, please e-mail me. 

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Franklin Alderman Steve Olson

Alderman Olson’s father Robert Charles Olson, MD, passed away this evening in Davenport, Iowa.

Losing a loved one is difficult anytime but especially now during the most sacred and joyous time of the year.

I recall how supportive Alderman Olson was when my mother died this past January.  I hope that he understands he, too, has our support and prayers during this sorrowful time.

God bless the alderman, his entire family, and his dear father.  Robert Charles Olson was 83.

UPDATE: The obituary.

The Music of Christmas: "Come, they told me....."


The Little Drummer Boy was originally a Czech song called, “The Carol of the Drum.” Katherine Davis translated it into English in 1941.

Henry Onorati did some arranging on this song for Jack Halloran in 1957. The Jack Halloran Singers recorded the song, but when Halloran’s record company refused to release it as a single, Onorati gave the song to Harry Simeone. Simeone hired the Jack Halloran Singers to record the now-famous version of this song.

The original version, quite honestly, never did anything for me. Though an obviously wonderful story, the song is bland.

Not so dull was the idea to pair a famous crooner with a rocker in 1977 to sing Drummer Boy and Peace on Earth.

Paul Farhi wrote an article in the Washington Post in 2006 entitled, “Bing and Bowie: An Odd Story of Holiday Harmony.”

One of the most successful duets in Christmas music history -- and surely the weirdest -- might never have happened if it weren't for some last-minute musical surgery. David Bowie thought "The Little Drummer Boy" was all wrong for him. So when the producers of Bing Crosby's Christmas TV special asked Bowie to sing it in 1977, he refused.

Just hours before he was supposed to go before the cameras, though, a team of composers and writers frantically retooled the song. They added another melody and new lyrics as a counterpoint to all those pah-rumpa-pum-pums and called it "Peace on Earth." Bowie liked it. More important, Bowie sang it.

The result was an epic, and epically bizarre, recording in which David Bowie, the androgynous Ziggy Stardust, joined in song with none other than Mr. "White Christmas" himself, Bing Crosby.

In the intervening years, the Bowie-Crosby, "Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy," has been transformed from an oddity into a holiday chestnut. You can hear it in heavy rotation on Christmas-music radio stations or see the performance on Internet video sites. First released as a single in 1982, it still sells today -- to add to its quirky afterlife, it's part of an album that's ranked as high as No. 3 on the Canadian charts this month. How did this almost surreal mash-up of the mainstream and the avant-garde, of cardigan-clad '40s-era crooner and glam rocker, happen?
It almost didn't. Bowie, who was 30 at the time, and Crosby, then 73, recorded the duet Sept. 11, 1977, for Crosby's "Merrie Olde Christmas" TV special. A month later, Crosby was dead of a heart attack. The special was broadcast on CBS about a month after his death.

The notion of pairing the resolutely white-bread Crosby with the exquisitely offbeat Bowie apparently was the brainchild of the TV special's producers, Gary Smith and Dwight Hemion, according to Ian Fraser, who co-wrote (with Larry Grossman) the song's music and arranged it.

Crosby was in Great Britain on a concert tour, and the theme of the TV special was Christmas in England. Bowie was one of several British guest stars (the model Twiggy and "Oliver!" star Ron Moody also appeared). Booking Bowie made logistical sense, since the special was taped near his home in London, at the Elstree Studios. As perhaps an added inducement, the producers agreed to air the arty video of Bowie's then-current single, "Heroes" (Crosby introduced it).

It's unclear, however, whether Crosby had any idea who Bowie was. Buz Kohan, who wrote the special and worked with Fraser and Grossman on the music, says he was never sure Crosby knew anything about Bowie's work. Fraser has a slightly different memory: "I'm pretty sure he did [know]. Bing was no idiot. If he didn't, his kids sure did."

Kohan worked some of the intergenerational awkwardness into his script. In a little skit that precedes the singing, Crosby greets Bowie at the door of what looks like Dracula's castle (actually, it's a set that's supposed to be Crosby's rented London home). The conceit is that Bowie is dropping by a friend's house and finds Crosby at home one snowy afternoon.

They banter for a bit and then get around to a piano. Bowie casually picks out a piece of sheet music of "The Little Drummer Boy" and declares, "This is my son's favorite."

The original plan had been for Bowie and Crosby to sing just "Little Drummer Boy." But "David came in and said: 'I hate this song. Is there something else I could sing?' " Fraser said. "We didn't know quite what to do."

Fraser, Kohan and Grossman left the set and found a piano in the studios' basement. In about 75 minutes, they wrote "Peace on Earth," an original tune, and worked out an arrangement that weaved together the two songs. Bowie and Crosby nailed the performance with less than an hour of rehearsal.

And that was almost that. "We never expected to hear about it again," Kohan said.

But after the recording circulated as a bootleg for several years, RCA decided to issue it as a single in 1982. It has since been packaged and repackaged in Christmas compilation albums and released as a DVD.

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Photos of the Week (12/19/10)

Photos of the Week

US President Barack Obama (3rd-L) flanked by Vice President Joe Biden (L) and members of Congress including Senate Minority Leader Mitch Mc Connell, signs the middle-class tax cut bill in the South Court Auditorium December 17, 2010 in Washington, DC. The measure would extend tax cuts for families at every income level, renew jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed and enact a new one-year cut in Social Security taxes that would benefit nearly every worker who earns a wage. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)


Leslie Perez, 22, left, and Grecia Mondragon, 19, react as the Dream Act fails to move forward in the Senate as they watch televised coverage at the UCLA Downtown Labor Center in Los Angeles, Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010. Both are undocumented students at UCLA. Immigrant advocates viewed the measure as a step toward providing a path to legal status for up to 12 million illegal immigrants by focusing on the most sympathetic among them first. Critics called it a back-door grant of amnesty that would encourage more illegal immigration. (AP Photo/Jason Redmond)

President Barack Obama (C) offers his hand to members of Congress after signing the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 with first lady Michelle Obama (R) and 3rd-grader Luis Avilar-Rurcios (2nd R) at Harriet Tubman Elementary School December 13, 2010 in Washington, DC. In an effort to provide children with better school lunches and breakfasts, the new law puts $4.5 million in the hands of child nutrition programs, sets nutrition standards on school vending machines, helps create school gardens and makes sure that quality drinking water is available during meal times. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)


In this Dec. 11, 2010 photo, Quentin Robinson, 7, of Cleveland, receives a big hug from Mrs. Claus, portrayed by Karen Dropco, as he is escorted off a Continental Airlines jet at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, in Cleveland, by mother Chantel Cabbell after arriving at the "North Pole." More than 60 children and their families who have been patients at Rainbows Babies and Children's Hospital and MetroHealth Hospital participated in the annual charity event sponsored by Continental, which lets the children board a jet with the fantasy destination of the North Pole as another gate, to visit Santa and Mrs. Claus, and other Christmas characters. The children received dinner and gifts from Santa. (AP Photo/The Plain Dealer, John Kuntz)


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A horrible idea from FOX

Why would we want to mess with pro football?

You want great NFL music? Here it is...

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Culinary no-no #198

Culinary no-no's


How not to throw a holiday party.

In the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, there apparently was a cottage industry of resource guides on gracious living, usually written by Hollywood stars or those who viewed themselves as lifestyle experts.

Over the years, New York Times writer Jancee Dunn has collected these books and still uses them….not for handy-dandy advice, but for comic material to read at get-together’s she hosts. Her recent article inspired this culinary no-no.

The counsel given in these books is pretty laughable by today’s standards and would no doubt have your party guests wondering if you’re in desperate need of psychiatric intervention.

Consider “My Way of Life,” written in 1971 by everyone’s favorite mom......

Joan Crawford

Pre-party jitters? Nonsense, Darling!

Crawford advised that to get over your nerves the night before your big soiree, you must treat the party as if it were opening night on Broadway: rehearse.

In Crawford’s view, a “superb hostess” is one who, “a hundred times practiced walking around her living room chatting with imaginary guests. Introducing strangers with just the right phrase to interest them in one another. She practiced moving gracefully, going to the door, offering canapés.”

Most folks call them, “crackers.”

Once the party starts, Crawford suggested the hostess wear a lovely gown.


Crawford, herself, would do so in a dress with matching turban (turban??!!) and shoes.

Make sure guests have hard chairs to sit in.

“Soft ones spread the hips.”

Never serve a red vegetable next to a yellow vegetable.

“Looks unappetizing,” Crawford wrote.

I think it would depend on the dip.

Crawford’s book included a recipe for meatloaf that had four hidden hard-boiled eggs.

Would that be a “meatloaf surprise?”

Crawford would prepare dishes like the meatloaf, pot roast, beef bourguignon, lobster Newburg, and creamed chicken all ahead of time and then freeze them in case of emergencies.

Eating unfrozen creamed chicken would be an emergency in my book.

Helen Gurley Brown is remembered for her 1962 guide, “Sex and the Single Girl.”

Having guests over?

Gurley Brown recommended Romanian Gypsy music, “chloroform cocktails” (boil six cups of coffee down to one, add a fifth of gin and a quart of vanilla ice cream) and a racy party game in which players guess the various garments a guest is wearing.

Gurley Brown’s rule: “No feeling or pinching allowed.”

In 1965, Luella Cuming wrote “The Luella Cuming Studio Course in Social Awareness, Poise and Gracious Living.”

Cuming told readers they should fill their homes with exotic conversation pieces. She gave an account of a reporter friend who “has a pet duck who often sports fascinating jackets and hats and struts around his master’s domain chattering madly.”

Yeh, I could see that generating some conversation.

The authors of these books all possessed a common belief: you should attempt to live an upper crust life all the time.

Cuming wrote that, “Those who live graciously only when there is an audience present are phonies. One charming woman I know who lives alone wears her most beautiful chemises with high-heeled satin mules when she is alone. Sometimes she adds a pearl necklace or a zany cocktail hat.”

Imagine the look on the UPS guy when she answers the door.

Gurley Brown told her readers that if they wanted a sexy apartment, they should put out, “an enormous brandy snifter filled with dozens of loose cigarettes, opened whole packages of many brands and ‘name’ book matches from good restaurants.”

Alexandra Stoddard in her 1988 book, “Living a Beautiful Life,”  wrote that, “Surprise pleasures delight the most.”

So she’d place flowers inside her refrigerator. When she sat down to write out her bills, she’d dress in a fresh blouse and skirt, putting Brahms on the stereo and flowers on her desk. All in the quest to make life more…..what’s that word again…..oh, yes, gracious.

Joan Crawford said if your “fella” wants caviar, don’t immediately concede that you’re not Joan Crawford and can’t afford it.

Sacrifice a little!

In Crawford’s opinion, that meant fewer trips to the hairdresser and foregoing the purchase of a hat or two you don’t need.

My wife’s “fella” would be happy with beef jerky.

More Crawford advice to live graciously: Make sure your jacket is lined in the same fabric as your blouse, and never buy a dress unless you can afford all of the appropriate accessories. (Somehow, I seem to think that tidbit has endured long past Mommy Dearest).

These are the old ways. Live graciously. (If my wife pulls any of this junk, I know she’s been in the holiday punch).

Today we live in a Martha Stewart-Rachael Ray world where you make the most of what you have by being yourself. (Is that why Martha never shampoos her hair before a TV taping?)

Compare what you’ve just read to a contemporary idea list  on throwing a great holiday party. Joan Crawford (See first photo) would not be pleased.


Festivus for the rest of us--Jail style

She ate school lunches.......every day.....for a year.

That no-good, evil Colonel Sanders.

And finally, meet the woman behind the Happy Meal lawsuit.

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The Music of Christmas: "If Only In My Dreams"


I feature the Bob Hope video as a prelude to today’s segment because one of the best Christmas classics emerged from wartime.

From the The Library of Congress Presents: Music, Theater and Dance:

In 1943, "I'll Be Home for Christmas" joined "White Christmas" to become one of America's most popular homegrown holiday songs. Recorded in a rich baritone by Bing Crosby, "I'll Be Home for Christmas" shot to the top ten of the record charts (as "White Christmas" had for Crosby the previous year) and became a holiday musical tradition in the United States.

On October 4, 1943, Crosby recorded "I'll Be Home for Christmas" with the John Scott Trotter Orchestra for Decca Records. Within about a month of its being copyrighted the song hit the music charts and remained there for eleven weeks, peaking at number three. The following year, the song reached number nineteen on the charts. It touched a tender place in the hearts of Americans, both soldiers and civilians, who were then in the depths of World War II, and it earned Crosby his fifth gold record. "I'll Be Home for Christmas" became the most requested song at Christmas U.S.O. shows in both Europe and the Pacific and Yank, the GI magazine, said Crosby accomplished more for military morale than anyone else of that era.

