Passion = Truth? How Jeffrey James Francis Ircink Sees The World? I love when people are passionate about something. That surging of emotion is the one honest measure of what truth is. It's a truthful display of how a person really feels about something or someone at that particular moment. That passion IS truth.

About me...

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Greendale, Wisconsin, United States
Ex-producer of THE REALLY FUNNY HORNY GOAT INTERNATIONAL SHORT FILM FESTIVAL, playwright, actor, singer, outdoorsman, blogger, amateur photog, observer & bitcher, Beach Boys groupie, Brett Favre fanatic, lover of everything Celtic and forever a member in the Tribe of HAIR. Spent most of my life in the Village of Waterford, a small town just outside of the Milwaukee suburbs. After 12 years in North Hollywood, Bel Air and Culver City, Cali, I moved back to Wisconsin in September 2009. No regrets - of moving to LA OR moving back to WI. Have traveled to Belfast, Ireland, Dayton (OH), Manhattan, Seattle, Cedar Rapids, New York, Miami and Sydney, Australia with my plays. Moved back into the Village of Greendale where I was born. Life is good.


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Aunt Jemima's maple syrup envy. Vol #1 - Tappin' sap.

"I happen to know everything there is to know about maple syrup! I love maple syrup. I love maple syrup on pancakes. I love it on pizza. And I take maple syrup and put a little bit in my hair when I've had a rough week. What do you think holds it up, slick?"
- Vince Vaughn as Jeremy Grey in "The Wedding Crashers"

That grand old tree above is a 180-year-old maple my brother tapped. This was taken late in the day which would account for the bluish tinge...great picture. Jas first became interested in making maple syrup last year. As is true in many instances, his approach to the art has been fine-tuned over the past year. I was lucky enough to become involved with it so stay tuned for several blog posts entitled "Aunt Jemima's maple syrup envy".

I spent the last weekend of March in a cabin on 1,000 acres of woods somewhere near Dodgeville, WI with my brother collecting maple sap and burning it into syrup. This series of blog posts outlines our weekend together (along with his dogs, Molly and Zol) and the labor intensive hobby of making your own maple syrup. Quite the process, I must say.

I went up to the cabin the weekend before last to help Jason collect sap while he was working out the kinks in his homemade still - I mean, evaporator (I'll get to that later). I already posted a picture on the cabin we stayed in (friend's of Jas') and a picture collection on an abandoned hunting shack on the property. This particular post will outline some of the in's and out's of sap collecting - I suggest you check out the video below as I take you through one sap collecting outing.

Click on READ MORE! for more pictures on all the prep work before you start making maple syrup

NEXT POST: Vol #2 - A cabin in the woods.

Jas makes meticulous notes on where each maple tree is located, what time of day he collects sap and how much sap he gets from each tree (see notes below). I can't tell you how many hours he spent researching the "making maple syrup process" in order to perfect last year's endeavors.

Sap is collected from the bags hanging on the trees (you can use a bucket as well), then poured into these 5-gallon jugs. They're a bitch to carry through the woods, especially since most of Jas' trees are located in little valleys that makes walking akin to running a marathon (see video above). One particular walk is about 400 yards into the woods and uphill.

This is your typical tap. Below you can see a tap from last year that's "repaired" itself.

Over the course of two weekends, I believe we collected (guessing) 150 gallons of sap from 40 trees. That'll make at most 4 gallons of maple syrup. As I mentioned, it's "the journey" that really matters.

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UPDATE: MJS's grudge against Brett Favre.

I blogged a week ago or so about the on-going grudge the sports department at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has for Minnesota Vikings' QB (and former Green Bay QB) Brett Favre. I'll keep you updated with the Journal's continuous slings and arrows.

Sunday, March 28, 2010
DOWN - Flying west? Sources close to Eagles' QB Donovan McNabb said if he (McNabb) were traded, he'd prefer to head to Minnesota. The Vikes might be thinking a bird in the hand beats a geezer in the Mississippi bush.
- Roy Hollnagel

Huh...Hollnagel must be new. Funny how the MJS forgot that the "geezer in the bush" beat the Packers twice last season.

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I never wanted to punch a mime before...

...until I saw this video.

NumbersUSA President and Founder Roy Beck headed to the National Mall on Sunday, March 21 to try and discuss the impact of illegal immigration and high immigration numbers with the pro-amnesty marchers. Needless to say, Roy received a less-than-warm welcome from the pro-amnesty supporters.

NumbersUSA is an immigration reduction organization. SEIU, based out of (oddly enough) Racine, WI., is the pro-illegal immigration union representing about 2.2 million workers in over 100 occupations in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. SEIU focuses health care, public services, and property services (including janitors, security officers and food service workers).

