It appears that Sam Smith (or Tom Petty, depending how you look at it) was the big winner at the 2015 Grammy awards, which were awarded this past Sunday.  To hear all the winners and runner-ups, get your hold on the 2015 Grammy Nominees at the Davenport Library.



And be sure to check out the winning albums. Here’s just a sampling:


Album of the Year –Morning Phase, Beck




Best New Artist – Sam Smith




Best Country Album – Platinum, Miranda Lambert




Best Dance/Electronic Album – Syro, Aphex Twin




See the full list of nominees here.


The IRS informed us on January 9th, 2015:

“As you may be aware, IRS appropriations were significantly cut in the 2015 Omnibus Appropriations bill recently passed by Congress. Unfortunately this puts us in a position where we have very few options. We want to honor our commitment to you by providing some key products, but we cannot deliver nearly what we have in the past.”

The only forms we will receive will be the 1040, 1040A, and 1040EZ.    We will NOT receive instruction booklets.

The IRS has suggested the following alternate methods

• – to view and download
• – to order tax products to be delivered by mail
• 1-800-829-3676 – to order tax products to be delivered by mail

Did you know pizza was a patriotic treat invented to display the colors of the Italian flag under Queen Margherita? Hence, Pizza Margherita. In fact, over there in the roots of original pizza, there are only a couple ingredients, and there are now very protective regulations about its creation and service. What, no Taco or Supreme? I must eat it all the the restaurant…no leftovers? They’re not playing around!

Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day  by Jeff Hertzberg — what is that about? Though I haven’t given it full lab work, I suppose it is feasible after the author’s caveats.

You’ve premixed a big batch of dough (eight 12” pies) ahead of time and stored it in your fridge, where it will keep well as a living, breathing, yeasty organism for up to a couple weeks.  You’ve preheated the oven to 500 degrees. You’ve rolled the dough out by hand super thin.

When ready to rock, claw out a wad of that goo, sprinkle with a few yum-yums and slip it off your pizza peel onto the white-hot stone.

The simple genius of it is, even with your most unsatisfactory efforts you’ve STILL got a pizza for pretty much no money. Five pounds of flour is a little over a dollar.

The author mentions in the forward there is a remarkable dearth of recipe books focusing exclusively on pizza. While it could use more photos, there are a lot of great ideas in here, even if you’re not going to pursue the five minute-approach.

Try a topcoat of tomato slices when people are foisting them on you. How about corn or rye flour in the mix when you want a hint of a Reuben sandwich or tortilla taste?

I saved someone else’s bread maker from the landfill and run it on half a cycle. It isn’t five minutes, but I’m not exactly being gouged 24 dollars either.  It’s funny how the barometer for culinary forgiveness gets fudged when it was your hands kneading the dough.

We’ll file this one next to “what kinds of products keep places like Best Buy in business”?

Today we’ll simply focus on fluids.

1)LCD screen cleaner – How selfless of them to offer everything you need in an easy to use kit?  Too bad it’s just a microfiber cloth, isopropyl alcohol, and distilled water. You can make a gallon for 3% of that price.

2) Shredder oil – Paper shredders are an excellent way to fight identity theft. The action of shredding paper generates a large amount of dust that is detrimental to the life of the printer.  Big box stores sell a lubricant for this purpose.  I don’t know if I’d want to stir fry with it, but according to lifehacker, this product is canola oil placed in a different container.

Don’t kill the messenger.

I find myself in the dubious position of informing the tax paying populace that without action on your part, you will not be receiving a paper Iowa tax form. No matter what boxes you checked last year, you need to weigh your options if you choose to do it on paper and PLEASE do not wait until April 17th.

The Iowa Department of Revenue wants you to efile, and they’re not being cryptic about it. Iowa is tightening belts to eliminate postage and printing costs of essentially sending every citizen a magazine.

