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Friday, December 19, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 26.0° F  Overcast
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Bright spots: Isthmus critics look back at 2009 in Madison culture

In 2008, Madison's arts scene was, thanks to the crashing economy, in trouble. In 2009, the bottom fell out. >More


Cieslewicz, Falk and Nerad look forward to 2010

When asked what he sees as the main goals and challenges for the city of Madison in 2010, the first thing on Mayor Dave Cieslewicz's list is "crime." It's an acknowledgment, perhaps, that this is an area where he's vulnerable, politically. >More


Merry Christmas, baby

Our first baby had a temperament that matched the weather on his first Christmas. Stormy. Tucker required forceps for his entry into the world and, for a period of time thereafter, for his entry into everything else. Then again, on that Christmas morning 20 years ago, no one wanted to come out. Especially people with wee ones. We decided earlier in the week to scrap our holiday travel. >More
 The joy of receiving

No soothsayer has been more prophetic than Eartha Kitt, who accurately forecast the zeitgeist of 2009 in her 1953 holiday hit, "Santa Baby": "Santa cutie, fill my stocking with a duplex / and checks. Sign your 'X' on the line. Santa Cutie, hurry down the chimney tonight." >More


Ring in the new year with live tunes

Music and time are inseparable. We measure music in time. And, frequently, we measure the time we live in by its music. So it's fitting that on New Year's Eve, live music will once again mark the passing of time all over town. Here are some highlights. >More
 Kid Sister's debut was worth waiting for

Okay, so Kid Sister hangs with some famous people. Her little brother is J2K of Flosstradamus, and her boyfriend, A-Trak, is Kanye West's DJ. But she's not taking any hip-hop handouts: This lady, performing at the Orpheum New Year's Eve, has earned her fame fair and square. >More
 Shiny Toy Guns: Girls Le Disko

There's no good reason a band should release an album in December. The best-of-the-year lists have already been written. Taste-making college students are too busy taking finals to listen to new music. Touring bands go home for the holidays. >More



The Jackson family creates a shameless reality series

Last spring, members of the Jackson family decided to create a reality series. Jermaine, Tito, Jackie and Marlon would reunite the Jackson 5, even though an important member -- actually, the only important member, Michael -- had opted out. This was garden-variety Jackson tackiness, but they outdid themselves by continuing the project after Michael's sudden death in June. >More
 The Statue of Liberty goes for another dip in Lake Mendota in 2010

In February, Madison's iconic Statue of Liberty is returning to Lake Mendota. First displayed as a UW student-government prank in 1979, the submerged-looking Lady Liberty has returned to Lake Mendota only three times, in 1980, 1996 and 2009. It also appeared near the Alliant Energy Center in 2004. >More
 10 best video game plays of 2009

Let's start with Tiger Woods, since he's all anyone wants to talk about suddenly. His video game was one of the best of 2009. Tiger doesn't meet girls in the game. >More


A frequent flyer finds redemption in Up in the Air

As awards season kicks into high gear, commentators of all stripes are going to talk about Up in the Air in terms of its zeitgeist relevance, its timely attention to economic instability and the corporations that feast on the carrion of the downsized and dispossessed. And in so doing, they will overlook how simply satisfying it is as a piece of filmmaking. >More
 Grownups can't cope in It's Complicated

Nancy Meyers probably wasn't going for irony with the title of her new comedy It's Complicated. If you've followed her career as writer and director over the past 30 years, however, you'd realize that "complicated" isn't exactly the word that best describes her work. >More
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'The best thing I ate all year'

The things I tasted and loved best this year in Madison all bore out the adage "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," as afterward I obsessed about how to make each dish at home. I actually laughed and cried while eating L'Etoile's plate of Honeycrisp apples with fried sheep's milk cheese gnocchi, sage brown butter, toasted hickory nuts, buttermilk blue cheese and apple cider reduction. >More
 Madison New Year's feasts to ring out 2009

Sure, you can go to the local tavern in boots and flannel to drink beer, eat peanuts, and sing "Auld Lang Syne" with your pals. But if you'd rather deck out in spectacular evening wear for New Year's Eve, many of Madison's finest restaurants are putting on ritzy dinners to anchor your evening and provide a stage to show off that finery. >More


Bowled over

There are 34 college football bowl games played between Dec. 19's New Mexico Bowl (Wyoming beat Fresno State, 35-28, in double overtime, in case you've been traveling in outer space) and Jan. 7, when Texas and Alabama face off for the national championship at the Rose Bowl stadium. Don't get that game confused with the actual Rose Bowl, which pits Ohio State against Oregon on Jan. 1. >More
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