In December 1965, having completed the first U.S. space rendezvous and set a record for the longest flight in the U.S. space program, the astronauts Frank Borman and James Lovell hurtled back to earth aboard their Gemini 7 spacecraft. Asked by NASA communication personnel if they wanted any particular music piped up to them, the crew requested Bing Crosby's recording of "I'll Be Home for Christmas."

For those separated this Christmas, for those ill and suffering, and for those brave men and women fighting for our country………legends Tony Bennett and Placido Domingo:

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Education in Wisconsin: A guest perspective

By guest blogger
Bob Dohnal, Publisher

The Conservative Digest

Our family is very proud of the fact that five of the seven of us graduated from the University of Wisconsin system and the other two attended for some time.  We all attended public schools in our youth.  We are very pro-education.  My wife, Jean, was a teacher for many years.

times have changed.  In the last 20 years or so, spending on education has skyrocketed; the quality of education has gone down; kids are forced to mortgage half of their lives to graduate from college and that college education now takes five years.  MPS is a total disaster with only a small number of kids in it being able to read in the 10th grade.  Many businessmen consider high school degrees worthless.

Schools are heavy-laden with administrators sticking their noses into everything to justify their paychecks and not making changes for the better. School salaries and benefits far exceed what the average taxpayer earns. The interested unions have little interest beyond themselves.  If left to these circumstances, kids will continue to come out dumber per national average than when they went into the system
. All of the advertising on the Packers games will not change that.

University of Wisconsin system

When the then extant systems were merged under Gov. Pat Lucey
we were supposed to save millions in administrative costs. Hasn't happened. The University system is bloated with worthless subjects that serve no purpose in the real world and more worthless administration.  We need an audit by one of the toughest auditing companies in the world on how to streamline this mess, reduce costs, shorten the time it takes to complete college and help the kids.  The system is to exist for the benefit of the kids, not the educrats.  The presence of the student loan system has distorted attendant markets and allowed the University system costs to rise interminably for the benefit of those involved in the system at the expense of the kids.  This must stop.

Technical College System

When the technical colleges of this state were merged, many of us argued that the governing system would make these college groups impossibly expensive.  Lack of any intelligent oversight has led to huge salary and benefit for the teachers and a fat and happy administration.  We need to reform the system.  Electing the board will not change things, as the unions, and educrats will control the boards with their money and their votes.  Most citizens do not use the system so they will pay little attention to the system.

Merge the whole group into one system. Make it into a cabinet level program run by the governor with responsibility over the system.
The governor can control costs and the process, so that he/she will be responsible up or down and this will make the process directly answerable to those who fund it, the taxpayers.

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So Long To Ya, 2010

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Veteran NPR reporter reluctantly uses the "C" word

That would be......Christmas.

"Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes...."

From a loyal reader:

To All My Democrat Friends: 
Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2011, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere . Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee. 
To All My Republican Friends: 
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

What the lefty enviros would do to Santa

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Franklin resident: "I am overwhelmed by my tax bill"

Franklin Mayor Tom Taylor, Alderman Doug Schmidt, Alderman Steve Taylor, Alderman Timothy Solomon, Alderman Steve Olson, and Alderman Kristen Wilhelm received the following e-mail recently from a Franklin taxpayer.

The author has given me permission to publish the e-mail. I am withholding, by request, the author’s name.

Dear Common Council,


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The Music of Christmas: "It is the Night of our Dear Saviour's Birth"

One review of this carol said it “lacks of good musical taste, and has a total absence of the spirit of religion." 

I’ll bet that reviewer of over 100 years ago didn’t keep his job very long.

From Ace Collins’ book, "Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas":

The strange and fascinating story of "O Holy Night" began in France, yet eventually made its way around the world. This seemingly simple song, inspired by a request from a clergyman, would not only become one of the most beloved anthems of all time, it would mark a technological revolution that would forever change the way people were introduced to music.

In 1847, Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure was the commissionaire of wines in a small French town. Known more for his poetry than his church attendance, it probably shocked Placide when his parish priest asked the commissionaire to pen a poem for Christmas mass. Nevertheless, the poet was honored to share his talents with the church.

In a dusty coach traveling down a bumpy road to France's capital city, Placide Cappeau considered the priest's request. Using the gospel of Luke as his guide, Cappeau imagined witnessing the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. Thoughts of being present on the blessed night inspired him. By the time he arrived in Paris, "Cantique de Noel" had been completed.

Moved by his own work, Cappeau decided that his "Cantique de Noel" was not just a poem, but a song in need of a master musician's hand. Not musically inclined himself, the poet turned to one of his friends, Adolphe Charles Adams, for help.

The son of a well-known classical musician, Adolphe had studied in the Paris conservatoire. His talent and fame brought requests to write works for orchestras and ballets all over the world. Yet the lyrics that his friend Cappeau gave him must have challenged the composer in a fashion unlike anything he received from London, Berlin, or St. Petersburg.

As a man of Jewish ancestry, for Adolphe the words of "Cantique de Noel" represented a day he didn't celebrate and a man he did not view as the son of God. Nevertheless, Adams quickly went to work, attempting to marry an original score to Cappeau's beautiful words. Adams' finished work pleased both poet and priest. The song was performed just three weeks later at a Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.

Since that first rendition at a small Christmas mass in 1847, "O Holy Night" has been sung millions of times in churches in every corner of the world. And since the moment a handful of people first heard it played over the radio, the carol has gone on to become one of the entertainment industry's most recorded and played spiritual songs. This incredible work--requested by a forgotten parish priest, written by a poet who would later split from the church, given soaring music by a Jewish composer, and brought to Americans to serve as much as a tool to spotlight the sinful nature of slavery as tell the story of the birth of a Savior--has become one of the most beautiful, inspired pieces of music ever created.

Andy Williams closed his Branson Christmas shows with a very touching rendition of  “O Holy Night” that involves the audience in a special way.

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Franklin Common Council scheduled to take up resolution honoring the late Lyle Sohns

Tonight, the Franklin Common Council at the request of Mayor Tom Taylor is scheduled to act on a resolution honoring former Franklin Alderman Lyle Sohns who died December 6, 2010.

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No Barking Lot this Saturday, but......

This deserves a mention!

This, too!

New pro-business attitude comes to Madison

I wrote the following piece for the latest edition of Conservative Digest that includes articles by Governor-elect Scott Walker, Lieutenant Governor-elect Rebecca Kleefisch, state Senator Mary Lazich, state Senator Glenn Grothman, state Representative Jim Ott, Congressman Paul Ryan, Congressman Tom Petri, Reza Kahlili of, Sarah Palin, Rich Lowry of the National Review, and James Wigderson.

To hear Zach Brandon’s assessment, one would believe Wisconsin’s outlook for job creation and retention is quite rosy.

Brandon, Deputy Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Commerce under Governor Jim Doyle, was addressing the Special Legislative Council Study Committee on Strategic Job Creation at the state Capitol on August 25, 2010. The committee assignment, in part, was to “study and make recommendations to promote strategic development of high-wage jobs and an educated and skilled workforce in the state.” One of the proposed methods to bolster job creation was to promote “green jobs and industries utilizing solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass technologies, including technologies for converting farm wastes to energy.” The committee’s mission was flawed from the very beginning.

Controlled by legislative Democrats, the committee stacked the invited panel of experts with public sector representatives, including Brandon who committee members, “
Wisconsin has put together some of the most powerful economic development tools in the country.” In clinical fashion, Brandon rattled off a litany of available state tax credits, grants, loans and bonding for business owners. Wisconsin’s reputation of being uncompetitive was no more, Brandon claimed. Why, just the previous week, the governor had lured a southern company to Fond du Lac.

Sitting, observing, and listening in the hearing room, my skepticism-meter was jumping. Joanna Richard, Deputy Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development also had me shaking my head when she called the massive federal stimulus expenditures a “God-send.” Apparently Richard either dismissed or ignored an Associated Press analysis from earlier this year that found, “A federal spending surge of more than $20 billion for roads and bridges in President Barack Obama's first stimulus has had no effect on local unemployment rates” and that “it didn't matter if a lot of money was spent on highways or none at all: Local unemployment rates rose and fell regardless. The stimulus spending only barely helped the beleaguered construction industry.”

During the all-day hearing, there were no slides, charts, graphs, power point presentations or even mentions about Wisconsin’s abysmal business climate, rated as one of the ten worst among all states by The Tax Foundation, rules and regulations that have put a stranglehold on businesses, and our horrendous budget deficit and tax and spending fever.

Committee Chair, state Senator Robert Wirch (R-Kenosha) couldn’t hold back from chuckling when he informed everyone that the committee had specifically invited two representatives from the private sector to testify but both cancelled. Too bad. The committee could have gotten a necessary earful. The Business Services page on the state of Wisconsin web site says, “Wisconsin is a great state for business.” Not if you talk to people who actually run businesses.

In early 2009, legislative Republicans convened a roundtable in Brown Deer of close to three dozen business owners from SE Wisconsin who laid their position out in no uncertain terms and unanimously: State government is hostile to job creators.  The businesspeople noted they were scared, they feared losing everything, they have never felt welcome here by state government, they are demonized because they make profits, and they are capitalists, not, as one businessperson put it, “a faceless bastard.”

Is Wisconsin a great place to live? “Yes,” said one speaker, “if we can survive.”

Badger State businesses that confront one government obstacle after another to prosperity have little in their arsenal. They can stay and gut it out and struggle to avoid passing cost increases onto customers. Or they can pack up and take their operations to any of the 40-plus states that treat their businesses more favorably. Expansion here has not been an option as wary business owners sit back and wait to see if the economy brightens, in part, because of a change in the political landscape. That change has come in the form of a steamrolling Republican takeover of Madison.

If you run a business, the message should be crystal clear: You now have loyal friends in the new Governor and the people controlling the state Senate and state Assembly. There’s an entirely new attitude about doing business in Wisconsin that, coupled with state policymakers making the right moves, should be the blueprint for true job creation and retention the previous party in power never understood.

The Music of Christmas: "Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire"


Just how amazing is Mel Torme’s contribution to Christmas?

Gary North writes on

It began with a trip to the home of his song-writing partner, Bob Wells.

One excessively hot afternoon, I drove out to Bob’s house in Toluca Lake for a work session. The San Fernando Valley, always at least ten degrees warmer than the rest of the town, blistered in the July sun.... I opened the front door and walked in.... I called for Bob. No answer. I walked over to the piano. A writing pad rested on the music board. Written in pencil on the open page were four lines of verse:

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
Jack frost nipping at your nose
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir
And folks dressed up like Eskimos.

When Bob finally appeared, I asked him about the little poem. He was dressed sensibly in tennis shorts and a white T-shirt, but he still looked uncomfortably warm.

"It was so hot today," he said, "I thought I’d write something to cool myself off. All I could think of was Christmas and cold weather."

I took another look at his handiwork. "You know," I said, "this just might make a song."

We sat down together at the piano, and, improbable though it may sound, "The Christmas Song" was completed about forty-five minutes later. Excitedly, we called Carlos Gastel, sped into Hollywood, played it for him, then for Johnny Burke, and then for Nat Cole, who fell in love with the tune. It took a full year for Nat to get into a studio to record it, but his record finally came out in the last fall of 1946; and the rest could be called our financial pleasure.

Think about the chain of events. Tormé walked in the door, presumably after knocking. His friend was missing. He called out his name. No answer. He wandered over to the piano. There was a writing pad with what looked like a poem written in pencil.

Wham! Why not a Christmas song? Why not, indeed?

Forty-five minutes later, stage one of their joint lifetime annuity was finished.

It is also worth considering that the title, "The Christmas Song," was still available.

They got on the phone to call around to promote it.

They called Nat Cole.

Just for the record, Tormé and Wells [Levinson] were Jewish. Think about that for a minute. A couple of Jewish kids sat down in July to write a Christmas song, which was recorded by a black jazz singer the next year. As a result, they all got rich.

Only in America.

Now fast forward to a much older Mel Torme.

From Mark Evanier at (Point of view online) who wrote the following in July of 1999:

I want to tell you a story...

The scene is Farmer's Market — the famed tourist mecca of Los Angeles.  It's located but yards from the facility they call, "CBS Television City in Hollywood"...which, of course, is not in Hollywood but at least is very close.

Farmer's Market is a quaint collection of bungalow stores, produce stalls and little stands where one can buy darn near anything edible one wishes to devour.  You buy your pizza slice or sandwich or Chinese food or whatever at one of umpteen counters, then carry it on a tray to an open-air table for consumption.

During the Summer or on weekends, the place is full of families and tourists and Japanese tour groups.  But this was a winter weekday, not long before Christmas, and the crowd was mostly older folks, dawdling over coffee and danish.  For most of them, it's a good place to get a donut or a taco, to sit and read the paper.

