Here’s What You Missed in Milwaukee This Week: Aug. 13

Olympic medals, power outages and sailing the cruel waves, this week in MKE.

Wisconsin’s Olympic Victory

If you were watching the Olympics (and if the ratings are anything to go by, you probably weren’t), then you may have seen a woman sprinting across the marathon finish line screaming to the heavens in victory. That was Molly Seidel of Nashotah, Wisconsin. In related news: did you know Nashotah is pronounced: Nash-oh-tuh, like Minnesota. I always thought it was Nash-oh-taw, like Break-the-Law. But that’s unimportant to the larger point here, which is that Seidel took home the bronze medal in the marathon, which was cool, and then she immediately shouted out her hometown, saying, “Please drink a beer for me,” which was cooler. She keeps on being a world-class athlete. We’ll keep on drinking beer. Everybody wins (except all the people Molly beat. Ha. Roasted.)

2020 Olympic Trials Marathon; Photo courtesy of Molly Seidel

Shooting Stuff Olympically

Molly Seidel wasn’t the only local to take home a medal at the Olympics. Waterford’s Maddy Bernau and her teammate (who isn’t from Wisconsin, and hence will not be named or in any way further acknowledged) got bronze in the Olympics’ first ever mixed team trap competition. For the uninitiated, that means mixed team shooting stuff. Back when I was just five years old, my Uncle Horace used to tell me any self-respecting Wisconsinite could shoot a string bean out of a cow’s backside with both hands tied behind his back. I used to say, “Horace that is both offensive and nonsensical. Please let go of me.” But heck, our shooting skills are Olympic-certified now, so I guess there was some truth in his nonsense. I wonder if the feds ever caught the old guy.

If You Brew It, They Will Drink

Field of Dreams has been a quintessential, heartwarming baseball movie for decades now. Seen at the right time in childhood, it can kick off a love of the game that lasts years. I still remember watching it with my buddies at age eight. Inspired by the magic of that baseball field bringing the old players back, I immediately went out to my backyard and built a scale reproduction of the altar of Nyarlathotep in the hopes of summoning the old God to reclaim his throne in blood and glory. Didn’t work. Yet.

But anyways, Field of Dreams is having a big moment because the White Sox and Yankees played a game at the field in Dyersville, Iowa on Thursday. Before that, the fella who owns the harvesting rights to the famous corn surrounding the field contacted Milwaukee’s own Broken Bat Brewery and asked them if they wanted to brew a beer from the corn for the big game. Broken Bat obviously said yes, and so now we have an extremely limited supply of Can of Corn Classic Ballpark Ale available at the Broken Bat taproom while it lasts.


 

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The 400-Page Giannis Biography

Giannis: The Improbable Rise of an NBA MVP by Mirin Fader hit shelves this week. The 400-page biography tells the tale of Milwaukee’s favorite basketballer, from his youth in Greece to his 2021 championship run. Giannis is cool – everyone knows this – so this Up is about to take a hard right turn.

Long books. They’re great in the way that climbing a mountain is great. You set out to conquer them, and you reap the rewards of your effort. When a long book is of high quality, you are immersed not only a literary world, but in a philosophy, a way of thinking and being. The author has poured years of their life and experience into these things, and you have the privilege of taking all that in over the course of a few hours. It’s remarkable. I still recall the visceral experience of reading 2666 in my college library. It was page 600 exactly, and I had just read the recounting of a particularly unpleasant and tragic death – one of many in the long series of murders that mark the book’s fourth part. I put the book down and rested my head in my hands. I felt numb and a little sick like I was going to cry but couldn’t, and then I picked the book back up and read the next sentence. The detective “rested his head on the steering wheel and tried to cry but couldn’t.”

What a strange feeling that was, to see the exact thing I had just felt and done in reaction to what I read, played out on the page. It was as though over the preceding 599 pages, the book and I had started to meld together, like that character and I engaged in some sort of spiritual meeting. That book left me marked in a way few other cultural works have, and it’s the sort of meaningful engagement you can only really get from a high-quality long book.

