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“American Pickers”: The Inside Story of the History Channel’s Surprise Hit PDF Print E-mail
Media
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Wednesday, 17 March 2010 06:12

Mike Wolfe, Frank Fritz, and Danielle Colby-Cushman. Photo by Amy Richmond.

In the American Pickers episode "Back Breakers," Mike Wolfe is donning a bright-red T T Motor Home Club jacket with the name "Louise" embroidered on the front.

The jacket is an "ice-breaker," a term that Wolfe and picking partner Frank Fritz use to describe an item that they don't really want but buy anyway as a way to warm up a reticent person to the idea of selling their old stuff.

It's a charming bit in the History channel's first-season reality-series hit, because it shows that Wolfe and Fritz aren't afraid to look foolish or silly. And Wolfe seems to enjoy wearing that jacket.

But it also works because it teaches viewers about how picking works. We learn the nuances of scavenging, and how they get people to part with the objects they've collected over decades. "We're like psychologists for people and their stuff," Fritz said on the show.

 
Comics' Timing: Comedians Alex Reymundo and Nick Madson on Hard Work, Big Breaks, and Dumb Luck PDF Print E-mail
Comedy
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 02 March 2010 06:00

Alex ReymundoTwo veterans of Comedy Central will perform in the Quad Cities this month, neither of whom, in separate interviews, had any trouble recalling his beginnings in professional stand-up.

Bombing on stage, after all, does tend to stick in your memory.

 
The Face of Arizona Wine: Tool’s Maynard James Keenan Talks “Blood Into Wine,” Screening February 19-26 at the Capitol PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 11 February 2010 09:42

Maynard James KeenanMaynard James Keenan -- the frontman for prog-metal gods Tool, the co-leader of A Perfect Circle, and the founder of Puscifer -- isn't the type of person you'd expect to see as the subject of a thorough documentary. He has a reputation for being reclusive, and for jealously guarding his privacy. As he says in the movie Blood Into Wine, "I'm not much of a people person."

Yet Keenan, along with his wine-making partner Eric Glomski, is at the center of that documentary, a freewheeling but thoughtful mix of wine primer, underdog story, buddy picture, and sketch comedy. The movie is fun and gently didactic, and thankfully it engages in little idolatry. (Those hoping for a Tool movie will be disappointed; although Blood Into Wine doesn't ignore Keenan's music career, it's at best a tangent.)

Keenan often looks uncomfortable in the movie, but that could be a function of once being filmed on the toilet, and of being hectored by a pair of wine-hating talk-show hosts. (More on those things later.) But he is apparently committed enough to his cause -- fostering an Arizona wine country, and combating the idea that the state's climate and terrain can't produce good grapes and wine -- that he's willing to subject himself to all these indignities, and the public spotlight.

As Keenan told me in an interview last week: "This is an important thing we're doing up here. If we're successful with what we're doing, it's going to set up a future for more families than we can number. ... If you plant vines in this valley, they're going to taste a certain way; they're going to be very specific to where they're from. It's not a business that you can move to Mexico or China. It's from here. This is the definition of sustainable and local."

 
Best of the Quad Cities Archive PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Administrator   
Tuesday, 09 February 2010 09:45

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Presumed Impossible: Author and Attorney Scott Turow Speaks at the Adler Theatre, January 26 PDF Print E-mail
Literature
Written by Mike Schulz   
Thursday, 14 January 2010 06:00

Scott TurowYou might think that the art of writing fiction would have little in common with the art of practicing law. Scott Turow would beg to differ.

"They're actually very similar tasks," says Turow, the bestselling author who is also a partner at the Chicago law firm of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal. "You know, you've got to shape characters and shape witness testimony ... . You are an author in both venues to a great extent, and particularly as a prosecutor, you really do need to keep your eye on the narrative, and make sure it's compelling."

 
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