Saturday, October 28, 2006

Also from the pages

I forgot to mention that for Isthmus' yearly Madison Music Project supplement, which ran the week before last, I put together a roundtable discussion of local musicians who earn a living at their craft. Check it out here.

Friday, October 27, 2006

One more thing

Check out my special comment on the Daily Page about the Antigo, Wis. boy who got trapped in a vending machine.
In the pages

Other stuff of mine that's up on Isthmus' Web site: Items in my latest Nightlife column about Madison's annual Halloween riot, Piano Fondue, and First Friday at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.
Vox pop

This week's Isthmus has letters written in response to my cover story about Wisconsin's same-sex marriage amendment. Thought-provoking stuff.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Another crutch

My other favorite word to overuse lately is lacuna -- or, better still, lacunae.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Hail the conquering hero

I was not paying attention when this happened, but the ailing Roger Ebert has begun to write film reviews for the Chicago Sun-Times again. This comes as a great relief -- I love the Roger Ebert. Read his recent remarks about what happened to him here.

I suspect I am not the only writer who overuses certain words and phrases. One of those is locution, appropriately enough, and another is discomfitingly. And I just noticed that twice in recent months I have, in the pages of Isthmus, described someone's garment as being not merely red but vivid red -- as though that actually means anything, which it doesn't.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Yum yum

Now that my employer, Isthmus newspaper, has redesigned its Web site, my monthly column of food news has begun to appear on the Web. Check out the latest installment here.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

All debts

A recent Explainer column on Slate examines whether private businesses are obligated to accept cash. Evidently they're not, but what gave me pause was the link to the article on Slate's main page. It reads, "Why stores don't have to take your dirty cash," and I thought that meant the article was about whether private businesses are obligated to accept dollars that are filthy, tattered or otherwise mutilated.

That question made me recall my trip to Cambodia a few years ago. American dollars are widely accepted in Cambodia, and some businesses that cater to tourists (restaurants, firing ranges) even refuse to take the local currency, the riel. I was surprised to encounter our familiar greenbacks in the kingdom, and even more surprised when I closely examined what looked like a crisp, new dollar bill, because it bore the signature of W. Michael Blumenthal. He was Jimmy Carter's treasury secretary, you'll recall.

Yes, Cambodians regularly handle American bills that here would have disintegrated into microbes ages ago. The bills look new because Cambodians are very careful with their sawbucks, and merchants there indeed do not accept dollars that are filthy, tattered or otherwise mutiliated. I learned that when I had a torn dollar handed back to me with a polite shake of the head.

I later gave that torn dollar, and other dollars, to a Phnom Penh policeman who randomly shook me down on the street one evening. I guess members of a debased constabulary don't have to be so choosy.

As any traveler would, I brought home riel notes as souvenirs. But had I been thinking, I would have brought back some of those disco-era dollars, too.