Saturday, May 19, 2007

Brain surgery without the scalpel

I can't help wondering how many uninsured patients could be covered for what it costs Turville Bay MRI & Radiation Oncology Center to run this big billboard on Park Street, one of the busiest thoroughfares in Madison, WI. And how much sense does it make to promote expensive MRIs to every hypochondriac who drives by with a headache? Especially when the Turville Bay website blithely encourages repeat visits with testimonials like these:
“My third MRI at Turville Bay- Same great attention!” -- From a recent patient survey

“Patients are soothed by the sunny lake view. They watch the sailboats, the birds… and just relax.” -- A staff member, 13 years

The care I received…was beyond my previous understanding of human compassion.” -- From a recent patient survey
Scalpel or no scalpel, it doesn't take a brain surgeon to see that this is medical marketing without shame and without scruple.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Thursday, May 17, 2007

We Read the WaPo So You Don't Have To: The second career of Blake Edwards as Idol performer

The voters have spoken. Melinda Doolittle, the best singer on American Idol has been given the hook. The Washington Post reports that now it's up to hyperkinetic fashion victim Blake Edwards to take on 17-year-old Jordin Sparks in the finals next week.
Melinda Doolittle, the most polished singer in the history of "American Idol" -- she effortlessly channeled Carmen McRae, Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, just name your diva and stand back -- was voted off last night. That leaves Jordin Sparks, a big-voiced but inexperienced teenager from Arizona, and Blake Edwards, a hyperkinetic fashion victim who interrupts his performances with beat-box vocalese, to compete next week in the finals.
Blake Edwards? Hey, I know Edwards is one versatile, talented octogenarian, and he did start out as an actor. But a singer? Not so much. Maybe he can have wife Julie Andrews step in for him.

"We Watch So You Don't Have To" is the Post's gimmicky department header for the story by Eugene Robinson. Guess he figured he didn't have to watch either, or he would have known it was Blake Lewis.

Condos after Dark: Doty School Condominiums

Not all Madison condos dominate the city skyline at night like dark, high-rise intruders from another planet. Some, like the Doty School Condominiums, nestle quietly into their neighborhoods, where they've been at home for years, architectural landmarks whose lights provide a neighborly glow, like the windows of people you've always known who live down the street. These are the historic buildings that have been sensitively restored and converted to condos.

Doty School was designed by the famous early 20th century Madison architectural firm of Claude and Starck, which designed some 175 buildings in Madison. It opened in 1906 and only served as a school for three decades, being replaced by Washington School in the 1930s. After closing as a school it hosted a number of municipal offices, including the Board of Education, which in turn moved to Washington School when that school closed in the sixties. From the Madison Department of Planning & Development's Madison Landmarks" list:
156. Doty School
351 W. Wilson Street
Claude and Starck, architects

Built during a population boom in Madison, Doty School replaced the smaller Fourth Ward School built on this site in 1866. When it opened, the new school was renamed for Madison’s founder, James Duane Doty, the person responsible for Madison’s selection as the state capital in 1836. Claude and Starck were prolific local architects who designed school houses across the state, as well as many of Madison’s turn-of-the-century residences. The building was converted to condominiums in 1983.
Doty School was one of the first projects of Urban Land Interests, the Madison developers who got their start restoring and converting historically significant downtown properties and later branched into new construction. The building is still a gem. Unfortunately it's now overshadowed (and some of its views are blocked) by its high-rise next-door neighbor, Nolen Shore.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Saturday night at Sundance 608: Cute little Zen garden, mediocre movie, lousy prices

The Zen garden beneath the stairs to the second floor restaurant at Sundance 608 was a nice touch. "After the Wedding," the movie we chose, was a kind of Danish mashup of "Scenes from a Marriage" with "Days of Our Lives," and it wasn't very good -- even at the UW Cinematheque, where films are free, it would have seemed a bit overpriced. But the screening room was intimate and comfortable, the projection and sound were excellent, and we had a good time.

The only sour note was the $3.00/ticket "reserved seating fee" which we wrongly thought we could avoid by buying tickets in person just before the show. Nope. I was misinformed -- and our ticket tab for two on Saturday night was $23.50. All the seating is reserved, and there is always a fee except for the noon showings on weekdays -- though it varies with the time. Check with theater for details.

Our theater wasn't very full. There's something really surreal about paying a reserved seating tariff to go into a half-empty theater. Who needs a reserved ticket when you could have your choice of almost any seat in the house? I think Sundance looked at all those condos going up around Hilldale and misjudged the local market. Madison is an affluent city, but not one where all that many people want to spend big bucks to go to a movie.

Maybe Sundance needs the money to pay their Zen master to rake the sand and keep the garden looking pristine and soothing for moviegoers. But heck -- for the cost of Saturday night's show, I could almost have bought my own table top Zen garden, complete with sand and miniature rakes.