For me, it's a good place to get out of the house and grab something to eat.  I arrived, headed for my favorite barbecue stand and, en route, noticed that Mel Tormé was seated at one of the tables.

Mel Tormé.  My favorite singer.  Just sitting there, sipping a cup of coffee, munching on an English Muffin, reading The New York Times.  Mel Tormé.

I had never met Mel Tormé.  Alas, I still haven't and now I never will.  He looked like he was engrossed in the paper that day so I didn't stop and say, "Excuse me, I just wanted to tell you how much I've enjoyed all your records."  I wish I had.

Instead, I continued over to the BBQ place, got myself a chicken sandwich and settled down at a table to consume it.  I was about halfway through when four Christmas carolers strolled by, singing "Let It Snow," a cappella.

They were young adults with strong, fine voices and they were all clad in splendid Victorian garb.  The Market had hired them (I assume) to stroll about and sing for the diners — a little touch of the holidays.

"Let It Snow" concluded not far from me to polite applause from all within earshot.  I waved the leader of the chorale over and directed his attention to Mr. Tormé, seated about twenty yards from me.

"That's Mel Tormé down there.  Do you know who he is?"

The singer was about 25 so it didn't horrify me that he said, "No."

I asked, "Do you know 'The Christmas Song?'"

Again, a "No."

I said, "That's the one that starts, 'Chestnuts roasting on an open fire...'"

"Oh, yes," the caroler chirped.  "Is that what it's called?  'The Christmas Song?'"

"That's the name," I explained.  "And that man wrote it."  The singer thanked me, returned to his group for a brief huddle...and then they strolled down towards Mel Tormé.  I ditched the rest of my sandwich and followed, a few steps behind.  As they reached their quarry, they began singing, "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire..." directly to him.

A big smile formed on Mel Tormé's face — and it wasn't the only one around.  Most of those sitting at nearby tables knew who he was and many seemed aware of the significance of singing that song to him.  For those who didn't, there was a sudden flurry of whispers: "That's Mel Tormé...he wrote that..."

As the choir reached the last chorus or two of the song, Mel got to his feet and made a little gesture that meant, "Let me sing one chorus solo."  The carolers — all still apparently unaware they were in the presence of one of the world's great singers — looked a bit uncomfortable.  I'd bet at least a couple were thinking, "Oh, no...the little fat guy wants to sing."

But they stopped and the little fat guy started to sing...and, of course, out came this beautiful, melodic, perfectly-on-pitch voice.  The look on the face of the singer I'd briefed was amazed at first...then properly impressed.

On Mr. Tormé's signal, they all joined in on the final lines: "Although it's been said, many times, many ways...Merry Christmas to you..."  Big smiles all around.

And not just from them.  I looked and at all the tables surrounding the impromptu performance, I saw huge grins of delight...which segued, as the song ended, into a huge burst of applause.  The whole tune only lasted about two minutes but I doubt anyone who was there will ever forget it.

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Christmas classic songs a thing of the past

A year ago, I wrote that the last great original Christmas song was released in 1970.

Forget about Madonna, New Kids on the Block, Brittney Spears, Miley Cyrus, Christine Aguilera, and Justin Bieber. The Christmas classics will always belong to Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Perry Como, Johnny Mathis, Frank Sinatra, etc.

If you agree with me, the question is why hasn’t anyone been able to compose a new Christmas standard in 40 years?

Eric Felten nails it in the Wall Street Journal.

Simply put, today’s songwriters aren’t even close to being as talented as those in the 40’s and 50’s. Can we say Irving Berlin.

And today’s original Christmas songs tend to be downers. Who wants to listen to that?

Read Felten’s piece.



In October, National Public Radio's Juan Williams, not a conservative by any stretch of the imagination, made one of his many appearances as a guest commentator on the Fox News Channel.

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Kyla's Korner - Musings of a Mother (12/22/10)

Kyla's Korner

By Jennifer Fischer
Mother of beautiful angel, Kyla

It has been a very long time since my last Kyla’s Korner… keeping up with a toddler is most certainly a full-time job!  Given this special time of year I feel it is most appropriate to finally sit down and share a few of my thoughts.

2009 was Kyla’s first Christmas.  She looked simply beautiful in her Santa-inspired dress, sparkly (and much too big) Santa hat, and toothless grin.  She enjoyed looking at the Christmas tree and tearing some wrapping paper on her presents and that was about the extent of her involvement of our holy season.

This year is more exciting for all of us as a family and we are already looking forward to the next few years as Christmas becomes more and more magical in the eyes of a young child who will learn about the beauty of the birth of Christ and enjoy the magic of Santa delivering presents.

Separate incidents have inspired this two-part Kyla’s Korner:  reading a recent Miss Manners column, and watching the PBS Kids programs on Sprout.  These things made me ask, respectively, why must Santa and the holy time of Christmas be mutually exclusive?  And do we have to bend over backwards to be politically correct on children’s television?  Sadly I know the answers to both of these but I still have points to make.

I personally don’t know of any parents who want to dismiss Santa Claus as a part of their children’s Christmas enjoyment.  Apparently there are some out there, though.  I was raised that first and foremost, Christmas is Baby Jesus’ birthday and a time to celebrate that miracle.  We always had a nativity scene in our living room.  As soon as I was old enough to make the relationship between my own birthday and Jesus having a birthday (I think around age 3) we had a birthday cake on Christmas Eve and sang to the blessed Baby.  Singing to Baby Jesus was the highlight of my evening but I won’t kid you:  I looked forward to the deposit of goodies left by Santa Claus as well.  Somehow my parents managed to weave a spell of magic around Santa while instilling in me the true meaning of Advent, Christmas and the Epiphany.  They didn’t need advice columnists or “experts” on child-rearing telling them how to do this; they relied on something called common sense.  And believe it or not, I didn’t need a therapist a few years later when I learned that Mommy and Daddy were the ones leaving the gifts on our front porch.  I wasn’t crushed; I thought it was pretty special that they did that for me.

Kyla and I join Kevin almost every week at the beautiful St. Anthony’s for Sunday mass.  (I say almost and every parent of a toddler will understand.)  She knows that she is getting dressed up to go to “God’s House” and I tell her often that she has Jesus in her heart.  When Christmas carols come on the radio I tell her that they are singing because it is Baby Jesus’ birthday.  And believe it or not, I bought her a peek-a-boo flap book that shows Santa Claus in all his red-suited splendor.  Something tells me that as the years go on we will manage to raise a Christian daughter who can still enjoy the magic of Santa in her youth.  Clearly I am not the only person who feels this way.  

I am looking forward to years of singing Joy To The World followed by Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.  MERRY CHRISTMAS to all, and to all a good night!

The Music of Christmas: The Number One


It’s the biggest and the best.

Doug Gamble, a former writer for Bob Hope, as well as for former presidents Reagan and Bush 41 wrote this for National Review Online on December 22, 2005:

Despite its fifth-place standing on ASCAP's list of most-performed seasonal songs over the last five years, "White Christmas" is the chairman of the board of Christmas songs. It is the most-recorded song in history, with Crosby's version alone selling 31 million copies. It has been recorded by everyone from Frank Sinatra and Doris Day to Elvis Presley and Kiss.

"White Christmas" held the record as the top-selling song of all time from its release in 1942 until it was eclipsed by Elton John's horrid song about Princess Diana following her 1997 death, "Candle in the Wind." Not even original, the song was a derivative of one he had written about Marilyn Monroe.

Five years after "White Christmas" was first recorded, Crosby went back in the studio to do it again, because the master version was worn out after millions of reproductions. It is the 1947 version we are mostly familiar with, with Crosby's voice sounding slightly deeper than when he first recorded it.

While some uncertainty surrounds the origins of "White Christmas," many music historians believe Irving Berlin wrote it during the 1937 Christmas period when staying at the Beverly Hills Hotel. He was making a movie at the time, and was homesick for his family, New York, and its seasonal snow. After it was written, the song sat in a drawer for five years.

But if "White Christmas" has done much to fuel the enjoyment of Christmas celebrants around the world, what it did for our troops overseas during World War II is inestimable. Brought to troops in the form of 78-r.p.m. records contained in "recreation kits" supplied by the military, heard on Armed Forces Radio and played on jukeboxes at PX stores and USO halls, it served as a powerful reminder of why they were fighting.

In wondrous Christmas splendor, here are Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera Ellen.

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OK, Franklin.

Can we finally put to rest this foolish question that is a colossal waste of time?

What part of NO don’t some people understand?

The November city of Franklin ballot contained the referendum of whether Franklin should have a full-time mayor. The question was included at the insistence of Franklin Alderman Steve Taylor, widely rumored to have mayoral aspirations (Taylor denies the speculation).

In June 2009, I wrote that Taylor “is drafting a referendum that would ask Franklin voters if the position of mayor in urban metropolis Franklin (Population an estimated 35,000) should be full-time instead of the current part-time status. Mayor Tom Taylor and Alderman Tim Solomon are reportedly also assisting in this drafting effort. Sorry, but a standard joke comes to mind. How many city of Franklin elected officials does it take…..Gee. The referendum has to be ‘drafted.’ In other words, it has to be worded just right. Boy this is a real toughie. Hmmmmmm. What could such a referendum read like? How about………………’Should the elected position of mayor in the city of Franklin be changed from part-time to full time, beginning (fill in the blank)? I think that took me about five seconds. We’re told that something could be ready for consideration by the full Franklin Common Council later this year.”

The heavy lifting on how to word the referendum wasn’t settled until this year. Some aldermen questioned the necessity of such a ballot question, and then oddly voted to put the question to voters.

On November 2, 2010, Franklin voters decided this question that took months and months for city officials to come up with:

“Should the City of Franklin have a full-time mayor?”


On August 16, 2001, I wrote:

Let’s review some of the arguments I have made in the past against this proposal beginning with: 

Excuse me, but did I miss something?

Is there a hue and cry from the Franklin populace, all 35,000 of them, that we absolutely must have a full-time mayor?

Let me get this straight. As the private sector reduces its workforce by handing out pink slips, and cuts salaries and benefits, the Franklin taxpayers are supposed to accept the expansion of local government?

Franklin is a very, very small city. Full-time mayor? Why? What for?

If the contention is that we can’t attract decent candidates when Tom Taylor decides not to be mayor anymore unless we sweeten the pot, then I suggest we don’t want those kinds of candidates to begin with if their motivation is purely salary-driven.

We elect our aldermen and mayor to make decisions and while some issues deserve being put to a referendum, this isn’t one of them. Franklin aldermen, do you want to gauge public opinion?  Get out in your neighborhoods. Talk to folks. Hold a community meeting. Send out a newsletter asking for feedback. No one is clamoring for this change. Why? Because Franklin doesn’t need or want a full-time mayor.

Taylor wants the change because he wants to be mayor. The only argument he offers is that Franklin is a growing city. Actually, Franklin has already survived its biggest growing pains, and it did so with a PART-TIME MAYOR.

How about this simple, honest, common sense question. Just what would a full-time Franklin mayor mean and entail? 

Would the full-time mayor have to be at City Hall, every day, all day?

What would the working hours be?  8:00 start? 8:30?

When would the official working day end? 4:30? 5:00?

How much do we then pay the full-time mayor?





Just what is the proper salary to entice someone to give up their real job to run for Franklin mayor? You tell me. I really don’t know.

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Kyla's Korner - Musings of a Mother (12/23/10)

Kyla's Korner

By Jennifer Fischer
Mother of beautiful angel, Kyla


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The Year of My Mother: O Tannenbum

The Year of My Mother


Recently, I ran into an old friend of mine at a shopping mall, an engineer from WTMJ.

He told me how he lost his mother in October after he personally cared for her the past 10 years.There was some consolation that she died where she wanted to, in her very own home. His mother was 99 and he admitted how her death was so very hard.

My immediate thought: I am not alone.

This is the first Christmas for our family without our dear mother. It is rough and very difficult. We will, as the famous Christmas song goes, “muddle through somehow.” And will enjoy a very nice Christmas. Still, it won’t and can never be the same.

I know too many others who are experiencing the same pain this Christmas, the loss of a loved one this year. Words can’t describe the sorrow. If only Mom could be here to see her beautiful angelic granddaughter. Unlike last Christmas, Kyla is walking, running, talking more, and cuter than ever.

No, life is not fair. But I think of what my dear friend state Senator Mary Lazich told me at my mother’s wake: “Look for the rainbows.”

“Look for the rainbows.”

How, when your mother is a mere few feet way in a casket?

The rainbows are the countless, vivid memories, the laughs, the smiles, the anecdotes, the lessons, the teachings.