You may choose to:
-Call forms order line at 1-800-532-1531 (EASIEST and FREE.)  Limit of one.
-Print forms yourself from The online form is fillable.
-Request a form by e-mail at
-Make photocopies of the long or short form from the ones we’ve laminated at every building

Federal forms are trickling in as of this moment. There are currently no federal instruction booklets. They are projected as arriving in early February,,id=104740,00.html

And, as the faithful paper filers know, public libraries like DPL are pretty much the only place to find tax forms.  Some public libraries are even dropping out of this service.


Hey Madge, I soaked in it!

In a self-immolating polemic in the Atlantic,  University of Iowa “journalism” professor Stephen Bloom (seen mugging at left in what must be a pretentious Palmolive print ad) has succeeded in making “reporting” a smug act of self-pleasure. Read it…I’ll wait.  Are you reveling in his urbane wit?  Neither is the rest of the state.

I loved Postville, which makes his level of probing insight gleaned from twenty years of experience into the folkways of us ignorant herkamur jerkamur locals all the more indicting. One would think there’d be a statute of limitations on vaingloriously claiming alien status, but nope, he’s apparently STILL NOT ONE OF US.  Et tu, Stephen? Bloom turns the dagger against his meal ticket in Karl-Rovian fashion, swift-boating our most enduring strength into our greatest failing.  The fiber of Iowan character and honesty is mystically morphed into the bullheaded complacency of the docile, meek, and stupid.

“Those who stay in rural Iowa are often the elderly waiting to die, those too timid (or lacking in education) to peer around the bend for better opportunities, an assortment of waste-toids and meth addicts with pale skin and rotted teeth, or those who quixotically believe, like Little Orphan Annie, that ‘The sun’ll come out tomorrow.'”

By that rationale, only an abject failure would choose to gorge himself on the public teat for a score of years in a dank cesspool of human filth, no? Perhaps Agent Donnie Brasco is striving to meet the irony-hungry readership of jaundiced university-town hipster literati. Unlike his target demographic, Bloom won’t be an office temp this summer. He’ll come home from his current stint as a visiting scholar in Michigan (a true, Tom Joad), where he moonlighted by scratching together an egotistical rant on the putrid state of Iowa’s economics and culture, ultimately comdemning the Hawkeye state as a place so woefully backward to not deserve the first-in-the-nation caucus on the grounds that most of the unrepresentative citizenry will probably spend the evening walking into walls and groping with childlike glee at shiny things.

With broad brush, Bloom paints a mishmash of cartoonesque semi-Southern sweeping generalizations and stereotypes that would make Joseph Goebbels proud. In any other pocket of the world, such irresponsible erudition would be condemned as racism or bigotry. Subject matter plays second-fiddle to his own reflected self-glorification when not unlike a beleaguered Jane Goodall, Bloom is seemingly forced on our public dole at a redneck’s gunpoint to entrench himself among Iowa’s mouthbreathing, knuckledragging chimps for two decades. If that’s true, kindly lift your barrel off his turtleneck, Cletus, and let this card-carrying member of the sophisticate be on his way.

Come deadline time and lacking of a poetic capstone to this composition, Bloom clumsily contrived a story a la Jayson Blair of how he can’t walk his Labrador around Iowa City without a hayseed Elmer Fudd inquiring of him how well she can track a scent. Clearly his constitutionals lead him past noted cobblestone-paved coondog haunts such as the New Pioneer Co-op and International Writer’s Workshop.

Bloom has offered up in defense that he was doing “the real job of journalism” and if you feel affronted, it is because you want to “kill the messenger, ignore the message.” That’s fine. There is a whole heck of a lot of truth in the article.  All of Iowa’s fiscal and cultural ills, incidentally, are not being courageously battled in “Keokuk…a depressed, crime-infested slum town”, but by smug, suede-elbowed cosmopolitans on sabbatical in between lattes as they ride the gravy train in academia’s ivory tower.  Ones like Bloom who valiantly in the face of logic persevere a cush lifestyle of oppressive yawns, having his TAs scribble red letters on top of lazy, uninspired doggerel (remind you of anyone?) and taking semesters off paid to write bestsellers. Were he a Christian (he’s not, a belabored point he trounces in every other paragraph) he’d describe this as his cross to bear.

