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Wednesday, September 17, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 62.0° F  Mostly Cloudy
The Paper


Patty sues the cops

For more than a decade, Axley Brynelson had been the city of Madison's law firm of choice. Axley attorneys handled most of the municipality's outside legal work and represented its insurer on disputed liability claims. During a five-year period in the early 1990s, this generated more than $1.5 million in fees. There was no competitive bidding or performance reviews, and city officials were not allowed to see the firm's itemized billing statements on liability claims. Asked in 1996 why Axley enjoyed this favored status, longtime City Attorney Eunice Gibson replied, 'I don't know.' But she was pleased with the quality of representation and felt the firm helped save Madison money. >More


Up to their ears in dogs

If the Dane County Humane Society has to continue impounding animals, it may not renew its contract with the county at the end of this year. 'We can't do impounds at the cost of our animals,' says Cathy Holmes, president of the shelter's board. 'Today, if a homeless animal comes in and space is taken by an impound animal, there's nothing we can do.' >More
 Meet the new principal

When she started teaching in Chicago 23 years ago, Vaunce Ashby loved being on the frontlines of education. Becoming a principal was not something she desired. 'Are you crazy?' she asked a former mentor who suggested it. 'I was always anti-administration. Principals, I thought, were prim and proper. I'm just not that kind of person.' Times, and Ashby, have changed. This month, she took over as principal at Kennedy Elementary on Madison's east side. 'I'm just beaming,' she says while preparing lectures on school rules and reconfiguring teacher assignments. 'I've been on the verge of tears every day, but I'm having a ball.' >More


The lowdown on higher-ups

Hey, regarding your recent letter from Mixed Nuts, whose testicles climb so high in his scrotum right before the Big Splasheroo that he fears there may be something wrong with him: I've found a direct correlation between the intensity of my Big Splasheroo (well, more of a lava flow as I've aged) and the height to which one or both of my testicles ascend. >More


The DJ as artist

A UW-Madison classroom at 9 a.m. is probably the last place most people would expect to see DJ Kres hauling in his record crates and setting up his turntables. To most of us, the academy is as far from the club as possible. But Kres, one of Madison's oldest and most respected hip-hop DJs, is the day's guest speaker for Curriculum and Instruction 630: Spoken Word and Hip-Hop in the Classroom, a new UW course designed to help teachers at all levels make their academic material more relevant to the current generation of students. >More
 Charting her own course

A few years back, the musical domain of Scottish singer/songwriter KT Tunstall was a grassroots experimental folk outfit called the Fence Collective. This year, she's been a fixture on the Billboard pop chart alongside tabloid names like Justin Timberlake. Her smash single, 'Black Horse and the Cherry Tree,' has spent the past 27 weeks on the Hot 100. >More
 Country-music psychologist

Owen Temple, 30, is a Ph.D. psychology major at UW-Madison. Here's one of the ways he uses all that knowledge of human nature: He writes country music. The Kernville, Texas, native was a staple of the Austin and Dallas music scenes for nearly a decade before he moved here last year. He's sold 25,000 copies of his first three albums. The Dallas Morning News named his 2002 release, Right Here and Now, as one of the Top 5 Texas albums of that year. >More




Revolutionary Ukrainian sculptor Alexander Archipenko moved to Paris from Moscow just as the Cubist movement was getting off the ground. He came to know Marcel Duchamp and other avant-gardists in the early part of the 20th century, and his imagination was ignited by the new ways of seeing that were rapidly evolving in France. >More
 The uses of despair

University Theatre opens the season with The Beckett Project, a group of four remarkable one-act plays by Samuel Beckett. Best-known forWaiting for Godot, the Irish playwright reflected the sense of intellectual despair and meaninglessness that followed World War II. >More
 A law unto himself

In 'Shark' (Thursday, 9 p.m., CBS), James Woods stars as Sebastian Stark, a defense attorney with an almost magical ability to make juries cry 'Not guilty!' He specializes in getting the rich and famous off the hook, especially those who really did commit a crime. >More
 Gang activity

No one would dare to argue that Saints Row isn't a bald-faced knockoff of the genre-defining Grand Theft Auto franchise. Still, it manages to improve on some of the source material's weak spots. >More


Follow that corpse

Over half a century after she was murdered, Betty Short continues to fascinate us, a screen upon which we project our hopes and fears about fame and fortune, beauty and lust, art and commerce, and that place where it all comes together, Hollywood. >More
 Half Nelson

In Half Nelson, Ryan Gosling plays Dan, an inner-city junior high school history teacher who doubles as the coach of the girls' basketball team. Young enough to relate to his students as something other than an authority figure, Dan has developed a rap having to do with, believe it or not, the Hegelian dialectic. >More
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Good music, good walnut burger

It's often been named Madison's best neighborhood bar. Or bar with the best bar food. Or best music bar. Actually, the Harmony Bar is all of that and more. >More
 Meshel Aldaee

"I make a lot more than falafel, but in Kuwait, where I'm from, we eat a lot of it ' it's like hot dogs and burgers here. I like Egyptian falafel best." >More


Football: Read all about it

My two favorite sports books happen to be about football. My dad gave me George Plimpton's Paper Lion on a rainy Saturday afternoon during junior high, immediately after snatching the remote control from my hands. The book details Plimpton's Walter Mitty-esque experience of training with the 1963 Detroit Lions. I devoured it in about two days and soon after hit the library looking for similar books. Through Paper Lion, I gained an appreciation for literary sportswriters like Frank Deford and John Feinstein. >More
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