If Mom was with us Christmas Eve when the Fischer family traditionally opens gifts, she would revel in what everyone except herself would open. Typical. It’s like that classic Jimmy Dean Mother’s Day song where there was one piece of pie and two hungry people left and suddenly Mom wasn’t so hungry anymore.

On past Christmas Eve’s, Mom would laugh and get that nostalgic look in her face when my brother Greg and I would bring up old stories.

My mother’s father died a very young man from pneumonia. Mom was just a child. So she and her brother, Uncle Harry, didn’t always have the most extravagant holidays. And yet, the way Mom always told it on many a Christmas Eve, they didn’t mind. Why? Because it was the accepted holiday fare. Family was together .Everyone was happy.

Mom remembered that before the gifts could be opened, the kids had to sing.

To their older relatives.

O Tannenbaum.

In English.

And German.

In recent years, I kidded my mom….go ahead, Mom. Sing it. And I’d laugh. And then Mom would start to sing with great pride in German.

I will dearly miss the great stories this year. But I won’t forget them. And all the other “rainbows.”

Merry Christmas, Mom.

Please know we love you and are thinking about you. I think you'd like this.

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How incredible was Bob Hope?


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The Music of Christmas: "All is calm, all is bright"


It is the greatest Christmas carol of them all.

Christmas historian Bill Egan, a retired Navy photojournalist and resident of Flagler Beach, Florida, is a staff writer for Year 'Round Christmas Magazine and provides Christmas research for Charles Osgood of "The Osgood File" on the CBS Radio Network. Gabriele Wolf of ANTO Media Relations says that Bill Egan is the foremost "Silent Night" scholar in the U.S. and the Daytona Beach News-Journal says that he is one of the world's leading experts on the origins of this carol.

Egan wrote, “The Song Heard ‘Round the World.” Here's an excerpt:

(192) years ago the carol "Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht" was heard for the first time in a village church in Oberndorf, Austria. The congregation at that Midnight Mass in St. Nicholas Church listened as the voices of the assistant pastor, Fr. Joseph Mohr, and the choir director, Franz Xaver Gruber, rang through the church to the accompaniment of Fr. Mohr's guitar. On each of the six verses, the choir repeated the last two lines in four-part harmony.

On that Christmas Eve, a song was born that would wing its way into the hearts of people throughout the world. Now translated into hundreds of languages, it is sung by untold millions every December from small chapels in the Andes to great cathedrals in Antwerp and Rome.

Today books, films and Internet sites are filled with fanciful tales purporting to tell the history of "Silent Night." Some tell of mice eating the bellows of the organ creating the necessity for a hymn to be accompanied by a guitar. Others claim that Joseph Mohr was forced to write the words to a new carol in haste since the organ would not play. A recent film, created for Austrian television places Oberndorf in the Alps and includes evil railroad barons and a double-dealing priest, while a recent book by a German author places a zither in the hands of Franz Gruber and connects Joseph Mohr with a tragic fire engulfing the city of Salzburg. You can read claims that "Silent Night" was sung on Christmas Eve in 1818 and then forgotten by its creators. Of course, the latter are easily discounted by manuscript arrangements of the carol by both Mohr and Gruber which were produced at various times between 1820 and 1855.

In this age of tabloid journalism, it's not surprising that some feel it necessary to invent frivolous anecdotes and create fables for a story that is quite beautiful in its simplicity.

The German words for the original six stanzas of the carol we know as "Silent Night" were written by Joseph Mohr in 1816, when he was a young priest assigned to a pilgrimage church in Mariapfarr, Austria. His grandfather lived nearby, and it is easy to imagine that he could have come up with the words while walking thorough the countryside on a visit to his elderly relative. The fact is, we have no idea if any particular event inspired Joseph Mohr to pen his poetic version of the birth of the Christchild. The world is fortunate, however, that he didn't leave it behind when he was transferred to Oberndorf the following year (1817).

On December 24, 1818 Joseph Mohr journeyed to the home of musician-schoolteacher Franz Gruber who lived in an apartment over the schoolhouse in nearby Arnsdorf. He showed his friend the poem and asked him to add a melody and guitar accompaniment so that it could be sung at Midnight Mass. His reason for wanting the new carol is unknown. Some speculate that the organ would not work; others feel that the assistant pastor, who dearly loved guitar music, merely wanted a new carol for Christmas.

Later that evening, as the two men, backed by the choir, stood in front of the main altar in St. Nicholas Church and sang "Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!" for the first time, they could hardly imagine the impact their composition would have on the world.

Karl Mauracher, a master organ builder and repairman from the Ziller Valley, traveled to Oberndorf to work on the organ, several times in subsequent years. While doing his work in St. Nicholas, he obtained a copy of the composition and took it home with him. Thus, the simple carol, began its journey around the world as a "Tyrolean Folk Song."

By the time the song had become famous throughout Europe, Joseph Mohr had died and the composer was unknown. Although Franz Gruber wrote to music authorities in Berlin stating that he was the composer, the melody had been assumed to be the work of Haydn, Mozart or Beethoven at various times and these thoughts persisted even into the twentieth century. The controversy was put to rest when a long-lost arrangement of "Stille Nacht" in the hand of Joseph Mohr was authenticated. In the upper right hand corner of the arrangement, Mohr wrote, "Melodie von Fr. Xav. Gruber."

During his lifetime, Franz Xaver Gruber produced a number of orchestral arrangements of his composition. The original guitar arrangement is missing, but five other Gruber manuscripts of the carol exist. The manuscript by Joseph Mohr (ca. 1820) is for guitar accompaniment and is probably the closest to the arrangement and melody sung at Midnight Mass in 1818.

Later in his life, the Gruber family moved to Hallein, now the site of the Franz Xaver Gruber Museum. It contains several furnished rooms in his former home along with outstanding exhibits dealing with the history of "Silent Night," including Joseph Mohr's guitar. Gruber's grave is outside the home and is decorated with a Christmas tree in December.

Fr. Joseph Mohr's final resting place is a tiny Alpine ski resort, Wagrain. He was born into poverty in Salzburg in 1792 and died penniless in Wagrain in 1848, where he had been assigned as pastor of the church. He had donated all his earnings to be used for eldercare and the education of the children in the area. His memorial from the townspeople is the Joseph Mohr School located a dozen yards from his grave. The overseer of St. Johann's, in a report to the bishop, described Mohr as "a reliable friend of mankind, toward the poor, a gentle, helping father."

It seems that Austria has finally realized that their national treasure has a very special significance outside its birth nation and has become "The Song Heard 'Round The World."

Perhaps this is part of the miracle of "Silent Night." The words flowed from the imagination of a modest curate. The music was composed by a musician who was not known outside his village. There was no celebrity to sing at its world premiere. Yet its powerful message of heavenly peace has crossed all borders and language barriers, conquering the hearts of people everywhere.

The Vienna Boys Choir...

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Franklin High School's Sabers entered the 2010 season with huge expectations. The 2009 squad had advanced to the third round of the WIAA Division 2 playoffs for the second straight season and the fifth time in 10 appearances dating back to 1999. The 2010 Sabers returned a host of outstanding players.

The season opened in fine fashion with a 40-0 blanking of Greenfield.

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The Christmas edition of Week-ends


A look back at the people and events that made news the past week. Week-ends is a regular weekly feature of This Just In...

The following is a special Christmas Day edition of Week-ends.


The blessed baby Jesus

Mary and Joseph

Gaspar, Balthasar, and Melchior

Our military

"They walk among us".........MORE.

Carlos Betancourt

America's top 1 percent

Diane Vice

Brett Favre

Michelle Obama

Dog in Troy, NY


The infamous and anonymous innkeeper. From sermons. org:

“It is a scene that is unmistakable. This scene is so identified with the birth of our Lord, that is has been banned from display in public places because it might offend those who do not believe it ever happened.

The scene is in a stable. Mary and Joseph and a wooden manger before them in which the baby Jesus is lying. Around them are shepherds with their canes and with some sheep beside them.

This scene touches our hearts, but what our sanitized scene does not present is the fact that the stable would have been dirty and the smells not too appealing. Jesus was actually laid in a feeding trough for animals. The night air must have been cold. Not the kind of place any of us would have liked to have been born in let alone to give birth in. Any hospital inspector would have condemned the room and closed it.”

King Herod

Battlefield High School

We couldn't possibly leave out the folks at the ACLU.


Do not be afraid.
I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
Today in the town of David a Deliverer has been born to you.
He is the Lord's Messiah.
This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.
An angel speaking to shepherds in Bethlehem reclining on a hillside with their flock.

Glory to God in highest.
The shepherds' response to the message from the angel.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
The King James Bible

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.
Norman Vincent Peale

I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. 
Charles Dickens

The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree:  the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other. 
Burton Hillis

One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day.  Don't clean it up too quickly. 
Andy Rooney

There has been only one Christmas - the rest are anniversaries.
W.J. Cameron

Christmas is a necessity.  There has to be at least one day of the year to remind us that we're here for something else besides ourselves. 
Eric Sevareid

Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time. 
Laura Ingalls Wilder

Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree.  In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall. 
Larry Wilde, The Merry Book of Christmas

Instead of being a time of unusual behavior, Christmas is perhaps the only time in the year when people can obey their natural impulses and express their true sentiments without feeling self-conscious and, perhaps, foolish.  Christmas, in short, is about the only chance a man has to be himself. 
Francis C. Farley

Even as an adult I find it difficult to sleep on Christmas Eve.  Yuletide excitement is a potent caffeine, no matter your age. 
Carrie Latet

Christmas is a time when kids tell Santa what they want and adults pay for it.  Deficits are when adults tell the government what they want and their kids pay for it. 
Richard Lamm

Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen
Author unknown, attributed to a 7-year-old named Bobby

I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month. 
Harlan Miller

In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it 'Christmas' and went to church; the Jews called it 'Hanukkah' and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank.  People passing each other on the street would say 'Merry Christmas!' or 'Happy Hanukkah!'  or (to the atheists) 'Look out for the wall!' 
Dave Barry, "Christmas Shopping:  A Survivor's Guide"

This December,
That love weighs more than gold!

Josephine Dodge Daskam Bacon

Oh, for the good old days when people would stop Christmas shopping when they ran out of money.
Author Unknown

Christmas is the season when you buy this year's gifts with next year's money. 
Author Unknown

There is a remarkable breakdown of taste and intelligence at Christmastime.  Mature, responsible grown men wear neckties made of holly leaves and drink alcoholic beverages with raw egg yolks and cottage cheese in them. 
P.J. O'Rourke

No matter how carefully you stored the lights last year, they will be snarled again this Christmas. 
Robert Kirby

There's nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child. 
Erma Bombeck, I Lost Everything in the Post-Natal Depression

The one thing women don't want to find in their stockings on Christmas morning is their husband. 
Joan Rivers

The Supreme Court has ruled that they cannot have a nativity scene in Washington, D.C.  This wasn't for any religious reasons.  They couldn't find three wise men and a virgin. 
Jay Leno

Nothing's as mean as giving a little child something useful for Christmas. 
Kin Hubbard

The worst gift is a fruitcake.  There is only one fruitcake in the entire world, and people keep sending it to each other. 
Johnny Carson

It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas when its mighty Founder was a child Himself. 
Charles Dickens

Three phrases that sum up Christmas are:  Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men, and Batteries not Included. 
Author Unknown

I once bought my kids a set of batteries for Christmas with a note on it saying, toys not included.
Bernard Manning

Christmas begins about the first of December with an office party and ends when you finally realize what you spent, around April fifteenth of the next year. 
P.J. O'Rourke, Modern Manners

Once again we find ourselves enmeshed in the Holiday Season, that very special time of year when we join with our loved ones in sharing centuries-old traditions such as trying to find a parking space at the mall.  We traditionally do this in my family by driving around the parking lot until we see a shopper emerge from the mall, then we follow her, in very much the same spirit as the Three Wise Men, who 2,000 years ago followed a star, week after week, until it led them to a parking space. 
Dave Barry

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas,
Just like the ones I used to know,
Where the tree tops glisten
And children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow...

Irving Berlin

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so?  It came without ribbons.  It came without tags.  It came without packages, boxes or bags.  And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore.  Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before.  What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store.  What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more. 
Dr Seuss

Santa is very jolly because he knows where all the bad girls live. 
Dennis Miller

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, - not even a mouse:
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there....

Clement Clarke Moore

Christmas gift suggestions:  To your enemy, forgiveness.  To an opponent, tolerance.  To a friend, your heart.  To a customer, service.  To all, charity.  To every child, a good example.  To yourself, respect. 
Oren Arnold

Syracuse University professor Arthur Brooks' study of charitable giving in America found that conservatives give 30 percent more to charity than liberals do, despite the fact that liberals have higher incomes than conservatives.

