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Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2008

The Keeper of Secrets

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If you think our nation's unmitigated access to countless avenues of exposure might have dulled its appetite for divulging secrets, you're wrong. A project founded in 2004 by part-time artist Frank Warren proves that our society's craving for confession is as strong as ever. And even the curious form of the confessional, a 3-by-5-inch postcard sent without name or address, suggests that neither emerging media nor today's cultural transparency have usurped the suggestive powers of an anonymous, handwritten note.

Warren's brainchild, PostSecret, began life as a modest community art exhibit, where blank postcards were distributed in Metro stations in Washington, D.C., with an invitation to fill them in with a never-before-revealed secret. Since then it's become something of a cultural phenomenon, elevating Warren from a regular, part-time artist to a self-appointed curator of secrets. Each week he rifles through hundreds of illustrated intimations, and updates a Web site visited by millions each month. He has appeared on various media outlets, published four anthologies of the postcards and exhibited them at venues around the nation. On Thursday, Oct. 2, he gives a multimedia presentation at UW-Milwaukee as part of the university's Distinguished Lecture Series. The event takes place at 7:30 p.m. in the Wisconsin Room of the UWM Union. Advance tickets can be purchased at the UWM Bookstore or by calling (414) 229-4201 or (800) 662-5668.

Also coming to UWM on Oct. 2 is author and former UWM English professor Carole Stabile. She will be delivering a lecture titled "Red Networks: Women Writers and the Broadcast Blacklist," discussing how the anti-Communist propaganda of the 1950s was used to blacklist a group of promising writers and producers of the time, many of whom were women. The lecture takes place at 4:30 p.m. on the fourth floor conference center of UWM's Golda Meir Library and is free and open to the public.

In their new book, father and son authors Jeff and Chad Koser disclose their well-guarded secret to spotting a zebra. Sure, you thought they were pretty easy to spot-the black-and-white stripes are usually a dead giveaway. However, the Kosers have a whole different animal in mind-one that, according to their book Selling to Zebras, will increase your business's close rates, shorten sales cycles, increase your average deal size and ultimately make you the envy of your workplace. A "zebra" is their affectionate term for the ideal customer, one who's willing to buy what you sell and is hard to miss once you've pinpointed his or her defining traits. "A zebra allows you access to power," states their Web site. To learn how to spot your zebra, meet the authors when they come to Bayshore Town Center's Barnes & Noble at 7 p.m. on Oct. 7.