The rub is the subtext, where Bloom basks in his own intellectual glory comparatively, finding a way somehow to thrust himself in the role of detached omniscient third-party observer while wholesale impugning the Iowa electorate as thoughtless sub-sentient bovine in a tone that would only makes sense as an expatriate, not your employee.  Thank you, good sir, for altruistically miring yourself in the Marianas Trench that is Iowa for so long.  We really had no idea your bathysphere went that deep, you cut-rate Jacques Cousteau.

So what will become of Stephen Bloom? He is parrying off rebuttals such as this one as examples of aforementioned ignorance and anti-intellectualism. He’ll deservedly cower behind the bedrock Constitutional principle of free speech. In Iowa City, he will be protected as a generously publicly-subsidized snob and dandy. In the hearts and minds of the citizenry, he looks like something dragged out of the packing plants he documented a dozen years ago and has rendered and repurposed in every essay he’s written since.

You see, being a pompous (insert your word of choice) is inherently and indefensibly un-Iowan wharever y’are in these here Yoonahted States. And like his absurd east-side Iowa City Labrador, that dog don’t hunt..  Lookeee ma, I can fabricate a cutsie homespun ending too.. in “skuzzy” Davenport no less.

Merry Christmas Stephen Bloom.

Hit the bricks.

These are the times that try mens souls.  Food charities are concerned, and the benevolent food industry giants like Con Agra are raising prices 40 percent just to keep up.  Classic cheap source of protein and kid appeaser, peanut butter, is in short supply due to the invisible hand of the market.

If you’re not inclined to switch to Vegamite like our Aussie pals, plan to pay more or make other sandwich plans until the next crop.

We’ve all heard the cheapest day for airline ticket purchases, for which there has been no definitive ruling about the mythical master mainframe of all airfares that mystically opens up pumpkin coach-class seats at midnight on a Wednesday.

According to site Extrabux, there is also some data out there that backs up weekly price trends for computers, TV’s, jewelry, appliances, books, and more.

And if you want a deal, don’t worry that cyber Monday has passed.   The biggest online day of the shopping year usually ends up being something like December 10th.   On which, the odds of getting pepper-sprayed/trampled by your fellow retail shopper significantly decrease.

Do you get psyched about the prospect of panning over black and white photos while a narrator describes what is going on in those photos? If you said, “Yeah, buddy!” then Ken Burn’s brand new Prohibition is for you.

With a total running time of 6 hours, it is relatively digestible as the equivalent of watching three movies. And in all seriousness, these black and white photos featuring denizens of the Jazz Age are truly intriguing. Even more so is the occasional bit of footage of flappers dancing, heaven knows the source.

It is not the documentary for you if your heart bleeds at the sight of innocent glass jugs being blasted apart by Volstead enforcers or the occasional bullet-riddled pinstriped gangster.

Fun Prohibition facts:
“Bad guy” Al Capone financed the soup kitchen that fed thousands on Chicago’s south side as the Great Depression took hold. The best charge the feds could level against Mr. Capone (other than keen business acumen in a market they created) is income tax evasion. Shockingly he didn’t declare all his profits on his 1040-EZ form.

Small cities of Bahamanian freighters would drop anchor three miles off the Atlantic coast to make deliveries to local boats. No one cared.

Many “Dry” congresspeople drank, some even accepting deliveries at the Capitol.

Alcohol consumption increased in some cities.

Some milkmen would deliver hooch to your doorstep in innocuous bottles to streamline the purchasing process.

Numbers exponentially surged for medical whiskey prescriptions and synagogue memberships.

I’ve never watched a documentary from the renowned master, Ken Burns. This was time well spent.