In his book "Who Really Cares?" Brooks compared the charitable donations of religious conservatives, secular liberals, secular conservatives and "religious" liberals.

His surprising conclusion was ... Al Franken gave the most of all!

Ha ha! Just kidding. Religious conservatives, the largest group at about 20 percent of the population, gave the most to charity -- $2,367 per year, compared with $1,347 for the country at large.

Ann Coulter

I hear the bells
Saying Christmas is near
They ring out to tell the world
That this is the season of cheer

I hear a choir
Singing sweetly somewhere
And a glow fills my heart
I'm at peace with the world
As the sound of their singing fills the air

Oh why can't every day be like Christmas
Why can't that feeling go on endlessly
For if everyday could be just like Christmas
What a wonderful world this would be

Elvis Presley

DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.' Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?


VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Francis Pharcellus Church

He was born in an obscure village, the Child of a peasant teen who knew not man. He grew up in another obscure village, where He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher. He never married or owned a home. He never held a job, yet paid taxes. He never set foot inside a metropolis. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place He was born. He never wrote a book, or held an office. He did none of the things that usually accompany greatness. He received no awards, no medals, no prizes from His peers. While He was still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against Him. His friends deserted Him. He was turned over to His enemies, and went through the mockery of a trial. He had no lawyers, no friendly juries, no fair hearing. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While He was dying, His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had - His cloak. After He died, He was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave. Those who stood watch could not explain His disappearance. And yet two thousand years have come and gone, and today He is still the central figure for much of the human race. All the armies that ever marched and al the navies that ever sailed and all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as this "One Solitary Life."
Jim Bishop  


Christmas vandals


The commercialization of Christmas


An amazing story, one that should be told more often. From Ace Collins’ book, “Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas" about the great hymn, O Holy Night:

Legend has it that on Christmas Eve 1871, in the midst of fierce fighting between the armies of Germany and France, during the Franco-Prussian War, a French soldier suddenly jumped out of his muddy trench. Both sides stared at the seemingly crazed man. Boldly standing with no weapon in his hand or at his side, he lifted his eyes to the heavens and sang, "Minuit, Chretiens, c'est l'heure solennelle ou L'Homme Dieu descendit jusqu'a nous," the beginning of "Cantique de Noel."

After completing all three verses, a German infantryman climbed out his hiding place and answered with, "Vom Himmel noch, da komm' ich her. Ich bring' euch gute neue Mar, Der guten Mar bring' ich so viel, Davon ich sing'n und sagen will," the beginning of Martin Luther's robust "From Heaven Above to Earth I Come."

The story goes that the fighting stopped for the next twenty-four hours while the men on both sides observed a temporary peace in honor of Christmas day. Perhaps this story had a part in the French church once again embracing "Cantique de Noel" in holiday services.


Christmas traditions from around the world.

For example, Poland:

Animals are said to talk in a human voice and people have the power to tell the future. In eastern Poland it is still believed that girls who grind poppy seed on Christmas Eve can hope for a quick marriage. After dinner, they leave the house, and the direction of the first dog bark points to where their future husband will come from. Another fortune-telling trick is eavesdropping on the neighbors. If in a casual conversation, the girl hears the word "Go" it means she will get married in the coming year. A loud "Sit" announces long-lasting maidenhood.

When going to Christmas Eve midnight mass, girls would blindfold each other and touch fence pickets. A straight and smooth picket would portend a resourceful husband, while a crooked and rough one was an indication of a clumsy and awkward spouse. If a maiden wanted to learn about her future fiance's profession, she would go to a river, dip her hand in the water and pull out the first thing she touched. Wood meant a carpenter, iron-a blacksmith, leather-a shoemaker, etc. Before going to bed, she'd wash her face with water without drying it. She would hang the towel on the footboard of her bed. The boy who passed her the towel in her dream was to become her husband.

Until recently, harvest fortune-telling was very popular in the countryside. After supper, the host would go out to the garden, carrying dried fruit. He would throw it on the trees, shouting "Apples, pears, plums, cherries, and all the leaves in the neighbor's yard." He would take a handful of straw and twist it into a rope. Grabbing an ax with other hand, he would approach a tree and threaten it by saying, "I'll cut you down!" His wife would cry, "Don't cut it, it will bear fruit!" Then she would tie the straw rope around the tree. This bizarre little pantomime apparently brought a good harvest.

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The Digital Story of the Nativity

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"For you know the Lord's been good to you...."


The Christmas season remains, but Christmas Day is just about over. All the hustling and bustling and rushing and preparing, and so quickly, the most sacred day of the year comes and goes.

God willing, we’ll all be together to share the joy next year.

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What ARE you doing December 26, 2010?

My Most Popular Blogs (12/26/10)

Most popular

As I post every Sunday, here are the five most read blog entries of mine from the previous week. NOTE: some entries may have been posted prior to the past week.

 "Please accept with no obligation implied or implicit my best wishes …"

2) New pro-business attitude comes to Madison

3) Franklin resident: "I am overwhelmed by my tax bill"

4) Photos of the Week (12/19/10)

The Music of Christmas: “Come they told Me.....”

Photos of the Week (12/26/10)

Photos of the Week

Pope Benedict XVI is flanked by his aide George Gaenswein as he lights a candle at his studio window overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Friday, Dec. 24, 2010. Pope Benedict XVI is ushering in Christmas with an evening Mass amid heightened security concerns following the package bombings at two Rome embassies and Christmas Eve security breaches at the Vatican the past two years. Benedict kicked off the holiday Friday by silently lighting a candle in his studio window overlooking St. Peter's Square. Hours later, Benedict will celebrate Mass in St. Peter's Basilica. During that service in 2008 and 2009, a mentally disturbed woman lunged at the pope, and last year pulled him to the ground as he processed down the aisle. Security was expected to be vigilant, due also to Thursday's package bombings at the Swiss and Chilean embassies, for which anarchists claimed responsibility. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)


Pope Benedict XVI delivers his annual 'Urbi Et Orbis' blessing from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica on December 25, 2010 in Vatican City, Vatican. The Pope said Christmas Eve Mass at St. Peter's Basilica Friday evening. (Photo byL'Osservatore Romano Vatican Pool via Getty Images)


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Culinary no-no #199

Culinary no-no's

This week's entry includes the following ingredients, not in any particular order:

The gropers, grabbers and grunts at the TSA.

[Interior of main terminal]

Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee

Jon Bream

Jon Bream of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Kopp's Frozen Custard in Glendale

The vanilla variety at Kopp's

Harvard University

HT for this week's entry: Jim Stingl of the MJS.

Good will ambassadors for the Badger State never want visitors to leave here with, shall I say, a bad taste in their mouth.

Recently, Jon Bream, a music writer for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune was in town, and upon heading home, thought he would take a popular souvenir home as he had in the past: a pint of Kopp’s vanilla.

Problem: The new sexual assault rules and regs had just been implemented at airports by the muggers in uniform, the TSA.

No problem: Bream asked another fellow in line if he thought frozen custard would pass the muster. Sure it would, the other traveler said, and his opinion should have been as good as any, being a Harvard Law grad.

Problem: The obligatory inquiry from the TSA worker who, I would bet my life, never took a Dale Carnegie course.

“What’s in the plastic bag?”

Bream wisely was honest.

Problem: The TSA worker now was confused.

He had no idea what to do.

Clueless, he called for back-up.

Now, two TSA workers huddled. Imagine one of those confabs on Sunday afternoon between referees during an NFL game.  Did he jump offside? Was he drawn off?  Could frozen custard be considered a terrorist’s weapon?

We better bring in someone else.

Enter a supervisor and another discussion. There is no truth to the rumor that while all this was transpiring a large group of bearded Islamists in their mid-20’s passed through security uncontested.

The thought of, “How many TSA workers does it take to examine custard?” comes to mind.

Finally, sanity prevailed. Bream and his custard got the green light, but not before TSA agents got to know him much better in a private room.

Vanilla custard a threat to national security?


This is probably the final no-no of the year so here are the top five most popular entries of 2010. Interestingly, the top three are from 2009.

1) Culinary no-no #147

A series of seasonal no-no's: Figgy pudding, health and safety are killing Christmas, are cookie exchanges lame, and leaving a copy of the
Christmas Cookie Liability and Indemnification Agreement out for Santa to sign.

2) Culinary no-no #121

Our favorite fast foods vs. Shiv Vada.

3) Culinary no-no #133

Seeing a celebrity chef in person, at what cost?

4) Culinary no-no #191

USDA sells cheese while warning against eating it.

5) Culinary no-no #149

Food police run amok in NY.

And just missing the Top 5, 
Culinary no-no #155, food and beverage advertising in cinema.


The following wasn’t the most important Franklin news item of 2010, but it demonstrates how fascinating, strange, and bizarre local politics can be.

For background, watch this news video from Fox 6…

On August 18, 2010, I wrote a blog, "It's so wonderful to see the Franklin Common Council has its priorities in order."  Here's an excerpt:


'The Common Council might allow residents to grow 'natural lawns' - those containing common species of grass and wild flowers native to North America which are designed and purposefully cultivated to exceed 12 inches in height from the ground.'

Here's what they look like. From a video taken on S. 81st Street in Milwaukee between Morgan and Howard. So lovely!"


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The Latest News You Can Use from WRTL

Wisconsin Right To Life News You Can Use Contribute

View in web browser

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The latest from Pro-Life Wisconsin

Click here to sign up for the Monday Update!



December 27, 2010
In This Issue:


Contact Us



by the Web
or Call (877) GOD'S-WILL

Income limits raised for taxpayer-funded birth

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Dec. 23 [emphasis added]:
A state program that provides free birth control to those from
the ages of 15 to 44 will be available to more people after the
federal government on Thursday approved raising income limits
in the program.

Wisconsin is the first state to raise the income levels for the

The federal approval makes the program more widely available,
but its future remains unclear because of skepticism from
Republicans who will take over state government in January.

The family planning program, which also provides screening for
sexually transmitted diseases, had been available to those
making 200% above the federal poverty level.
The changes
approved Thursday raise eligibility to 300% of the federal
poverty level, making it available to individuals who earn
up to $32,490 a year.

The program is controversial because girls as young as 15
can get access to birth control without parental consent.

Virtually anyone age 15 to 17 is eligible for the program because
parental income is not taken into account when determining if
children qualify for the program.

Click here to read more.

Give the gift of life

As we continue to celebrate the birth
of our Savior, please remember that of
all the gifts you give this Christmas, none
is more precious than the gift of life you
give by supporting Pro-Life Wisconsin.

There’s no better time than this season of perpetual hope to give the gift of life. And to sweeten the deal, your donation to Pro-Life Wisconsin Education Task Force on or before December 31can be written off as a charitable contribution for your 2010 taxes.

We’re working harder than ever before to defend each and every innocent life. Please click here to keep the ball rolling!

Thank you to everyone who joined us for empty manger Christmas caroling!

On Christmas Eve day, Pro-Life Wisconsin and 40 Days for Life-Milwaukee sang Christmas carols from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. outside Affiliated Medical Services in Milwaukee. Affiliated is located at 1428 N. Farwell Ave. Affiliated is one of Wisconsin's four stand-alone abortion facilities and the only late-term abortion facility in the state.

Empty manger carolers also gathered at the Orin Rd., Madison Planned Parenthood abortuary on Dec. 23.

2011 Rally for Life

Pro-Life Wisconsin will observe Roe v. Wade in Milwaukee on Saturday, January 15, 2011, since a number of us will be in Washington, DC, for the annual March for Life.

The Rally for Life will be held at Three Holy Women - St. Rita's campus, 1601 N. Cass St., Milwaukee, WI.

Schedule for the day as follows:
* 8:10 a.m. Rosary
* 8:30 a.m. Mass with Fr. James Kubicki, SJ, as the main celebrant
* Prayer and witness at Affiliated Medical Services will follow Mass
* 10:30 a.m. Continental potluck breakfast at St. Rita's (please bring a dish of breakfast treats to pass)

Questions? Call Pro-Life Wisconsin at (262) 796-1111.

San Francisco-based Catholic Healthcare West betrays Catholic name, principles

From American Life League:
San Francisco-based Catholic Healthcare West is a system of 41 hospitals and medical centers located in California, Arizona and Nevada. CHW is the eighth largest hospital system in the nation and the largest not-for-profit provider in California.

CHW member St. Joseph’s Hospital of Phoenix, Arizona, became steeped in scandal earlier this year when the head of the ethics committee, Sr. Margaret McBride, approved the abortion of an 11-week preborn baby whose mother suffered from pulmonary hypertension. Most Rev. Thomas J. Olmsted, bishop of the Diocese of Phoenix, investigated the case and, after interviewing Sr. McBride, informed her that she had excommunicated herself by approving the abortion. Since then, CHW has defended Sr. McBride’s decision and, after months of debate, Bishop Olmsted issued a letter to CHW declaring his intent to revoke his endorsement of St. Joseph’s Hospital as a Catholic hospital unless CHW met three specific conditions.

