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Monday, March 2, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 17.0° F  Fair
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Michael Pollan talks about his role as an agent for radical change in the food system

Michael Pollan is a writer's writer. Even those of us who've been at it for decades, who've written books and published hundreds of thousands of words, come away from his work feeling awe and humility. >More


Madison businesses are defying the fire marshal

Marsh Shapiro doesn't know what he did to attract the scrutiny of the Madison fire marshal. But he's not taking it lying down. >More
 United Way of Dane County braces for leaner times

The downturn in the economy is affecting United Way of Dane County in two ways: The needs it is trying to address are greater, and its resources for doing so are less. >More
 Angry doctor: Get the profit out of the healthcare system

When the angry mobs were descending on health care reform meetings this summer, one group was noticeably absent: doctors. Dr. Gene Uphoff thinks he knows why. "Physicians are fairly timid and cautious," says Uphoff, a former Madison resident who now practices in Portland, Ore. >More


Do or die time for health care

God bless Ed Garvey. His annual progressive rally, Fighting Bob Fest, drew great speakers and thousands of attendees to demand health care reform and denounce the power of industry lobbyists. Grassroots events like this huge open-air town hall meeting, held last weekend in Baraboo, are competing with what one speaker called the "cash roots," the industry-funded message that's been dominating the health care reform debate. >More
 Ace of cakes

The Orton Park Festival cakewalk fires up at 2 p.m. Riley and I arrive a minute early. A line of children is drawn in the cool smudge of shade under an oak tree. This is an anxious lot, about 20 deep, average age 8. All eyes are on the table where rows of cakes, cakes of all shapes, cakes of all sizes, cakes of all flavors and décor, stand ready. Delicious, fresh-baked cakes, walked into the park like royalty on thrones of hot pads. >More
 Tell All: Is Lorrie Moore's A Gate at the Stairs really set in Madison?

Dear Tell All: Isthmus just wrote about the new novel by UW-Madison professor Lorrie Moore, A Gate at the Stairs. In the interview, Moore scoffs at any attempt to connect the novel's college-town setting to Madison. But the parallels between "Troy" and our own college town seem pretty striking. Do you think it's basically Madison, or am I just stupid for wondering, as Moore implies? >More


Forward Music Festival 2009 builds on musical themes

Every Madison band I talked to back then bemoaned the lack of places to play. Remarkably, more than a decade later, Madison is now host to a premier music festival that gives a couple of dozen local acts a chance to share the stage with regional and national talent. >More
 The Soft Pack sweetens its name but not its sound

Last November a gloomy California post-punk band did the unthinkable: They changed their name from the Muslims, a moniker that raised some people's ire but got others thinking, to the Soft Pack, a name synonymous with cigarette packaging. >More
 Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

This 10-piece folk-rock band from Los Angeles recalls a time when music was about magic carpet rides, green tambourines and putting your hand in the hand of the man from Galilee. >More



Top picks for the Overture and Wisconsin Union Theater seasons

It's September already -- time for my annual opinionated guide to the 2009-2010 performing arts schedules at the city's downtown culture palaces. So here's opinion number one. Overture Center is playing it safe, since a handful of edgier shows in the Capitol Theater last year took financial hits. The Wisconsin Union Theater's still taking risks, but the season's a pared-down version of its former self. >More
 No Time to Wave Goodbye by Jacquelyn Mitchard is skillful, ludicrous

Jacquelyn Mitchard's latest book, No Time to Wave Goodbye, exhibits all the traits that have made her so successful and well loved: brisk, journalistic prose, a group of readily identifiable characters and a tale that tugs at the emotions with the insistence of a wayward child. >More
 The Good Wife deals with a bad husband

The opening scene of The Good Wife is all too familiar: A politician ensnared in scandal faces reporters as his wife stands by his side wearing pearls and an ashen expression. >More
 The Beatles: Rock Band: All you need is money

The Beatles: Rock Band will probably be one of the top-grossing titles in video game history, not for the disc alone, but because there's so much money to be made from the peripherals. >More


Anvil! is a touching documentary about a flailing band

Anvil! is strongly reminiscent of Spinal Tap, between the absurd stage theatrics, the heavy-metal hair, the bickering. Anvil! even has Stonehenge -- the real Stonehenge, though, not Spinal Tap's scale model. >More
 The Informant!: Exclamation point

Although The Informant!'s screenplay is based on Kurt Eichenwald's book of the same name, the movie's addition of an exclamation point to its title is revealing. >More
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Luedtke's Wonder Bar fulfills the meat-and-potato ideal

It's always surprising to stumble on fresh pockets of Madison history, sometimes in the most unexpected places. I've passed the stone bar on East Olin Avenue for years and noticed the successive name changes, from the Wonder Bar, to the Madison Cigar Bar, the M.O.B. Roadhouse and the Bar Next Door. But until we sat down for dinner, drawn by the promise of a new steakhouse menu and the lure of a reclaimed name -- it's Luedtke's Wonder Bar now -- I didn't know the spot flaunted such a lurid past. >More


Jock ick

Athletes are often criticized for being too guarded. Agents and public-relations handlers shroud their personalities from the public. That's why we flock to their Twitter feeds and personal blogs, to try and catch a glimpse of who they are as actual people. >More
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