Sunday, 30 September 2012

A Safe House

One of the fun things I did in Milwaukee was visit the club called A Safe House. I already mentioned my fiasco at Trivia, but nonetheless, one of my most brilliant ex-students, a co-conspirator agreed to help me come in from the cold.

That's our winning trivia team a version of "The Landsharks", but missing its founder and some of its more prominent members who were not available that night.

Off we went to find "A Safe House", a notorious club where a secret agent on the run has to know the secret password to get in.

As you can see the door isn't obviously A Safe House.

Well, not too obviously.  Since we did not have reservations we were seated in the other half of the place, also interesting for its genuine historical interest. If those signatures are real there are a lot of famous people who have been at the Press Bar including many presidential types.

 and Al Cap, Art Buchwald, Walt Kell, even Al Franken. (I wonder if it is pre or intra political career.)

Our waitress brought us our menus and then "released" us to explore the spy-oriented premises.

The interior is so amusing and is full of "spy" memorabilia. To get in, one enters a room that looks a bit like a tiny waiting room - a woman sits in an arm chair reading and one has to tell her the password to get in. "Agents" that don't know the password are asked to do amusing things like sing songs or recite things in unison and their antics are broadcast on tv screens throughout the safe house. Entering the actual premises, you are met with this.

You can see one of those many tv screens on the right with the woman seated in her chair at the bottom of the screen.

There is so much to see. One big room looks like this.

Here is another part of the establishment. These are little private booths.

I laughed really hard I when saw this "Company Store" part.

There's a war room with a map that moves upward and has a screen for projecting films. There's a Chair too.

There are also some other silly things. We were given a paper with an assignment, that if we chose to accept would take us through the highlights of the place. Here are some of the funnier of those. That's me in the fun house mirror!

There's a red door to a men's room (like the ladies' room door on the left)  - but when you open it, you see a brick wall.

The ladies' room has a picture of Burt Reynolds and  if someone touches it in the wrong place, alarms go off all through the building. You can see that this is not a rare occurrence!

One of my favorite parts was this little model of Check Point Charlie. Since I actually got to leave East Berlin  through this check point it has special memories to me.

Nearby, in a glass case was a piece of the Berlin wall.

Next to it was a cool Octopussy poster in German.

The back room has this huge mural with all these great spy figures on it.

The other end of the room is sandbagged and there is a machine gun (prop? I hope) that was a gift from John Wayne above the door.

Here's a slightly better shot of the wall of spies.

It turns out that you can play with the wall by pushing the button, Max.

The top part shifts around and you get to see some other familiar faces on the necks of previous images.

When you leave you put a quarter in the pay phone and there is secret exit to the street. Of course neither of us had any change, so we had to leave by the plain old regular door, but that was okay. We had had a great time and certainly didn't care if others knew where we had been!

Friday, 28 September 2012

Sculpture of the City

This will mostly be pictures, but I am so impressed by all the sculpture in Milwaukee.  This piece is near and dear to my heart because it is in honor of letter carriers.

How about this dancer?

Of course there is the bronze Fonz.

This is a cool maritime oriented piece on the Riverwalk. Looks very Thai.

This piece is on one of the many bridges.

This one is also along the Riverwalk.

Very nearby is this bright red piece.

These are just a few of the many pieces in the downtown area!

Oh Teddy What have they wrought?

Under the heading of Historic for the Film and History Conference there is this marker in the side lobby of the Hyatt.

It's not the grassy knoll, but it is pretty close!

I Thought it was Bigger than That!

In the I thought I remembered it was bigger category, I give you the Hofbräu house.

Okay, yeah, this one is in MIlwaukee - still it was kind of cool to see! There is a lot of German inspired stuff here! Check this out!

And this...

 This is the Pabst Theater:

Look at the gorgeous ornament on this building!

I even think I saw Checkpoint Charlie tonight, but more on that later!