Prompted by Bishop Olmsted’s stern warning, American Life League conducted its own investigation into CHW’s activities and discovered that its scandals are not limited to one member hospital aborting a preborn baby – as if that by itself were not scandalous and tragic enough. In just two days, ALL found the following:

– CHW has granted money to at least six organizations that promote abortion, birth control and/or homosexual lifestyles.

– CHW helped create the “Healthy San Francisco” health plan, which covers elective abortion.

– At least one CHW member hospital promotes the nation's largest abortion chain, Planned Parenthood, on its website, and another lists the provision of contraceptives as a service.

– 12 CHW members (as of 2001) performed tubal ligations.

– 20 members currently refer for vasectomies by staff physicians on their web sites.

– CHW Arizona’s health care plan covers oral contraceptives and diaphragms.

– CHW's CEO made donations to the Obama campaign and strongly endorsed the USCCB-condemned Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Click here to read more.

Obama administration includes death panels in Medicare

New York Times, Dec. 25:
When a proposal to encourage end-of-life planning touched off a political storm over “death panels,” Democrats dropped it from legislation to overhaul the health care system. But the Obama administration will achieve the same goal by regulation, starting Jan. 1.

Under the new policy, outlined in a Medicare regulation, the government will pay doctors who advise patients on options for end-of-life care, which may include advance directives to forgo aggressive life-sustaining treatment.

To read more from the New York Times, click here.

To download Pro-Life Wisconsin's Protective Power of Attorney for Healthcare, click here.

Taxpayers, here's your 2010 Christmas Card from the Democrats who control Washington

Open and take a look!

Oh, dear God, could I please during 2011 be as caring and considerate as those warm, fuzzy liberals

The following has been posted by some other conservatives, but I couldn’t resist.

On December 16, 2010, this was posted on the Wisconsin State Journal web site by the typical, cowardly, anonymous lefty in response to the state Senate, with negative votes by Democrat Senators Russ Decker and Jeff Plale, rejecting contracts for state employees. The coward used the moniker, JailJensen in addressing those who supported voting down the contracts:

Would you and others of your mindset, please put a Walker bumper-sticker on your vehicle, so I know to keep on walking, if I see you (or a loved dying) in a crash or getting mugged and/or beaten or the very least falling on the ice and hurting yourself, while going to your car on the street, because I would be laughing to hard at that happy day in Wisconsin. It is time to let the retarded right-wing rectum radical trash (who aren't already rich) sink to the bottom, where they so strongly want to race. So, if something happens to you and your loved-ones and people walk on by, not providing you any aid, just remember that is the way you wanted it.

By the way all Decker deserves is to be spit upon, which I won't be doing, but if he is accosted by others, when I'm around I will just laugh, the same way I would laugh at you, if one of your loved ones dies a slow agonizing death.

May you have a tragic Christmas and may one of your crashes cause you to become quadraplegic, whether it is your fault or not, it will be what you deserve.”


How sweet, kind, and thoughtful.

Meanwhile, like a spoiled brat child crying over spilled milk, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial pages continue to print letters to the editor blasting Governor-elect Scott Walker for killing the half-fast train to Madison. Rarely is a letter published in Walker’s defense. One did come Christmas Day and it’s brilliant:


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In this corner, Slick Willy, Bill Clinton! And in this corner, W., George W. Bush!

For someone who mangled words on a regular basis, it's an impressive feat.

Former U.S. President George W Bush's memoir has sold an astonishing two million copies since it was released in early November - and it's not even in paperback yet.

'Decision Points', published both in hardcover and e-book form, is flying off the shelves, the Crown Publishing Group says. [...]

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An UNBELIEVABLE Culinary no-no that just couldn't wait

Culinary no-no's

I am about to link to a true, bona fide, legitimate culinary no-no.

It’s about an obese woman whom I’m sure knows she’s obese, kinda like this guy....

....but continues to eat herself into oblivion and a sure premature death

Of course, to liberals, it is not this behemoth woman’s fault. I will list the obvious places of blame knowing that I am sure to miss a few but can only think like the deranged liberal for so long:

1) Reagan

2) El Nino

3) Global warming

4) George W. Bush

5) Not enough government programs

6) Taxes are too low

7) McDonald’s

8) Burger King

9) Did I forget a fast food joint?

10) Salt

11) Evil restaurants

12) Evil restaurants that don’t post the calories for each entrée

13) Evil Republicans

14) Americans that have not planted gardens like Michelle Obama’s

15) The toys in Happy Meals

The story of poor (BELCH) Donna Simpson.


It was the most controversial issue in Franklin during 2010.

Franklin alderman Tim Solomon told me it was “a no brainer.”

Sorry, Alderman Solomon. I don’t think so.

The costly question decided in 2010 was whether Franklin should toss in $500,000, half a million bucks to support an interchange at Drexel Avenue. It marked one of the few times I sided with liberal alderman Kristen Wilhelm and not conservative alderman Steve Olson.

The back and forth, back and forth debate finally came to a showdown in May 2010 in Franklin. On May 1, 2010, I blogged that the
Drexel Interchange policy and process was flawed:

How Not to Govern 101

There are just so many things about today’s tie vote by the Franklin Common Council, broken by Mayor Tom Taylor to approve funding for a Drexel Avenue Interchange.

Let’s start with the policy.

Is the interchange even necessary? Proponents in my view have not made a solid case it’s needed.

Job creation? Supporters have claimed thousands of jobs will be generated from the project. Sounds like Doyle-ese to me. Our governor made fast and free forecasts about thousands and thousands of jobs that would be created from the high speed rail line from Milwaukee to Madison. The real # is 55 permanent jobs.

Where is the fact-based data, where is the cost-benefit analysis that shows economic impact including jobs specifically for Franklin?

The entire project would be located in Oak Creek.

I honestly believe that some aldermen fell for the, HEY, IT’S TAX INCREMENTAL FINANCING (TIF) money. HEY, IT WON’T KICK IN UNTIL 2013.


Pushing our spending out into future years is the kind of foolish budgeting trick that has gotten my employer, the state of Wisconsin, in deep, deep fiscal trouble.

And I’m sorry but I just don’t see the groundswell of support for this project. Have people been knocking down the doors at City Hall screaming, “BUILD THE INTERCHANGE!! BUILD THE INTERCHANGE!! LET’S BAIL OUT OAK CREEK!!

The process

Most often the average citizen doesn’t care. He/she just wants results. I think that’s changing, however.

Remember, Franklin officials had months to figure this out and take a stand prior to today’s DOT-imposed deadline. So what did they do?

They noticed today’s meeting on a gorgeous, sunny, 80-degree late-April afternoon. Who was paying attention? Who cared?

They met on a beautiful 70-degree SATURDAY AFTERNOON. Again, who was paying attention? Who cared?

I’m told a little over a dozen private citizens attended today’s special meeting. The rest were highly concerned Oak Creek officials.

Hmmmm. Ramming through key legislation at the last minute. Haven’t we read that headline a lot the past couple of weeks?

It’s interesting that today I spoke with real estate agent who said it’s common knowledge in the market and industry that Franklin is over-taxed. You know why? Because we can’t say no when it comes to spending.

Hopefully I am wrong about the Interchange and Franklin will benefit greatly. At the moment, call me skeptical.

Despite my disappointment, having said all that, city officials are still light years ahead of the deer in headlights bunch at the Franklin School Board.

A few days later, I received an E-newsletter from Franklin alderman Kristen Wilhelm who, I was stunned, voted against the interchange:


Here is the update from the Saturday Special Council meeting, which was called by Alderman Olson and Solomon in response to the DOT May 1st Drexel Interchange cost share deadline. Below is the motion with an interpretation and an explanation from my point of view. I think you’ll find this interesting if you can get through it all.

Alderman Solomon moved and Alderman Olson seconded to approve, in response to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation stated May 1, 2010 deadline, and to authorize the Mayor, City Clerk and Director of Finance and Treasurer to execute and deliver a State/Municipal Agreement for a Highway Improvement Project: 27th Street (STH 241) with the Department of Transportation, containing the Department’s standard terms and conditions and providing estimated costs and that a separate Municipal agreement shall address further Municipal cost share for the 27th Street Project, and further providing for lighting improvements within the City of Franklin, with the understanding and provision that: i) the lighting costs of $500,000 to be paid thereunder would otherwise be the responsibility of the Department of Transportation under standard cost sharing requirements, and the City of Oak Creek agrees that the lighting costs payment is in full satisfaction of any City of Franklin obligation under Article IV. of that certain June, 2009 Memorandum of Understanding with Oak Creek; ii) the $500,000 to be paid thereunder qualifies as project costs to be paid by tax increment for the applicable Tax Incremental District(s); iii) the Wisconsin Department of Transportation agrees that this extraordinary one-time lump sum payment shall not be increased and shall not be due until the commencement of the 27th Street project no earlier than 2013, and that the Department of Transportation shall obtain the current intended timely construction of the Drexel Avenue Interchange without municipal cost share funding from the City of Franklin.

The vote was 3-3, Motion passed 4 - 3 (Mayor Taylor breaking the tie).

Basically the motion means Franklin will use TIF funds to pay $500,000 (.5 M) for lighting on 27th Street, knowing this cost would have been paid by the DOT, but it allows the DOT to shift the amount of their 27th Street cost obligations toward constructing the I-94 Drexel Interchange in Oak Creek. This swap was arranged because Franklin TIF dollars cannot be used in another community. An important point to remember here is that the DOT would have paid for the 27th Street lighting. The $500,000 of Franklin money is in essence a contribution to the I-94 Drexel Interchange.

This is a Federal US Highway and the entire Interchange is in Oak Creek. At this point, the DOT is committed to improving Drexel Avenue to 4 lanes heading EAST, deeper into Oak Creek, but NOT WEST toward 27th Street and Franklin. There is a plan for Oak Creek to do this westward improvement, but no commitment or funding exists. Our city should not pay to get a lesser level of service. Our $500,000 contribution, to an improvement on a federal interstate highway in another city, should at least provide benefits to us in terms of a commitment to Drexel Avenue improvements in the direction of our border business district (27th Street).

This action was far from perfect for Franklin taxpayers; therefore I was NOT able to support the motion. I won’t be too critical of my colleague’s vote; after all I know the "idea" was to support economic development and I do have to work with them in the future. However as I see it, the economic train is headed toward Oak Creek on the back of your wallets because the DOT will construct the interchange and eastward Drexel Avenue improvements, but there is no timeline or official commitment from Oak Creek on improving the westward section of Drexel to 27th Street and Franklin.

I brought these points up in council and asked HOW LONG would Franklin have to wait with a less-than-functional Drexel Avenue toward 27th Street and there was no concrete answer. I was told to "have faith" in vague and un-funded plans. Even with "faith" the question still remains as to WHEN?

While many see the Interchange as bringing economic development to the 27th St corridor, without a wider westward Drexel it may just do the opposite for Franklin. Presently, Franklin is well served by College, Rawson and Ryan Interchanges and the 27th St. exit. Businesses need traffic to survive. Funneling traffic away from these exits will drain customers from Franklin taxpaying businesses. Here is the economic impact statement from the DOT’s report:

DOT REPORT-Changes in Travel Patterns

I-94 is already a well-established travel route. If capacity is added to the study-area freeway system, more drivers may use the freeway system as opposed to local roads. A new interchange with I-94 at Drexel Avenue and a full interchange with I-94 at 27th Street would change travel patterns. More drivers would use Drexel Avenue, and less would use Ryan and Rawson Avenues (see Section 4.3, Transportation Impacts and Section 4.2.1, Indirect Effects).

According to Alderman and Finance Chair Tim Solomon, Franklin has already invested $15M in the 27th St Corridor without funding from Oak Creek even though they see some benefit. All of the I-94 Drexel Interchange is in Oak Creek. Had we let the market demand drive the construction of the Interchange, the DOT would not have required any municipal cost share. This is based on DOT policy that roadway reconstruction is paid 100 percent if the local traffic is not more than 40 percent of the traffic.

In the end I was able to get a second motion that in essence directed negotiations with Oak Creek for an answer or official commitment regarding Drexel Avenue improvements. It would have made more sense for an agreement to have been put in place (as far back as 2006) PRIOR to the commitment of .5M of your money. This is three times the cost of tornado sirens, which the city has dithered about for over a decade. The same amount of money could have provided impressive benefits in increased police, fire and other city services; more direct benefits to you the taxpayer than dubious projects claiming to bring 40,000 jobs, which is more than the population of Franklin. Let’s all hope Oak Creek is capable of coming through very shortly with funding for the reconstruction of westward Drexel Avenue.

