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FEATURED STORY

Cheap shots 2008: Payback time

2008 was the year of the comeuppance. George Bush and the Republicans discovered the downside of getting the nation into unpopular wars and bankrupting the economy. Wall Street paid a price, albeit in taxpayer dollars, for being reckless and irresponsible. >More

NEWS

Nancy Mistele's speech: What's Pugh got to do, got to do with it?

Candidates beware: The electronic documents you share may reveal more than you'd care to. Take, for instance, Nancy Mistele's 1,000-word speech announcing her candidacy for Dane County executive, which she delivered Dec. 10 from the steps of the City-County Building. >More
 Rule change was their Salvation

Major Paul Moore knows just how it feels. He's been there himself. "My situation was identical to his," says Moore, the Salvation Army's Dane County coordinator, referring to a recent high-profile case involving a fellow officer in Oshkosh. >More

OPINION & COMMENTARY

What a year it was!

This was a good year to be on the right. I'm happy, and not just because it annoys the liberals. A terrorist fist bump of congratulations goes to "that Tiger Woods guy," as Will Ferrell (in character as George W.) called Barack Obama. His campaign's mobilization of ordinary people in Madison was massive and impressive. Even so, our town moved one silly centimeter to the right in 2008. >More
 Completely nutty

Okay, once and for all, what are we supposed to do with these fruitcakes? It's not even Christmas yet, and we've already gotten three of the things. One would have been too many. In fact, we still have one from last year, never opened. The only person around here who can stand the stuff is my 70-year-old grandmother, who happens to be the person responsible for one of the ones we've already received. >More

MUSIC

The top ten stories in Madison music of 2008

In 2007, the revival of the Majestic Theater as a concert space was my Madison music story of the year. This year, a few people with an awesome vision for a major musical festival made my choice easy. >More
 Joe Pug went from playwright to tunesmith

Considering how many 20-somethings still live under their parents' roofs, it's easy to laugh at the notion of a quarter-life crisis. However, for 23-year-old folk musician Joe Pug, existential angst is no joke. Plus, it struck before he was old enough to work it out over a beer. >More

AT A GLANCE

ARTS

Madison artistry survived the economic disaster in 2008

When it came to the arts in Madison, 2008 was, in important aspects, a year to forget. The tanking economy took its toll on arts organizations as surely as it did everything else. But guess what? The ticket booths were still open, and, amid the wreckage, the shows went on. Our critics took in oodles of music, theater, dance and visual art in 2008, and they liked what they heard and saw, recession or no recession. Here are their recollections. >More
 A confab at UW offers help for struggling artists

The arts are in trouble. Or are they? "The good news is that the arts seem a little bit immune to challenging economic times. Donations to arts groups sometimes stay the same or go up," says Samantha Crownover, one of the organizers of the Arts Enterprise Symposium at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. >More
 Performers tumble at Madison Ballet's Nutcracker

Nutcrackers are like snowflakes - no two are alike. Madison Ballet's '07 production, the professional company's debut, was smooth. But the show I saw last Friday night at Overture Hall hit both high notes and bumps. >More
 Unhappy meal

Le Cirque: A Table in Heaven (Monday, 7 p.m., HBO) goes behind the scenes at the elegant New York City restaurant Le Cirque. That may not sound too dramatic, but you haven't met owner Sirio Maccioni and his sons. >More
 Best gaming of 2008

High praise: 2008 was the best year for video games, ever. Here are my top five games of the year, based on how much they made my heart race and how many hours I played them. >More

MOVIES

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: The march of time

What's the movie trying to say other than it's always sad to grow old, no matter which direction you do it in? What exactly does Benjamin Button represent? >More
 The Reader: Strange little movie

Yet another movie about good little Nazis, The Reader at least wrestles with the notion of Germany's guilt and responsibility for its war atrocities. Based on Bernhard Schlink's novel, it's a strange little movie -- sort of Summer of '42 meets She Wolves of the SS. >More
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ARCHIVE

EATS

2008 brings many changes to Madison kitchens

Toward the end of the year, there were more than the usual number of restaurant closings. Yet openings, closings, revamps and site shufflings are common in the normally fluid world of food service. This felt particularly unsettling, though, because everything else felt so unsettled. >More

SPORTS & RECREATION

Medal stand

Time once again to look back at the year in recreation, rewarding those who engage in the sporting life rather than watching others get paid to play. Forthwith, the Reccies, an unjuried presentation of imaginary awards to folks who deserve real ones. >More
 For Badgers, a Seminole moment

A year ago, Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden was preparing to play Kentucky in the Music City Bowl in Nashville, 25 players short. They had been suspended by the university in connection with a probe into academic misconduct. In all, some 60 FSU athletes allegedly had papers written for them and gotten answers for exams from athletic department staffers. Further official sanctions are expected in January. >More
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