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Milwaukee Film and History Conference 2012

I headed off for Milwaukee after my afternoon class. I am attending a conference on Film and History and decided to drive rather than fly. I had a wonderful time looking at the beautiful fall colors. Evidently they have been getting more rain in Wisconsin than we have in MInnesota. I made the mistake of getting off to get gas in Watertown and ended up driving around a poorly labelled strip center looking for gas and then got lost in downtown Milwaukee, but eventually made it to the hotel. The Hyatt is nicely furnished but annoyed me greatly by charging 25$ a day for parking.

My carpet is stained, so the room doesn't feel clean and pristine, but I do like the color scheme of the decor.

It is minimalist and has an almost zen feel to it. Peaceful with a good firm mattress.

The bathroom has nice art and follows the decor of the main room.

There is a nice view of the city outside of the window.

There is a syrong German influence here with many German eateries and of course lots of buildings that have to do with beer.

 The hotel has the usual Hyatt interior wth a large metal hanging sculpture and the famous glass elevators so you can appreciate the view from above.

Unfortunately I overslept this morning and missed the first session, but all the other presentations were very illuminating and worthwhile. Here is a shot from one of my sessions.

The evening was spent with an old friend doing trivia. (I am sad to say I contributed to nothing but a wrong answer about the color of Italian fascist's shirts. (They weren't brown! ;-(   .  )

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Renaissance Festival Part Tres.

Eventually we got to go into the banquet hall. Our hosts were Jim Cunningham

and Laszlo Nemesi.

Laszlo and Jim entertained us for a while, while we got our first glasses of wine. They gave us some funny hats to wear and that put us in a festive mood.

Or maybe it was the wine!

Our hosts told amusing stories and introduced the different courses!

 After a while we got to see some other entertainers like these singers and dancers.

This guy's Pierrot costume was really cool, but I have to say that I was appalled by the act.

 I thought they were going to do something clever as they talked about doing stupid things, but instead we got to see Pierrot slam a fiery sledge hammer down onto the stomach of the man with white hair while he was lying on a small bed of nails (not really my idea of entertainment). The best thing about this act was his batman underwear.

 Much more to my taste, because he was a sweet and gentle person, was Cale the Juggler.

As you can see he juggled fiery batons, but also did a fire breathing act.

There was also some sword play...

For some reason the villain (right) was (as is so often the case) portrayed as a Frenchman and the "good guy" was English. I guess we have Monty Python to thank for that.

I really enjoyed the food and the wine (maybe the latter too much since I forgot to take pictures of most of the food.) We started off with a lovely cheese and fruit plate. We had a delicious salad with pears, some soup and then a couple of main courses including a beef dish and this pork dish.

The singers and dancers were my favorite part. They did some non-period songs, but also some from the Renaissance and this really added to the atmosphere of the Feast.

Of course towards the end of the feast they brought in the belly dancers.

The dancers were good and we enjoyed the show while we finished our meat.

One of our hosts joined in the dancing too.

... and then there was the wildly inappropriate poet. I'm not sure why they like to have him at the feast so much, but I rarely enjoy his words.

At least this time he was a bit more even-handed and slammed both men and women. Last time he seemed to come down much harder on the women than the men.

And before we knew it, we had finished our dessert and it was time to go. We were presented with our Laszlo bobbleheads and packed our goblets and decided to head on over and visit our friend Marla at Lost Art Leather.

Marla is always so good-natured and kind. We just love visiting with her and we almost always find something cool to buy from her.

Then before we knew what had happened,  the day was over and it was time to say goodbye. We headed toward the exit and ran into Cale the Juggler.

There is always a grand committee of interesting people to send you off when you depart. We were even bid goodbye by a gnomish one....

..and several gentle ladies and gentlemen ...

These women were especially friendly (and what beautiful clothes they wore!)

The setting sun glistened on this woman's wings and truly reflected the magical quality of the day.

Here is a parting shot as we headed toward the scooter rental place.

Glam patted her trusty steed goodbye...

and then it was time to head off into the sunset.

And finally here is your narrator in the costume she did not manage to get finished in time for the visit to the festival.

I am (alas) still working on it, but have almost gotten things to a presentable state.

Next year I should be ready!