As regular readers know, I am all for economic development. But I also am a strong believer in common sense. Franklin, that spends money hand over fist, did so in this case with the hope and prayer that it will provide a path to great $$$ for the city.

Oh, really?

And when those cars get off at Drexel, tell me which of the dozen or so primo restaurants they will dart to? 

Someone please tell me the superb Franklin shopping destinations those motorists will make a beeline for?

I’m listening.

No brainer?

Sorry, Tim Solomon.

A no-brainer to vote …………NO!

As part of this entry of the top Franklin stories of the year, since we’re talking infrastructure, I would include this story that isn’t sexy and not all that interesting, but seriously is great economic news for Franklin and could lead to substantial growth.




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Got my city of Franklin newsletter in the mail a few weeks ago. There on the front page above the fold read this headline:

Early Warning Weather Sirens Soon to be Activated in Franklin!

With an exclamation point even! As if we are supposed to celebrate!

After years of debate, warning sirens for Franklin were approved in 2010. In May, I received an e-mail from Franklin Fire Chief James Martins. It read, in part:

Weather Warning Sirens became a hot topic last spring when Channel 12 did a tornado warning story that included the fact that Franklin was the only Milwaukee County Community that does not have Weather Warning Sirens.  My phone began to ring from citizens asking why. Due to my duty to respond to citizens concerns I began to explore the Franklin siren issue that had been proposed many times over the last 30 years.  Every time it came up for a vote it failed.  The councils involved stated, the sirens were needed but the city can’t afford it. 

Now in 2009-2010 we have citizens asking why so many in Milwaukee County, and around the country have committed to this system, Franklin continues with no weather warning devices.   On my desk I have almost 100 names on a petition directing the city to install sirens.  In recent years no issue has generated as much citizen input.  I have no petitions or calls stating we should not do sirens.  I’m just a lowly fire chief but it seems when this number of citizens get involved that’s almost a mandate.”

I wrote in response:

I sincerely appreciate this thoughtful e-mail from the Chief. Most people know my complete support for law enforcement, including our firefighters. During last year’s city budget deliberations, while others were supporting cuts, I was advocating for keeping the current level of police and fire services.

I don’t doubt the chief when he says he’s heard from many residents that want tornado warning sirens. We need to be reasonable and fair. If someone was to inform the average Franklin resident that Franklin is the only municipality in Milwaukee County without the sirens, what do you honestly think the natural, immediate reaction would be?

However, the issue is not that simple. There are other factors to consider including cost, affordability, our current budget status, future revenue, necessity. How about siting? Do we even know where they will be placed?

What about competitive bids? Are we going to hear a single glowing presentation by just one firm and then vote aye or no? Apparently. That’s not good business or common sense.

Just because one is opposed to the sirens doesn’t mean the individual is soft on public safety.

The fact is, Franklin has numerous, very effective tornado warning sirens already in place:

Every local TV station in town.

Cable and Satellite TV, including various weather channels.

Every radio station in town.

The National Weather Service.

The Internet.



Cell phones.

Conscientious neighbors.

Concerned friends.

I suspect, however, that when the dust settles, Franklin will purchase sirens for one simple reason. It simply cannot shake its tax and spend mentality.”

During a Common Council meeting, Alderman Steve Olson said:

"I'm going to make this statement, (and) I'm sorry if it offends people: I don't need the government to tell me when to come out of the rain. Just because we have the cash doesn't mean we have to spend it."

Franklin resident Shari Hanneman commented on my blog:

“I was at the Franklin Little League Field last summer and there were no less than 5 people with Blackberries and Smartphones checking the weather when the sky turned dark.

The point being, given the level of technology at our fingertips and the saturation of weather on TV news, we all have no excuse for taking responsibility for our own safety and well-being! It's like the people who sue the tobacco companies for their addiction to cigarettes or those who sue fast food restaurants because they are fat.

Some insightful readers to also weighed in:

“And if you can afford property taxes in Franklin, you can afford a $30 weather radio AND the fresh batteries to run it (just change the batteries when you change the batteries in you smoke detectors)."

“Who would pay for these sirens? As a tax payer with ready to burst taxes in Franklin, I don't think I could afford anymore tax payers footing the bill for anything else.”

The Wisconsin Division of Emergency Management reports that between 1982 and 2008, there were 4 tornado events in Milwaukee County. Thankfully, there were no fatalities. Sixteen people were injured.

Rusty Kapela of the National Weather Service in Sullivan provided me the following details on those four tornadoes:

Aug 17, 1985     F1  ...moved ESE out of Waukesha County into far northwest corner of Milwaukee County.  About 3 homes were damaged along with some power-poles/lines in Milwaukee.

May 24, 1989    F0  ...just a brief spin-up in far northwest corner of
Milwaukee County...path less than 1/10 mile.  I was unable to find out how much damage occurred with this weak tornado since a line of storms also moved through the county with damaging straight-line winds.  About $1M in damage reported....but I suspect mostly due to the thunderstorm winds and not the tornado since the path length of the tornado was so short.

Mar 8, 2000      F1 ...spun up at Mitchell Field and moved northeast into St. Francis    $4.6 M estimated damage, path length of 1.7 miles

July 2000           F1 ...5.4 miles southwest of Mitchell Field spin-up location (near I-94 and Ryan Rd intersection)...and it moved   ESE into northern Racine County.  Several homes damaged, and some power-poles/lines...totaling about $1.5M (estimated) in damage.

This year, Germantown and Eagle experienced troubles with their warning systems.

In June, I blogged that Emily Laidlaw, associate scientist for the Societal Impacts Program at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, found inherent problems with warning sirens.

In the end, the tax and spend mentality at City Hall prevailed, as it normally does.

Read where those sirens will be located.

Finally, a comment on one of my blogs from fellow blogger, dad29:

Boy-who-cried-wolf syndrome to follow.”


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Airline pilot an American hero

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Franklin taxpayers, you have been very generous year after year after year to your city in the incredible amount of property taxes you pay. Compared to other municipalities in the area, Franklin certainly is among the leaders in the dreaded “T” word.

City leaders, I’m sorry to say, have failed in their attempts to hold the line, more often than not, taxing and spending like nobody’s business.

We’re in a recession?

Doesn’t matter.

People are losing their jobs?

Doesn’t matter?

People are losing their homes?

Again, doesn’t matter.

Like so many other municipalities, Franklin governs under the opinion that cutting spending which leads to reduced taxes simply can’t be done. Actually, it can be done, but that requires courage, tough choices, and tough votes. Why do that when you can just take the easy way out and brag to constituents how you kept this program and that service intact.

All across the nation during 2010, citizens made their voices loud and clear. Enough is enough. You are taxing us to death. Did city of Franklin leaders listen?

In June of 2010, I was hoping the light bulb would finally go on. Gloomy news was released that should have been a wake-up call.

The city of Franklin’s Finance Department issued its financial report for the first three months of 2010 and it showed Franklin is in serious budget trouble. Franklin finds itself in the same situation of some reckless consumer that is spending far more than he/she is making. The city is spending more of your money than it is taking in, creating a budget deficit.

As of that June 2010 report, Franklin’s incoming revenue was $1,510, 365 less than the amount the city has budgeted for. That’s over $1.5 million in the hole. And yet the city keeps spending and spending and spending and spending and spending.

What’s causing the budget shortfall? Building permits, planning fees, fire inspections, tippage, Milwaukee payments toward paramedics and interest revenue are all lagging. And that’s only three months into the year.

I’m not on the Finance Committee, though Mayor Taylor has asked me to serve in the past. If I was, my advice would be clear, concise, and simple. The piggy bank is broke. Time to stop spending. Cut up the VISA card. If you don't want to make budget cuts, then it’s time to enact a property tax freeze/spending freeze right now. Take your lumps temporarily. Ride through this mess. Get back on track. Gain some political favor with suffering taxpayers.

Spending cuts? Please. Look at who’s on the Common Council. Tax increase? That appeared more likely.

In November, the Franklin Common Council on a vote of 5-1 with support from Mayor Tom Taylor adopted a 2.6 percent property tax levy increase during a recession when taxpayers are facing salary and benefit cuts, job losses, and foreclosures. We who pay the bills were lectured that this tax and spending increase was “responsible.”

Alderman Steve Olson made several motions to get the budget closer to a 0% property tax levy increase. None of his proposals would have cut police, fire, or public works.  All of his motions were rejected, some without a second.

A few weeks later, City Hall went into damage control.

At the request of Mayor Taylor, an informational report was compiled for a Franklin Common Council meeting entitled: “Comparison of Municipal Property Tax Rates and Other Municipal Charges.” The intent was crystal clear. The report, prepared November 30, was to be used as ammunition in defense of the recession property tax levy hike.

The Mayor, the report states, asked for the analysis “to address whether or not Franklin has high taxes compared to other communities. It further claims, “Franklin has very low municipal property taxes when compared to other Milwaukee County communities, and when other municipal special charges are considered, Franklin fairs (sic) even better.”

City staff analyzed the assessed property tax rates for all 19 Milwaukee communities and then applied the 2009 Aggregate ratio of Assessment to those rates to determine an equalized property tax rate for each community. The Franklin reports states, “Franklin has the third lowest rate with 13 of the communities exceeding Franklin’s rate by more than fifty cents per thousand dollars of equalized value and nine of those communities exceeding Franklin’s rate by more than $1.00 per thousand dollars of equalized value..”

The report then makes this bold claim:

“From this perspective, Franklin clearly has very low municipal property taxes when compared to other Milwaukee communities.”

Another key point of the report is that other communities impose “special charges” for services. Franklin does not assess a special charge for garbage collection, recycling, or storm water utility.

Finally, the report asserts, “Franklin’s equalized municipal property tax rate is one of the lowest in the County. (The special charges in other communities) clearly solidifies Franklin’s position as a comparatively low taxed and charged community.”


This analysis is not convincing and, quite frankly, flawed.

The report emphasizes tax rates, a common ploy of the tax and spenders. The tax rate is meaningless. It’s the property tax levy that’s important.

Also, I’m not sold by an analysis that compares our tax hell to 18 other tax hells.

The timing of this report, just a few weeks after a property tax levy increase was adopted, is also suspect. If this is supposed to make taxpayers feel better about our fiscal condition, shouldn’t this report have been done and announced prior to action on the city budget last month?

All this PR spin does is make the taxers and spenders feel good about what they’ve done. It does nothing for the taxpayers. The time to help taxpayers was at budget time, not two weeks later.

Steve Walters wrote this in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

"+19.1%: The Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates that the December 2002 net property tax bill on that mythical median-valued Wisconsin home was $2,517, and the bills that will soon be arriving in that homeowner's mailbox will be for $3,000 - a $19.1% increase."

Walters’ column got me wondering how the city of Franklin’s tax numbers changed during the same 8-year period from 2002 to the present.

Again, the property tax levy is the most important tax piece. In 2002, Franklin’s property tax levy was $15,606,851. The recently-adopted Franklin budget has a property tax levy of $ $20,426,000.  That’s an increase of 30.8 %.

Rather than focus on the levy, Franklin City Hall leaders have been concentrating on the tax rate. They submit that Franklin’s taxes when comparing our tax rate to the rates in other communities aren’t all that bad.

OK, so let’s look at the tax rate. In 2002, Franklin’s tax rate was $8.17. The recently-adopted city budget has a tax rate of $24.76. That’s an increase of 203%.

That’s using Franklin’s own data.

Alderman Steve Taylor went on a tirade blasting bloggers that would dare criticize Franklin taxes. At a Common Council meeting, Taylor angrily said,Then get the hell out of here if you don't like it."

Taylor forgets that it’s not just a handful of bloggers who aren’t thrilled.

Franklin Mayor Tom Taylor, Alderman Doug Schmidt, Alderman Steve Taylor, Alderman Timothy Solomon, Alderman Steve Olson, and Alderman Kristen Wilhelm received the following e-mail this month from a Franklin taxpayer.

The author gave me permission to publish the e-mail. I am withholding, by request, the author’s name.

Dear Common Council, 

Gotta say, that in these economic times, I am overwhelmed by my tax bill.  It went up about $518.  We were already short based on last year's taxes, now it is even worse.  Currently, I am way under-employed.  My husband is under-employed and may not even have a job come January.    

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The Year of My Mother: Before there was Elvis, there was Eddie and Eddy

The Year of My Mother


As long as there’s music, young girls will swoon over male singers. There’s a long history of girls going bananas.

The current fave: Justin Bieber. This past decade also had the Jonas Brothers causing pre-pubescent chaos.

