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Tuesday, January 27, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 26.0° F  Overcast


Sugar Shack Records celebrates its survival

The Packers-Cowboys game roared through the car speakers as I pulled up to Sugar Shack Records. Is there anything less Packer-like than a used record shop on a football Sunday? The fact that Sugar Shack owner Gary John Feest selected game day for his store's 33 1/3 anniversary sale was perfect. In the face of indignities both industry-imposed and self-inflicted, Feest has lasted more than three decades. >More
 Sartorial revelations from a skinny-jeaned wannabe

In my mind's eye, I'm super old. I'm out in the yard on a hot day with my shirt off. A puff of gray hair sprouts from the sunken crater that is my chest. My pointy elbows could poke your eye out, but that doesn't stop my grandchildren from clinging to my legs like ivy. We tumble down into the soft grass. A haystack of giggles. >More
 On the road again

There's an old motel about 10 miles north of Louisville right off I-65. The Bel-Air is the kind of old motor inn you see in a David Lynch film: Two long lines of rooms that form an L, an office in the middle and a little swimming pool out front with a stub of a diving board hanging over it. >More
 Remembering blues guitarist Chris Aaron

He died last week sitting in his music studio. On the phone with his son. The two most important things in his life, family and song, defined and sustained Chris Aaron to the very last beat of his lion heart. He was 44 years old. >More
 The perils and pleasures of the Willy Street Fair Parade

Sixty pounds of throw beads sounds like a lot until you get to the last six blocks of the parade. That's when "the eyes" come out. No one should have to endure the eyes of a child who just witnessed another small person scoop up a necklace from the sidewalk and giddily try it on. >More
 The empty nest, temporarily reoccupied

Those are big shoes by the door. They carry big dreams. Big plans. Big feet. They belong to our youngest son, who will lace them up, walk out to the car in two days and get in the back seat. We'll motor to the end of the driveway, take a right on Rutledge Street, then drive into the heart of his college senior year. >More
 A Central Park for the people

I've served as an emcee for all nine of the annual La FĂȘte de Marquette music festivals. That means that, over the course of nearly a decade, I've introduced 100-plus acts. I've only mispronounced one. And friends, that was a king-hell bummer. It was the very first year. >More
 A bolt from the blue

The hickory tree is under the genus Carya. It's named after the Greek goddess Carya, whose promiscuity caused her to be transformed into a nut tree by the wino Dionysus. That's the kind of experience that could harden a girl. And it did. Hickory wood is arguably the strongest and hardest wood on the planet. >More
 Bike to Hell Day

Even though my hands were throbbing in pain, releasing even one from the handlebars wasn't a choice. The crosswind blew so hard a garbage can lifted and launched like a missile across the road just ahead of me. I'd lost sight of Peggy a half-hour before. For all I knew she was already in Milwaukee. This trip was turning into Bike to Hell Day. >More
 Flight follies

The line is a long wire, barbed with harried people. What's worse than harried people? Harried people in a hurry. Harried passengers who've been told, back there at the gate, to report to the airline's main help desk. Hashtag Every Man for Himself. O'Hare. >More
 An ode to college basketball

How I love thee. I love thee even before March when everyone loves thee. I mean I really love thee. I would make out with thee if I could. I'm talking tongues. I even love thee in May! When thou art no more even happening! I think of thee all the time. Not of football, not for a moment. Football is your plodding, mouth-breathing, six-seconds-at-a-time, head-concussing, knuckle-dragging cousin. I love THEE! >More
 The rigors of the winter diet

We decided to tackle the most flagrant first-world problem right after Martin Luther King Day. A diet. Who's we? Peggy, me and our 22-year-old daughter, Maggie. She's doing postgraduate research on the topic of empty-nest invasion. >More
 To trap a sparrow

Our son Tucker's laugh is a manic, fluttery yodel. Like the sound of a cuckoo clock being thrown down a flight of stairs. When he's startled, which happens easily, his scream sounds almost exactly the same as his laugh. It was the scream version that came up from the basement. >More
 On being a patient

Thanksgiving week is a great time to be in the hospital if you're a college basketball fan. Holiday tournaments in Alaska and Hawaii mean games are televised into the wee hours of Central Standard Time. That would be 2 a.m. right now. And here I lie in Room 910 with a giant plastic sippy-cup of ice water in one hand and a game-show button in the other. >More
 Barber chair roulette

It was a big day the first time I was old enough to get dropped off at the barbershop. I sauntered in, settled into the waiting area, and plucked a plump Playboy from the pile of Field and Streams and Sports Illustrateds. >More
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