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Freedom from religion

The folks who lead the Freedom From Religion Foundation are used to drawing heat. In a move opposed by liberal and conservative religious leaders alike, the Madison-based group challenged a federal law that gives clergy tax-free housing allowances. Under current law, ministers can deduct housing costs from their pre-tax salary " including mortgage payments, property taxes and homeowners insurance " if the money is designated specifically as a housing allowance. >More
382 Pixel LineWizard World offers fans a panoply of superheroes, zombies, vampires and pop-cult celebrities

Call it a geek-culture state fair, a pop-culture spectacle or an entertainment circus. But whatever moniker you choose to slap on it, you'd better also slap on your sword and superhero boots: Wizard World, one of the biggest pop-culture conventions in North America, is poised to land at Madison's Alliant Energy Center the first weekend in February, much like the Incredible Hulk will land on Tony Starks' Hulkbuster armor in this summer's Avengers sequel. >More
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The Paper

The 'Super Bowl' of climbing competitions

For the past two years, Madison climbing enthusiast Jeremy Hemberger watched the American Bouldering Series National Championships streamed live from the City Auditorium in Colorado Springs, Colo. Sooner or later, he thought, he would travel west and compete. >More
382 Pixel LineBucky's China venture falters

After three years and about a half a million in investment, the UW's Shanghai Innovation Office has lost its founding leaders, has no known new funding, and might not last past summer. >More
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El Burrito Loco brings good Mexican dishes to the far west side

I'd rather eat a bland burrito any day of the week than choke back an overcooked meat patty on a corn-syrup-laced bun. But I'd really prefer to sit down and eat real Mexican food, or even Tex-Mex, that's locally prepared and offers a wider array of dishes. So I was happy that El Burrito Loco, which also operates a restaurant in Oregon and a lunchtime food cart at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard at Main Street on the Square, opened a location on the far west side of Madison near the corner of Old Sauk and High Point roads. >More
 New eateries flock to the Square

A slew of new restaurants is headed to the Square and just off it. This is on the heels of last year's openings of Rare, a spacious steakhouse at 14 W. Mifflin St., and Cento, an Italian restaurant one block off the Square at 122 W. Mifflin. The only half-block of the Square that will remain restaurant-free is East Mifflin between Wisconsin Avenue and Hamilton Street. >More
Franz Schubert, party animal

"Beautiful, linguistically confident and artistic:" The Jan. 30 program at Mills Hall celebrated the prolific Austrian composer's songs and secular vocal pieces. >More
 Yonder Mountain String Band moves forward after founder's departure

Rather than folding or caving into pressure to change their sound, remaining members Dave Johnston, Adam Aijala and co-founder Ben Kaufman began collaborating with fiddle player Allie Kral and mandolin player Jake Jolliff. >More
Franz Schubert, party animal

"Beautiful, linguistically confident and artistic:" The Jan. 30 program at Mills Hall celebrated the prolific Austrian composer's songs and secular vocal pieces. >More
 Hot Tickets: Immortal Technique and Talib Kweli

Isthmus predicts this show will sell out soon. >More
A Most Violent Year is unexpected, enthralling

Set in the semi-lawless New York City of 1981, A Most Violent Year is about an immigrant entrepreneur trying to expand his heating-oil business while fending off near-daily hijackings of his delivery trucks. It's kind of a thriller -- there are two chase scenes, at least -- but any genre expectations will be thwarted by writer/director J.C. Chandor's almost perverse pleasure in stopping shy of the boiling point. >More
 Jennifer Aniston is believable, but Cake falls flat

Cake marks America's sweetheart Jennifer Aniston's opportunity to flaunt facial scars and brood greatly, qualifying under the radar last December to nab a Golden Globe nomination, but failing to capitalize on any similar Academy Awards love upon its return to theaters. >More

THE GUIDE

Sunday, February 1
J.J. L'Heureux Madison Children's Museum
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Thomas Gaudynski, Brandon Norsted Overture Center-James Watrous Gallery of the Wisconsin Academy
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Monday, February 2
Thomas Gaudynski, Brandon Norsted  Overture Center-James Watrous Gallery of the Wisconsin Academy
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J.J. L'Heureux  Madison Children's Museum
Tuesday, February 3
Thomas Gaudynski, Brandon Norsted  Overture Center-James Watrous Gallery of the Wisconsin Academy
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J.J. L'Heureux  Madison Children's Museum
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Wednesday, February 4
Thomas Gaudynski, Brandon Norsted  Overture Center-James Watrous Gallery of the Wisconsin Academy
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J.J. L'Heureux  Madison Children's Museum
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Madison's Funniest Comic Competition  Comedy Club on State, 9:00pm
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Wild Child, The Wells Division  Frequency, The, 9:00pm
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Boo Bradley  Alchemy Cafe, 10:00pm
Thursday, February 5
Thomas Gaudynski, Brandon Norsted  Overture Center-James Watrous Gallery of the Wisconsin Academy
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J.J. L'Heureux  Madison Children's Museum
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John Mark Nelson, The Ragbirds  Frequency, The, 8:30pm

ISTHMUS PICKS

Isthmus Picks: Madison calendar for January 29 - February 5, 2015

Here are this week's Isthmus Picks. The Guide provides an extended listing of events in and around Madison. >More

CITIZEN DAVE

Citizen Dave: Auto autos will change cities for the better

In the past few months Google has rethought its driverless car. They've changed their business model from selling automated cars to essentially integrating them into a massive car-sharing system. >More
 Citizen Dave: Packers and climate change? I am happy in my denial

When someone so much as brings up the topic of football, I cut them off, change the subject or, if necessary, leave the room. Global climate change can be ignored in the same way, or so the U.S. Senate would have us believe. >More

ISTHMUS ON WORT

Isthmus on WORT: Sisterhood is Powerful

A. David Dahmer spoke with WORT producer Dylan Brogan about Madison's African American alumni sororities, who have helped generations of black women network and build careers in Madison. >More
 Isthmus on WORT: Life coaching, careers and professional development at UW-Madison

Isthmus contributor Jeff Buchanan reported on the growth of life coaching as a service and how a UW-Madison program is developing the profession in the January 8 issue, and discussed his story with WORT producer Dylan Brogan on that day's edition of In Our Backyard. >More

TELL ALL

Tell All: Should parents tolerate their kids smoking pot?

Shrugging off a child's drug use is not acceptable behavior for a parent. >More
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COVER STORY

The folks who lead the Freedom From Religion Foundation are used to drawing heat. In a move opposed by liberal and conservative religious leaders alike, the Madison-based group challenged a federal law that gives clergy tax-free housing allowances. Under current law, ministers can deduct housing costs from their pre-tax salary " including mortgage payments, property taxes and homeowners insurance " if the money is designated specifically as a housing allowance. >More
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BEER

Four Bottle Openers! NightCall is my go-to all-around Karben4 favorite. It's just so drinkable, and it's great with food; it's not a beer you have to think too deeply about to appreciate. >More
Here's a link to pictures from the 2015 festival, along with links to vote for your favorite beer and cheese. >More
"This is unique," says Vintage brewmaster Scott Manning of his latest creation. InAbsinthia is a robust blend of English and Belgian brewing tradition, aged for nearly a half-year in an absinthe barrel. With its layers of flavor, spicy notes of licorice and alcoholic warmth, InAbsinthia isn't for everyone. Adventuresome drinkers and those who love to find rare, limited-release beers, this is one you need to try. >More

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