During this particular rally, SEIU sent a team of attorneys dressed as mimes and SEIU employees to stalk, push, shove, harass and whistle down Roy and his TV crew for several hours. The Federal Park Police asked Beck and his crew to move across the street, away from the pro-immigration rally. Fine. Then the SEIU mimes followed Beck and his crew across the street. After the Federal Park Police ordered the SEIU agitators to move away from Roy and his crew, a mime accusing one of Beck's colleagues of assaulting her (or assaulting her balloons - watch video) - three hours after it supposedly took place - and he was arrested. Roy countered with criminal assault charges against the mimes and their SEIU organizers.

Here's the link to the above video on YouTube.

My point is this: Everyone has the right to protest. So I don't wanna hear the liberals cry about the Tea Party or other conservative groups who are protesting any Obama or Democratic policies or agenda when liberal protestors are quilty of the doing the exact same thing. Recently a man was arrested for posting a video on the Internet threatening to kill a Republican congressman. Another guy protesting at an anti-health care bill rally had his finger bitten off by a pro-health care supporter. Liberals have been marching and protesting against wars, for gay's rights, pro-choice and other women's issues, PETA, anti-whaling, anti-fishing, tree huggers, global warming, blah, blah, blah...quit your bitching.

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New Berlin Eisenhower Division II State Champs! Congrats, Gary!

The New Berlin Eisenhower girl's varsity basketball team defeated Winnecone Saturday in Madison, 59-50, to win the Division II State Championship. I don't follow basketball but this is a special win as the NB head coach is a family friend, Gary Schmidt (middle row, far right).

The team won their conference but wasn't a favorite to win all the marbles. I think Gary, who's been coaching for 9 years and won 5 conference titles, has taken them to Sectional finals once - one game away from state - but this is his first state championship. "We knew how physical it was going to be because of the style Winnecone plays," said Gary in a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article Sunday. "And I was really proud how we adjusted to it. We're lean and athletic, but we can mix it up, too.

Gary's known my brother and I since we were kids. He grew up with my Uncle Fran Ircink and Gary's parents drank and played cards with my grandparents. We're close to the Schmidt's (Gary's wife, Bev is a Nowak - another family I mention quite a bit on this blog) - we've been deer hunting and fishing with Gary for almost 30 years. He works his ass off during basketball season and this truly is a fitting reward for him and the team.

I just got off the phone with him to express my congratulations. He's still beaming - and rightly so. We're proud of you and we love you, Gary. (But no matter how great a coach you are, you're still in charge of bringing up Bev's lasagna for the May walleye fishing trip.) ;)

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Mergatroid & Lawlrus, by Jake Schaumberg-Dineen.

I taught 7th and 8th grade art today (substitute teaching is my day job). The in-class activity was to create a comic strip. 8th grader Jake Schaumberg-Dineen of New Berlin thought up this gem. The assignment wasn't due until Thursday, but I liked Jake's cartoon so much I told him, "finish it by the end of the day and I'll put it on my blog". He was waiting outside my classroom door after 8th hour.

© 2010 Jacob Schaumberg-Dineen

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Friday, March 26, 2010

TGIF! presents...trailer from Boorman's "Excalibur" (1981).

The greatest movie on the Arthurian legend ever made.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

1963. "Three Weeks In Steve McQueen's World".

Left to right, top to bottom: Steve hunting, camping with the boys in the Sierra Madre Mountains, at his Palm Springs home and at home in Hollywood.

LIFE photographer John Dominis hung out with 33-year-old Steve McQueen in California and captured these shots - 4 from more than 40 rolls of never-released film. You can see more pictures here. A few months later, "The Great Escape" would be released, cementing McQueen as the "King of Cool".

Here are a few of my previous blog posts on Steve - McQueen and "The Sand Pebbles" and McQueen's upcoming biopic. Thanks, Tony, for the heads up!

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The temperament of Jefferson.

“I hope they pardoned them (in reference to the members of Shay’s Rebellion). The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive…If the happiness of the mass of the people can be secured at the expense of a little tempest now and then, or even a little blood, it will be a precious purchase...The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.”

- Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, in a letter written to Abigail Adams

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What color are they?

The University of Wisconsin System is holding their 15th Annual Women of Color Awards consortium in April. The 16 award winners include: 7 African Americans, 2 Asians, 4 Native Americans, 1 Hispanic, 1 (unknown) and 1 Caucasion.

So why don't they just refer to the award as, "15th Annual Women Awards" or the "15th Annual Women's Rainbow Awards"? If there's to be an emphasis on diversification in our society (which there should be), why call attention to the word, "color"?

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HC Bill 3200: Wisconsin politicians weigh in.

Today's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel featured two contrasting views on the health care bill President Obama signed into law this week - US Representive Paul Ryan (R-WI) writes "Costs of this debacle will be high" and US Representative Gwen More (D-WI) pens "Making good on our promise".

"Our approach cuts the deficit by $143 billion over the next decade and is expected to cut $1.2 trillion the following 10 years...we reduce uncompensated care to the tune of $459 million in our area alone and those savings will be passed on to every single person."