Let’s track the history of crooners that led to swooners, along with other male heartthrobs:

Kirk Cameron, Jason Priestley, and Ashton Kutcher

Michael J. Fox, Scott Baio, and Johnny Depp

David Cassidy, Barry Williams, and Donny Osmond

The Beatles, Davy Jones and Bobby Sherman

The ultimate, Elvis Presley

But before Elvis, there was….

Eddie Fisher.

The darling of pop music and loved by women, yes, women, plural.

Eddie Fisher

We're at that point in the calendar where we start to remember those celebrities that have passed this year. Eddie Fisher had a great voice, his own TV show, millions of record sales, and a litany of famous wives: Debbie Reynolds, Elizabeth Taylor and Connie Stevens.

Mom loved Eddie Fisher.

Mom didn't like what happened to Eddie Fisher.


"Fisher married singer and actress Debbie Reynolds in 1955, and they had two children, Carrie Fisher (who famously portrayed Princess Leia in the Star Wars trilogy) and Todd Fisher. Fisher then became embroiled in one of the greatest Hollywood love scandals of the era when, after the death of his close friend Michael Todd, Fisher began an affair with Todd's widow, the movie star Elizabeth Taylor. Fisher divorced Reynolds and married Taylor in 1959, with the pair staying married for five years until Taylor left Fisher for actor Richard Burton. Fisher has since been married to Connie Stevens (1967-1969), Terry Richard (1975-1976) and Betty Lin (1993-2001). He has two children with Stevens, daughters Tricia and Joely. While Fisher's love life spiraled out of control during the 1960s, he also began heavily abusing drugs. The drugs and women, combined with the ascendancy of rock and roll, marked the end of this crooner's time atop the popular music charts."

Eddie Fisher died this past September. He was 82.

But Mom always had a special place in her heart for another Ed.

Mom never bragged or tried to one up anyone or steal the show. But she loved telling this story.

It had to be the mid to late 1940's. Mom was working at Omar's Bakery on Wisconsin Avenue.

Suddenly one day, a male figure stood at the front window and waved enthusiastically to Mom and the other gals working. The gentleman was unmistakable.

He was in town appearing at the Riverside. Mom and the others shrieked or screamed or giggled or all of the aforementioned. I think Mom said some cried.

Eddy Howard never stopped inside to buy a cruller or long john. Just as well. He would have received lousy service. All of the women would have passed out.

Mom enjoyed telling that story, though she never wanted any attention directed her way. Whenever she heard "To Each His Own," Mom seemed to wander off into another land.

God Bless You, Mom

2) Culinary no-no: The Audrey Fischer Edition

3) The Year of My Mother

4) The Year of My Mother - Jimmy Dean

5) The Year of My Mother - "The scarier the better."

6) The Year of My Mother: Erin Go Bragh

7) Goodnight everyone, and have a memorable weekend!

8) The Year of My Mother - Mother's Day

9) The Year of My Mother: The charming July 4th police officer

10) The Year of My Mother: Grandparents Day

11) The Year of My Mother: O Tannenbaum

12) The Year of My Mother: Before there was Elvis, there was Eddie and Eddy


There was no reason for a Franklin school property tax levy increase this year.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported in October that the Franklin School District got an increase in state aid of $800,332.

It didn’t matter.

The Franklin School Board voted to approve a 2.9 percent school property tax levy increase.

School Board members Debbie Larson, Jeff Traylor, Judith Bialk and Melissa Klein voted for the 2.9 percent increase even though:

1) We’re in a recession.

2) The rate of inflation has been around 1 percent.

3) The Franklin School District got an increase in state aid of over $800-thousand.

4) The farce of an annual electors meeting had a 10-10 tie vote for a tax increase.

5) There are plenty of FOR SALE signs all over town.

Linda Witkowski and Janet Evans voted no. David Works was absent.

The Milwaukee School Board voted to CUT their levy by 0.8 percent. The Franklin School Board worse than MPS? Sad but true.

FranklinNOW found a few residents who get it:

“Others have opposed any property tax levy increase, saying residents can't afford it due to the economy. ‘You are running a business with our dollars, and we are concerned about how you are spending them,’ resident Donald Reed told the School Board during the district's annual meeting in August.”

Finding Franklin school budget information online is virtually impossible.,  a web site dedicated to government transparency, graded the Franklin school district’s web site a D-.

t was another bad year for the administrators of our school district.

In May, the following e-mail was sent from Christopher and Beth Mantoan of Franklin to all Franklin School Board members, Franklin Mayor Tom Taylor and Franklin Alderman Steve Olson:

Dear Franklin School Board members, Mayor Taylor and Alderman Olson-

When I returned from work today, we had this wonderful surprise in our front lawn.

We are hoping that included in the highly-discussed budget that was passed, allowing the almost- $1 million fiber optic project to move forward, was money to reimburse our family for a new front lawn (professionally seeded and re-graded, not a 20-minute patch job) and for the first application of our lawn care service that also occurred today. We realize this may (and I'm being generous) be Franklin's property, but Franklin did not install, nor pay for, our professional landscaping job 7 years ago, nor does Franklin water or mow our lawn, or take care of the general upkeep of our yard.

We would have appreciated some notice, as we could have at least prevented the lawn care service from coming out today. We would appreciate this monstrosity removed from our front lawn immediately and a written letter stating all reimbursements as requested above will be made from the Franklin budget. 

We are appalled after paying over $8000 in taxes this past year this would be allowed to happen.

Please contact us to discuss prompt resolution of this matter.


Christopher and Beth Mantoan

Alderman Olson replied:

I'm sorry for the trouble that you and others are experiencing with this project.

Be aware that this project is being paid for and run by the Franklin Public Schools without notice to the homeowners affected. I'll be happy to help in any way but at this point suggest that you address your immediate concerns to your school board members and the school district administration.
The City of Franklin was not involved in the planning or execution of this project.


There's more.

Olson got a phone call from a very angry former Franklin
alderman, accusing the city of cutting power to the house. Workers had cut a cable through a hole that's marked for power. This was happening at Franklin properties as part of the school district's wasteful, whopping $800,000 fiber optic project that was approved in their latest tax-increase budget.

Lawns were ripped up and destroyed and power was cut off and to make matters worse, no Franklin taxpaying homeowners were notified that workers with heavy equipment would be descending upon their properties.

$800,000 and not a single penny to send out a letter, e-mail, or telephone call warning of the impending destruction.

And how about those 

The Franklin School District intelligentsia gets the public all lathered up by painting the picture of crumbling structures and kids that will be forced to sit in trailers (yeh, right) and sports teams that  will be worse than the Bad News Bears unless you, yes you, struggling taxpayer, open up your wallet for the millionth time and fork it over.

They think they’ve got your number. They will send out sob story of a survey, one after another, begging for just the right answers, and when you politely, innocently tell them, you bet, we’d love to see an improved this and a new that……..BAM!  They’re introducing proposals to raise taxes by a bundle to build and/or improve all these facilities THAT YOU THE PUBLIC DEMANDED.

FranklinNOW reporter Mark Schaaf noted, “Many have complained about the state of Franklin's athletic facilities.”

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Congratulations Mayor Tom Taylor.....I think

The mayor is one of the 32 members of Lee Holloway’s transition team for Holloway’s 30-day stint as Acting Milwaukee County Executive.

No offense to Mayor Taylor. I understand the willingness to serve. But Holloway is not off to a very good start.

No Barking Lot this Saturday, but......

This is quite interesting:

"Once upon a time, Americans got dogs for their sheep. Now they get sheep for their dogs."

The story...

The gift of life is incredible....

And mighty precious. reports, "Two incumbent aldermen face no opposition in spring election"

Oh really?


Outstanding individual achievement is not all that common. So when special accomplishments occur, they are worthy of loud and proud recognition.

When the exemplary performances are turned in by wonderful, deserving people, the awards they’ve strived for are even more meaningful.

Back in April, I was the emcee for the banquet marking the 50th anniversary of the Wisconsin Scorers and Timers Association. In the audience was a very good friend, Franklin High School baseball coach Jim Hughes whom I’ve known for over 30 years.

I told those assembled that Jim Hughes was on the verge of making history. As loud applause followed, I noticed my friend with a look that either could kill the emcee, wish that I would change the subject, or both.

But history was waiting. It was only a matter of time.

The story.

The pictures....

Franklin baseball coach Jim Hughes looks on as his team takes the plate in the bottom of the first inning against Greenfield.

Franklin baseball coach Jim Hughes, center, and Greenfield's Lee Kleszczynski go over the ground rules before their regional game earlier this week. The Sabers won, 6-2, as Hughes became the state's all-time winningest baseball coach with victory #743. . MyCommunityNOW photos: Peter Zuzga


Hughes and his talented Saber players weren’t done just yet.

They were still in the state playoff hunt.

This story had yet to come to its conclusion.

The ending was written a la Hollywood.

Franklin players celebrate after the final out in their 11-4 win over West Bend West to capture the WIAA Summer Baseball state tournament title. NOW Photo by Peter Zuzga


Franklin coach Jim Hughes accepts the championship trophy. NOW Photo by Peter Zuzga

Coach Jim Hughes celebrates the victory with his players Thursday as Franklin wins the WIAA Summer State Baseball Championship game .Journal Sentinel photo: Brad Vest

Franklin players hoist the championship trophy. NOW Photo by Peter Zuzga

Franklin players took turns kissing the championship trophy. Journal Sentinel photo: Brad Vest

Franklin fans cheer as the team gets its first-place trophy.  NOW Photo by Peter Zuzga


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I was on WISN today

Topics talked about on WISN

Here's the background on some of the stories I discussed today filling in for mark belling on Newstalk 1130 WISN:

State Democrats offer free bumper sticker depicting train going through Scott Walker's head.   THE UPDATE.

Is reading wife's emails a crime?

Whistle-blower pilot steps forward.

Killer avoids prison time.

UW vs TCU in the Beef Bowl.

Jim Doyle......WHAT A GUY!

A criminal's best friend!


Across Wisconsin, over 100 communities have ordinances in place that restrict where released sex offenders can live or congregate, modeled after Franklin’s ordinances that have been ruled constitutional

In 2010, those ordinances were in danger of being killed by the Democrat-controlled state Legislature. Two identical bills were proposed to pre-empt local ordinances like the two in effect in Franklin. These ordinances have been adopted because communities wanted them and believe them to be effective in protecting their children.


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Kyla's Korner - Musings of a Mother (12/31/10)

Kyla's Korner

By Jennifer Fischer
Mother of beautiful angel, Kyla

Please enjoy this Year In Review of our beautiful daughter.  As you read the captions below each photo, hum Neil Sadaka's tune "Calendar Girl" to yourself.  To our younger readers:  Don't know who Neil Sadaka is?  Ask your parents or find a You Tube.  You won't be sorry!

JANUARY, you start our year off fine


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The Year of My Mother: Happy New Year and hold the herring!


Staying in this New Year’s Eve? Yeh, so are we. Guess some of us aren’t 25 anymore.

Before I knew what “going out” New Year’s Eve was all about, that night was spent with Mom and Dad and a huge slice of Americana that is probably no more.

Dinner was dinner. Something nice, of course, but nothing super special. The cool stuff was reserved for the late night snacks.

And this is where Mom being Mom comes in. She made sure everyone else was happy and taken care of, first and foremost. Unselfish Mom would finish, as always, in the distance.

Dad would hope for, and always get, his December 31 favorites, starting with….


Not just any herring.

Ma Baensch herring.

Of course, there were the obligatory cheese and crackers.

And raw beef.

Raw beef and onions.

Raw beef and onions on cocktail/snack rye bread.

Raw beef and onions on cocktail/snack rye bread with salt and pepper.

Outside of the cheese and some sliced sausage, my mother didn't care much about thta herring, and definitely turned thumbs down at the raw beef. But it was always on the bill of fare.

At 10:00, the latest TV news. Usually Channel 6 as I recall.

Then at 10:30, the live broadcast from New York's Waldorf Astoria with Guy Lombardo and his Orchestra.

Every woman was outfitted in full length gown, every gent in a tuxedo. Most wore party hats. As they attempted to dance, they were squeezed in tighter than a can of Ma Baensch sardines.

Because I was too young, and because my RCA transistor was accustomed to top 40, the air of sophistication and sheer joy of that elegant atmosphere was simply lost on a kid who’d rather been out in the back yard kicking a football.

Dad would often fall asleep snoring on the couch shortly after 11:00 when Guy had already proclaimed Happy New Year to America from New York. That left Mom and I to watch more of Guy with his nasally voice and baton and his Royal Canadians.

Every year, The Sweetest Music this Side of Heaven. Every year, Boo Hoo.

Corny, silly, strange. I would roll my eyes.


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Goodnight everyone and have a wonderful New Year's weekend, and a prosperous and healthy 2011

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