And so here are some unsolicited long book recommendations: 2666 by Roberto Bolano, Jerusalem by Alan Moore, The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen, Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, and Moby-Dick by Herman Melville.

Photo via Hatchette Books

The Denis Sullivan Not Sailing

I upturned the bottle of the whiskey and swigged down two fiery swallows of the foul potion. “Damnation,” I said. “That’s a rough spirit, if ever I’ve had one. The Lord knows we’ll need it. The Denis Sullivan sails tonight, and this be no journey for the milksops, that much I know.” Blood dripped down my side from the harpoon wound. Through the cabin windows, I saw the cold blue of endless water. I smelled the sea air. I knew the cold, dark heart of man, frozen in arctic misery. “Hark to the poop deck, my brothers,” I called. “We sail for the northwest passage at dawn.”

As I limped up the stairs, the deck swaying beneath my feet, I was accosted by a woman whose name tag read Debby.

“Sir, I’m not going to ask you again. Please leave or we’re calling the police.”

“Wench,” I cried. “How now, that you deign to ride this ship with the meanest of men? Ye, I was harpooning the beasts of the sea whilst you were a suckling babe, and you think to command me?”

“Sir, you’re scaring the children.”

I stepped onto the deck and stared out at the horizon. “Hell hath no flames to burn a man like the abandonment of country and kin. Cursed to wander the sea in disgrace, for but a – Hey, what are you doing? Oh, come on, did you for real call the cops, lady? Ah man, my mom’s gonna be so pissed.”

Long story short – I’m not allowed on Discovery World’s Denis Sullivan anymore. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t sad to hear that the three-masted schooner won’t be sailing again in 2021. Besides being an attraction, the ship is also used as an educational vessel to teach children about the lake and sailing. The pandemic docked the ship in 2020, and Discovery World has been unable to crew the vessel for this year. Thankfully, the ship will be back at it again in 2022.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Slater

Powerlessness Both Literal and Metaphorical

Tuesday night’s storm sent trees and power lines toppling all over southeastern Wisconsin. We Energies said it was the largest restoration effort in the company’s 34-year history, with power out for 180,000 southeastern Wisconsinites – and I was one of them. My home went dark Tuesday night, and when I woke up the next morning, the power was still out. I quickly realized that I may have a serious problem with caffeine, as my inability to make a cup of coffee quickly left me with a splitting headache and trembling hands. Worse than that, I had no method of sending my writing to my co-workers because the nearest library was also hit by the outage and my car was trapped behind an electric-powered garage door. Unable to use Ups and Downs as an outlet for my underlying psychological issues, I was soon wandering around telling the houseplants about the time I was banned from my local CVS. “I told the cop I was sleepwalking, but he said it didn’t matter. Public decency laws are public decency laws. What a crock.”

As the minutes ticked on, I grew increasingly irritated, and also sweaty. With no air conditioning and temperatures in the upper 80s, my room was turning into a sauna. The place reeked. I was writing with a dwindling laptop battery, but unable to send anything along to my editors, and I began to realize that these writings were like prayers to a deaf God, uncaring and shrouded in nothingness. With no television to numb my spiritual panic, these thoughts grew worse and worse. Are we really alone in this universe? Is there a point to any of this? Why didn’t I think to make some damn coffee last night before the power went off? By five o’clock, I was lying on the floor reading Thomas Ligotti and weeping like a child, when all the lights flickered on. Slowly I stood up. I stumbled to my computer and sent all my work out. Then I turned on the television loud enough to stop me from thinking too much (I turned it to cable news, to really double the effect), and everything settled back as it should be. Power restored.

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Archer is the managing editor at Milwaukee Magazine. Some say he is a great warrior and prophet, a man of boundless sight in a world gone blind, a denizen of truth and goodness, a beacon of hope shining bright in this dark world. Others say he smells like cheese.