- Rep. Gwen Moore (D)

"Premiums in the individual market would rise from 10% to 13% for families. Our debt and deficit crisis...would accelerate from the creation of brand new entitlement and increase in the federal deficit by $662 billion over the next decade, according the the president's own actuary, and $2.4 trillion in the decade after the new entitlement is up and running. The legislation will hit our economy with $569 billion in tax increases..."

- Rep. Paul Ryan (R)

OK - so I'm a douche bag who likes to bitch, bitch, bitch. Fine. Perhaps then those of you who are more astute in the political arena can enlighten me and tell me how two politicians can look at the exact same bill and come up with two grossly different versions of it? A monumental bill, at that. This begs me to make the statement - one more time - "I don't know who to believe, the Dems or the Reps."

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Mirren has Favre on the brain.

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Academy Award-winning actress Helen Mirren, who is running just ahead of Megan Fox in Esquire's "sexiest woman alive" poll (that might have something to do with the average age of Esquire readers, but I say not), said she was "gobsmacked" by her frontrunner status. She told Esquire "Sometimes the veterans have a way of surprising you - think Brett Favre."

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

From the floodwaters...a new Theatre Cedar Rapids.

The 2008 Cedar Rapids flood devastated downtown Cedar Rapids, Iowa - including the Iowa Theatre Building, home to my old stomping grounds, Theater Cedar Rapids. The building opened in 1928 as the RKO Iowa Theater - Katherine Hepburn performed there in 1940, as did Julie Harris and slew of other celebrities.

I had just been there a few weeks prior to the flood in May that year and saw the lingering affects a year later. With the help of a massive fundraising campaign, FEMA monies and the man hours of the TCR staff and volunteers, the renovated Theatre Cedar Rapids (with new marquee above) has to be one of the most beautiful community theaters in the country. Click on READ MORE! for a ton of pictures - including some from the opening weekend of "The Producers" (it just closed this past weekend).

Here's a video on the 2008 flood and the restoration that might interest you.

Box office.

This artwork (there's a name for it but I forgot it) was under the existing ceiling in the lobby.

This picture collage is a permanent fixture in the lobby, created by former artistic Director Richard Barker.

This is one of two original chandeliers that haven't hung in the theater for, I don't know, over 50 years?

The flood submerged almost 3/4's of the main theater floor. The stage - gone. The basement, which had all the electrical and heating systems, storage, orchestra pit, dressing rooms, costumers, Green Room, etc. - gone.

The new Fed Hedges Library.

Lobby with multiple plasma televisions.

The Linge Lounge (I'm not sure that's the exact name). But it's named after the Linge family, huge benefactors of the theater.

Inside the Linge Lounge.

Full concession bar.

The old restrooms featured privacy for two. Now you can have group pee's in both the men's and women's bathrooms.

"The Producers", starring (left to right): Trevor Debth, Katie Knudson and Scott Schulte.

Cast of "The Producers".

Patron imbibe in the Linge Lounge opening weekend of "The Producers".

Scott Schulte (left) and Tim Boyle of "The Producers".

Theater stalwarts, left to right: Janelle Miller, Nina Brundell (who headed up the fundraising campaign for the rennovation), June Schumacher, Paula Grady and Jan McCool.

One of my mentors, former TCR artistic director Richard Barker and his wife, Cate. Richard did the permanent photograph collage that's on display in the lobby.

Amy Friedl Stoner of "The Producers" and Janelle Lauer, musical director for the show.

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Surprised Rick, Surprised Janelle and a Surprised deer.

My friend Janelle (2nd from left) celebrated her $%!th Birthday in Cedar Rapids and I surprised her. Her parents flank us.

I also surprised my theater buddy, Rip, who was performing in David Harrower's, "Blackbird", at Dreamwell Theater in Iowa City. Janice, Rip's wife, is on the left. "Blackbird" won the 2007 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play.

Oh - I also hit a deer on my way back home from a cabin (another story) in Wisconsin Monday evening. Not one nick on the car. Surprised deer and a surprised Jeff. Last thing I saw was the deer spinning around in the road off to the side. Would've check it out but there was a line of traffic behind me and there was nothing I could've done anyway - except kill it if it was wounded. Click on READ MORE! for a few more shots.

The Keller Clan in Cedar Rapids: Shannon (Jim's wife), Jim, Dean and Leslie. Jim's a close theater friend. Whenever we get together we whip out the gui-tar, sing and drink Bourbon and Dew all night. Dean and I closed shop at 3:30 a.m.

Jim (left) and his dad, Dean.

Theater friends Megan (left) and Steve Ginsberg (that's me, not Steve) hosted Janelle's bday party Saturday evening at their beautiful 19th century yellow Victorian. Megan, her friend Ted and I closed shop up at 5:00 a.m Sunday morning. Great actress and a great person. Thanks for the lodging, Ginsbergs!

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